Retirement Insights

News and information for current and future retirees.

Being Rich in Retirement vs. Being Happy: There’s a Difference

Money obviously plays a role, but how much you have isn’t as important as the quality of your life when it comes to health, relationships and activities.

The concept of “investing” is often associated solely with monetary pursuits. It has become synonymous with growing a portfolio, aimed at securing a future filled with affluence. However, this one-dimensional interpretation of wealth fails to capture its full essence. Our understanding of wealth needs to evolve, going beyond the confines of financial accumulation, to encompass the necessary conditions for a well-rounded, successful retirement.

The prospect of an ideal future isn’t encapsulated by a mere stack of hundred-dollar bills. Instead, it’s shaped by the quality of life that these financial resources can provide. When there is a pursuit of wealth, money is assumed to be the definitive goal. However, what is often being pursued is the atmosphere that money can create — the lifestyle and environment we envision for our future self — that truly matters.

You could possess all the wealth in the world, but without the cornerstones of a fulfilling life such as health, income, cognitive ability, thriving relationships and a nurturing environment, its value becomes questionable. What benefit do stacks of hundred-dollar bills offer if they are not instrumental in manifesting a meaningful life?

In this new paradigm, wealth extends beyond the mere accumulation of money. It becomes about the life you construct around it, the “atmospheric condition” you create for yourself.

What does your life look like in two or three decades?

If you stop to think and imagine your life two or three decades from now, you likely see people and activities. There are activities that will occupy your time, requiring good health and cognitive abilities. The people participating alongside of you in these activities are the relationships you have invested in over time.

It is the overall “atmospheric condition” that defines your retirement and offers a keen understanding of what is genuinely important. This vision serves as a guiding light for investing in other aspects of your life that will lead to better health, nurturing relationships, a stable income and, essentially, the life you’ve envisioned for yourself.

Think of preventive health care as an investment

The importance of investing in health cannot be overstated. This can take the form of hiring a health coach, consulting a functional doctor, following a balanced diet or maintaining a regular exercise routine.

Instead of viewing preventive health as an expense, view it as an investment in your future self, securing the quality of life we all crave.

Simultaneously, investing in relationships is paramount. Relationships, whether they are family, friends or romantic, all form an integral part of our emotional support system. Investing time and energy in nurturing these relationships might involve caring for others, reaching out to friends and family or investing in others through mentorship. The rewards of these investments, though not always tangible, foster emotional well-being and personal growth.

Relationships don’t have to be monetary investments, but can be an investment of time. Either way, you must be intentional, setting aside the “what’s in it for me?” attitude and committing to “what’s in it for them?” Joe Polish’s book What’s in It for Them? goes deep into how this is done.

Money is simply a tool

As you begin to recognize this, you gain the understanding that money is simply a tool that enables us to reach these goals and is not the goal itself. Consequently, when you start thinking about an ideal future, you embark on the path to truly manifesting your ideal future self.

Retirement should be viewed not just as a time of unemployment, but as a new chapter that is ripe with potential. A successful retirement is a culmination of careful planning and wise investments in income-oriented assets, health and relationships. It’s about spending time doing things you love, being surrounded by people you cherish, enjoying robust health and having the financial security to live comfortably.


Estate Planning Checklist

Doing these things now, while you’re still physically and mentally healthy, will make things considerably easier for you and your loved ones when the time comes.

It’s difficult to think about what may happen if your health starts to decline — or how your loved ones will carry on after your death. But doing nothing to plan for these events could result in you losing control over your affairs while you’re still alive—and result in confusion and anger from your loved ones after you’re gone.

You can help prevent these unwanted consequences by making these decisions while you’re still healthy, documenting them and communicating them in advance to your loved ones. While there are many issues to think about, here are five decisions you should move to the top of your priority list.

1. Document your health care and interment wishes

Health care proxies

It’s important to make sure family members and friends are aware of your medical treatment and interment wishes before a health care crisis takes these decisions out of your hands. Fortunately, there are ways you can formally document these directives in writing so there’s no misunderstanding.

A health care proxy, also known as a medical power of attorney, is a legal document that authorizes one or more people to serve as health agents who can make medical decisions on your behalf should you become physically or mentally incapacitated.

Most people assign their spouse or partner as their primary health care agent and one of their children or a close family member or friend as an alternate agent should the primary agent pass on or also become incapacitated. Generally, each state has its own health care proxy/power of attorney forms.

A living will

These legal documents allow you to specify which kinds of treatment and long-term care options you prefer. On the form, you specify whether or not you wish a physician to employ resuscitation procedures, ventilators, tube feeding or other life-sustaining procedures.

