When we’re young we all have big plans for that nebulous future in which we will have all the time and money in the world to do what we want. No more work, or kids, or responsibilities. It’s a fantasy of living like a kid again except with access to a bank account and no parents. That’s not how it turns out though.
This retirement ideal isn’t something you just get after getting old enough. Social Security is expected to run out of funding in 2037. If you are fifty years old now, you can expect to see it run out, and if you’re older, you still can’t expect to live on it, much less fund an active retirement off of it.
Enjoying retirement, or retiring at all, will require a great deal of forethought and planning for most of today’s workforce.
See to your Finances
It is easy to see, with the recent government shutdown, mounting debt, and global uncertainty, that the social safety net is no logner something to rely on. It may or may not be here when most of us reach retirement. So it really is vital for everyone to live within means that allow them to pay into a pension fund. Remember that those payments are deducted from your gross income before your taxes are calculated, so you can save money on your taxes in the long term by doing this.
That isn’t an option for everyone, of course, but the point here is that you prioritize your spending so that, before you upgrade your house or buy a nicer car or go beyond your basic necessities, you remember that you have basic necessities to fund in the future as well.
If you want to have an active retirement in the future, you have to find that money now.
Make sure you will be Motivated
Everything gets more difficult when you’re old. It can be hard to find the motivation to break out of a very well established rut to go and actually enjoy your life. To help yourself to do this in the future, there are things you can do now.
Invest your time now into learning a new language. This gets harder to do the older you get. If you go into retirement unable to speak any foreign languages, you may find the prospect of travelling to be too intimidating, and put your dreams on the shelf for good. Get this hurdle out of the way while you can.
You can also invest your money. Once your money has been invested in travel, you probably won’t feel inclined to just let it sit around. You will want to take advantage of your investment. Buy a timeshare, a cabin in the woods, and RV, or a boat. By committing to it now, you won’t be faced with deciding later in life. You will simply be following through.
A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine suggests that being physically active slows down the rate at which your body ages. Nothing gets in the way of an active lifestyle quite like a hip replacement, or paying for one.
Constant exercise throughout your life will keep your bones and muscles strong, allowing you to remain physically active longer. Doing nothing will allow your body to degrade at an accelerated rate, which will prevent you from ever being as fit and mobile as you would be if you had maintained your body throughout your life.
Getting fit in your old age may not be an option, while staying fit is much more doable. As exercise is the best preventative medicine for first world killers, such as cardiovascular disease, and a healthy, natural way to stave off depression and other mental illnesses, this will keep some of the most daunting obstacles to your happy retirement out of your way.
This will keep your healthcare costs low, which is very important considering the AARP expects that the average couple retiring today will need a quarter million dollars saved up just for medical expenses. If you want to save your money for the good stuff, put in the effort to stay healthy.
Karissa is a writer working with Bay Tree Solutions. She has started putting away money and dreams of one day sailing across the Atlantic.