Practice Retirement While You’re Still Working

Preparing for retirement is like getting ready for a trip — it never goes quite as planned. But if you take it for a test drive while you’re still working, you’ll be more confident about how you’ll feel and what you’ll do in retirement.  Think of it as a dress rehearsal before you finally take the big step.

Here are some practice ideas to get you started and help you make a smooth transition.

1.  Live on your retired income

Calculate the amount of money you expect to have in retirement and live on that budget for a few months. Could you live on less and still enjoy life?  You don’t really know until you try.

You might find overlooked expenses you didn’t account for in your retirement planning.  Practicing how you’ll live on a reduced income before you actually have to will give you the opportunity to iron out any issues while you still have the time.

Related:  Estimating Your Retirement Expenses

2.  Take more weeks of vacation

If you’ve worked at the same place for many years you likely get five or six weeks of vacation time every year.  When I was working, I typically spread out those weeks throughout the year. But when you retire, you suddenly have 52 weeks of unoccupied time on your hands. If you try a mini retirement for a month or more, you’ll learn how you would fill your time when you have no structure in place.

As well, you and your spouse get to preview what it’s like to spend much more time together.  

Related:  Should Couples Retire at the Same Time?

3.  Spend four seasons in your retirement destination

If your plans are to move to another province or country, see if you still like it at various times of the year.  It’s a lot different living in a tourist destination full time than vacationing there.  Could you adapt to the heat?  What about the rainy periods?  Will you miss having four separate seasons?

Related:  Planning to Retire to Another Province?

When my husband and I moved to Kelowna we had a good idea of what it would be like since we had visited many times over the years.  What we didn’t anticipate was having to boil our water all summer due to mountain runoff, or the annual forest fires that made breathing difficult.

You may find that the perfect holiday destination might not be the perfect retirement destination.

4.  Start that hobby now

What new interests and hobbies are you planning to take up or rekindle in retirement?  Start them now. You might find that once you actually give them a go, they may not be to your taste after all, or don’t hold the same interest they once did.

Some hobbies, such as photography or scuba diving, require start-up expenses in equipment and lessons.  It might be a good idea to make that financial commitment while you still have a salary.

The bottom line

We generally like to try out new things before we make a commitment. 

There are good reasons to gradually introduce yourself to retired life, for both financial and lifestyle purposes. 

Practice makes us more comfortable with change.  

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