From ‘happy-to-retire’ to ‘happy-in-retirement’

By: Neerja Caprihan

Growing up, most of us couldn’t wait to get out of school so we could have our own plentiful earnings, that would potentially lead to all sorts of independence and a lifestyle of our choice. Fast forward to adulthood, we cannot wait to retire so that once we have our own plentiful earnings, that would potentially lead to all sorts of independence and a lifestyle of our choice. Desires are funny that way, right! 

But surely, wanting to lead a comfortable life after one has given one’s best years to earning a livelihood sincerely and taking care of familial responsibilities faithfully, is not an unreasonable ask. Everyone deserves to be happy after all. Well, reasonably happy at any rate.

Now can money buy that happiness? Depending on what you read, who you follow or what you believe in, the answer could range from a vehement No, to a Yes with a caveat like only up to a point, where that point could be a well-defined monetary figure like $75000, to an overarching Yes. 1 Whatever your personal belief on this front, the converse sentiment most likely resonates with a majority of people. i.e. having no money will most likely lead to unhappiness. 

Even if you don’t want to lead life king-size, it is simply judicious to plan for the future. That means having in place a plan that does not require you to resort to desperate measures, unbecoming of the white hairs in autumn years, to tide over days that might be tougher on health and living. So have that pot of money saved up to cover your future needs, even if you aspire to a frugal and minimalist way of life. As a matter of fact, Ed Diener has captured the paradox here succinctly “It is generally good for your happiness to have money, but toxic to your happiness to want money too much.” in his famous book ‘Happiness’. No more is therefore great, in fact perfect! Less, simply said, less so.

Ironically, an astounding 2021 statistic revealed that although three-fourths of non-retired adults in the US had at least some retirement savings, about one-fourth did not have any.2 So whether you are a believer of the FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) model or simply someone who wants to live the later years of life with a balance of comfortable spending and financial prudence, the basic tenets towards retirement, early or not, stay the same.

  • Be a realist. You cannot set aside advancing years, but you can set aside some time and money to put into them in advance.
  • Invest. The larger the nest egg, the better the preparedness towards either your retirement goals, or simply a rainy day.
  • Start early. And if you did not, start now. A compound interest only gets more rewarding with time.
  • Plan wisely. Choose plans depending on your specific situation, be it with respect to the nature of employment, spending needs, health, family size or simply the alternative pursuit of a more enriching purpose in life.
  • Prioritize health. While all that money might assure one of a memorable funeral but really, best to enjoy it with a healthy body and mind.
  • Take guidance. Reach out for help from financial advisors to not only keep yourself abreast of the latest rules and policies but also to seek appropriate advice that is tailored to your needs and circumstances.

So how does one go from being happy-to-retire, to being happy-in-retirement? A recent Mass Mutual survey revealed a few interesting statistics in this regard:

  •  At least five years prior to retirement, retirees most often said they were preparing by contributing money to a retirement account (64%), increasing their savings (60%) and paying off debt (53%).3
  • Financial uncertainty (44%), not having enough money to support myself/my family (43%) and health issues (42%) are top sources of anxiety for pre-retirees when thinking about retirement.3
  • 61% of retirees who are much happier in retirement said they worked to pay off debt at least five years before retirement compared to 48% of those who are not happier in retirement.3


You can elect to do your retirement planning with any of the scores of advisory services available these days. We, at Interactive Advisors, keep our offerings in line with how we have always been – simple, smart and steady. If you would like to explore your options with us, you can find out more about us here and also view our diverse range of portfolio offerings across all accounts. To help kickstart a conversation, a preview of our primary retirement account offerings for US residents is given below:

  • Traditional – Earnings in this account grow tax-deferred until withdrawn during retirement, when you may be in a lower tax bracket. You may be able to deduct contributions from your tax returns.
  • Traditional Rollover – A traditional IRA account that receives assets directly from an IRS-approved retirement plan, such as a 401(k) or pension plan within 60 days of distribution from the plan.
  • Roth – You can contribute money you’ve paid tax on. Money potentially grows tax-free. Money can be withdrawn tax-free if you are over 59 ½, buying your first home, disabled, or die. Unlike Traditional IRAs, a Roth IRA owner may continue to contribute after age 70½ if they have earned income.

So do not just aspire to retirement for peace of mind, but embrace it with a peace of mind. The best way to sum up retirement planning would be to quote the one and only Mr.Warren Buffett – “Predicting rain doesn’t count. Building arks does”. Happy building. Happy retirement.











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