You may envision retirement as the carefree stage of life, but you might also be anxious about losing your paycheck and a set routine.
Perhaps you‘re worried you didn‘t save enough, or maybe you‘re unsure how you‘ll handle not working anymore.
There are ways to lower your financial stress and shed common anxieties after you retire. Here are a few things you may want to watch out for — and some ways to keep calm.
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Running out of money
Running out of money is a common concern among retirees.
If you haven’t already consulted with a financial planner, you should spend some time with a fee-only advisor. They can run the numbers to see how much you’ve saved, evaluate how your money is invested, and project returns for various market conditions.
You should also create an estimated retirement budget that includes travel, hobbies, and any other new activities you plan to pursue.
Then stick to that budget to avoid wasting money on a fixed income.
Inflation can be another concern, one that you can’t control. Inflation will increase the cost of everyday living, such as groceries, utilities, or gasoline.
There are ways to inflation-proof your savings, such as adjusting your estimated savings using an inflation calculator.
Remember that you need to set goals for how much you’ll need in 20 years, with dollar figures adjusted for 20 years in the future.
Health care can quickly drain your savings if you need long-term care in an assisted-living home. Part of your retirement planning should address long-term care issues before you retire.
Long-term care insurance may help cover the cost of care as you get older. But be sure you understand the terms of the policy and what it will and will not cover.
When to take Social Security
You can start receiving your Social Security benefits at age 62, but your monthly payments will be lower than if you wait until your full retirement age.
If you can wait until age 70, you will receive the highest possible amount for the rest of your life.
So where is the sweet spot when it comes to claiming Social Security? That’s up to you and your circumstances. To help you decide, use the estimated payment calculator on the Social Security website to give you a good start.
Too many accounts in different places
You may retire and decide it’s finally time to actively manage your investments.
But your investments may be scattered all over: a 401(k), stocks, real estate, savings accounts, and other types of investments. It can be a bit daunting to unravel it all.
You don’t have to go through the process alone. Consider working with a financial planner, who can help you figure out precisely what you have, where it’s invested, and how to consolidate or clarify your investments going forward.
Another issue you may have when you’re retired is how to fill your days. It’s great to sit and relax for a few days or weeks after you retire, but then what?
Look around your local community and see if there are ways you can contribute. Volunteering at a local or national charity (like Meals on Wheels or the Ronald McDonald House) or even coaching a children’s sport will help you meet new people and do good at the same time.
Too much debt
Debt can be a burden in your retirement years, especially if you’re trying to pay off debt while living on a fixed income.
If you have high-interest debt, such as credit card debt, plan to pay it off before you retire. Paying off a mortgage with a low interest rate isn’t as important as tackling revolving debt.
You don’t want your debt following you to your retired life. You want to spend more of your fixed income on enjoyable activities.
You may have been excited to send your kids off to college or move them into their own apartments. But what happens if your kids need to come back?
It can be tough to add another resident to your home if you don’t have the money to support them.
Before a child returns home, set the ground rules for expenses and share your financial situation. You’re giving your child a home to live in, and they should contribute to the household chores and finances.
Stock market volatility
Investing your money in the stock market can help you earn cash during the good years, but you could lose money if things go down quickly.
Consider historical market crashes and decide how much you can stand to lose, and for how long. You might want to put a stop-loss order on individual stocks so you can control the price at which you sell.
You may also want to reallocate your portfolio so your money is in less risky investments, allowing it to ride out changes in the market.
Inability to switch off
You may have worked in your career for decades and have saved money to retire comfortably. But you might not have anticipated how much you still think about your job when you retire.
It can be tough to switch off, but there are ways to make the transition easier. Involving yourself in your community or picking up a hobby can help you find new purpose.
And if you really miss your industry, consider a side hustle, such as being a teacher to help others learn from your experience.
When you worked, people would ask you for advice or talk to you about what you were doing. You were productive and had projects and goals.
But sitting around every day now that you’re retired could make you feel useless and unable to contribute to the world.
Just as you did when you were working, set goals. You could set big goals, like booking a big vacation, or small ones, like going for a walk each day or visiting your local library each week. Any goal can help get you motivated and moving.
Too many uncontrollables
When things go wrong at work, it can be quite stressful. But it is in those moments when you realize that there were things you could control to get the plan back in place.
Return to this same principle when you’re retired. There are things you can’t control, like the stock market, but there are things you can control, such as working on a home project or spending time with friends.
Focus on those things you can control and pay less attention to things beyond your control.
There are plenty of ways to prepare for retirement, including keeping your anxieties in check and knowing how to respond to them as they come up.
While you may have a target date for your retirement, making a realistic budget for your retired life may help you find a way to retire early.
And if that’s not in the cards, keep saving and investing for your retirement so you’ll be comfortable making the leap when the time comes.