20 Steps To Take In The Year Before Retirement

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Having just come through it myself, I can assure you that the year before retirement can be hectic. Fortunately, I took good notes and am sharing with you today these steps to take in the year before retirement.

Follow these 20 Steps In The Year Before Retirement to smooth your transition. Click To Tweet

Change Management is hard, and moving from a multi-decade routine of “work” to a new life as “retired” is one of the biggest changes you’ll make in life.  It touches almost every facet of life, and it’s disruptive.  Follow these 20 Steps To Take In The Year Before Retirement to ensure a smooth transition from the working world into the retirement you’ve always dreamed of.

Today, I’m taking a “deeper dive” into the detailed steps we took in the final year of our working careers.  This article is in response to a request from a reader, and I hope it proves valuable to anyone approaching their final year of work.

For most folks, I’d encourage you to start getting serious about retirement when you’re ~5 years away.  I created The Ultimate Retirement Planning Guide to assist folks as they plan for retirement, with specific steps for folks at various stages in their retirement journey (from mid-career, 5+ years out, 2-3 years out, 1 year out and post-retirement).  Today, we’ll look in detail at the final year.

** TIP **  If you’re more than 1 year away from retirement, cut/paste a link to this article on your calendar one year prior to your planned retirement date, then refer to it when the time is right.


20 Steps To Take In The Year You Retire

Think of something as simple as where you keep your calendar.  If you’re like me, you kept it on your work computer, and it was synched on your work cell phone.  Now, imagine that calendar is suddenly taken away from you.

My calendar was taken away from me on June 8th.  As was my address book, my cell phone, my computer, and my paycheck.  Fortunately, it wasn’t a big deal for me.  I’d developed intentional steps to take in the year before retirement, and the transition went smoothly.

Imagine your calendar suddenly disappearing. Mine did, on June 8th. No problem, I took these 20 steps to prepare in my final year of work. Click To Tweet

1. Maintain A Checklist

18 months before retirement, I started a checklist with everything I had to address before retirement.  You can start with the 20 items from this post, then add to it as specific tasks come to mind.  It was a lifesaver for me and became the roadmap that led my tasks as I made my final preparations for retirement.  I listed each month between “now” and “retirement”, then populated various tasks into each month and referred to the list each month to ensure I was on track.   It doesn’t have to be fancy. Here’s an actual screenshot from March, with X’s to confirm the tasks were compete:


2. Talk To Your Boss, and Talk To HR

As I laid out my 12-month checklist, I planned several meetings with my boss and the Human Resources department.  My first meeting was with my boss at the one year mark, as I’d decided I was going to be very transparent about my plans and allow time for a smooth succession.  It was a risk to approach “the boss” so early, but I felt it was important to provide my employer with as much time as possible to plan for my departure.  I have no regrets about my approach, and my employer appreciated my support in the transition planning.

I also had numerous meetings with HR, starting at higher level discussions and branching down into some very specific meetings with “specialists” (COBRA insurance, timing to ensure I maximized my bonus payout, transition deadlines, etc.).  I also clarified the terms of my non-compete agreement, given that I had been offered a Board Of Director role at a company in our industry when they learned of my retirement  (note, I did NOT accept the offer until I had clarified the non-compete with our Senior Management team.  Do it right or don’t do it at all.)

My final meeting with HR was actually my last work-related activity, as I turned in my laptop, company credit card, building security pass, parking permit, etc.  It was a positive experience, enhanced by my transparent approach to my retirement plans.


3. Talk To Your Spouse

It may seem obvious, but retirement doesn’t just affect the person leaving the workforce.  In our case, my wife had been a stay-at-home Mom since our daughter was born, and the adjustment of having me home all of the time was going to be a big change in the way she’d lived her life for 20+ years.  If you’re married, make sure you’re planning retirement together.  Incorporate things that are important to both of you for your retirement dreams, and keep an ongoing discussion about the big changes you’re both going through.

