It’s often been said that one of the biggest challenges to the elderly is being in retirement.
What an ironic situation. You work nearly every day through the prime of your life for 30 years or so plotting and scheme different ways of saving your money so that one day you won’t have to work anymore. But then when you finally do retire, you stop and ask yourself “now what?”
Unfortunately for most people the missing element to a happy retirement is a sense of purpose. That sense of belonging or feeling needed is no longer there. You no longer have the forced infrastructure of subordinates and colleagues running over to your desk every hour asking for your help and opinions on every little thing. Life is now quiet and undemanding. And while that may sound pleasant from the perspective of someone who is still in their working years, it can be humbling and lonely for someone who is not.
This doesn’t have to be the case for you or your spouse. Let your golden years actually be “golden”. Here are some steps you can take to set yourself up both financially and mentally for a pleasant retirement and many great years to come.
A Happy Retirement is a Financially Worry-Free Retirement:
Let’s face it – your financial situation is going to be the corner-stone to a successful retirement. Money can stress you out big-time when you’re coming up short and not really sure where how you’re going to pay for all your expenses.
Therefore if you want your retirement to be worry-free, you’ll need to make sure you take care of all the financial implications that come along with it.
There are many ways to do this. If you’ve got a number of years until you’re going to retire, you could start now by saving up as much as possible in your 401k and IRA savings accounts. Maxing out these accounts and investing index-style assets will help to turbo-charge the compound returns of these investments over the years.
Traditionally the place you’d like to be with your savings is at least 25 times your anticipated annual expenses. If you’d like to see whether or not you’re on track with your nest egg, check out how you compare to the amount of retirement savings you should have for your current age. You may find out that you need adjust your strategy if you’re falling short.
If you’re closer to no longer working and would like to avoid the oscillations of the stock market, you may want to use a retirement income strategy that will guarantee you payments for life using an immediate annuity. Even though you’d be locking into a pre-determined amount, it will give you constant reliability and consistency for your living expenses. Baby-boomers can follow these tips here.
Find Your Passion:
With finances aside, the next thing you’ll need to focus on is your mental health.
What is it that makes you happy? When you got home from work every night or were looking forward to the weekends, what is it that you wanted to do? Would you want to:
- Play in a band?
- Play a certain sport?
- Fix old cars?
- Build things or craft?
One of the subtle things that happens during our working careers is that we get somewhat programmed to be told what to do. So it’s no surprise that when we stop working we feel lost no longer being told what to do in our day-to-day lives.
But that’s where your hobby or passion can be of help. Now it’s up to you to give yourself something to work towards and look forward to.
There are a million things you could do with your time during retirement. If you like old cars, then fix an old car. If you like to play sports, then coach a local sports team. If you like art, then take an art class and give yourself something to create.
If you’re really creative you could make this a truly happy retirement by turning your passion into something that makes you money as well. For example: If you like to write, then write an eBook on a topic you know well and sell it on Amazon. Then every month it could turn into a steady stream of payments.
Keep Good Company:
When you’re no longer going to work every day, it can be very easy to slip into isolation and loneness now that that human contact is no longer present.
But if you’re conscious of this problem, you can do actively do something about it. Use the time to:
- Connect with your spouse and re-kindle why you first fell in love in the first place.
- Become active in your children’s or grandchildren’s lives. Something as simple as going to their sporting event or school play will mean the world to a grandchild.
- Regularly meet and catch up with old friends or colleagues.
- Volunteer your time at local businesses or organizations. Perhaps you could become active in a local non-profit. Or you could get more engaged with a local church.
- Teach something. As a teacher, you are automatically a role model to be looked up to and respected. It could be something like teaching a class, tutoring, coaching, etc.
- Consider running for a local political office and making a difference in your community.
Whatever you do, don’t shut yourself off from the world – and especially from other people. A happy retirement will involve not just being financially secure but also mentally prepared to stay engaged in the things that bring you joy. Again – it’s your time and your decision on how to best make those golden years shine like gold.
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