How To Retire Happy
You might have been planning for retirement since the day you started working, socking money aside in savings, funding a 401(k) or investing in stocks to make sure you’re financially set for the day that you stop working and the years to follow.
Now, you’re in great shape financially and it’s time to stop working. Congratulations!
But can you answer this question: “How do I retire happy?”
That takes more planning. Just ask the nearly 50 million retired workers and their dependents who collect Social Security benefits if they would have done anything differently before retirement. While it’s tough to determine the percentage of retired people who are happy, you definitely want to be counted in that column.
9 Tips To Retire Happy
So just how can you retire happy and make your retirement wishes come true? It takes planning with things other than with money. Here are 9 tips to get you started on a happy retirement.
- Shed the old, embrace the new
- Spend your newfound leisure time
- Manage your health
- Have proper insurance
- Monitor your money
- Live near the kids and grandkids
- Maintain friendships
- Work part time
1. Shed the Old, Embrace the New
If you’re still living in the house where you raised your kids, you undoubtedly are hanging on to a lot of sentimental memories. But those memories will stay with you forever, and maybe it’s time to move to a smaller home.
By downsizing, you can decrease your utility costs, you probably won’t have as much outdoor maintenance and you will have gotten rid of old things you’d been storing that might have been weighing you down. This lighter lifestyle will be a welcome change.
2. Spend Your Newfound Leisure Time
There isn’t a perfect age to retire, but whenever you do, you’ll have precious minutes and hours to spend on yourself that you never had before. It’s a perfect time to take up a hobby, like playing golf or visiting local museums, or take a class to learn something new.
And if you don’t want to spend much money pursuing a hobby, check out a book at the library or join a walking group.
3. Manage Your Health
Your go-go lifestyle at work probably meant too many fast-food lunches and too much time spent sitting behind a computer. Take that walk, join an exercise class, follow a yoga instructor on DVD, find healthy recipes.
According to the Fidelity Retiree Health Care Cost Estimate, an average retired couple of people age 65 in 2022 could face medical expenses of about $315,000 in retirement. Getting yourself in the best shape possible in retirement could shave those healthcare expenses and leave you feeling better than ever.
4. Have Proper Insurance
Retirees will have peace of mind knowing they have the insurance they will need, including Medicare and long-term healthcare. Medicare is the federal health insurance program for people 65 and older, but it doesn’t cover everything. For example, you might want to sign up for supplemental insurance, called Medicare Part D, which gives you prescription coverage.
In addition, long-term care insurance can help to pay the costs for a nursing home, assisted living or other care.
5. Monitor Your Money
The way you invest changes as you get older, and the traditional thinking is that you’ll want to take fewer risks with your money as you approach retirement.
It would pay off to schedule an annual checkup with a financial advisor to keep you financially worry-free. Some even are certified to advise seniors and help with strategies to live and budget on a fixed income, invest and plan for healthcare costs.
6. Live Near the Kids and Grandkids…
Being an empty nester has some perks, but that doesn’t mean retirees don’t want their adult children nearby.
Wes Moss, a certified financial planner and managing partner in Capital Investment Advisors, surveyed about 2,000 retirees nationally in 2018 and found that those who lived “near or close” to at least half of their children were five times happier that the retirees who didn’t have that proximity.
7. …And Maintain Friendships
A study of 217 people between the ages of 63 and 89 conducted by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston showed that a social life helped to stave off cognitive decline. People who left the house on a regular basis and saw other people were happier and healthier.
Spend some of that time outside the house volunteering. You’ll meet new people, support a worthy cause and maybe even get some benefits, such as watching locally produced plays for free if you volunteer to usher at the playhouse in your city.
Choose a volunteer activity that falls in line with your interests and have fun while you give back.
9. Work Part Time
You thought you were at the perfect age to retire when you did, but maybe you retired a bit prematurely or just needed time off for a refresher. A survey by Home Instead, Inc., said it isn’t uncommon for retirees to return to work.
While earning more money was a factor for many who went back to work, 44% of respondents said they returned to a job out of boredom and 22% to keep their minds sharp. Finding a part-time job actually could be a key to happiness.
A lot of people entering retirement don’t put enough emphasis on personal planning to ensure they maximize their opportunities. Regardless of your age, take the time now to think about the choices you have and how you would like to spend your time — and money — during retirement.
Barbara Friedberg contributed to the reporting for this article.
Our in-house research team and on-site financial experts work together to create content that’s accurate, impartial, and up to date. We fact-check every single statistic, quote and fact using trusted primary resources to make sure the information we provide is correct. You can learn more about GOBankingRates’ processes and standards in our editorial policy.
- Fidelity. 2022. "How to plan for rising health care costs."
- MoneyGeek. 2022. "The Sobering Cost of Long-Term Care."
- U.S.News. 2022. "7 High-Return, Low-Risk Investments for Retirees."
- Medico. "How to Find a Financial Advisor for Seniors."
- Social Security Administration. "Fact Sheet SOCIAL SECURITY."