While you’re busy at work in the final year, it’s easy to forget that you won’t be spending time with your co-workers after you retire.  Recognize that your spouse is more important than your work, and treat him/her accordingly.  You’re going to be spending a lot of time together in retirement, it’s important to get it started on the right foot.  Unfortunately, “gray divorce” is a real thing, and I suspect many of these unhappy endings could have been avoided if spouses took the time to talk with each other about their individual desires for retirement.


4. Migrate Your “Personal” Stuff from Work

For years, I used Microsoft for everything.  I had tons of personal files on my work computer (it was my only “real” computer for years, though I did have a personal Chromebook I used for writing my blog).  I didn’t want to pay for Microsoft in retirement, and I was happy with the Google toolbox (Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, etc).  I spent ~12 months migrating my “personal” files from Microsoft on my laptop to my personal Google Drive, converting them from Microsoft to Google formats in the process.  Every time I opened a “personal” spreadsheet or file on my laptop, I either migrated/converted it on the spot, or added it to my checklist of items I needed to migrate.  It took some time, but it was manageable.  


5. Migrate To A Password Manager

I started keeping track of usernames and passwords YEARS before password managers were invented, and I (like many of you, I suspect) simply kept using the system I had developed to keep track of them all.  For me, I “hid” them in my work files, which were kept on a secure server behind my companies firewall.  It worked fine for years, but I knew I’d lose access to them after I retired.  It was time to migrate to a password manager.

It took forever to migrate all of my accounts to a password manager, but it was well worth the effort. Click To Tweet

For a year, every time I logged into a site which required me to “look up” my password, I made sure it was captured in my password manager.  For the record, I chose LastPass and have been happy with it, though I’m sure any of the top shelf password managers would suffice.  LastPass automatically captures a new site and saves it, so most of my sites were captured simply by having it in place “long enough” to ensure I’d signed into most of my important accounts.  In the final few months of work, I went through all other accounts still in my secret “work file” hiding place, and made sure they were captured in LastPass before I walked out the door for the last time in June.

LastPass also has a place to keep “Secure Notes” which I used to save confidential information I’d previously kept “hidden” behind my companies firewall (e.g., my “loyalty card numbers”, and instructions for how to unfreeze my “frozen credit files” should I ever need to apply for credit).


6. Update Your Profile Data

As you work through the various sites via your Password Manager, take a few minutes to ensure your personal profile data is updated on the various sites.  If you’ve listed your work phone/email, make sure you update it to reflect your post-retirement contact information.  If you’ve used your work email to sign up for newsletters, make sure you migrate them to your personal email.

I made a point of watching my work email throughout my final year and taking a few minutes to update any site which sent me emails to my work address.  It’s surprising how many different places you’ve used your work e-mail, and it’s impossible to remember them all.


7. Design & Implement Your Retirement Paycheck

As I wrote in How To Build A Retirement Paycheck, I designed a system where I would keep ~3 years of cash in “Bucket 1”.   I designed a system where ~1 year of these funds would be kept in a separate account at CaptialOne, from which I would set up automated transfers 2X/month into our personal checking account (my “retirement paycheck”).  No other “spending money” would be transferred in retirement (e.g,. I intentionally kept my Vanguard Money Market account “off limits”, for use only in managing my investment portfolio and not funding my retirement expenses). By simply looking at my Jan 1 vs. Dec 31 balance in the CapitalOne account, I could easily quantify my annual retirement expenses which had been funded from my portfolio.

As I worked through the final 12 months, I established and funded the CapitalOne account, and did my final detailed analysis on funding requirements.  For some reason, I was only able to transfer $10k at a time to CapitalOne, so I was happy that I had built sufficient time into my plan to transfer money over several months.


8. Establish And Migrate To A Personal Calendar

I had always used my “work” calendar to track all of life’s activities.  This calendar “lived” on the Microsoft exchange on our company servers and was automatically synced to my work cell phone. I would no longer have access to either of these tools after my retirement and had to develop a personal calendar.

I decided on Google Calendar and began putting all personal items on Google calendar to get familiar with it.  I also entered anything which was scheduled for after my retirement date on the Google calendar, and continue to use it to this day.  No calendar entries were lost in my transition into retirement, but it took a plan and implementation well before my retirement date to ensure nothing was lost.7.


