Decide how you’ll enjoy your increased free time. Do you plan to devote more time to hobbies, travel, charity work, home improvement projects, family, and friends? The first year of retirement can be a time to reconnect and spend more time with your partner or with other family members and friends. Give yourself time to figure things out. Don’t get discouraged or panic if you don’t immediately know what to do with your newfound freedom. Leave space for the unexpected and spontaneous. You no longer need to be running around or commuting, so slowing down and simply being at peace with yourself can be a magical experience. At the same time, you can be thinking about which activities will fulfill you in the future.
Revisit your financial plan. How much income will you need on a monthly and annual basis to live a comfortable retirement? The answer will depend on your age and savings, as well as the kind of lifestyle you plan to lead. Sit down with your financial advisor and revisit your retirement income plan so that you are confident you know where your guaranteed sources of income will come from. This usually includes a mix of Social Security, pensions, real estate income, investment income, and withdrawals from retirement savings accounts.
Confirm that your portfolio is aligned with your income needs. Do you have at least 1-2 years of cash in a low-risk investment account? If not, consider setting this money aside. Doing so will allow you to ride out stock market volatility, rather than having to liquidate assets if or when the stock market declines sharply. While you’re at it, sit down with your accountant and project your tax liability. Be familiar with how your tax situation might change after you retire and any adjustments you may need to make.
Revisit your insurance coverage. Do you have all your plans for health insurance in place? Have you applied for Medicare (assuming you’re old enough to be eligible)? Do you need a Medicare supplemental policy or long-term care insurance? These are critical questions you should resolve before you retire. One piece of potential good news is that if you were previously paying for long-term disability insurance, you may be able to drop that policy. Consult with an insurance professional before you retire to make sure you’ve got your bases covered.
Dust off (or create) your estate plan. Last and certainly not least, make sure your will and estate plans are in good order. Revisit the beneficiaries that are listed on your retirement plans to ensure they are up to date. And if you have yet to create an estate plan, now would be the time to get this task done.
Sit back and savor the moment! Realize and appreciate that you made it—you are financially independent and ready to enjoy retirement! Of course, you’ll still need to manage and adjust your financial plan in the years ahead, so be sure to let your financial advisor know about any major changes in your life or your future plans.