The 6 Questions People Ask on Day One of Retirement
What you'll likely wonder, and how to keep things in perspective
(This article previously appeared on Wisebread.com.)
It's a major milestone in anyone's life: retirement.
You spend so many hours dreaming about just what you'll do with the time, that when it happens, you often aren't prepared for the reality. Retirement isn't always the answer to the unfulfilled life that many expect it to be, however, and some even struggle with the new way of life. (See also: 12 Things You Don't Know About Retirement)
Getting a handle on the new feelings can take time. Here are six questions you may ask yourself on the first day of retirement and tips for keeping everything in perspective:
1. What Will I Do With All the Time?
Going from a full-time career to no job at all can be a jarring experience, one that can even feel like a loss to some.
In addition, "Many new retirees are concerned about how they will fill up their new-found free time after retiring," says Hank Coleman, publisher of the popular site, Money Q&A. "It can be beneficial for new retirees to take retirement for a test drive. You may want to consider a mini-retirement for a few months before you take the plunge full-time. Maybe you have a hobby or a side business that you want to pursue. Use some of your vacation days before retiring to try out what you'll be doing when you finally cut the work cord for good."
2. How Can I Stay On Track With My Nest Egg?
Outliving your retirement savings is a legitimate concern for many, and it's one that shouldn't be overlooked.
Even if you've done the math and are confident that you can make your savings last, it's best to continue using a budget and assess your progress at least every six months.
Check in with your accounts at the end of each year, and see how tax changes, new Medicare laws or other legislation could positively or negatively affect your monthly living expenses. Make adjustments as needed.
3. Should I Stay or Should I Go?
If your retirement plans included getting away, or possibly even moving, it may be tempting to do so right away. Like any expensive or life-changing decision, however, it's always good to go into it informed.
And while plenty of websites are always stating their opinions on the top locations to retire, the logistics of uprooting your home in your retirement years can be stressful. Things to consider — in addition to cost of living or climate — should include proximity to the family that may care for you in your older years. (See also: 5 Incredible Places to Retire Abroad That Anyone Can Afford)
(MORE: Secrets of Successful Retirees)
4. Who Am I Now?
If you took pride in your career, or simply identified with your occupation for so long that you don't have a world outside of it, it may be tempting to consider yourself as "just a retiree."
It's not necessary to consider yourself so closely tied to your profession — or lack of.
Start to take inventory of your gifts, skills, and character traits outside of your 9-to-5; you may be surprised to find that you can have an identity built on the kind of person you are, despite having just considered yourself the sum of our working years.
5. How Will This Affect My Relationships?
"When a man retires, his wife gets twice the husband but only half the income." — Chi Chi Rodriguez
This vintage joke never gets old, and it couldn't be truer. One of the toughest adjustments to retirement happens when couples find they instantly have more hours in their day to spend together.
For the entrepreneur or couple who works with their significant other already, it's not as dramatic as the office worker who now gets to see their partner for an additional 50 or 60 hours a week.
Don't feel that you have to spend it all together, however; many couples find that having separate hobbies well into their retirement is the key to a happy rest of their lives together.
6. Is This It?
Retirement should be celebrated, but for many, it also gets them thinking about death.
The final years of life — whether they be just a few, or more than 30 — can be met with anxiety and uncertainty. (See also: Don't Let Poor Health Kill Your Retirement Fund)
One way to combat the tensions and worry that some new retirees face is to made a proactive plan toward preventative health care and finding hobbies that can prolong life.
Activities around exercise, healthy foods, or relieving stress can be enjoyable well into old age, and they are just the sort of things that can help make the later years vibrant, too.
Look for other retirees to share these experiences with; signing up for a cooking class, for example, can give life skills for meeting upcoming health challenges and can introduce you to new faces to spend those work-free days with.
Linsey Knerl is the founder of 1099 Mom and a regular contributor to Wise Bread, where you can find consumer reviews of top retirement planning vehicles and best online savings accounts.