3 Things More Important Than Retirement Savings

When most people think of a retirement plan, they think of the money they need to save, and the best steps to achieve that savings goals. But after helping clients get to the finish line, we find there’s still a lot of planning left. In general, we see three common concerns that worry our clients, and oftentimes, they’re more important than retirement savings.

1) Maintain your physical health

You can have the most comprehensive financial plan in the world, but that won’t matter if you’re running your health into the ground. By not protecting your health, you’re potentially saving for a day that will never come.

A lot of people adopt the philosophy of spending money today, because they could be gone tomorrow. Why not save our money now, and protect our physical health for the long run? Many retirees have dreams of taking trips with their families, maybe taking the grandkids to Disney World, but find themselves struggling to keep up and not enjoying themselves. 

And there’s no magic or innovative solution to this concern, everyone knows what has to be done. We need to eat healthy and stay active. It’s easier said than done, but most things worth doing take discipline and consistency.

Fortunately, with the aid of technology, there are so many resources that make health goals easier to accomplish. And the best way to make a lifestyle change is to make it an enjoyable one. If you like watching a particular sport, join an amateur league, or make one with your neighbors. Or maybe take the dog out for an extra long walk. Find something that works for your schedule and makes you happy. Studies suggest that even an extra 20 minute walk a day can extend your lifespan. 

2) Maintain your mental health

Physical and mental health go hand-in-hand. We must protect our minds like we would our bodies. Our brains need stimulation before AND after retirement. The brain is a muscle that needs exercise too. For most people, their careers help shape their identities and keep them stimulated. But when it’s time to retire, they find themselves at a loss. All the goals they had planned for in retirement may not be enough to keep their minds challenged, to help them redefine their relevance. 

This is why it’s important to find new hobbies and interests in retirement. While little is known on how to prevent alzheimer’s, there are some indications that mental stimulation can keep the symptoms at bay. Just like with our physical health, we need to strengthen our mental health to ensure we make the most of our retirement.

Without a sound mind and body, all that money we invest in our retirement accounts won’t matter because we won’t be around to fund our dreams. 

3) Manage your stress 

Straddling both mental and physical health is stress management. While stress is typically associated with mental health, studies have tied stress to physical ailments like high blood pressure and weight gain because of the hormones it releases.

Stress management is probably the most difficult health obstacle to overcome. Many times we can’t do anything to remove the cause of our stress. What we can do is manage the stress itself. We can channel stress into something proactive. Need to decompress and increase your activity level? Join a class. Find something you enjoy that also gets your heart rate up. Or maybe find a new, relaxing hobby. Stepping out of your comfort zone may seem like another stressor, but it’s one with a positive outcome. 

If we roll these three ideas together, we may even see an overall “health” boost in your finances too. Why? The better you take care of yourself now, both physically and emotionally, the less likely you are to spend on high medical expenses in the future. So, we can see how important it is to take care of ourselves if we really want to make the most of our retirement funds. 

And while most of us know our health should come first, it’s hard to make that first leap. But setting a small goal can help make it more manageable and less overwhelming. Go out for a five minute stroll, and next week aim for ten minutes. Remember, small changes can snowball in positive ways.