Even if you love your career, you probably spend more time than you care to admit fantasizing about retirement.
And whether you’re diligent about your savings goals or feeling behind, preparing for retirement isn’t just a financial business.
Many retirees who have successfully transitioned into their post-work world share certain habits and strategies that help them live the good life today and plan for an equally good life tomorrow.
These rituals and routines can lead to happiness in retirement. But more importantly, if you develop them early enough, you can improve your quality of life at every stage of life.
Plan the work, work the plan
Happy retirees often spend much of their career actively laying the financial foundation for retirement. Careful thought about investment strategies, diligent and regular saving, and other planning helped position them for a relaxing, financially independent life.
It’s no surprise that many don’t simply turn off that switch once they leave the workforce. This habit of planning and being prepared always comes in handy, whether it’s remixing their portfolio and adjusting required minimum distributions or mapping out the ideal European vacation.
This age-independent practice can also prove invaluable when health issues or other sudden changes arise that require a backup plan.
Check your money
Whether you’re 10 years away from retirement or just on the doorstep, you might be tempted to put your assets on cruise control.
Many of today’s young investors choose target date mutual funds that act as a kind of autopilot portfolio, reducing risk as they approach retirement. Similarly, many retirees choose strategies that emphasize conservative returns to protect their capital against market volatility.
Both measures have their merits, as they promote a hands-off, risk-free approach to savings.
But young or old, it’s always prudent to keep a close eye on your investments and income, and to stay on top of any government rule changes or other situations that could change the amount you receive (as well as any new tax you may owe) upon retirement. .
A “set it and forget it” mindset can keep you in the market, but don’t completely deprive yourself of it.
READ MORE: Here’s how much the average 60-year-old American has in retirement savings – how does your nest egg compare?
Stay healthy and active
Going to the gym regularly now? Awesome. Keep it up, because paying attention to your health now can pay off in retirement, literally.
While seniors can take advantage of fitness discounts, like the Silver Sneaker program and other breaks, staying in shape can provide long-term security against ever-increasing health and medical expenses.
Emulating older people and their active routines will help avoid some of the expensive medical scenarios that contribute to the estimated $315,000 in medical expenses that older Americans can expect to spend in retirement. Regular walking, weight training and mobility exercises are essential for longevity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Learn new tricks
Choosing a hobby or learning a new skill is not only fun, but keeps your mind sharp and actively engaged. The mental exercise and problem solving needed to learn guitar or paint is rewarding and can slow cognitive decline.
Consider doubling the benefits by combining exercise and continuous learning through tennis lessons or ballroom dancing.
Maintain your social network
Research shows that retirees report higher levels of happiness when their social engagement increases, while similar studies have shown that isolation has links to heart disease, stroke and dementia.
Loneliness can exacerbate inactivity and cause many older adults to withdraw from the activities that made them vibrant in their early years, increasing the risk of rapid health decline as we age.
Even before you retire, think about the ways you will find stimulation, purpose, and community in your later years. You might want to join a club or get involved in volunteer work so that when your career ends, you already know what you’d like to spend your time.
Most importantly, maintain your connection to family and friends, which research shows will keep you happy and reduce your stress. But you probably didn’t need Gallup to tell you that.
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This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without warranty of any kind.