Should you “practise” retirement?

Instead of working until you retire, why not try this: practising retirement while working.

That’s right, working and retiring. Rather than making the big, definitive change to the next stage of your life, you can gradually ease into it and try it on for size before you take the plunge. It’s been called “practice retirement” and to us, it sounds like a much more enjoyable approach to the whole retirement planning endeavour.

But how exactly does one practise retirement, and is it even a good idea?

Firstly, practice makes us comfortable with change. Think about it: most things we undertake in life, we tend to try it first, before committing. We then practise to get better at it before we’re comfortable in making a deeper commitment.

Secondly, there’s many good reasons to gradually introduce yourself to a life of leisure – for both financial and lifestyle purposes. You might find overlooked expenses you did not account for in your retirement planning and with your unlimited leisure time, you may discover your leisurely pursuits don’t hold the same interest as they once did.

So rather than go into retirement cold turkey, there are several aspects of retirement you can “practise” before taking the plunge – finances, living arrangements, emotional and physical health, relationships, and so on. Trying out what you plan to do in retirement, but in little dribs and drabs, will make more confident about how you’ll feel and what you’ll do in retirement. 

Think of it like a “retiree in training” – you’re still working but little by little taking up some retirement activities in your 60s. Practising retirement could be the perfect solution for those who are planning to or need to delay their retirement past the retirement age.

  • Calculate the amount of money you expect to have in retirement and live off that budget for a month or two. Practising how you’ll live on a reduced income before you actually do will give you the opportunity to iron over any issues that might arise.
  • Decide how you’ll spend your time in retirement. When people haven’t planned their retirement, they often get bored and find they do want some structure and purpose in retirement. Test drive your interests and hobbies – you might find that once you actually give it a go, it isn’t to taste.
  • If you’re keen on moving intestate, to the country or city, or downsizing from the family home, it would be wise to rent a home wherever you want to live (or go on a holiday if you can’t move for longer) to see if you can handle the changes. You might find that the perfect holiday destination might not be the perfect retirement destination.
  • If you like your job (which not everyone always has the pleasure of), and it’s viable, why not consider working on a part-time or casual basis before you retire permanently. Many people find a sense of purpose and identity in their careers so don’t quit your job until you’re comfortable that you will not want to or need to return to it. Working longer also means you can start playing sooner, as your funds are still coming out of your wages, not savings.

This article was written in partnership with Over60.