Everyone has a perfect lifestyle in mind, including the passions they dream of pursuing in their retired years. For many, retirement means less responsibilities, more free time, and the freedom to choose how to spend that time. Some retirees succeed at realizing the life they want; others don't.
While it isn't merely a matter of investment decisions that make the difference, there are certain dos and don'ts – some less apparent than others – that tend to encourage retirement happiness and comfort.
Retire financially literate.
Finances and economics can be incredibly difficult for the layperson to understand in their entirety. Some retirees don't know how much they don't know. They end their careers with inadequate financial knowledge but feel they’ve adequately prepared for retirement, despite missing out on crucial steps.
They mistake creating a retirement income strategy with the whole of preparing for retirement, and they gloss over longevity risk, risks to their estate, and potential health care expenses. The more you know, the more your retirement readiness improves. Conversations with your financial professional can boost your financial literacy and help you feel prepared for retirement.
Is the goal to retire debt-free – or close to debt-free?
Even if your retirement savings are substantial, you may want to consider reviewing your overall debt situation. If you’re determined to eliminate all debt before you proceed to retirement, it may push your timeline back, delaying retirement up to a few years or requiring lifestyle changes in the present in order to prepare for the future.
Retire with purpose.
It’s a point you will see time and time again, and one worth emphasizing. There's a difference between retiring and quitting, and being ready to leave your current job does not necessarily mean it’s the right time to exit the workforce entirely. You want to retire to a dream, not away from a problem. Retirees who know what they want to do with their newfound freedom are positively contributing to their mental health and possibly their physical health as well.
Smoking, drinking, overeating, a dearth of physical activity – all these can take a toll on your capacity to live life fully and enjoy retirement. It is never too late to change habits that may lead to poor health; as the old saying goes, “The best time to plant a tree was thirty years ago. The second best time is today.”
Retire where you feel at home.
For some, retirement is an opportunity to relocate permanently to their favorite vacation spot or dream destination, and for others it gives them the chance to enjoy the full amenities of their current home. With any path, there always comes the risk of losing touch with others socially due to what is likely a drastic change in routine.
If you find yourself lonely in retirement, there are a number of ways to connect with people who share your experiences, interests, and passions, those who encourage you and welcome you. This social interaction is one of the great, intangible retirement benefits.
A successful retirement is not merely measured in financial terms.
Even those who retire with small fortunes and well-developed ideas of what they want to do can face boredom or depression and the fear of drawing down their savings too fast. As previously mentioned, the large majority of retirees will experience an extreme change in their daily routine that can be difficult to navigate. There are a few ways retirees can prevent these issues, including a gradual retirement transition and consistent guidance from your financial professional.
An abrupt break from the workplace may be unsettling.
To illustrate some of these points, imagine a well-paid finance manager at an auto dealership whose personal identity is closely tied to his job. His best friends are all at the dealership. He retires, and suddenly his friends and sense of purpose are absent. He finds that he has no compelling reason to leave the house, nothing to look forward to when he gets up in the morning. Guess what? He hates being retired.
On the other hand, if he prepares for his retirement years in advance of his farewell party by exploring an encore career, engaging in varieties of self-employment, or volunteering, he can retire with something promising ahead of him. If he broadens the scope of his social life so that he can see friends and family regularly and interact with both older and younger people in different settings, his retirement also has a higher chance of being enjoyable.
Practically all retirees have some financial anxiety.
It’s an understandable worry, after being used to earning an income with a conventional method and timeline. You see it in couples who have $60,000 saved for retirement; you see it in couples who have $6 million saved for retirement. Some retirees may simply fear spending too much too soon.
The retirement strategies they’ve prepared with their financial professional are about to be tested in real-time and even with the most careful preparations, there are always unknowns.
Retirement challenges people in two ways.
The obvious challenge is financial; the less obvious challenge is mental. Both tests may be met with sufficient foresight, preparation, and a support net made up not only of family and friends but also financial professionals.
This content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information, and provided by Twenty Over Ten. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security.