My daughter was recently at a deli where she overheard a couple in the next booth discussing retirement. They were talking about reading a recent article on the blog LoveBeingRetired.com. With a smile on her face she leaned over and said that happens to be the blog her dad writes. I felt good knowing that my writing might be helpful to those planning their own retirement. I also realized that for many people preparing to retire, finding relevant information to help in their efforts may be confusing and difficult. If you want to know what to expect when you retire, where can you turn?
Before we retire, it's helpful to understand what we are getting into. Here are some good places to learn about what to expect in retirement:
Retirement blogs. I have found the information related by writers of retirement-focused blogs to be very helpful to my own efforts to prepare for retirement. These bloggers are in various stages of retirement planning. Some are still preparing for the future, some are just making the transition and others have been living the retired life for years. Never having been retired, their posts share a learning process filled with trial and error as they search for what will best contribute to a fulfilling and exciting retirement. The honest experiences they share provide real life examples of what works as well as what does not work. By reading their stories we can learn from their wisdom and avoid repeating their mistakes.
Current retirees. If you really want to know what it is like to be retired, talk with people who are already retired. If you have a neighbor who has been out of the working world for awhile, pay him a visit or take him out for a cup of coffee to learn firsthand about his retirement experiences. If your parents are retired, see what words of wisdom they can share. You may want to visit the local senior community center to see if you can find someone willing to spend some time enlightening you. I find most seniors are more than happy to spend some time and share their life experiences with an attentive and interested retiree-to-be.
Test drive your retirement. If you really want to experience what life is like as a retiree, you may want to take a test drive of retirement. That way you can tell if you are truly ready for permanent retirement or just burnt out on what you have been doing and in need of a change. If you are able to take some extended time away from work, you can get a feeling of how your days may look as a retiree. It can be helpful to experience firsthand the freedom to do as you choose with your time, the lack of stress and strain, the challenge of finding worthwhile endeavors to fill your time and the balance you will want to achieve between activity and relaxation. A retirement test drive may give you a snapshot of what awaits you for those 20 or more years you hope to live in retirement.
Books, magazines and independent reports. When it comes to planning for retirement, there are many books and magazines that can offer useful advice. I find the monthly AARP magazine very insightful. They address the myriad of topics that impact those planning to retire as well as those already retired. As for books on retirement, I recommend reading through the reviews of those who have read before you to get some insight into just what you can expect. With so many to choose from, a little unbiased third-party feedback can be very helpful. The Employee Benefit Research Institute comes out with regular surveys and studies concerning health, savings, retirement and economic security issues that can help improve your understanding of important areas of retired life. And, of course, sharing your thoughts and questions with friends and family might help you uncover additional useful sources of retirement information.
Dave Bernard is the author of I Want To Retire! Essential Considerations for the Retiree to Be. Although not yet retired, he focuses on identifying and understanding the essential components a fulfilling and meaningful retirement. He shares his discoveries and insights on his blog Retirement-Only The Beginning.