Congratulations, you are all set to retire!
You’ve spent a lifetime getting out of bed and going to work, taking care of your family, and saving for this day.
But what if retirement turns out to be too easy and there’s not enough to do?
It might seem premature but planning early can be crucial so that when your retirement days finally come, you are ready for a happy transition from your working life.
There will be a lot of free time hanging over you, so it is important to ensure that you find fulfilling activities that keep you busy.
Here are top ways to stay busy and engaged during your retirement along with some tips to manage your pension and finances post-retirement.
From mentoring children, to helping a small business on a project, assisting at the library, helping a local volunteer group – there are countless opportunities.
Think in terms of what you would like to do and which organisations you would like to help. Then contact those and tell them that you would like to help.
You might never have considered what doors might be opened for you through volunteering. It’s never too late to give it a go and put a smile not just on your face but someone else’s too!
Take Up a Sport
A lot of people don’t have the time to practice a sport during their working years.
There can sometimes be a certain air surrounding sports during our youth. Getting discouraged from sprinting because you aren’t quite Usain Bolt is commonplace – often, during school years, making those regional and national teams are the aims. But with more gyms opening, personal trainers, and personalised fitness plans, it’s never too late to take up a sport!
Many folks who have taken up sports late in life have derived great pleasure (along with other benefits, like boosted health and fitness, and a wider social network) from their new activities—whether it is fishing, boating, tennis, biking, or water aerobics.
Get a Hobby
Start one while you are still working. That will give you enough time to explore different alternatives as well as you give you something to start on day one of your retirement.
Whether it is quilting, scrapbooking, knitting, raising orchids, gardening, painting, woodworking, crossword puzzles/Sudoku or music—start looking for something that you can be excited about.
It will give you something to look forward to as well as give you a chance to interact and socialise frequently with other people.
Start A Business
This might seem oxymoronic as you would leave the workforce only to come back into it. But one reason for starting a business is that you might need the money.
For another, retiring is often an opportunity to start a new, totally unrelated career. Many people find encore careers fulfilling and liberating.
In this sphere, you are only limited by your imagination, interests and finances. People need someone to take care of their pets, watch their empty house, drive them to the airport or fix their computers.
Perhaps you have always had an idea for a product or service. Now is a good time as any to test it out.
Do something you like, be cautious of investing too much of your capital, and try to get good advice from someone whose business judgment you trust.
Take a Gap Year
This was the plan for young people who needed an adjustment between high school and university, or university and their first job.
But more and more people are planning for a gap year right after retirement. This has many advantages – chief amongst them is that you get a chance to decompress after a hectic working career and gain perspective about how to optimise your retirement.
Perhaps you have always wanted to travel around the world, work for a relief organisation, learn a new language, or build a website.
This is your chance.
Make New Friends of Different Ages
Older people have different perspectives to offer. Younger folks usually have a different vocabulary and more energy. That is the general perception anyway.
In the process of exploring the different, you’ll be keeping yourself younger and more interesting as well.
Make a commitment to connect with people. Make a pledge that you are going to get out and talk with people on a regular basis. It will keep you young at heart!
Work Out Your Likely Retirement Income
Working out your retirement income is another important factor to consider. Your starting point is to work out how much you are likely to have in retirement. You should do this about two years prior to your retirement. You can find a great resource here to guide you.
- Acquiring a State Pension statement – If you haven’t recently received a State Pension statement, you should get one. This will give you an estimate of how much State Pension you may receive, based on your National Insurance contributions so far. You can so at the GOV.UK website to get more information.
- Accessing how much you may get from your “defined benefit pension”. Every year you’ll be sent a statement showing you how much pension you’ve built up so far and how much you may get when you retire. Find the most recent one or ask for a new statement if it’s outdated.
- Adding up the savings and investments that you could use for your retirement. A pension is a good way to save for your retirement but you might also have other savings or investments that you could use to increase your income when you retire.
Clear Your Debts Before You Retire
You should normally start your retirement debt free. Your income is likely to go down when you retire, so any fixed repayments will take up a bigger share of it.
Add up how much you owe (on your credit card, personal loans and your mortgage, if you have any).
Check the interest rate you’re paying on each debt.
If you have money to spare, pay off the debt that charges the highest interest rate. This is the most efficient way to clear your debts.
Many people use their pension tax-free cash lump sum to clear debts such as their mortgage or loans versus filing for a bankruptcy late in life.
However, if you belong to a defined benefit pension scheme, taking a lump-sum payment can be expensive compared to the amount of pension income you must give up in return.
In this case, it might be better value not to take the lump sum and instead repay any debts out of your higher pension income. If you’re not sure which option is best for you, seek professional advice.
Decide When to Start Taking Your Pension
You need to set a target date when you want to start drawing an income from your pension.
You don’t have to stop working to take your pension, but you must be aged at least 55.
If you have a public sector salary-related (defined benefit) pension you generally cannot transfer it in order to take money out of it directly.
If you’re in a private sector salary-related pension you might be able to transfer it but you have to take independent advice and it’s normally not in your interests to do so.
Get advice or guidance on your options. You can receive financial advice (which you’ll have to pay for).
You are also entitled to free pensions guidance through a government initiative called Pension Wise. You can get this guidance online, over the phone or face-to-face.
You can delay taking your State Pension and receive a higher amount when you do start. At the moment, you can choose to take either a higher weekly amount or a lump sum. However, now you can only be able to get a higher weekly amount.
Ask your workplace or personal pension scheme provider(s) if you can delay taking your private or workplace pension and if there would be any additional charges if you did this.
Consider Ways to Boost Your Income Post Retirement
If you’re getting close to retirement and the amount you’re likely to retire on is less than you’d hoped, then you should look for alternative ways to boost your income.
You’ll probably need to get used to a different pattern of income and spending when you retire. A good way of getting some extra cash in your retirement days is to reclaim for products that you may have been mis-sold.
One of the major areas here are PPI reclaims where you can make a reclaim to get a boost of up to £1000 (the average PPI compensation pay-out) for mis-sold PPI policies.
Check if you have been mis-sold PPI along with your loan/credit cards or mortgage. For example, if you are certain about PPI being mis-sold by Barclays, you can make a PPI Claim against Barclays to get the money back in your account so you can use it post-retirement.
You can seek help from a reputed claim management company and make them do the work of getting a fair compensation from your bank or finance provider.
Retirement may initially seem like you are suddenly dumped a lot of free time. It sounds appealing, and it likely is – it’s likely rewarding, especially after a long, hard-working career. But boredom isn’t uncommon, and it’s not bad to feel that way either.
Planning well and having secured finances will help you enjoy your retirement days to the fullest.