retirement planning  |  september 26, 2023

Beyond Retirement Savings: How to Achieve the Post-Career Life You Want

Steps to help you connect the nonfinancial aspects of retirement to your financial planning.


Key Insights

  • There is more to retirement planning than the purely financial factors.

  • Include nonfinancial aspects such as family and health care in your retirement plan.

  • Start by visualizing the who, what, when, where, and why of your retirement.

  • Connecting these items to your financial plan can help you make progress toward your goals.

Roger Young, CFP®

Thought Leadership Director

When planning for your retirement, there are a variety of things to consider in addition to how much you might be saving. Nonfinancial factors will play a role, as will changes in your personal goals and priorities after retirement. Studies show that while 74% of preretirees make financial plans for retirement, only 35% prepare emotionally.1 Boost your overall financial wellness by figuring the nonfinancial aspects of retirement into your plan.

What does your life in retirement look like? How will you fill your time? Where will you live? If you don’t have all the answers to these questions yet, it’s OK. You don’t need to have everything figured out before you decide to retire. But there is a simple technique that can help you make progress toward your goals. Visualization isn’t just for athletes. It has been proven to be a powerful preparation tool in most situations that can help you achieve your goals as well as cope with stress. There are a variety of ways to visualize—including meditation, daily affirmations, vision boards, or keeping a journal—all of which can help you plan for your transition to retirement. Answering the following questions can provide inspiration for whichever method of visualization you choose.

Create Your Vision for Retirement

Visualizing the future helps you create a realistic plan for your retirement. By articulating your vision—the who, what, when, where, and why—you can gain clarity about your retirement as well as what may be involved in achieving your goals. Some of the things to consider include:

  • Who will play a role in your retirement? Is your immediate and extended family nearby? Who will be part of your caretaking support team if you experience health issues? Think about the people you spend the most time with today and how that may change when you retire.

  • What do you want to do with your time? How do you spend your time today, and how might that change when you retire? What role, if any, will work play in your retirement? Work has become a larger part of people’s retirement lifestyle, both for financial reasons and for the nonfinancial benefits people receive from work, including social engagement.

  • When do you plan to retire based on your personal definition of retirement? What are the main factors influencing the timing of your retirement? Although it can be difficult to anticipate the right time to retire or what unexpected situations may arise, it’s helpful to set a goal of when you would like to retire.

  • Where will you live in retirement, and what are the main factors influencing that decision? Are you staying put or considering a move? As you develop your vision, consider whether you want to stay in your home, downsize, and/or relocate.

  • Why are you going to get out of bed every day in retirement? What provides you with the most fulfillment and meaning in your life today, and how might that change when you retire? You may thrive in retirement, and you may also find your sense of purpose challenged without your work. What will you do next?

Determine Your Key Financial Considerations

Doing what you can to consider the nonfinancials—many of which have a direct financial impact—will help as you work toward making your vision a reality. The following steps may be helpful in determining how you’re going to implement your plan:

Build a personalized action plan to bring clarity to your vision.

After creating your vision, you’ll uncover ideas and questions about what you have planned. Identifying what you want to learn, practice, and communicate to others will help answer your questions and enable you to refine your vision as your retirement nears. Consider taking the following steps:

  • Coordinate your vision with your spouse or partner. Don’t assume you have the same plan in mind if you haven’t explicitly discussed it yet. You may also want to involve your children and other family members, since your plans can have an impact on their future as well as yours.

  • Talk about your potential health care needs in retirement. Identify the future care you may need based on your current health and family health history. Talk with family and friends you want on your caregiving and wellness support team about any potential long-term care arrangements, health care directives, and powers of attorney. Be aware that these can be difficult conversations. Planning ahead and understanding roles and responsibilities is important so that everyone knows what is expected.

  • Talk to your employer about their financial wellness services. More and more, employers recognize the importance of financial wellness in reducing employee financial stress and improving overall worker satisfaction. Investigate the post-career options your employer provides, and how they may support your retirement vision.

Key financial implementation details.

Planning for long-term financial success and well-being is an increasingly crucial component for successful retirement outcomes. Be sure to consider these financial aspects of retirement:

  • Assess your potential spending needs in retirement. Creating your vision for the lifestyle you want to live can help you understand your potential spending needs in retirement. Will your retirement income support your spending needs? Work with your financial professional to determine if your retirement saving strategy is sufficient to support your vision—which could include buying a second home, traveling, or pursuing a passion project. Be sure to give yourself time to make changes to your saving strategy or adjust your vision before you retire. (See “Get a Personalized Financial Plan Focused on Your Goals.”)

  • Educate yourself on Social Security benefits. It’s important to understand the different approaches for claiming Social Security benefits, including coordinating your claiming strategy with your spouse. Consider how long you each may want to work and what role work might play in your retirement lifestyle. It’s also wise to make sure your timing is aligned and can make the most of your benefits. For example, to maximize the benefit for a surviving spouse, the higher earner could wait until age 70 before claiming benefits. In addition, if you claim Social Security when you’re still working and before your full retirement age, you may incur a reduction in benefits that negatively affects you in the long run.

  • Learn your options for Medicare. Medicare is the primary health program for retirees, so it’s important to understand and carefully evaluate your options to determine which plans are best suited for your situation. Be sure to consider any underlying health conditions and the potential need for a separate long-term care policy. You can get more information about the options, including premium costs and out-of-pocket expenses, at You may also need to explore alternative health care coverage options, including the purchase of coverage through your state’s health care exchange, if you plan on retiring before age 65.

Taking steps now to consider your vision of the future, as well as the financial and nonfinancial components of the years ahead, can help you reduce stress and gain peace of mind—all the better as you work toward your goals. It can take a couple of years for retirees to “settle in” to their new lifestyles, so be sure to give yourself that time.

1Retiree Insights 2018 Survey of Consumers Ages 50–59, Greenwald & Associates/The Diversified Services Group.

Important Information

The T. Rowe Price Retirement Advisory Service™ is a nondiscretionary financial planning service and a discretionary managed account program provided by T. Rowe Price Advisory Services, Inc., a registered investment adviser, under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. Brokerage accounts for the Retirement Advisory Service are provided by T. Rowe Price Investment Services, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC, and are carried by Pershing LLC, a BNY Mellon company, member NYSE/FINRA/SIPC, which acts as a clearing broker for T. Rowe Price Investment Services, Inc., T. Rowe Price Advisory Services, Inc. and T. Rowe Price Investment Services, Inc. are affiliated companies.

This material is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be investment advice or a recommendation to take any particular investment action.

This information is not intended to reflect a current or past recommendation concerning investments, investment strategies, account types, advice of any kind, or a solicitation of an offer to buy or sell any securities or investment services. The opinions and commentary provided do not take into account the investment objectives or financial situation of any particular investor or class of investor. Please consider your own circumstances before making an investment decision.

Information contained herein is based upon sources we consider to be reliable; we do not, however, guarantee its accuracy.

The views contained herein are those of the author as of October 2023 and are subject to change without notice; these views may differ from those of other T. Rowe Price associates. All investments are subject to market risk, including the possible loss of principal. Diversification cannot assure a profit or protect against loss in a declining market. All charts and tables are shown for illustrative purposes only.

View investment professional background on FINRA's BrokerCheck.



Next Steps