For us, pre-retirement began about 5 years before we actually retired. Here’s what we focused on during our pre-retirement years.


  • Developed a retirement plan using Fidelity’s Retirement Income Planner which has since been revised (simplified). I ran various scenarios to instill confidence that we could financially survive any number of unexpected negative events. I made a YouTube video where I explain my scenario analysis.
  • Ensured that we participating and contributing to all employer sponsored savings programs.
  • Reviewed our investment strategy including asset allocation and tax optimization across taxable and non-taxable accounts.
  • Created two detailed retirement budgets. One budget assumed that we would not move and the other assumed that we would. These budgets were used as inputs into the retirement income planner tool.
  • Developed a retirement income plan in order to fund our retirement budget since we would no longer have a paycheck. Our focus was how to adjust our investments to generate income.
  • Developed a plan for when to take Social Security. We evaluated several options in our retirement plan.
  • Reviewed our estate plan.


  • Assessed whether we wanted to relocate.
    • Our top relocation cities were Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Tucson and Phoenix. I’ve written extensively about that under Decision on the RJ homepage top menu.
  • Investigated health insurance in the private market. You can read about our experience by clicking here.
  • Discussed how we were going to spend our time after retiring. We often talked about what we planned to do. CeCe was excited about the opportunity to spend more time on her creative pursuits. I imagined myself having more time to devote to things that I enjoyed and having the opportunity to try some new things. But I always felt a sense of foreboding during these discussions. I couldn’t articulate it but it was there. I eventually discovered that what I feared was the loss of my identity, purpose and social interaction. I talk about the reality of our retirement experience on the RJ home page –ArrivingSurviving and Thriving. And I’ve also created a YouTube video on The 6 Stages of Retirement which apply to me and many others.

Looking back, here are my lessons learned.

  • We would not have retired if we did not have a retirement plan that we were confident in.
  • We were fortunate to be able to retire together on our own time frame. Many people fall victim to forced retirement due to health, caring for a family member or age discrimination in the form of a layoff.  Click here to read more on forced retirement.
  • Retiring together enabled us to avoid the common issues that occur when one person retires before the other. Check out my podcast with Dr. Robert Delamontagne –RJ 012 Retirement and Marital Stress. 
  • The Affordable Care Act, controversial as it is, did induce insurers to remove their pre-existing conditions restrictions which made it possible for me to finally get coverage.
  • Using the services of an insurance agent helped navigate the complexity of obtaining health insurance.
  • The decision to relocate has worked out for us and we would do it again. It helped to visit each city we were considering. We checked out houses and neighborhoods, shopping, medical facilities and restaurants. This enabled us make the right relocation decision. Check out my podcast RJ 014 Retirement Relocation with John Brady of
  • Even though I was uneasy with the prospect of figuring out what I would do once I retired, I underestimated the challenge. It would have helped if I had understood the stages of retirement and read about other people’s experience. At least if I had understood what to expect, I might not have experienced all the anxiety and disenchantment that I did.
  • CeCe’s adjustment to retirement was smoother than mine because she had developed more interests that she was able to carry into retirement.