Pre-retirement planning: ‘It’s never too early, it’s never too late’

Planning for retirement may seem daunting to UC Berkeley employees, but it doesn’t have to be. That’s the view of the UC Berkeley Retirement Center, which this fall is offering a free six-week program, held on Friday afternoons, to guide faculty and staff through everything from retirement benefits to work-life transitions.

The comprehensive Pre-Retirement Planning (PRP) program, which launches Friday, Oct. 5, is designed to help active faculty and staff plan and implement a successful retirement strategy. Since the program’s inception in 2002, PRP has helped hundreds of faculty and staff, most of whom take advantage of the program within five years of their expected retirement.

Not that there’s a hard-and-fast rule on when an employee should start thinking about retirement planning. “Our feeling is that it’s never too early and never too late,” says Patrick Cullinane, the center’s director. “People wrestle with the big questions: What do I need to do to prepare? What will I do with all my free time? How will I survive financially? We want our retirees to feel like they’re crossing a bridge, not walking a plank.”

PRP events typically last three hours and are held on campus. Dates and topics for the six afternoon events are as follows:

  • Oct. 5:  A Redirected Life; Social Security
  • Oct. 12:  Maximizing Your UC Benefits in Retirement
  • Oct. 19:  Legal and Estate Planning Considerations
  • Oct. 26:  Long-Term Care Insurance; Aging in Place and Housing Considerations
  • Nov. 2:  Personal Financial Planning; Called Back to Service and Other Post-Retirement Employment
  • Nov. 9:  Wellness in Retirement; Successfully Making Your Transition to Retirement

Established 15 years ago and based in a brown-shingle house on Walnut Street, the center has seen demand for its services grow substantially in recent years. “The unstable economy, maturing baby-boomers heading toward retirement, and Operational Excellence” have all contributed to the added interest, according to Cullinane.

PRP is just one of the center’s many popular services. Others include Learning in Retirement — a lifelong education program in which emeriti and active faculty give free lectures to retirees on a variety of subjects — and financial-planning classes offered jointly with Fidelity Retirement Services. The center also provides information on retiree discounts for everything from vision care to computers.

The Pre-Retirement Planning program is open to employees of UC Berkeley and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; the deadline for registration is Friday, Sept. 28. For information, visit the retirement center’s website or call (510) 642-5461.