For years, you’ve worked to save a portion of your income to prepare for retirement. Now that you’re approaching this phase of life, you’re finally ready to live the life you’ve been saving for. Or are you?
“Sometimes it’s the best savers who have the hardest time enjoying retirement,” says Robert Delamontagne, PhD, author of “The Retiring Mind.” “You’ve crunched the numbers and found that you can afford the lifestyle you’ve planned. Yet, spending your savings is more psychologically difficult than you anticipated.”
If you feel anxious about spending down what took you a lifetime to build. you’re not alone. Moving from a saving to a spending mindset can be stressful. That’s because great savers are conditioned to delay instant gratification.
For some, worry and even fear may play a role. The unknown — including uncertainty about how long you’ll live, future economic swings and health care changes — can leave you feeling like you’re never truly prepared, even if you are.
But if you’ve worked hard to build a retirement plan that has accounted for retirement risks, you don’t need to feel guilty about enjoying your new life. If you’re challenged with changing your mindset from working/saving to retiring/spending, there are several things you can do to ease the transition, enjoy more and stress less.
Build a budget
If you’re a good saver, you probably aren’t an impulse spender. That’s where a budget can help. A budget is often viewed as restricting your spending, when in fact it’s the opposite: It shows you how much you can comfortably spend without having to worry about other goals being affected.
So look at your budget as one of the tools you can use to explore your interests and accomplish the things that are important to you. Budgeting can help you control nagging worries and make educated choices about what you spend your money on.
Find the passions you want to pursue
Now that you’re post-career, you have the time (and the money) to spend doing other things — in fact, research has shown that spending on experiences brings more happiness than buying material goods. Find experiences that bring you joy, whether that’s learning a new language or instrument, traveling, volunteering or exploring your creative or adventurous side. If you’re busy doing something you love, you’ll spend less time worrying and more time enjoying your money.
Build your community
Work wasn’t just about earning an income. It was a part of your community and gave you an identity that’s suddenly gone. “While I knew I had enough financially, I missed the responsibilities I had and the roles I held,” says Delamontagne, who read more than 50 books to prepare for retirement. Consider finding retired peers and get advice on how they made a successful transition, and plug yourself into local groups or clubs to help build your community.
Have periodic check-ins with your financial advisor
Checking in with a trusted advisor periodically can help ease concerns over whether you’re spending too much. An advisor can help you course correct within your retirement plan if something unexpected occurs and you’re afraid it will upend your finances. If you have a new goal or adventure in mind, they can also help you figure out if you can afford it or help strategize ways to help make it happen.
We plan for retirement, but we don’t always plan for how to live in it. The ability to comfortably spend in retirement comes down to confidence — and having a plan will help you feel more confident that you’ll have the income you need to live the retirement you want.