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Money isn’t everything

Although financial security is important, money can’t buy happiness (as the old adage goes). And that’s especially pertinent in retirement. According to financial adviser Azul Wells, financial security is just one of several “must-have” retirement assets.

To enjoy retirement, he says, you also need relationships and connections to people you care about, as well as good health and time. By time, he means “honoring the fact that we don’t have a lot of time, and to take full advantage of the time that we do have.”

Similarly, Dave Zoller, a financial planner at Streamline Financial Services, says that in addition to financial assets, intellectual and human assets are key to a successful retirement. Examples of intellectual assets include knowledge, skills, unique abilities, experiences and traditions. Human assets include family and friends, your values, your faith and your health, among others.

If you could only pass on two of these assets, Zoller says most people will choose intellectual and human assets — since financial assets can be rebuilt if people have those other two assets intact. That’s why retirement planning should begin by asking about “what’s most important to you,” he says.

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How to have the ‘must-haves’

While some Americans have a solid nest egg in place, they may only be in good standing in one or two of the following categories. But they’re just as important for a happy retirement.

Stay healthy

Maintaining your health should start long before retirement, but it’s never too late to begin.

If you’re just getting started, talk to your doctor about a healthy diet and exercise program that’s right for you. As you age, you’ll experience losses in strength and coordination, so it may be important to include exercises to combat this as you age. There are also sports leagues and fitness classes geared toward seniors, which come with the added benefit of social interaction.

Combat loneliness

Social isolation and loneliness aren’t uncommon for retirees — and they’re linked to physical and mental health issues, even earlier death. If you’re dealing with loneliness, consider visiting your local senior or community center, which might offer courses, recreational programs or even dedicated socialization activities.

Some seniors have found connections through senior villages, which, for an annual membership, create an extended network with opportunities for socializing and resources for services such as volunteers.

Find your purpose

Having a purpose in retirement may help you live longer and stave off some of the diseases related to aging. Some ways to find purpose include volunteering, working a part-time job and pursuing your passions — particularly if you can join a group or club to do this.

Retirement can be a joyful and fulfilling stage of your life. But it takes planning and attention to all the “must-have” assets — not just your financial assets.

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Vawn Himmelsbach Freelance Contributor

Vawn Himmelsbach is a journalist who has been covering tech, business and travel for more than two decades. Her work has been published in a variety of publications, including The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, National Post, CBC News, ITbusiness, CAA Magazine, Zoomer, BOLD Magazine and Travelweek, among others.

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