If you create a retirement plan, control your expenses, and practice living below your means, you should have the financial means to retire at a predictable date. You will work, save, and see your account balance grow through time. But acquiring the financial ability to leave the workforce isn’t the only thing you need for a comfortable retirement. Here are a few retirement details that investors often don't think about while building a nest egg:
What are you going to do with your time? There are many hours every day that will need to be filled with productive activities if you are to enjoy a happy and healthy retirement. Also think of the financial impact of these new activities, because you may find that spending time outside of work can mean additional costs that need to be taken into account.
How do you feel about seeing your portfolio value decline? For decades, you are used to seeing your retirement portfolio grow. Even when the market declines, investors generally continue to buy into the market while prices are down, which will benefit them later as the market recovers. Retirees, however, will need to sell at depressed prices for living expenses if the stock market declines. And even if the market continues to grow, many retirees will watch their life savings dwindle each year and wonder if it will last the rest of their life. Make sure you are fully comfortable with your financial picture before you exit your job.
How will family dynamics change once you leave work? It is common for the highest earning family member to be the financial decision maker. Once you quit your job, the financial decision-making structure in your family could change because that person is no longer the breadwinner. Even if you have no doubt about the harmony of your family relationships, it's best to have candid discussions just so everyone is comfortable moving forward.
How will your health change once you no longer have a job? There are some people who will stay in their pajamas all day after retirement. But there could be health consequences if you constantly sit around the house and don’t get any exercise. Staying in shape will take a conscious effort, and dedicating time to being fit will be especially important once you no longer have a day job. This is another reason why you need to think about how you spend time post-retirement, because it would be best to consider adding an exercise routine to your schedule.
And it's not only physical activity that is important. Some people don't stay as sharp after they retire because there are fewer mental challenges to exercise their brain. While cognitive declines are inevitable with age, anyone can drastically help the cause by staying active and avoiding couch potato time.
Is there a plan B? Unforeseen events can derail even the most solid retirement plan. Do you have at least a vague idea of what your plan of action is if you suddenly find yourself needing a bit more income? While developing a comprehensive contingency plan may be going a little overboard, you should at least give some thought to what you will do if you encounter a sudden expense or medical emergency. Consider whether you will be able to delay retirement, get a part-time job, or find other sources of income if you end up needing additional money in retirement.
David Ning runs MoneyNing, a personal finance site that shares money moves you can make to significantly increase your chances of having a comfortable retirement. He likes to share simple changes that anyone can make, such as picking the best online savings account and figuring out whether a 0 percent balance transfer credit card makes sense.