Why You Need To Rearrange Your Chessboard In Retirement:

Most people look forward to retiring. But, what happens when you get there, and it’s not all it’s cracked up to be? You’d be surprised – it does happen! More often than not, people spend the first few months of retirement thoroughly enjoying their newfound free time. Then, over time, it becomes a little monotonous. So, we are firm believers that planning for retirement should be two-fold. First, of course, you have to plan financially. Second, you need to plan a new life. That is (metaphorically speaking), you will need to work out which pieces to keep on your chessboard in retirement.


Planning Financially


The financial planning behind your retirement should have started (hopefully!) many years before you retire. Knowing how much you will need can be difficult to fathom. After all, none of us knows how long we will live. Yet, that’s where expert planning and advice comes in. 

As financial advisers, it’s our job to know all of the statistics and probabilities that will see you comfortably through. That’s why we talk you through all your hopes and dreams alongside the practicalities and realities. We also have access to some pretty comprehensive software that can model your financial outcome in any given situation.

So, as and when your circumstances change, a financial adviser is a good port of call. We are the people best placed to help ensure your finances stand the test of time.



If you’ve read any of our previous posts, you’ll be familiar with our apparent obsession with budgeting. Agreed – it isn’t the most exciting of topics, but its principles do apply to all stages of life. And, even more so when you’re shifting from the ‘saving’ phase of your life into one of ‘spending.’

We liken these phases to the ascending and descending climb of a mountain.  

If you think of your entire ‘financial life’ as the mountain, the saving phase is the ascent. It represents your working life where you’re receiving a regular salary and have the potential to save. The descent then represents the ‘spending’ phase of your life. That’s the time when you’ve retired! So, you no longer have a regular salary to depend on and need to live off what you have saved during your ascent!

the financial mountain
Naturally, you won’t want to run out of money. So, hopefully, before you retired, you will have had some financial planning in place to maximise your cash reserves. You’ll then only need to budget for your day-to-day living.  To get you started, we’d suggest this budget should consider (but not be limited to):
Your monthly income

Work out how much money you have to play with each month. This should include an annuity, or any other income that you plan to live off of during retirement. Once you know how much you have coming in, you can substract all of your outgoing essential costs, so that you know how much ‘free cash’ you have each month.

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Your outgoing essential costs

These should focus on the necessities of everyday life, namely bills! Your mortgage payments, gas and electricity bills, council tax, water, tv licence and so on. We recomment drawing up a list of all of these so that you can tally up the complete monthly cost of your essentials. You will then know how much spare cash you have left over to spend on niceties.

rearranging your chessboard in retirement re clothes
Your lifestyle costs

These should include a budget for items like clothes, petrol, money for coffee with friends, or your gym/hobby memberships. These are spends that technically you could do without if you had to tighten your belt, but which otherwise enrich your life.

financial MOT - insurance
Your contingency fund

We always suggest building contingency into your budget if you can. Then you can safely cope with any unexpected expenses during the month. We all have surprises in life that incur costs we’d rather not have to make – but having a little put aside for emergencies really can save the day when you’re in a fix!

Planning a new life/routine

There’s a famous saying that ‘Retirement is the time you stop living at work and start working at living,’ and in the ideal world, that should be true. Hopefully, you will reach retirement fighting fit and capable of doing all of those things you’ve been putting off for lack of time. Yet, as we alluded to earlier, many people find retirement more challenging to get used to than they’d expected. Usually, this is because the hive of activity that had formed their working life suddenly ceases overnight. And, with it, it takes away their daily interaction with other people, their social life, and often their sense of purpose too. So, while it’s good to take some time to unwind once you stop working, it’s also important to know how you will fill your time. You must effectively work out how to rearrange the chessboard pieces of your life.

Rearranging your chessboard in retirement

We like analogies! They often help the dullest of financial concepts (gasp!) much easier to grasp! So, when we talk about later-life planning, we often liken your life to a chessboard in retirement. And, (you’ve guessed it!) the various parts of your life are represented by the different pieces on it.  When you retire, some pivotal pieces will just have been knocked off. But, some key players will (hopefully!) stay put. Your Queen, for example! Most of us would hope our better(?) half will still be there as the supporting act to our continued game of life.

