If you’re sensible with your savings and clever with your planning, it’s possible to find a balance between securing a comfortable retirement and still living life to its fullest. [This article puts forth 4 such ways.]
The comments above & below are edited ([ ]) and abridged (…) excerpts from the original article written by Nick Wharton (WiseBread.com)
Many of us dream about being able give up the day job and settle into a life of freedom, flexibility, and financial security in retirement but, unfortunately for many Americans, this dream is getting further and further out of reach. The reality is that the average age at which U.S. citizens are able to retire is on the increase. [Check out https://goo.gl/T2fnWj – Register for chance to win an iPad Pro!]
Being financially prepared is rightly a large concern, particularly because people tend to make big plans for when they do finally retire. It also means that some people put off following their dreams with hopes that they will be better able to afford them later in life.
4 Ways to Live A Retired Life Before Retiring
1. Take more time off
Taking vacation is something that shoots fear into the hearts of millions of people. Reasons for this vary from being worried about the amount of work that we’ll face when returning to the job, to fears of losing our job altogether as a result of taking too much time off. It’s a sad fact that the majority of Americans don’t take their full vacation allowance each year, with 55 percent reporting leaving days unused, according to Project: Time Off.
- If you’re among the large number of Americans who don’t use their vacation days, then the first step to getting more holidays is simply to take them. Booking your vacations far in advance will allow your employer to plan effectively for the time that you’re not there. It also gives you time to help ensure that whoever is covering you knows what they are doing and is properly prepared.
- If you’re already using your allotted time off, consider asking for more. Requesting extra vacation is understandably daunting for many people, but as the old saying goes, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. It helps if you can provide justification for your extra holiday time, like a dream trip to Europe, and it’s even better if you can demonstrate it will have a positive effect on your productivity. In fact, a study by the Harvard Business Review directly linked having more vacation days to an ability to get work done quicker.
- Another option that many don’t even consider is to take unpaid time off. Though this may seem counterproductive, it’s basically like buying extra vacation days. If you value your time off then it can work out to be very cost effective.
- Ask your employer about “banking time,” which basically allows you to work overtime shifts for regular pay (instead of the regular time-and-a-half), and then use those banked days to extend your holidays or take a few extra days off throughout the year when you need a break from the grind.
2. Focus on discounted, cheap, and free experiences
A great way to enjoy the quality of life that you crave without breaking the bank is to take advantage of discounted and cheap experiences. You might have a list of things that you want to do, see, or accomplish in your lifetime that you’re putting off because you think it’s too expensive. Instead, try looking out for when it’s possible to do these things on the cheap.
- Always wanted to visit a certain country? Research when high season is and make a plan that allows you to go in low season instead. This will save you money on flights, accommodations, and many activities to do while you’re there.
- Create a bucket list…[that] focuses on experiences which cost little but provide you with a high sense of personal achievement. Physical activities are good for this, like hiking a certain mountain route or running a marathon, as well as things that will tax your brain like writing a book or learning an instrument.
3. Move somewhere cheaper
Lots of people envision moving away to a rural area or a tropical place when they retire, but why put it off until then? Moving to a cheaper city, state, or even country could allow you to live out your dreams, save more, and work less all at the same time. If you’re not tied to your home by your job, then it doesn’t necessarily even have to be a permanent move. You could spend half your time in the cheaper place having fun while still saving money.
Numbeo ranks the U.S. as one of the most expensive places to live in the world. This means there’s a lot of choice if you are looking for somewhere cheaper to settle down abroad. With 8.7 million Americans living overseas, you won’t be alone. There are many attractive, cheap locations that could be the perfect place to call your new home.
If you don’t know where to start, write a list of what’s important to you in your everyday life and research which places can accommodate those aspects of your life. Lots of countries in South America, Asia, and Europe are significantly less expensive than the U.S. but still offer a great standard of living.
Moving to a new country isn’t a decision to be taken lightly, and definitely not one that should be made based purely on cost. You need to be sure that the move is right for you and is one that will have a positive impact on your life but there’s no need to hold off until you’re 65 to move to an amazing location.
4. Work from home
If your career is getting in the way of living the life you want right now, then perhaps it’s time to start thinking about changing to something that will allow you to do this. The office environment is rapidly transforming, and working from home is no longer a rare and prized entitlement for the lucky few. If you don’t have to spend time commuting or dressing for an office environment, you can free up time to do more of what you want to do.
Lots of employers are becoming more flexible when it comes to this idea and there is a wide range of opportunities that are well suited for remote work. Advancements in technology have made remote working progressively easier, with a Gallup survey showing that 43 percent of employed Americans spend some portion of time working from home.
Some industries that have embraced remote working include finance, insurance, and information technology, so it’s a bonus if you already have a background in one of these fields but, even if you don’t, the trend of working from home is growing, and may hit your industry soon.
Don’t confuse working from home with doing less. It’s not a way to ease into the retired life in that sense. What it does bring is flexibility around when you work, as well as potentially huge savings in the time wasted getting to and from the office. It’s also common for it to lead to increased productivity thanks to having fewer distractions at home than in a typical office environment.
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