Medical orders for life sustaining treatment (MOLST)

Also called a physician orders for life-sustaining treatment (POLST), this form is a set of medical orders signed by a doctor for patients after they’ve been diagnosed with advanced illness who could die within the next few years. You can create this form even if you’re not ill. It will go into effect only if you’re facing an end-of-life situation.

Most states have their own form, which must be signed by you and a physician. Unlike a living will, it is not generally considered a legal document. Instead, it is a doctor’s order.

Organ donations

If you’ve never registered as an organ donor with your state, you can do it online. Start at to connect to your state’s donor registry.

Interment agreements

If you’ve already made arrangements with a funeral home or a cemetery, make sure your loved ones are aware of this.

Note that some states have comprehensive advance health care directive forms that allow you to designate health care agents, specify treatment preferences and authorize organ donations in a single document.

Once you’ve filled out any of these forms, make several copies and give them to your chosen health care agents and your estate attorney. While you don’t necessarily have to give them to your children, friends or family members, you should consider discussing your directives with them.

2. Choose an executor

The executor will be responsible for managing the distribution of assets in your estate. These could include your home, your non-retirement investments, your vehicles and other valuable items.

Your executor doesn’t have to be a legal professional. As long as you’ve assigned an estate attorney to do the heavy lifting, anyone can serve as executor, including your children, a family member or a close friend.

If you ask a non-professional to serve as executor, make sure they understand their responsibilities. It could take months or years for your estate to be settled. During this time, your executor may need to have multiple in-person meetings with bankers, appraisers, attorneys and state and local officials.

Once you’ve chosen an executor, it’s a good idea to introduce them to your estate attorney, even if it may be years or decades before they’ll have to work together. And remember that you can change your executor — or add a co-executor — at any time.

Whomever you choose for this role, make sure your heirs are aware of this decision.

3. Protect your financial interests

Many parents don’t want their heirs to know how much they’re worth — or how much they may inherit. It’s perfectly acceptable to keep this information close to the vest, but it may be a good idea to set their expectations, especially if they believe they’re going to receive much more than you intend to give them.

There are additional steps you should take to protect your financial security.

Assign a financial power of attorney

At some point, you may want to fill out a financial power of attorney form to give control of your finances to others, should you no longer be able to manage them yourself. Like a health care proxy, usually a spouse or partner is assigned as a primary proxy, with a child or other family member or close friend as an alternate.

Consider removing assets from your estate

If you have significant wealth or own one or more properties, expensive vehicles or fine art or collectibles, you may want to look for ways to remove these assets from your estate. Doing so will keep the disposition of these assets from going through a potentially lengthy probate process.

Discuss your trust

If you’ve placed most of your assets in a trust to remove them from your estate, make sure your heirs understand this decision.

This kind of disclosure is particularly important if you’ve transferred your home, vehicles, artwork or jewelry to the trust and have instructed the trustee to sell these assets after you and your spouse or partner have passed on. Your heirs may be upset by these decisions, but at least they’ll know in advance that they shouldn’t expect to take ownership of these assets.

Appoint a successor trustee

You and your spouse or partner are probably trustees for your living trust. But you may want to formally designate a family member as a successor trustee to take on this role on your behalf should you become physically or mentally capacitated.

You can also appoint a successor trustee to represent the interests of beneficiaries after you and your spouse or partner pass on.

Examine tax issues for beneficiaries

Your heirs generally won’t have to pay taxes on cash they receive from your estate or from life insurance payouts. However, they may or may not have to pay taxes on income they receive from the sale of your home, private business shares or other physical assets. If they don’t work with an accountant or tax professional, you may want to introduce them to yours, so they won’t have to sort through these complex tax issues on their own.

4. Finalize your will

Hopefully, you’ve written a will that clearly specifies how your assets will be distributed. You may be hesitant about discussing it with your heirs, but you should consider doing so, especially if they’re under the mistaken assumption that they’ll be inheriting the bulk of your estate.

If this isn’t true — for example, if you plan on leaving most of your wealth to charity — then it may be better to inform them of this decision sooner rather than later.

5. Create a ‘need to know’ file

Once you’ve made these critical decisions, it’s important to communicate them ahead of time to those who will be most impacted. If you don’t feel comfortable talking about these issues in person, consider recording a video in which you explain your wishes and share what steps you’ve taken to document them.

