How to Keep A Journal for Planning Retirement



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If you are nearing the end of your working life then you may be looking forward to your retirement. I know people who’ve started planning their retirement as much as ten years in advance.  A friend of mine has been keeping a countdown for about eight years, and still continues to remind me how many years, months and weeks he’s left before he can retire.

If your retirement plans involve nothing more than just continue to live in the same home where you live now and spend more time with your family, then you may not require a journal. However, if you have always thought about many things you would like to do when you retire, or if you are thinking about relocating – maybe even to another country – then using a journal to plan your retirement will be very useful.

9 Things to Record In Your Retirement Planning Journal

  1. What Is Your Current Expectation of Retirement
    What do you imagine when you think about your retirement? Are you dreading it? Or do you see it as an opportunity to spend more time with the kids and the grand-kids? How long do you have before you retire? Do you plan to continue working, even part-time or on volunteer basis, after you reach the official retirement age? What do you currently envision doing with your time? How would it affect the other people in your household?
  2. What Would be Your Fantasy Retirement
    Now just think about your retirement from your perspective. What would be the dream retirement for you? What should it include that you wouldn’t dread leaving your current job, and being unemployed? What would you want to do with your time? What are the things that you’ve always wanted to do. Be specific. Use details. Really get into the spirit of this, and plan out your dream retirement.
  3. Your Partner’s Idea of Retirement
    While there are single retirees, more commonly people are in a relationship when they reach a retirement age. If you are in that situation, then you need to consider your partner’s view of retirement too. If you have been putting off having this discussion for the last minute, stop putting it off, because while you may be fantasising about retiring in sunny Florida, your partner maybe thinking about moving to North Carolina to be with the kids, or travelling around the world. If you have less than ten years left to retire, discuss this now. Get your partner to do the step 1 and 2 of the exercise, without interference from you.
  4. What’s the Common Ground
    Compare your retirement fantasy with your partner’s retirement fantasy. Are they same, similar, somewhat similar, or polar opposites? Is there a common ground? How averse are you to each other’s idea of retirement? This is an important stage in both your lives, and therefore one person should not have to sacrifice everything they want. Find common ground between what both of you want to do, and consider your priorities.
  5. How Deep Are Your Pockets
    Money rules! That’s as true during your working life,as it is for your retirement. It doesn’t really matter how much you are not interested in material world, the people you have to pay the bills to are certainly interested. Also, if you want to have an active retirement, doing lots of things, and going to lots of places, you will need funds. That’s not to say you have to be rich. Being aware of your financial situation is more about awareness. Once you know how much money you will have to play with, you can then work out how to be efficient with it.
  6. Where Would You Like To Retire
    This is an important consideration. If you are living in your current location mostly because of your job, and spending most of your time working, then it may not be the location where you want to spend your retirement. Think about the community, and whether there are things of interest for you. Can you go out for a walk? Do you like the weather? How viable will it be financially? If you have always thought about retiring in a particular place, or even just somewhere different, then now is your opportunity to think about it. The world is quite literally your oyster. Retiring abroad, particularly in developing countries, may also be a good option if you need to stretch your dollars or pounds.
  7. Research. Research. Research.
    Do your homework, and learn. Explore your financial options. If you have investments, such as a house, think about what you would like to do with them. Research the locations you might want to live in. What are the pros and cons? Don’t forget to check out details of places – crime rates, rent, living costs etc. as well as what are the things you can do while you are there. If you are planning to move abroad, check immigration laws. Many countries offer numerous benefits to foreign retirees, including tax benefits. It’s worth your while to do your homework. 
  8. Finalise Your Plans
    Once you have followed the first seven steps, you will have a much clearer idea of what you want your retirement to be like. Finalise your plans. Include all aspects, financial and social. Talk to your family, and particularly your partner. However, don’t feel you have to lock yourself in. Continue to write about and fine tune your plans as you approach retirement, so that your plan will evolve over the years. 
  9. Step by Step Guide to Get There
    Once you have a specific plan for your retirement, and you know what you want to do, think about all the things you need to do make it happen. Whether it’s about finding more money, or starting a business that you can run during retirement, or about downsizing to move somewhere else. Your plan will require you to start taking actions now. Figure out what those actions are. Break them down into mini steps, and start doing them.

Your retirement can be a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the life you’ve created. With proper planning, you can truly apply the cliché “golden retirement.” Don’t just wait for it to creep up on you. Be an active participant in creating it, so that you can live your retirement on your terms.


Regardless of your age, give some thought to your retirement. Even if you are not yet ready to start a retirement journal, think about what you would like your retirement to be like.

Do you have any retirement tips or stories to share? 


2 thoughts on “How to Keep A Journal for Planning Retirement

  1. Dolly, thanks for this post. To be honest, it seems as if you wrote it just for me. I haven’t been giving my retirement as much thought and planning as I need to, and journal writing a couple of entries about my plans and what I need to do is already causing me to rethink some things. I’m not sure what inspired you to write this article, but I’m certainly glad you did.

  2. Bakari,

    I’m glad you found this useful. It’s always wonderful as a writer, when a reader feels something has been written just for them.

    Best of luck in planning your retirement.

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