Five Life Hacks to Prepare for Retirement

February 18th, 2020 by Jim Allen

When it comes to preparing for retirement the hardest part is not whether you are financially prepared, but if you are mentally prepared. Like all major life transitions, retirement is a particularly stressful event. It might be looked upon with excitement as a time of enjoyment and fulfillment. Or, retirement can be viewed with dread as a time of uncertainly, loneliness and worry about money. Our financial advisors at Anchor Bay Capital are experts at helping you prepare financially, but our comprehensive “Money Life” approach also helps you prepare emotionally for this major life event.

Listed below as a few basic “hacks” that can help you mentally prepare for retirement:

1. Do a “Trial Run”: One of the biggest adjustments for retirees is dealing with the extra free time they now have in their lives. One way to look at retirement is you now a have seven Saturdays a week. Filling all your free time with things that give you purpose and create enjoyment can be a challenge.

An idea that might help you know if you can deal with all the free time is to take a trial run. Save up your vacation days or paid time off and then take it all at one time to get a feel for what retirement will be like. Three weeks or a month might be enough, but a longer period is ideal if your work schedule permits. During this trial run, stay at home and don’t take those bucket list trips. This is a dry run for what actual retirement will look like. See if you are bored and itching to go back to work, or if the time off felt right. This may help you know if you are ready.

2. Try it Before You Buy It: One of the more frequent comments we hear from our pre-retiree clients is that they want to buy that vacation home or travel around the country in an RV when they retire. Unfortunately, we also hear from many of our retiree clients that they made a mistake when they did these things. Often the dream and the reality of having that condo on the beach or the cabin in the mountains are vastly different. It doesn’t get used as much as expected and the costs are much higher. With the RV, some retirees find it isolating and claustrophobic.
Since these are very large commitments financially, a suggestion would be to try it out before you buy it. Rent an RV for a month and take that trip to decide whether it fits your lifestyle. Or, rent a house on the beach for six weeks to see if it is something you truly enjoy. Spending extended time renting these items to be sure it is what you want before buying is a sound financial strategy.

3. Figure Out Your Optimal “Spousal Apart” Time: Many married retirees struggle with spending more time around their spouses. There are countless happily married couples who spend more time with their co-workers than they do with their spouse. Then retirement comes, and suddenly spouses are together all day, every day, which creates unexpected conflict. Going from eating dinner together, to eating 3 meals a day together, plus being apart for 40-50 hours per week, to being together all the time can come as a shock to the couple.

One of the biggest adjustments in retirement is coming up with that optimal time apart from your spouse. Accepting that you both may be happier spending some time apart is an important part of the transition to retirement. To make this happen, you both need to have outside social circles and hobbies that replace some of the time you used to spend at work. If one spouse is constantly out with friends or enjoying hobbies, while the other sits at home, then marital conflict could become a problem. This is one of the leading contributors to the rise of “grey” divorce among retirees.

4. Build Your Social Circles Before Retiring: One of the biggest contributors to boredom in retirement is not having a large enough social circle. It is very common for much of your social interaction to come from being with co-workers before you retire. Once you stop working, much of this daily interaction will be lost, leading to boredom and isolation.
To counteract this potential problem, begin to expand your social circles before you retire. While everyone leads busy lives while working, make the effort to stay in touch with your family and friends. Whatever hobbies or passions you have, there are likely on-line “meetup” groups of like-minded people you can join. These can help you expand your social circle. If one of your retirement dreams is to restore that classic car, join a car club that meets each week for coffee and car shows. Whatever your passions are, find people who have those same passions and start to develop relationships. And as mentioned above, both you and your spouse need to have their own large social circles.

5. Use a Work Optional Instead of Fully Retired Approach: When our parents and grandparents retired, they may have only lived for another 10-15 years. With increasing longevity, you may spend 30 years in retirement, which is a very long time to not be engaged in some meaningful activity. This has caused many people to rethink the concept of being retired. Many of our clients want to have a period of “work optional” where they slowly phase out of working and may not get to a period of not working until their 70’s. This keeps them from getting bored and isolated socially.

Work optional means you are doing something you love to stay active and involved but are not necessarily concerned about how much money you are making. This might mean doing a little consulting in your old profession, starting a business, volunteering at a charity or trying something totally new.

Retirement is often thought of as a time to relax and enjoy your “Golden Years”. But, if you are not fully prepared both mentally and financially, those years may not be so golden after all. As mentioned above, our comprehensive Money Life approach helps you prepare both financially and emotionally so can have the retirement of your dreams. Please contact us if you would like a complimentary retirement discovery consultation.