Be Happy: 10 Ways to Worry Less About Your Retirement
Don’t worry, be happy… about your retirement.
The last few months have been an emotional rollercoaster for many people, and you may be feeling constantly stressed about your finances. You’re probably asking yourself, do I have enough money to be happy in retirement?
If you are worried, you’re not alone. According to a survey conducted by John Hancock Retirement, “while only 44% of participants reported experiencing financial stress prior to the pandemic, the number grew to 67% following the outbreak.”
But worrying does not fix the problem.
Here are seven real steps you can take that will enable you to worry less about retirement.
1. Take Care of Debt
Eliminating debt is what most survey respondents believe would have the most significant impact on their financial situation – even more so than earning a lot more income.
Most experts would agree that eliminating or reducing debt is a great way to improve your financial outlook.
Depending on your situation, you can reduce debt by:
- Adjusting your budget so you can make bigger payments against your debt
- Securing a reverse mortgage to eliminate ongoing mortgage payments
- Consolidating debt into a lower interest credit card or a home equity line of credit
- Downsizing your home to reduce the size of or eliminate your mortgage
2. Know How Much You Really Need to Save
Knowing how much you need to save can be confusing. There are a lot of interrelated factors that go into this calculation. And frankly, it can be scary to face the overwhelming task of saving enough.
However, getting a realistic target — one based on personalized calculations — can be a great way to get motivated.
And, many people actually find out that they may be saving too much!
The NewRetirement Planner is a very detailed and completely personalized retirement calculator that enables you to get a realistic idea of how much you really need to achieve the retirement you want to have.
If, once you set your savings goals, you are still worried about how to find the money to save, here are: 22 smart and easy ways to boost savings big and 11 everyday costs you can easily cut to save more for retirement
3. Ignore the Financial Markets
The S&P 500, an index of the 500 biggest companies in the U.S. lost a third of its value in March of 2020. And now it’s not far from its all-time high. The stock market’s wild swings can make your stomach churn.
The only thing we know for sure, however, is that the financial markets are unpredictable. That is why you should set an investment strategy – preferably a diversified portfolio, then forget about it except for once every quarter or half-year when you rebalance to maintain your asset allocation strategy.
Experts say to set your strategy and stick to it. Consider creating an Investment Policy Statement.
4. Maintain a Detailed Retirement Plan
A recent study by The Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), using data from 2005 to 2017 shows that spending in retirement decreases over time. The authors conclude that “ the probability of having a budget deficit — defined as having higher total spending than total income — increased with age, even though the average dollar amount spent was lower for older age groups.” Basically, over the last 15 years retirees have had a hard time creating a retirement plan that accurately reflects the money they will need to spend.
A good retirement plan means that you know how much you have now, how much you will have at retirement, and how much you will have near the end of your life. You also need to know how much you will need at those different time periods.
This information can really help you make adjustments and set attainable goals. This knowledge can give you the motivation to save more, work longer, and spend a little less.
Best of all, retirement planning does not need to be difficult. The good online calculators can help you set up a detailed plan and enable you to maintain it over time.
The NewRetirement retirement planning calculator is a unique tool that is easy to use while offering a lot of detail. It should only take five minutes to set up and then you can spend as much time as you like making adjustments until you find a plan that is going to work for you. This tool was recently named a best retirement calculator by the American Association of Individual Investors (AAII).
5. Create a Backup Plan
One of the underlining worries in retirement is that you don’t know what will happen, and without the security of a job you need to rely on what you have. While you can’t exactly plan for the unknown unknowns, you can have a backup plan.
- Homeowners are particularly lucky to have home equity that can be tapped in a crisis either through downsizing or securing a reverse mortgage.
- It is also a good idea to have an emergency fund.
- And be sure to plan for the things that you think might need like a new car or roof.
- Have adequate insurance.
6. Flip Your Perspective
Retirement is an entirely different way of life from the working grind. As such, you may need to shift your perspective in different ways to adjust to your new post-career world.
Looking at your life from a different vantage point can help you find happiness about your future. Here are 8 ways to flip your perspective on retirement.
7. Talk Finances with Your Family
A Merrill survey found that a whopping 79% of parents provide financial support to adult children. And, according to caregiver.org, 34.2 million Americans provide care to an adult age 50 or older, usually their parent.
At the same time, the Blackrock survey found that 47% of Americans are worried that they themselves will be a burden on family.
