Preparing for retirement is talked about so often before retirement and so little after retirement that you would think the last day of the daily grind is the end game. But in reality, day one of retirement is just the beginning of another adventure.
You've worked hard all your life, and now it's time to kick back, relax, and enjoy the fruits of your labor. But retirement can be 20, 30, or even 40 or more years. Before you live it up early in retirement, make sure you thoroughly understand the implications of and plan for these events that can sting your retirement nest egg years down the road:
Extended long-term care could be needed. For most people, long-term care costs hit suddenly and unexpectedly. Some people end up needing temporary aid, while others will need care for a prolonged period of time.
Your parents may require assistance. Advances in medicine are allowing everybody to live a longer life, which is wonderful because you'll be able to spend more quality time with your parents. But unless they've taken great care with their finances, there may come a time when their nest egg will be depleted. You can help them early by assisting with their financial plan, but you should also make a plan for other ways to support them.
Children may still need help. The economy is finally gathering steam, but many young people are still out of work. You may need (or simply want to) help out your children financially.
You may have unexpected travel plans. Not many people budget for one-time travel plans because they are difficult to foresee. But whether it's going to a grandchild's wedding or your best friend's 50-year wedding anniversary party, there are many occasions you won't want to miss.
Inflation will sap your purchasing power for decades after retirement. The affects of inflation can be felt long before you quit your day job. And this phenomenon that reduces your purchasing power won't stop just because you handed in your resignation letter. In fact, accounting for inflation is even more important for retirees because of the lack of salary increases that working people often get. Make sure you account for inflation in your retirement budget by assuming that you will need to spend a higher and higher amount each year.
Moving costs could be a big expense in retirement. You may decide to migrate to a warmer climate soon after retirement, or you could want to stay close to your children whenever they relocate. Further into retirement, you may want to downsize for medical reasons or to spend less time maintaining a big home. Moving could work out great as long as you can afford the relocation costs.
Expect changes in the tax code and entitlement programs. It's almost impossible to predict what will happen to taxes and entitlement programs down the line. The important point to remember is that nothing is certain, so spread out your risks by diversifying among pre-tax and post-tax retirement accounts as well as not relying too much on entitlement programs. You just never know.
Retirement is often a long journey, and you are likely to encounter many unforeseen costs. Make sure there is room in your retirement budget for a few surprises.
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.