7 Things Successful Retirees Do Differently

This past month I’ve worked remotely in Arizona surrounded by people aged 60 to 90. I’m testing the retirement waters!

Everyone I spoke with are Snowbirds. They live here in Arizona just during the winter months.

I was struck by how happy and healthy they are. Also to do this type of living they need to be financially secure.

The question that came to my mind is, how do they do it? Here are habits, approaches and characteristics that can help put you on the track to success in retirement.

Be Well,

1. They’ve Made End-Of-Life Plans…

I learned this important lesson with my mother and when I was still in my early 50’s did this.

Did you know that only 32% of retirees have designated someone they trust as their medical power of attorney (or medical proxy) in case they can’t make medical decisions for themselves?

The rest of us are leaving our loved ones’ hands tied when it comes to carrying out our wishes if we can’t communicate.

Likewise, just 30% of retirees have a living will (or advance directive) telling family and health care providers what end-of-life care they do and don’t want. Fewer still — 28% — have assigned someone they trust to have financial power of attorney for them if (and only if) they can’t make their own financial decisions for themselves.

Caring for family and close friends includes not requiring them to make these difficult decisions for you. Make such decisions for yourself now, while you are able.

2. They Spend Time With Loved Ones…

Time spent with those you love is the top way people find fulfillment in their later years, a study commissioned by financial services company Edward Jones finds.

Of 9,000 people surveyed, 76% say that time spent with family and friends fulfills their lives and gives it meaning. The poll also finds that:

“Retirees with a strong sense of purpose are happier and healthier, more active and more socially engaged, and they live longer.”

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3. They’ve Planned Ahead For Health Care Costs…

A solid plan for meeting the high cost of health care is a must.

Households headed by someone 65 or older spent an average of $6,833 on health care in 2019, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics finds. Financial services company Fidelity says that a couple retiring in 2020 needed $295,000 in assets to cover their medical costs in retirement.

Here’s a few proven tactics for tackling this:

– Buy long-term care insurance and time the purchase so you don’t spend too much. Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson discusses who can benefit from the purchase in “Should I Buy Long-Term Care Insurance?”

– Amassing a fat health savings account before retiring is smart. You save the money tax-free while you’re working and spend it on medical costs in retirement, when your tax rate is likely lower.

– Simply saving enough to cover health care costs in retirement is the most basic approach.

4. They Spend Less Than They Earn…

Retirees typically have no choice but to learn to live on a fixed income. That can mean getting tough about being frugal.

If you haven’t retired yet, plan on spending 100% of your working income in retirement, so you have a buffer, rather than the 80% often suggested by retirement experts. My friend who has been retired for 6 years now says she has a yearly budget and up until the pandemic she had spent over that amount. As she puts it, “I’m out and about more. And when you leave the house you spend money!”

5. They Keep Learning…

Continuing to learn has payoffs beyond acquiring new information. Among them: a better ability to stave off the onset of cognitive decline, according to the University of Washington’s Memory & Brain Wellness Center.

Other benefits of continuing to learn include social engagement, as well as the satisfaction of learning and growing.

TIP:Many colleges and universities invite seniors to audit classes tuition-free, which could even lead to a college degree.

6. They Adapt To Change…

You’ve surely heard the saying (widely attributed to Art Linkletter), “Getting old ain’t for sissies.” It’s true. Retirement is a life stage when losses occur. Losses of status, income, friends, family, a spouse, or physical or cognitive ability, to name just a few are all but guaranteed. Father time ALWAYS wins!

How to endure and enjoy, despite that? Resilience, the ability to recover from difficulties, is key. One part of that is the willingness to adapt to change. Successful retirees typically dust themselves off and try a new approach after hitting one of the obstacles that inevitably arise with aging.

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7. They Are Generous…

The slower pace of life in retirement often gives retirees a chance to look deeper and find meaning. Helping others by sharing your time or money brings tremendous fulfillment, many retirees learn.

Nearly half of retirees say that generosity gives them a sense of purpose, the Edward Jones survey found.

Many of the retirees I talked to are volunteering. Many at food banks and others at the State Farm Stadium to help with vaccinations.

Tidbit: Women (55%), even more than men (41%), report that giving is important to them.

In Closing…

The above are some of the main things that we should all do. One other important tip I got is… STAY AWAY FROM THE CASINO!

I had to laugh at that but in all seriousness one of the worst things is the time spent at the casino. I know this from both my mother and aunt who spent far too much time at the casino and lost too much of their retirement income.

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