Even if you love your career, you probably spend more time fantasizing about retirement than you’d like to admit.
And whether you’re diligent about your savings goals or falling behind, preparing for retirement isn’t just a financial endeavor.
Many retirees who have successfully transitioned into their post-working world share certain habits and strategies that help them live the good life today and plan for an equally great life for tomorrow.
These rituals and routines can lead to happiness in retirement. But more importantly, if you develop them early enough, you can improve your quality of life at every stage of life.
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Plan the work, work the plan
Happy retirees often spend much of their career actively building the financial foundations for retirement. Careful consultation on investment strategies, diligent and regular savings, and other planning helped position them for a relaxed and financially independent life.
It’s no surprise that many don’t just turn that switch off as soon as they leave the workforce. That habit of planning and being prepared always comes in handy, whether it’s remixing their portfolio and adjusting the required minimum distributions or mapping out the ideal European vacation.
This age-agnostic practice can also prove invaluable when health issues or other sudden changes arise that necessitate a backup plan.
Check your money
Whether you’re 10 years out of retirement or just around the corner, you might be tempted to put your assets on cruise control.
Many of today’s younger investors choose target-dated mutual funds that act as a kind of autopilot portfolio, decreasing risk as they get closer to retirement. Similarly, many retirees choose strategies that emphasize conservative returns to protect their capital from market volatility.
Both movements have their merits, as they promote a meddlesome, risk-averse approach to saving.
But young or old, it’s still wise to keep a close eye on your investments and income stream and stay abreast of any changes in government regulations or other situations that could change how much you receive (along with any new taxes you may owe) when you retire .
A “set and forget” mentality can keep you in the market, but it doesn’t quite do the trick.
READ MORE: Here’s How Much The Average American 60-Year-Old Has In Retirement Savings — How Does Your Nest Egg Compare?
Stay healthy and active
Going to the gym regularly now? Great. Keep it up because paying attention to your health now can literally pay off when you retire.
While seniors can take advantage of fitness discounts such as the Silver Sneaker program and other breaks, staying fit in the long run can protect against ever-increasing medical and health costs.
Mimicking seniors and their active routines can help avoid some of the costly medical scenarios that contribute to the estimated $315,000 in medical costs older Americans can expect to spend in retirement. Walking, strength training and regular mobility exercises are key to longevity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Learn new tricks
Taking up a hobby or learning a new skill is not only fun, but also keeps your mind sharp and active. The mental exercise and problem solving it takes to learn the guitar or start painting is rewarding and can slow cognitive decline.
Consider doubling the benefit by combining practice and continuous learning through tennis lessons or ballroom dancing, for example.
Keep it up with your social network
Research shows that retirees report higher levels of happiness when their social engagement increases, while similar studies have shown that isolation is linked to heart disease, stroke and dementia.
Loneliness can exacerbate inactivity and cause many older adults to withdraw from the activities that enlivened them in their earlier years, increasing the risk of rapid health decline as we age.
Even before you retire, think about the ways you will find stimulation, purpose, and community in your later years. You may want to join a club or volunteer so that at the end of your career you already know what you want to fill your time with.
And most importantly, maintain your connections with family and friends, which, according to the research, will keep you happy and reduce your stress. But you probably didn’t need Gallup to tell you that.
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This article provides information only and should not be taken as advice. It comes without any kind of warranty.