Retirement is one of life’s biggest milestones and a major cause for celebration! You should certainly take time to celebrate, but you should also be sure to take the time to plan for your retirement. From assessing your financial situation and addressing healthcare needs before retiring to finding purpose and structure in your day-to-day after retiring, there’s much to do. Use this checklist so you don’t skip a step in your transition to retirement.

Things to do before you retire

Retiring requires careful planning. Below are important steps to protect your health and wealth and set yourself up for a happy retirement. 

Assess your financial situation

Financial planning for retirement can be daunting because, let’s face it, it’s pretty challenging to accurately predict your expenses for the rest of your life. That’s why 75% of Americans working or planning to work in retirement (or past age 65) do so for financial reasons, including: wanting the income, concerns that Social Security will be less than expected, and not having enough retirement savings. 

Budgeting for retirement is challenging but not impossible. If you're unsure where to start, use retirement calculators or work with a financial advisor to see if you're financially prepared.

Wise Advice: The Social Security Administration estimates that $35 billion in benefits will go unclaimed this year. Creating your online Social Security (mySSA) account and verifying that your earnings history is correct can help you get your full Social Security benefits. 

Address changing healthcare needs

Healthcare expenses are among the largest for retirees because medical issues are much more common as we age. These expenses are also annoyingly difficult to predict, as they vary depending on the medical issues you face. The average American couple will spend over $300,000 on healthcare during their retirement, but this number could be significantly higher for many. 

Finding ways to estimate and reduce your healthcare costs can be critical for maintaining your health and wealth in retirement. Staying healthy and active can help you reduce your overall health expenses, yet many health conditions are out of your control. That’s why finding the right Medicare plan when you turn 65 is critical. We recommend working with an unbiased Medicare insurance agent to figure out when to enroll and compare your options. Chapter’s licensed Advisors are the most unbiased agents you’ll find because they compare every option available to you and aren’t influenced by insurance companies’ commissions. Click this link to schedule a time to speak with a Chapter Advisor

Review your estate plan

Almost every adult should have an estate plan in place. If you don't have one when you retire, consider creating one to protect your assets and loved ones. If you do have one, it’s a good time to review the different parts of your estate plan, including your will, trust, power of attorney, and HIPAA authorization. You may work with any number of the professionals below to create and review your estate plan over the years:

  • Lawyer

  • Accountant

  • Financial planner

  • Life insurance advisor

  • Banker

Plan for your day-to-day

It’s important to get your affairs in order before you retire, but it’s also important to think about what you want life to look like in retirement. I've heard at least a few stories about people who retire without a day-to-day plan and then return to work because they get bored. 

Before retiring, consider:

  • How you’ll get physical exercise

  • What new things you’d like to try

  • Whether or not you’d like to travel

  • Choosing hobbies to try out

  • How you’ll stay socially active

By thinking about your daily life and how you'll spend your time in retirement, you'll be better prepared to enjoy retirement and avoid boredom.

Things to do after you retire

Some of your retirement tasks can wait until after you officially retire. There are also things you should do once you’ve retired to ensure you have a rewarding retirement—because you deserve it!

Get the structure you need

Retirement is a time of unparalleled freedom and flexibility, allowing us to shed the constraints we face while working. However, this newfound freedom can also make it challenging to establish a routine and maintain structure in your daily life. People have different needs when it comes to structure, so you should evaluate and adjust as you embark on this new phase of life. 

Many retirees set goals to give them something to focus on each day. Goals can also help us feel a sense of purpose, which has health benefits, including reducing your chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Others find that creating a daily routine or checklist can help them ease the transition from working. Finally, making plans—whether for social outings or dedicated relaxation time—helps many retirees feel structure without routine.

Try new things

Retirees often have more time than they know what to do with. This time is perfect for trying new things and finding what sparks joy in your life. Not sure what to try? Check out our list of hobbies for seniors to find your next activity. If you don’t enjoy one hobby, move on to another—you have the time and freedom to do so!

Get daily physical activity

Even outside of retirement, Americans tend to live relatively sedentary lifestyles. Without a job that requires you to get out of the house, you may find it easy to fall into a sedentary routine. Getting daily (or at least regular) physical activity is critical during retirement because it helps you maintain both your physical and mental wellbeing. If you’re new to exercise or just not sure where to start, consider these low impact exercises for seniors and beginners—and if all else fails, consider walking around your neighborhood or dancing around your living room.

Stay socially engaged

Unfortunately, in the US, 43% of adults aged 60 and older report feeling lonely. Loneliness and social isolation are not to be ignored! They’re connected to various medical conditions, including dementia and heart disease. 

Staying socially engaged as you transition into retirement will not only help you stay active but also help you maintain your health. If you’re out of practice or struggling to stay social, consider joining a club, volunteering, or creating standing dates with friends and family. 

You can also consider online groups and communities for seniors to make new friends in your age group. Once you’ve made connections online, consider meeting in person to grow your budding relationships. 

Retirement communities are another great way to open up your social options. With clubs and regularly scheduled activities and outings, social engagement can be easier to find. 

Continue to assess your needs

Check in with yourself regularly to address your budget, healthcare needs, living situation, social engagement, and physical activity. Over time, you'll find the right frequency to address each of these needs. Regarding your healthcare needs, we highly recommend you assess them at least once a year during the Medicare Open Enrollment Period to ensure you’re receiving the best Medicare coverage for your specific situation. 

If you need help enrolling in Medicare, comparing options, or switching coverage, contact a Chapter Medicare Advisor who will answer your questions and guide you through the process. Our advice is always free!

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