THE BLOG
01/12/2016 07:11 am ET Updated Jan 12, 2017

3 Things You Must Do Now If You Can't Afford To Retire

10,000 Baby Boomers retire every day. Your day is coming. Don't make the mistake of waiting until it's your turn before wondering what to do. Start now to prepare for the first day after your last day of work.

Recently I turned 62 but felt no panic in spite of nearing retirement age. You might think this is the bragging of a rich man. Hardly. In addition to Social Security my retirement will be only $350 per month. Why am I not in panic mode? It's because several years ago I did three things which provides confidence as I near retirement age.

Here's the three things you must start doing now if your career is coming to an end but you can't afford to retire.

First, downsize everything.

The most important thing to do is downsize your debt. If you are not part of the millionaire's club, you will struggle without your career paycheck. Total up your monthly payments committed to paying off debt. Can you afford to keep making these payments once you leave the work force? If not, attack your debt with intensity. Start by paying off your credit cards. Ditch the car payment by driving a beater. You must downsize your debt.

Consider downsizing your home and possessions. Sell your house and use the equity to buy a small place with cash and pay off your debts. Get rid of the clutter with an auction sale and use the proceeds to attack debt. You really don't need three cars, a boat, a camper, and a time share. Downsize your home and possessions.

Downsize your retirement expectations. Sure, a few people made smart investments and can retire to Tuscany. But many of us cannot. If you picture retirement as one big party on the Love Boat you need to downsize your expectations. The post-career years can be some of the best years of your life but you need to be realistic.

Second, explore an encore career.

An encore career is a job which gives you greater personal satisfaction while earning an income. It combines passion with paycheck.

Before you walk away from your established career ask yourself some of these questions. What would I like to do even if it paid nothing? Which of my hobbies could be turned into a revenue stream? What need exists which could be met by combining my strengths and passions?

Encore careers, depending on individual interests and financial needs, range from starting a travel agency to buying garage sale items and selling them online. Give it some careful thought. Go with your gut. Start exploring these possibilities now while you still the security of a regular paycheck.

Third, get in the best physical shape possible.

Extra weight is a killer. And if it doesn't kill you it will cost you. Those added pounds cause diabetes, heart disease, and other health related concerns. If you face retirement age with little cash reserves you cannot roll the dice on your health. You must do everything possible to lose weight.

If you are overweight and have failed to lose the pounds in previous attempts remind yourself now is the time to get serious. You may not have another chance to attack the weight. It is now or never.

Even if weight is not issue start a walking program. If you can only walk one lap through the local mall start doing it. Progress until you are walking at least two miles a day six days a week. You will be surprised how walking helps you physically and makes you feel sharper mentally.

Before you leave your career make an appointment with your doctor and get a complete physical. Now is the time to address any health issues. If you wait to check on your health you might discover a need after your income drops and your insurance isn't as good. Take the time now to deal with any health issues.

If you start doing these three things you will not enter into panic mode when retirement comes knocking on your door. Begin now. Trust me. You will be glad you did.

Earlier on Huff/Post50:

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