Here at AgingOptions we’re always just a little bit skeptical when we see an article with a title like “4 Keys to a Happy and Prosperous Retirement.” Still, this article with that very title just appeared on the authoritative financial website Kiplinger, and as we read it we found ourselves nodding in agreement – even though we do think the author missed a “fifth key” which we’ll talk about in a moment.
Financial Planner Wesley Price wrote the Kiplinger piece, but happily his advice is not all about money. Typically the only thing most financial planners focus on is – you guessed it – finances, and there’s no doubt that a reasonable source of income is essential to a secure retirement, but we know plenty of well-to-do retirees who are just plain miserable. In the Kiplinger piece, Price makes a good case that three of the four keys to retirement satisfaction have little to do with money and plenty to do with other, more fundamental things. As Price writes, “Everyone knows that preparing for retirement is front and center these days in America,” adding that an average of 10,000 people “take the plunge” into retirement every day. “Commercials and print ads urge us to save more and get financially prepared for the big day. But are you prepared for those things that might be even more important than how much you accumulate toward retirement?” That’s an important question. Here’s an overview of the four keys to a happy, prosperous retirement as planner Wesley Price describes them.
The first key, writes Price, is to Visualize Your Ideal Retirement Lifestyle. This isn’t some New Age form of visualization but an attempt to think of retirement in a brand new way. “In our practice,” Price says, “the part I love most is the light in a retiree’s eyes when they discover they have enough resources to accomplish a life-long dream they had given up on long ago. Most people have been working hard their whole careers, raising a family and dealing with life as it comes. They often fail to think about their futures in a meaningful way.” Among the questions he suggests pre-retirees ask are these:
- “What one or two things bring me the most energy and joy in life?”
- “If money weren’t an issue, what would I probably be doing with my time?”
- “What dreams or aspirations did I have when I was younger that I would really like to reconnect with now?”
- “What does my ideal future life look like?”
- “How do my spouse and loved ones fit into my plan?”
The second key from the Kiplinger article is to Stay Engaged and Have a Purpose. Price notes that “the happiest retirees stay busy with something meaningful in their lives.” In fact – and this is also something we have observed – “the happiest retirees are often busier in retirement than they were when they worked full time.” Here are a few ideas on engagement:
- “Volunteer or get involved in your community.”
- “Take a class, join a club or learn a new skill.”
- “Pick up an old hobby from the past or try a new one.”
- “Travel somewhere new or spend time in nature by camping, fishing or hiking.”
- “Stay spiritually connected or close to a support group that can help when life gets difficult.”
Price’s third key is hard to argue with: Take Care of Yourself, he advises. “The No. 1 concern of retirees is actually being healthy enough to enjoy their retirement years,” he writes. “After all, a large retirement nest egg means little if you don’t have the health to enjoy it.” We completely agree. His advice is pretty straightforward: get plenty of physical exercise, watch your diet, and join a health club or other group to help you stay motivated and active. He also suggested you stimulate your brain with challenging games, but from the research we’ve done this advice seems insufficient: the best kind of mental stimulation, we’ve read, comes from interpersonal interaction and conversation. Part of your program of mental stimulation needs to include staying socially active and engaged. (Here’s a link to an AgingOptions Blog article from July 2017 that talked about the positive impact of social interaction on cognitive health.)
Finally Price zeroes in on Getting Your Financial House in Order. His advice is familiar. Those preparing for retirement should develop a retirement income plan that provides secure, steady income not dependent on the stock market. Income sources such as pensions, annuities, and Social Security can provide this predictability. He also recommends retirees continue working part time doing something they truly enjoy, which provides fulfillment as well as a means to bridge an income gap if one exists. In the Kiplinger article, Price also recommends buying long-term care insurance if retirees can afford it.
So what’s the “fifth key” that we think Price leaves out? That’s easy: he says nothing about the importance of a comprehensive plan to tie all the various facets of retirement into one blueprint. At AgingOptions we call this a LifePlan, and it’s the only type of plan we know of that is truly comprehensive, ensuring that the critical elements – finances, housing, medical coverage, legal protection and family dynamics – all work together seamlessly. In our experience the real key to happiness and fulfillment in retirement is a LifePlan.
Why not take a bit of time and find out more? We invite you to join Rajiv Nagaich at one of our free AgingOptions LifePlanning Seminars, where in just a few hours you’ll gain powerful new insights into what retirement planning should be. These seminars take place at locations throughout the region, so you can click here for all the details, then register online for the seminar of your choice. Our recipe for a happy and fulfilling retirement: visualize your ideal future, stay engaged, guard your mental and physical health, prepare yourself financially – and above all, follow the right plan: an AgingOptions LifePlan. Age on!
(originally reported at www.kiplinger.com)