How do you visualize your retirement? Is it the end of your working career or the beginning of being your own boss?  Will you spend your retirement enjoying the fruits of years of hard work, or will you constantly worry about outliving your savings?

If you plan properly, retirement can be a time to look forward to rather than a time of dread. Here are some ideas that will help you to make the most of your retirement years:

Redefine Retirement

Today, when people tend to live longer and healthier lives, retirement doesn’t have to mean a state of enforced idleness. Maybe you enjoy your work so much that you would simply cut down your hours, or perhaps this would be the time to embark on a new career, turning a hobby into a paycheck.

Redefine Your Lifestyle

No matter how hard you save or how large your pension, chances are that when you retire, you’ll make some lifestyle changes.  Whether you’ll cut some of your day-to-day expenses, downsize your home (as everyone will have probably flown the nest), or increase your vacation time, retirement will have its ramifications on your pocketbook.  Anticipate these changes, and plan for them, so that they don’t take you by surprise.  Indeed, one of the hardest aspects of retirement is the switch from the accumulation stage to the spending stage

Redefine Health

When planning for retirement, make sure to take into account the probable rise in your healthcare expenses
as you get older. Even if you live on a diet of bran flakes and carrot juice, and you exercise every day, chances are your medical expenses will rise as the inevitable effects of aging begin. Even if you have supplementary healthcare, there is no guarantee that the benefits will cover all of your needs, so it is smart to earmark some of your savings for medical costs associated with aging.

With a little planning and a positive attitude, your retirement years can be a new beginning rather than the end of the road.

Douglas Goldstein, CFP®, is the Director of Profile Investment Service, Ltd., which specializes in helping people who live in Israel with their US dollar assets and American investment and retirement accounts. He helps olim meet their financial goals through asset allocation, financial planning, and using money managers.

Published June 5, 2012.

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