Why You Should ‘Trial Run’ Your Retirement

Christine Benz

Susan Dziubinski: Hi, I’m Susan Dziubinski for Morningstar. Retirements have accelerated over the past year, thanks to a combination of strong market performance and the pandemic. But before you hang it up, Morningstar’s Christine Benz thinks it’s a good idea to trial run your retirement. She’s here with me today to discuss that concept.

Hi, Christine. Nice to see you.

Christine Benz: Hi, Susan. Great to be here.

Dziubinski: You think it’s a valuable exercise for pre-retirees to go through a bit of a discovery process before they go ahead and retire. What’s the first step in that process?

Benz: I think the first step is to think about your work and think about what aspects of it you still enjoy, and those aspects that you really have no time for, no room for, and just start keeping some notes on those matters. Because certainly everything we know about retirement planning is if you can shorten the length of retirement because you have continued to find gratification in work that really helps financially. So start with that job, then spend some time thinking about your actual nonwork activities, the things that you want to pull forward in retirement. These are maybe things that you right now just sort of tuck around the margins of your life because you really don’t have time. Start thinking about the contours of that–how pulling some of those activities forward might change how you choose to spend your days.

And then last but not least think hard about lifestyle considerations. For many retirees, relocation or partial relocation to second homes might be part of the equation. Think about whether you’ll be relocating. Think about what your spouse’s plans are. I think couples very much should approach retirement planning as couples, where they’re thinking about their respective visions for retirement. Those two things might not match up. Those retirement dates might not match up. So start thinking about your plans as a couple and think about if your spouse is working, what is his or her plan for a retirement date? So start with some of those lifestyle things.

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