Retirement: How do people know that they are truly ready for this big life change?
The answers may depend on how well they have prepared, financially, emotionally and socially. Some of these indicators are subtle.
Pay careful attention to these signs that you may not yet be ready for retirement.
1. You’re unsure of your retirement income
You’re the carefree and happy-go-lucky type? Good for you. Retirement should be a lot of fun.
Not to harsh your mellow, but you’ll need to find out how much money you’ll have to work with to really enjoy your retirement years.
There may be plenty you can do to rescue your retirement, even when you’re older. Facing financial gaps realistically gives you a chance to address them.
In simple, clear language, Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson explains key steps to prepare your finances for retirement in “Your Top 5 Retirement Questions, Answered.”
2. You’re mystified about your Social Security options
Haven’t signed up for a Social Security account? You should, no matter your age. This is where you’ll find your benefit estimates and learn what claiming at various ages can do to the size of your payout.
Social Security rules can be confusing enough without being in the dark about your choices. Need answers about when to start claiming Social Security, whether to claim a spousal benefit and other questions? An analysis of your best options by Money Talks News’ partner Social Security Choices costs just $30 with our discount.
3. Your spouse is in charge of your social life
Retirees sometimes have difficulty adjusting to this new life if they don’t have strong social ties outside work.
Having your own friends and sources of fun prevents you from putting too much weight on your spouse to supply all the fun and camaraderie.
4. You haven’t a clue where your money goes
How can you reliably plan for life on a fixed income if you don’t know how much you’ll need to get by?
You need more information — especially if money always feels tight, or you worry there won’t be enough in retirement. So, it’s important to find out what you are spending now, and exactly where the money goes.
Fortunately, there’s a tool for that. Yes, a budget. Don’t groan: Budgeting can be easy and even sort of fun with Money Talks News’ partner YNAB (You Need A Budget).
5. You still love your job
Relishing our jobs is a good thing. Maybe there’s no need to retire.
Enjoyable work delivers the sense of fulfillment and meaning we all crave. The money is nice, too.
If money is scarce, the paychecks let you put off drawing down investments. Also, you can wait longer to claim Social Security, letting your benefits grow by as much as 8% per year after you reach your full retirement age.
6. You spend more than you earn
When you’re employed and living from paycheck to paycheck, you may tell yourself that overspending can be made up later — by getting a raise or maybe a better-paying job. Or maybe the tooth fairy will show up.
In retirement, reality strikes: Your income is what it is.
These 10 steps can help you stay solvent and perhaps prosperous in retirement. Take note of step No. 1: Spend less than you bring in. Like the laws of physics, this rule is inescapable.
7. Your road map has gaps
Have you neglected to factor into your planning a realistic idea of how to fund the inevitable “surprises” that pop up? For example, you’ll need an ample financial buffer to replace your car, re-roof the house or keep up with escalating property taxes in retirement.
Retirees are sometimes surprised that, even with Medicare, they’re required to pay substantial out-of-pocket bills for prescriptions and medical, dental and vision care. Inflation’s another surprise: It’s soaring right now, and no one knows how long that will continue. This, too, will take a bite from a fixed income.
8. You’re carrying debts into retirement
It’s a good idea to retire any debts before quitting work if possible.
Having a home with no mortgage lifts a big burden. Even without a mortgage, it’s expensive to pay real estate taxes, insurance and upkeep. Consider working a few more years or seriously consider selling and buying a smaller, cheaper home to ease money stress by retiring this debt.
9. You’ve got no plan for long-term care
What’s your strategy for getting care if you become unable to function independently in old age? Among those who live to age 65, about 70% will need long-term care before they die and 48% will require paid care sometime over their lives, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Some people have the money and foresight to buy long-term care insurance. Others count on their children, although if that’s your expectation, make sure to talk it over with the kids early on. Or maybe you’re planning to spend down your resources so Medicaid will pick up nursing home costs. Here are some ways you could fund your long-term care.