Your bishops and knights will also likely stay put. These represent your dependents – your kids, grandchildren and loved ones. The likelihood is that these will, at some point, outmanoeuvre any well-intended plans you have for a quiet retirement. They do this by requiring help (usually in terms of time or money) that you will instinctively want to give. You will, however, have lost your rooks! These supporting structures that facilitated life represent your place of work and your regular salary. The beauty is, though, that the game should still be able to be played just as effectively. At least, this should be the case if you had some careful and strategic planning in place!

But, what about the pawns?

As in chess, your pawns are nice to have. But, they are not essential, providing your major pieces are ok. With the rooks gone, they can be exposed, though. So, you’ll have to temper how you look after them according to how the game is shaping up. Your pawns are, of course, all of those little things that you put into your life to make it move forward easier. So, things like your hobbies, your gym membership, your weekly coffee with friends, those golf lessons you’ve been banking on etc.

In retirement, the pawns can come into their own by helping you shape the game you play. The key point is knowing that you have to be the driving force behind them. So, if you’re finding retirement a bit lacklustre, developing one of these into a major playing piece might be the way forward. You never know when your hobby might turn into a small business run from the comfort of your own home? So, what kind of pawns do people usually have on their board?

Making the retirement transition easier

If you need some inspiration, here are some ideas from a handful of retirees, who agreed to note down the ‘pawns’ they added to their own chessboards in retirement.    

your finances in a separation - objective
Find a new purpose to focus on

This might be voluntary work, looking after the grandkids, or a new hobby. (Whatever you choose, remember to scope out the cost and the logistics. That way, when you retire you will already have something lined up to look forward to if you find yourself feeling flat).

rearranging your chessboard in retirement - learn
Learn something new

Work out what interests you and put feelers out for any courses. There are always things we wish we knew how to do – and it’s never too late to learn. So, if you fancy learning salsa dancing, getting master classes in cookery, or even taking up a degree, this could be your chance to make it happen!

Get back in touch with old friends

Time goes quickly – and when you’re working it can be difficult to keep in touch with all of those people you’d been meaning to call! Reaching out to these people before you retire can make retirement all the more rewarding – after all, you will finally have time to reunite and all the time in the world to make the most of your friendships.

Pass on a skill!

When you leave work, take some time to think of all of the strengths and skills you learnt during your working life. Think about how you can pass those on to future generations. It might be that you start offering classes from home, or take the time to volunteer to help others learn your key skills. 

Do something in the local community!

If you’re a people person, suddenly not getting the ‘social life’ you formerly had at work can come as a bit of a shock. But, during your working life, you will have built up skills that can be put to great use in the local community. You will be surprised at the number of clubs and organisations right beneath your nose that could do with someone just like you.

your chessboard in retirement - find beauty spots
Map out local beauty spots to visit

There is usually always something to suit everyone – whether it’s touring local historical sites, beaches, nature reserves or places to take the grandkids! During your working life, there were undoutbedly always places you wanted to go to, but never found the time. Why not take the opportunity to make a ‘to-do’ list of all those places and then watch as you tick them off during retirement?

Playing the game of your life


Whatever you do, when it comes to your retirement, the key is to always make sure, whether it be something life-changing or small, that you have something to look forward to!  As financial advisers, we are here to get your finances in shape so that you can do just that when you retire. So, whether you are only just starting to think about planning your retirement or have already retired, we can help you make the most of what you have, and help you look forward to the life ahead. So, go ahead, rearrange that chessboard in retirement! We can be there to help ensure you play the best game of your life… If you would like to find out what we do and how we do it, please check out our process page. Alternatively, call us on 01243 767 469 – we’d be delighted to see how we can help!

Written by Ian Barnett

Ian is an experienced Chartered Financial Planner as well as being a Fellow of the Personal Finance Society, with over 25 years’ experience in the financial services industry.  With a broad range of client experience and expertise, Ian specialises in financial matters from Pre-Retirement Planning to Inheritance Tax Planning and all points in between.

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