The 7 Biggest Regrets for Retirees

This post The 7 Biggest Regrets for Retirees appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

More than half of retirees have retirement regrets.

And, as you can imagine the regrets range from “I wish I started saving earlier” to “I wish I traveled more when my health was good.”

But, the number one biggest regret most retirees have is claiming Social Security too early. As many as 57% of recent retirees chose to claim Social Security before their full retirement age, locking themselves into a lifetime of 25%-30% smaller Social Security payments.

The National Bureau of Economic Research also found that early Social Security claims are linked to increased likelihood of living in poverty in one’s old age.

Reasons vary for why someone might decide to claim Social Security early –  I get that stuff happens that’s outside your control –  but knowing what you know now, I hope you wait at least until you’re closer to age 70 before you start claiming benefits. The difference in payout even from age 68 to 70 is often as much as $1,000 per month.

What other retirement regrets should you watch out for? Here’s my list of the other 6 biggest regrets retirees have and how to sidestep them all:

1. “I Wish I Saved More”

Until you’re retired, it’s hard to estimate exactly how much money you’ll need. There will always be unexpected emergencies and events out of your control that eat into savings.

My rule of thumb is I’d rather have an excess than just enough to get by. So, I aggressively save so I won’t have to worry about not having enough when I retire. It used to be that retiring with $1 million in the bank was enough to fund a comfortable retirement, these days most people will tell you that’s not enough.

Inflation and rising healthcare costs alone drive up how much you need to save. Some estimates suggest retirees need at least $220,000 to cover medical expenses if they retire at age 65. Start saving now and if you’re late to the game, look for ways to maximize your investments based on your expected retirement date.

2. “I Wish I Quit Sooner”

This might come as a surprise, but a lot of retirees who leave the workforce later, regret it. Of course there are circumstances where it’s out of necessity, but if you don’t have to work until you’re 70, don’t do it.

According to the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis, older workers are often overlooked for promotions and on-the-job training, and begin to experience a decline in pay between the ages of 55 and 59 regardless of their education level.

Working longer is not always better. It’s also not a great retirement plan since anything can happen and you might not be able to work regardless of whether or not you want to.

3. “I Wish We Downsized Earlier”

Another big regret is downsizing. Most retirees wait until they’re in their 70s before they start getting rid of stuff and moving to a smaller home. However, a lot of retirees report that they wish they’d started when they were 50. And, they wish they hadn’t accumulated so much junk in the first place.

The sooner you can start downsizing and decluttering, the better. Adding a few thousand dollars to your monthly income might not seem like a lot, but it could free up the budget for travel and other hobbies that you’d want to take advantage earlier in retirement.

A word of caution: Another top regret was not having done enough thorough research before moving. So if you have plans of moving somewhere with a more favorable climate and with lower state taxes, make sure you do your research. Visit where you want to live several times before you take the plunge.

4. “I Wish I Traveled Sooner”

Traveling seems to be on most people’s retirement bucket list. However, most people get the timing wrong. Waiting until “the time is right” is not a good idea. The truth is your retirement goals can’t wait.

There are two times in retirement: when you are healthy and when you are not. Plan to travel in the first five years of retirement, then if you’re healthy enough to travel after that, consider yourself lucky.

5. “I Wish I Learned How To Relax”

When you’ve spent the last 40+ years working hard, climbing the career ladder, and operating in fast-paced environments, it can be hard to actually slow down. That’s why a lot of retirees feel like they have to fill their calendars so they don’t go crazy.

The problem is you’re not actually retiring. You’re simply swapping out work for other activities that require your commitment on a weekly basis.

Instead of constantly trying to fill your calendar with things to do, learn how to be comfortable enjoying the fruits of your labor. Sleep in, spend full days reading, go for long walks.

Retirement is meant to be relaxing and care free. You don’t have to become a couch potato, but also don’t feel like you have to keep yourself busy all the time.

6. “I Wish I Looked Into My Estate Sooner”

Estate planning is one of those tasks everyone procrastinates on. “It can wait until tomorrow.” The reality is you never know if tomorrow will come. So don’t leave the burden of not having your affairs in order by pushing your estate planning off to another day.

Creating a good estate plan is a gift to your beneficiaries because you’ll remove the headache of settling your estate faster and easier for them. Bottom line: get it done early.

And the last regret a lot of retirees have is not telling their family and friends that they love them.

Don’t wait until you’re on your deathbed or giving a eulogy to tell someone you love them. Tell them while they are still alive.

Your relationships become that much more important in retirement, make sure you cherish them.

