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Hurry! Life After Retirement is Going to Be Great (If You Are Truly Ready)

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You might be nervous about your future but research suggests that you should run — not walk — toward retirement.  Get ready to retire because the best times of your life await you.

Research from Age Wave and Merrill Lynch found that, of all periods in our life, we are happiest and most content between the ages of 65 and 74.

Consider these comparisons showing how happiness, contentment and relaxation soar, while anxiety seems to plummet in retirement:

  • Only 51% of 25-34 year olds say that they often feel happy compared to 76% of people ages 65-74
  • Only 47% of youngsters say that they often feel content, while 71% of those retired report contentment.
  • Feeling often relaxed is experienced by 71% of 65-74 year olds, but only 41% of those 25-34.
  • And what about anxiety?  Only 12% of 65-74 year olds say that they often feel anxiety.  Whereas it is a common feeling for 37% of 25-34 year olds.

Another study, this one from the Employee Benefit Research Institute, finds that while most seniors are indeed happy, a higher percentage are feeling more dissatisfied than before.

The percentage of retirees who describe retirement as “very satisfying” dropped from 60.5%  to 48.6% over a 15 year time period.  Experts suspect that the drop in satisfaction may come from either:

  • Difficult financial situations
  • Lack of direction and purpose in this time of life

What follows are 8 questions to ask yourself if you want to be sure that you are really ready for life after retirement – particularly a happily ever after.

Retirees seem happiest when they have a passion to pursue or some other specific purpose in their life. Deciding what you want to do after work should be an important part of your retirement planning process.

“Even if you’re financially set to retire, you’re now going to have many years ahead — especially if you’re in your 50s or 60s,” says El Dorado Hills, Calif.-based Scott Draper, a certified financial planner with Thrive Financial Planning. “What is this next stage in your life going to be about?”

“Retirement is a great time to revisit old hobbies and dreams,” says Kate Holmes, founder and principal at Las Vegas, Nevada-based Belmore Financial, LLC.

And some of those passions could even prove to become income generating activities in retirement, she says, noting that a growing number of people pursue new careers in retirement, or dedicate their time to volunteering.

Here are:

Waking up and trying to figure out what to do each day can be surprisingly burdensome and depressing.

Successful retirees have a plan for their days.  Whether it is a regular golf game, coffee with friends, a volunteer gig or walking the dog, what you do doesn’t matter as much as having a schedule.

Before retirement, life has a predictable routine. Work takes priority, and oftentimes everything else is scheduled in around it. From laundry to mowing the lawn, many people plan and keep a routine so that everything gets done.

After retirement there’s nothing but time, so it might seem that schedules aren’t crucial.

However, a routine is as important as ever. According to Northwestern Medicine, routines help you: sleep better, reduce stress, use your time wisely, fosters better health and just enhances your life because you use your time more mindfully.

You may have a love hate relationship with work colleagues.  However, they are probably a huge source of your social interaction.  They stimulate you mentally and keep you out of your own head and in the real world.

After retirement, you will still need social interaction but it can be harder to find.

This is the question most people think of when considering if they are ready for retirement. It is important. And, it goes beyond just achieving some savings target.

Your retirement security will hinge on how much income you’ll need and how well you’ll be able to supply it. Some retirees move into that next phase of life only to learn that their needs exceed what they’d planned for. That means scaling back in a big way, and it can put a big damper on the lifestyle that you’d hoped for.

Discover what is possible for you by using the NewRetirement Retirement Planner. This is a comprehensive tool that encourages you to try out as many different strategies as you can imagine. Immediately see the impact of each change on your overall financial health.

You’ll want to get as detailed as possible:

  • Plan your budget — both big one time as well as monthly expenditures (Explore 9 ways to accurately predict your retirement expenses.)
  • Think about healthcare and this massive out of pocket expense, including what you’ll do if you require long term care
  • Figure out how much you will withdraw from savings and when (paying attention to Required Minimum Distributions)
  • Will you have a retirement job or passive income and for how long
  • How will your investments change and what will you do in a worst case scenario for the financial markets
  • Are you prepared for different inflation levels?
  • What will you do about any debt you are carrying?
  • Do you have back up plans and have you anticipated what could go wrong?

A retirement plan rarely only impacts one person but too often people plan for everything but their loved ones.  Your spouse is an obvious consideration but your children and even your parents if they are still living may impact your finances — positively or negatively.

Family is a huge source of happiness (and sometimes stress).  You’ll want to be prepared for expenses related to your loved ones.  Explore these articles about planning retirement with your spouse, gray divorce, the sandwich generation, boomerang kids and average financial gifts to children.

And, while we said that planning with your spouse is obvious. Lots of couples have a hard time. Here are 8 topics to tackle if you want life after retirement to include marital harmony.

Choosing the best place to retire can be a financial decision, lifestyle choice or both.  For most households, housing is the biggest cost and largest asset.  Therefore, where you live can be a significant lever in determining your financial security and happiness.  Consider if downsizing, a reverse mortgage or a senior community could impact your retirement happiness.

Research from Oxford University suggests that people with a sense of purpose have a 15 percent lower risk of death, compared with those who said they were more or less aimless. And it didn’t seem to matter when people found their direction. It could be in their 20s, 50s or 70s — even when controlled for other factors that affect longevity like age, gender and emotional well-being.

The study found that a sense of purpose led to a longer life.

Explore 6 ways to find meaning and purpose in retirement.

You can’t afford to get retirement wrong. And, you don’t want to waste this era of your life.

You might consider getting financial or emotional support.

Have You Considered Hiring a Financial Advisor? A financial advisor can look over your finances, make sure you aren’t making mistakes and give you ideas to maximize your wealth and well being. According to Forbes, the biggest mistakes retirees make that could be avoided by using a financial advisor include:

  • Lacking a solid financial goal
  • Procrastination
  • Ignoring tax strategies
  • Not knowing how to turn savings into reliable income

Additionally, research from the Insured Retirement Institute (IRI) indicates that using a financial advisor is proven to make you feel more confident.

If your answers to the above questions indicate that you are ready to retire, it is time to get serious.  Here is a a checklist of 20 things to do when you are ready to take the leap!

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