Everyone who has enough savings will have a successful retirement, right? Not necessarily. Older folks who’ve lived the retiree life for a while have some secrets of a happy retirement that have nothing to do with money. Although no one can say money isn’t important, it’s only part of the picture.
Retire, but Keep Working
Busy retirees tend to be happy retirees. Taking on a part-time job you enjoy or engaging in hobbies and volunteer work that fill your schedule and provide social interaction and a sense of giving back tend to make for happy days as a retiree. Staying busy is good for your mental health. It’s a chance to finally do those things you have always wanted to do and to pursue a purposeful life. You might even start a “third-act career” before you’re ready to hit the hammock.
Be Practical About Your Living Arrangements
A big house with a large yard may have been your pride and joy during your prime, but it starts to feel like too much work as the years go by. Many retirees find relief by downsizing and moving to a rental where someone else takes care of most of the maintenance. This might be a senior community with plenty of social opportunities or an apartment in town that brings you closer to cultural activities.
Maintaining a good relationship with your partner and your children is one of the secrets to a happy retirement, but that could mean being more available to your grown children and grandchildren or a little less available, depending on your situation.
A Steady Income
Of course, it is important to plan your finances well so you don’t outlast your money. But having millions to manage isn’t a source of greater happiness. Instead, retirees report that a reliable, steady income creates less worry and work than actively managing investments.
There are a variety of financial products that can provide a reliable monthly income to supplement other savings and social security. Annuities guarantee a minimum income for a specified amount of time, sometimes the rest of the retiree’s life. Pension plans are becoming rarer, but 401(k), 403(b)s, and IRAs all form part of a retirement mix that can generate income from interest, capital gains, and dividends. Predictable income, more than the size of total savings, seems to be a key aspect of stress-free finances in retirement. It’s important to consider that lifespans are increasing along with the health-care costs of living longer. Consult a financial advisor and plan ahead.
Taking a class or finally finishing that degree is a source of happiness in retirement. Learning a new skill or picking up a second language keeps your mind sharp and stimulated. Accomplishing something new also provides a mark of achievement when you’re no longer up for employee of the year or sales champion of your former workplace. Lifelong learning gives you things to talk about and ways to make new friends—an important step to avoid the isolation that can cause depression and anxiety as we age.