Are you ready to retire?
Do you think about retirement?
Well, don’t wait, take a little retirement whenever you can.
Wait! I didn’t say quit your job. Let’s talk this through a bit.
Did you ever read Travis McGee, by John D. MacDonald? A great, if a bit dated, series about a guy that does a little detective and salvage work for friends and acquaintances. But, he had this unique opinion about retirement. Instead of waiting until he was too old to enjoy it, he took retirement a little at a time whenever he was able.
Now, most of us can’t do that. We don’t live on a houseboat we won in a poker game and hang out with a bunch of boat bums in Fort Lauderdale. We can’t just stop working anytime we have a few bucks and sail off to the Azores.
That’s not what I’m talking about.
But we can enjoy little bits of retirement, and more importantly, prepare for retirement right now.
Here’s what I mean.
First, you have to know what retirement is; what it means to you. Think about that. What does retirement look like if you envision it? What will be different then than now? Except for that whole not working thing. You can’t do that one now, but how about some of the rest?
Figure out some of the things you will enjoy in retirement that you are not doing now.
Do those things.
The first thing most people think about when they dream of retirement is travel. Maybe not so much lately, but when the world is not in the middle of a pandemic. A friend of mine had planned all these great trips with her husband. She retired the day we went into lockdown. So, a year later, no travel. But what if she hadn’t waited?
I know. I’ve heard all the excuses. I’ve used a few myself. I’d love to travel now, but I can’t because…
But, what happens if you wait and you still can’t? Hopefully, this is the only pandemic of this scope in our lifetimes, but still, there are other things. Things we don’t want to think about. Things we hope don’t happen to us.
But they’ll happen to somebody. And it might be you.
So, don’t wait. Maybe you can’t take a three-week European cruise now, but you can do something. Start planning now for when this thing is over. What is your dream retirement trip? How much of that can you do now? Maybe once every three years, combine all the days off you can cobble together and take that one unforgettable trip. I used to kid with my wife that we took a once-in-a-lifetime trip every other year.
Another thing people think about when retirement rolls around is downsizing. They are now in their sixties, hopefully healthy, empty-nesters, and no longer working.
Hey, I’ve got an idea. Let’s spend the next year and a half getting rid of all the useless crap we’ve accumulated, repair this old house so we can sell it, then spend months looking at real estate.
Don’t do that.
Do some of it now.
Here is a pro-tip if it’s not too late. Read this part carefully; it will be a life-changer.
Are you ready?
A medium drink and small fries are plenty.
You don’t need a McMansion. You aren’t going to impress anyone. Nobody gives a shit. Use what you’ve got. Look at that little starter house you bought, and fast forward thirty or forty years. Think about retiring there. What would you change? Make the place you live in your dream home. You don’t need bigger; you need better. Is there a compelling reason to move? If not, make what you have into your retirment home.
Okay, maybe it’s too late, or you have no doubt you won’t still be in that house at retirement age. You can always simplify things. Do you really need that thing in your Amazon shopping cart? Multiply it times a thousand and then envision having to get rid of it in forty years. I’ll let you in on a secret. Your kids aren’t going to want it. They will be too busy buying their own useless crap to haul yours off.
Start getting rid of stuff now, while you are fit and have the time. Wouldn’t it be easier to get rid of stuff a bit at a time over the next 1,500 weekends than wait and do it all while you are trying to do everything else?
Where do you want to live when you retire? Why wait? We decided we wanted to live in an over-55 community, and it was the best decision we ever made. We made that decision when we were 62. Many of our neighbors made that decision when there were in their 70s and 80s. The key term is 55. That could be ten years before you retire. You could already be settled down in a great community. You retire and all you have to do is drive home. Done.
But I don’t want to live with a bunch of old people. A valid point, but there are a couple of flaws in your argument. First, pretty soon, you are going to be one of them. Second, and here’s another secret. Old is always older than you are. When you were a teenager, 30 was old. And from the time you turn 56 until your 90s, you will likely not be the youngest or oldest in your neighborhood.
That being said, it does take some research. This could easily be the last home you buy, so spend some time doing it. Now. While you are young and have time. Not after you retire, get a contract on your house, and have 30 days to find something.
First, locate all the over-55 communities in your area or the area in which you hope to retire. Look at them in Google maps. Do you have everything relatively close by that you need? You aren’t going to want to drive thirty minutes just to get to a grocery store. Make sure medical care and transportation are on our list of needs.
Once they are narrowed down, drive through them several times. During the week, on the weekends, maybe at night. How is the traffic? What do the people look like? Do they appear active and healthy? For somewhat random reasons, the average age can vary widely from one to another. Is there a clubhouse? Stop and talk to a few people. Ask what they think. Old people will always be happy to tell you what they think. Compare the size of the communities. Smaller is better.
As you look around, check out the construction and maintenance. Some builders do a much better job than others. If you find one you really like, contact the builder and ask about future neighborhoods. There is a lot to be said for moving into a new home in a new community.
I don’t know. That’s for you to figure out. What does retirement look like to you? How much of it can you do now? How much can you do in little pieces over the next few decades? Don’t wait. Never wait. You never know what tomorrow will bring.
Retire a little at a time every chance you get.