What 10 Things Successful Retirees Do

You can be a success at anything from your career to investing. But can you be a success at retirement? I think so.

By now, we pretty much know what makes for an unsuccessful retirement: Mired in debt, medical bills piling up and poor health. Of course, you can plan to save more and get out of debt. But that doesn’t work for everyone.

Let’s assume, for a moment, that you’re covered by adequate medical insurance, you’ve saved enough for a comfortable retirement and you’re not living beyond your means. Can you still fail at retirement? It’s possible, but there’s much more you can do to be happy.


As I’ve said in earlier posts, well-being is essential to a successful retirement, but it’s more than good physical and mental health. As Mitch Anthony notes in his recent newsletter, you’ll need to have these components as well:

— Community engagement

— Robust social network (active social life)

— Work (at least part-time)

— Fulfilling hobbies

— Well thought-out plan

— Positive family relationships

— Coaching/mentoring

— Physical Activities

— Supporting a Cause

— Tackling Challenges

Of course, if you’re isolated, bored, unchallenged or un-engaged, it will be hard to be successful at retirement. Without some spark, your engine won’t run right.

“I’ve seen people retire with the mindset that `every day will be Saturday.'” Anthony writes. “Pretty soon, Saturday feels like Mondays used to. They’re anxious, irritable, and adrift. Within a year they become bored, then boring, and begin piecing together things to do just to `keep busy.’ That doesn’t sound like much of a life to me, and certainly isn’t what I would consider retiring successfully.”

How would you implement a successful retirement plan? Start with envisioning how you see yourself in retirement: What would a week be like? How would you spend your time?

Diligent saving should also help get you to a comfortable plateau in retirement. That means fully funding your 401(k). While that’s easier said than done — the median amount saved in 401(k)s is just $15,000 for those aged 55 to 64 — try reducing your living expenses, if possible.

Most of all, write down what’s important to you. See any gaps when you compare your list to the 10 items above? Need some help? You can go to any mutual fund or personal finance site online to get a ballpark estimate of how much you need to retire. Also check out this great piece on retirement planning.

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