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Commentary: 3 Keys to a Happy Retirement

Retirement is often assumed to be a joyous time. After all, there is a reason it's commonly referred to as the golden years. But, it's also a period that can provoke fear, anxiety or stress. Fortunately, those fears can be mitigated, or perhaps e...

Bruce Helmer and Peg Webb, financial advisers at Wealth Enhancement Group and co-hosts of “Your Money” on KLKS 100.1 FM on Sunday mornings.
Bruce Helmer and Peg Webb, financial advisers at Wealth Enhancement Group and co-hosts of “Your Money” on KLKS 100.1 FM on Sunday mornings.

Retirement is often assumed to be a joyous time.

After all, there is a reason it's commonly referred to as the golden years. But, it's also a period that can provoke fear, anxiety or stress. Fortunately, those fears can be mitigated, or perhaps even avoided entirely.

Working with so many clients that have retired, we've noticed that some of the happiest have tended to do these three things prior to retiring.

Determine What You Want From Retirement Before Retiring

Before retiring, think about what your goals are for your retirement. Doing this will help you estimate what your savings target should be, identify your ideal retirement date and better ensure your financial goals align with your core values.

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Make sure that you and your spouse's retirement visions are in alignment. We recall a couple who visited us and said that they wanted to retire to the ocean. It was only after a few minutes that the couple realized that one of them wanted to retire in Cape Cod and the other wanted to retire in Florida! Greater clarity will help ensure your and your partner's goals are aligned, thereby helping to limit potential disagreements after you retire.

Plan for Your Retirement Paycheck

The top fear people have heading into retirement is running out of money. In fact, surveys have found that more people are worried about outliving their nest eggs than they are of dying. And anytime there's fear hanging over your retirement, it's understandable that it may limit your happiness.

To help alleviate those fears and reduce any stress you feel in retirement, think about what you can do to better ensure you'll have a reliable stream of income that meet your income needs for the duration of your retirement. This means carefully considering the best age to claim Social Security, factoring in the potential income from a part-time job and estimating how much you can safely withdraw from your portfolio for income on a year-to-year basis without sacrificing the long-term integrity of your savings.

Stay Busy

You might perceive retirement to be a relaxing time-and it should be-but it's also true the happiest retirees have remained busy after they've retired. It may be that, as we touched on earlier, this busyness comes from a part-time job in retirement.

But it doesn't have to be work that fills your schedule for you to stay busy. Having a schedule filled with fun and rewarding activities can be just as beneficial. You may wish to fulfill your dream of traveling more in retirement. Alternatively, you may choose to stay closer to home by gardening or volunteering with local nonprofits. And of course, staying active and taking up activities like golf or tennis will not only help you stay healthier and feel more youthful, but also provide invaluable opportunities to socialize and create new friendships.

Nothing makes us happier than when we see our clients enjoying their retirements. In our experience, planning ahead and basing your retirement decisions on your core values is the key to better ensuring your retirement is a happy one.

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