Research has shown that a happy retirement is about so much more than having enough money to pay your bills. So once you have a retirement plan in place to help secure your financial future, be sure that you also consider the non-financial aspects. Some of the happiest retirees have a few things beyond financial security in common—all having to do with staying active in some way.
They Go Back to Work or Volunteer
Work in retirement? But don't we work our entire adult lives for the privilege of not working in retirement? It sounds counter-intuitive, but research shows that people who continue to work or volunteer part-time after retirement are often happier than those who don't.
While picking up a part-time job in retirement can benefit you financially, its advantages far outweigh the extra pocket money. The physical activity, social interactions, sense of purpose, and self-esteem that can be gained gained from work all do wonders for retirees' physical and mental health—and their overall happiness and contentment. Volunteering can offer you these benefits as well.
Before deciding whether to work part-time during retirement, it's important to explore how it may impact the amount of your Social Security benefits. You can use the Social Security Administration's Retirement Earnings Test Calculator to help determine this.
Relationships and socializing are an incredibly important part of an enjoyable retirement. Busy retirees tend to be happier retirees.
But when people retire, many lose their built-in social network of colleagues and acquaintances. To have a happy retirement, it's important to find ways to have social interactions. These interactions can be with children and grandchildren, neighbors, members of a social club or church, or even the guy at the coffee place.
Those who are happy during retirement often retire with the intention to maintain their most important relationships and make new ones. Not only does the effort make for a happier retirement, but research shows that it can also help prevent the negative impacts that come with social isolation. Such isolation has been associated with poor health and immunity, increased risk for chronic illness and cognitive issues, and even premature death.
So while retirement can certainly be a time to relax, it should also be a time to do the things you enjoy with other people.
The importance of your health when it comes to your happiness can't be overstated. In fact, in a recent study, having good health outranked financial security as the most important ingredient for a happy retirement—but the two are more intertwined than you might think.
Health is both a financial and non-financial issue since significant medical expenses can put major stress on an otherwise solid financial plan. You can't predict health concerns, but you can plan for rising medical costs with your advisor, and you can take preventative measures such as exercising.
For your safety, it's wise to consult your doctor before starting a new exercise routine. This is important at any age, and especially if you have any health conditions.
You can choose to walk with a friend or walking club, or seek out one of the many gyms, programs, and classes especially designed for senior citizens and retirees. The International Council on Active Aging has even created an online Facility Locator for finding senior-friendly activities around the U.S.