Recently, one of our advisors, Joyce, ran into an acquaintance at the grocery store who’s been retired for about six months. Naturally, Joyce asked how it was going so far. The conversation went something like this:
“Paul, so nice to see you! How’s retirement treating you? You must be loving it.”
“Actually, it’s a lot different than what I was expecting.”
“It can be a bit of a jolt to the routine, I know.”
“It’s not even that. I really like not having to go to work every day. But I’ve actually been a bit… bored. Can you believe it? Bored with retirement!”
Truth be told, this scenario isn’t a surprise to us. We’ve known many retirees over the years who have plenty of money but still struggle with the transition into retirement.
Because, while they made financial preparations a top priority, they never took the time to create a plan for their time and their well-being. Yet these are the elements that are vital to retiring well.
So, to help make sure you don’t follow in Paul’s footsteps, we want to share 10 of our favorite tips (and 20 of our favorite online resources) for living a successful life in retirement. Enjoy!
1. Stay active
In our research, we’ve found that the number one factor of a happy retirement isn’t money – instead, it’s practicing healthy habits. Even walking just 20 minutes a day can improve your mood and help you live a longer life.[i]
2. Eat well
What you eat can have a major impact on the health of your heart – and also your brain. For instance, studies have found that the Mediterranean diet (composed of fruits, veggies, fish, and nuts) tends to lower the risk of heart disease and dementia. Meanwhile, the DASH diet’s goal is to help reduce blood pressure.[ii]
Of course, always consult your doctor before altering your diet.
3. Stay sharp
And speaking of your brain, don’t forget to keep it stimulated! To help improve your mental acuity, try learning a new language, working on a creative project, taking a class from a local community college, or, if you have a skill to share with the world, teaching a class.
4. Give your time
You know that amazing feeling you have after volunteering? There’s a reason for it. Basically, it’s science! According to the American Psychological Association, volunteering later in life “is associated with significant psychosocial, physical, cognitive, and functional benefits for healthy older adults.”
5. Keep talking
If you’re married, the financial conversations you were (hopefully) having before retirement shouldn’t end once you’re in retirement. Keep having discussions about your budget and how you would like to spend your time (both together and apart) and money.
6. Stay ‘scam aware’
From Medicare and Social Security scams to romance scams to sweepstakes scams, older Americans are one of the top targets for scammers. In fact, from 2013 to 2017, people ages 70 and older who became victims of a scam or fraud lost an average of almost $42,000.[iii]
As a reminder, never give out your personal information to someone making an unsolicited phone call. And remember: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
7. Go back to work
We know, we know. The usual definition of retirement usually doesn’t include the word ‘work.’ However, in our definition, both concepts can co-exist: Retirement is the time in your life when you hopefully have the financial flexibility to do what you love for the pure sake of enjoyment – not a paycheck.
(Just remember, though: Your Social Security benefit could be reduced if you go this route.)
8. Stay social
Staying connected to others is key in retirement. Research has shown that people who seek out and embrace new experiences – and strengthen and expand their social circles – actually live a few years longer than those who don’t.[iv]
9. Pack your bags
One way to meet new friends? Travel! Besides getting to experience what the country – and world – has to offer, taking a vacation in retirement actually improves quality of life.
According to a study from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, travelers are “significantly more likely than non-travelers to feel satisfied about their overall mood and outlook.” The same study found travel helps to challenge the brain with new and different experiences and environments.
10. Be confident
Financially confident, that is. We’ve found that financial confidence is 3x more important to life satisfaction than the amount of retirement savings you have.[v]
What does this actually mean? Cover all your financial bases! Create an income stream plan; update your wills, trusts, and beneficiaries; have the appropriate asset allocation for your investments so they can keep earning money through retirement; and more.
By having a plan for your savings and investments – and not letting the small details slip through the cracks – you’ll be better positioned to confidently answer the question, “Can I live reasonably within my means?”
But at the end of the day, retiring well isn’t just about ‘the numbers.’ Knowing how you’ll spend your time, stay healthy, and connect with others are goals that should be equally as important.
Want to learn more? Educate yourself with our “Life in Retirement” online tutorial.
[i] LB Analysis 2010
[iv] Holt-Lunstad J, Smith TB, Layton JB (2010) Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review.
[v] UCD Analysis Report