How to Prepare for Retirement on Your Terms

Understand your options — the choices you make will have a lasting impact

(Editor’s note: This content is sponsored by Acts Retirement-Life Communities.)

The residents at Acts Retirement-Life Communities are retirees who consider themselves far from the traditional definition of retired. They consider retirement to be the next frontier. Here are some tips that helped these adventurers prepare for retirement and embrace their new lives:

5 Ways to Prepare for Retirement

1. Understand your finances

You’ve worked hard for your money. How should you spend it? Wisely. You should start by reviewing your finances. This will help you to understand how your life will change once you are no longer working.

Determine your best options for financial success during post-employment living based not only on how much money you’ll have but also on how you want to live with the money.

For more information on how to properly evaluate your retirement finances, read our article about what you need to retire comfortably.

2. Ask important questions
Everyone has a vision for retirement, but a vision doesn’t always translate into a concrete plan. And does your partner share your vision? Have you factored in variables like family, finances and future health care needs? Here are some questions to turn your retirement vision into a retirement plan:

• Where do you want to retire?
• Are you financially ready to retire?
• Describe your ideal retirement lifestyle.

Writing down or vocalizing your answers is the first step. It will make the process seem more real. Once you have finalized your answers, share them with your partner, children or loved ones. This will help you to turn your vision into a plan and make sure that you and the ones you love are on the same page when it comes to your retirement. This may seem silly, but your ideal beachy retirement may not be what your partner had in mind. Clear communication will move you further down the road towards retirement.

3. Downsize
Is there anything you could part with? Possibly some items in the back of a closet, untouched boxes in the attic, forgotten items in the garage? For many people, preparing for retirement means downsizing. Downsizing is different for everyone. You may want to become more organized and part with a few items, or you may want to downsize your entire living space. The question is: How do you start? The easiest way is to clean out your home, room by room. Once you’ve sorted through the items you want to keep and others you would feel confident parting with, you can have a family garage sale, sell antiques and artwork and donate the rest to local community centers. Your newfound freedom that comes from cleaning house will give you a feeling of accomplishment and clear your mind.

Here are five tips for staying sane when downsizing your home for retirement.

4. Prioritize your fitness
Retirement should be exciting, fulfilling, invigorating. Are you physically ready? Those three adjectives are rarely found from a seat on the couch. Get fit so you can get a start on living the life you’ve dreamt of for the last couple decades. Regular exercise will ensure that you can travel confidently, play a round of golf without breaking a sweat and keep up with your grandchildren. Start now so that when you are ready to fully retire, you are already on your way to feeling great. Take a “bite-sized” approach and build up to a more rigorous program. Examples for a daily manageable starting point:

• Be conscious of your steps.
• Take a yoga class.
• Try walking or swimming.

For more information on how to safely prioritize your fitness, read these 14 tips from a fitness director at Acts Retirement.

5. Understand your retirement options
Preparing for retirement isn’t just all financial decisions and downsizing activities, it’s also an opportunity to choose how and where you want to live this next chapter of your life. The best way to do this is by understanding your retirement options. There are a variety of things to consider. Do you want to live near family or choose a picturesque vacation destination such as a beach or the mountains? Do you want to live in a community? Would the amenities and health services of a retirement community add value to your life? Do you know the difference between a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) and a life care community?

These are all important questions, and the choices you make will have a lasting impact. Retirement should be everything you want it to be and more. To make that happen, you need to understand your options. Click here to learn about retirement community contract types.

Then when you’re ready, review these tips for touring and choosing a retirement community from Acts Retirement-Life Communities.

By Acts Retirement-Life Communities

Acts Retirement-Life Communities is the largest not-for-profit owner, operator and developer of continuing care retirement communities in the United States. Headquartered in suburban Philadelphia, Acts has a family of 23 retirement communities that serve approximately 8,500 residents and employ 6,200 in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Florida. For more information about Acts visit actsretirement.org.

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