Recently I read an interesting article by Rodney Brooks in USA TODAY on his interview with author-radio show host Wes Moss. Wes recently surveyed 1300 people in 46 states about retirement. He was looking for the happiest retirees and their financial state. He then wrote a book: "You can retire sooner than you think: the 5 money secrets of the happiest retirees".
In the USA TODAY article he gave his top 3 pieces of advice for happiness in retirement:
1. Pay off your mortgage. "Happy retirees are four times more likely to have their mortgage paid off in five years or less".
2. Level of income is important. Happy retirees have at least three sources of income in retirement. These might include Social Security, a pension, part time work, rental income and investment income. They have diversification in their income.
3. "Busier retirees are happier". "Happy retirees have 3.6 core hobbies, unhappy have less than two".
He went on to say that people thinking about retirement should get hobbies so they don't arrive at retirement trying to figure out what to do next. People who are happy in retirement wanted to stop working so they could have more time for their hobbies and interests.
At a party last weekend everyone seemed to be talking about when they could retire. Seems like most were counting down the days before they were free of the work scene. But what were they planning to do in retirement?
As I looked around at people attending the party, there were a few people who were involved with hobbies today such as photography or woodworking. Others had ideas of what they wanted to do in retirement, but they weren't really doing that activity today. And some didn't have a plan for retirement; they just wanted out of the work scene.
Before I retired, I didn't really know what I would do with my time. I thought I might work some, but I have not pursued a job. I expected to volunteer, but I haven't started that yet. I planned to write a book, and I've actually made some progress on that.
I agree with Wes Moss that you need to get your financial house in order for retirement. But the area that's often overlooked in retirement planning is developing hobbies while you are working. Retiring and having an additional 40-50 hours available in your week can be daunting if you don't know what to do with the time.
When I was younger I tried golf for several years, and it wasn't my thing. I also tried skiing, and though I enjoyed the bunny hills of Iowa, skiing once at Winter Park in Colorado scared me to death. So I gave up skiing...At least I can say I've had the experience.
So what's retirement REALLY like? It's a great place to be, most days anyway.... I think it's different for each person, and it changes over time. I may be doing something totally different next year, and that's OK.