9. Copy Your Work Address Book

Similar to my calendar, I’ve always kept my address book on my work computer.  Since I first had a PalmPilot way back in 1998, I’ve been storing contact information electronically.  Most recently, it was all kept in Microsoft, again on our company server.

Fortunately, I had a friendly IT Help Desk contact who was sympathetic to my cause and invested significant effort on his part to migrate all of my information from my work server to Google Contacts. This was one of the items I worried about as I thought about my retirement, but I was fortunate to find a way to capture over 20 years of contact information and continue to maintain those addresses post-retirement.

Ironically, with Social Media these days, the majority of my post-retirement contact with folks I’ve known over the years has been through the Instant Messaging platform on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.  If you don’t yet have a presence on LinkedIn, I’d suggest you set it up before you retire, it’s a great way to keep in touch with previous colleagues once you’ve retired.


10. Develop a Plan For Health Insurance

As outlined in Health Insurance:  Unsolved, I made the decision after several meetings with HR to extend my company insurance for 18 months under the COBRA plan.  This is not a decision you want to make in your final month of work.  Build it into your monthly checklist (Item #1 above) in various stages.  For example, 12 months out I started doing some preliminary research on COBRA and other options.  As I got closer to my retirement date, I started fine tuning my decision.  I also learned (in another HR meeting) that it’s best, if possible, to avoid scheduling any doctors appointments for ~a month after you retire to ensure the transition to COBRA is implemented with the minimal chance of disruption.


11. Decide On Your Pension Details

As mentioned in Our Retirement Investment Drawdown Strategy, I realize I’m a fortunate dinosaur, and having a pension is rare these days.  My company discontinued pensions for new hires more than 10 years ago, but elected to “grandfather in” existing employees.  Whew, close call.  With 33 years at one employer, the pension is a significant element in our retirement plan, but it has to be managed.  As mentioned in the Drawdown post, I elected to defer the start of my pension.  The process of understanding my options and implications took several months and is something you want to add to your checklist at least 6 months before your retirement date.

For those without pensions, you should add an item to your checklist to ensure you understand any retiree benefits you do have available to you, and optimize them for your situation.


12. Dream More, Work Less

“Work Less” isn’t really what I mean by this point.  Rather, it’s to realize that when you retire your work activity will cease.  Rather than approach retirement as a “Cliff” (see Unprepared For Retirement), be intentional with your mind in your final year of retirement.  I never “worked less” while I was actually at work, but mentally I was changing gears.

Spend time dreaming about what you want your retirement life to be, and spend less time thinking about work-related activity.  Start building a Bucket List of things you want to accomplish in retirement, including things beyond “travel”.  Research has shown that this is one of the most important steps you can take to ensure a smooth transition to retirement, so make sure it’s on your checklist as you work through your final year.  For further details on this topic, read my post “Will Retirement Be Depressing“.


13. Start Some Hobbies

On a similar note, find some time in your final year of work to experiment with a few hobbies that interest you.  Don’t wait until retirement to decide what you’re going to do, but rather spend the final year of work exploring some potential areas so you’ll “hit retirement running”.  Research groups in your area that interest you.  Join a local gym.  Get more active at your church.  Start being intentional in expanding your circle of friends outside of work.

Dream more, and start experimenting with the things you’re dreaming about.


Buy your toys before you retire.

14. Buy Your Retirement Toys

As you think about retirement, think about the “toys” you’ll need to live the retirement you’re dreaming of.  In our case, it was a 5th wheel and a truck to pull it with.  I’ve heard from others who have gone before me that it’s difficult to make these “larger acquisitions” after you retire and that paycheck stops, so build them into your plan for the year prior to retirement.

We built a spreadsheet to help us achieve our “Starting Cash Level” for Day 1 of retirement.  In the year leading up to retirement, we listed all of the projected inflows (e.g., Bonus) and outflows (e.g., RV) to keep ourselves on track to achieve the Day 1 cash level without overspending.

We hit our targeted Day 1 level, and we secured our retirement toys without anxiety.  Now that we’re retired, we have peace of mind that we’ve positioned our retirement to be the best that it can be, without overspending on the “toys” we’ll be using in retirement.


