Taking Retirement for a Test Drive

Retirement is often viewed by many as the ultimate end-goal. Whether you picture sitting on a beach with your spouse or spending more time with family and friends without the pressure and stress of your career weighing you down, everyone dreams about their “ideal” retirement. For many, it truly is the final finish line you spend the majority of your life racing toward. 

Unfortunately, while many people are focused on retirement on the horizon, they become tunnel-visioned. When they finally arrive at their destination, they’re surprised to find that retirement isn’t at all what they expected, and they wind up feeling disappointed at best and depressed as a worst-case scenario. 

There is a solution, though, for pre-retirees who want to sidestep this potential outcome - test driving retirement. 

How to “Test Drive” Retirement 

If you are concerned about feeling disappointed in retirement, consider taking your retirement lifestyle for a test drive! This concept is relatively new, but it’s highly recommended for pre-retirees to consider some version of “test drive” before taking the leap to full-time retirement. You may be wondering what a test drive looks like, and how you can use this tool to determine how or when you should retire. Let’s outline a few options to pursue.

Extended Leave of Absence

Depending on your company and job role, you may be able to take an extended leave of absence or even work remotely, for a month or longer. Use this time to test what it’s like to truly leave the confines of your physical office behind. Travel. If you’re working remotely, consider doing so from your ideal retirement location. Think about how you’d spend your time, and what life would look like without traditional job-related responsibilities.

Make Lifestyle Changes Now

Can’t take an extended leave? Consider “test driving” just 1-2 aspects of your ideal retirement lifestyle. This might mean downsizing your home, or relocating and working virtually if possible. You can also consider:

  1. Going down to one car for your family.
  2. Moving closer to family or friends and working remotely.
  3. Living within your retirement budget before you retire.
  4. Researching “major” purchases (like a boat, or an RV) and renting them for a few long weekends to see if they’re actually livable.

Explore Hobbies

Don’t wait until retirement to find new hobbies - try many different activities now to hone in on what you love. In fact, you can make this a fun weekend project. Each weekend that you’re available, try something new - mountain biking, hiking, yoga, playing guitar, learning a language, taking cooking classes at your local community center. Lean into education and exploring what you enjoy doing with your free time.

Build Connections

Many of our connections throughout our careers come from our work. When you retire, many of those may go away. Start building a network outside of the office before you retire to ensure you have friends, colleagues, or even a “retirement mentor” who can support you throughout your retirement transition. 

Talk to Loved Ones

Avoid assumptions - speak to your loved ones about what they expect from you during retirement. Does your spouse want to keep working? Do your kids anticipate more help with your grandkids when you have more free time? Decide what you want, and communicate it clearly. This will foster meaningful conversations about the relationships you cherish and how they may evolve during this new season of life.

Need Guidance?

Talking with a third-party advisor can help you to clarify what you want out of retirement, and set goals to start your “test drive.” Get in touch with us today, we’d love to help.

Wood Smith Advisors, a woman-owned Registered Investment Advisor (RIA), is a fee-only financial services firm that partners with its clients to simplify their financial lives. We focus on women, entrepreneurs, and individuals with complex financial situations, providing objective and competent advice, education and services to help them develop and build their businesses and reach their financial goals. We can be reached by clicking here.

"Finance Made Simple" blog posts are intended for educational purposes and not for specific advice. Each person’s situation is different. Consult your financial advisor for advice relating to topics discussed.

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