What guarantees a happy retirement? It isn’t what you think

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Retirement is your reward for hard effort and about getting what you want – that is, being happy. But why do so many people find that difficult?

Research shows that most people do not have ridiculously high retirement aspirations – the idea of ‘retiring rich’ is appealing, but unlikely. Most of us hope to maintain a similar standard of living in retirement as in our working years.

According to responses in the YourLifeChoices Retirement Affordability survey, 21 per cent of those polled said that their standard of living in retirement was worse than they thought it would be when they retired.

Other studies point to an increased feeling of isolation and loneliness and a loss of direction, once people stop working.

So, what can you do to make your retirement years happier?

Reduce financial stress
Money may not guarantee retirement happiness, but you don’t want to have to worry about how you are going to pay the bills. To reach financial security, pay off all of your debts, consider downsizing your home and create regular sources of income.

Try and avoid a situation where you are still making mortgage repayments once you have retired. Downsizing can play a big part in this. Selling your home allows you to tap into decades of built-up home equity, so you can then pay for a smaller residence outright and invest any leftover money.

Invest in life after work
The working world creates a set of regular social interactions, which you lose once you retire. That could increase depression and threaten your physical health. Isolation also increases the risk of high blood pressure and disease. So, it is important to find new ways to interact on a regular basis. There are many ways to do this. You can join a book club, have regular golf games or lunches with friends … there are no end of options. What you choose to do is less important than the fact that you maintain regular contact with your peers and stay active.

Set yourself retirement goals
The happiest retirees include those with a strong sense of purpose. Retirees with a strong sense of purpose are much more likely to be happy. You don’t have to set the bar too high, either. Goals that involve seeing friends, setting aside time for the kids and grandkids, learning a new skill or language or taking a new class, are all achievable and provide you with a purpose and reward at the end. Doing volunteer work or pursuing hobbies is associated with great happiness among those who have stopped working.

Do you have any tips for a happy retirement?

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Written by Ben


Total Comments: 24
  1. 0

    Loving ”retirement”. Finally free to live life on my own terms and do ”work” I love. Fortunately, I found ”work” that is pure pleasure but pays reasonably well and allows me to choose when I work, work from anywhere I can connect to the Internet (which means I often work from a caravan on the road and once invested just $100USD to be able to work for 3 weeks from a cruise ship), and work pretty much on my own terms.

    Financial strain isn’t an issue yet, but mine and my partner’s health issues impose heavy cost and may cause financial strain in the future, since the stinking government has made it impossible to preserve the savings you set aside for health care in later life and forced everyone to drain savings prematurely – some sort of stupid obsession with making all retirees except the super-rich poor!

    I keep very busy with carer obligations, part-time ”work” and heavy demands on my time and energy from family who are in crisis situation due to premature partner deaths and a seriously disabled child. Haven’t had to give up my home yet, but when I do I have some attractive options for downsizing.

    Kind of mindboggling after the level of disadvantage I suffered and 30 years of struggling to escape generational poverty – working in jobs I hated for minimal wage and stumbling through crisis after crisis due to health, lack of education, repeated instances of gross injustice, lack of a support network, etc. Maybe everyone gets a turn eventually? But no… it seems some are born with a silver spoon and lap up the good life right through to the end, and I know quite a few who never escape struggle-street – and not through any fault of theirs either. There’s no fairness in this world.

    • 0

      Love your attitude. Health is the biggest issue after 65 which can impact on our lives so much, doctor’s visits ,medication etc. No one can predict what is around the corner no matter how well we plan our lives. There is life after working for so many years. Each person must have an interest/hobby to keep in touch with other people including separate interests away from their partners as well.Enjoy every new day we wake up to .I am not interested in what joe blog owns or how many overseas trips he has been on. Enjoy the simple things in life & take time to smell the roses.

