This is the second of three podcasts with Sally Balch Hurme, an estate planning elder law attorney and author of six books. Sally discusses the ways that baby boomer women can find purpose in retirement.
Whether you are 10 years into retirement or newly retired, there are so many things that you can do because you make your own schedule, but you still have to fill your days. When you first begin your retirement, you may think it is going to be a 365-day-long vacation, filled with travel and golf, or whatever it was you were dreaming about doing. But, when you are three years in, you may start asking yourself, how many rounds of golf do I really want to play? To have a successful retirement, it is important that you still have purpose and meaning in your life.
Many people have never really given this any thought because they are busy. But when you retire and are faced with twenty more years of your life with no idea of what to do with it, you need to find a place to start. In Sally’s book, Getting the Most Out of Retirement, she maps out fifteen steps to help you find purpose in your retirement. The first step is to reflect on what has made you happy during your life. Look back over your life and think about what gave you the most pleasure, what events were the most meaningful and who were the people that you loved spending time with. Think about the things that have brought you success and happiness.
Once you have started to plan what you want to do with your retirement, instead of diving right in, take baby steps. For example, maybe you have planned to buy a house in Arizona or Florida to spend your days. Before sinking your life’s saving into doing something dramatic and expensive, maybe rent a house for six months to see if that is what you really want and will be happy doing. If you always thought that you would open up a business, find a business owner that will let you work alongside them for a while, so you can see the ins and outs of what being a business owner is really like.
If you are thinking about retiring to another country, make sure you do your research beforehand. Simply from a legal perspective, there are a number of complications for which you must plan. First of all, how will you obtain health insurance. Medicare does not follow you while living abroad. While many people think that health costs are lower in other countries, that is not always the case. Some countries have very restrictive residency requirements to become eligible for their healthcare system. So be sure to do your research because your health insurance options while living abroad might be pricier than you anticipated.
Another important thing to consider is your finances. While online banking has made it easier to conduct your day-to-day financial affairs, it is important to research the way that you will access your American resources. Additionally, the Patriot Act states that if on any one day, if you have over $10,000 in a foreign bank account, you must report it to the IRS. Furthermore, you need to consider whether you need to pay taxes in the foreign country you are living in, so you may end up having to pay taxes both in America and abroad.
Another legal consideration is how much time are you going to spend abroad versus your time in the U.S. Because depending on how much time you are spending in a foreign country, you may consider changing your residency. This can become rather complicated because you will need the correct visa to live abroad. It is important to contact the other country’s embassy for this information. Many European countries have special visas for retirees. In many countries, you must demonstrate that you will have a steady source of income in order to be considered for a retiree visa. Social Security is considered a steady source of income and will follow you abroad. It can even be direct deposited into a foreign bank account.
In your research about retiring abroad, you need to investigate a lot of things to see if it will be considerably more expensive to live abroad or whether you can live in a foreign country for less. This is when the concept of baby steps is a good idea. Before you dive in and just move, it would be a good idea to get a visitor visa and so you can stay there for an extended period of time. This will allow you the opportunity to live in the community and see what is will really be like.
Communication about how your retirement is going to affect all those around you is not something that can be ignored, postponed or forgotten. If you and your spouse are both retired, you need to talk about your individual plans for retirement. Sometimes, your plans will be similar, other times, they will be quite different. So, talking about it will help to create a clearer picture of what each of your retirements look like.
Retirement Planning Isn’t Just About the Number
It is important to note that financially planning for retirement is important, it isn’t just about the numbers. It’s about the quality of life that you are going to live in retirement. While people plan meticulously financially to retire, they don’t spend any time thinking about the ways they will fill their time once they are retired. Thinking about the meaning and purposefulness coupled with the financial pieces will be the key to a happy and successful retirement.