Step 3: Evaluate Your Health — Now
To get the most out of your retirement — and life in general — you want to be as healthy as possible. And while few of us enjoy doctors' visits, a little preventive medical attention can go a long way.
Schedule your checkups and preventive exams now, from an annual physical to teeth cleaning. At each appointment, work with your provider on a plan to improve or maintain your health. Commit (or recommit) to eating healthy, exercising and getting enough sleep. Healthy living doesn't have to be a chore. Many healthy foods are delicious and satisfying, and exercise can be fun (walk on the beach, anyone?). Commit to staying mentally sharp with brain games, puzzles and books. Staying in close contact with family and friends will help you maintain your health both physically and mentally and may aid in fighting off any blues that may arise once you are retired.
Step 4: Determine When to Collect Social Security
(Hint: Later Is Better!)
Wouldn't it be nice if you saved and invested enough to enjoy financial freedom during retirement? Perhaps you did but for many that's not reality. Most of us will need the Social Security benefit we'll receive — both to pay for basic essentials and to support our retirement dreams. The age at which you choose to start collecting Social Security will have a direct impact on how much you'll get in monthly benefits. The longer you wait to claim Social Security, the greater the benefit for you and your family.
Consider this: A widow or widower whose spouse claimed Social Security at full retirement age or older gets 100 percent of the benefits. A widow or widower whose spouse claimed benefits early gets 71 percent to 99 percent, depending on when the spouse began claiming. If you wait to claim, you'll also be eligible for delayed retirement credits, which give you an increase in benefits each year until you reach age 70. Whether you are married, single, widowed or divorced, it usually pays to wait to claim. AARP's Social Security Benefits Calculator will show you when it's best to claim.