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Have a Retirement Bucket List?

Mar. 14, 2023 Kiplinger

Retirement can be a time for relaxing and enjoying some hard-earned leisure time. It’s also an opportunity to spend quality time with family and loved ones and build lasting memories with them.

Retirement is also your time to finally get around to doing all those things that you’ve always wanted to do — your retirement bucket list — but have been putting off due to the pressures of work or the day-to-day necessities of running a business.

For some people, that means going on that cruise you promised your spouse years ago. Or discovering America together in an RV. Or playing all your dream golf courses. Or finally starting that pottery business with your husband.

Everybody’s retirement bucket list is different. When I sit down with retirees, I generally hear bucket list items such as Europe, African Safari, traveling with family, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Alaska, cruises, famous U.S. parks and more… Amazing places to visit and experience.

Your Retirement Bucket List ‘Window of Opportunity’

As someone who’s worked with many retirees since starting in the financial services industry in 1994 as an insurance professional, I’ve got one critical piece of advice: Whatever is on your “bucket list,” get to it early in retirement. Don’t put it off.

Here’s why: If you’re like most retirees, you’re going to be in your best health early on in your first years after retirement. I wrote on Kiplinger about taking advantage of your first 10 years of retirement, which I call your “Go-Go Years.”

Early in retirement is when you are most likely to have these three necessary elements going for you at the same time:

  • Money
  • Health
  • Time

You have only a limited window of time when you will have all three elements in place at the same time. And none of us knows how long that window will be open for them.

Money: There Are Four Phases

Most of my clients are retired millionaires. So the “money” part of the equation is usually manageable, given proper planning and risk management.

Our goal is to help keep their money window open for a long time, sometimes for multiple generations. So if you’re starting out with a big enough nest egg, the money factor is usually manageable. At least it is for my retired millionaire clients.

One thing to keep in mind when it comes to your money in retirement is that retirement is moving from the “collection phase” of your life to the “clean-up phase” to the “keeping it phase” and then the “passing it on phase.”

So it’s important to set up a retirement plan designed to help mitigate losses — you win by not losing! Warren Buffett is famous for saying a lot of things, but his top two rules of investing are: Rule No. 1: Never lose money. Rule No. 2: Never forget rule No.1.

The other two vital items needed to accomplish your bucket list are closely interrelated: your health and your time.

Health: Don’t Let Inertia Set In

As we get older, most of us begin to lose endurance and mobility. It gets harder to keep up with the grandchildren.

What’s more, the grandchildren get older, too. And more independent. They’ll have less and less time for you. They’ll be dating and borrowing the car and working jobs or going to college — just as you did when you were their age!

Later in life, you may have other demands on your time. There may come a time when you have medical appointments multiple days a week, which might put a crimp in your travel plans.

At a certain point, some of those bucket list activities that you’ve always wanted to do with your family, friends and loved ones may not be an option for you anymore… This is not to be a downer — entering retirement can and should be a joyous time. But don’t let time get away from you. Many people take it easy for a while, and then inertia may set in. Some retirees settle into a routine, continually putting off those important bucket list tasks for one reason or another.

Another day becomes another month. A month becomes a year. And then their health might fail. Or their time runs out altogether. It’s better to pass away tired than pass away with regrets at the things you didn’t get around to doing.

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