When I was first starting out, I would often hear my older family members tell me that I need to start planning now for the future, as well as retirement. I understood that I probably needed to plan for the future, the near future, but retirement? I have to admit, I thought they were crazy. I’m in my early twenties, why do I need to think about retirement now? My thoughts were deeply anchored in how I was going to support myself at that time, not when I’m 65.
It was not until much later in life that I realized my elders were right and I wished I had listened to them then. That I could have benefitted from their years of experience. As I got older, I worked very hard at achieving my goal of learning how to support myself, and I did achieve my goal. I did this by building a lucrative career and bought a home of my own and filled it with prized possessions that I accumulated over the years.
What I didn’t realize then was that at some point, around the time I will be retiring, I may need to move to a smaller home. That this life changing event may even be accelerated due to health challenges. Of course as we age, we realize that we can’t always continue to do the things we did at a much younger age. When you add health challenges to the mix, you realize that you may need some help with everyday activities.
Because you can’t go back in time to change your original plan, or to create one for that matter, there are some things you can do now, at your age to prepare for your retirement. Take some time to look at your current situation. There are some points below you may want to take into consideration as you develop a plan to move forward. You don’t have to have a plan etched in stone, but by putting some things down on paper, it will make it easier to modify your tasks as you grow and your situation changes. You may rest easier at night knowing that you do have a plan to make your golden years much more fulfilling, less stressful and regain some peace of mind.
• The type and size of your current home (ie., one family home, condo). Does your current home have way too much space for you and your other family members living there now?
• Whether you lease or hold a mortgage there may be maintenance required – if you hold a mortgage, are you responsible for maintenance? You may decide at some point that you no longer want the responsibility of home maintenance so you have the time to do the things you really want to do.
• Do you have family members that live close to you? Having family members that live close by can be helpful when you need an extra pair of hands.
• Do you have a financial plan for retirement and does it include long term care? If you don’t believe you have an adequate financial retirement plan, you may want to find a financial advisor/consultant to help you with a plan that is scalable to fit your situation as you age.
• Have you considered what you will do with your time when you are no longer going to work every day? Typically, we plan financially for when we retire and don’t think that much about what we will do with our time. This is really important to consider, so that our lives continue to fulfill us.
• If you had to move to a smaller home unexpectedly, could you, or do you have the help to cull through your belongings to reduce them to an amount that would fit into a much smaller space? If not, you probably want to get started on that now. Take small steps, perhaps a space or room at a time. If you feel that it’s an overwhelming task, enlist help. Ask a family member or friend to help. When you have your spaces cleared, think carefully about each new item that comes into your home. If it’s not something you need, will use or love, don’t bring it into your home.