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Unforeseen events can sometimes force a person to retire, but for many people the decision to retire is a personal choice. And like any big decision, it can be fraught with uncertainty.

If you’re considering retirement in the not-too-distant future but not sure whether you’re prepared — financially, emotionally, or both — here are some things to think about that might help you make a smoother, more confident transition.

Can I Practice “Retirement” ?

One “practice retirement” scenario that has been promoted in recent years goes like this: The pre-retiree would stop saving for retirement around age 60 and continue working into his or her late 60s, allowing current nest egg dollars to grow and Social Security benefits to accrue, while spending the income formerly dedicated to savings on the fun things he or she imagines in retirement. Getting a jump-start on the fun would be great, but this approach might work only for those fortunate few who have saved enough by the age of 60 to support a comfortable retirement. For many people, spending instead of saving in their early 60s could be disastrous.

A more realistic approach may be to try living on your projected retirement budget for six months or a year before you make the decision to retire. You might even set up two separate accounts: one for the expenses you anticipate in retirement and another for expenses that you may no longer have when you retire (for example, commuter expenses or a mortgage that you expect to pay off). Put only the amount of retirement income you expect to have into the “retirement account” and determine whether you can live comfortably on that income. If not, you may have to adjust your spending or work longer to increase your nest egg and Social Security benefits.

If you plan to move to a different part of the country when you retire, just remember that it may be difficult to simulate your retirement lifestyle while maintaining your current job. In that case, you might take an extended vacation and try living for a time in your planned retirement destination.

Source: 1) ConsumerReports.org, March 10, 2015

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Freeman Owen, Jr - Host of SAFE MONEY TALK on CBS The Big Talker 1580AM