So, whether your concerns are about providing care or receiving care, it is really important that you talk with family — both your children and your parents — about your expectations and resources.
8. Take Care of Yourself
According to a BlackRock survey, 60% of us are worried about physical decline as we age in retirement.
And, it’s true, with aging comes some degree of physical decline.
Some of the physical discomforts we experience are just tough luck, but there is quite a lot anyone and everyone can do to help maintain a good quality of life well into our 80s and 90s.
Physical Activity: Make physical activity part of your everyday life. If you enjoy exercise, great, this part is easy for you. However, don’t despair if running, lifting and toiling are not preferred activities.
Studies suggest that being physically active as you age can take many different forms. Gardening, cooking, puttering in the garage are all physical activities that will keep you fit and active. Avoid just sitting as much as possible.
Have Somewhere to Go/Something to Do: Study after study show that having a reason to be living — a reason to get out of your chair — is vital. And it can be even better if that purpose also provides you with a daily routine. Having somewhere to go on a regular basis is also proven to help keep us healthy and engaged. They say that the regular routine is something that makes work so useful to our overall well being.
Eat Well: If you have always eaten healthfully, then it will be easy to keep it up as you age. If you have some bad habits, start with some small nutritional improvements — limit sugar, boost consumption of fish, nuts and legumes.
The “Mediterranean diet” offers good guidelines for eating as you age. It can boost heart and brain health and help prevent cancer and diabetes.
Regular Checkups: Medicare pays for yearly check ups and has quite a few programs to support your well being. Early detection and prevention are great ways to avoid serious physical decline.
9. Stay Mentally Engaged
A foggier brain. Dementia. Alzheimer’s disease. These are big concerns and scientists are furiously working to find cures for cognitive decline.
However, there are things you can do to help maintain brain health. Here are 3 ideas:
Find a Cause and Commit to It: Gerontologist and Dean and the DeLamar Professor at the Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Linda P. Fried wrote: “We are a species wired to feel needed, respected, and purposeful. The absence of those qualities is actually harmful to our health.”
Develop an Intellectual Hobby: As they say: “Use it or lose it!” We know from brain research that learning new skills and knowledge, and flexibly shifting between them, is key to increasing brain health.
Create Social Habits: Having friends and seeing them on a regular basis is an important way to stay healthy and engaged. Arrange to meet with friends for coffee each morning. Join a club. Find a volunteer or part time job opportunity. Whatever you do, be sure to make it a habit and something where you will be held accountable.
10. To Be Happy, Focus on Happiness
Financial stress is not good for you. Financial anxiety negatively impacts your health, happiness, home life, mood, social life, and ability to pursue dreams, passions, and interests.
Six out of 10 people now define the American dream as having a happy family life and being financially secure, and two-thirds of U.S. adults believe they can attain it, according to the survey.
The view of what the American dream is in today’s world has shifted drastically. Very few people are interested in “keeping up with the Joneses” anymore. Financial security and having a happy family life are now more important than wealth and social class.
If you want to be happy and have a secure retirement, try to:
- Prioritize – Know what is important to you and forget the rest.
- Get rid of stuff – Accumulating stuff does not bring happiness. Psychologists have found that downsizing and paring possessions can increase happiness.
- Think about experiences – Social psychologists have proven that if you want to spend money on happiness, spend it on experiences. Getting more stuff doesn’t make you happy. Doing interesting things does.
- Express gratitude – We can always find something to be grateful for. No matter what your retirement looks like, focus on what is meaningful to you, be it grandchildren, health, a garden, a network of friends, a cozy bed, money in the bank, a cherished animal companion, or a hobby.
If you don’t try to do it all and instead focus on what is important, you might be able to better achieve financial independence and you are sure to be happy.
Don’t Worry (About Retirement), Be Happy
Do you remember “Don’t Worry Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin? If you don’t already have the song stuck in your head, let me help you out!
Hum along while you work on your retirement plans!
Here’s a little song I wrote. You might want to sing it note for note.
Don’t worry, be happy.
In every life we have some trouble. But when you worry you make it double.
Don’t worry, be happy
Don’t worry, be happy now
(Ooh, ooh ooh ooh oo-ooh ooh oo-ooh) be happy
(Ooh, ooh ooh ooh oo-ooh ooh oo-ooh) don’t worry, be happy