Ahh... retirement. We daydream about it and know that we're looking forward to finally reading that pile of books or finally taking that trip to Europe. But there's a lot that most of us don't realize about retirement, some of which would be rather useful. Here are seven facts about retirement that you may want to know.
Many people are bored in retirement
Work isn't always fun, but it does typically give us a routine and does keep us busy. Once you're no longer working, though, you'll need to find ways to keep yourself busy. It can be smart to think now about how you'll do so, perhaps picking up a new hobby or interest before you even retire. Look into volunteer opportunities, too, as they're great for helping you feel good about yourself and keeping you connected.
Many people see their health improve in retirement
Studies have found that many people experience an initial increase in health once they retire. It won't last forever, as we get older and develop conditions and diseases, but it can be an initial benefit of retiring. The increase in health makes sense, because once you're not working, you'll have time to exercise more and perhaps cook healthier meals for yourself, as well. It will be easier to find time to go to doctor appointments, too.
Many people become depressed during retirement
According to a study from the Institute of Economic Affairs, "Retirement increases the probability of suffering from clinical depression by about 40%." Why? Well, many people have their identities and senses of self tied up in their jobs. You may have spent 30 years as a respected teacher or a beloved manager or a successful mechanic. Once you're no longer working, you'll likely have less of a routine, fewer social interactions, and a new and different kind of identity. That can be a rough transition for some people. Relationships can become strained during retirement, too. If you and your partner are used to being apart during the day while one or both of you are away at work, it can be a challenge to suddenly be together for most of most days.
Many die sooner due to social isolation
Losing your social circles can be hazardous to your health. Researchers such as Harvard's Dr. Lisa Berkman have linked social isolation to deteriorating health and shorter lifespans. You might combat this by establishing new social groups, such as by joining a gardening club or a weekly poker night. You might even plan to work part-time in retirement, for the first few years.
Many people have saved far less than they need
The 2016 Retirement Confidence Survey revealed that among those aged 50 or older, 30% had saved $250,000 or more for retirement, while fully 27% had saved less than $10,000! Even $250,000 isn't going to last many people too long in retirement. If you apply the broad 4% rule, which suggests withdrawing 4% of your nest egg in your first year of retirement and then adjusting for inflation in subsequent years, you'll start with an annual stipend of $10,000 -- hardly a princely sum. If you think you may have under-saved, take some time to crunch numbers, and consider working a few more years, if you can.
Healthcare often costs far more than expected
We all know that healthcare is a major budget item, but we don't always appreciate just how much. Fidelity Investments releases an annual estimate of how much a 65-year-old couple will spend out of pocket in retirement on healthcare, and their latest number is $260,000! You may end up spending less, of course, but you might also face even steeper costs. Be sure to keep healthcare expenses in mind as you plan for retirement.
Many people don't receive as much money from Social Security as they expected
Unless you go to the trouble of checking, you may be living with a misconception about how much to expect from Social Security. For example, the average Social Security benefit was recently $1,350 per month, or about $16,000 per year. And the maximum benefit for those retiring at their full retirement age was recently $2,639 -- or about $32,000 for the whole year. You can get a realistic idea of how much you can expect by setting up a "my Social Security" account at the Social Security website, www.SSA.gov. Be sure to look into strategies that can boost how much you get from the program, too.
Don't let retirement surprise you in any unwelcome ways. Know what to expect and plan for it.