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It’s Not About the Money: 4 Secrets to a Happy Retirement

Saving, investing, and growing your nest egg are all necessary if you want to fulfill your needs after you stop working. But they don’t tell the whole story of retirement planning. A healthy investment portfolio does not guarantee a happy retirement. In reality, retirees are more likely to struggle for non-financial reasons. 

Observing clients as they progressed from saving for to actually living in retirement, we noticed something. Successful retirees—the ones who described themselves as genuinely happy—had something in common. They’d found a way to balance the 4 key ingredients to a happy retirement.

1. Find Meaning

If your job or kids have been your main purpose for the last few decades, a sudden wealth of unstructured free time may come as a shock. Retirement frees up your schedule and gives a chance to reflect on your values and beliefs. As you explore different activities, you might be faced with questions like “who am I’” what’s important to me” and “what’s next”? 

Many folks who retire without a plan find themselves restless, bored, and unsatisfied. To avoid this, give your retirement some structure. It may help to imagine your retirement purpose now, before you stop working. Try using Retirement Mapping to figure out what hobbies and personal development activities you want to pursue.  

Some retirees end up building an art studio, some volunteer abroad, and some go on to launch their "encore careers”. Research implies having a sense of purpose in life is connected to happiness and even lifespan. So think of “finding your purpose” as part of your retirement journey.

2. Stay Healthy and Active

Did you know that  33% of men and 50% of women aged 75 or older do not engage in physical activity of any kind? This is troubling, since the WHO identifies physical inactivity as the fourth-largest cause of death globally. It’s natural for stamina and strength to decrease as you agebut physical activity helps you maintain both longer. 

Many people imagine themselves running on a beach in retirement and then end up eating chips on the couch. Retirement changes your routine and can reduce the amount of physical activity you naturally get. So, you’ll have to build it into your new lifestyle.

  • Find What Fits Your Body - You don’t have to do extreme sports (though the Denver area has plenty of that). Focus on exercises to improve flexibility, strength, and balance, which will become more important as you get older. 
  • Commit To Movement - Create a schedule for exercise so it becomes part of your routine. To make it stick, find an activity you love and exercise with a group or buddy for accountability. You can also use tech like an Apple Watch, Fitbit, or an app to remind you to get in motion.
  • Eat Well - Healthy eating goes hand-in-hand with exercise for slowing the aging process. If you want more control over what you eat, why not continue the quarantine kitchen tradition into your retirement?
  • Get Your Health Checked Regularly - Including blood pressure, bone density scans, cancer screenings and other recommended checks.
  • Don’t Forget Mental Health - Retirees often experience loneliness, and the pandemic is not helping things. Be aware of your mental fitness as you transition to retirement.

3. Don’t Neglect Your Finances

You have to live off your retirement savings for many years, so money management doesn’t stop once you’ve handed in your office keys. A solid financial strategy will benefit you throughout your next phase: 

  • Figure Out What you Want - Will your retirement be about spending less on “stuff” and more on experiences? Spoiling the grandkids or buying a second home? Determine the type of lifestyle you want (talk to your partner too) then calculate how much you’ll need to make it a reality. 
  • Have a Financial Plan - Next, have a financial planner create a plan with you that aligns to your goals. Have a plan for Social Security so you’re not caught by surprise. And you’ll need a tax strategy to avoid needless expenses.
  • Plan for Healthcare Costs - Understand your Medicare coverage choices, consider long term care, and research your options should you need assisted living. Unfortunately, healthcare costs in America can be devastating if you’re not prepared. 

4. Boost Your Social Connections

People who maintain deep friendships live longer and function better. No matter your age, maintaining healthy social connections is a key ingredient in the cake of happiness and well-being.

COVID-19 and the remote work boom of 2020 have given us a taste of life in retirement—by removing us from our workplace communities overnight, we understand the sudden change retirees must go through. If you’re someone who’s missed the camaraderie of the office, you’ve now felt the unexpected blow that many retirees experience. 

With that in mind, make an effort to stay in contact with important people from your work life. And, prepare to build new social connections. Creating a community for yourself in retirement can take many formskeep trying things until you find the right fit!

You know what they say...money can’t buy happiness. Or, at least, it’s no guarantee. Even as financial advisors, we know retiring successfully is about more than just money. That’s why we’re proud to cover the other side of retirement at Wealth Legacy Institute. We work with you to create a plan that considers not only your financial goals but also the life you want to build in retirement. 

If you want to retire with passion, purpose, and peace of mind, get Retirement Secrets! The roadmap to planning your ideal retirement. Pre-order the book now.

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