To a richer life,

Nilus Mattive

— Nilus Mattive
Editor, The Rich Life Roadmap

The post The 7 Biggest Regrets for Retirees appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

The Silver Lining of Having an Empty Nest

This post The Silver Lining of Having an Empty Nest appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

Since the 1970s, relationship experts have popularized the notion of “empty nest syndrome,” a term used to characterize feelings of deep sadness, angst, and loneliness parents sometimes feel when the last child leaves home.

Several books and blogs have been written to help parents deal with the transition. Simon & Schuster even published a “Chicken Soup for the Soul” dedicated to empty nesters.

But a growing body of research suggests that the phenomenon has been misunderstood.

While you may clearly miss your kids when they leave home for good, the empty nest is not necessarily an unhappy place.

Improving Your Marriage Quality

New research shows that marriage quality and happiness actually go up when the kids finally leave home.

And it’s not that your life is worse off with kids. The study found parents were still happy with kids, but their marriage satisfaction improved substantially when the kids left.

While that may not surprise a lot of parents, especially if you’ve lived this transition firsthand, I have to admit I was a bit shocked by these findings.

Why do empty nesters have better relationships than parents with kids still living at home?

It’s a timely question, given that for the first time in more than 130 years, adults ages 18 to 34 are more likely to be living in their parents’ house than living with a spouse or partner in their own home.

Understanding why empty nesters have better relationships can offer important lessons on marital happiness for all parents, even ones still years away from having a child-free house.

How Kids Impact Your Relationship

One of the unsettling findings from the paper was the negative effect children can have on a previously happy relationship.

Although it’s a common belief that kids bring couples closer together, more research is finding that marital satisfaction and happiness drop after the arrival of the first baby.

The Journal of Advanced Nursing reported on a study from the University of Nebraska College of Nursing that examined marital happiness in 185 men and women.

Scores declined starting in pregnancy, and remained lower as the children reached 5 months and 24 months. Other studies found that couples with two children score even lower than couples with one child.

While having kids can obviously make parents happy, the financial burden and time constraints will add stress to a relationship. After your first kid, you’ll find you have only about one-third the time alone together as you had when you were childless, say researchers from Ohio State.

The arrival of children also puts a disproportionate burden of household work on women. After kids, housework increases three times as much for women as for men.

The thing about these studies is they mostly focus on the early years. To understand the effects over time, researchers at Berkeley tracked marital happiness among 72 women in the Mills Longitudinal Study, which followed a group of Mills College alumnae for 50 years.

This study was important because it tracked the first generation of women to juggle traditional family responsibilities with jobs in the workforce.

In the empty-nest study, researchers compared the women’s marital happiness in their 40s, when many still had children at home; in their early 50s, when some had older children who had left home; and in their 60s, when virtually all had empty nests.

Empty Nester = Happiness

At every point, the empty nesters scored higher on marital happiness than women with children still at home.

These findings mirror what we’re seeing today. The American Psychological Association ran a study where they followed a group of parents and interviewed them at the time of their last child’s high school graduation and 10 years later.

They found that the majority of parents scored higher on marital satisfaction after children had left home.

While the Berkeley researchers hypothesized the improvement in marital happiness came from couples’ spending more time together, the women in the same study reported spending just as much time with their partners whether the kids were living at home or had moved out. But they said the quality of that time was better.

Less interruptions and less stress means more quality time. It wasn’t that the couples spent more time with each other, but that the time spent together was better.

If you still have kids living at home, the lesson here is you need to carve out more stress-free time together.

In the sample studied, it was only relationship satisfaction that improved when children left home. Overall, parents were just as happy with kids at home as in the empty nest.

So your kids aren’t ruining your life, they’re just making it more difficult to have enjoyable interactions together.

To a richer life,

Nilus Mattive

— Nilus Mattive
Editor, The Rich Life Roadmap

The post The Silver Lining of Having an Empty Nest appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

ATTENTION: One Thing All Retirees Need

This post ATTENTION: One Thing All Retirees Need appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

It’s well known that when we’re in the workforce, we need vacations. Vacations can lower your blood pressure, increase your creativity, recharge, and prevent burnout from the day-to-day responsibilities at work.

Yet America is the No-Vacation Nation…

Research found that 47% of Americans didn’t take all of their vacation time in 2017, and 21% left more than five vacation days on the table. 

You might think that after you retire taking time off would no longer be important since retirement is like a permanent stay-at-home vacation.

No so.

