How to Enjoy a Happy Retirement Even with Less Money
Everyone looks forward to the prospect of a happy retirement, one that includes plenty of free time spent with those we love and doing what we enjoy.
Unfortunately, there are a number of reasons you may find that you don’t get to retire with quite as much money as you had hoped.
While that might have you a bit worried, the good news is that you can still have a happy retirement if you understand it can be done with a lot less money than you previously thought.
Keep Saving Your Money
Before we continue with this piece, though, we want to make it perfectly clear that you still need to save your money. If you’re nearing retirement, now isn’t the time to let up on those savings.
Instead, continue setting money aside and, ideally, putting it to work for you.
Also, keep an eye on low-interest rates. This is one reason you may not be able to retire with as much money as you had intended.
In addition, low-interest rates might force you to keep investing the majority of your retirement nest egg into stocks instead of protecting it.
Understand That Money Isn’t Everything
That might sound a bit cheesy, but it’s true and an important factor to understand if you’re going to enjoy a happy retirement that might not involve as much money as you had previously hoped for.
The Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association (TIAA) actually released a study this past year that spoke to this truth. The TIAA study showed that retiree satisfaction largely remained at the same levels as it did back in 1982. This is despite the numerous things that have changed, many of which affected people adversely.
As the president and CEO of the organization Roger W. Ferguson, Jr., put it, “It’s remarkable that even with all the changes our country has experienced in the past 30 years – the increase in health care costs, the predominance of technology, the overwhelming amount of often-conflicting information – nearly all of the retirees we surveyed feel satisfied with their life in retirement. It’s a vastly different world today than 1982, but our findings show that a happy, fulfilling retirement is still attainable.”
It actually gets better, though, this same study found that the level of happiness that retirees feel today has increased to 65%, where it was 51% back in 1982.
Define What a Happy Retirement Will Mean for You
One major problem that a lot of retirees run into is that they misjudge how much money they’ll need is because they don’t define what this part of their lives will involve. They look at it as some vague moment in time when they simply won’t be showing up to work every morning.
Obviously, you want to avoid this. However, you also want to avoid just going through the motions when it comes to your retirement. Begin planning what it will involve today. Ideally, this is something you should be doing right around the age of 50 or 55.
Think about where you’d like to retire, as this will have a huge impact on your level of satisfaction and the amount of money, you’ll need. You might really enjoy living abroad, something that can often be a lot more affordable than your current situation. A survey of 389 people who retired abroad found that 81% of them were much happier in their new countries.
There are other ways to achieve a happy retirement through intentional planning. You may want to take up a certain hobby that will require a good chunk of your time. This is something to plan for to ensure you have the money to do so.
One last thing on this topic: if you have a spouse, they need to be a part of this conversation. After all, you’re not going to be very happy if they’re not.
Also, no matter what your plans, you want to be on the same page so you can work toward your goal together.
Focus on Your Health
You’ve probably heard that if you have your health, you have your wealth. While I still recommend you continue to save money and invest, none of it will be of any use if you don’t take care of yourself.
If nothing else, you’ll be losing a lot of those hard-earned savings on medical bills.
At the very least, stay physically active. A hobby that involves fitness is a great way to do this. Sticking to a sensible diet will be a big benefit as well. See your doctor regularly too.
Consider a Part-Time Job
If you’re retiring with a lot less than you had hoped for, one way around that problem is by taking on a part-time job. As a part-time worker, you’ll still have plenty of free time to enjoy.
However, you’ll also be bringing in extra paychecks on a regular basis to help bolster your savings.
That being said, a lot of retirees receive a certain amount of satisfaction from working a part-time job. This could become a great source of happiness for you.
If you live alone, having this type of social stimulation will be essential to your happiness.
Also, depending on the job, it might keep you active and on your feet which goes to the last point we touched on.
Keep a Schedule
When most people think about retirement, they imagine kicking up their feet from morning to night and never again looking at their calendar. Instead, there is a lot of research that shows that keeping a calendar will also keep you happy.
That’s because having free time can actually be quite stressful if you don’t have some organization in your life based on goals and priorities.
You don’t have to follow the same rigors you did when you were working, but some type of calendar will go a long way.
Keep in mind, too, that once you’ve retired, you can always improve it. However, if you follow the above advice, you’ll be giving yourself a much better chance of enjoying a happy retirement.