For some retired people, it’s the golden time to which they’ve looked forward all of their lives. For others, it becomes a time of struggling to live with limited means, poor health and loneliness. Where you fall on that spectrum will depend in large part upon how you prepare before you get there.
The primary emphasis is usually money when people discuss post-career living. However, there’s more to life than how much money you have to spend. In fact, it’s entirely possible to experience happiness without a whole lot of money, as these six things comfortably retired people have in common will illustrate.
A Solid Plan
Retirement is something best planned for, rather than something you just allow to happen. Your needs, personality and the nature of your pleasurable pursuits should all be taken into consideration. Yes, the money piece is important, as it will — to a degree — determine how you approach all of the rest. So yes, first and foremost, you do need to develop and execute a financial plan designed to maximize the amount of money you’ll have available to you.
Key to maximizing your financial wherewithal is eliminating as much debt as possible before retirement (ideally all of it). The best time to begin working toward that goal is right now.
Take a look at your spending habits and adjust yourself accordingly so you can put more money away. If most of your money is going to credit cards and you’re not sure what you can do to get that under control, consider working with a firm that specializes in credit card debt relief.
A Sense of Purpose
Are you really going to work 40+ years just so you can sit around and watch TV all day? Find something you love to do, get into it, and get good at it.
This might even be starting a business. Kiplinger’s Personal Finance cites a study by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation that found people aged 55 to 64 years old make up 26% of new entrepreneurs.
This can supplement your income, even as it gives you something upon which to focus your energies and attention every day.
Close Family and Friends
Grand kids do keep you young!
Seriously though, maintaining healthy relationships with your friends and family will help you avoid the loneliness and isolation retirement can bring about. You’re going to have seven days a week to do whatever you want. As good as that sounds, it’ll be even better when you have like-minded people with whom to do things.
Take steps now to repair relationships that may have suffered as a result of misunderstandings and neglect. Frankly, this is the right thing to do anyway. However, if that doesn’t motivate you, the prospect of living out your golden years without anyone who cares about you should. Look for opportunities to join new social or hobby groups, too.
It’s easy to take your health for granted in your younger years. After all, your body has recovered every time you’ve experienced an illness.
As we all know, that changes as you get older. A key aspect of planning for a comfortable retirement is doing everything possible to keep your body in as close to peak condition as possible.
Exercise regularly. Mind your diet. Kick cigarettes to the curb, along with vaping and drinking to excess. Eliminate recreational drug use. Chronic illnesses will deplete your cash reserves faster than anything else. Plus, it’s hard to have a good time when you’re not feeling well.
The Ability to Acknowledge Reality
Life tends to give us back what we put into it. Blowing through money like there’s no tomorrow, carrying a lot of debt, going wherever life takes you, abusing everyone in your life and paying no attention to your personal wellbeing will come back to haunt you.
Chief among the six things comfortably retired people have in common is they came to grips with that reality early on and did something about it.