In the newspaper business, when a reporter wants to find out all about a potential story, they always ask the big five questions: Who, what, when, where and why. Sometimes they add how, as well. If the reporter can get these basic questions answered about any story, that is considered good research. They will have a good basis for a story. We can use the same approach as we begin to process the idea of retirement planning. It would be a mistake to only look at retirement planning as strictly a financial step. If all retirement consisted of was a change to where you get your money, that would be one level of change. But retirement also brings with it big lifestyle changes and changes to your priorities and how you use your time. So it’s a good idea to prepare for all of the changes retirement brings by asking the big five questions.
Who will you be with?
Who will you be retiring with is a very important question. Your mode of living is going to change in every way imaginable? That man or woman who has been part of your life for so many decades will now become central to every move you make. Retirement puts you together every day all day. So you should think that through and decide how you want to arrange your time so both of you still have your own interests, activities, and friends. Just make sure you plan time to enjoy a new closeness that retirement affords you.
What will you be doing?
What you will be doing with your time is a huge question as you walk away from the working world. Retirement is a great time to start enjoying those hobbies that never got enough time. You can catch up on your reading, write the great American novel or take classes to learn to paint or do woodworking. See retirement as a time when the sky is the limit for you to explore your creative side.
When will you retire?
When you retire is a big factor in how much of your retirement savings you have to have ready by a certain time. For some potential retirees, the joke that they are going to have to work on the morning of their funeral seems all too real. For others, dipping into retirement savings can be postponed for years. If you get to the point that you can collect Social Security and still make a fair amount of money part-time or performing some cottage industry job, you might be able to keep your retirement savings growing even for the first five to ten years after retirement. And that means a longer more prosperous retirement time frame for you and your spouse, as well.
Where will you live?
Where will you live once you settle into the place you want to call your retirement bungalow. If you plan to sell the house and buy a condo or move into an assisted living center, there is a lot of preparation for both of those steps. There is no time like the present to begin that retirement planning. Get the house ready to sell and get out and research the best retirement living options for you to consider.
Why retire is more than just a philosophical question? You may be retiring because you got to a certain age and it is required of you. But to enter retirement with a good attitude, it’s good to find your own motivations for wanting to scale back your responsibilities and enjoy some leisure time as a senior citizen. And if retirement means more time for hobbies, chances to travel or enjoy time with your spouse or greater access to those sweet grandbabies, those are great reasons to enter the life of a retired person.
How will you retire?
But the one question we did not list that may be more than all the rest is the “how” of retirement. How you go about moving from a life of working, selling the house and getting settled in a completely new world, perhaps with new friends and new objectives for living is a major challenge for anyone especially if you have been a productive member of the business or working world for many decades.
There are a lot of levels to the “how question”. In a lot of ways, the period of time leading up to retirement and doing retirement planning can be as active as working itself. But it’s good you are getting started. By being prepared, your transition to retirement will be smooth and as painless as possible. It’s going to be a big change of life.