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Planning Retirement Online


Retirement Planning – Timelines



About Two or Three Years Before Retirement

At about two or three years prior to retirement we need to do some serious retirement planning. If we have kept our notes from the previous timelines and associated records up to date over the years, this shouldn’t be too arduous and, indeed, there is help that we can turn to in order to do it properly.

So, as always, the first thing to do, if we have been keeping a retirement plan, is to go to it and update it. The preparation that we did at 50 is, by and large, what we need to do at this stage but we now need to do more of it. So if you are coming to this for the first time when you are close to retirement, read the Age 50 section first before you continue with this section. Don’t forget, also, to think about anything that might have happened, or might happen, to cause you to think differently about retirement. Look at the Introduction to Age 40 to see some examples of such events.

Timeline Introduction
Age 20
Age 30
Age 40
Age 50
2-3 years before retirement
Back to timeline Introduction

This is the critical phase. At least earlier in our life we have the chance to do some planning even if we haven’t started at Age 20. If we don’t start now, it will probably be too late to plan properly, with the possible consequence that we may not be in a position to make the most of our retirement once we get there.

What we Want to do in Retirement

We should review our Values (those things we consider will be absolutely key to us in retirement) Hopes, Opportunities and Aims to ensure that we have a clear picture in our head of how we see retirement. Also reflect on the hobbies and activities that you now think that you might want to pursue in retirement. You might want to look at the Guide to Hobbies and Interests on the web site which will assist you in considering some of the alternatives.

Then we must consider our Concerns – anything that we feel will prevent us from achieving all the things we want in our retirement. Overcoming, as far as we can, our Concerns so that we can meet our hopes and so on is what our planning should be about.


On the financial side it's time to start understanding in detail what actions we will need to take when we retire. Read our 'When you retire' section which will explain everything but in particular make use of our Retirement Finance Checklist.

Finance HealthcheckThe one thing we really need to do now, as well as review all the aspects that we looked at, at Age 50, is to start constructing a retirement budget.

Having reviewed our current financial situation, we should do a budget for before retirement and after retirement so that we can see what our financial position will be. Include all your income and expenditure so that you can see what is surplus. You won’t be entirely accurate, of course, with the after retirement budget but you will be able to get a feel for it.

Once you have done this, you will be in a position to see how close you can come to meeting all your hopes and plans and you will therefore be able to make choices. Much of the rest of your planning should then be based around this.

If you haven't already reviewed it within our  Retirement Finance Checklist think about how much of a lump sum you wish to take if you have either an organisation or personal pension. This will be based upon both what you need or want money for and how you feel about your financial position looking into the future. Be sure to take a look at our Guide to Lump Sums.

Consider whether you want to seek professional advice from a financial advisor in order to help you make these extremely important decisions. If you do and don't already have one see our section on types of financial advice, costs and how to find a financial advisor.


More organisations are introducing flexible arrangements for people coming up to retirement, so you may be able to work fewer hours as you approach it. With the demise of the default retirement age we can all now work for as long as want to, providing we are still capable of doing the job, so we need to think carefully about this and how it affects our planning.

So you need to find out all the options available from your employer as well as the option of actually retiring, of course! Think about self-employment and voluntary work in order to give yourself a rounded picture.

In order to think properly about this, you need to go back to your thoughts and/or notes on ‘What I Want to do in Retirement’. You also need to consider what work has given you over the years and whether you can only get the positives from work through work. Or maybe you can achieve those values through other means.


Look back at the health issues you considered at Age 50 and ask yourself if you are doing something to address them. If the answer is, ‘No’, then make a definite plan to do something about them.

Taking exercise is often easier when done with other people, so talk to your partner or your friends and see if there is something that you could do together.

In terms of diet, again look back at what we discussed at age 50 and ask yourself whether your diet is reasonably healthy.

Now is the time to think about keeping mentally active, too. There is research evidence that seems to show that keeping the brain active does delay dementia, if we are pre-disposed to it, and that it also has a mitigating effect on it. So plan to take some form of continuing education and/or take up some hobby or activity that will keep your brain active.

Getting out and about, whether it’s just days out or for longer holidays will also enable us to meet people, see new things and learn about our environment. This, in turn, will help us to keep mentally active and, to a certain extent, physically fit, too.

Moving House

At this stage, we should think very carefully about whether we want to move or not. People move for all sorts of reasons in retirement and, as we get older, other reasons might come into play such as living somewhere that is easier to maintain.

So consider whether you think you might move because, if the answer is, ‘Yes’, there is a good argument for moving sooner rather than later. This is because it gives us the opportunity to meet new people and build new networks before it gets too difficult to do so.

If you think you might move abroad, you should really start to do your research now because it can take a very long time to find the area that is right for you and then to navigate through all the complexities.


At 50, we looked at the importance of meeting new people and making new relationships so that we don’t lose our social contact. One of the things that work gives us is social contact and it is very important. We now need to think more closely about that so that, when we retire, we are confident that we will have strategies in place to ensure that we do have interests that will bring us into contact with people. In this way, we will maintain that very important social contact and make new friends. For example, reading is a solitary interest but, if we join a reading group that meets once a month we can turn even that into an activity that brings us into contact with people.

We should now also consider how we might strengthen our existing relationships, both with our partner and all our other relations and friends. Potentially, you will enter into completely new kinds of relationships – particularly with a partner (especially if he or she has also retired or is not working) but also with other people, too.

Never before will you have had the opportunity to spend so much time together and this needs talking through. How will you use this time? How much of it will you spend together? You need to discuss these issues and come to an agreement about how this new relationship will work.


We’ve looked before at how we should consider whether our current lifestyle strikes the correct balance between what we want to do now and what we want to achieve in the future.

If we haven’t done it before now, it’s almost too late now. Almost but not quite! Take a look at how you are living now and consider carefully whether it’s compatible with what you want in retirement. If not, make some adjustments – deferred gratification has a lot going for it at this stage of our lives.

Problems occur in retirement for many people because they have worked so hard all their lives and for such long hours that they have not had the opportunity to develop interests and hobbies. If you think that you fit into this scenario, you need to think very carefully how you are going to fill your time in retirement. Consider things that you might like to do, including those that will bring you into contact with other people.

Getting Help

The issues that are raised here for consideration about two or three years before retirement merely scratch the surface. We really should look at them more closely and get some expert advice on how we can plan for retirement.

One thing that you can do is to attend a Planning for Retirement workshop, which will go into much more detail and allow you to think deeply and clearly about your retirement. You will leave it with a template for retirement that you might like to use as a basis for your planning, a folder full of handouts for you to read at your leisure and there is also a range of ‘post workshop' facilities that you can take advantage of.

Hopefully, your retirement will last for around 10,000 days – it could be even more. It’s worth spending one day attending a workshop to make the most of the 10,000.


Once you have thought about your retirement carefully a couple of years before you are due to finish work, you then need to keep it under constant review.

Make notes for yourself, review them continuously and update and amend them. Attend a  workshop, talk to friends who have already retired and discuss it with your partner and/or people close to you.

Your lifetime project of planning your retirement will then pay handsome dividends and the third phase of your life will be a wonderfully fulfilling time.


However if you feel that you need some help from a financial advisor, then visit our section on obtaining financial advice, or our page on Laterlife selected services and associated advice.



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