The first batch of Boomers began retiring 4 years ago, so they've had some time to contemplate the experience, both before (preparing for) and after (once they stopped working).
The final product, titled the Retirement Triggers Research Report, revealed the following respondents' "secrets to a happy retirement":
- Emotional & physical health are as important as finances
“Three out of four (respondents) felt in control of their retirement,” says Marcy Keckler, VP of Financial Advice Strategy with Ameriprise Financial. “Having good physical health helped people feel in control.”
In fact, 53% of those surveyed cited physical health as a main contributor to feeling in control. Nearly as many, 52%, pegged emotional preparedness as a key factor.
- It’s normal to feel stressed before retirement
63% said they felt stressed about their decision to retire, and 21% felt uncertain about their readiness.
Fast forward a few years, and only 25% say they still feel stressed now that they’ve settled into their new routine. Good news, indeed!
- Have a plan
A significant number also did their research before making the leap to retirement (here's a link to get you started).There are a number of resources available to help you prepare for retirement, and survey respondents turned to the following sources for information and advice:
- Employer plan resources (52%)
- Social Security website and resources (47%)
- Financial advisor (38%)
- Medicare resources (24%)
- Use this link for more ideas
According to Cory Schmelzer, a certified financial planner and owner of San Diego Wealth Management, employer plan resources can vary with some companies even offering access to financial advisors through their 401(k) plan administrator, and others doing little/nothing to help their workers transition to retirement.
Either way, it’s up to workers to either research retirement options, whether through work or on their own. One resource is a personal financial advisor, which often makes sense. “It’s not that people aren’t smart enough to research their own retirement options, but do they have the time?” says Schmelzer. “As an advisor, we’ve helped hundreds of clients do this before. We know about Social Security; we know about medical costs; and we can throw out unworkable or inadvisable alternatives [retirement strategies].”
- You'll be busy
Many of us worry that we'll have nothing to do...well stop worrying!
For respondents, rather than lazy days spent puttering around the house, these retirees are finding plenty to occupy their time.
“We both thought about what we’d like to do but never got a chance [to] before,” explains one respondent, Emma Darling of Rockford, Michigan. For her, that means she now has time to pursue her passion for art. Darling also enjoys volunteering, which is something Keckler says 40 percent of new retirees do with their time.
Other retirees may travel, spend time with family or pursue new hobbies. Regardless of their interests, for a successful retirement, Darling advises younger boomers to devise a plan for how they want to spend their hours once they leave the workforce.
- A successful retirement requires couples to communicate
The Ameriprise report found 80% of respondents had discussed their retirement plans with their spouse, and 37 percent said their spouse or partner was the most influential factor in their decision to retire.“When you retire, your whole life is about to change – from your cash flow to what you’re going to do with your time,” Schmelzer says. “You don’t want to be caught by surprise. The more you communicate, the better.”
Financial experts agree it’s a good idea to discuss retirement plans with your partner. However, if you both decide to retire around the same time, each partner should be careful not to give up his or her identity. “You don’t have to be lockstep in retirement,” Darling says. “A married couple doesn’t have to be together every minute.”
Here's a primer to get the conversation going...