Pre-retirees obviously need to stash away money for the long-haul and let it grow, but what else can you do to prepare for a happy retirement? Obviously, measuring happiness is uniquely subjective. However, for retirees, there are three scientific ways to retire happy. Surprisingly, only one of them is financially related.
Think about the lifestyle you hope to lead in retirement, this begins by not only reviewing your finances but planning for the future and asking the tough questions, like how close should I live to my children? How will I stay active? When should I downsize or transition into a new home? Start by focusing on the three things you can control in retirement: health, time, and income.
1 | Value your health more than your wealth. In fact, a survey by Age Wave and Merrill Lynch of 3,300 pre-retirees and retirees said “good health” as the No. 1 key to happiness in retirement. The byproduct of increasing your health will allow you to engage in more prosocial behaviors and enjoy your wealth. This may seem like common sense but American’s struggle with the concept. According to the Centers for Disease control more than one-third (36.5%) of adults in the U.S. are obese. This is also a financial burden as the medical costs for people who have obesity were $1,429 higher on average than those of normal weight. Take the steps today to make your health a priority and you can check that box off on your way to retirement happiness.
2 | Maximize your time. According to research conducted in Taiwan which has a higher life expectancy than the U.S., the researchers concluded that the quality of one’s retirement is largely dependent on how retirees spend their free time. The researchers discovered that retirees with more free time weren’t happier than ones with less on their schedule. The “telling factor” was how the retirees used their idle hours. That’s why its no surprise the happiest retirees have multiple hobbies and they don’t do it in isolation. The Harvard School of Public Health found that people with strong social networks in retirement report good personal health at a rate two times higher than people who are isolated. Thus, spending your time interacting with others, volunteering or enjoying hobbies with friends is a sure fire way to retire happy.
3 | Make your income predictable. This makes sense mathematically and psychologically, its crucial for retirees to feel confident about their wealth. The former Towers Watson happiness survey from 2016 found that retirees who rely mostly on investments had the highest financial anxiety. “Almost a third of retirees who get less than 25% of their income from a pension or annuity were worried about their financial future; of those who receive 50% or more of their income from such a predictable source, just under a quarter expressed the same anxiety.” Creating a predictable income in retirement may seem like a daunting task but it doesn’t have to be if you find the right financial adviser to partner with, preferably a fee-only independent adviser.
In conclusion, by combining these three elements (health, time and income) in such a way that is matched to your lifestyle will create a retirement that is personally fulfilling. Start by covering the basics, join a gym, start a new hobby, and complete a personalized financial plan with realistic return and expenditure assumptions. Happy retirements need to go beyond the numbers.
– Timothy Hooker, Accredited Investment Fiduciary AIF®
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Center for Disease Control (https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html)
Mattive, Nilus. (2017) The Rich Life Roadmap. (https://www.theinvestorspodcast.com/blog/investor-not-see-signs-bear-market-coming/)
“Social networks and volunteering linked with good health worldwide”. Karen Feldscher. Harvard School of Public Health February 28, 2012. (https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/features/berkman-social-networks-volunteering-health/)