NEW YORK (MainStreet) — While more and more studies point to a lack of planning for retirement and the fact many simply are not ready for their golden years, it seems once Americans get there, they are pretty happy.
More than three-fourths of retired Baby Boomers say they feel “in control” of their retirement decision, and 75% of those newly retired say they’re very satisfied with their lifestyle in retirement and doing what they planned to do, according to a new retirement survey from Ameriprise Financial.
Bill Converse is one of those who seems to have found happiness in those later years. Converse, a Greeneville, Tenn. resident who retired in 2002 after more than 40 years in the air purification industry, said he encourages people to use retirement as an opportunity to find themselves and rekindle their zest for life. For Converse, that meant following his passion to invent, which ironically led him partially back out of retirement to start his own company — air quality company CritterZone.
“You get opportunities to do things when you’re retired and you get to take a fresh look at what you did your whole life,” said Converse, admitting the transition is not always easy and that those about to take the leap need to prepare.
Maxwell said one retiring couple he recently talked to are going to travel the world being B&B caretakers.“Give yourself permission to dream big and you'll be surprised at how resourceful you can be,” he added. “ Even just a modest income in retirement, of say $15,000 per year, can make a big difference to how long your saved money will last you.”
Maxwell said the single most important thing people can do to help themselves enjoy life in retirement is to figure out what it is they are going to "retire to.”
“People say things like, ‘I want to spend time on the beach,'” Maxwell said. “The reality is that most people would get bored of the beach if they woke up next to it every day for 40 days, never mind 30 years. Retirement will last for 30 years or more for many, so spend some time investing in what it is you are going to ‘retire to.’”
In fact, more than 50% of those interviewed for the Ameriprise “Retirement Triggers” study said emotional preparedness was a main contributor toward the sense of control they were feeling in retirement. Nevertheless, the hardest aspects of retirement cited by respondents were emotional adjustments. More than 30% said losing connections with colleagues and getting used to a different routine were the most difficult in retirement, and another 22% said finding purposeful ways to pass the time was hardest.
“Oftentimes, the importance of preparing emotionally for retirement can get buried in all of the financial decisions that must be made leading up to this milestone,” said Marcy Keckler, vice president of financial advice strategy at Ameriprise Financial. “In reality, emotional and financial preparation goes hand-in-hand.
Cynthia Bowman and her husband retired a year ago to Basque Country in Spain. Formerly a Los Angeles-based owner of two retail home furnishings stores, said the key to avoiding boredom was to take what she called “baby steps.”
“The days of accomplishing the 35 item daily to-do list are over,” she said. “We made a pact to each other to do daily, simple things slower.”
Bowman, who is 42 and enjoying an early retirement, said those things can include something as simple as having morning coffee together, or taking the dog for a walk on the beach.
“Interestingly enough, our days are busy,” Bowman said. “When Sunday rolls around, we are so happy to relax and do nothing.”
--Written by Chris Metinko for MainStreet