As a financial advisor, radio host, and podcast host, I spend most of my time trying to help people retire happier and avoid the pitfalls of becoming the unhappiest retirees on the block (UROBs). If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by the monumental task of searching for the right plan, you can take a deep sigh of relief. In fact, the happiest retirees on the block (HROBs) achieve contentment in a myriad of ways.
Indeed, retirement looks different for everyone based on preferences.
Screenwriting guru Robert McKee speaks to a similar sentiment in his definitive book — Story: Style, Structure, Substance, and the Principles of Screenwriting. “A rule says, ‘You must do it this way.’ A principle says, ‘This works and has through all remembered time.’” In other words, it’s helpful to understand the basics even if you don’t follow them all. This frame of mind comes in handy when considering the ways and means of fulfilling your retirement dreams.
So, what are the basics? After conducting robust surveys and compiling extensive data, I’ve identified ten common habits of HROBs. These principles have proven to work for a lot of happy retirees. Take some time to study them first, and then try to apply them to your happy retirement.
10 Common Habits of Happy Retirees
1. HROBs have excellent money habits. They have $500,000 or more in savings, their mortgage payoff is complete (or at least in sight), and they have multiple income streams.
2. Happy retirees are curious and adventurous, with at least three core pursuits (hobbies on steroids). They know how to travel, play, and explore. They engage wholeheartedly in three or more hobbies regularly.
3. They love their kids and see them regularly — but their kids are independent. The happiest retirees’ adult children are out in the world living their own lives rather than suckling off the financial teats of their parents.
4. HROBs are married (or were happily married until a spouse passed), and they’ve either never been divorced or only divorced once. That’s right; you get one marriage mulligan.
5. The happiest retirees believe, give, and do good. Their faith is important to them, and they attend a place of worship at least twice a year. They also volunteer and support the causes they believe are vital.
6. HROBs stay connected. They are, at heart, social creatures. On average, they have three close social connections, belong to at least one organized social group, and travel at least once a year with friends.
7. Happy retirees are healthy. They are often “on the move,” recognizing the value of regular exercise. They are also mindful of what they eat and stick to a health-conscious diet.
8. HROBs have good home habits. They don’t live in McMansions, they don’t have mortgages, and they don’t rush to downsize their houses because they know their kids and grandkids will come home to visit.
9. The happiest retirees exhibit excellent investor behavior. They don’t go chasing waterfalls — by which I mean the investment advice du jour. Even when other retirees default to fight or flight, HROBs remain stoically invested over a long period.
10. They are “masters of the middle.” HROBs are savvy spenders. Sure, they may have had times when they were carrying too much credit card debt or struggling financially. But, for the most part, they’ve prioritized saving over spending — and they don’t deprive themselves needlessly.
To help you identify the most productive habits you can incorporate to achieve your retirement goals, my team created a Dream Retirement Quiz. Take some time to fill it out for yourself.
Every retiree is special and unique, and so is their retirement dream. The first step to reaching that promised land is knowing what your ideal situation looks like to you. From there, you can study the tried-and-true habits of happy retirees who have come before you — incorporating some and discarding others — to craft the one that suits you. Once you do, reach out and let me know. Maybe I’ll add your habits to my list.
This information is provided to you as a resource for informational purposes only and is not to be viewed as investment advice or recommendations. This information is being presented without consideration of the investment objectives, risk tolerance, or financial circumstances of any specific investor and might not be suitable for all investors. This information is not intended to, and should not, form a primary basis for any investment decision that you may make. Always consult your own legal, tax, or investment advisor before making any investment/tax/estate/financial planning considerations or decisions.