There’s a pattern when readers ask me for thoughts on their retirement readiness - it’s all about numbers and not people.
One such e-mail was sent earlier this month by a reader who is entering early retirement while his spouse continues to work. All the facts he offered about his situation are in number form -- his age, the amount in his registered retirement savings plan, the amount in his tax-free savings account and his percentage split between stocks and bonds. “What can I do to better prepare for an awesome retirement experience?” he asked.
Here are four thoughts on an awesome retirement experience that focus on combining numbers with human needs and emotions.
- Advice: No matter how good you are at planning your retirement, there will be times when a second opinion is helpful. A financial planner or an accountant might spot a flaw in your strategy, or point out a better way based on serving other retirees over the years. There’s a cost to using these experts, but also some value in building confidence in your retirement strategy.
- Budgeting: Map out your expected spending in retirement not only as a financial exercise, but also as a way of figuring out how you want to live your life. Want to travel? Decide how often and see if you can afford it. Want to improve your physical fitness? See if you can afford to join a gym. Want to eat out more often? Figure out how affordable that is on your retirement income.
- Hobbies, interests and socializing: Your finances can be locked down tight, but you won’t be happy unless you feel productive and energized in your daily routine. How will you fill the 10 or so hours per day that you previously spent on the job and travelling to it.
- Kids and parents: Consider what support your adult children and elderly parents might need from you once you’re retired. Financial help might be part of this, but there’s also a time aspect. For example, it’s common for retirees to help their adult kids with periodic daycare. You can lock in time with your grandkids -- or not.