Life gets in the way…

You may no longer have to get up to an alarm clock or deal with the stress of commuting to work. But you still have responsibilities, such as paying bills and maintaining your home.

Look at this way:

We’re living longer and retiring earlier and hope to have 25+ years of retirement. That’s about 9,000 days. Do you want to be doing the same thing on Day 2,632 that you did on Day 33?

Probably not.

Breaking Your Routine

It makes sense then, why you need an occasional break from your routine.

We fall into a rut, even when retired. Your day might go like this:

You get up the same time every morning, make coffee, read the newspaper, and check your email. Then you take the dog for walk, have lunch, and do household chores. Next thing it’s dinner time. A few hours watching TV and off to bed.

The following morning you do it all over again.

Sure, you might go to the gym or your volunteer job a few times a week. But it’s pretty much the same… day after day. 

Sitting on the beach while sipping one of those fancy drinks with little umbrellas sticking out of the glass can do wonders for gaining a refreshed perspective on life.

The same can be said for playing golf, fishing, or skiing in a country you’ve never visited. Your brain will get a dose of dopamine, the chemical associated with pleasure. In other words, you’ll feel good.

Meanwhile, you’ll have a freedom from obligations since you won’t be worrying about the weeds in the flower bed or the windows that need cleaning.

Also, boredom is one of the main reasons for the record-high divorce rate for the 50+ age group.

So spending time with your significant other while away from your routine can deepen the relationship and makes for lifelong memories.

There’s an even bigger reason to take a vacation from retirement…

Loneliness Is Deadly

When working, you likely had many social interactions, friends, and acquaintances. But now that you’re retired, those connections might be distant memories and you feel isolated.

According to the American Psychological Association, more than 42 million Americans say they’re lonely. And Census Bureau data indicate that that number will surge since more than a quarter of the population lives alone and nearly half of the population is unmarried.

Some health care professionals see this not only as a pending public health hazard, but an epidemic of increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Loneliness can even be more dangerous to your health than obesity.

Moreover, data from the Harvard Aging Brain Study was used to compare self-reported loneliness with the amount of amyloid, a protein that plays a key role in memory levels, in the brain.

The results as published in JAMA Psychiatry were that 32% of the participants who were identified as lonely tested positive for high amyloid levels — a warning sign for Alzheimer’s disease.

A few days without human contact aren’t going to throw your health into a tailspin. But weeks, months, and decades of loneliness can surely have a negative impact on your physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing.

On the other hand, a vacation gives you the opportunity to break the isolationism, interact with others, and restore a sense of identity.

From the Ordinary to the Extraordinary

The kind of vacation you take in retirement can vary widely.

For instance, you can visit grandchildren or friends across the country without spending a ton of money. Or travel to other cities or states to check out places to relocate.

If money isn’t a big concern, you can stay at a five-star wellness resort or take a cruise to just about anywhere.

Yet if you want something out of the ordinary, consider volunteer travel…

Volunteer travel opportunities generally run about the same price as a traditional vacation since the sponsoring organization requests a contribution to its cause. However, you go to places that tourists rarely see.

Habitat for Humanity is one of the organizations that sponsor such trips in the U.S. and abroad. Many are to poor, developing or third-world countries. So don’t expect the creature comforts you’re used to at home. There may be decaying infrastructure, such as washed out highways and questionable toilet facilities.

But you’ll make a difference in the local community and gain friends along the way.

You could also expand your mind by going on a learning expedition. One resource for these types of trips is Road Scholar, which has 1,000s adventures in the U.S. and in countries from Albania to Zimbabwe. 

A recent listing is to Mexico to witness the gray whale migration.

If you are more of the thrill-seeking type, why not learn a sport that you just never had time for? Sailing, snorkeling, skydiving may be on your bucket list. So if not now… when?

For example, CrewSeekers International posts available crewing positions from around the world. Many don’t require experience, only a good attitude and willingness to learn.

Want to take your skiing to the next level? Well, now you have the time…

Bumps for Boomers is a program meant to teach older folks how to handle moguls and powder. You’ve worked for decades and looked forward to a long and healthy retirement. But that doesn’t mean you’ve retired from living. Stretch your mind and imagination by breaking the routine.

Let retirement take a vacation… 

Strive to do different things, such as learning new languages and customs, tasting new foods, and meeting new and interesting people. Take a lot of pictures, share them with others, and cherish the memories.

To a richer life,

Nilus Mattive

— Nilus Mattive
Editor, The Rich Life Roadmap

The post ATTENTION: One Thing All Retirees Need appeared first on Daily Reckoning.