Seniors are retiring later in life these days. Some even reach Medicare age before they retire. As you start to wind down your career, you’ll want to take some time to plan your life after retirement. Having a firm, but flexible, game plan can mean the difference between a retirement enjoyed and a retirement survived.
Your retirement plan should have three key tentpoles — life, health, and financial. Each of these three works together to make sure you’re happy, healthy, and secure.
Make a Life Plan
The most fun of the three plans, your life plan would include the activities that you do each day, but also the big stuff. The vacations. The holidays. The dinners. First and foremost, how do you want to spend your time when you retire?
You may want to take some time to just do nothing for a little bit. That’s understandable — you worked hard for decades. Take some time. Keep in mind that this will get old, fast. If you retired from working a full-time job, you now have a 40-hour window each week to fill. That doesn’t include travel to and from work either. That’s a lot of time to fill. The best way to look at this is that it’s your time. Fill it how you want. Pick up a hobby or try a part-time job in an industry you’ve always wanted to try.
That’s what retirement’s about, doing what you like to do or what you want to do at that time. — senior entrepreneur Dick Lewis
Another portion of this plan is travel, especially to see family. Staying connected with your family is important to seniors, especially in avoiding isolation (a real risk for millions of Americans). Figure out how often you’ll be seeing family, near and far. Keep in mind, your family has lives and responsibilities, too!
Travel also entails vacations. Everyone loves taking a trip, either with family or a solo adventure. Of all the factors in this plan, vacation travel is perhaps the one that works most closely with your financial plan. The where, when, and how often will largely be defined by what you can afford. That said, if we’re speaking hypotheticals, think up a realistic scenario of how often you’ll want to travel for fun. Don’t worry, we’ll figure out the finances later.
Make a Health Plan
Health is a keystone of your quality of life, so maintaining and improving it is essential. You’ll want to work closely with your primary care physician on developing a retirement health plan. When you first enroll in Medicare, you’ll have the option to schedule a Welcome to Medicare wellness visit. This entails a full health screening and a look into your family health history. You should follow this up with your Annual Wellness Visit, which can help you stay on top of changes to your health and prevent illness. Both are covered by Medicare.
Health is a keystone of your quality of life, so maintaining and improving it is essential.
While Medicare covers many of your health needs, you can choose to enhance your coverage with private plans such as Medigap, Medicare Part D, or Medicare Advantage. Dental coverage is less common, so you may need to find a separate plan. You can see what plans are near you or meet with a licensed sales agent using the Medicareful Plan Finder.
Finally, you’ll want to lay out how you’ll stay healthy at home. Will you try a trendy new diet or aim to eat better? As we age, our metabolism slows down, so snacking on fast food isn’t a healthy option, if it ever was. So, your diet will most likely have to change somehow. Exercise should also become a cornerstone of your health plan. Luckily, some Medicare plans cover fitness programs that can help you achieve this. Even low impact exercise, like jogging or swimming, can make genuine improvements in your life.
Make a Financial Plan
While health and activities are important to enjoying your retirement, having a financial plan is important to maintaining your health and activities. Draw a chart of your monthly income and expenditures, with the life and health plans incorporated. This should give you a good idea of where you are, financially. If you’re running your budget a little tight, you may need to cut back on trips or hobby spending. Your health is more important than fun, so don’t cut those costs if you can. Or, you can try a part-time job or an annuity to help balance the books a bit.
One of the most important steps you will take, however, is cutting non-essential spending. On a fixed income, activities or goods that were fun before may now be unaffordable. When it comes to medical costs, Medicare and insurance coverage can help, but you can also save money on prescription medication.
Circumstances will change, and these need to be accounted for.
Your financial plan shouldn’t be a set in stone, however. Circumstances will change, and these need to be accounted for. Even Medicare costs change from time to time, while Social Security checks may change depending on the Cost-of-Living Adjustment. Your health and family circumstances will change. What we’re saying is, keep your plan fluid. If it gets too rigid, you won’t be able to react to changes that will come along.
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Truly, these plans are a list of questions that’ll act as a guide for your retirement. The questions can only be answered by you, but they’re vital to figuring out the wants, needs, and limits that your retirement presents you. The important thing to remember is your retirement presents you with many, many opportunities to live the way you want. By fleshing out these plans early, you’ll have a strong idea of how you can achieve that.