Five steps toward reducing stress in retirement

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Most people think numbers determine how much stress they will face in retirement, figuring the more money they have saved the less they will have to worry about.

But, while money is an important factor in retirement planning, it is not the determining factor, not even close.

The real way to avoid stress in retirement is through preparation. Here are five steps you can take now to avoid fretting your way through those golden years:

  1. Have a plan for what you want to do. Will you travel? Develop a hobby? Schedule time with your grandchildren? Work part time? Volunteer? Think hard about how you would like to fill the extra time you will have and then set a schedule. You may think giving up a set schedule is something to look forward to in retirement, but most people find that they value a reason to get up in the morning. Retirement is not vacation. Having a purpose will make your life much more joyful and stress free.
  2. Retire when you are financially able, not when you think you should. There is no guarantee that you will be able to retire when you reach the government mandated full retirement age. That all depends on your timeline, your budget, your savings and your potential income stream. Align all of that and you’ll be well on your way to a relaxing retirement.
  3. Treat yourself to some discipline. Exercise, eat right, maintain a set sleeping schedule, get dressed and leave the house at least once a day. Retirement is not an excuse to abandon the healthy habits that allowed you to earn that A.A.R.P card.
  4. Define your retirement the way you want to, not the way you’ve been told it should be. You’ve put in the work, you’ve amassed the savings, you’ve stuck to your plan. Now, you get to spend your time the way you choose. No two retirements look the same. If you stick to your budget (which should be no problem if you’ve planned it carefully), you can decide how you want to spend that money. These can be some of the best years of your life.
  5. Get professional help. Retirement is complicated and mistakes can be costly. Make an appointment to see a financial advisor, preferably one with a fiduciary responsibility to his or her clients and, together, you can review your plans and make sure you’re in track. Are you prepared to cover long term care costs? Will you require a supplemental Medicare policy? Do you want to leave a monetary inheritance for your children and grandchildren? A good financial advisor will listen to your goals, help you design a plan to meet them, and then help you stay on track as you achieve them. That’s the perfect prescription for a stress-free retirement.