I’ve often heard it asked: “If you don’t plan on where you are going, how will you know when you get there?” I’ve also heard it said that, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” Many of us approach life’s major transitions without any sort of planning; we just let life happen to us. But, entering retirement is one of those transitions that have a very difficult “do-over”, if any at all.
It’s particularly true if you are already on a tight budget going into your mid-sixties. Perhaps you don’t feel confident that you have enough of a nest egg to enjoy your “golden years,” and you feel a nagging anxiety in your soul as the calendar pages slip away. Good or bad, it is essential that you have a handle on what to expect financially as you transition to living on your savings and a fixed income. It helps to know what’s ahead of you.
The first thing you might consider doing is to create a few spreadsheets and do some “proforma” projections of how your income is going to flow. If you own Excel or a similar spreadsheet program, you can begin right away to create these spreadsheets. Now, if you don’t own such applications, don’t go out and spend a couple of hundred dollars on Excel or some expensive budgeting software. Assuming you have some skill in using a spreadsheet, you could just go to Google.com and sign up for a FREE account where you can immediately take advantage of “Google Docs”. Google Docs consists of a suite of free “productivity” software, including spreadsheet, word processing and presentation functions. If you don’t have experience with Excel (or Word), remember that it costs nothing to sign up and explore Google’s free online applications.
Google Docs makes “office suite software” not only CHEAP to use, but also incredibly easy. There are books available to help you, including the “for Dummies” series. You will likely find them in a well equipped library, but these are books you’ll want to own for reference, so after looking them over at the library (or the bookstore), pick the best and buy it so you’ll always have it close at hand. In a coming article, we’ll get into more depth on this; for now, you may want to check out some of the resources mentioned.