Countless workers look forward to retirement and the flexible, laid-back lifestyle it offers. Yet a surprising number of retirees ultimately wind up unhappy once they stop working for good.
In a 2016 study by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, more than 10% of retirees claimed they were “not at all satisfied” with retirement. Meanwhile, close to 41% of seniors were only “moderately satisfied” with their lifestyle, while less than half of seniors found retirement “very satisfying.” The percentage of retirees who identify as “very satisfied” has dropped from 60.5% in 1998 to 48.6% as of last year, which paints a somewhat bleak picture for today’s older workers.
The survey didn’t pin down a cause for retirees’ drop in overall satisfaction, but it’s fair to say that finances have something to do with it. Over 25 million seniors live at or below the poverty line, due in part to an unhealthy reliance on Social Security, which simply isn’t designed to sustain retirees on its own.
Even those who have saved independently are apt to struggle financially in retirement. According to Transamerica, current retirees have median savings of $119,000, but given that folks are living longer these days, that’s not a whole lot in the grand scheme of what could be a 25-year retirement or longer. In fact, if that’s the amount of savings you’re looking at, all it will give you is roughly $400 a month over a 25-year span. When we factor in Social Security — which, for the average recipient today, equals about $1,360 a month — that’s still just $21,000 a year to live. That’s hardly enough.
If you’re an older worker who’s thinking of retiring, you may want to hold off until you’ve had time to figure out not only what you want out of retirement, but whether you’re in a strong enough financial position to get it. Otherwise, you’ll risk joining the ranks of the countless seniors who can’t help but call themselves unhappy.
Come up with a plan
Retirement poses a number of challenges, not the least of which is finding something meaningful to do with your time. Boredom in retirement can, in a worst-case scenario, lead to depression, and in a best-case scenario, leave you feeling dissatisfied and restless.
Before you decide to leave your career behind you, take some time to think about how you’ll spend your days in retirement and how much money you’ll need to attain the lifestyle you’re hoping for. While there’s no…