15. Address Your Retirement Housing

Don’t wait until retirement to figure out your post-retirement housing situation.  In our case, we intentionally made The Move From Good To Great while we were still working.  It worked well for us and allowed us to enter retirement all settled into our retirement cabin in the Appalachian Mountains.

A friend of mine retired a month before me and decided to move from Atlanta to Spokane for their retirement.  Since his job was in Atlanta, they decided to wait until shortly before their retirement to put their Atlanta home on the market and made the transition to Spokane via RV shortly after their retirement.

Others decide to retire in place and should consider which upgrades/modifications they’d like to make to their home for retirement.  Planning those upgrades during your last year of work makes sense, as spending for the upgrades is less stressful when there’s still a paycheck flowing.

Do whatever works for you, but make sure you think about your retirement housing options during your final year of work.


16. Replace Your Hardware

Prior to retirement, I never owned a personal cell phone!  Since my employer allowed us to use our company phones for personal use, it never made sense to spend money on something I was able to use for free.  As I approached retirement, I worked with our IT team to understand how I could migrate my cell phone number from my work phone to a personal phone, allowing me to keep the number I’d had for years.  We were able to work it out, and it allowed all of the folks who had my “old” cell number to keep in touch with me after I retired.

Several years ago I decided to migrate to a Chromebook for my blog work when my personal laptop computer wore out.  For retirement, since I’d no longer have access to my work laptop, I decided to buy a “real” laptop for use with video and photography editing, as well as podcast interviews.


17. Make A Retirement Budget, and Live On It

By the one year mark, you should have a pretty good estimate of your annual retirement expenses. Aside from the “one-off” expenses outlined above, attempt to live your day-to-day life within your projected retirement budget.  A year before my retirement date, for example, I stopped buying clothes.  While there are obvious expenses you’ll have while working (commuting, meals), make an effort to replicate your retirement lifestyle and expenses.  If you find yourself spending more than you’ve planned for retirement, it’s good to know while there’s still time to make adjustments.


18. Put A Countdown App On Your Phone

I enjoyed watching my countdown app whittle away throughout my last year of work.  It was a helpful reminder of the reality that retirement was coming, and helped me focus on the important things.  Find a way to distract yourself from the busy-ness of work, and keep your primary effort on ensuring the best possible transition into retirement.


19. Take Time To Say Goodbye

Work life is hectic, and it will remain so until the end.  I was intentional in dedicating my last month of work to saying goodbye, and I’m pleased with the way my career ended.  Plan some business trips to say goodbye to the folks who have meant the most to you through your career, and start letting your successor run the day-to-day business.  After you retire, you’ll no longer have an opportunity to say goodbye the “right” way, so prioritize it while you’re still working.

Carve out some time in your final weeks to write a few personal notes.  Make some phone calls to say goodbye to folks you won’t be able to see.  Plan more lunches out with “friends” over your final months.  Let folks know you appreciate them and have enjoyed working with them. We all think we’ll keep in touch after retirement, but no one really does.  Sad, that.  Realize it’s likely going to happen to you, and take time to say goodbye before it’s too late.


20. Enjoy The Ride

Perhaps most importantly, take time to enjoy the final year of your working career.  You’ve come a long way since you started your career, and you’ve put yourself in a position to be able to retire.  Congratulations!  Enjoy The Ride, and be introspective as you go through many “work-related” things for the final time.

I enjoyed sitting through our final budgeting meetings. 

I smiled as we talked about the need to prepare the dreaded annual strategic plan.  I joked with my boss as we did my final year’s performance appraisal.  Have some fun with your final year at work, and don’t stress about it.  Before you know it, it’s all going to be behind you and you’ll be living an entirely new life.  This is your last year of work. 

Smile more, and worry less.


Conclusion

The transition into retirement is a major life change.  Having a detailed plan to manage that transition was helpful in our retirement, and I recommend you consider developing your own steps to take in the year before retirement.  By using these 20 items as the baseline for your personal checklist, you’ll have less stress through the journey and be able to enjoy your final year of work.

