No matter how much we enjoy our careers, we always seem to have one eye on the dream life that comes with retirement. Whether it’s picking up a hobby, traveling around the country/world, or just enjoying the lack of responsibility, retirement has always been the end goal for most.
Sadly, many people end up wasting money or ruining their dream retirement because they didn’t test the vision first. For us, getting retirement right is similar to buying a car, and you wouldn’t invest this money without a test drive. We highly recommend testing retirement and the features you think would make a dream retirement.
Four Questions to Answer with a Test Retirement
Do I enjoy the lifestyle?
Before you answer this one too quickly, are you actually prepared for the lifestyle that comes with retirement? Traveling to various beaches around the world might sound ideal, but are you ready for the permanent moving and living out of suitcases? Try taking some trips and learning whether reality lives up to the vision.
Am I on the same page as my partner?
We can’t tell you how many times couples have struggled to navigate retirement; while one partner wants to travel, the other simply wants to relax and take in some sun. Have a conversation with your partner, talk openly about this time you’ll have together, and come to a joint decision that suits you both.
Do I have the money?
You might make all sorts of extravagant plans, but can you actually afford them? In retirement, your cost of living will change, so you need to take this into account. If possible, test living on your new budget, and this will help you to understand whether or not your current savings plan is working.
What are the benefits and drawbacks?
After testing retirement, think about the benefits and drawbacks of your desired life. Be as objective as possible rather than looking through rose-tinted glasses. In our opinion, it’s better to test and make adjustments now than be disappointed when retirement comes.
Testing Your Retirement
How do you test retirement? One of the best ways is to take some time off work and live how you would during retirement. If you want to take road trips, rent an RV and take a trip with your partner. If you don’t enjoy a week, you’ll likely want to fill your retirement with these types of trips.
Although this won’t be an option for everybody, try to extend your testing times. If you started with one week a year, try increasing this to two weeks twice a year. This is a great sign if you do this for five years and still look forward to the time off. On the other hand, it shouldn’t feel like a chore or as though you’re wasting your time away from work. Here are some tips for a successful test run:
• Write down what you did and didn’t enjoy about your test.
• Test your dream retirement at various points throughout the year; don’t forget, you aren’t just retired during the warm summer months, you need to stay occupied in winter too. If you want to drive around in an RV, this might not be quite as much fun in the snow.
• At all times, pay attention to what you’re spending. During retirement, you don’t have the luxury of going back to work after a trip, so be careful with your spending. Does your chosen activity have membership fees? What’s the cost of gas? Can you afford a home in your preferred location?
• Talk with people who already lead the lifestyle you crave during retirement. Whether it’s a neighbor, a former colleague, or somebody online, they will know all about the challenges you face and whether the lifestyle is actually viable.
As you start to get more serious about retirement, you need to uncover the hidden challenges before it’s too late. By testing retirement and various lifestyles, you find the one that suits both you and your partner. You need to be prepared emotionally, physically, and financially to really enjoy retirement and feel comfortable in this new period of your life.