If you are retired or planning to retire soon, you may still have some work to do.
For example, it’s smart to have a readily accessible emergency savings fund that can pay for three to six months’ worth of living expenses, if necessary. You should also consider what insurance policies you may need to help pay for big-ticket items that may otherwise deplete your savings and retirement portfolio. These may include damage to your home, an unexpected medical expense or long-term care. Please give us a call if you’d like to learn what options are available.
Retirement planning isn’t just about saving enough money — it’s about staying out of debt so your cost of living doesn’t increase because you’re paying high bills. There’s a recent trend of older Americans retiring with a more substantial amount of debt. Some of the causes include larger home mortgages, medical debt and overspending on credit cards — exacerbated by late-payment penalties and higher interest rates.1
However, there’s more to retirement than being financially prepared. You need to be mentally and emotionally prepared as well. One challenge is to learn how to relax. In the Netherlands, they have a word to describe a growing trend among the Northern European population: niksen. It means doing nothing; being completely idle — staring out a window or listening to music — with no particular purpose. It is the opposite of mindfulness, as your mind can wander wherever it wants. The practice has been shown to promote creativity, problem solving and a sense of happiness.2 That’s a good place to start in learning how to chill in retirement.
It helps, too, if you have goals, of perhaps an expansive “bucket list,” to keep you occupied and have something specific you want to accomplish each day.
If you do have specific goals for retirement, it can be difficult to stay focused on them. If you’re used to working a 40-hour week, you might have looked forward to having more free time to get things done. However, many retirees can’t figure out where the time goes. They get so bogged down in day-to-day chores they forget about working toward long-term goals. Researchers say one of the biggest detriments to getting things done is a lack of focus.3 We check our emails but then get drawn into social media posts and news stories. We turn on the television, and suddenly half the day is gone. The way to promote focus is to limit, block and tune out other distractions. It can help to assign a particular time of day when you focus solely on your chosen task and let everything else fall outside those designated hours.
In her book, “How to Be an Epicurean: The Ancient Art of Living Well,” author Catherine Wilson explains that the Greek philosopher Epicurus believed that the greatest source of pleasure in life was close human relationships.4 Therefore, if you don’t have a material goal in mind, focus on establishing and maintaining key personal relationships in your life as a fulfilling way to spend your time in retirement.
If you find yourself preoccupied with the idea of your own mortality, some researchers suggest getting a dog. A recent study encompassing 4 million people worldwide discovered a correlation between dog ownership and mortality. Specifically, dogs provided their owners with 24% higher protection against all types of causes of death. For example, people who had already experienced a heart attack or stroke were 31% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease if they had a dog.5