When preparing for retirement it's not just the finances you have to consider, are you ready emotionally for the next phase of your life beginning?
It's huge yet so many of drift into it without giving it much thought.
Statistics given by the Department of Work and Pensions are predicting that nearly a fifth of people living in the UK today are expected to celebrate their 100th birthday.
1.3 million baby boomers between the age of 51 and 65 are included in those figures. So instead of a life expectancy of 20-25 years following retirement some of us could be facing 40 years of retirement!
Thanks to medical advances many of us will continue to live very active lives for many years, but we need to have some idea of how we intend to spend our time.
To wake up one morning and not need to go to work may sound wonderful and it can be, but for some it can be like moving through a bereavement. One day you are someone who has a purpose and focus and the next you're cast adrift from all that has been familiar.
Couples can suddenly find themselves under each other's feet as they are suddenly thrown together for 24 hrs a day. Particularly if one has been at home alone for sometime. They will have built up a routine and interests of their own and suddenly the other is encroaching on their time.
Colleagues that you have probably built up friendships with will eventually fade away and some people when reaching retirement suddenly find themselves alone. Projects that had been all absorbing at work suddenly aren't available to you any longer and believe it or not time can hang heavily. Preparing for retirement begins the adjustment process and helps the transition into your new life.
Preparing for retirement is even more essential if you are single or before you know what is happening you are spending every day alone trying to occupy yourself and the danger is that you can become isolated without really realising it.
If you are a grandparent you are probably planning to spend time with your family and grandchildren but beware they don't hijack your retirement.
I've seen so many baby boomers limited in what they can do socially because they have taken on commitments with the grandchildren, and while you're probably happy to help out it's your time now, don't feel guilty about setting the boundaries.
Preparing for retirement can help you decide how much time you are prepared to give to help with the grandchildren and how much time you would like to leave to pursue the retirement activities you dreamt of.
Preparing for retirement is all about getting a good life balance. Retirement is about doing all the things you promised yourself you would do when you were working that you didn't have time for. As you approach retirement it's good to take stock and think about what kind of retirement lifestyle you are going to have.
If you've had a very stressful job that has taken over your life it's easy to let hobbies and interests go, now is the time to start preparing for retirement and thinking about what you really enjoy doing.
Do you long to be outdoors more? Do you enjoy walking, sailing, playing golf, or perhaps you want to learn to fly?
While you're still working it's a good idea to start making enquiries of clubs and organizations that you could join. If it's a new hobby or interest, try booking some taster sessions before you commit to equipping yourself with expensive equipment such as golf clubs, or walking gear.
Have you always promised yourself that you would take some art classes, and learn how to paint? Get your name down for some classes. Art groups in my area have waiting lists of anything up to 12 months or more. Start making enquiries before you retire.
I have a friend who planned to do art classes when she retired. She had her family buy her a beautiful art set, paints, brushes, easel, sketch pads etc. She retired some 8 years ago now and because the first art group she tried to join didn't have any vacancies she's never fulfilled her dream.
Even the local golf club or sailing club may have a waiting list for membership. Make the enquiry and get your name down so that hopefully by the time retirement comes you will have it to look forward to.
Many baby boomers are using their retirement to travel more and see the world. The kids have had their gap year in between University and starting work, but we never had that opportunity. Now is the time to start preparing your retirement trip of a lifetime. Start making enquiries into where and how you're going to do it.
It's a good idea to use a specialist Tour Operator rather than try to organize things yourself. With the world in turmoil at the moment if you use a Tour Operator and problems arise in the Country you are visiting it's up to the Tour Operator to deal with it for you and either get you home or on to your next destination. It may cost a little more than doing it yourself but it will be well worth it.
If you're planning to be away for several months, you need to think about who will look after your home while you're away, or whether it might be worth renting it out to help fund the trip. Start thinking about it and making your enquiries, start preparing for retirement travelling.
When preparing for retirement many of us will probably consider moving house.
Perhaps you want to downsize to something more manageable or to release equity. Perhaps you plan to leave the U.K. and spend your retirement in the sun. Or perhaps you plan to move to the coast or the country.
Apparently more of us are moving back into the Cities to enjoy the Art Galleries, Theatres, Museums etc. Before making decisions you need to do your homework and plenty of research to make sure this is exactly what you want. Mistakes can be undone but they are costly, so it's best to try and get the decision right first time.
If you are planning on buying a retirement property that is specifically for the over 60's then the sooner you start making enquiries and decisions the better. One of the results of the economic downturn is the shortage of new properties and retirement properties are also going to be in short supply.
Before buying a retirement property be fully aware of what you're buying into because they are not for every one. Most Retirement developments have guest suites. Book into one for a long weekend or a week to get a taste of what it would be like living there.
When preparing for retirement it's good to do an appraisal of your home before you give up working. If you intend to stay in your current home for the foreseeable future is there any major work that needs doing that you can pay for out of your salary before you retire, rather than plundering the savings.
Once retired and living on a reduced income most of us will have to fund decorating and maintenance work from our savings and it's hard to replace large amounts.
In the last three years I've had to replace all the white goods in my kitchen, fridge, washing machine and dishwasher. I've also had to replace the central heating boiler.
If you take the opportunity of preparing for retirement you can take the time to consider how old appliances are and whether it's worth replacing while you're still working.
Are there any alterations that you can make to your home that will make retirement living easier. For example have you got a downstairs toilet?
Does your home have easy access should the arthritis kick in? Do you have a walk in shower when the day comes that you can't get in and out of the bath easilly?
Are there any improvements that you can make to the garden and outside areas of the house that will make it easier to maintain. For example raising flower beds, replacing lawns with paving or gravel. Yes I know it's not something you want to think about now while you're feeling fit and healthy and can manage everything O.K. But will it still be same in 10 years time? We hope so, but it never hurts to be prepared!