Step 1:
Envision your retirement

You often hear about the hows of retirement. How much have you saved? How long will your money last? While these are important questions, they’re only one side of the equation. When you envision life after work, you’ll need to consider it all—the who, when, where, what, as well as the how of retirement.
Christine David Video Screen Shot

Envisioning retirement: Christine & David’s story

View From the Top

Christine: I really didn't plan for retirement when I was married to my first husband because he never thought beyond the moment.

David: My first wife was much like her husband, who just spent every penny. When we were first involved with TIAA, we were not married to each other and really had no firm expectations of what wonderful experiences we'd have together in this new relationship. It seems like now I have a life, now I have a future. Now things are looking forward.

Christine: We're both careful. We're both cautious. But we save for the things we want to do. We just came back from a wonderful trip to Italy.

David: When we retired, we were very fortunate to have the TIAA annuity. That was a vital part in our retirement.

Christine: Because you wouldn't have to worry about having a steady income. I guess what it boils down to is that money doesn't make you happy; relationships do. But you have to have enough not to worry.

The who

Staying connected

To keep the rhythm of your social life beating, stay engaged and socially active.

Stay in touch.

Create a contact list of the people closest to you in your working life.  You can connect online or informally with whom you would like to stay in touch with.

Strengthen existing friendships.

Now’s the time to call in all the “let’s do lunch” promises from friends. Build a few hours of your weekly routine around catching up with old friends and acquaintances.

Engage on social media.

Share your experiences through social media sites like Facebook and Instagram, talk to long-distance family and friends using Skype.

Tighten family ties.

Surround yourself with loved ones and make up for lost time (consider offering babysitting of grandkids).

Develop new relationships.

There are plenty of free retiree groups, classes and events. Investigate online resources like in your area through local retirement centers.

Share your passions.

Consider volunteering or other charitable activities, or visit sites like to read inspiring stories of people making a difference in their second acts.
The when

It doesn't have to be all or nothing.

More than ever before, there are ways to transition to retirement on your own terms—whether you make the decision to stop working altogether, work a reduced schedule, or to take an early retirement package.2
Strategize with your spouse to stagger retirement dates in a way that maximizes lifetime benefits for you both.
Phase into retirement gradually by working fewer days per week or serving as an hourly consultant at your existing job.
Find part-time or seasonal work requiring less of your time and energy.
Throw yourself into a second career or philanthropic opportunity that inspires and motivates you.
By the numbers


Americans between 50 and 70 that identify as having “encore” careers or second careers with social impact.

Source: Research Overview 2014.
The where

Wherever you go, there you are.

Whether you picture yourself staying put or are ready to relocate, there are things to consider about each option.

A change of scenery

Ready to move? Look for somewhere that offers family and hobby opportunities, along with the climate, cost of living, healthcare, and transportation options you need. And once you have a potential place in mind, try vacationing there as a test run.

Thinking small

Looking to downsize? A smaller space can be more affordable and less trouble. But consider the costs of selling and buying before jumping into something. Also factor in new costs, like association fees, along with the social impacts of moving to a new location.

No place like home

If you prefer the familiarity of home — as well as the network of friends and connections you’ve built — staying put can make a lot of sense. Just consider it carefully if it requires you to tap into your home’s equity with a reverse mortgage or line of credit.
The what

Staying busy doesn't require a job.

Wondering what you’ll do with the extra time in retirement? Start with what you enjoy most about your job.

Will you miss the work?

If you’re the type who can’t imagine letting go of the daily responsibilities, work some into your vision.

Will you miss the people?

If the social aspect is difficult to let go, focus on building meaningful personal connections and social networks.

Will you miss the sense of purpose?

If you thrive on a sense of contribution, giving back to others can truly inspire.

Will you miss nothing?

There’s nothing wrong with leaving the office behind and never looking back.
By the numbers

The amount volunteering reduces the risk of hypertension, or high blood pressure, in older adults5

Source: Carnegie Mellon University, Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Science, 2013.
Next steps

How TIAA can help

Learn more

Understand the challenges you'll face.

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1 Powell, Robert. “How to Phase into Retirement.” USA Today. Sept. 6, 2014. (Sept. 14, 2015)

2 Laura, Robert. “What You Need to Know About Volunteering During Retirement.” Mar. 17, 2015. (Sept. 14, 2015)
3 “Encore Careers: The Persistence of Purpose.” 2014. (Sept. 14, 2015)
4 Stinson, Sonya. “5 Tips to Affordable Retirement Travel.” (Sept. 14, 2015)
5 Sneed, Rodlescia S. and Sheldon Cohen (Carnegie Mellon University, Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Science). "A Prospective Study of Volunteerism and Hypertension Risk in Older Adults." American Psychological Association's Psychology and Aging Journal. June 2013. (Sept. 10, 2015)
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