Do you love checklists? Some people do but many people don’t! Right now I’m finding them very helpful for my retirement planning. Before I started this process in earnest, I wasn’t aware that there were these kinds of tools to help the prospective retiree.
Initially, I made my own checklist of things to learn. This included books and articles to read, podcasts to listen to (which is how I found RockYourRetirement.com), and webinars to watch. I also made a number of calls to professionals who were more than ready to assist a future retiree like me. Everyone is so patient and seems to understand that we are all “first-timers.”
However, fairly recently I came upon two checklists that were very helpful. I’m not sure how I missed them early in the process, but I’m happy I found them. I printed both of these and over the past month, I have worked my way down each checklist.
The first was on my own employer’s webpage. https://snohomishcountywa.gov/DocumentCenter/View/32013/Employee-Retirement-Guide?bidId=
While this Retirement Guide and the Checklist in Section 8 is specific to Snohomish County, it is likely that if your employer is large enough you will find something similar. Check with your Human Resources department or use this one as a starting point. Even if you don’t have anything available like this, I think all of the information could be helpful to you for planning purposes.
The second was on my state retirement system webpage. https://www.drs.wa.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/checklist.pdf
What I found notable is that it begins 1-2 years before you actually retire. Then it guides you through the steps over a period of months until you have a list of what to do 30-90 days before the big day. My favorite box to check is the very last one that says – “Enjoy your Retirement”.
Last week, as I looked through the county checklist I noticed that I missed a check box. It was for “Schedule a Retirement Meeting” with your human resources generalist. I realize now I should have done this much earlier. Jaime was amazing. She was helpful and cared about me and the process. Her job is to make sure I understand everything and get all of my questions answered. She is my primary contact with my employer and will facilitate the processing of my final documents.
Before the meeting, I sent her a list of questions. I found the time we spent together extremely valuable. She even gave me a target date to submit my final letters and documents. One comment I have consistently heard is, “I wish everyone started earlier in the process as you have. It would be so much better if people realized that it takes time to take care of all of the details.”
I’ve learned that there are numerous decisions to be made, many forms to complete, and several steps in the process. Not feeling pressured to make quick decisions that could have huge financial consequences is just one of the benefits of using a retirement checklist. Another is having a comprehensive list to work from so that you have the confidence that you are not missing an important step.
For me, mentally and emotionally, there is something really gratifying about using a checklist as I prepare for retirement. It has guided my decision making, focused my attention, and allowed me to not worry about missing something. In a few short months, I’ll check that last box and Enjoy my Retirement!
Barbara is the new star of the Rock Your Retirement show! For one year, she'll let Kathe Kline tag along as she goes through her retirement journey.