7 Tips for Test-Driving Your Retirement


Retirement is a major milestone in life, and it’s important to ensure that you’re fully prepared for this new chapter. One effective way to make the transition smoother is by doing a test run of your envisioned retirement lifestyle. Think of it as a dress rehearsal for retirement, where you can try out different elements of your planned future and make sure you’re on the right track. In this article, we’ll explore seven tips for a well-planned pretirement test drive.


1. Identify your aspirations

7 Tips For A Test Run of Your Retirement Life

Before embarking on your retirement test run, it’s crucial to have a clear vision of what you want your retirement to look like. Start by drafting your own desired version of retirement. How do you envision your daily routine? Where do you plan to live, and why? Consider what activities you wish to engage in, skills you hope to learn, and places you aspire to visit.


According to a study by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, most 50-plus workers anticipate their post-work years as a time of freedom and enjoyment, with travel being the most popular retirement dream. However, it’s important not to be swayed by popular opinion. Create a vision based on your unique interests and values.


2. Design your test runs

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Once you have a clear vision of your retirement, it’s time to craft scenarios that mimic your envisioned lifestyle. This could involve using time off from work to immerse yourself in hobbies or community activities, or using vacations to explore prospective retirement destinations. If remote work is an option, you might even consider temporarily relocating to a place you’re interested in.


For example, Elayne Fluker, an executive coach, wanted to retire abroad. She spent time in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, to test out whether it aligned with her retirement goals. After spending two weeks and then a month there, she made the move permanent. By simulating the retirement you picture as closely as possible, you can gain authentic insights and ensure that your plans align with reality.


3. Engage in diverse activities


During your test run, make sure to explore a variety of activities that pique your interest. This is an opportunity to delve into different pursuits and enrich your pretirement experience. For example, Elayne Fluker joined a local expat collective in Playa del Carmen and tried everything from Pilates classes to a double Dutch jump roping group.


Engaging in diverse activities not only enhances your retirement experience but also helps you discover passions you may wish to pursue post-career. Use this time to experiment and find out what truly brings you joy and fulfillment.


4. Test drive your retirement budget

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Before committing to a location or lifestyle, it’s crucial to determine whether you can afford it. Develop a retirement budget and give it a test run while you’re still working. Make a comprehensive budget for housing, food, entertainment, and other costs, taking into account your desired retirement location and activities.


Consider factors such as part-time work in retirement, Social Security benefits, and regular withdrawals from retirement accounts. It’s also important to factor in healthcare costs, as Fidelity estimates that the average healthy 65-year-old couple will need $315,000 for their lifetime medical expenses.


5. Assess your relationships


Retirement can have a significant impact on your relationships with your spouse, family, and friends. During your test run, take the time to examine these connections and have candid conversations about expectations and boundaries. Schedule regular date nights with your spouse or partner and consider how much time you want to spend with friends.


Research has shown that the quality of relationships plays a crucial role in retirement happiness. Use this trial period to identify and address potential stress points, strengthen your bond with your loved ones, and ensure that your retirement plans align with your relationships.


6. Take stock of your emotional readiness


Retirement is not just a financial and logistical change; it also has emotional implications. Pay attention to your emotional state during your test run and keep a journal to document your feelings and observations. Observe your stress levels and note any patterns that emerge.


Feelings of angst or boredom may indicate that you need to adjust your retirement routine to better suit your temperament. On the other hand, enthusiasm and happiness signify that you’re on the right track. Use this time to reflect on your emotional well-being and address any potential pitfalls before entering retirement.


7. Reflect, refine, re-evaluate


After completing your retirement test run, take the time to reflect on your experiences. Did the reality match your expectations? What worked well, and what needs refinement? Be honest with yourself about any aspects that seemed less than ideal.


Armed with these insights, you’ll be better equipped to make adjustments and define a retirement that is fulfilling and achievable. It’s important to allow ample time for reflection and refinement, as waiting too long may limit your ability to establish the necessary conditions and habits for a successful retirement.


By trying out the retirement lifestyle she desired well ahead of time, Elayne Fluker was able to celebrate her 50th birthday in Mexico in style. She rented a luxurious yacht for 70 people, something she could never have afforded in the States. Fluker emphasizes the importance of enjoying life while still being healthy enough to do so.


In conclusion, a well-planned pretirement test drive is a valuable tool for ensuring a smooth transition into retirement. By identifying your aspirations, designing test runs, engaging in diverse activities, testing your retirement budget, assessing your relationships, taking stock of your emotional readiness, and reflecting on your experiences, you can refine your retirement plans and create a fulfilling and enjoyable post-work life. So, start early, plan wisely, and embrace the opportunity to test-drive your retirement dreams.


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