Prepare now for ultimate retirement living

RetiredWhen it comes to retirement living, take your cue from the Boy Scout handbook. Be prepared, and you could truly enjoy your golden years; don't prepare, and you're headed for the dark side of retirement living. It's a choice that 58 million people will be facing by next year, when 20% of the population will be in the 50- to 64-year-old range -- those crucial pre-retirement living years. How can you prepare now to secure all aspects of retirement living?

Make health a priority. Exercise regularly, hiring a personal trainer to get you into a consistent fitness regimen. Get a comprehensive, head-to-toe physical exam -- in fact, get a state-of-the-art exam if you can afford it. Don't let fear or laziness allow you to put health on the back burner. Take preventative measures now to optimize healthy retirement living later.

Prepare your retirement living finances. The last thing you want for retirement living is to run out of money with no means of adding to your income. Have a licensed financial planner do a comprehensive financial assessment to figure out how much you need for comfortable retirement living. Also, save as much as possible for your retirement living. You may need more than you expect, especially factoring in unexpected emergencies.

Know your insurance and benefit options. Research your Medicare, Social Security and other retirement living benefits. Then make sure you set up life, long-term care and disability insurance so you're completely covered during your retirement living years.

Put your estate plan in order. Don't leave your family members in a place where they have to make hard decisions, pay exorbitant fees or have other logistical messes to clean up. Before you enter your retirement living stage, get an attorney and financial planner to help you create a living will, a solid will and an estate plan.

Plan where you will live. A huge factor of enjoying your retirement living is knowing where you'll live. Consider adult/active living communities, retirement communities and different states or countries with healthier climates. Or you might decide to pay off your mortgage and spend your retirement living in your own home.

Enjoy discounts. One of the happiest benefits of retirement living is reaping senior discounts on everything from movies to restaurants. Whether the discounts are through AARP or from individual businesses, make sure to get your senior dollar's worth and make retirement living fun ... and cheap.

Consider your dreams. Retirement living means being responsible, but also taking advantage of your freedom. Think of a trip you've always wanted to take but never had the time for -- come up with the financial strategy early on so you can make it happen early in your retirement living. Also, think of hobbies or sports you never had enough time for. This is your time -- make the most of the flexibility of retirement life.

Evaluate your personal relationships. Retirement living is great for spending more quality time with family. Do you want to spend more time with your kids or grandkids? Alone with your spouse? Set your relationship priorities now, and your retirement living years will be full and fulfilling.
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