Ask the Grumpies: What to do 10 years before retirement?

First Gen American asks:

 Things to think about/do now when you are ~10 years from retirement…assuming the cash side is all set.

Sadly, #2 and I completely came up with a big old blank when we discussed this question. Personally, #1 has trouble thinking about next week, so a 1 year plan is out and a 10 year plan is pretty unthinkable. She realized while contemplating this question that in 10 years, her 10 year old will be 20 and will probably no longer be living at home. Crazy! And difficult to contemplate. That’s another world from now. (Kids got lots of extra hugs.) Ten years is a long time!  I also suspect that even if it’s a year before retirement I might think, “Let’s worry about what to do next, you know, after retirement. When I have time.” If I retire.

#2 also says, “keep living your life”. And, “How can you be bored if you have books?”

We came up with a lot of good ideas, but they were all about the cash side, which in this question is already set. If the money tells you it’s 10 years until retirement… keep working? Earn more money? Don’t quit? So, uh, you should read the getting the most of your social security book (or run through the software if that’s more your style), but again, that’s money stuff.

Fortunately a lot of these Early Retirement gurus spend time thinking about the non-monetary parts of retirement.  So we’re punting and linking to Our Next Life.  Here’s their . Not all 10 questions are about money. So maybe that will help?

Grumpy Nation, what better advice do you have for First Gen American?

7 Responses to “Ask the Grumpies: What to do 10 years before retirement?”

  1. Leah Says:

    Having parents who are currently on the cusp of retiring . . . a lot has changed in the past 10 years for them. Things that would have been helpful are things that help many of us. Work on decluttering so you’re not tied to a large house. They literally might not have enough time to get rid of all their junk before moving so won’t be able to downsize tons. Think about cutting back on your hours a little to give you a time to enjoy life, because you don’t know what will change, health-wise, in the next ten years. Once they realized their savings were on track, my parents did a lot of international traveling when possible. That’s really good because there’s some current health issues that are complicating travel plans, so their retirement travel will be more modest. Work on cultivating pursuits you enjoy outside of work so that you have something to look forward to in retirement to replace your time.

    Those are just a few things that spring to mind. But 10 years ago, they moved for new jobs, took on new challenges, and have done lots. Ten years seems like simultaneously not much time but also a long time. I’d say the most important thing, aside from money, is making sure you are cultivating a full life and not burned up entirely by work.

  2. becca Says:

    Look for seats on boards of directors of organizations you are interested in? Basically, I want a high impact hobby that will give me a sense of what to do with myself when I am retired, and I may not like the first thing I try. Plus sometimes those things only have seats opening up every few years, so you learn the rhythm of that.

    If you were my Mom, you learned to garden. Plant cherries and pecans? They might take 10 years to come fully to fruit. More relevant if you are in a home. you can age in. Make sure you have a paid off house with a bathroom and bedroom on the ground floor or have otherwise considered aging in place?
    Get dental work done? Not sure that’s easier before retirement, but dental insurance is more likely to go with a job.

  3. chacha1 Says:

    Ten years is a really short time when you are working full time. My husband is 57 so we are definitely looking at the “ten years to retirement” thing, but honestly I am looking at it a damn sight harder than he is.

    My main thing is to be brutally honest with myself about the way we live now and whether that is the way we/I want to live once a full-time job is not a necessary part of the calculation. I doubt our actual daily life would change much if our environment does not change. In order to be more active, which we need to do if we’re going to be healthy in our old age, we have to get out of this environment.

    So the first strategy is moving/downsizing out of our big apartment and into a small house, with a yard, that will be much less expensive and give us an outdoor space. The second strategy is moving out of L.A. altogether.

    But if the question is “how do I decide how I want to spend my time in my retirement” basically the only answer is “look at what you enjoy doing now and strategize how to make that your primary use of time, once the time is available.” This is where a lot of people get stuck, though: thinking “I’ll be able to quilt (or whatever) after I stop working.” Then somebody gets sick and it never happens.

  4. Rosa Says:

    If they own a house, remodel the things that will need to be remodeled to sell – my mom redid her kitchen (only cosmetically – mostly paint & new linoleum) and bathrooms one at a time in the last years before retiring, so the house sold fast & easy. Decluttering/getting ready to downsize, and doing some landscaping, too – new landscaping looks best 2-3 years after planting, with everything established but not taking lots of upkeep yet. Getting in touch with the people you’d spend more time with if you had time.

    And, financially – maybe look at not actively managing stuff you now actively manage? If your retirement money is all in index funds and pensions, you’re fine, but if you’ve got big chunks in stuff that you have to pay attention to, you might find you pay less attention in retirement and should be looking to get out of those. Including if you’ve been a landlord who did their own management/upkeep work – I’ve had a couple landlords who were really getting incapable of property management and should probably not have been up on ladders or interviewing new tenants anymore. Retirement doesn’t mean decreptitude but if you’re going to (for instance) spend winters in Florida you should probably hire a management company back in Snowville, or sell the place and put the money in bonds or something.

    • Leah Says:

      Smart on fixing/updating! My parents are dragging their heels on listing their house because there’s “so much” they need to fix, and they don’t want to list their house until they’ve fixed it. Remains to be seen what will actually get done . . . I’m trying to let it go and not stress, because it’s their life. Interestingly, my parents have already fixed a lot, so I’m not even sure exactly what more they’re wanting to fix.

  5. Funny about Money Says:

    What would I do if I had 10 years before retirement? LOL! From the perspective of 8 years _after_ retirement, I’d suggest creating a back-up plan for what you will do if you’re forced to retire before you expect. Beginning about 10 years in advance (if not sooner) , I’d pay off all debts, especially the house and the car. I would seek some recession-resistant investments and place a fair chunk of my savings into them. When real estate values are high, I would sell a large house and get myself into either a rental or (if I intended to live in the city where I was working) into smaller, more economical digs. And I would begin building a side gig or consultancy that could be worked into a part- or full-time source of income after retirement.

    All of which is a way of saying I would not assume I could hang onto my job for another 10 years…

    • Sandy L Says:

      I’d like to revive this thread as there are so many great comments here.

      Downsizing now is not an option as I still have kids and old people who live with me. It really won’t happen until we are the last two here. Although we could live in the in law house and rent the rest of the place I guess.

      We have been planting a lot of fruit trees and nuts as well. I am already on boards. The activism thing can easily fill my days now.

      I do think your life now should look like a scaled back version of your retired life. If you want to volunteer or have a garden or travel more, that is all possible now…even if it’s a container garden in your window or a camping road trip on a budget.

      It is often the people who are consumed by their work/kid’s life that have the most trouble adjusting. Those things are important but you can still be a good employee and parent and have a few hobbies. Bonus points if your kids get into it too.

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