The thought of retiring at 62 (current age for women) or 65 (for men) years old may fill you with joy and dread in equal measure, but either way, it’s vital to take action ahead of the big day. That way, you’re in a good position when your employment comes to an end.
Your spending and income are inevitably going to change, so it will serve you well to be prepared. But it’s not all about money, there are plenty of things you can do once you are retired that maybe you couldn’t do when you were working. Think of it as a brand new adventure.

JUST DO IT

Ever wanted to write a book, paint a masterpiece, travel the world or perfect that golf swing? Now is your chance to spend your time doing exactly what you want to do.
With a proportionately larger aging population, there is also an increase in activities aimed at this age group, from college or online courses, to organised travel and theatre trips.
If you prefer to be the organiser, not the organised, then set up your own book groups, cooking communities or gather your friends together to watch your favourite football team for an away game without the hassle of having to rush back for work the next day.
If you want to continue to make a difference in wider society, many people who are retired use their work and life skills to volunteer.
There are different ways to get involved, including becoming a community volunteer, helping to improve the local environment by clearing rubbish from rivers for example, or you could be a mentor, putting your life experiences to good use to help other people develop their own skills.
What about trying a conservation project? These are often run locally by voluntary organisations, so you could get stuck into a project that way and there are also ‘green gyms’ run by The Conservation Volunteers (ww.tcv.org.uk) where you can volunteer to help with outdoor tasks and get fit at the same time.
If you are an animal lover then this could be your chance to get stuck in, as there are many animal charities that offer volunteering opportunities, from working directly with animals at rescue centres to helping to organise charity events.
You can also help monitor the wildlife in your local area, reporting back your findings, a worthy pursuit.

TAKE CARE

For a happy retirement the overwhelming majority (83%) of people over the age of 50 agree that strong personal relationships with friends and family are a key factor in determining how happy the later years will be. And 91% say that their relationship with their partner is very important to their happiness in retirement. A survey carried out by Relate (www.relate.org.uk) asked people over 50 what would be the most important things about getting older and the majority said personal relationships were up there, after good health. Financial security was just as, if not more, important.
Three quarters of the 1,390 surveyed who were in a relationship admitted they would turn to their spouse or partner in times of need.
Ruth Sutherland, chief executive of Relate, says: ‘This survey tells us that strong and healthy relationships are a key ingredient. Retiring is a good time to think about your relationship – is it ready for the changes that later life can bring? We know at Relate that people often don’t seek help until things are going badly wrong in their relationship – we encourage people to invest early to get the most out of their old age.’

BUDGET PLAN

Before you actually retire, it is worth working out exactly how much money you will have when you do retire, including how much you will get from pensions you have been paying into over the years.
If you have a salary-related pension then the trustees will contact you a few months before you retire to let you know how much money you can expect. A new law that has just been passed means that you will also be asked whether you would like to be paid some of your pension as a tax-free lump sum and how much you would like to take (usually up to a maximum of 25%).
You can trace old pensions that you may have lost paperwork for by using the government’s Pension Tracing Service (www.nidirect.gov.uk) and also check how much state pension you are entitled to, depending on your National Insurance contributions. Visit www.gov.uk to find out how much you will be owed by the state when the time comes to end employment.
You may also be entitled to other benefits including pension credit, help with council tax payments and cold weather payments.

AFTER YOU’VE GONE

It may sound completely depressing but like taxes, death is unfortunately inevitable for everyone. Planning ahead for your funeral can save those you will leave behind having to dig deep to pay all the funeral expenses.>
The average funeral costs range from £3,000 up to as much as £10,000 and more, depending on what you would like to have – burials are more expensive than cremations – and what is provided locally.
There are policies, called Over 50s life cover, that you can put in place so that you can spread the payment and have your funeral expenses covered.
It’s worth looking into which one you go for though as some won’t pay anything out if you have to stop paying half way through the policy, for whatever reason.


'RETIRING IS A GOOD TIME TO THINK ABOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIP - IS IT READY FOR THE CHANGES THAT LATER LIFE CAN BRING? IS IT STRONG AND HEALTHY?'

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