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The Secret Threat to Your Retirement You Need to Know About

By Maurie Backman – Updated Mar 25, 2019 at 2:14PM

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Hint: It has nothing to do with the amount of money you have or haven't saved.

There's good reason so many workers fear retirement -- it's essentially an uncharted territory, a period of unknowns. And when we think about the things that might threaten our happiness and security as we move through our senior years, not having saved enough money tends to top the list. But here's one risk factor you may not have considered as a potential retirement derailer: boredom.

It's a serious concern. Retirees are said to be 40% more likely to suffer from clinical depression than workers, and the causes often boil down to not having enough to do with their time. Not only might boredom make you miserable, but it might lead you to burn through your nest egg faster than anticipated in an effort to combat it, thereby putting yourself at risk of running out of money. Boredom can also impact your physical health -- if you get stuck in a rut and don't feel inspired to leave the house for weeks on end, it can really take a toll.

Older man with bored expression on couch with TV remote in hand

IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.

That's why it's so important to go into retirement with a plan for how you'll spend your days. Otherwise, you risk falling victim to boredom and having it ruin your golden years as a result.

Avoiding boredom in your old(er) age

Boredom is a dangerous thing in retirement, and one best avoided as much as possible. To allow for that, you'll need to go into retirement with a realistic plan for keeping yourself occupied. To map that plan out, however, you'll need to take a serious look at your budget to determine what leisure activities you can reasonably swing. You might want to join a country club and spend your days golfing and dining with peers, but if your savings don't allow for that, you'll need to settle for something less expensive to do with your time.

Furthermore, if you're entering retirement with limited savings, avoiding boredom might require you to get creative. Thankfully, seniors are generally privy to plenty of free or low-cost entertainment, from discounted movies to museums, and if you're the outdoorsy type, you'll have even more options to choose from.

Another great way to stay busy in retirement? Work part-time. It's an easy way to occupy your time without spending a dime, and if you earn enough, you might buy yourself the option to do some of the things you want to do but can't otherwise afford.

If you can't find a job, you might consider volunteering instead. In this regard, there's really a host of options to choose from, so think about the causes you're most passionate about and aim to lend a helping hand. If you love animals, for example, you might volunteer twice a week at a local shelter. If you're a former educator, you might tutor children from low-income households for free. And if you're in good enough shape, you can even volunteer to help build homes for folks in need.

No matter what you plan to do with your time in retirement, don't close out your career without some feasible options mapped out. The last thing you want to do is leave the workforce only to find yourself miserable shortly after the fact.

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