Thursday, January 29, 2015

Taking stock and investing

Almost everyone starts to look ahead and plan for retirement at some point before retirement actually arrives.

This is practical and downright necessary. 

Advance preparation for the post-career years is an intuitive step as well as a practical one.

It's a kind of natural planning. It's an instinctive scan of the wide horizon as we see our working days winding down. 

The future has wealth in it. We know this from all angles. The richness waiting for us is more readily available when we give retirement planning its due. 

This is done when we take stock of present means, talents and interests, and put thought to how these assets can be invested when this later time is ours. 

When retirement gets here many of us (no matter how well our time and interests are currently invested) have an itch that needs to be scratched. This itch stays with us until we come up with a remedy for it. 

The itch is often specifically the desire to relocate. The general remedy is to acknowledge the itch and to follow through and do something about it.

Moving houses is a big retirement topic. Some of us start thinking about where we want to live when we retire long before we retire. It becomes a more urgent subject when the alarm clocks for getting up for work have been permanently silenced.

Retirees change locations for many reasons. The homes where we raised our families and know everyone on the block often no longer fill the bill when we own all our days. 

The view out the window, so to speak, isn't quite the same. This is certainly one factor in deciding to move at this time in our lives.

It can also come from a desire for a different kind of house. After years in a colonial with the sleeping area separated by stairs from the living area there may be great interest in a ranch-style with everything convenient on one floor. 

Or we wonder what it'd be like to be a condo owner and its ease of closing up and spending part of the year elsewhere.

Sometimes the desire is connected to our present lifestyle. Some of us upsize. This can amuse or surprise those who know us. They figure we're not getting any younger. They assume we'd opt for more compact space.

Retirees who choose to go bigger are very likely looking at the big picture. We want plenty of room for when our adult children and their families visit. 

Extra house space can be welcome on any basis. Many partners appreciate area to spread out when both are fulltime at home.

Affordable housing is critical at this stage, more so as retirement dollars don't stretch as far as the career paychecks we've been accustomed to. Shrinking incomes lead many of us to do something about reducing our living space.

The decision to downsize can come from financial aspects but also from a strategy to reduce the responsibilities of home and yard tasks. 

Being finished with home maintenance can be such a relief for some. Goodbye snow blower, raking and storm windows to put on! 

Others downsize because keeping up a home is more than we can continue to take on. This tends to be a sobering reality but it can lighten our mental burden to set aside what no longer fits.

The chance to relocate opens to retirees as perhaps never before in our lives. Whether relocation entails setting up house across the street or hiring a moving van to haul our goods cross country we can line it up and make it happen.

My hunch is that economic factors, a more suitable climate, a thirst for change and hankering to move closer to family or our roots are factors that trump all others in why we pick up stakes and actually relocate.

The January/ February 2015 Where to Retire magazine has an article called "Finding the 'Perfect Distance' " which caught my eye. 

My husband and I occasionally wonder if we'll ever try relocating closer to our adult working children. You miss your kids even when it's you who give them the wings to fly.

The article suggests the perfect distance from family differs for each of us. We come out ahead by being as flexible as possible when deciding what "perfect" is on our terms.

When relocating takes us further from family than we prefer, but the move is important to us for sound reasons that add substantially to our quality of life, this is a comparison of values we do well to take time to contemplate. 

We make a healthier decision when we have support from our family, We benefit when they are our cheerleaders. 

By perceiving the positives, as well as noting what may have to be negotiated for our decision to be a good choice for all concerned, we walk away having forged a better understood decision.

All who give even minimal thought to relocating are struck by its personal impact. A move of our own choice recharges us. It revs up our engines. 

Likewise, relocating can feel scary. All the ramifications that come with significantly altering our lifestyle start to dawn on us.

Relocating can mean moving away from family and close ties of longstanding nature. This can mimic, at least at first, the effect of being washed onto a deserted island in the middle of the ocean. 

You can feel temporarily shipwrecked despite knowing your move puts you on a beach abundantly supplied with all the wonderful fruits to pick by hand that will nourish you.

Moves are major decisions. They deserve to be treated as the important life transactions they are.

It's recommended to gather information beforehand. One method is to make a list of "wants." This is a list of  the things you want in or from a new place, or expect to gain from the move, or why the move is important to you in the first place. 

This want list sums up the kind of home and setting your daydreams take you to. They spell out what is desirable about a new place and the environment it will put you into.

We probably many times picture our ideal home. We build in our heads an image of what we want our neighborhood to be. 

We add touches each time we revisit these held images. We refine the pictures as we go along. These are the details that should go on this list.

Next go ahead and jot down a list of "needs." These are the items requisite to putting a foundation under your dreams. They're the things that tell you that relocating would be a solid gain for the effort expended.

A list comparing needs and wants astutely sums up whether relocating is the answer, or the correct answer for now. 

It can help you see you're fine just where you are. All it may take is to implement ways to give your current place some of the "wants" from off that first list.

But if relocating is still the itch that needs to be scratched, then this is the hour for action. Relocating allows us to be proactive with our curiosity. 

If we've ever wondered what it'd be like to live someplace different this is the time to wonder no longer.

Moving houses (cities, countries, etc.) lets us dress up our yearnings and turn them inside out. We're free to follow where this curiosity takes us, for as far as we have the interest, inclination or finances.

This fabulous chance to relocate elsewhere can take some getting used to. Up to this time career commitments and family priorities have largely determined the pattern of our decision making. 

Others first, as well as other things first, have largely influenced how our decisions have been come to.

With retirement this changes. It's like the floor suddenly shifts. We hold the reins. It can seem almost too much autonomy.

It sounds odd to now be able to say, "Here's where I'll move. This is where I want to be." But trust me. It'll sink in. A step at a time. 

Or it'll come as a leap of confidence. We'll simply know that relocating (or staying put) is the thing to do. 

We've done our homework. We've paid attention to our mental calculations and the equally wise urgings of our hearts. Decisions will come as they're meant to.

Perhaps it was easier when there were fewer options. Folks until not so very long ago retired without the benefit of the many planning aids that are our resources today.

We can be grateful these times let us try more possibilities, or at least let us be tantalized by them, knowing they're doable. 

In the meantime, in the buildup to retirement, and most certainly within the hopefully productive span of retirement years, it's smart to be cognizant of the guidance inside us that we tap into every day.

This guidance often yields itself only when we take action. It can be any small amount of action. Action of any kind is a signal that we intend to move forward and are doing so right now. 

This activates the help we need for that moment. It gets us there. It can be our truest guide for finding the gold in the years ahead wherever we are, wherever we choose to move or decide to stay. 

I believe each of us knows when we're living our best life. It comes from taking stock and investing in where we are now. This is certainly the case when careers are over and free time flows to us.

We still have some work to do. We should continually test the waters. We learn to have no regrets for what has passed. It involves focusing our best on the present moment, which is the front porch to the future. 

Our best life makes itself known. We feel happy deep down and all around. It's the happiness that puts to advantage everything we've worked and dreamed for. 

Ro Giencke - January 29, 2015

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