For years you’ve planned to retire, sell the snow shovel and move to a houseboat, or take off in an RV, or buy a carefree little condo in a golfing community.
How can you handle retirement, downsizing, and moving into a new lifestyle all in the same year?
“One of the biggest mistakes is attempting too many changes too quickly,” finds Greg Daugherty, “Retirement Guy” columnist for the Consumer Reports Money Adviser newsletter. “Only a few generations ago Dad retired and went home, where Mom had always been. Today the husband often retires first and eagerly awaits his wife’s retirement so they can do things together. The period before both partners retire can put a lot of stress on a marriage,” he warns.
Togetherness in smaller spaces?
“A lot depends on temperament,” observes Daugherty. “Some couples could get along in a mini-submarine at the bottom of the sea and others would be at each other’s throats in a mansion. Most couples have a good idea where they fall on that continuum but even they may be in for surprises, especially if they move into much smaller quarters.”
Money too can be a stress point. “Don’t assume that expenses automatically decline in retirement,” warns money expert Daugherty. “Especially in the initial years, when you’re traveling more and doing all those things you wanted to do but never had time for, your expenses could actually be higher than when you were still working.”
If your spouse never worked outside the home but wants to “retire” from kitchen and housekeeping duties, it means higher costs for eating out and hiring household help.
Anne Hart is the author of Cutting Expenses and Getting More for Less , 41+ Ways to Earn an Income from Opportune Living. Before moving out of their big house, the Harts got rid of everything that had not been used for two years — and sold it for more than $2,000 on eBay. Anne then made a monthly budget not just for money, but for her time.
Could budgeting your hours be the key to overcoming some retirement problems? Begin by taking Daugherty’s advice about not tackling too many changes all at once. Then take Hart to heart and think about budgeting by the hour, day or week as you ease gradually into a new and more fulfilling routine.
Steel yourself first, though. Retirees are usually pelted from all sides. If your spouse is still working and you’re home now, some or all of the housekeeping load shifts. Charities expect more of your time because you’re “retired with time on your hands.” Golf or bridge buddies think you should be available more often and at more convenient times. Your kids expect free babysitting anywhere, any time and your elderly parents have been saving to-do lists that are now a mile long.
Lastly, you have your own list of dreams, not to mention downright necessities you’ve been putting off until retirement, ranging from long-delayed dental work to re-upholstering the couch.
It’s your life. Budget it at your own pace.
Janet Groene is a professional travel/writer, columnist, author and host of recipe blogs.