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Everyone has a retirement vision. These steps can help make the retirement lifestyle you’re dreaming of a reality.
No matter what you have planned for the next big chapter in your life, one thing’s for certain: With the right preparation, you can finally focus on getting more of whatever it is that you never had enough time for.
“For many people, retirement isn’t about never working again and playing golf but rather about reconnecting with a passion they put on pause or didn’t pursue as often as they liked when their head was down during their career years,” says Seth Streeter, CEO and co-founder of Mission Wealth Management in Santa Barbara, Calif.
How you enjoy retirement is up to you, and with the right plan in place you truly can have it all, no matter what your more may be.
More … Quality of Life
For Marie and Skip Newland, it was a chronic back issue that led the Northeast-based couple to act on their retirement plans early and make health a priority. “We knew the warmer Southern climate was better for our health in the long-term,” says Marie, which is why instead of waiting to downsize from their four-bedroom home upon retirement, they chose to sell it and buy two condos instead—one minutes away from their former house in New Jersey, and another in Florida where they planned to retire in 10 years. “Not only did it prepare us for what downsizing would feel like, it also enabled us to pay off the condo in Florida by renting it out until we retired.”
The Newlands chose a city close to top-notch health care on purpose, anticipating what would be paramount to keeping them fitter in the future. “Climate may be important to you, but it’s also crucial to look at other factors essential to longevity and vitality, especially the location and convenience of certain hospitals, specialists, and other services critical to your health,” says Streeter. He also advises soon-to-be retirees to take a hard look at their current lifestyle and switch out bad habits—which could exacerbate health concerns—for smarter, healthier ones. “It’s the choices you make today that ultimately decide the quality of life you’ll have tomorrow,” he says. Better yet, dropping a few bad habits will most likely save you a few bucks that can help make your retirement money go farther.
More … Free Time
For some people, it’s less about waiting until retirement to enjoy leisure time and more about achieving that goal in the present—but in a way that doesn’t sacrifice long-term financial prospects. That was exactly the scenario for one of Streeter’s clients, a former corporate attorney in his mid-50s who wanted to build memories with his family while everyone was healthy and living at home.
“At the time, he had a five-year goal to retire from a job he didn’t like—one that had him working through the weekends and made traveling with his family for fun impossible,” says Streeter. “So I asked him what he was passionate about, and his wife immediately told me how much he loved history—that’s when I posed the idea of changing careers and becoming a high school history teacher in three years.”
Today, his client is happier than ever teaching. Even though his retirement has been delayed by a few years, he feels more energized and less stressed, and he is excited to have summers off to spend with his family now.
Before changing careers, Streeter’s client began hunkering down by erasing any debt, curbing his family’s spending habits, and building a 12-month emergency fund in order to help prepare for what to expect later on. “Living simply, having some bunker cash that will be there to pay the bills, and keeping your debt management intact all help remove any anchors that could be keeping you tethered to a job that’s not best for your immediate or long-term goals,” says Streeter.
More … Sense of Purpose
Another client of Streeter’s found himself without a true sense of purpose after getting divorced and having his three daughters grow up and leave the nest. No longer in the role of husband and not having kids at home, he had an opportunity to refocus his priorities. At the top of his list was contributing time and money to charitable causes he was passionate about.
Mapping out how much discretionary money you actually have to give should be your first step. “Being charitable is rewarding, but it should never come at the expense of causing you to run out of funds for yourself one day,” says Streeter. Once you know how much you can give, write down which charities you wish to support (your alma mater, church, or certain nonprofits in your community, for example) then create a giving budget that’s as tax-advantaged and sustainable as possible.
Thinking about how you could volunteer and use the skills you’ve acquired throughout your lifetime can be just as effective as donating money. “There are many ways you can support a cause, and your time and talents are just as valuable when it comes to making a difference,” says Streeter.
Not sure what you want more of in retirement? Take this quiz to discover your personal path to happiness.