A rip-roaring retirement? How to prepare for the next phase of life

You may have spent the last couple of decades dreaming about the point at which you can retire. A trip on the Orient Express, a Nordic cruise, every day pottering about in the garden or spending more time with loved ones. Retirement should be a time of great rejoicing and while it may be true that it is something very much to look forward to, there are many people who find the idea of retiring a little daunting.

Financial pressures, wondering what you’ll do with your time, feeling that you may be isolated - If you’re close to retirement age, there are ways you can prepare for the next phase of your life to mitigate the negative aspects you may be worried about and really rejoice in retirement. You’ve earned it!

Financial freedom?
You’ll no doubt have begun thinking about your retirement finances in your forties – how will I manage? What’s in my pension pot? But what’s the best way to look at this? A simple and effective approach is to write down your income and expenditure versus what can you expect in terms of private and state pensions. It’s a simple balancing act, which will allow you to clearly see where you might need to make savings in order to balance your books 

Can you increase your income if you need to? If not, can you cut back on any expenditure? It pays to be organised and research better phone, broadband, utilities deals – can you make any savings in order to maximise your retirement income? There’s a wealth of useful information on the Government’s Money Helper website.

Routine rules
It may come as a real shock on D-Day, so a routine can really help to ease you into your retirement. Planning a routine can be as simple as getting up at the same time every day or going to bed at the same time. Might seem like child’s play, but once your old routine disappears it can become very easy to slip into an unstructured day. Without routine, all of us can feel rudderless, and those feelings can build and affect your general mood.

Get our more
If your able to, keep active! You’ll now have more time to engage with family and friends or even your local community. What about using your new-found time to volunteer? You’ll keep your mind active, meet new people, and you could make a real difference to people in your community. You’ll be a prime target for babysitting duties now, so if that’s just not what you’re about, fill your time and you won’t be asked!

Don’t forget the grey matter…
What a joy to have the time to read! Keeping the brain active has been clinically proven to aid brain function. Research carried out at the Manchester Business School showed that people who don't look after their brains by keeping them active once they have retired are much more likely to experience a decline in its overall function. That sudoku won’t finish itself.

And the body will follow
An active brain should be teamed with an active body! Always wanted to learn to dance? A burning desire to throw a pot? Always fancied the idea of weight training? Keeping your body active will keep you fit, trim and ready for what life throws at you. What you put into your body will affect how you move – and feel – so increasing your daily intake of nutritional food will help you to feel fit as a butcher’s dog.

Get an MOT
If you are concerned about any aspect of your health, talk to your doctor and book an MOT. It will hopefully put your mind at rest and allow you to take on the challenges of retirement.

Challenge yourself
A new pet, talking to new people, trying a new cuisine, travel to places you always dreamt you’d visit – now’s the time to consider all of things that perhaps you felt you didn’t have the time – or permission – for in the past.