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AARP AARP States Hawaii

Real Possibilities: Prepare Yourself for Retirement

If you’re like me, it’s fun to daydream about retiring — to think about traveling the world, going to the beach instead of the office, and finally writing a screenplay or book.

Then reality sets in.

Can I afford to retire? How much money do I need to do all the things I dream of doing? What happens if I get sick?

The retirement dream doesn’t have to be a nightmare. With a bit of planning, you can live the life you choose as you age. That’s why AARP Hawai‘i regularly offers retirement planning workshops. The next workshops are virtual and coming up on Saturday mornings starting Sept. 11 through Oct. 9. Register to get a Zoom link at

You can also go online to access AARP’s retirement calculator, articles and other information about securing your future at

My younger sister just retired and says it’s a lot of work to figure out when to collect Social Security, what she needs to do to get a check, how and when to sign up for Medicare, and what to do with her investments. She’s registering for the AARP Hawai‘i webinars.

“I still have things to figure out (about retirement),” my sister Cindy Werkmeister said. “There’s a lot of stuff that you have to do that you don’t know about.”

My sister, a teacher, always thought she’d retire at some point, but the pandemic and the extra work involved in planning for changing in-person and virtual school requirements convinced her to retire now. Because she has a state pension from the Department of Education and her house is paid for, Cindy isn’t worried about her finances. The other decisions about retiring can come later.

“I was tired of working. I need to enjoy life already,” she said. “At least you’re not working. You have time to figure (retirement) out.”

Did I mention she’s my younger sister? While she’s retired, I have to keep working, saving and investing because I don’t have the same pension benefits and my plan is to spend more money in retirement than now, when I’m working.

Everyone’s needs are different so one of the first steps in figuring out retirement is to determine what your actual needs are versus what you want. Then you can plan for what you can realistically attain through investments and what to expect from Social Security and Medicare when you retire.

The AARP Hawai‘i workshops are designed to get you to start thinking about and planning for retirement. The first workshop on Sept. 11 will be “10 Steps to Get Ready for Retirement,” followed by “Understanding Social Security” on Sept. 18, “Medicare Basics” on Sept. 25, “Investing Basics” on Oct. 2, and “Investing for Retirement” on Oct. 9. You can sign up for one or all of the webinars.

The webinars are free and offered as a public service. You do not have to be an AARP member to attend. The earlier you start planning for retirement, the better off you’ll be.

Craig Gima is communications director at AARP Hawai‘i. He is an award-winning multimedia communicator with more than 30 years of experience. A Honolulu native, Gima spent nearly 19 years at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser in a variety of reporting, editing and online roles before joining AARP in 2016. Gima graduated cum laude from the University of Southern California.

This column originally appeared in The Hawai`i Herald.

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