The Secret to Retirement Happiness (Part 2)

In this episode I review an older article (2005) from Keith Bender and Natalia Jivan called “What Makes Retirees Happy”.

Now one might question why I’m using a nearly 20 year old article to discuss. Good question. The answer is because this was another seminal article, at least for me, as I began my career painting the picture of what works for retirees. And folks, it’s not wealth that makes people happy. Not by any stretch.

Yes, wealth can help. But there becomes a negative utility in having more wealth. That is a fancy economics term meaning the MORE you have of something the less you value it.

What do retirees value most? It’s having the choice to retire as opposed to being forced to. Also, having a guaranteed flow of income from pensions and annuities, not just Social Security, combined with an asset that can grow to provide a potential higher standard of living.

Lastly, it’s the ability to spend time with one’s spouse, or close friends.

Notice nothing states HOW much income one needs to be happy. In fact, there is no correlation with higher income levels and retirement well-being.

But having loved ones, guaranteed income to cover expenses and choices.  You get those three things, you’re going to be good to go.

Listen to learn more.

The Secret to happiness in retirement is…

Well, if you’ve been following my channel at all you ‘ll know what it is.

The secret to retirement happiness is not having a mortgage. And in this video I’ll reference a Washington Post article which serves to confirm this assertion once again.

Now, the Washington Post article doesn’t come out and explicitly state that not having a mortgage is the secret to happiness. In fact, they cite many factors to determine who is actually happy and why.

Some of the factors are quite interesting actually: Strong sense of community, homogeneous population who have been in the community over 5 years, attend church, lesser community, population being less dense.

But what struck me was that in happy communities 13% fewer households spent over 30% of their income on their housing. Hmmm wonder what that implies?

You got it! Cheaper cost of living in rural communities means lower mortgages which means more likely to be paid off come retirement which means less percentage of income goes to housing costs.

Just confirming even more what I said in this video:

So, if you want to be happy in retirement do these things:
1. pay off your mortgage
2. live in a smaller town with people like you who don’t move often
3. lessen your commute
4, go to church
5. get to know your neighbors

Crazy right???

I mean who would ever think people would be happier if they have more elbow room, with great neighbors who are like them, with less debt worries?

Now, think about what this could mean for the future, if and it’s a big IF I grant you…If we could get battery storage capacity out of the 19th century technology.

Think if your neighborhood could generate its own electricity, a micro-grid of sorts, to be used solely in your community. Want to talk about a strong sense of community and neighborliness. Hard to imagine anything better than each neighbor taking part in the local electricity production and consumption.

Of course, electricity isn’t enough to power your home. Still going to need natural gas, which I doubt will ever be run on a micro-grid level.

However, bringing electricity to the local level would be a huge benefit for communities across the US.

I’d argue it would even increase a sense of community and happiness.

But remains to be seen if micro-grid electricity production can be done. I’m pessimistic but hope I am wrong.

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