You’ve worked hard to get to this point.  It’s time to reap the rewards.

Enjoy your final year.

You’re going to love retirement.

47 comments

  1. Good tips. I did most of my planning during the last six weeks at work because it wasn’t possible to provide a years notice. I did 18 months Cobra. I also set up some one day a week side gigs that I stepped seamlessly into the day I retired that provided me the same free cell phone, phone plan and all the computer toys I was used to. The gigs also act as an off ramp from the full time work world to, possibly, full retirement some day. So far its been a great three year ride!

  2. Fritz,

    Very complete pre-retirement checklist. I followed your retirement footsteps – I was about 3 months behind you – and all your articles were very helpful !

    I have one additional suggestion that didn’t affect you, but has taken months to sort out… Like you I had a company cell phone that was my primary phone. When I retired my company kept the phone AND the PHONE NUMBER ( I had thousands of customers that used that number and my work cellphone went to my replacement). Over the years my company cell phone number was my contact number in many different places- Doctor, dentist, online accounts, credit card accounts, financial accounts, iCloud accounts, password updating, etc,etc…..

    My suggestion is to get your new cellphone number several months ahead of retirement and start updating every account that has your work cellphone number – I was amazed at how many places I had listed my cellphone contact number – there maybe a few still out there… I has been a pain, in many cases the only way to close an account or change a password is to enter a code that is sent to the old work cellphone number that they have listed in your contact information….
    Hopefully this suggestion can save other retirees from having to untangle their cellphone contact information after they retire….

    Skip

      1. Totally agree with this. I had to give up my work phone number that I had for more than 15 years. That’s a lot of contacts! I ran a second phone for my last 6 months (a pain to have to carry two, but worth it) Before I handed in my work phone, I went through all the contacts that I wanted to keep, and sent texts to them all from my new phone, so they could keep me as a contact with minimal effort on their part….

  3. Fritz, we appreciate you sharing your step by step guides. What is even better is that these steps are what you actually did and learned!

    We are in the 5 year mode right now. I have been reading your Retirement Guide and setting up excel spreadsheets to keep track (I drive Mrs. r2e crazy with my lists but it works!).

    The whole workplace connection thing messed me up when I was suddenly reorganized out of a job. I lost most of my contacts and their information and have been slowly rebuilding them through social media – especially Linked In.

    1. Wow, someone actually read my Retirement Guide?! Haha. Actually, I was surprised to learn today that The Ultimate Pre-Retirement Checklist was my MOST READ post of 2018! Woot Woot. Glad my words are helping you on your journey!

      Ironic, I hadn’t thought about the usefulness of my tips for someone who got downsized. Sorry that happened to you, hope folks learn from that and take steps to protect their info while there’s time!

    2. Great example of why it can be beneficial to maintain a current backup copy of all contact information, both phone numbers and email addresses.

  4. This is a really great list. Since we did not take COBRA, I’d like to mention one thing we did. We both went for a Lifeline Screening test when it came in our area. This gave us a little extra peace of mind to buy a high-deductible health plan as our first time on the private market. Since then we’ve also selected Bronze plans with Obamacare that have the higher deductibles. Yes, we never know when a big health event will occur, but it helped to know that we passed a few extra screenings with good results. Similarly, we visited the doctor and did the tests that were covered by our health insurance.

    One expensive item that was covered was full-mouth x-rays at the Dentist. My husband’s plan covered it once every 5 years and we just happened to be able to do it. Since then we’ve limited our x-rays to once every 3 years, which was recommended by our sister-in-law who is a dental hygienist.

  5. This is a good list and I agree with all of it. I know your blog is aimed at DIYers but personally one thing I found very valuable was finding a good financial planner who specializes in retirement planning. I spent several years looking and interviewing some and even trying one on a limited basis before I ended up with a good one. I recognize this is not for everyone, particularly readers of this site, but a holistic planner (which is much, much, much more than and investment advisor) made a big difference to me.

