When we think about retirement planning and estate planning, we tend to focus on the financial aspects. Being financially secure in retirement and knowing your loved ones will be financially secure after you pass away or if you become disabled is certainly a big part of having a happy retirement, but it’s not everything. A large financial planning firm surveyed 2,000 seniors about their happiness levels in retirement, and the data collected may surprise you. They found that while thinking about money in your golden years is important, it takes more than financial security to be truly happy.
Here’s an overview of that survey from the elder law and estate planning experts at Slutsky Elder Law in Montgomery County, PA:
Making Your Non-Financial Retirement Plan
Retirement planning is designed to take care of your most basic needs: food, shelter, medical care, and everything else you need to have a good quality of life. In this case, the survey seems to prove the adage true: money can’t buy happiness. It found that while having more money in retirement increased happiness to a point, it plateaued once all the basic needs were met. To experience the most happiness, a retiree needs to consider other aspects of life, including:
- Enriching Pursuits – Many people feel an absence in their lives when they stop working. Finding enriching activities to occupy your time is crucial to your happiness. Trying out some new hobbies is a good start, but activities like travel, spending time with kids and grandkids, playing tennis or golf, and doing volunteer work were reported to provide the ongoing sense of accomplishment and fulfillment that seniors need to be happy.
- A Fulfilling Relationship – The results indicated that the happiest retirees were the ones who stayed married. Indeed, spending your golden years with the person you love most is bound to make anyone happy, but if you’re not married, you can find the same sense of fulfillment through your social support network.
- Social Life – Married and unmarried seniors alike need to maintain at least three close relationships beyond their spouse. By involving your social circle in your hobbies (by traveling or playing golf with a friend, for example) you can find even more fulfillment than you would do those activities alone.
- A Paid-Off Mortgage – Even if you can afford to have a mortgage in retirement, most retirees surveyed reported higher levels of satisfaction if they paid off their mortgage or were within five years of paying it off. As you approach retirement age, it’s important to balance your savings with paying off your mortgage.
- Financially Independent Children – Raising children into independent adults is perhaps the ultimate sense of accomplishment. Of course, these days kids are living at home and requiring financial support longer than ever before. The happiest retirees surveyed provided their children with an average of less than $500 per month in financial support. They also lived close to their children, but not in the same house.
We all want to be happy in retirement, but it takes planning to achieve that goal. As an experienced estate planning lawyer serving Chester County, PA, and surrounding areas, Robert Slutsky can help you develop a plan that will afford you the freedom to reach for something higher in retirement. Get in touch with Slutsky Elder Law at 610-940-0650 to build a solid basis for your golden years that includes estate planning, estate administration, Medicaid planning, and more.