The 4 cornerstones of a great retirement

What are your hopes and dreams for your retirement? For some, it is a time to wind down and retreat from the world, while others see it as a new beginning – a time to chase dreams and create new adventures. Whatever your future goals are, one thing is for certain – you are more likely to get what you want if you have the fundamentals in place.

So, let’s take a look at the big four:

1. Health

Thanks to advanced medical science, we are generally living longer and are healthier in our later years than we were, say, 20 years ago. Taking the time to nurture a healthy lifestyle means you are likely to be retiring in good shape. Here’s our top tips for the two main areas to concentrate on – exercise and diet:


Are you the sporty kind but put those activities on the back burner? Rediscovering this part of your life can be a great way to get fit and after a while you won’t notice that extra exertion when you’re having fun.

Regular visits to the gym can be great. You need to be consistent, so to make sure you are super-motivated, give yourself small short-term goals as well as your overall long-term goal to keep you focused.

If you prefer milder exercise, walking can not only get you healthy, but can also put you back in touch with nature and get you exploring. Check out local hiking, trekking or rambling groups in your area – it’s also very cheap.

Take a second look at your everyday activities. For instance, instead of taking the lift, use the stairs; instead of catching a bus, walk down to the shops; think twice about taking the car out on those tiny journeys.


It doesn’t have to be a major change in what you eat. A simple place to start is by ferreting out those carbohydrates in your current diet that could be threatening the waistline (and remove the culprit foods from the kitchen cupboard!)

Diets don’t have to be boring!  There are numerous diets you can try and most of them are designed to keep you interested and keep your taste buds popping so you don’t give up.

Know what you want to achieve and set yourself attainable goals. This way it’s easier to feel rewarded and keep yourself motivated.

2. Friends

It’s surprising sometimes how much we take our work colleagues for granted. We spend our whole working lives with them – and we may even see them in our social lives too. So, when you do kick off your work boots, you are likely to find yourself with a sizeable people hole. Here’s a few tips for keeping up your associations:

As retirement approaches, make plans with your close friends at work as to how you can meet up after you have retired. Organise social get-togethers before you leave so you can try out what works best for everyone.

Think about using social media if you are not already. Social media is a great way to keep in contact with old work friends and family. As well as sharing what you are doing, you can also set up new groups and events for the future. Video messaging such as Skype allows you to keep in contact with friends and family who are some distance away.

It can get harder to make friends as we get older, but our friends are usually people with the same interests and likes as ourselves. When joining new classes and groups, be proactive in breaking the ice.

3. Time

Even if retirement is a few years away, the earlier you start to think about what you want to do when you wave goodbye to the nine to five, the easier it will be to turn those plans into reality when the big moment arrives. Here are some tips as you approach the countdown:

Organise your leisure days. When you retire you may not have the comfort of work-time boundaries, so getting used to putting a subtle framework down to keep you focussed will keep you on course.

Getting into the habit of using diaries and calendars at home to keep your future events front of mind and all those tiny domestic tasks in order, can get you into the right mindset for when you retire.

It’s never too early to start thinking about how you can make the most of your time. Thinking of starting a new hobby? Look for local groups, colleges or classes in your area where you can learn new skills. If there isn’t a group for your interests up and running – why not start one yourself?

4. Funds

Money makes the world go around as they say, which is why it helps to make sure your financial world is spinning when you retire. The earlier you start getting your retirement savings together, the bigger your pension pot should be. Let’s look at how you can make sure the three main sources of income are at max when you retire:

State pension

Only recently, changes have been made to the State Pension and other changes may be on the horizon. Also, if you have not paid your full National insurance contributions it is likely you will not be receiving your full amount. If you find your state pension is less than you expected there are ways you can bring it up to the full rate.

Workplace pension

In 2018 it became mandatory for all companies to offer all eligible employees a pension in the UK. Even though you may only have a few years to retirement, this could be a useful source of extra income (especially as your employer has to pay into it too!). Talk with your boss or the HR department to find out how much will be paid into your workplace pension and what your options are if you want to contribute more.

Private pension

If you have a private pension, it could be working wonders for you. But what if it’s not? There are lots of different types of pension schemes out there and if yours is old, or plain lazy, it could be seriously affecting how much money you will have to live on when you retire. High charges and poor performance could be eating away at your savings.

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