Mentally Preparing for Retirement

School of Financial Wellness

Mentally preparing for retirement

When planning for retirement, you often think of the financial resources necessary to live your ideal retired life. You may even stress about hitting a certain dollar amount in your retirement account in time for your retirement date. These are important considerations, however equally as important and often overlooked is the mental and emotional preparation needed to enjoy retirement to its fullest.

A recent study indicated that 74% of pre-retirees have made a serious effort to prepare financially for retirement, but only 35% have made a serious effort to prepare emotionally for retirement.

So, how can you mentally prepare yourself for retirement?

Visualize Your Life During Retirement

In the years leading up to retirement, you and your spouse should be developing a clear mental picture of your retired life. According to the same study mentioned above, more than half of retirees surveyed believe having a clear mental image of time and money spent is very important before retiring. Also noted in the study, half of those surveyed said that finding common ground with their spouse is the most important aspect of that mental image.

Whether you are married or not, it’s important to keep those closest to you, including your CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, up to speed on how you plan to spend your time during retirement. This way they all know what to expect. This knowledge will also allow them to keep you accountable and can help you get great advice from the people you trust the most.

Think About a Purpose You Can Pursue During Retirement

For some people, staying busy in retirement will be a main goal. But there is nothing wrong with a little relaxing. If you’re financially prepared for retirement, you’ve work hard for most of your life and have been diligently saving throughout it as well. It might be smart to reward yourself with some time to relax with family and friends.

On the other hand, that time spent working will soon need to be filled with something meaningful. Many people experience a ‘honeymoon period’ at the beginning of retirement, but then begin longing for something more meaningful than relaxation.

There are lots of things that you can do to fill that void, hobbies, sports, travelling, spending time with family, volunteer work, part-time job, and the list goes on. But you should think about this before the time comes to make sure you aren’t caught off guard. Also, be sure to keep your financial advisor abreast of anything that can impact your financial plan.

Think About How Changes in Your Spending Might Impact You Mentally

Unless you’ve planned your retirement perfectly, which most have not, you will likely be adjusting your spending habits in a meaningful way. Will that mean more vacations or fewer niceties? That all depends on how well you’ve planned.

But, in any event, a change in spending can affect you mentally during retirement. In addition,  any large outlay can create a big problem down the road, so many people choose to be more conservative as they move into retirement. This can create unnecessary stress during the transition if you aren’t prepared.

How would you react to telling yourself no to your favorite indulgences? The answer to this question should be shared with your CFP® as early as possible, so they can plan for you to have the happiest retirement possible.

Be Mentally Prepared to Stay Physically Fit

This goes without saying, but physical fitness should start early in life. However, if you haven’t already started, it’s never too late. Staying physically fit in your later years will be much harder both physically and mentally than when you were young.

Having decreased physical strength and stamina coupled with increased recovery time can be frustrating for some and lead them to give up. So, it’s very important to know that staying on top of your physical health can help you stay fit mentally. In addition, with a healthy body and mind, you will have a better shot at a happy retirement.

Just as important as the mental benefits to a healthy lifestyle, are the financial benefits. Retirees, in general, spend a huge percentage of their income on healthcare. This stands to reason, as people tend to have more health problems as they get older. So, talk to your CFP® at your next meeting about healthcare costs in retirement. This will help you to get an idea of how much money you could save or cost yourself by staying fit.

Most Importantly, Seek Advice

When saving for retirement you should have consulted a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ for advice. Competent financial advisors should be able to do more than just find you the best return on your money. They should also have the experience needed to coach you mentally on your way to your retirement goals. Decades before your last paycheck is in hand, you and your financial advisor should have laid out a clear plan to ease the mental and emotional burden of transitioning to retirement.

Whether you plan to start your own business – people over 55 are leading every other age category in entrepreneurial growth – or spend more time with your family and golfing, retirement should be enjoyable for you. You’ve worked very hard and deserve it. Developing a mental plan before you retire can help expedite the transitional stages, so you and your spouse can enjoy your retirement to the fullest.