The American Institute of Stress ranks retirement #10 on the list of life’s 43 most stressful events. Millions of retirees can struggle to feel useful or happy in their new lifestyle, and their health can suffer as a result. However, there are a number of steps you can take before and during retirement to ensure you remain happy and healthy in your golden years.
Protect Your Financial Security
58% of retirees cite financial security as the most important ingredient to a happy retirement, and scientific research backs this up. Without the assurance of a predictable paycheck or a sizeable nest egg, stress levels for retirees soar. They constantly worry that money will run out or will not be enough to cover a medical bill, and they are unable to spend money on activities like travel that make retirement more pleasurable. This is why saving and having a long-term financial plan is absolutely essential for a happy retirement.
The first challenge is figuring out the best approach for retirement saving. Should you invest in an IRA or a 401(k)? How do you navigate the confusing waters of starting a 401(k)? Which IRA is right for you? These are all critical questions to answer, sooner rather than later.
In addition, you also need to ensure that your approach to saving for retirement will fit your future needs. The amount of money you save is less important than how your retirement income compares to your income before retirement. Building a properly diversified portfolio is necessary to ensure you save enough money and are protected from risk (which spikes stress levels). A strong portfolio should involve low fee investments, which drive performance, as well as the ability to buy and hold with minimal trading. Fortunately, a professional and expensive financial adviser is no longer the only option to find assistance. Today, algorithms can help create and balance a portfolio that is optimized to meet your financial needs in an affordable way.
A 6-year study of 12,189 people near the age of retirement found that men and women who keep working after retirement have fewer major disease or disabilities than those who quit work. Interestingly, the number of hours someone worked did not matter. Work keeps brains sharp and promotes longevity. It also provides a channel for staying in touch with colleagues, and if it is paid work, can promote financial security. Even working part-time as a consultant can keep your sense of identity and purpose alive.
Retirees can stay connected to their work by joining a professional organization, attending industry meetings and conventions, volunteering in their professional field, and/or serving on professional committees. Subscribing to trade publications, such as journals and magazines, is also a great way to stay connected. Retirees may also find that they can direct the skills they built up over the course of their career in new and exciting directions. For example, a marketing executive could offer their expertise to a nonprofit they support.
Consumer Reports found that 43% of respondents said they would be sad to leave their close friends behind as they transition into retirement. Like work, friends and colleagues are a strong reinforcer of identity, and build feelings of happiness. Retirees can keep an identity crisis at bay by finding new opportunities to maintain those relationships. Setting up coffee or lunch dates, attending work social events, or keeping up with colleagues on social media are all effective strategies for maintaining work bonds in retirement.