Recent studies show that Retirement Brings Happiness and Health. Happiness in retirement is immediate if done on your terms. Improved health comes a little later. It only stands to reason that early retirement would mean enjoying the benefits of a happy and healthy life. Enjoying it earlier at a younger age.
To most people struggling with the daily grind of the rat race this is no breaking news-story. Of course retirement brings happiness and health. Big duh there. However it is significant as an added motivation. Motivation to anyone who could benefit from having more positive reasons to get their act together. By setting financial independence goals and hitting them.
Studies where done by researchers at George Mason University and Utah State University. They used data from a previous University of Michigan Health and Retirement Study. They found the evidence that Retirement Brings Happiness and Health. There will always be some people who hate their retirement but for the average person that isn’t the case.
There are a couple of key observations regarding anyone’s early or traditional retirement. Primarily that retirement happiness is tied to retiring on your terms. Meaning you are financially ready to retire.
Retirement Brings Happiness and Health When on Your Terms
Nobody wants to retire when they are not financially ready to do so. The studies show that the happiness factor is tied to retirees who start receiving a pension and/or their Social Security. In other words, retirement happiness is about having positive cash flow. Having the income to pay for your retirement lifestyle is key to retirement happiness.
Again, this is no earth shattering news but it explains why there are some who report unhappiness in retirement. They were most likely unprepared financially and either forced prematurely from their career or work due to economic factors or due to poor health. Poor health regardless of financially readiness is certainly a drag on retirement happiness. It should be taught that paying yourself first is about more than just money but also about improving one’s health through exercise and having a healthy diet.
Early Retirement funded through financial independence by having enough investments and savings before being able to begin Social Security would still fall into retiring with positive cash flow bringing happiness. I know this as a fact for myself. At this time I don’t plan on beginning my Social Security until my full retirement age which is still 10 years away but I have a funding and income plan that allows for full happiness in my early retirement.
Happiness is tied to having financial control
Living within a frugal living budget without feeling deprived and focusing on what brings true happiness instead of a bunch of stuff that costs money to obtain and maintain is the key step to taking financial control. It starts with living below your means.
People of modest means who keep their lifestyle costs low can be happier than people who have more income but their lifestyle has them spend it all. People can choose to have luxurious cars and glamorous houses, but if it eats all of their income they’re going to be miserable.
Feeling that we are in control of our future is a factor that helps deliver happiness in retirement regardless of the portfolio size. By having a lower lifestyle cost it takes far less saved to produce the positive cash flow that brings happiness. This is true even before retiring.
For those who retire early before Social Security kicks in, taking financial control includes creating an income strategy. This strategy is about producing the positive cash flow from a portfolio in a strategic and sustainable way. By doing so it will ensure early retirement happiness.
I also find that my “retire early and often” lifestyle and having a mindset of being open to opportunity adds even more of a sense of taking financial control of my future.
Improved Health in Retirement is Delayed
The study showed that health improvements didn’t begin for 4 to 6 years after retirement. The effects of a changed lifestyle manifest later which makes sense. It takes time for health benefits to show measurable improvements after starting new healthy habits. The study revealed that during this delayed time there was no increase in medical care meaning there was no additional medical cost needed to gain the improved health benefit.
It is obviously best to go into retirement healthy in the first place but improvement is easily accomplished once there is time for exercise and having a healthier diet.
Steps To Take Now for Later Happiness in Retirement
Happiness and improved health isn’t going to automatically show up on day-one of retirement. There are some steps to help improve your happiness and health in your retirement.
Create a plan. Sure you need a financial plan to fund and generate your positive cash flow. However a plan needs to be created for how you want to spend your retirement days. What do you plan on doing with your freedom?
Happiness is about what you are retiring to, not what you are retiring from. Most people can’t vacation and travel 100% of the time. Not having an idea of how you will spend your days can lead to boredom and unhappiness in retirement.
Staying active is the recipe for a happy and healthy retirement. List all the hobbies that you have now and the ones you want to start. Join clubs to interact with other retirees.
Stay engaged in multiple activities. Having just one hobby can lead to boredom and loss of interest. Playing golf every day may be fun at first but over time you would probably see it as a chore.
Stay curious and constantly engage in learning new things of interest. This is to exercise your brain and keep you sharp and relevant.
Exercise your body and eat healthy. See your Doctor and Dentist for routine recommended checkups. If your health goes then all the positive cash flow in the world isn’t going to make you happy.