    1. Rob, I know a lot of DIYers read my blog, but I also encourage folks who DON’T want to DIY their personal finances to reach out to a CFP/Professional. It’s simply too important an area in life to leave to chance. Good addition to the discussion, and a very appropriate “checklist item” for those facing retirement without the knowledge to Do It Themselves. Also, I agree with the need for a retirement planning specialist. Critical point. Thanks for stopping by.

  6. Very informative. I am about 16 months out from probable retirement. I appreciate your ideas. My single largest concern is what to do with my time. I don’t have any real hobbies except going to the gym, church, and playing with my dogs. I used to play music in a rock band but I’m probably a little old for that. 😉

    1. That’s a good thing to be concerned with, Marshall. I found the last 1-2 years of my working career were filled with much more thought about THAT question than any of the financial issues. You’ve got time, and you’re focused on the right area. I hope my words can help (I’ve written a LOT about that topic!).

      BTW, you’re never too old to Rock. Just ask The Rolling Stones… (I saw Paul McCartney when he was ~70, and he put on an incredible show). Time for you to start a new band….

    2. Hi Fritz, This is a great checklist, but as a teacher and public employee my last year looked a little different…however we did pay attention to funding our toys ! Must prioritize after all! (boats and truck to tow them) We also solidified our housing decisions, among many other tasks. Although there is overlap, perhaps a modified checklist for employees in the public sector might be helpful.
      And there are still some tasks we have yet to accomplish, such as streamlining our bank accounts since we have sold our rental homes and found an issue in that that my checking account is in a NE bank that has no presence in FL -working it out, but never thought about it once until we got here! We have always paid for our own cellphones since teachers rarely get those perks, but we are looking into reducing their monthly cost by accessing one of the 55+ plans out there. There are bound to be things that carryover into retirement’s first year. I guess that is why a checklist is so helpful. Thanks again for a really useful post for folks!

      1. Nancy, good point about public sector employees perhaps having a different list. Since I’ve always worked in the private sector, afraid that’s outside my experience. Also, thanks for pointing out banking, I should have included that. Our bank doesn’t have a location near our cabin (nearest one is over an hour away), but we’ve elected not to change since we can do all of our banking online, anyway. Had to learn how to deposit a check using their app, but not a big deal!

  7. Enjoyed this post.
    I’m probably 5 years out from retirement. Starting in 2018, I’m getting major renovations done on The Best House in Melbourne so that when I retire, Old Lady Frogdancer won’t have to deal with the expense. My goal is to have the house looking shmicko before I pull the pin.

    1. FROGDANCER!! I’m still laughing about “Old Lady” gaff in our last exchange. Oh my, oh my. Checked out your blog, your “About” page is one of the most powerful stories I’ve ever read. Fuel oil and children…brought tears. You’re an excellent writer, and I’m honored to have you following my blog! I hope the “old lady” is still reading and writing many years from now….

  8. Fritz,

    Excellent list and follow up to your retirement guide. I don’t work in a company culture that allows the year’s notices but I people will figure out what I’ve been doing. LinkedIn has been incredible, I’ve saved work contacts but the majority of people are on social networks.

    Figuring out housing is going to be the end of me, not enough time to search pre-retirement and would rather not float two houses post retirement.

  9. Fritz, on the eve of my official retirement after 37+ years, i want to thank you for helping me through my last year when I became aware of your fantastic blog. I’ve looked forward to your posts every week and have found the variety and quality of topics to be incredible. Unfortunately I am somewhat in retirement limbo since I am a furloughed Federal employee. This is resulting in the last days of my career not going according to plan. I am told that my official retirement date of Jan 3 will be honored no matter when the government opens again. Again, thank you for helping me prepare for this big and exciting change.

    1. Wow, ironic that you’re: 1) A Reader of this blog, who is 2) retiring, at exactly 3) the time of a government shutdown! Hey, maybe this shutdown will last a while, and you can defer your retirement date without having to work! On a serious note, I feel for gov’t employees who aren’t getting paid, shows the importance of not living paycheck to paycheck. Fortunately, you were ready to retire, so I’m sure you’ll get through it all fine once the dust settles. Good luck, interesting story! I’ll think of you whenever I see news stories on the shutdown! May make for an interesting guest post, depending on how it unwinds (Title that comes to mind is “He Wanted To Retire, But The Government Was Shutdown!”). Let’s keep in touch.

