The concept of “retirement” has changed dramatically in recent decades. Today’s retirees are traveling, volunteering, pursuing their hobbies — and even working for money. In fact, as a retiree, you can essentially do anything you want, as long as your health and finances permit it. Through exercise, proper diet and avoidance of bad habits, you can do a lot to stay physically healthy. And by clearly identifying your retirement goals and estimating their financial impact, you’ll know how to stay “financially healthy” throughout your retirement years.
So, what are your retirement goals? Here are some of the more common ones:
Travel. Many people can’t wait to see the world once they retire. If you’re one of these eager travelers, you’ve got more choices than ever. Programs such as Road Scholar (formerly known as Elderhostel) provide educational travel programs to virtually every area on the planet. And, of course, you are free to journey on your own. But however you decide to hit the road, you’d better bring your wallet — because travel is expensive. One way of dealing with these costs is to place a certain amount of money each year in a liquid account that offers significant protection of principal. Set aside enough money to cover all your travels for a year, and when it’s exhausted, you’ll know it’s time to stay home for a while.
Rent or buy a second home. During retirement, many people like to spend a few months each year in a more pleasant climate or in a location nearer their grown children. If you are considering a second home, you’ll need to decide whether you want to rent or buy. You’ll find considerable differences from a financial point of view, so you’ll want to think carefully about your choice.
Pursue your hobbies. While you were working, you might have wished that you had more freedom to pursue your hobbies. Once you retire, though, you’ll probably have a lot more time to do what you like, whether that’s driving your classic car, painting landscapes, golfing, fishing, building furniture — whatever. Be aware, however, that some people do get over-exuberant and spend more money on their hobbies than they can really afford. So have fun with your pursuits, but set a budget — and stick to it.
Get back to work. Upon your formal retirement, you may decide to do some consulting or open a small business. Any wages you receive can greatly improve your retirement income picture. For example, the more money you earn, the less you’ll have to take out each year from your 401(k), IRA and other retirement plans. (You will have to take at least minimum withdrawals from some of these accounts.) Plus, if you make enough money, you may be able to postpone Social Security for a few years, thereby increasing your monthly payments when you eventually start taking them.
As you can see, your retirement goals will be closely tied to your finances. So think carefully about what you’d like to do when you retire — and connect these objectives to the money you’ll spend and the money you may earn. By being aware of both your dreams and your “bottom line,” you should be able to enjoy the retirement lifestyle you’ve envisioned.
Jim Holden is a local Edward Jones Financial Advisor in Georgetown.