facebook twitter instagram linkedin google youtube vimeo tumblr yelp rss email podcast phone blog search brokercheck brokercheck Play Pause
How to Rehearse Your Perfect Retirement Early Thumbnail

How to Rehearse Your Perfect Retirement Early

Jonathan M. Gardey, MBA, CFA®, CFP®

President and Chief Executive Officer

While the financial aspects of retirement are important and are at the forefront of everyone's mind, in many ways, the non-financial aspects can be more important. The following is a great discussion of one of these non-financial aspects.

Have you considered what retirement will actually be like? You may be financially prepared, but have you thought about how you will spend your time?

Retirement is a major life change that requires careful planning, not just in terms of finances but also in terms of your life. It’s not just the dollars you need to think about when it comes to retirement. It’s also the extra hours in the day you have free to do with as you please.

While working, you’re likely to spend around 10 hours a day, 5 days a week away at your job and commuting to and from home. Once you retire, that’s 10 more hours per day you now have free to do as you please. And you’ll likely spend 20-30 years in retirement.

Some folks find this intimidating, especially if their spouse plans to continue working. How will they fill their time? What will make their days feel fulfilling? Where will they find a space to be social outside of the workplace?

What if you could take a month-long retirement rehearsal to see what it might feel like to be retired? Or perhaps even just two weeks? Let’s take a peek into what a retirement rehearsal could mean and do for you.

How to Take a Retirement Rehearsal

During a retirement rehearsal, you take an extended period off work and spend it doing what you would expect to do when you're retired. This can help you determine if you are financially and emotionally prepared for retirement.


The first thing you might be wondering is: why would I waste my money taking time off? Shouldn’t I save it for retirement? Sure, in theory this is correct. It’s more important to prioritize future benefits over present enjoyment.

But a lot of folks find they can use vacation pay or paid time off to make it happen. In fact, according to the Wall Street Journal, Americans are losing $54.2 billion of vacation pay each year. This includes employees having more unused vacation time than their employers allow to be carried over each year and retirees not being paid out their full unused vacation benefits. So why not use these benefits and get a taste of what your future retirement might be like?

No paid time off or vacation pay accrued? Where there is a will there is a way. Maybe you simply use vacation time you would have otherwise used to leave town, to stay put and give your retirement rehearsal a try.

When to Take Your Retirement Rehearsal and What to Plan

We typically recommend taking yours when you are within 2-5 years of your anticipated retirement date. During this week, plan to do nothing. That’s right. Don’t make any plans to leave town or take a trip. Don’t take on a major home improvement project. Just plan to live what you think a typical day in retirement might look like.

The reason behind this is simple. Even if you have big dreams for traveling, golfing, or leisure activities in retirement, those things aren’t going to take up the bulk of your time. The big things are fun to think about and easier to plan for, but what about your day-to-day? Will you wake up early or sleep in late? Visit the gym? Have coffee with a friend? The idea is to see what it feels like when those extra 10 hours a day are free to use as you please. Remember, there are only so many trips you can take in a year and so many rounds of golf you can play before you say, “Ok, what’s next?”

What to Look for During Your Retirement Rehearsal

There are two main things to pay attention to during this retirement rehearsal: (1) your spending and (2) your attitude.

  • Spending: During a regular week where you're not doing anything out of the ordinary, how are you spending your money? It's important to keep in mind that the majority of your retirement will consist of downtime. By paying attention to your spending habits during these periods, you can make informed adjustments to your retirement budget.  Maybe you will even find that you spend less in retirement than you thought. In that case, you may be able to plan for more high-dollar items or even retire earlier. Wouldn’t it be nice to use this rehearsal to find out you can retire 6 (or even 12) months earlier?
  • Attitude: Take note of how you feel once the novelty of “being free” wears off. Now, to be fair, it might not become clear during this brief rehearsal period but as you probably know all too well, it’s easy to see if you’re feeling discontented. Do you find yourself looking for the next thing to do? Antsy to get out and do something? It’s in these times that we tend to spend more to entertain ourselves, so this is important data to collect.

Once the rehearsal period is over, you may have some new insight that can help you better understand your personal and financial retirement needs

Retirement is More Than Just a Financial Event

Retirement is more than just a financial event. It's important to consider how you will spend your time in retirement and to plan accordingly. Taking the time to prepare for retirement can give you peace of mind and a new outlook on your next chapter. With proper planning, you can ensure that your retirement years are fulfilling and enjoyable.

At Gardey Financial Advisors, we know that major money decisions are rarely made in the absence of our personal feelings about them, which is why we are dedicated to supporting the entire person, couple, and family around this major life change. If you are in need of a financial ally who understands how money decisions are made and who takes your full personal and financial pictures into account when creating your financial plan, we encourage you to take a look at our services and see if we could be a good match. We best serve clients looking for exceptional client service, who value a long-term partnership, and have a minimum of $500,000 in investable assets.


Publication Disclosure:

Important Disclosure Information

To better understand the nature and scope of the advisory services and business practices of Gardey Financial Advisors Inc., please review our SEC Form ADV Part 2A and ADV Part 3 (Form CRS) available via the SEC’s website, www.adviserinfo.sec.gov. (Click on the link, select “Investment Advisor Firm,” and type in the firm name. Results will provide you both Part 1, 2 and 3 of the Gardey Financial Advisors Form ADV.) Statistics from third-party sources are deemed to be accurate but have not been confirmed by Gardey Financial Advisors.

This communication is for informational purposes only and does not purport to be a complete statement of all material facts related to any company, industry, or security mentioned. The information provided, while not guaranteed as to accuracy or completeness, has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this commentary serves as the receipt of, or is a substitute for, personalized investment advice from Gardey Financial Advisors. The opinions expressed reflect our judgment now and are subject to change without notice and may or may not be updated. Past performance should not be taken as an indication or guarantee of future performance, and no representation or warranty, expressed or implied, is made regarding future performance. Readers who are not market professionals or institutional clients of Gardey Financial Advisors should seek the advice of their financial advisor, tax, or legal advisor before making any investment decisions based on this communication. Gardey Financial Advisors does not render legal, accounting or tax advice. Gardey Financial Advisors works closely with our client’s other professional advisors. The solutions discussed may not be suitable for you, even if your situation is like the example presented. Investors must make their own decisions based on their specific investment objectives and financial circumstances. It should not be assumed that the recommendations made in this situation will result in the mentioned outcome. The commentary does not represent any specific clients, investments, or strategies.

Hyperlink Disclosure

By selecting the links identified in this publication, you may be redirected to third-party websites, over which Gardey Financial Advisors has no control. Gardey Financial Advisors makes no warranties as to the content or accessibility of the third-party website and assumes no liability for errors or reporting inaccuracies. Gardey Financial Advisors neither approves nor endorses the statements made by the third-party on their website. Third-party website content is subject to change without notice and may or may not be updated. It is the responsibility of the viewer/reader to ensure third-party sites accessed are virus-free and Gardey Financial Advisors accepts no responsibility for any loss or damage arising in any way from the hyperlink or third-party website.