A seemingly endless number of articles and magazine covers talk about retirement, but the fact is that most Baby Boomers are still not ready for the rocking chair. By 2010, 58 million people--20% of the population--will be 50-64.
Sure, they must do some retirement planning, but meanwhile how do they survive and thrive in this challenging PreRetirement life stage?
"Our research and experience with this age group, along with feedback from our user community, has enabled us to compile the top 15 'must do' items for everyone in this life stage," says Andrew P. Garvin, CEO of PreRetirementLife. "We've included our choices of the best sources of information for each of the 15 items."
1. Get A Comprehensive Medical Check-Up
First things first: Your health. It's time to get a head-to-toe medical assessment. You can discuss it with your doctor, or you can go for a state-of-the-art examination. Such an exam will set you back $3,500 or more, but it's a lot less than a new car.
To get an idea of what a comprehensive exam can include, visit the Mayo Clinic's Executive Health Program at Mayoclinic.org, the Duke Executive Health program at DukeExecHealth.org, or the John Hopkins Executive Health Program.
"People 50 to 64 are very busy so sometimes healthcare takes a back seat," says Dr. Bimal Ashar, head of the Johns Hopkins program. "The time to have a comprehensive checkup is before the problems arise so you can be completely up-to-date on all preventive measures and focus on your health lifestyle."
A great general starting point for all medical issues is the NIH.gov website (U.S. National Institutes of Health).
2. Choose a Fitness Regimen
The experts all say we must exercise, but what's right for you? A terrific and currently popular fitness bible is Younger Next Year: Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy—Until You're 80 and Beyond by Chris Crowley and Dr. Henry Lodge. Read it. Then check out Fitness.com and Fitizens.com. If you can afford it, consider hiring a personal trainer, even if it's just for five to ten sessions to get you into the swing of things.
3. Select Your Anti-Aging Strategies to Live Longer and Look Younger from Head to Toe
It's time to pay attention to nutrition and supplements, weight loss, teeth, eyes, skin and, yes, even cosmetic surgery. Much of this can be expensive, so come up with a five to ten-year plan. What's most important to you? Teeth whitening? Weight loss? Improved energy? Botox? Eye lift?
Do you want to focus on natural methods, like a diet, or treatments? Start your research at LifeScript or EveryDiet.org, DietTV.com, and the health and diet section of WebMD.com. To learn about the latest trends in beauty products and plastic surgery techniques, check out New Beauty magazine at NewBeauty.com.
4. Get a Comprehensive Financial Assessment
Everyone's talking about "Your Number"--the amount you'll need to retire comfortably, and you can always play around with many of the financial calculators available online to get an estimate. But each individual's situation is different, and our advice is to sit down with a financial planner who is paid only on a fee basis (not through commissions.)
Ask people you trust for a referral, or check out the Certified Financial Planners Board of Standards. Wiseradvisor.com and FPANet.org (The Financial Planning Association) are also great resources.
5. Maximize Your Savings
You'll probably need more money than you think to retire, and you never know..."stuff happens." It's never too late to increase your savings, optimize your 401(k), sock some dollars away in your IRA, and cut unnecessary expenses.
Aside from all the great general sites that talk about financial planning including Money.com, check out LowerMyBills.comand the 401khelpcenter.com.
6. Understand Your Insurance and Benefit Options
Many people ignore this area until it's too late. Even if you're still in your fifties, start with an understanding of what your medicare and social security benefits will be by running the numbers at the Social Security Administration.
"For almost two-thirds of today's retirees, Social Security is their majority source of income and for millions over 65 health insurance would not be affordable without Medicare. Yet, all too often pre-retirees know less about their Social Security and Medicare benefits than any other piece of their retirement plan. It's critical that baby boomers do their homework," says Mary Jane Yarrington, who writes the "Ask Mary Jane" column at the The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.
Then do a check of all your current benefits at Benefitscheckup.org. Next, navigate the big three in insurance: life, long-term care, and disability. Start at LifeHappens.org (Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education) and then visit NewRetirement.com.
