5 habits the happiest retirees share

Man who is happy in retirement because of habit that allowed him to be confident in his retirement plan.

For many, the prospect of retirement brings joyful anticipation of more time spent with family and traveling. But retirement and all the changes that come with it can also stir up some anxiety.

So how do you begin this new chapter of your life emotionally—and financially—ready? A recent Principal® survey asked recent retirees and found that the happiest in the bunch had 5 major things in common.1 Learning from their example may help you move toward retirement with more confidence and less worry.

Create a retirement plan.

Ignorance is not bliss among happy retirees. Just the opposite: When recent retirees took the time to educate themselves and make a retirement savings plan, they seemed to find more peace of mind. More than half of the happiest retirees surveyed said they created a retirement income plan, and many said they felt more emotionally prepared for retirement with a plan in place.

Graphic highlighting 56% out of 100% of people.
Graphic stating that 56% of the happiest retirees created a retirement income plan.
 

Do your retirement research.

The majority of the happiest retirees surveyed invested time and effort to run the numbers before they quit their day jobs. Among their considerations were establishing a target age to retire and estimating total monthly expenses in retirement. Retirees who also took time to determine how to cover expenses that Social Security income wouldn’t cover while also reviewing their retirement healthcare costs were among the happiest.

Graphic highlighting 75% out of 100% of people.
Graphic stating that 75% of the happiest retirees established a target retirement date.
 

Understand retirement risks.

Solid understanding of risks makes them seem less scary and more manageable. The happiest retirees sought information about these concerns:

  • Taxes
  • Health insurance
  • Legacy planning
  • Investment risks/losing money
  • Market volatility
  • Long-term care costs
Graphic stating that the happiest retirees understood top retirement risks 24 percentage points better than other retirees surveyed.
 

Know your income.

You’re probably counting on some level of income in retirement from Social Security, your retirement savings and perhaps a pension. But the vast majority of happy retirees said they had crunched the numbers before retirement. By doing so, they now take advantage of a more diversified income stream—1 that includes revenue from other investments and maybe retirement employment.

One caution the survey found? It may be smart to be realistic about potential retirement employment income. Nearly half of workers expect to have a part-time job in retirement, but less than a quarter of retirees are working.

Graphic highlighting 72% out of 100% of people.
Graphic stating that 72% of the happiest retirees had a diversified income stream.
 

Keep healthcare costs in check.

Maintaining mental and physical wellness is the No. 1 concern among retirees. Managing healthcare costs is a strong second. That’s why most happy retirees seek to understand how accessing healthcare works in retirement.

Graphic highlighting 71% out of 100% of people.
Graphic stating that 71% of the happiest retirees felt comfortable with affording long-term healthcare if needed.
 

Even though retirement is a bit of an unknown, it doesn’t have to be scary. Following the preparation tips of these happy retirees may be a great strategy for maximizing your enjoyment of retirement while minimizing anxiety.

Ready to get started?

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1 Retirement Income Survey, Principal®, August 2018

The subject matter in this communication is educational only and provided with the understanding that Principal® is not rendering legal, accounting, investment advice or tax advice. You should consult with appropriate counsel or other advisors on all matters pertaining to legal, tax, investment or accounting obligations and requirements.

Insurance products and plan administrative services provided through Principal Life Insurance Co., a member of the Principal Financial Group®, Des Moines, IA 50392.