Many people, particularly in our industry of financial planners, will view retirement planning as simply determining how much you need to save in order to have enough money to live off when you do decide to hang up the boots. With approximately 28% of American retirees recently surveyed stating that they felt much less happy in retirement than when they were working, clearly we are not addressing the whole issue when it comes to retirement planning. It has to be more than just monetary.
This week I’m exploring the non-financial steps that you, your family members or friends could consider taking to ensure a happy and enjoyable retirement. Some of these tips and insights are based on retirement research, while others are based on personal experience working with clients in Australia and around the world who are truly happy in their retirement years to share some of the steps that they’ve taken to ensure this.
If we consider the history of pensions and retirement in Australia, the concept dates back to 1909, when pensions were first introduced. Hardly a burden on the Government, given that it was paid to men from age 65, and to women from age 60, when the life expectancy was just 55 and 59. Now that life expectancies for both men and women are well into the 80’s, and many are living comfortably into their 90’s, planning for an enjoyable retirement is more important than ever.
Let’s get into some of the steps you can take:
- Back to work (voluntarily)
As strange as it may sound for the first tip to voluntarily go back to work, given that you’ve spent your working life not to have to, the studies show that those who work, even on a part-time basis, in a role that they enjoy are far happier and more fulfilled than those who don’t. This could mean greater physical activity, social interactions on a regular basis with people from a wide range of backgrounds and demographics, as well as staying mentally sharp.
Removing social interactions from your everyday life could lead to depression and can also be a threat to your overall physical health. The National Institute of Health in the US also draws a connection between isolation and high blood pressure, which can lead to other health issues. Taking part in some form of work that you enjoy can be an excellent step in the right direction.
- Maintain your relationships
Studies continuously find that those people who are married or spending their time with a significant other are far happier than those who are single. Given that following work, a number of social interactions quickly disappear from your daily life, it’s important to plan for how you’ll maintain your social connections. This could be children, grandchildren, ex-colleagues, other members at the golf club, friends you watch the footy with or anybody else that you enjoy spending time with. By having a plan in place for how you’ll maintain these connections, you’ll find that your calendar quickly fills with activities you enjoy.
- Connect with different demographics
I have often found that those who spend time with a wide range of different age groups in their retirement tend to be far happier and remain mentally sharp. If your only social connections are a small group of friends that are all the same age with the same hobbies, then if one starts to decline, this can have a significant impact on the rest of the group. Instead, if you have a wide range of different connections through various groups or hobbies you’re involved in, this risk is removed.
This could be achieved through getting involved in volunteer organisations such as Rotary International, the local golf club, joining your favourite AFL team or even sitting on a local committee. By being involved in a wide range of activities, not only will your social group grow, but it will also be a great way to experience new hobbies that you may enjoy. Studies have found that the busiest retirees are often the happiest with those that engage in 3 – 4 different hobbies rating at the highest level.
- Healthy body, healthy mind
This one certainly isn’t unique to retirement, but it’s important to find a way that you plan to stay fit and healthy in your retirement. This doesn’t have to mean waking up at 5am to hit the gym, but it might mean playing golf on a regular basis, walking or running along the beach, playing bowls, or some other activity that you enjoy that keeps you healthy. Health is often rated as the highest priority when it comes to the ingredients for a happy retirement, and I could not recommend it enough.
Not only is your physical health important for a healthy mind, but it also has the added financial benefit of keeping at bay some potentially costly health issues and doctors’ visits. Be sure not to neglect your physical health and make a plan for how you’ll stay fit and healthy in your golden years.
- Plan your time with your partner
If you’re married or living with a significant other, retirement can be a major change, particularly if one or both parties are working long hours and even more so if there is a lot of travel involved. All of a sudden, there is a great deal of extra time spent together without the distraction of work to get in the way. Rather than sitting around at home wondering why their small habits never seemed to annoy you previously, make a plan for activities you can both do together as well as agreeing when you’ll each spend time with others to ensure that you maintain your own space.
This could mean joining a gym or sports club together, volunteering at a local charity or any other combined activity that makes you happy. Who knows, you may just find that you continue to learn something new about your partner in retirement.
These are the five key traits that I believe set apart those that are unhappy and those that are enjoying their golden years in retirement, and clearly it is far more than just about money.
If you have tips you’d like to share, be sure to drop them in the comments, I’d love to hear from you.
To Your Financial Success!
Jarrad Brown is an Australian-trained and qualified Fee-Based Financial Planner with Australian Expatriate Group of Global Financial Consultants Pte Ltd providing specialist financial advice and portfolio management services to Australian professionals in Singapore. Jarrad Brown is an Authorised Representative of Global Financial Consultants Pte Ltd – No: 200305462G | MAS License No: FA100035-3
Australian Expatriate Group is a division of Global Financial Consultants in Singapore providing specialist advice to Australians living abroad.
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General Information Only: The information on this site is of a general nature only. It does not take into account your individual financial situation, objectives or needs. You should consider your own financial position and requirements before making a decision.
*Please note that Jarrad Brown is not a tax agent or accountant and none of the content outlined here should be taken as personal advice. You should consult your tax agent and financial adviser to review your current personal finances and financial goals to consider whether this strategy is appropriate for you.