7. Decide Where You'll Live
This is going to be a big decision. People "retire" to active living and adult communities, retirement communities, foreign countries, sunbelt states...even hotels and cruise ships. But most actually stay where they are.
Start thinking about this now. Explore options at resources such as RetireNet.com, TopRetirements.com, ActiveAdultLiving.com, and the Retirement Living Information Center at RetirementLiving.com.
8. Do a Career Evaluation
Are you happy with your job? Will it continue until you're 65...or older? Is it time for a career change, and can you afford one? Remember that generally speaking, the older you are, the less employable you are. So now is the time for a career check-up.
Start by looking at The Free Career Test and QuintCareers.com (Quintessential Careers). Then explore the many job sites for 50-plus people (such as Workforce50.com in the "Careers" section of the "Most Useful Sites" at www.PreRetirementLife.com.
9. Do a Personal and Relationship Evaluation
Is this the time in your life when you'll begin to spend more time with your family? Are you ready to look inward and decide what you want the rest of your life to be about? Where do you stand with your marriage (or significant other) and your kids ?
Take a life inventory at useful sites such as LifeTwo.com>/a> and FamiliesWithPurpose.com. Are you a new grandparent? Check out Grandparents.com. Have any issues to solve? Start at the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy at aamft.org.
10. Make Sure Your Parents are Taken Care Of
Baby Boomers are the first generation whose parents may live 20 to 30 years beyond their retirement age.That adds a whole new level of complexity, cost, and worry for 50-plus adults. Millions of Boomers may be in a care giving situation for which they have little preparation.
The good news is there are some excellent sources of information at sites such as CaringInfo.org, Caringtoday.com, and WorkingCaregiver.com. Check out Homeinstead.com's 40/70 rule for talking with your parents about care at 4070talk.com.
11. Pick and Prioritize Your Dream Trips
Where do you want to go? Where should you go before everyone else discovers it? Is there a place that could be quite different ten years from now that you should consider sooner (like the Galapagos or Great Barrier Reef)? How do you deal with rising fuel and resort costs?
One idea, consider a home exchange program such as the one at homeexchange.com. Get great travel ideas at TripAdvisor.com, ElderHostel.org, and About.com's Senior Travel page.
"Planning where to travel before you retire is the way to go. Travel is often cited as the Number 1 wish of the pre-65 crowd, and strategizing early can help you determine where and how you'll live the best years of your life," says Barry Golson, Editor of www.forbestraveler.com and author Retirement Without Borders
12. Plan Your Leisure Time Lifestyle
Consider what you'll do when you stop working....or how to have more fun while you're still working. Do you want to expand or enhance your existing hobbies and sports activities? Do you want to try new ones? What kind of entertainment will be important to you?
Explore the options at a2zhobbies.com, Allcrafts.net, and Craftsitedirectory.com. Meanwhile, find discount tickets to your favorite entertainment events at Stubhub.com.
13. Give Something Back
Do you plan to give something back to society through volunteering or mentoring within your area of expertise? It can take time to find the right way to help. Start with Network for Good and Volunteermatch.org. Or how about exploring vacations that combine your trip with do-good activities? Check out VocationVacations.com.
14. Get Your Estate Planning In Order
Depart this world without having your affairs in order and you risk leaving a mess for your surviving family. Now is the time to ensure you have a solid will, estate plan, and so-called "living will." You should consult with your financial planner and an estate planning attorney. Some helpful sites to guide you through the process include Nolo.com, FreeAdvice.com, and FindLaw.com.
15. Start Taking Advantage of Age-Based Deals
Many of us don't want to accept that we're "over 50" or "over 60." But there's one big advantage: Many companies and services offer meaningful discounts to people as young as 50. Before you toss AARP's membership invitation, take a look at their deals (AARP.org).
At www.PreRetirementLife.com, we have a special "deals and discounts" section with a special emphasis on great travel and entertainment bargains. A great book to buy is Unbelievably Good Deals and Great Adventures That You Absolutely Can't Get Unless You're Over 50
by Joan Rattner Heilman. Enjoy the savings!
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