Five “Red Lights” to check before cruising into retirement

As you near retirement, it’s natural to start checking off the list of ducks you’ve put in a row to prepare for retirement.  There are tools everywhere that will give you your “Retirement Checklist” or your “Retirement Age Calculation,” and all too often we see people using those guides as their central means of building a plan and setting a date for retirement.  Yes, it’s important to make sure you have a handle on the necessary steps to take before you take the plunge into retirement, but there are a few other things to check in to.  Even if your retirement checklist is giving you the green light, there are a few things that should have you slamming on the breaks.

Here are five “Red Lights” to check before cruising into retirement:

Red Light #1: You plan to go back to work.

This is more and more common with retirees, going back to work part-time out of either necessity or recreation.  Although this doesn’t have to be completely out of the question,  it shouldn’t be an integral part of your plan either.  Finding a job in today’s work environment is becoming increasingly difficult, and accepting the lower wages after leaving a long career can be even more difficult for some retirees.  If you have a full-time job, especially one that you enjoy, don’t leave with the simple thought that you can find some supplementary work elsewhere.

Red Light #2: Your partner isn’t retiring and/or thinks you shouldn’t either.

Despite the common notion of a carefree, relaxing retirement experience, the transition can be tough on an individual and even tougher for a couple.  If your partner isn’t retiring just yet, or even more crucial, if they don’t want you to retire, you might want to think twice before you jump into the next stage of your life.  Like any decision, make sure it’s amicable between you both, or you might quickly find that it isn’t amicable for either.

Red Light #3: You think the endless hours of free-time will be relaxing.

Although it may seem like that at first, most retirees struggle with retirement if they don’t have somewhere to go or something to do with their time.  This doesn’t mean you have to fill your social calendar or develop a new full-time routine, but make sure you have plans, things you would like to accomplish.  Its important that you have a community to stay involved with or a project to take on, or you might find that free-time quickly becoming less relaxing and more frustrating.

Red Light #4: Healthcare, healthcare, healthcare.

You might think that in today’s society, it’s impossible for this to slip by, but we still see retirees either neglecting to plan for or underestimating the cost of healthcare in their retirement years.  Healthcare is something you are not going to want to have to skimp on later because you failed to address it now. With the costs rising even more quickly than life expectancy figures, make sure that you have planned for the cost of your healthcare into your retirement years and beyond.

Red Light #5: Financial Outliers

Do you still have children on your expense list?  Are you planning to help them with college costs?  Do you have a mortgage or other loan sitting with payments waiting?  Do you plan to upgrade into a retirement home?  All of these outstanding questions will come up in your retirement if you don’t take them into account now.  Make sure you look at your outlying financial responsibilities, and take all those current and possible expenses into account.

Everyone has a target number in their retirement planning (either an age or an amount), but it’s important to not get so dialed in to that bulls-eye that you fly past the major warning signs telling you that it might not yet be time.  When it comes to your financial future, make sure you’re observing all the signs.

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