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By Sara Croymans, Med, AFC

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Planning for retirement involves more than making sure there will be enough money to last through the retirement years.  It is important for individuals to plan for this monumental transition by thinking about their expectations for the future and having conversations with their partner about their expectations.

Sharon Danes, Professor, Family Economist, and Extension Specialist at the University of Minnesota, authored the publication Planning Ahead for Retirement sharons-book-2which helps folks address the transitional, emotional, social, as well as financial decisions inherent in the retirement planning process.  The first chapter, “More than Money Decisions,” provides great information and tools for individuals (and their partners) to assess how they approach life, identifying and prioritizing values and setting goals.

Consider these keys to successful retirement transition identified by Danes.

Identify a vision for retirement.  What do you imagine life will look like in retirement?  Consider how time will be spent and what your health might be during your retirement years.  Visualize what your relationships with family and friends will look like during this time.  Space is also a major factor as you think about where you plan to live.  And of course, finances need to be considered as you build your vision of the future. Worksheet 1: Retirement Questions in the Planning for Retirement publication provides questions to help folks think these factors in more detail.

Assess life view. “There is no better predictor of your approach to life in retirement than your approach to life now.” So, it is important to take stock of your present outlook on life. Worksheet 2 in the publication provides an opportunity to think about your disposition, enthusiasm for life, inclination toward traditionalism, and capacity to affect your environment.  This information can be used to determine whether you want to adjust your stance in particular areas.

Identify Values and Set Priorities.  Values are the things in life that are important to you and bring you joy.  Values typically guide one’s lifestyle, relationships, careers and volunteer work.  Being aware of your values and setting priorities can help inform what you want your retirement years to look like.  Worksheet 3 can help you identify your personal values while Worksheet 4 helps identify your priorities.

Set goals. Setting both short and long term goals can help you frame what you want to accomplish.  Some goals will be easy to achieve while others will require years to reach.  Worksheet 5 provides space to identify goals.

Coordinate With Your Partner. Because life is typically not a solo journey it is essential to synchronize plans with your partner.  This involves communicating about roles, values, priorities, and goals.  It may be necessary to manage any conflict that arises.

Because retirement involves more than money decisions folks are encouraged to spend time thinking about and planning for this major transition.  The Planning Ahead for Retirement tool is an excellent place to start.

To learn more about the transitional, emotional, and financial perspective of military retirement participate in our two-part webinar series entitled Retirement Ready? Effective Strategies for Military Families Part I and Part II on November 1 & 8, 2016. The webinars will be recorded and archived for viewing following the event. CEUs for accredited financial counselors, certified personal finance counselors, marriage and family counselors, social workers and counselors are available.

This post was written by Sara Croymans, MEd, AFC, University of Minnesota Extension Educator, and member of the OneOp Family Transitions team. Family Transitions provides education, resources and networking opportunities for professionals working with military families to build resilience and navigate life cycle transitions. Engage with the OneOp Family Transitions team on our websiteFacebook, and Twitter.