When we meet with our clients, one of the first questions we ask them is, “What does retirement look like for you?”  I’m surprised by the number of people that don’t have a precise answer.  Once we dive deeper, the answer becomes much more specific to them.  It’s not just how much money you need in retirement; it’s quality of life.  Knowing how you will spend your days could be more critical than what investment decisions you make. Certain dos and don’ts – some less apparent than others – tend to encourage retirement happiness and comfort.  Here are five tips that could help you to have a more prosperous retirement. 

Retire financially literate. Sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know. You made it to the end of your working days, and all you did was stow money away for 35 years.  Now what?  Some retirees end their careers with inadequate financial knowledge, and that can be detrimental to retirement. They mistake knowing their retirement income needs with an actual retirement plan.  They may gloss over longevity risk, risks to their estate, and potential health care expenses. The more you know, the more your retirement readiness improves.  Be sure to become more well-versed in the specifics of retirement.

A goal to retire debt-free – or close to debt-free?  Even if your retirement savings are substantial, you may want to consider reviewing your overall debt situation.  Having particular debt isn’t awful if you have focused on getting the rate lower.  Take your mortgage, for instance. If you refinanced to a low rate, paying off that debt in retirement may not be necessary.  Credit card debt, however, can be a slippery slope in retirement.

Retire with purpose. There’s a difference between retiring and quitting. Some people can’t wait to quit their job at 62 or 65.  If only they could escape and relax and do nothing for a few years – wouldn’t that be a nice reward? Relaxation can lead to inertia, however – and inactivity can lead to restlessness, even depression. You want to retire to a dream, not away from a problem. 

The bottom line? Retirees who know what they want to do – and go out and do it – are positively contributing to their mental health and possibly their physical health as well. Moreover, if they do something vital to them and important to others, their community can benefit. 

Retire healthy. Smoking, drinking, overeating, a shortage of physical activity – all these can take a toll on your capacity to live life fully and enjoy retirement. It is never too late to change habits that may lead to poor health.  Retirement can be a great time to become more active.  “I have to work” is no longer an excuse that you can tell yourself. Instead, start a new active routine that can help you feel better in retirement. 

Retire where you feel at home. This very well could be where you are now.  An overlooked aspect of retirement lifestyle is your social life.  Especially if during your working years you were always around people.  You may not enjoy sitting around the house as much as you thought you would.  Make it a point to be where you feel comfortable in retirement, with people you enjoy. This social interaction is one of the great, intangible retirement benefits.

Retirement is so much more than just your last day of work.  Reach out and let us be a part of your journey.