Retiring from the working world doesn't always mean leaving all your stress behind. In fact, far too many retirees end up with a whole different set of worries as they cope with financial challenges that can come with no longer getting a paycheck.
But you can make sure that your own retirement is as stress-free as possible by following five steps throughout your working life.
1. Invest in a Roth
Both Roth 401(k)s and Roth IRAs are different from traditional accounts because you make contributions with after-tax dollars. While you don't get tax savings up front, you can make tax-free withdrawals in retirement. That means you won't have to worry about the IRS taking a piece of your money when you're on a fixed income.
Choosing a Roth can also help you avoid taxes on Social Security benefits, which become taxable once your income hits a certain threshold. Distributions from a Roth don't count toward it, so you can take as much money out as you want without losing some of your retirement benefits.
Some high earners may prefer a traditional 401(k) or IRA because they'd rather get their tax breaks now, under the assumption their tax bracket will fall later. But you can't count on your taxes going down as a retiree, as rates are fairly low right now and, with mounting government debt, there's a good chance future increases will leave you paying more later. Either way, whether you're a higher earner or not, you'll definitely have less stress in your later years if you don't have to worry about cutting the IRS a check.
2. Save more than you think you'll need
If your nest egg is a small one, you'll constantly have to watch every dollar to make sure your savings don't run dry too soon. That's obviously a really stressful way to spend your time.
To avoid this, set an aggressive retirement goal to save more than you anticipate requiring. When your investment accounts are flush with extra money, you won't worry about whether an unexpected expense or a poorly timed market downturn could destroy your retirement.
3. Get on the same page about retirement with your spouse
Retirement is an experience you'll share if you're married. Make sure you and your spouse have the same ideas about when you'll retire, what you'll do after leaving work, and how much money you'll need to do it. If you don't have shared goals, you could bring a lot of unnecessary tension into your post-working life.
4. Get the preventive medical care you need
Health issues are another major source of retirement stress. While developing medical problems is often inevitable as you age, regular preventive care can keep you as healthy as possible. And the fewer medical concerns you have, the less you'll worry.
5. Buy a long-term care policy
As many as 70% of today's 65-year-olds will require long-term care at some point during the rest of their life. The expenses associated with nursing homes or home care can be astronomical. Worrying about how to cover them can cause significant stress, either if you're aging and may need care or if your spouse does. A long-term care policy alleviates these concerns as long as you shop carefully for comprehensive coverage.
By staying healthy, maximizing your income from investments, and preparing for big expenses, you'll eliminate most of the life stresses you could face as a retiree.