5 Traits of Successful Retirees

Having a successful retirement takes some planning. ”Winging it" may not be the best strategy. Here are some common traits of those who have a successful retirement.

1.  Be debt free

Many retired people still have debt and are using reverse annuity mortgages at a younger and younger age. You want to do everything you can to be debt free by the time you retire.

2.  Have cut the financial cord with their children

Parents have one basic responsibility which is to equip their children to survive on their own, both emotionally and financially. Having money does not make you a bank. It may sound harsh but if a family member needs money, let him or her borrow it elsewhere. At some point your children need to learn how to stand on their own two feet financially. The wealth you've accumulated has to last you the rest of your life. The best strategy for this is to teach your children as young as possible to be financial responsible and learn to say “no” to their requests for money as soon as they are able to earn for themselves. Of course if they genuinely need a helping hand then it’s important to help your family. The challenge is to find the balance between helping out in times of need and enabling your children to become freeloaders.

3.  Financially educate yourself

Independence is the main goal of retirement. You don’t need to become a financial whiz, rather learn some good basic financial know-how so you are not financially vulnerable and can make sound decisions. Give yourself a financial education while you're accumulating wealth so you can enjoy that wealth once you retire otherwise you might just leave a high-stress job for a high-stress retirement.

4.  Use the experts

Professional advisers will, in the majority of cases, have a lot more financial knowledge and experience than you. A professional advisor could fully manage all your investments, or you might decide to use them for some of your portfolio. Even if you decide you want to manage your investments yourself there could be a lot of value in using an independent, qualified professional to assess how you are doing and help you keep on track. The check-up might cost a few hundred dollars, but it’s money well spent. Retirees cannot afford to be penny wise and pound foolish.

5.  Get on the same page as your partner sooner rather than later

During your working years, you trade time and expertise for money. For most, the goal is to save enough so you don't have to work full time to survive. Then, during retirement you trade money for time to pursue other interests. Sad to say, many people struggle to pinpoint what those interests are once they get there. One spouse might want to travel while the other doesn’t, etc. Retirement is no fun if only one partner is living their dream. Happier couples talk and plan how they want to spend their time long before retirement day.

By Lisa Dudson

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