Perhaps you’ve worked 30-50 years and are thinking about retiring soon — or maybe, like me, you’re looking to retire 10 or 20 years down the road. For some, retirement means transitioning to part-time or seasonal work, while for others, it might mean abandoning your commute and completely rejecting any regular routine. But no matter what retirement means to you, there are many ways to plan so that you are financially prepared for your new lifestyle when the time comes.
Retirement will look different for everyone, since it depends on what your goals are. Some will want to travel the world, others will become more involved in their community by volunteering and some will choose a combination of both. Whatever you do, you will have to carefully look at your savings and consider the income you will receive from pensions, stock options, Social Security and any other income sources.
Aside from your goals, you will also need to consider your expenses such as mortgage/rent, taxes, vehicle and home maintenance, health care and everyday costs that continue to rise such as gasoline and groceries. According to AARP, the general rule of thumb is that you will need 80 percent of your working income to maintain your standard of living, and Social Security is meant to replace about 40 percent of the average retiree’s work earnings. Using the Social Security calculator (ssa.gov/prepare/plan-retirement) can help you determine when you might want to consider claiming your benefits.
If you decide to take on new hobbies or pursue traveling in comfort, you will need to consider those additional expenses as a part of your retirement budget.
As always, you should plan for unexpected expenses by maintaining a minimum amount in your savings account for emergencies. You may also want to find ways to reduce your expenses such as updating your car insurance to reduce or eliminate coverage you may not need. If you anticipate reducing your miles driven each year, for example, check with your insurer to see if you qualify for discounts.
If work has been your primary source for social connections, you should consider where to seek these connections in retirement. A good way to meet like-minded people and develop new friendships is through volunteering in your community.
No matter when you plan to retire, planning and preparation are key to enjoying your retirement years. If you find retirement is not what you expected, you can always return to the workforce or adjust accordingly based on your current situation.
For more tips on planning for retirement, visit aarp.org/retirement.
JR Fujita is a senior state and community engagement specialist for AARP and is based in Sacramento, Calif.