    • 0

      OGR I am well and truly over all your problems. Guess what we all have them so it’s just whinging on your behalf. For what it is worth you have had only minor issues try getting cancer not once but twice and you will really know what life is all about.

    • 0

      OG, you know NOTHING about my life, so stop being a presumptuous selfish scumbag. Not many have the problems my family and I have had, and that’s a good thing. Equally, not many who do are as successful overcoming serious disadvantage and reaching a stage in life where they are really happy and fulfilled.

      I was expressing happiness and gratitude, but you are far to self-obsessed to even read the post properly. What else is new?

      Unlike you, I care about others who are doing it tough. So you claim you’ve had cancer twice. Maybe you have. Maybe you are lying. Either way, you are still alive and an arrogant, egotistical, ill-willed prick who has no empathy or respect, so no, it didn’t teach you what life was all about at all. It’s no big deal anyway for vast numbers who have had it. I know dozens who have survived it, and survived relapses, and are still living happy, fulfilled lives in quite good health. Unlike you, they don’t rave on about it and pretend it makes them special. And they don’t dismiss the problems others face as trivial just because they have had a very common illness – one from which, as frightening as it is, countless thousands do recover. (How do you even know I haven’t had it? Do you know how many of my family have had it? Do you know how many of my loved ones have died from it and under what circumstances? NO. You are just a know-all who knows NOTHING but has an overinflated sense of your own importance and a nasty disposition.

      I know what life is all about. Growing up orphaned, struggling for decades to escape poverty, battling against repeated injustices… I could go on and on with the things that REALLY teach you what life is all about, but at the end of the day the proof that you understand what life is all about is in your capacity to show empathy and respect to others and your willingness to participate in the battle for a better society for all. It’s in your willingness to LISTEN and try to relate to the struggles and pains of others. It’s in your capacity to put your own experiences aside and try to understand where others are coming from and what shaped their opinions.

      I don’t give a damn what you are ”well and truly over” or what you think of me or anything I say. I am well and truly over your disgusting egotism, arrogance, selfishness and nastiness. And a lot of YLC posters agree with me. So put a sock in it. Nobody cares what you are ”over”, much less what you think or how a miserable creep like you is living their miserable existence.

    • 0

      BTW. OG, the real test of maturity is whether or not you understand that pain and suffering cannot be compared. A scraped knee might be hideously painful for some. Another might take a broken leg in their stride and not think it a big deal.

      Mature people, with empathy and respect, don’t dismiss another person’s suffering and certainly don’t rant about their own as if it is bigger or more important. They acknowledge and look for ways to ease another’s suffering, even if it seems a trivial issue to them or they think the complaint excessive. They recognize and acknowledge their own lack of knowledge about the level of someone else’s hurt. That’s maturity. That’s respect. That’s empathy. That’s being a decent, caring human being and not a selfish, self-serving creep consumed with themselves and their own pathetic world.

    • 0

      Well said OGR. OG is a self serving egotist and thankfully is not representative of most people. For what its worth I’ve had cancer three times and am now clear, so no big deal.

    • 0

      I am very glad to hear you are now clear, inextratime – but sorry you had to go through that. I lost a loved one to cancer in terrible circumstances. Fortunately, most I know who have had it have survived and are now clear. For sure the diagnosis devastates and terrifies, but a positive attitude gets people through many kinds of challenges, and cancer is one that – happily – vast numbers get through. I’m so glad you were among them, and I compliment you on your positive attitude.

      It seems OG is too self-absorbed to even notice that I said I was enjoying a great ”retirement” and everything in my life is positive right now. But I’m grateful for the hardships, cruelty and injustice that taught me to appreciate what I have and to be understanding and empathetic to those who are still struggling – regardless of the reason.

  2. 0

    Retirement is a time to do what you CHOOSE to do and see places that are so wonderful and know you don’t HAVE to be back in 2 weeks.
    Also and to do things you ENJOY

  3. 0

    There is only one thing wrong with retirement and that is full on and you don’t get a day off.

