One of my goals this year is to become better prepared for retirement. I’m the first one to admit that I’m starting late. I have a small pension plan set up, but I don’t feel confident enough to completely rely upon it come 20-25 years from now. I’ve also had some close friends recently retire and realize that poor planning can cause undue anxiety and uncertainty; something I don’t want to worry about when I reach retirement age. For September, I marked down in my calendar to begin a 403 (b) to help support my piddly pension plan. Though I won’t be able to contribute to it as much as I’d like in the beginning, at least it’s a start!

Learning from others mistakes, here are my top ten signs you’re not (or I’m not) prepared for retirement:

10.) “Gone Fishin'” or camping is a slogan you wish to live during the retirement years. Reality check: Though camp site fees range from free to $20 a night, camping every night in a tent or camper is unrealistic. Most camp sites have a maximum-night stay and the large, comfy RV’s are expensive (about $275K for a base model!). I love camping, but when I’m 70 I may not want to be warming myself over a camp fire every night.

9.) You don’t plan to live long after retiring. Reality check: People are living much longer these days. Even if you retire at 65 or 70, you might have another 15-20 years of living to do. Trying to eek out an existence for an additional 10 years on an income you originally thought you’d need for only 5 years is tough.

8.) You plan to work until you drop dead. Reality check: People have many different definitions for retirement, such as working part-time. This is a great way to supplement a retirement fund, but deciding to NOT plan for retirement because you think you’ll just keep working isn’t a plan at all. Though people are living longer these days, illnesses and disabilities are a reality of growing older. (I just rode my bike a few miles the other day in 100+ degree heat and let me tell you: I’m too old for that crap!)

7.) You’re banking your nest egg on the sale of your home. Reality check: Prior to the real estate’s bubble rise and fall, most people didn’t consider their home or property their retirement fund. However, during those few years, people began thinking more about how the sale of their home could be their nest egg. Unless you purchased your home many, many years ago at a bargain-basement price, counting this as part of your retirement fund may not be such a good idea due to the volatility of the real estate market.

6.) The federally-funded nursing home is looking more appealing every day. Reality check: No one plans on ending up in a nursing home before the age of 65. However, poor planning combined with poor health equals limited options.

5.) You’ve lately found yourself eying your grand-kid’s bedroom counting down the days until they move out. Reality check: Depending on your family’s culture, moving in with immediate family may be a reasonable option. However, if it’s not considered the “norm” within your own family or culture, you might want to have a sit-down discussion with those you intend to intrude upon share space with and make sure everyone is in agreement.

4.) Commune-style living is something you’ve wondered about, and are now thinking you’d like to try. Reality check: I don’t know much about commune-style living. Those words alone conjure up images of hippies growing their own food. Who knows, maybe it’s a great option for retirement!

3.) You plan to stay young forever. Reality check: Unless the fountain of youth has been found, chances are we are all going to get old sooner or later. As the saying goes, “It’s better than the alternative!”

2.) You’re still waiting for your ship to come in. Reality check: The ship’s not coming!

1.) Too many of my top ten signs are eerily hitting the nail on the head! Reality check: Like me,  you’re running a bit behind. It doesn’t mean you can’t catch up or at least begin a solid plan towards your retirement. Start today or mark it down as a “to-do” on your calendar to start this year. The key to compound interest is TIME, something that begins to run sooner than you think!

Though many of my signs are very tongue-in-cheek, the bottom line is retirement planning needs to begin before retirement begins! I’ll be following up this post with  my detailed plan in the next couple of months (keeping me accountable for my goals!)

Do you have a handle on your retirement? What advice would you give someone starting late?

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