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10 Things You Should Do When Retirement is 10 Years Away 

Casandra Andrews  |  January 17, 2023

Follow these steps and strategies to plan for retirement when the date to leave full-time work is still 10 years away. 

Some people may never retire. It’s just not in their DNA. On a trip to DC last month, I struck up a conversation with our cab driver. He was an excellent guide and I let him know. That’s when he told me the year he was born. Turns out he’s 86. Although I did not ask, he volunteered pretty quickly that he has no plans to retire and stop driving his Chrysler minivan around our nation’s capital anytime soon. He likes to meet new people, introduce visitors to his adopted hometown and, perhaps most importantly, have a reason to leave the house most days.

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On the flip side, not everyone wants to – or can – work through their golden years. Kathleen R., a member of the HerMoney Facebook group, posed a question a few days ago on the subject of retirement. Specifically, she asked what steps you should be taking now when retirement is 10 years away. The ideas started pouring in with more than 150 comments and counting. We love it that so many of you are thinking about the future and strategically planning for the years ahead. 

Here are 10 of the top suggestions on how to prepare for retirement 10 years out, inspired by members of the private HerMoney Facebook community.  

Try out Retirement Destinations on Vacation

Thinking of moving to a place where the cost of living is lower later in life? Then it’s wise to scope out your options as far in advance as possible, says HerMoney community member Nyla N. “If you want to live someplace else, start researching and visiting and vacationing at alternate locations. From the time I left college, I always lived where I got a job. Once I retire, I can live anywhere I want, (which is) kind of overwhelming, but nice.” 

Joslyn L. says she took the leap a few years back and retired outside the United States, to  Guanajuato, Mexico: “The weather is awesome, no heat or cooling. It’s also walkable and has public transportation.” 

Don’t Put Off Home Repairs And Renovations

Inflation has been an abrupt and expensive reminder that the cost of owning and maintaining a home (and everything else) likely won’t be less expensive a decade from now. “Pay off the house and make any needed major upgrades before retirement,” says Shellie F., noting that replacing and repairing expensive items such as windows, doors, the roof and a heat pump will almost always cost more a few years down the road. Bonus: Improving your home’s energy efficiency could save you on heating and cooling costs almost immediately. 

Start Volunteering Now

Think about the ways you want to spend your free time right now (and in a decade) and find a way to work at least a few of them into your schedule. That way, you can make a smoother transition when you leave the 9-to-5 grind behind. “Make a list of things you always wanted to start, learn or do,” says Liz K. “Start doing them before retirement. This ensures you are always creating your life and not waiting ‘till retirement to live.”

Hospitals, symphonies, senior centers and schools are great places to consider donating some of your spare time and energy. Juli W. notes that volunteering benefits everyone (research shows those who volunteer even live longer) and suggests roles such as reserving books at a library, adopting a path or road to keep free from litter or even launching or helping in a community garden. 

Prepare Now for Rising Healthcare Costs

The price for nearly everything related to healthcare seems to go up every single year. The most recent Consumer Price Index shows medical care costs are up 5% from 2021. Because healthcare costs have been rising for decades (and typically outpace overall inflation), we should anticipate spending more on it in the coming years. New research shows on average, people estimate their annual out-of-pocket healthcare spending is around $850, but in reality, it’s about $2,100 – a whopping 145% more than expected.

HerMoney Facebook community member Leigh says two years ago she switched to a high deductible health insurance plan so she could open a health savings account, also known as an HSA. “My intentions are to fully fund,” she explains. I will “pay cash throughout the year for medical expenses and use the HSA for medical expenses during my retirement. So far so good.”

Staying or getting fit can also reduce healthcare costs, says Lyn L. “Think about boosting your physical health so you can live longer with a high quality of life. Go to the gym and do water aerobics. Go for weekday walks during the daylight. Also care for your mental health. Be aware of depression or negative emotions as you lose the identity you had while you were working.”

Build A Social Network Outside the Office 

Sometimes, your work family doesn’t always translate into a full social life outside regular business hours in retirement. If you retire before your colleagues, that may mean they won’t have the same amount of free time as you do. Kathy L. says that happened to her about eight years ago. She suggests pitching in to assist with neighborhood and community events to meet new people. “I did Meals On Wheels for four years,” she says. “Do NOT stay home lying on the sofa.”

Take This Quiz to Mentally Prepare

If you love a short quiz, try this one from AARP, suggests Tracy S. “It asked deep questions about mental readiness. Are you defined by your work? What will you miss about your current life/lifestyle? What is it you intend to pursue? Things like that,” she explains. “I thought about it a lot and was ready when we left our home country and moved to Panama.”

Check in on Your Pension 

For those fortunate enough to have a pension, including millions of public school teachers and other state and federal employees, it’s wise to make sure your contact info and other important details are updated every few years with the agency who oversees it. 

“Do not wait to figure out pension details if you have one,” says Sophie T. “Many have requirements that you cannot make up after the fact.” Some pension funds allow recipients to name beneficiaries prior to disbursements while others have strict rules on when you can claim your benefits.  

Find a Financial Advisor

“Meet with a financial advisor who can show you how much money you need by the time you stop working and how long that money will last,” suggests Lyn L. Doing that “gave me the confidence to retire before age 65.”

Tracy S. says she and her husband regularly met with their financial advisor/wealth manager for more than 10 years before they left the working world behind. “We saved a crap load of money (subjective), got our affairs in order,” she says, “had talks with family, sold EVERYTHING. We had a date written down.”

Here’s a HerMoney podcast on how to find a financial advisor (and even break up with one) if that’s the situation you’re in.  

Wait as Long as Possible For Social Security

For every year you delay taking Social Security benefits from age 62 until age 70, monthly benefits grow by about 8%. That’s a guaranteed return that’s hard to beat (or even match) in any other way. So if you can afford it, put off Social Security until age 70. Several members of our Facebook group did the math and shared how much more their checks will be each month because they are delaying SS for now. In those instances, the annual increases were more than $3,600.   

Create a Social Security Account

And while we are on the subject of Social Security, several members pointed out the convenience of the social security administration’s website. If you haven’t been, visit when you have a few minutes to spare. It’s the online spot where you can, among other things, claim your account, check your eligibility for benefits, apply for a new card and ultimately determine what your benefits will look like (ie. how much money you are estimated to receive) as you grow closer to retirement age. 

Say it Out Loud 

Maybe there is something about putting words out into the universe, to speak them into existence (so to speak) that lends credence to our goals. Others prefer to use visualization as a motivator – by placing a postcard or photo on their fridge of the beach house or lakeside cabin they want to retire to. Sometimes, a simple set of numbers scrawled across a day planner may be all it takes to set the wheels in motion for a dream to take shape. “We had a date written down,” says Tracy S. That offered us a “physical reminder every day of our goal. (We) talked about it out loud.” 


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