If you’re within a stone’s throw of retirement — for most folks, that’s somewhere between the ages of 55 and 65 — you’ve probably spent at least a little time dreaming about life after work. But before you turn off the computer and turn in your retirement paperwork, consider three important questions.
*What will you do in retirement? If you love golf, and dream of getting up late and hitting the greens every afternoon, retirement may be just the ticket. But your hobby may not hold the same appeal after a few years. That’s why it’s important to take stock of your interests, hobbies, and activities before retiring. Consider “field testing” activities you intend to pursue in retirement, such as joining a band, volunteering for a nonprofit organization, or taking classes at a community college. Doing “retirement activities” before you retire can be an eye-opening experience, and may help to separate daydreams from reality.
*Will you work? Studies show that the number of older Americans either holding jobs or looking for work has been rising for at least 15 years. Of course, some folks seek employment out of necessity: bills need to get paid. But for many people, work also provides needed social interaction and a sense of satisfaction. Consequently, some may decide to work at least part-time during retirement — whether or not they need the money. Another idea that’s gaining popularity is called “serial employment.” With this strategy, you spend part of your “retirement” years employed in a series of full-time jobs interspersed with periods of travel and leisure. Such a plan can generate a healthy supplemental income for you and benefits for talent-starved employers.
*Have you saved enough? This, as they say, is the million-dollar question. But how much money you’ll need to comfortably retire depends on many factors, including the status of your mortgage and other loans, your general health, expected rates of return on your investments, the size of your current nest egg, life expectancy, plans during retirement (including travel), pensions and other sources of income, the cost of health care and insurance, and myriad other considerations. One size doesn’t fit all. So it’s important to confer with a trusted advisor who’ll help you take a hard look at the numbers — before you wave goodbye to your employer.
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Written by: Doug Rodrigues