Retirement is a huge accomplishment, and it's also a time of considerable change and new challenges. Fortunately, the path before you is well-worn by retirees who have been in your shoes and overcome the same challenges. Whether your retirement concerns are financial or familial, there are solutions available. Here are some of the most common challenges in retirement and strategies to help you navigate them.
Maintaining Healthy Habits
Committing to regular exercise in retirement can increase your energy, provide numerous heart health benefits and support memory, according to the American Heart Association and the National Academy of Sciences. But that doesn't mean you have to become an athlete overnight.
If starting a new exercise routine seems daunting, consider getting some exercise by taking part in activities you already enjoy. If you love being on the water, you could try kayaking, canoeing or swimming. If you've always enjoyed nature, you could join a hiking group. Even walking around your neighborhood regularly can provide numerous health benefits, says the Mayo Clinic.
Of course, staying active isn't the only way to maintain good health. A balanced diet can also help ward off chronic diseases and preserve cognitive function, according to the National Institute on Aging. If you're looking to eat a more balanced diet in retirement, a nutritionist can help you create a plan that fits your lifestyle and health needs.
Making the Mental and Emotional Adjustment
Transitioning from the workplace can add a lot of free time to your schedule, and finding meaningful ways to structure that time can help you remain happy and engaged in retirement. If you're feeling listless without the rigor of a daily work schedule, consider taking up a fulfilling new hobby. Harvard Medical School recommends volunteering, taking classes or starting a new career altogether — anything that you would enjoy and stick with.
Remaining engaged can support cognitive health as well. For example, research from the National Institutes of Health shows that sustained engagement in cognitively demanding activities can support memory function. To keep yourself mentally engaged daily, you could join a book club, take a class or explore a new passion.
Finding Your Stride Financially
Money concerns are common among retirees. In fact, two-thirds of middle-income Baby Boomers are unsure of whether they will have enough money saved to live comfortably during retirement, and nearly 60% haven't received any professional financial guidance around retirement planning, according to the Center for a Secure Retirement.
To feel confident about your financial plan, start researching your options early and work with a financial planner to weigh your investment options. A professional advisor can walk you through the specifics of retirement planning, such as purchasing an annuity and investing with consideration for how your retirement income will be taxed.
Facing a Volatile Market
Fifty-two percent of workers believe a recession would affect their ability to save for retirement, according to a recent LIMRA survey. A blow to the economy can feel destabilizing, but you can minimize losses in these times by distributing your investments wisely and making careful, moderate moves.
An investment portfolio consisting of 60% stocks and 40% bonds or some other fixed income is typical for someone near retirement, according to the University of Alabama in Huntsville. A financial advisor can help you make the right moves to maximize your income, even in times of economic uncertainty.
Transitioning to Life on a Fixed Income
If you're wondering how you will maintain your lifestyle during retirement, consider taking an honest inventory of your financial situation and identifying some areas where you could be flexible around expenditures. For instance, if living in your current home is your top priority, you might choose to allocate less money to traveling or dining out. If you were to relocate to a more affordable area, you might have more wiggle room to spend your monthly income as you please.
There's no one-size-fits-all approach, but a financial advisor can help you identify any blind spots or opportunities in your financial strategy.
For many people, work is also a social outlet. The transition to life without coworkers can reduce your number of daily contacts, so it's important to find ways of staying social in retirement (even if it means doing so in a socially distant manner). Social connections can even support your physical health, as research from the University of California, Berkeley shows that people with strong social bonds are more likely to get routine health screenings, which can lead to a longer, healthier life.
If you feel adrift without the social structure of work, you could make regular, recurring plans with close friends or family. During the ongoing pandemic, this might mean setting up a weekly Zoom call with a friend group or keeping to the front porch and wearing face masks when visiting family. You can also expand your social circle by joining groups based on your interests, such as enthusiast clubs or nonprofit organizations, many of which have online meetings or forums.
Visit the CDC website for additional guidelines and information on staying safe during personal and social activities.
Navigating Estate Planning
It can be difficult to make decisions about what will happen to your estate after you're gone, but try to resist the temptation to kick this task down the road, as a well-organized estate can offer peace of mind to you and your loved ones.
Even if you're confident in your decisions about your estate, consider working with experienced advisors and attorneys to make sure your will, beneficiaries and health care directives are firmly in place. They may be able to help you avoid unnecessary estate taxes as well, and they can nudge you periodically to revisit your estate documentation and make adjustments to your plan if your situation changes.
Creating a Lasting Legacy Beyond Money
Your legacy is more than your estate — it also includes the memories you share with your loved ones. Reflecting on your life accomplishments with your children and grandchildren can present an excellent opportunity for bonding and will likely generate some new memories for you all to cherish.
People who believe their stories could provide some insight for others can use services that employ professional writers to draft and publish their life stories and memoirs. Or perhaps you want to tell your own story via a recording service like Story Corps. A recorded account of your life and times can offer your loved ones knowledge and wisdom, and producing one can allow you to recount and contextualize your life experiences in a lasting and perhaps enlightening way.
Live Confidently in Retirement
Creating a solid financial plan, establishing healthy habits and finding your ideal lifestyle will help you address your retirement concerns and build confidence for this chapter of your life. And if you're still feeling overwhelmed, there is help available to assist you with challenges in retirement. If you need guidance or support, consider reaching out to an advisor to ensure that your golden years are a time of happiness, good health and financial stability.