Is Now The Time?

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Is Now The Time?
Gray Easterling

You have worked hard for a long time and want to retire. You have done the calculations and think you can make it on your estimated retirement income. If your assumptions are correct, you are in for a fabulous ride; if not, you will rue the day that you walked away from your home away from home. Here are some ideas on pre retirement planning.

The March 28, 2011 online edition of Financial Advisors magazine listed several “practice” exercises to try prior to retiring. Carry a small note pad and make notes when you have the urge to do something but don’t have the time right then. If you find something that you want to know more about but don’t have the resources to pursue this quest, write it down. Log your interests, desires or inspirations in your book so that when the magic day arrives, you will have a detailed “to do” list that will keep you busy.  Clear the slate of any unresolved misunderstandings or resentments between you and a co-worker or family member. Take an extended vacation to find out how and if you will enjoy hours of free time and lazy lunches. You may find that you are not ready for an unstructured day. In a related matter, start living on your anticipated retirement income by adjusting your lifestyle to the projected amount of after-tax funds. You may find that working another year or two will make a big difference in your financial comfort level. As an alternative, you may be able to turn a hobby or a dream into cash. Becoming a self-employed entrepreneur will keep your active and, if you have the right product, will provide you with supplemental income earned at a pace that works for you. Again, test the product with friends, family and neighbors, and take careful note of their response to this venture. According to this article, retirement is much more than living on a budget. There are mental, social and health related aspects that are important to the overall plan.

The February 17, 2011 edition of the above listed magazine suggested that you ask yourself several questions prior to retirement. For example, what does your perfect day and week in retirement look like? How much time will you spend on errands and household responsibilities and who will do them? What does your job provide that you will miss in retirement? How will you replace or sustain those features? Are you comfortable with the “retiree” label? Can you stay connected to your friends that remain at work? If you moved away, how would that affect your relationship with family and friends? What will happen if children or parents are suddenly dependent on you financially and as a caregiver? This is becoming more and more common. Are you in good health, both physically and mentally? What is keeping you up at night as relates to your possible retirement?

Finally, in the May 5, 2011 online edition of Smart Money magazine, there is reference to a study that implied that “retirement was negatively associated with cognitive test scores over time” and another that suggested that the earlier one retires, the sooner they’re likely to get Alzheimer’s disease. The hypothesis is that you have to use your brain or lose it. To prevent the effect of normal brain decline, you should engage in cognitively demanding activities that exercise the brain effectively, like you would at work. What a downer! But there is good news. Working part-time can provide the stimulus that keeps you mentally active. Also, mentally stimulating hobbies can work the same magic. So, the bottom line is not to fear retirement, but do be sure to keep physically and mentally challenged through exercise and frequent social interaction.

I watched the CMA show this year. Martina McBride sang a song that included these lyrics: “He said, ‘I know that you’re afraid and I am, too, but you’ll never be alone, I promise you.  When you’re weak, I’ll be strong. When you let go, I’ll hold on. When you need to cry, I swear that I’ll be there to dry your eyes. Like you can’t take one more step, just take my hand and together we can do it. I’m gonna love you through it.’” Beverly and I have been married 43 years, and I know that I can make the same promise, as can she. But both of us realize that our promise is good only because we can rely on our God, our rock to make the same promise to us. He is our strength and our base for all that we have and do. I pray that you have found the same foundation.

Securities and Investment Advisory Services offered through FSC Securities Corporation, member FINRA/SIPC and a registered investment advisor. 3416 North Blvd, Alexandria, LA 71301, (318) 448-3201.  The views expressed are not necessarily the opinion of FSC Securities Corporation.