Secrets To A Happy Retirement
4 Secrets to a Happy Retirement: Money Can't Buy Everything
What are the secrets to a happy retirement? As a trust and estate lawyer for 24 years, I understand how important it is to plan for retirement.
Retirements can stretch for decades. Health care costs are rising and people are more likely to want (or need) to keep a foot in the working world rather than transitioning to a life of full-time leisure and relaxation.
The transition from worker bee to a chilled-out retiree isn’t always simple. Although retirement boosts happiness overall, some retirees are happier than others.
Money is a big part of a happy retirement but most people need other things to be happy in retirement like good health and meaningful relationships.
What separates the happy from the miserable? Consider these four secrets to a happy retirement.
Happy Retirement Secret 1: Create Financial Stability
Money may not guarantee retirement happiness—but paying attention to it is a good first step. If you want to have enough money in retirement, make sure your lifestyle matches your budget. Sometimes, the problems are financial, such as debt. In other cases, they’re personal.
Even though money isn’t everything, a steady source of retirement income can still go a long way to reducing retirement stress.
People with consistent sources of retirement income, such as a pension, are more financially confident and less likely to feel pressure to cut spending than those who relied on money from their investments.
How much do you need to cover your bills? How much do you typically spend doing the things you enjoy—such as concerts, dining out, and travel? Think about the cost of health care, too.
The pressure to keep up with your friends and neighbors when it comes to vacations, home improvements, and hobbies can derail your retirement finances—and your happiness.
To reach financial security, take three concrete steps:
Pay off debts
Consider moving to a smaller residence
Create regular sources of income.
People with steady sources of income like a rental property or a pension feel better off than those who spend directly out of their savings.
But even if you don’t have a pension, there are a lot of ways to turn your savings into a steady income stream if you work with an experienced financial adviser.
Happy Retirement Secret 2: Stay healthy
Retirement offers an opportunity to refocus on health and wellness. People have more time to focus on nutrition, exercise, and living a healthy lifestyle. The better a person’s health, the more likely they were to say they were having a happy retirement.
Actively work to make sure your health is as good as possible. Find a sport or activity that you like. Biking, tennis, yoga or walking will not only prolong your life but also help you enjoy it.
Eat right and keep moving. Start now and keep walking, riding, swimming, lifting or hiking. This combination will give you the strength and stamina to enjoy your retirement and be happy.
If you plan on moving to a new place when you retire, check out local hospitals and other nearby health facilities. Medical care remains essential for certain conditions and during emergencies.
Happy Retirement Secret 3: Stay social
To stay happy and healthy in retirement, make time to develop new relationships and nurture existing ones, especially if your social life previously revolved around work. Older adults with a rich social life tend to live longer than those who are more isolated.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the benefits of being with other people are considerable. Adults with strong social support have a reduced risk of many significant health problems, including depression, high blood pressure, and an unhealthy body mass index (BMI).
Retiring with someone you love will bring you great joy in your golden years. Just make sure to keep separate lives. Keep your interests and hobbies alive and independent of your spouse. That way, you will look forward to things to talk about at the end of the day.
If you decide to move to a new place when you retire, visit it frequently beforehand so you don't wind up feeling alone. Get to know the area, meet people, and see if people are nice. Then make your decision.
Happy Retirement Secret 4: Find your purpose
Retirement frees up your schedule, and for some people all that unstructured time is a little overwhelming. The happiest retirees include those with a strong sense of purpose.
An absence of purpose can lead to boredom, depression, and relationship stress. That can be especially true for people whose identity was closely tied to their career.
Many happy retirees have plans, activities and avocations that compete for time. It is amazing how important it is to wake up and know what you are going to do that day.
Do you want to travel, garden, start a business, or go back to school? Once you decide what you want your life to look like, other decisions become much easier.
Getting a part-time job has been shown to increase happiness. It gives retirees a sense of purpose and can improve your physical and mental health.
When you work part-time, you get to move around and interact with people outside of your age group and learn cultural things and stay on top of trends. The best way to stay happy is to pick a job in your field or get paid for a hobby you love.
Get yourself a few hobbies. That might mean setting yourself up to start a business, looking into volunteer work, or even turning a spare bedroom into an artist’s studio.
Your goals could involve seeing friends, setting aside time to see your kids or to babysit your grandkids, taking a class, or learning a new skill. Retirement can be freedom to do what you always wanted to do but never had the chance to do.
Many people plan to dedicate time and money in retirement to giving back. That generosity doesn’t just benefit those you help, but it also can increase your own sense of well-being.
Retirees who give are more likely than those who don’t to say they have a strong sense of purpose, high self-esteem, and are happy and healthy. Volunteer work and other charitable activities are also a great way to find new purpose and meet new people.
Be satisfied with what you have. There are plenty of ways to enjoy your retirement, even if you can’t afford all the luxuries you might have dreamed of. The key is to refocus on what you do have, whether it’s your health, family, or hobbies, and not stress too much about what you might lack.
Once you come to terms with your own retirement reality, you’ll be on your way to retirement happiness.
Happy Retirement: It’s not all fun and games
Retirement is not like vacation. In retirement, you need to understand that the pace of life will slow down. Accept the new lifestyle, be prepared for and plan to thwart the occasional feeling of loneliness and find worthwhile activities.
You still need to find something interesting to do after you retire or you will not be happy. Find a way to savor small things. It's the little things that get us up in the morning.
It’s a valuable lesson that has been reinforced by the pandemic. Walking your dog, enjoying coffee and the newspaper, having dinner with your spouse.
Those are four secrets to a happy retirement, and they cost next to nothing.
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