Retired women drinking tea and laughing in the garden

Beyond financial planning: Preparing for your retirement lifestyle

When we think about retirement, one of the first things that often pops into our minds is the question of financial security and whether or not we have enough money saved in order to live comfortably. While financial security is a very important matter, there are other key factors to consider when you’re planning for your golden years.

With all the focus on money and financial planning, it can be easy to lose sight of the bigger picture in retirement. Along with planning for financial security in retirement, be sure to spend time focusing on the personal and social aspects of retirement that you may not have considered previously.

Here are some tips to get you started:

Make sure you’re both on the same page.

It may seem obvious, but have discussions about what you envision your retirement years looking like with your spouse or partner. Do you both want to travel? Are you planning to get more involved in a hobby that may keep you busy and away from your spouse? Do you want to move to a smaller home? Do you want to move in with family members? Do you want to take a part time job for a little extra income? It’s very important to share your ideas with your partner about how you hope to spend your retirement years together so you can make plans, compromise when necessary, and avoid any unpleasant surprises. Never assume you’re on the same page until you’ve discussed it, and check in regularly to make sure you’re both still content with your new life.

Be flexible.

You can’t really know what it’s like to be retired until you actually are, so be prepared to feel differently about all that free time once that time finally comes. It’s good to have a plan, but it’s also good to recognize that plans can – and sometimes should – change. Don’t be married to the idea you’ve been dreaming of for the past 20 years if you realize it isn’t one that’s going to make you happy or feel fulfilled once you give it a try.

Make plans.

Yes, we just said to be prepared to change your plans, but it’s important to make them as well. You’ve just spent the last 40+ years dreaming of your retirement, so make sure you enjoy it! You don’t have to fill up every second of every day with activities, but staying socially and physically active is good for your mental and physical health. After all, your working years probably taught you that you have to make an effort to reap the rewards, and the same holds true for your retirement years.

Adjust your lifestyle.

Unless you are somehow bringing in as much money as you did when you were working, you have to adjust your spending to reflect your new income – and you have to ensure that your spouse or partner is doing the same. Check in with each other regularly to avoid surprises, and brainstorm different ways to enjoy a slightly less lavish lifestyle together.

Stay active.

It can be tempting to slow way down once you are finished with the hustle and bustle of early mornings, long commutes, and late nights at the office, but it’s important to keep your body moving. In fact, seniors who are generally fit and have no health conditions that limit their mobility should get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week, and complete strength exercises on two or more days per week that work all major muscles.

Don’t give up.

As much as you may be looking forward to it, when the time comes, there’s no doubt that retirement is a big change that can sometimes leave you feeling a little bewildered. Let yourself feel those feelings, but know that you can choose to continue living an important, fun and active life – you have lots of time still to come!

One of the most important pieces of advice is to do what makes you happy. Other people will always have their opinions about how you should be spending your golden years, but this is your time, and only you know what will give you that glow you’ve been dreaming of, so ignore the naysayers and go live your uniquely wonderful life.

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Kristin Zita

Kristin Zita is an Oakville-based freelance writer with a soft spot for telling stories about extraordinary people and ideas that make a difference. When she’s not tapping the computer keys, she is knitting for charity while pretending to watch hockey with her Leafs-loving husband. You can find her on LinkedIn.