Are you ready to retire?

Are you ready to retire?

Here are some things to think about as you approach retirement

1. Time Management: Free time is great, but sometimes a person needs a nudge to get out of bed or out of the house. How will you structure your time?

2. Exercise: Becoming a couch potato is not healthy and not really much fun, so what will you do to make sure you get the exercise you need and have fun in the process?

3. Division of Labor: Ignore this one if you live alone. For those in a relationship, expectations and responsibilities will probably change when one of you no longer has the excuse of “needing to go to the office” to avoid doing housework.

4. Vacations: You might figure you will do the traveling you never had time for before, but then you realize you may not be able to afford it or you might find you don’t have the same stamina you once had. With more time to think things over, you might decide it’s better to save the money and spare the environment by staying home. What’s a vacation for when you are retired and every day should be a vacation?

5. Healthcare: If you are considering retirement before Medicare kicks in at age 65, make sure you have your healthcare benefits and costs figured out before leaving your job. It can be quite a shock after the luxury of employer-paid healthcare to find you may have to pay all or a major share of the cost.

6. Losses: Getting older sometimes seems to involve one loss after another. Losing hair, losing those charming good looks, losing health, losing friends, losing jobs, losing status and sometimes losing memory and ability to think or care for oneself. Developing an understanding of loss and strategies for dealing with it can make this process easier to accept.

7. Caregiving: Just when you think you have earned the right to have someone look after you, you may find yourself responsible for an older relative, a suddenly needy child or grandchild or a disabled spouse. Legal advice, good records and becoming aware of community resources can help you take these responsibilities in stride.

8. Back to Work: Had enough of retirement? Want to launch a new career? Want to explore volunteer jobs? You might need to go back to school to update skills. There’s no time like the present to get started.

9. Making your money last: Many people wonder if they have enough money to retire. Is it safe to take 4% of your assets for retirement income each year? How important is it to have long-term care insurance? Will you be able to afford $3000-$4000/month (or more) per person for a retirement home if you decide you want to make that move? What will you do if a family member requires nursing home care of $6000-$8000 per month?  Do you want to become intentionally penniless so you qualify for Medicaid and get government support for nursing home care?

10. Supporting your favorite causes: Can you afford to maintain the same level of charitable giving as in the past? Can you give more because you discovered you really have more money than you need for those possessions and activities that are important in life? Can you improve your personal financial well-being and help your favorite charity at the same time? What are the options?

11. Who are you anyway? How would you like people to remember you? What do you say when asked “And what kind of work do you do?” What is your identity post-job and post-kids?


Setting Priorities

Book: Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez – helps you determine priorities in life


Death-Related Issues

Website: Funeral Consumers Alliance – national non-profit with links to affiliates across the country

Website: – funeral planning resources and documents to help you communicate with your family

Website: – resources for dealing with terminal conditions

Website: – helpful tools for starting family conversations about end-of-life and disability planning

Website: - planning guide for identifying personal values

Dealing with Loss

Book:  How to Survive the Loss of a Love by Peter McWilliams and Harold H. Bloomfield

Book:  Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande, MD

Getting Organized

Workbook: AARP Foundation’s Confidential Organizer (electronic version) 

Legal Information

Website: Legal Voice online resources:

Website: – provides links to legal information in all states

Creating a Support System

Website: – resources for creating a network of helpers

Multiple Resources in One Spot

Website: – contains many tools and resources for financial planning, end-of-life planning, and much more

Making Charitable Gifts Work for You

Website: Comparing different types of charitable gifts, including those that provide retirement income -

Calculating Social Security Benefits


Explore the World

Website: – reasonably priced travel with an educational component – Grand Circle and Overseas Adventure Travel

Website: – see the world while helping others

Website: Travel with Carleton Alumni -

Website: – previously known as Elderhostel

Hands-on Volunteering

Website: - United Way

Website: - build homes with Habitat for Humanity


Carolyn Hayek, who has retired from a variety of careers and volunteer jobs over the course of many years

Note:  This article was originally created for a workshop held as part of reunion events at Carleton College, Northfield, MN, which is why two links are to the Carleton website.