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Preparing to Retire

 Too early to think about it?  Not necessarily -- although it's a familiar saying, it's nonetheless true that it's never too early to start preparing for retirement.  Here are some considerations to help you plan for this very important stage in your life. 

Look over your finances.   In order to know where you're going, you'll have to know where you stand right now.  If you're in debt up to your eyeballs, this is probably not the time to retire.  If that's the case, don't wait -- start this very minute by setting up a personal budget.  Develop a plan for your spending, and set apart a certain percentage of your income for your retirement.  To enjoy your current standard of living after you retire, you'll need between 70 and 90% of your current income. 

Consider your needs and goals.  You’ve probably always had some idea of what you wanted to do with your retirement. If not, now's the time to clarify.  Do you want to travel?  Spend time at home with the grandkids or garden? Devote more of your time to public service? Knowing how you want to spend your retired years will help you understand what you'll need in terms of finances -- and well-being. 

Supercharge your health Now is the time to make a healthy lifestyle your first priority.  Do you smoke?  Stop now, and you'll reap the rewards in terms of more years to spend with your grandkids and a stronger, healthier heart and lungs.  Carrying around a few extra pounds?  Now’s the time to drop them -- you'll see your blood pressure improve and your stamina increase.  Treat your body as the priceless asset it is as you prepare to enter retirement. 

Speak to your employer about your pension plan.Check to be sure about what you can contribute, and whether your employer matches funds.  Another important tactic for many people is to open an IRA and contribute annually.  Check with your bank to confirm eligibility and get started. 

Have a heart-to-heart with your spouse. Take a morning or an afternoon to discuss your plans over coffee.  What plans and experiences are important to your spouse?  What are the things you'd like to do, even if they seem a little "out there?"  Make sure you're both clear on what's important to each other.  And make sure all the relevant legal papers are signed.

Review your Social Security statement. Are there any surprises here?  If so, call the agency and have them explained now, not later. 

Consider a little counseling. Some career counseling, or even old-fashioned cognitive counseling, can help you clear away outdated expectations and focus on how you really want to allocate your time. This time is valuable, and it's important to spend it in ways that give you the greatest satisfaction.  You might want to travel, volunteer, pursue a hobby, or even start a new business. 

These tips for preparing for your next stage in life might not amount to a guarantee, but with luck, they'll make getting ready for retirement easier.  For many people, this is a rich phase of life -- many found what they considered their "true calling" after age 60.  Like them, you might find that retirement turns out to be one of the most creative and most productive times of your life.

 Blake Kritzberg writes for, where you can find fun anniversary favors and absolutely perfect Las Vegas party and wedding favors.