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Why Retirement Might Be More Difficult Than You Thought

According to research from the National Institute for Retirement Security, COVID forced more than 25 percent of all workers to retire earlier than expected. The result? Nearly two million older workers have left the workforce since March 2020, according to Schwartz Center.

Retirement is a happy time for most people – the culmination of a lifetime of work. However, retirement can be a tricky transition between finances, social groups and just battling boredom.

The good news? There are plenty of ways to turn the shock of early retirement into something positive. The following outlines some of the most common problems of early retirement and how to navigate them.

Financial Worries

Outliving savings or simply not having enough savings to retire is one of baby boomers’ biggest fears, according to research from the 20th Annual Retirement Survey of Workers. And, unfortunately, many Americans are retiring before they (or their 401k accounts) are ready.

The solution? The senior living experts at Vineyard Senior Living have shared their best tips for assuaging financial worries in retirement below:

  • Consult a professional: if you’re feeling overwhelmed, speak to a professional about your worries. They’ll be able to work with you to create a plan that suits your needs and your budget. In addition, a professional is helpful if you’re unsure where to start or feel like your situation is hopeless.
  • Create a realistic budget: assess what your monthly costs will be. As Vineyard Senior Living suggests, some costs may be lower, but expenses like health insurance and other deductibles may increase.
  • Review income: if your company has offered a payout, factor that in and add in Social Security benefits as well as pensions. Consider what amount you’ll choose for withdrawal that will meet your needs without draining your investment accounts.
  • Cut costs: this may be the hardest part. Vineyard Senior Living recommends paying off debt, cancelling any professional memberships, and considering downsizing to a smaller home or retirement community.

Meeting New Friends

You come into contact with so many people at work – your co-workers, of course, but there are dozens of other social interactions that you might not even notice. Think about the people you smile at in the elevator, the barista at the coffee shop, and if you’re in a service industry, the customers themselves. Making new friends is difficult at any stage in life, and it can be tough to meet new people if you’ve retired early.

How can you meet new friends? The aging experts at Sixty and Me share their best tips below:

  • Define what a ‘friend’ means to you: who are your ideal friends – do you like to have a group of casual acquaintances whom you see regularly, or would you prefer one or two very close friends? For most people, the answer is a bit of both. So, make an effort to pursue casual friendships and close relationships, too.
  • Start with your current network: your existing network is a great place to start, but don’t limit yourself to the people you know now. Instead, reconnect with friends you’ve lost touch with over the years and be open to meeting their acquaintances, too.
  • Choose activities that meet regularly: join a group that meets weekly or bi-weekly. While you might not come away with a best friend the first time you go, familiarity will start to kick in after a few weeks. Sometimes, the best friendships develop over time, so be sure to give yourself (and your potential new friends) the time and space to get to know you.

Combatting Boredom

Did you know that you’re more likely to get bored as you get older? According to The Psychologist’s research, two notable boredom spikes occur in our lives – one in the late teens and another after 60. The article explains that the second boredom spike is situational: “…two key culprits foment this breeding ground for boredom. First, as we age, our cognitive capacity declines, giving rise to challenges of self-control and attention that we know are associated with increased boredom. Second, as we age, our networks of social contacts decrease, as do environmental opportunities for engaging in enjoyable activities. These two culprits likely conspire, each amplifying the other.”

What does this mean? Friendship and activities are essential to a happy environment. We’ve already talked about making new friends, so next on the list is hobbies. A recent Forbes article shares some great tips for choosing new hobbies:

  • Read a lot: this might seem like an odd place to start, but one of the best ways to combat boredom (and get inspiration for new hobbies) is books. Reading also keeps the mind engaged, which is excellent for early retirees looking for ways to exercise the mind.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment: you’re shopping for activities – and it’s okay if things don’t work out the first time. If you try something and you don’t like it, that’s fine – drop it and try something else.
  • Choose hobbies with a social connection: found a hobby you love? That’s fantastic. The best way to take that hobby to the next level is to find a group of like-minded people who enjoy the hobby as well. Socializing not only enriches your enjoyment of the hobby, but it also creates built-in friends – an essential part of retiring happily.

While early retirement might not have been the plan, don’t worry – by making financial plans, keeping your social life active and pursuing hobbies, you’re sure to have happy, fulfilling retirement years.

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