Three Steps for Easing into Retirement

Transitioning into retirement is better than jumping into the unknown.

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Thinking about a future retirement can be fun. Easing into retirement is better than jumping into the unknown. You need to engage in positive steps that can move you closer to a retirement goal, even while you are still working full time. These three steps will help you transition into a successful retirement.

Do some pre-retirement home planning. Do you know where you want to live when you retire? Are you contemplating a move to a state or city where the costs of living are lower? Is a retirement community, condo, or smaller home on your list of possibilities?

[See America's Best Affordable Places to Retire.]

The years near retirement present excellent opportunities for travel to places that may be on your list of potential retirement destinations. Why not combine pleasure with pre-retirement exploratory travel? When you reach your destination, enjoy yourself but also think about whether this could be an area for full time living later. We have done this and found a place that we think will be perfect for our future retirement lifestyle.

Also try out different living accommodations. Go to tours and open houses of communities, condos, and other dwellings that may be different from what you have now. Think about what it would be like to own and live in one. Talk to the other residents and learn from them. One of our visits to an active adult community helped us eliminate a certain retirement living style from our list.

[See 5 Ways to Protect a Surviving Spouse in Retirement.]

Start downsizing. Even if you don’t intend to move into a smaller home, now is a good time to shed a lot of your stuff. You will have to do it sooner or later so why not eliminate things now that complicate your life and take up space? It is a very liberating experience and helps you imagine what a simpler, slower retirement life could be like. You might also make a little extra retirement cash in the process.

[See 3 Retirement Worst Case Scenarios To Avoid.]

Try a retirement budget. A retirement plan should include a spending plan. How else will you know how much to save before you retire? Forget the rules of thumb on retirement spending. Instead, design a hypothetical budget specifically for when you retire. Then make it less hypothetical by attempting to live now on your budgeted retirement income. If you succeed, that will give you a positive feeling about the direction you are heading. If you fail, it may be time for a pre-retirement attitude adjustment.

Mark Patterson is an engineer, patent attorney, baby boomer, and author of The Failsafe Retirement System. He blogs on matters of personal finance and retirement planning at Tough Money Love and Go To Retirement.