      1. Thank you. Yes, let’s keep in touch. This is not how I envisioned the beginning of my retirement. Today I was allowed to go into my office to continue cleaning out paper files and gathering personal effects, but was not allowed to log in to my computer. In a building that normally houses 2000+ people, I didn’t see another person for 6 hours. I am going to be ok, but I am worried about many of my colleagues and especially the contractors in the cafeteria and cleaning crew who will definitely lose pay.

  10. I’m using the T-Zero countdown timer app and it’s free. For the record, I’m at 87 days, 18 hours, 43 minutes and 54 seconds until my final day at work.

    Great advice on the check lists. It’s truly a process..

    1. Short of smiling through budget meetings, I don’t think anything brought a bigger smile to my face during my last year than watching my retirement countdown app work toward zero. Enjoy the ride, and congratulations on your April retirement!

  11. Good list, Fritz. You are fortunate to have a respectful employer. When I left one long term employer I needed my boss to fight so I could keep my cell number. They still wiped the phone.

    I haven’t bought into Google yet as a MS replacement as I am more paranoid about my privacy. Google already creeps me out. Just returning from a European trip. Before leaving, Google maps sent me links to download offline maps of each town we would be staying in. Information derived from gmails with hotel sites and VRBO. While helpful, it is disconcerting, too.

  12. What a great list. I wish I had seen it a year or so ago.

    If you are able to negotiate it (and you do not actually hate your job!) I would recommend going part time before you FIRE. I went to 3/5ths for a few years which allowed me at least a glimpse of what retirement could look like and was very useful for firing up the hobbies and getting family used to the idea. It also allowed a fatter fire.

    I had originally intended to continue part time until 55 but, unfortunately, my employer made a bad miscalculation which led me to trigger my F-You money clause! The only thing that has suffered is no 14 on the list. I totally agree buying toys is much harder after the earned income stops – I guess the tanking market is also not helping here – even though it is budgeted for in my cash bucket.

    Finally, that is one good looking 5th wheel and truck. I thought buying new and /or expensive gear got you kicked out of the FIRE community!! the reason for the comment is that I am just about to buy a brand new car myself. In mitigation it is replacing the last brand new car I bought 15 years ago which my daughter is having when she passes her driving test. To be honest I have never really understood why there is such revulsion over buying new cars. Sure they depreciate but so does pretty much every other product you can buy.

    1. PJ, I couldn’t agree more with the suggestion to go part time. Unfortunately, it wasn’t an option in my situation. For those where it may be feasible, a good addition to the list! And yes, go get your toys. It’s in your budget, and it wasn’t your fault that your employer miscalculated. Buy new, the retirement police are only a figment of your imagination! (It’s your retirement, live it as you want to live it, and don’t worry what others think! Smiles). For the record, I’m not against buying new if the buyer has demonstrated the ability to drive it for 15 years. Go splurge, you’ve earned it (assuming you don’t overspend what’s in your budget!).

  13. Great stuff Fritz. Lucky that you have a pension and need to think about what to do with it. Will have to take a look at all these steps again once we get closer to RE. 🙂

  14. Fritz – I FIREd last June, and I followed a very similar checklist. My wife and I shared a Google Sheets spreadsheet with over 190 rows of to do items! Our list included everything about leaving our jobs and going COBRA as well as all to do’s related to selling our current house and buying and moving into our new house (we geoarbitraged as part of the transition). Our action items spanned about six months.

    One thing that made the transition easier is that I have always kept a separation (or “firewall”) between my work IT and personal life IT. I have always kept calendars, email, files, etc. on separate platforms or computers. This practice also pays off if you switch jobs with any frequency (which I did in my last few years of employment). Much of your advice is just good common sense and best practice irrespective of FIRE (e.g. store passwords and secure data in a password manager).

