To Do’s: We have talked many times about where and how we’d like to live in retirement. We have lived in the same city and house for 25 years, and I have lived in the same area all my life. I’m ready to experiment and move somewhere else within the USA and have even considered moving abroad. My wife is generally on-board with moving somewhere else in the USA, but we’re unsure where this may be. At this point, we’re looking forward to this being one of those activities we’ll be doing in retirement, and I look forward to doing the research, travel, and number crunching to solve this puzzle. Our approach right now would be to sell our house and be nomads, renting a place for a year at a time in different parts of the country. It’s possible that we’ll quickly tire of that lifestyle, but we’re looking forward to the uncertainty.
I don’t look forward to ridding ourselves of all the stuff we’ve accumulated over 25+ years of being in the same house. I often wonder if anyone “knows a guy” that can just take care of this for us. Or maybe those ads I’ve been getting lately about “I’ll buy your house as-is now”… I certainly need to revisit the advice and experience Fritz and others have on this, but we’ll defer until we have more time in retirement.
Congrats on having the house paid off, that’ll free up some options in retirement. The life of a nomad sounds romantic, but just realize that you’ll be losing your network of friends both from work and your community at the same time. Also, I’d encourage you to start experimenting with Facebook yard sale sites to start unloading a few of the items you know you won’t need now. We were happy we’d tested out some sites before we unloaded all of our belongings in 24 hours.
4. Catch Up
What It Means: In your final years of work, you should attempt to live on your retirement budget and aggressively save the difference.
What I’m Doing: We’ve been maxing out my TSP contributions for a very long time now, had maxed out my wife’s TSP while she was working, and increased our contributions to the catch-up levels when I turned 50. We’ve also been buying Vanguard Roth IRA’s when possible, and have nicely built up our HSA accounts. We’ve also been shoveling the “leftovers” every month into Vanguard taxable accounts to help build up the first few years of living expenses.
To Do’s: We’ve been doing as much as we can in the catch-up category and I feel very good about this . We plan on continuing to save aggressively until retirement.
It sounds like your financials are in solid shape. It’s time to start turning your attention to the “softer” side of retirement planning. Spending as much time focusing on what you want your life to be in retirement is really the key to a great transition and retirement
5. Find Something To Run “To”
What It Means: Spending time in your final year of work focusing on what you want your life to be in retirement has been shown to be the most important factor in having a great transition to, and life in, retirement.
What We’re Doing: This is really what it’s all about. While I’m grateful to have the job I do, it gets to be a bit monotonous after 30 years of being in the same industry. I’m really trying to stay positive as Fritz advises, especially given my sense of obligation to the taxpayer given my role as a government employee. I have to remember that it’s a better plan to find something to run to, rather than thinking of retirement as running “from” something.
Over the last 5 years, I’ve been dabbling in a number of things in my spare time. I’m engaged in a number of volunteer activities but I’ve struggled to find organizations that give meaningful work. This is no fault of the volunteer organizations, but more because I haven’t had the time to invest and grow within those organizations. This will be easily solved in retirement and I look forward to finding the right organization, then building my resume and skills with them.
I’m also dying to have more outdoor activities and look forward to hiking some great trails, diving some great reefs, surfing some tasty waves, and pursuing other things of interest. I’ve been lucky to remain physically active all my life, working out several times a week and walking a couple of miles every morning with my wife. I won’t be competing for Mr. Universe, but I think that I’m in pretty good shape and ready for some exciting adventures without having to get in shape first. But…no cold water swimming
for me (how does Fritz swim in 48F water?
Last, but not least, is leisure learning. I take pleasure diving into random subjects and pulling those threads through research, books, music lessons, blogs, podcasts, etc. Some of my favorites podcasts are (also see Fritz’s post “I Almost Enjoy My 2-Hour Commute“
To Do’s: When I started reading about running to something, I was mildly worried that I may fall into a trap during retirement, bored without having 8-10 hours a day consumed by work. But after thinking through this (thanks to Fritz for this forced introspection homework), I’ve found there are a lot of opportunities that I already enjoy. I just need to say “yes” to the opportunities I decide to pursue in retirement. I really don’t like the idea of a bucket list because, well, what happens if you get it done?
I’m pleased to see this homework has made you think about some things, though I’m shocked (bad pun
) that you haven’t attempted cold water swimming! Sorry to hear the volunteering hasn’t been as fulfilling as you’d hoped, I encourage you to be quick to drop your activities if you’re not “clicking” with a particular organization, and try out several before you decide to commit your time. As for that bucket list, I don’t know anyone who has “gotten it done”, and it seems we’re adding more to our bucket than we’re able to complete. You may want to think about the Activity Jar
concept my wife and I did, it was a good exercise and gave equal voice to a list of potential retirement activities.
So there you have it, my Red Zone Journey assessment. The five critical steps to take within 5 years of retirement:
1. Make The Numbers Real.
2. Get Your Portfolio Ready For Withdrawals.
3. Decide Where You’ll Live, and Pay Off The House.
4. Catch Up
5. Find Something To Run “To”.
I certainly don’t have all the steps wrapped up, but I feel good about my progress. Being caught in this sandwich generation, we have some variables which may disrupt our plans (a wonderful daughter on the cusp of conquering the world and aging parents), a dilemma many folks struggle with as they finalize their retirement plans.
Thank you, Fritz, for introducing these 5 critical steps to take within 5 years of retirement. It certainly has been an interesting reflection completing this homework assignment for you!
Your Turn: Have you taken the time to work through these 5 critical steps? Are there other steps that folks should consider? Do you have any questions/comments about this reader’s plan? Let’s chat in the comments?