This advice won't be for everyone, but for some of you, this is the way to go...
1. Five years before you plan to retire, you better accept the fact that retirement pay is not going to be anywhere near Active Duty pay (with the benefits). I know it's a simple, obvious, duh! statement, but too many don't take this seriously.
2. Downsize! With kids off to college or out on their own, do you (and Spouse) and the dogs really need 4 bedrooms and 3 1/2 baths? It doesn't matter how much you pumped into your "dream house". If you really plan to stay retired, you won't be able to afford to properly maintain your "castle". You wanna keep a couple of bedrooms for "the kids" when they come home for the Holidays? Wake up! Short visits are the way to go. This way everybody has a nice visit and nobody hangs around too long. The same advice goes for your fleet of gas-guzzling V-8s & watercraft/ATVs/etc. in that 3 car garage. Consider the insurance, maintenance & fuel for your toys. Replace your older appliances with Energy Star/Energy Saver items. This should include everything from light bulbs to the entire HVAC system. $$$ will be limited soon...spend it now while you're still gainfully employed.
3. Don't fret about staying Active Duty or "working a GS job" to put your kids thru college...or to support your grandkids. Wake up! It's your turn to enjoy life. You should've prepared for this day a loooong time ago. (See #1) Hand-in-hand with this is follow your Doctor(s) recommendations. You do want to live a long life...right?
4. Get a hobby. Look into hobbies. Volunteer at the Food Bank. Volunteer at the hostipal. Get a hobby. Go back and get your Master's degree. Expand your veggie garden. Restore a 1943 Harley Military WLA. Get a couple of hobbies. You have your interests and she has hers...don't horn in on the others' hobby. Am I getting thru here?
5. Tough Love. It's okay to help out the kids or grandkids every one in a great while, but Mommy & Daddy Ain't the Bank Anymore...Get used to it! Need a new car? Buy a used one & fix it. Need to get braces for Junior? Join the Military and get everyone's teeth done. Freshly divorced and need a place to stay? 3 months max to get on your feet again, then out again. You can forever supply Love, Moral Support and Verbal Encouragement.
6. If you work on these first five items prior to retiring, I promise you less stress, fewer ulcers, reduced anxiety and finally...coffee on the porch in the mornings with your loved one and/or cold beer on the back deck in the evenings with your loved one (Dogs, if you're single).
I know these things will work. I started in 1997. I retired in 2003. I'm in the best health of my life, my Wife shares all this with me, our grown kids understand us now, 2 motorcycles & 2 vehicles are paid off, finances are completely manageable, overall health is great and our Home is our Sanctuary.
I wish the very Best of Luck to all of you!
"Just Another U.S. Army Retiree"
SSG, USA, Retired
President, Audie Murphy National Fan Club
Member, SGT Audie Murphy Club
Co-Founder, Fort Sill SGT Audie Murphy Club
Life Member, Veterans of Foreign Wars
Life Member, Disabled American Veterans
Ride Captain, SW OK Patriot Guard Riders