If you’re already retired, you may think you’re finished with your retirement planning. Most likely, you’ve already made several critical decisions, such as when to retire, when to start Social Security benefits, how to deploy your retirement savings to generate cashflow to pay for your living expenses, and what your elections will be regarding health insurance and Medicare. If you’re happy with your retirement so far, you can pat yourself on the back.
However, you still need to keep your hand on the rudder to navigate a potentially long retirement. Here are six goals you can work towards during 2024 to help maintain your financial security and live a fulfilling life. These goals can also be used for New Year’s resolutions.
Goal #1: Take Steps To Improve Your Health
When retirees are asked what makes them happy in retirement, they often answer “good health.” As a result, it’s never too late to take additional steps to improve your health.
For example, you could add variety to your exercise regime by including a type of exercise you don’t normally do. It’s often recommended that seniors do four types of exercise: cardio, strength/weight-bearing, flexibility, and balance. Are you missing one or more of these types of exercise?
You could also try adding variety to your nutrition. For most people, that would involve adding more fruits and vegetables, and perhaps reducing your intake of processed foods, sugar, and fatty meats.
You could also take steps to reduce your stress, trying practices such as meditation, yoga, or tai chi.
Goal #2: Protect Your Money Against Losses Due To Mistakes And Fraud In Your Later Years
As you age into your 80s and 90s, you’re more vulnerable to financial losses due to making mistakes or being a victim of exploitation or crime. You can be vulnerable even if you don’t experience dementia or Alzheimer’s—even mild cognitive decline can cause losses.
To help protect yourself and your family, there’s a free online resource that can alert you to the risks of financial losses and shares six steps to protect yourself: The Thinking Ahead Roadmap: A Guide For Keeping Your Money Safe As You Age.
Goal #3: Will Your Spouse Or Partner Be OK When You Pass Away?
If you’re part of a married or partnered couple, it’s inevitable that one of you will survive the other. To plan ahead, it’s smart to make sure the survivor will be OK, both financially and socially.
It’s often the case that when one person passes away, their combined household retirement income reduces much more than the decrease in their living expenses. You’ll want to make sure that the surviving spouse or partner has enough sources of regular income to cover their living expenses. It’s also a smart idea to nurture a social network that includes more than your spouse or partner.
Goal #4: Make Sure Your Home And Community Will Still Work For You When You’re Frail
Many retirees stay in their big house in the suburbs that worked well for them when they were raising a family or commuting to work. However, for retirees in their 80s and beyond, the house and yard might eventually become too much to maintain, or stairs might become difficult to navigate.
Several times, I’ve seen older relatives and friends experience a financial or health crisis and are forced to move, but they’re too frail to move on their own. In this case, they need to rely on family and friends who’ll likely be making decisions for them. Instead, it’s better to be proactive and explore a home and community in your healthier years that will better fit your circumstances when you become frail and less independent. You might also save money in the process.
Goal #5: Simplify, Consolidate, Purge
Want to make your adult kids mad at you? Just let a lot of stuff accumulate in your house, leaving them a mess to clean up when you pass away. Or leave a financial mess they need to sort out (see Goal #2).
Take the time now to throw away or give away junk that’s accumulated in your drawers, closets, and garage for a few decades. Simplify, organize, and document your finances. You’ll enjoy a simpler life and help make things easier for your survivors in the process.
Goal #6: Start New Interests, Make New Friends
It’s never too late to take up a new interest and maybe make new friends in the process. As you become less mobile, you’ll need to look for activities and supportive friends who are close by. And as you age into your 80s and 90s, your friends and activities become even more important to your health and well-being, particularly for survivors of a married or partnered couple.
You don’t need to overwhelm yourself and start on all these goals at once. Just pick one or two that resonate with you—you and your loved ones will be better for it.