  4. 0

    Having been retired for the past 2 years, I think I can contribute with my personal opinion. My worst fear was to have to do absolutely everything ‘together’ including going to the bathroom! taking aside the financial and health issues that are different for everyone, the most common fear for pre-retirement women I find this is The One! ‘What will he do without a job?’ ‘he will become depressed’, ‘he doesnt have real friends to hang out regularly’ ‘he will deteriorate’! And you know what? yes, yes and yes! if you dont start training your partner for an independent rich and enjoyable period, where he can finally find his personal interests and hobbies and where you are together most of the time but not 24 hours, that is exactly what will happen!
    Just food for thought! you do not have to do the shopping together, you have different tastes and rhythm for shopping! enjoy your time browsing through the mall without someone hurrying you!! you do not have to go to the doctor together unless absolutely necessary! that is invasion of privacy! You dont even need to watch TV together if one of you dont like that show!
    Anyway, mine is a very nice, unexpected and relaxing period, where after 47 years of training we can both say honestly what we like, what we dont like, when we want to have time for ourselves/ our grandkids / friends, etc. or where we really enjoy our time together like travelling, gathering with common friends, family events etc! think about it and dont give up!

    • 0

      Just buy the bloke a couple of remote control planes, make it the battery powered ones, they are simpler. Send him off to a club to learn to fly, & he’ll have a ball. As we get older we don’t develop physicals as quickly, & are often losing some we already have, so he will probably crash a bit.

      This is an asset if you want him out of your hair. Repairing crashed planes takes a lot longer than flying them, probably 6 or 700% longer. It is also a lot cheaper than restoring vintage cars, another great hobby for the retired bloke. You could buy him an E type Jaguar if you really want him out of the house.

      Just be careful you don’t awaken a monster. My lady was complaining the other day that I was cluttering up the family room with 6 remote control planes. She wanted to know how I could need so many. Just as well she hasn’t gone up to the shed in years. That’s where I keep all the gliders & the sea planes!

  5. 0

    Embrace each day and live it to the full as none of us know when out time on earth will end,

  6. 0

    Contrary to popular belief, your job title does not define you. Once you understand that and start describing yourself in other ways, the less dependent you are on the job title for affirmation of who you are.

    • 0

      Once met a retired Ombudsman…most unhappy man I have ever met. He obviously had a real problem adjusting to being just “joe blow” and not having people kowtow to him.

      Health is the most important thing and if you also have money and can afford private health insurance it sure eases the pain and makes life bearable when you are suffering.

      Would be horrible to be homeless and in terrible health.

  7. 0

    Who cares – most of this article is rubbish, simply parroting those things that need to be done during ones’ working life.
    Retirement should be different – no need to work hard at it – just take it easy and enjoy day by day.

  8. 0

    I enjoy my retirement , bought a run down bit of land planted hundreds of trees then had it passed as Land for Wild Life.It cost me all my spare cash but a legacy for my kids and our friends.

  9. 0

    There is no one size fits all. Now with the internet there is less need to go out to find entertainment. Lunches out are an unnecessary expense which we do not do, not even the coffee out thing. Not for us anyway, although others may have a need to do this but we think it wastes money we could better use. Not everyone is social.
    Downsizing is rubbish. We bought our retirement home but we made sure we had room for family. Who wants to live in a shoe box when you are stuck in it most of the time!
    Goals? Why? Just enjoy each day as it comes. Our only goals are when we are going to see our family. Unplanned days are good because we have already had the regimented time in our life. Sleep in, eat when you like, do whatever you want when you want!
    It is just nice to have time to think and not have to watch the clock.

    • 0

      Downsizing is the best thing we did. We are now freed up to travel more, have more social life and life is good.

  10. 0

    Love retirement. Got plenty of exercise everyday. Can’t believe it has not been mentioned? Cycling and walking keep you fit and thinking!



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