has a much different face today than in years past. Retirees tend to
look at leaving the work force as an opportunity to fulfill dreams and
have new experiences.
Experts say the time to start thinking about what your retirement
scenario will look like is well before you actually retire. There are
many aspects for which you can plan and work toward as you approach
the last day you punch the clock. Here are a few to start the process:
What about retirement excites me?Are there aspects that worry me?
"The goal of looking ahead is one of preparing for a change of
identity and a change of lifestyle," says Jon Dehlinger, Ph.D.,
business psychologist and president of Vernon, Roche and Hodgson Inc.
in Milwaukee. "Done properly, the transition to a different
lifestyle change can be quite fun."
This process should be started well before the retirement date.
"Itís good to start conversations in your mid-50s so that
you have time to explore and resolve discussions long before
Dehlinger says itís important to talk with your spouse about
his/her vision of the future, too.
"Oftentimes, spouses have very different visions and that
might lead to some marital strife if not addressed," he says. He
laughs that his wife has required him to develop three hobbies before
he can even consider retiring.
Itís also good to have a plan for how the days once filled with
40- to 60-hour workweeks will be used. "Come up with a list of
passions ó things that you really enjoy ó and find ways to get
involved in those passions."
He cautions that the first year of retirement can fly by and be
filled with activities that have been on the "to do" list
for a long time. As those things are crossed off the list, itís
important to have something on deck that youíll enjoy doing for the
rest of your years.
"By looking at a variety of options, youíll be prepared and
not faced with a void in your life that could lead to frustration or
What is my financial situation?
Ah, money Ö It is always an issue in life and a very important
consideration in planning for retirement. Figures from the U.S.
Department of Treasury suggest that 70 to 80 percent of your
preretirement income is needed to maintain your current lifestyle once
working days are done.
"The best advice I can offer," says Mequon attorney
Stephanie Rapkin, who specializes in estate planning and probate,
"would be to find someone reputable who can look at your finances
and help you make decisions."
Upon retirement, she says, people are often handed IRA or other
accounts that have been previously managed by their employer and they
donít know what to do with that sum. Money management, something
that perhaps theyíre unfamiliar with or that doesnít seem that
difficult, can be overwhelming. "Itís the biggest amount of
money that theyíve ever had to deal with and they should have good,
solid independent advice about the way to make the money work as they
need it to," she says.
Rapkin says she hopes those in their 50s and 60s have committed
funds to their retirement faithfully during their working years since
thereís not really a way to make up for a lack of savings in their
earlier years. She also suggests that setting money aside for
retirement should outweigh saving funds for college. "Kids can
get scholarships and loans to help with college costs," she says,
"but you can only save for retirement one time."
Do I have adequate insurance coverage?
"Now is a good time to re-evaluate your life insurance to
determine whether you still need as much coverage. Also remember to
update your beneficiaries ó has your spouse died or have you
remarried?" says a spokesperson for the Wisconsin Office of the
Commissioner of Insurance.
The OCI also suggests that preretirement planning include knowledge
of your health care coverage. If you retire before you turn 65 and are
not yet eligible for Medicare, check to see if you are eligible to
continue to get health insurance at the group rates from your former
employer under COBRA.
With regard to your home and auto policies, the OCI recommends
adding more liability coverage ó and/or an umbrella policy. "At
this stage of your life, you may have more assets to protect in the
event you are sued. If you decide on an umbrella policy, note that
these policies often cover both home and auto liability, and are
separate from your homeowners and auto policies," according to
Adele Lund, director of community and business relationships for
Laureate Group, the largest provider of senior housing in southeastern
Wisconsin, suggests that those in pre-retirement planning also
investigate long-term care insurance. "Itís been around for a
while, but itís becoming more popular and costs have dropped. The
younger you buy the policy, the better the pricing. Plans now include
more care and assistance."
What can/will I do to ensure that Iím as healthy as I can be?
"Things that you do to get into better shape in your 50s and
60s will make a huge difference in the quality of your life after
retirement," says Matt Bartz, fitness director and trainer with
Le Club in Glendale.
Bartz recommends that a conditioning regime address balance and
strength issues, as well as lower body and core development.
"Having better balance and core strength can help you avoid
falls. For those who are injured and no longer ambulatory, their
health often declines rapidly," he notes. "Understand that
there are things you can control and things you canít. You canít
control genetics, but you can control your nutrition and activity
He tells older adults they can still make gains and improvements in
their physical condition, even if theyíve never been active.
"You can still gain strength into your 90s. Itís never too late
to start. You can still make great strides in your physical condition
even if you start working out in your 50s or 60s." m