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  • 3-Minute Article
  • |
  • Mar 23, 2018

Making a Successful Transition to Retirement

Take a mindful approach to preparing for life’s next stage.

Talking retired woman featured in an article about retirement transition

Created in Collaboration with Kiplinger.

The transition to retirement can be a big one. But just as with any other major life change – getting married, buying a house, having children – anticipating and planning for new circumstances can help you navigate the transition and achieve the retirement you envision.

The first step? Consider streamlining some areas of your life.

Keep it simple

That’s what Josie Marin is doing. A second-grade teacher in El Paso, Texas, Marin plans to teach for only two more years, and at age 60, she is excited about her upcoming retirement. For her, a mindful approach to the transition means clearing clutter of all kinds from her life. The goal? To have less to worry about, and to make time for other things she’d like to do. For example, joining a book club.

“I’m getting rid of things,” she says. “I’m trying to declutter, because I want to keep things simple going forward.”

She's also considering selling the rental property she has owned for years, so that her assets are easier to access, and to lessen extra responsibilities as she transitions to retirement.

In addition, Marin is also simplifying her finances as much as she can. For example, she has trimmed the number of credit cards she uses, limiting herself to just one for regular use. That makes it easier for her to track her charges and re-payment schedule, giving her a clearer picture of expenses as retirement comes into view.

“[As I get older], I don’t want things to be too complicated,” she says. “I’m able-bodied and my mind is fine, but I don’t want to get bogged down.”

That’s the kind of advanced planning that can help make the move into retirement a smoother transition. By simplifying, pre-retirees can focus more clearly on achieving their retirement dreams. Here are some other strategies to consider.

Create a vision board

Mission statements aren’t just for businesses. Many people are creating focused plans for retirement by listing, very briefly, how they see themselves and what they’d like their retirement to look like.

To solidify plans, do some self-reflection. Then, jot down a few sentences to outline a retirement vision and identify ways you might achieve those goals. Sharing those plans with your financial professional is another important step toward identifying specific ways to financially support what you envision.

Returning to this vision board often keeps plans top-of-mind, and can help motivate people to take action to achieve them.

Explore phased retirement

The desire for part-time work opportunities is growing, as is the number of employers offering various accommodations. Nearly 20% of employers offer either formal or informal types of phased retirement programs today, up from 12% four years ago.1

What’s behind the increasing popularity? Phased arrangements allow pre-retirees to scale back working hours while maintaining certain workplace benefits and giving their savings more time to grow. This allows them to begin pursuing new options in retirement, whether it’s spending more time on hobbies or exploring a new career. And that kind of financial flexibility can be a big help when it comes to planning a smoother transition.

Consider ways to stay socially involved

Plenty of evidence points to the benefits of social connectivity. For instance, research has found that adults over age 50 who volunteer report better physical health and higher levels of well-being than their counterparts who do not volunteer.2 Consulting in their professional field or pursuing entrepreneurial ventures can also offer some of the same benefits as volunteering by helping retirees remain active and involved in their communities.

Marin, for example, intends to keep her options open. In retirement, she may work as a substitute teacher, offer her services as a tutor, or find another type of part-time work. This plan allows her to remain engaged while maintaining more control over her time.

“I’ve got all these ideas of things I’d rather be doing,” she says. “If I sub or tutor, I pick the days and I have lots of freedom.”

Take it slow

Some life changes come quickly. Retirement doesn’t have to be one of them. As much as possible, test drive the decisions that feel right today.

If you haven’t already, start a conversation with your financial professional about the retirement you want to lead. Your advisor can help design a financial plan that will enable you to pursue it.

Kiplinger has an in-house content studio, which reports on investing, retirement planning and wise money management for its partner organizations, providing trustworthy advice and guidance for their readers.
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