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Go beyond just financial planning for a happy retirement

Most of us look at retirement as a vacation and hence plan for it during the last minute

September 24, 2021 / 10:38 AM IST

The very thought of a vacation is good enough to cheer us up. Why then is it so difficult to enjoy the longest vacation of your life: retirement?

If you are a few years away from retirement, you may not agree, at least not yet. And you are possibly having thoughts such as:

-How is this even possible not to enjoy? There is so much I can do!

-I am not going to struggle with it, I have it all figured out.

But having interacted with so many customers over the last few years, and with quite a few having retired or being on the threshold of doing so, I have concluded that most of us look at retirement as a vacation and hence plan for it during the last minute.

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We don’t think it requires any more thought than just mulling over where to settle.

Preparing for a long second innings

Many of us do wake up to the impending retirement and the financial needs for the same at least a decade before we retire if not earlier. What I am referring to here is therefore not money but the important aspect of how to keep oneself busy and add meaning to retired life.

When most people think of life expectancy, they do not imagine living into their 90s. But when you look around, the reality is quite different, and we see many people living well into their late 80s.  Life expectancy is on the rise, and I am talking about averages. Many of us are likely to be on the higher side of the averages, given the availability of better nutrition and access to health care.

When we look at retirement from this context, it is sobering indeed! Imagine, we need to spend one-third of our lives in retirement and yet we don’t give it the mind space it deserves.

It is all very well to eat, drink and make merry when you are on a short holiday, but can you think of doing that and nothing else for years? Despite this, when we check with customers on what they would like to do post retirement, the answer we receive often is “I just want to relax, doing some gardening, travelling, and eating good food.”  As good as it sounds, after a few months, one is left with long and unending days, and nothing to look forward to.  This leaves many of the newly retired disillusioned and makes them wonder as to what went wrong with their well-laid plans.

On the other hand, when we see some retired people radiating joy, we have wondered how things turned out differently for them. These people find purpose in life and have things to look forward to.

Engaging yourself

One of our customers is involved in incorporating learnings from ancient India to modern life, and another has decided to enrol for a PhD at the age of 70. Yet another lady finds innovative ways to engage and connect with her grandkids online, using social media. She spends a couple of hours every day religiously with her grandkids, not letting distance come in her way. This is something which she looks forward to every day.

These people are joyful and have a lot of positive vibes. It is no wonder then that they are surrounded by friends and well-wishers.

The key is to develop an interest, to retain a learning mind-set. Not from the perspective of adding income in your sunset years, but from the point of view of having a purpose and being involved in doing something productive and enjoyable.

Another thing which we see many people do in a hurry is book a retirement home at least a decade before they hang their boots. This is done on the advice of people who are already using such facilities. Since the retirement is quite some time away, the facilities currently available and the location may or may not be suitable 10 years from now.   Further, the house requires maintenance and upkeep, and am not even taking into consideration the risk of capital not appreciating in the interim.

It’s a good idea to try before you buy. Why not rent out a villa in the place you consider to be an ideal retirement destination and see if the reality matches up to your expectations? It’s far better than making a huge capital outlay and struggling with the upkeep as well as sale of the same.

All in all, a lot of thought on what really brings you joy, spending time on finalizing the place that is most ideally suited for you and finding a new purpose to retired life equals to a happy and carefree retirement. This requires you to get started right away. Don your retirement cap and start cultivating hobbies and interests now.
Prathiba Girish is a Certified Financial Planner and Founder of Finwise Personal Finance Solutions
first published: Sep 24, 2021 10:38 am

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