A recent article posted on the AARP website offered some valuable tips on preparing for retirement. It includes some advice you don't always see in such lists, so we've summarized some of the more interesting and useful ideas below.

SET CONCRETE GOALS

Before you can ensure that your retirement lives up to your expectations, you've got to define exactly what those expectations are. So make a list. Choose four or five concrete goals for what you want to do during your retirement. Make them as specific as you can. For example, instead of saying something like, "I want to travel," specify the actual trips you'd like to take, including places, time frames, frequency, and so on. Now, you will have an actual basis to calculate costs, define schedules, and so on.

INVENTORY YOUR ASSETS

Most people understand that they need to be aware of their financial resources like savings, pensions, real estate, investments, and so on, but they don't necessarily consider other types of valuable assets they possess. For example, do you have specialized knowledge or skills that you could market in some way? Could you teach someone to play piano or tutor a student in writing or history? Do you collect antiques, coins, or other valuable items you could trade or sell to generate income? Make another list that includes your hobbies, collections, talents, skills, and so on, and consider how you might convert any of them into income.

DECIDE WHETHER TO WORK

Before you retire, you should try to determine how much if any work you want to do afterwards. In terms of your APERS membership, retiring doesn't necessarily mean you have to give up working. Although most retired members leave their APERS-covered jobs for good, some continue in full time employment (after completing any termination requirements before returning to an APERS participating employer). Others may take regular part-time employment or do contract jobs or other occasional work. Whatever your preference, the point is to plan ahead so that you know what to expect and can enjoy your retirement to the fullest.

ASSESS MEDICAL EXPENSES REALISTICALLY

Retirees frequently discover that they have underestimated their medical expenses. In a recent AARP survey, 40 percent of the respondents estimated their total healthcare costs during retirement would run no more than $100,000. According to AARP, a typical couple retiring at 65 will need more than double that amount over a 20 year period.

PLAN FOR THE UNEXPECTED

When planning a budget, always include a buffer for unforeseen events. Will you need a new car, air conditioning system, or refrigerator at some point? Will your roof spring a leak or your house suffer storm damage? How would you deal with a traumatic accident or sudden illness? One thing you can count on is that something will eventually happen you didn't expect. That's life, and the best way to prepare for it is to have some money budgeted for when it happens.

Arkansas public employees retirement system

Here you will find information based on your role in our system, whether you are an active member, near retirement, a retired member or an APERS particpating employer.