You might already have plans for your golden years, but finding the right size retirement for you is crucial to make them a reality. Unexpected health and other costs are bound to come up, so the sooner you know what you want retirement to look like, the faster you’ll be able to adjust your plans to fit it.
Maybe you want to stay in your house but are no longer interested in lawn maintenance or climbing stairs every day. In this case, downsizing your retirement into a smaller home might work. Or you might decide to spend your years traveling by eliminating the need for a big home and significantly upping your vacation spending. For these plans, upsizing, budget-wise, is likely a better fit.
“The earlier you plan, the more time you have to make some of these major changes,” says Eleanor Blayney, Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and consumer advocate for the CFP Board, a non-profit that enforces standards for CFP certification.
Here are some factors you may want to consider when determining what size retirement is right for you.
The benefits of slimming down
Once you’ve evaluated your savings situation with a professional and have an idea of what your budget will be each month, you may find that it isn’t as much as you’d hoped or expected. If you’ll be living off of less than you were before retirement, slimming down your lifestyle is one way to adjust.
“After you’ve lived for several decades you just have so much stuff,” Blayney says, and getting rid of clutter and excess space may help simplify your retirement.
Cutting out transportation costs or meals may be one way to trim your budget, but you also may want to consider a different living situation. You could streamline your life with a smaller home and perhaps live closer to your family or friends to reduce travel expenses. Even if you don’t plan on changing your lifestyle much, cutting out expenses may be a good way to save more for medical costs in the future.
Remaining the same
Of course, the move into retirement can be a major change, so avoiding other significant shifts may help you better adjust to it. If you’ve already paid off your home and want to maintain the same lifestyle to which you’ve grown accustom, staying put might be the right way for you to approach retirement.
“Many people want to age in place and don’t want to leave their home,” Blayney says.
The more comfortable you are, the easier it may be to react to sudden changes in your health or financial situation. So while others might picture retirement as an extended tropical vacation, you might prefer to relax in your current home or volunteer with a local organization you’ve long-admired.
Another option, if you’ve done your preparation, is to spend your savings on a slightly more lavish lifestyle. Of course, you want to have a plan for making your money last long enough, but if you’ve saved for decades in order to experience new and exciting things in retirement, now is an opportunity to do so.
“Once you first retire, you may do more traveling or get involved in more activities,” Blayney says. But this may also taper off as you get older.
This might mean splurging on a car you’ve always wanted or indulging a hobby by installing a workspace for it in your home.
Finding the right fit
The key to finding the right size retirement situation is knowing what you want so that you can be happy in retirement. If you want to travel but don’t have the money for it, downsizing at the start of retirement may help you adjust your budget to allow some travels in the future. If you can make these plans earlier in life then the right fit may be easier to find.
“Thinking about it early is hard to do but the reality is the earlier you plan and start preparing for these costs, the more discretion you’ll have over how you can live in retirement,” Blayney says.