Many workers spend the latter part of their careers counting down to retirement. This especially holds true among those who don’t really like their jobs, or find them mentally or physically demanding.
But in a Nationwide Retirement Institute survey, 26% of retirees who checked out of the workforce at least 10 years ago, and 27% of more recent retirees, say life is worse now that they’re no longer working. And if any of the following factors wind up applying to you, there’s a chance that you, unfortunately, may wind up hating retirement, too.
1. You don’t have enough savings
Investment giant Fidelity recommends entering retirement with 10 times your ending salary socked away in an IRA or 401(k), and if you’re not privy to a generous pension, that’s actually pretty spot-on advice. The problem, however, is that many seniors go into their golden years woefully unprepared financially. In fact, more than 12% of Americans 65 and older have less than $1,000 in an IRA or 401(k), reports GOBankingRates.
To ensure that you don’t wind up loathing retirement because of financial struggles or constraints, contribute as much money as you can to your savings during your working years. That could mean cutting back on certain living expenses to free up cash for your nest egg, but if you make the effort, you’re less likely to wind up cash-strapped down the line. And if you’re many years away from retirement, you have a real opportunity to accumulate some serious cash. Case in point: Saving $500 a month over 40 years will leave you with about $1.2 million, assuming your portfolio generates an average annual 7% return during that time (which is doable if you focus your investments on stocks).
2. You have nothing meaningful to do with your time
Retirees are 40% more likely than workers to suffer from clinical depression, and much of that comes down to boredom. It’s difficult to go from a 40-hour-a-week work schedule to a seemingly open-ended calendar. And if you don’t have a lot of savings to work with, you may find that entertainment is difficult to come by.
A better bet? Come up with a plan for how you’ll spend your days before you leave the workforce. You might, for example, arrange to volunteer at an organization you support twice a week, babysit your grandkids after school three days a week, or find a club with weekly meetings that relates to a hobby of yours, like reading or gardening. Another option? Start your own business. It’ll give you something meaningful to do with your time, all the while allowing you to generate more income so you can pay to keep busy with costlier endeavors, like travel.
3. Your health care expenses are through the roof
Many seniors are shocked to see their health care bills climb dramatically once they stop working. But between Medicare premiums, deductibles, and other out-of-pocket expenses, the cost of staying healthy in retirement can be downright astronomical. In fact, HealthView Services, a cost-projection software provider, estimates that the average healthy 65-year-old couple today will spent a whopping $387,644 on health care throughout retirement.
If you don’t want to land in a scenario where you’re perpetually stressed about medical bills, save for that expense in advance. You can do so by padding your IRA or 401(k), or by funding a health savings account (HSA), which can then serve as a dedicated source of health care funds once you’re older. To contribute to an HSA, you must be enrolled in a high-deductible health insurance plan, the exact definition of which can change from year to year. But if your deductible is high, it pays to see if your insurance plan is HSA-eligible, and if so, get moving on funding that account.
You’re supposed to enjoy retirement, not hate it. Avoid these mistakes, and with any luck, you’ll wind up in the former camp.