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Most retire happypeople start off life happy but see a decline in well-being during adulthood. The stress of raising a family, working long hours and overall tension erode those feelings of happiness. On a good note, happiness picks back up at 65 and peaks at 85 (according to the Gallup-Healthways Well-being Index).

While the thought of retirement may make you laugh because it seems so far away, it is never too early to start planning for this goal.

So how can you make sure you can retire happy? Financial security is on the top of the list but some of the other tips may surprise you.

Tip 1: Create a steady paycheck in retirement. Money can buy you happiness, but only to a certain point. Surveys of retirees show that once you have net worth over $550,000, money’s ability to boost your mood diminishes. The source of retirement is also very important. Retirees with a predictable income—pension and rental properties—receive more enjoyment spending money than those pulling money from 401(k)s or IRAs. In fact, retirees that rely solely on investments had the highest degree of financial anxiety!

Tip 2: If you like your work, work longer. While there is an obvious financial benefit to working longer, the physical and social connections through work tend to make retirees healthier. Health is a key driver to a happy retirement. A study published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology indicates that retirees with part-time or temporary jobs have fewer major diseases (high blood pressure and heart disease) that those that stop working completely. The big exception to this health benefit is if you HAVE to work. If you have to work longer to pay the bills, it has the opposite effect. Also, stay in your field of expertise since these retirees showed the best mental health.

Tip 3: Keep busy. No time for hobbies these days? Take the time to find a few. The happiest retirees have three to four activities and keep busy schedules. The least happy had one to two activities. The activities that make folks happiest are social in nature and include volunteering, travel and golf. The least happy retirees had solitary hobbies such as reading, hunting, fishing and writing.

Tip 4: Become a renter again. Owning a home brings retirees happiness but at a certain age, those who rent and are free of the burdens of home ownership become happier. The switch tends to happen around age 80. Living alone can create isolation, and the more social… the happier you should be.

Tip 5: Do not live too close to family. According to the Texas Tech University Financial Planning department, living within ten miles of adult children leaves retirees less happy. Perhaps it is being too accessible?

Living a happy retirement does not just hinge on a sizable
bank account. Health, socializing and working by choice all bring more happiness in retirement than in your wealth accumulation years. It may be too hard to think concretely about retirement if you have kids in elementary school, but your parents may be in the process of retiring or recently retired. If you cannot plan for yourself just yet, think about these tips in helping to ensure your parents live happily ever after.

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