The Secret To A Happy Retirement

Jean-Jacques Rousseau said it best: Money can buy material things, but real happiness must be truly earned.

The French philosopher was known for his ardent belief in people and the crucial role they played in society. Written in 1750, the phrase above is one of the earliest known uses of the common phrase money can’t buy happiness.

This idea has been debated and discussed for centuries and they all amount to similar conclusions: material wealth isn’t tied to happiness. Happiness comes from the fulfillment we find through the work, relationships, and activities that we assign value.

Retirement works in the same way. For most of your working life, you have been saving for retirement. Until the time comes, retirement is a withdrawal from your paycheck, an investment, a deduction, a check. When the time comes for you to retire, the process becomes more than numbers. It is a lifestyle change– one that comes with physical, emotional, and financial consequences.

Money is a huge part of retirement, but it is not the only part. I’d like to help you think about the other lifestyle changes that will happen when you retire, and how to prepare for them.

Planning Your Lifestyle

Retirement is a new phase of your life, and like most changes, this new phase comes with many lifestyle considerations. You have worked at least 8 hours per day 5 days a week for 30 years. That is one steady routine, and changing that will be difficult!

Have you given serious thought to what your life will look like when you are no longer working? Below are some questions to help you consider how you will spend your time in retirement.

  • Do you want to maintain a similar lifestyle as when you were working?
  • How often do you want to travel?
  • Will you get a part-time job?
  • Is downsizing an option?

Planning out your ideal lifestyle will be the best way to get you started thinking about retirement in a serious way. Perhaps you want to rent an RV and travel across the United States, or maybe you want to downsize and rent an apartment closer to the city. Understanding where and how you want to live will help you feel more certain heading into your golden years.

It is important to give yourself time to adjust to retirement. So many people experience a sense of loss and sadness when they leave the workforce. Be honest with yourself and your experience. In order to mitigate these growing pains, it is important to find new ways to fill your time in meaningful ways. This can come from many things:

  • Find a part-time job
  • Volunteer for an organization or cause you are passionate about
  • Spend more time with family
  • Embark on passion projects
  • Exercise regularly
  • Seek out a new community

All of these aspects are crucial to thinking about and developing your ideal lifestyle in retirement. This takes a lot of planning! It isn’t something that just happens overnight, which is why it is great to get started early with retirement planning. Retirement planning is really about charting the next phase of your life and making it an experience you love rather than one you are apprehensive about.

Planning Your Money

I know that I said above that money can’t buy happiness, but a crucial aspect of retirement is understanding the new way money will function in your life. It won’t be the same as it was before. You won’t receive a paycheck from your employer, your income will come in different forms:

  • Retirement savings accounts
    • Now is where all of that saving will come in handy. Your primary source of income in retirement will be the payout from your retirement savings accounts. Your 401(k) and IRAs will take center stage and will help supplement your income.
  • Social Security
    • Monthly Social Security checks will also be a part of your retirement income plan. The size of the check will depend on your work record, spousal record, and the age you begin to claim benefits.
  • Personal Savings
    • Your personal savings will be a huge part of your retirement allowance. It is important to understand how much money you will need to take out of your savings each month in order to cover your costs
  • Pensions
    • Some people have a pension as they head into retirement that provides them with a defined benefit for the rest of their lives.

All of these income streams will feed into your overall cash flow when you are retired. If you work a part-time job, that will also be added to your income sources.

Planning Your Health

Medical bills rise when you hit retirement. Even a healthy couple will spend upwards of $200,000 on medical expenses alone in retirement. This makes it imperative that you prioritize your health and plan for rising costs when you retire.

One of the biggest things you will need to do when you retire is to find health care coverage. You will no longer be on your employer’s insurance plan which will leave you searching for other options. Many medical plans are quite expensive, but it is important to shop around until you find one that is the right fit for you.

In The End

Retirement forces you to look at many factors. It will probably be one of the most significant changes you experience in your adult life. Planning for such a change requires time, attention, and patience. Crafting the right lifestyle for you won’t be easy and you may need to make some changes along the way. The most important thing is that you are happy.

If you would like to see how we can help you have a happy retirement, contact us!

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