Happiness in Retirement is About More than Money
Happiness in retirement is important. Sometimes we focus so much on the financial aspects of retirement readiness, we forget there are intangibles that are also important to one’s well being in the post-working years. A recent article from bankrate.com reminds us that some of the top-ranked “happiness factors” in retirement have nothing to do with dollars and cents.
For instance, the article cites a recent paper by Michael Finke of the American College, Nhat Ho of Eastern New Mexico University and Sandra Huston of Texas Tech University, which found that “the spousal relationship has a much more substantial impact on life satisfaction than spending inputs.” In other words, a happy marriage outweighs the satisfaction one feels from buying stuff. That said, the authors also found that those in unhappy marriages would have to increase their discretionary spending by a whopping 43% to be as happy as an unmarried retiree. Connections with friends are also important for happiness in retirement.
Good health is also a key factor of happiness in retirement and well-being in one’s so-called “golden years,” the paper’s authors found. The phrase “health is wealth” is quite meaningful in this context. Instead of spending money on healthcare costs and assisted living, the retiree in good health can instead enjoy dinners out with friends, vacations, and adventures to far-flung locales.
Thus, being able to enjoy the “good life” in retirement isn’t a function of how much an individual has saved — it’s much more. The quality of their relationships and their health also plays a significant role in retirees’ quality of life. They say money can’t buy happiness, and when it comes to enjoying the intangibles such as quality relationships and good health in retirement, it seems that’s true. That said, having adequate savings sure can help make one’s post-working years a lot more comfortable, so when it comes to communicating with retirement plan participants, it’s important for sponsors to emphasize the importance of setting aside enough money today so they can live well tomorrow. If they’ve saved enough to live out their post-working years comfortably, good health and solid relationships with their spouse and friends is an added bonus.
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