How To Make Retirement Work For You

A successful retirement will not necessarily look the same for everyone. What excites one retiree may bore another. Retirement is simply having the freedom to pursue what is most closely aligned with your interests. Here are a few ideas to help you make the most of your second act:

Make your own rules. It can be helpful to read books and articles describing how to create the perfect retirement. You certainly need to know how much to save and how best to draw down your savings as well as how to occupy your retired days. But only you are qualified to make the final decisions. Only you know exactly what you like, dislike, fear or hope for. It is up to you to navigate a course to reach your personal retirement happiness.

Rather than automatically accept the recommendations of others, it might be better to incorporate what works for you and forget about the rest. Feel free to pick and choose the most relevant advice to construct your optimal retired life. Build your retirement based upon your needs, wishes and intuition.

Set your own pace. Employees are occasionally forced to push themselves beyond what they are comfortable with. With deadlines creeping closer and pressure from the boss, workers often push ahead despite the cost of less time spent with family or in individual pursuits. In retirement, you finally get to control the pace of your days. How fast and furious you choose to live is entirely up to you. Don’t let the momentum that swept you along in your career continue to define how you spend your days as a retiree. Try to make time for meaningful activities but also allow for downtime. Now that you are retired you have the freedom to indulge yourself.

Spend time with who you want. The world is full of interesting people from all walks of life with stories to tell and moments to share. In retirement, you get to choose who you want to spend your time with. There are no more mandatory meetings or boring social events that you feel obligated to attend. This can be the perfect time to re-establish family ties or renew faded friendships. Make your decisions wisely because there is only so much time in the day.

Don’t spend it all in one place. Living on a fixed income can feel like a precarious balancing act, especially if you have not effectively budgeted for the retirement lifestyle you hope to enjoy. You want to take advantage of the freedom you have earned, but need to be careful not to overdo it too early in the game. Some people fear that living a frugal retirement might force them to miss out on experiences they waited and saved for their entire life. But it doesn’t have to be that way. A little attention to how much you spend mixed with a bit of prioritizing can pave the way for a happier retired life. Weigh how important it really is to buy a new appliance or car and acknowledge the cost in terms of where you might otherwise spend the money. Rather than a five-star hotel, try thinking three-star. If you tone down your expectation for an elaborate fine dining experience you can still enjoy a tasty outing. If you are willing to trim back a little on extravagances, you can increase your discretionary funds to take advantage of more opportunities and adventures.

Don’t wait too long to have fun. If you have something on your to-do list that you are excited about doing, don’t wait. You will never again be as young as you are today. Waiting for the perfect moment when everything is exactly in alignment might never come. Now is a good time to learn to dance the rumba, take up sand sculpturing or try your hand at stand-up comedy. You have waited your whole lifetime to retire, so why wait any longer to start having some fun?

From my blog for US News & World

10 Components of a Happy Retirement

Financial preparations are an important component of any retirement plan. But money alone is not enough to live a satisfying retirement. Equally important is a plan to spend your time, develop relationships with others and maintain your health. Here are the important ingredients for you to realize the best possible retirement:

Enough money. Obviously, if you do not have enough saved and invested, you cannot realistically retire, at least not with the lifestyle you desire. But simply reaching a number in your retirement account is not the only aspect of retirement you need to plan for.

Having control over how you spend your time. One of the best things about being retired is the ability to decide what you want to do when you want to do it. This type of freedom is rarely experienced by those not yet retired. If you were to find yourself forced to live according to someone else’s expectations, retirement would be nothing more than an extension of your work years. But you get to leave behind other people’s rules as you begin to live your second act.

Spending quality time with family and friends. No longer finding yourself captive to boring meetings and meaningless interactions, you are now free to spend time with people you are actually interested in being with. And you are no longer limited to brief visits swinging monkeyssqueezed into a busy schedule. You have as long as you want to spend with whomever you choose.

Pursuing your passions, hobbies and interests. With the freedom to do as you choose, you can finally revisit the dreams and interests you were forced to put aside due to the demands of earlier life. And with enough interests and variety, you can prevent boredom and enjoy active stimulating days.

Giving back. Retirement can be your chance to express your charitable side and give back to society. Many retirees find volunteering to be a very rewarding experience. You are free to choose the causes most significant to you and make a difference in the lives of others.

Improving your relationship with your partner. Now that you have time to dedicate to the important matters in your life, the happiness of your spouse is an excellent place to start. You have time to spend with one another and rediscover the special person you fell in love with long ago. Although in some areas you may have changed over the years, some things never change.

Enjoying new experiences to broaden your horizons. You are no longer forced to live within the boundaries that defined the working you. The freedom to experiment and explore can open doors to interests you never knew you had.

Living a comfortable and safe life. Retirement is not always about searching for the next adventure. It also allows for the chance to relax, slow down and enjoy living at a pace more appropriate and comfortable for you. A balance between staying active and relaxing can keep you invigorated and ready for whatever comes your way.

Taking time for yourself. Downtime, the rarest of commodities for busy working folks, can now be yours in retirement. Taking time to think, relax, contemplate and dream can inspire you to live a more fulfilling retirement. Just remember that it is up to you to set aside the time and take advantage of your situation.

Maintaining good health. The freedom to do as you please affords the opportunity to refocus on healthy habits and practices. If you feel good it is easy to look forward to what the day has to offer. When it comes to healthy living, a regular routine that you can stick to can get you started in the right direction.

Assuming you are relatively satisfied with your nest egg and believe you can pay your way through retirement, it’s time to start thinking about the other aspects of retired life. In retirement you finally get the chance to do things your way. Make sure you include a plan for your health, relationships and passions.

From my blog on US News & World.