    One tip for anyone who wants to use a company cell phone but keep some separation of contact info: Use Google Voice. If you layer Google Voice (or a similar solution) on top of your work phone, you can give out your Google Voice number for all personal contacts and your “native” carrier phone number for all business contacts. Then, when you have to give up your phone and replace it with a personal phone (or phone from a subsequent employer), you can just reconfigure your Google Voice to ring on the new number. I also kept my email, calendars, and contacts clearly separated on my phone by using different clients for work context (e.g. Microsoft Outlook app for iOS) and for personal context (e.g. Apple native apps for mail, contacts and calendar — or you could use Google equivalents).

    1. 190 ROWS! Holy Cow. Good example of how much planning is required in the final year!

      You were fortunate to have “compartmentalized” your personal from work life. Given that I was at the same employer for 33 years, throughout the evolution from paper to “e”, mine became hopelessly intertwined. At the same time, it would have been challenging to operate from two separate systems for all of those years.

      Great additional tip with the Google Voice option. Good solution from someone who doesn’t think they’ll be able to keep their work number when they migrate to retirement. Thanks for the comment.

  15. Now that’s serendipity: I’m 12 months out from early-ish retirement and along comes your most excellent post “20 steps to take in the year before retirement”. Although I’m excited about retirement, I’m also a bit stressed about such a big step-function change in our life. Your post really helps – thanks Fritz!

  16. What great read and love the comments on everybodys different situations keep this posts coming !
    Kind Reguards to all

  17. You hit all of the key areas, some of those things that some would not think about. I can relate to your list. I had a plan to sell my business, stay a while and retire. The company that bought my business agreed to keep me on to actually manage the business. We never talked about my retirement. About a year later, my boss and I were talking and he told me that he knew that at some point I would retire and he would like two years notice to find a replacement.

    My wife and I decided to move to the Mississippi Gulf Coast from Southern California so that our retirement budget would not be impacted by the high costs were paying. We bought a house four years before we retired. This gave us time to build a boat house, pier and add to the new home we bought. It was of course easier to finance a home when I was working. We bought our 5th wheel and new truck about 1.5 years before retirement.

    I told my boss two years out as he requested and my retirement date was only moved out six months due to some organizational changes. I agreed to stay on until things were set up. I wanted to remain employed long enough to know that I was leaving the business in good hands and that worked out very well.

    About two years before I left, I had decided what I wanted to do. I realized that people like me were leaving California for a better and more cost effective life elsewhere. My brother and two colleagues moved as a result of a blog that I set up that explained the benefits. That opened the door to a real estate career at the same time I am still blogging.

    if I had not planned well in advance (financial as well), I would still be working which was ok, they paid me the big bucks but my planning allowed me to leave while we were both healthy and can enjoy ourselves on our own time. Thanks for writing your article, others will surely benefit.

    1. Bill, thanks for sharing your story, a great example of the importance of planning well in advance. Good addition about getting financing for your retirement dreams while you’re still working. Good move in relocating from high cost CA to low cost MS as part of your plan, especially with the SALT implications of the new tax law! Congrats on your retirement, your new real estate career and your blog! Also, thanks for being a reader of The Retirement Manifesto!

  18. Fritz and/or Randy,

    Are either of you willing to post/share your detailed checklists? I’m 90 days out and finding I am getting lost in the details. I *think* I’ve got the big pieces (retirement home squared away, ready to list current home, figured out the retirement paycheck, moved money into timeframe buckets, etc.) Some of it is a case of “I don’t know what I don’t know”, and therefore afraid I must be missing something. Devil in the details, indeed!

    1. Kelly, I’m afraid my detailed checklist wouldn’t be of much help. As I showed in the March example in the post, it’s pretty weak in the details. I kept a lot of the detailed tasks on my calendar as reminders of when I had to do certain things, and wasn’t very good about working to keep my checklist up to date (I initially used the checklist, but found myself using my calendar more and more as the process evolved).

      Don’t get overwhelmed. One day at a time, and you’re doing the right thing by reading posts such as this one. Just capture the things you think of, and eat that elephant one bite at a time. It sounds like you’re in good shape. Congratulations on your upcoming retirement!!

  19. Again, just wanted to say thanks for what you do. It’s hard to articulate the value of having this type of information and insight.

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