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Five Keys to Planning a Happy Retirement (or "Nobody Cares What Your Title Used to Be")

A happy retirement takes lots of planning and some adjustments after years of being in the work-force. As someone who has, and is still making this transition, here are a few tips that can assist you prior to making the move into retirement. 

1. Have a Financial Plan in Place While you are Still Working 

While it is always a good idea to have a financial plan in place, it is imperative to have had a plan that you've been actively executing in the years leading up to retirement. Knowing what your real expenses are (and will be), what investment allocation and return you are targeting, how much should be in taxable versus tax-deferred accounts and your withdrawal strategy, social security filing optimization, and of course, knowing how much you need to have accumulated and the confidence to know at what age you can reasonably retire at, should be all fully vetted and modeled well ahead of your actual retirement. 

Ideally, by the time you retire, it should be about occasional monitoring with your advisor. You don't want finances to be a concern. You’ve planned for and should be living a lifestyle that can be sustained with only minor adjustments from time to time. 

2. Have Something Meaningful to Do 

You made it. You’re retired. Now what? It's time to get to work! Seriously. It's important to be part of something. Ideally, it's something with a flexible or part-time schedule and you enjoy doing. 

Studies have shown that people who voluntarily continue to work past the age of 65 are happier than their full retired peers. It can be a job, it can be a small business, or it can be volunteering your time to a cause you care about. The key is, it should be something you enjoy and preferably, without financial considerations. 

Whatever you choose, it's important to do something that keeps you mentally sharp, has some social interactions, is something you need to commit time to, and provides you with a sense of purpose. 

3. Maintain and Revisit Relationships

Going from “Director” or “Vice-President” to “Retired” can be a drastic change for many people. Depending how much of your self-identity is wrapped up in what you did at work, you may have a difficult time realizing that nobody cares what you used to do. 

There is a great story Lee Iacocca tells about having to go to the DMV to renew his license soon after he retired. There was a long line and he was getting very frustrated that he had to wait. He turned to his wife and said, “Maybe I should tell them who I am” to which his wife replied, “Sure, go tell them you’re a retired auto worker."

Many people say that relationships they had for years that were based primarily on common work experiences faded over time, while those based on common interests flourished in retirement. 

While in retirement, you may find more time to revisit old relationships that for whatever reason, had faded. With a little effort, they can be rekindled and enjoyed. Friends from high school or college, or even from social groups you had been in with common interests, can be revisited. One of the greatest joys can be realizing that those old friends are still great friends. You knew each other before all the weight of working was on each of you and now without it, have time to catch up and pick up where you left off. 

4. Have a Hobby

Do you want to learn a new sport? Care for your grandchildren on a regular basis? Join a book club? Take cooking lessons? Art classes? Join a travel group? The only purpose should be the pure joy of it and it may turn out to be something you can do throughout your retirement years.

Combining something meaningful to do (#2) with one or two hobbies, will go a long way toward filling your days with substance and being happy in retirement. And you’ll meet some new people with common interests (#3). 

5. Stay Active Physically and Mentally 

Good financial planning won't mitigate poor health in retirement. It would be a shame to execute your plan only to find yourself with health issues that could have been controllable. While many health issues are unavoidable, we owe it to ourselves and our loved ones to do our best to mitigate the health issues that are. 

Finding a physical activity, you enjoy as a hobby (#4) and doing something meaningful (#2) can go a long way toward a longer and more enjoyable retirement. I have a number of clients who have made their health a hobby in retirement. They take active classes in Yoga or Spinning, and many have made healthy cooking a hobby with their spouse and enjoy taking turns creating a healthy weekly menu. 

And mental health cannot be ignored. Being around others and challenging yourself by learning new technology or a new skill, will go a long way in making sure the cobwebs stay away. 

While financial concerns and planning are rightly on top of your mind as you prepare for retirement, it is just as important to plan for these other aspects to round out a healthy and happy retirement lifestyle. 

Fialkow Financial Planning

Fialkow Financial Planning is located in West Palm Beach, Florida and accepts clients nationwide. I provide high quality financial advice to people from all walks of life and income levels without the need to sell products, take assets under management for a fee, or require minimum asset or net worth levels. I proudly embrace my fiduciary responsibility.


Investment advisor representative of and investment advisory services offered through Garrett Investment Advisors, LLC., a fee-only, SEC-registered investment advisor. Tel: (910)-FEE-ONLY. Fialkow Financial Planning may offer investment advisory services in the States of Florida and Texas and in other jurisdictions where exempted.

This communication has been provided to you for informational purposes only. Although information in this presentation has been obtained from and is based upon sources that Garrett Investment Advisors, LLC believes to be reliable, Garrett Investment Advisors, LLC does not guarantee its accuracy and it may be incomplete or condensed. This information is not a complete summary or statement of all available data necessary for making an investment decision and does not constitute a recommendation.