Make it easy for people to access the information they need to carry out your wishes by creating a comprehensive “end of life” file. It should include:

  • Copies of your health care and financial proxy forms.
  • Copies of your life insurance policies.
  • Contact information for your primary care physician, medical specialists, attorney, accountant, financial adviser, life insurance agents or any other professionals they may need to contact in a health care emergency or after your death.
  • At least one copy of your bank, investment, mortgage and loan statements.
  • A list of all your credit card numbers and any associated PINs needed to access these accounts.
  • Usernames, passwords and personal identification numbers for all of your online accounts, including social media accounts.
  • Any interment agreements you’ve already made with a funeral home or cemetery.
  • The location of vehicle titles, deeds, mortgage documents and past tax returns and records.
  • If you’re a business owner, copies of any business succession plans and the location of ownership-related documentation.


How to Overcome Fear of Retirement

The dread of boredom and loss of work identity can push many to put off their retirement.

After turning 70 last fall, Susan Kelly decided 2023 would be the year she retired. On May 1, she wrapped up a dozen years working in communications for the federal government.

Fred Gladstone, 61, retired as a school psychologist in the Levittown, New York, area June 30, having worked four years past the 30-year milestone at which educators often leave the profession.

Neither was keen to quit the day job. In fact, the idea left them cold. 

Gladstone says he’d considered retiring as early as 2020 but wondered what he’d do with his time instead. He didn’t file the paperwork until March. 

“It was difficult to put the letter in. I had told people and I had told my principal, but I had never put the letter in,” he says. “The principal finally asked, ‘Seriously, are you going to retire?’ ” Even then, “I had second thoughts in my head — what the hell am I doing?” 

For many, the prospect of leaving the daily work routine behind brings joy and anticipation, but some older adults approach retirement with something more like dread. They fear losing their sense of purpose, worry about how they’ll fill their days, wonder who they even are without their career.

“Work structures us and gives us routine in our lives,” says Louis Primavera, a professor of psychology at Touro College in New York City. “We plan around work. It is part of our identity. We go to a social gathering and people say, ‘What do you do?’ Clearly, what happens is people say, ‘What am I going to do? What am I going to be?’ The fear of loss of identity is a major fear.”

Kelly, who worked at USA Today for 21 years before going to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, says she thought she might never retire.

“I always liked working, and my skills as a writer and editor have been a big part of how I see myself,” she says. “I was dreading May 2nd. I had very mixed feelings about retiring.”

“The biggest wakeup call was Memorial Day weekend,” Kelly says. “A three-day weekend when you’re retired is not the same as a three-day weekend when you’re working.” 

“When you look at the Hallmark version of retirement, it’s a life of leisure,” says Patrice Jenkins, an organizational psychologist in Saratoga Springs, New York.  “But when you’re feeling anxious about the decision, it’s easy to think, Something may be wrong with me.” 

Fear of boredom, isolation

Such concerns are commonplace. About 1 in 5 U.S. workers surveyed by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies late last year identified “finding meaningful ways to spend time and stay involved” as one of their biggest retirement fears. One in 4 were afraid of “feeling isolated and alone.”

Just the word “retirement” has negative connotations for many, according to the center’s findings, issued in a July report. While slight majorities associate it with “freedom” and “enjoyment,” 16 percent connect retirement with “boredom” and 11 percent with “isolation.”

Another recent survey, by human resources and payroll services provider Paychex, found that 1 in 6 retirees are considering a return to work. More than half of that group — 52 percent — said one of the reasons is they are “getting bored” (just one point less than those saying they needed more money). Among retirees who had already returned to work, 60 percent said they were “happy” about doing so, 50 percent were “energized” and 48 percent were “excited.”

“The level we identify with our work identity has a lot to do with how we approach retirement and how successful we make the transition to retirement,” Jenkins says. 

“For those that have very strong work attachment identity, they will want to hold onto a work identity. People will say they failed retirement and went back to work. Actually, work can be part of your retirement.”

“There’s an underlying, tacit assumption people work for the money,” says Mitch Anthony, a financial adviser coach and author of The New Retirementality: Planning Your Life and Living Your Dreams . . . at Any Age You Want. “But a lot of us work for more than just money.”  

Take Mike Baker. At age 55, the Cincinnatian left an executive position with a regional financial firm, but his retirement didn’t last long.

“I really didn’t know at that time what I wanted to do,” he recalls. “I think what most people do is ask themselves, ‘What do you really like and want to spend your time doing?’ Some people say golf; others want to fish. My hobby was business, finance and investments. So, what I really wanted to do is use those interests as my main time-consuming event.”

Eight months after Baker left his corporate job, he got an opportunity to buy a company that provides business solutions and software to a trade association for heating and air conditioning contractors in the U.S. and Canada. Now 73, he works about six hours a day during the work week and doesn’t “have any exit plan based on age or length of service.”

Psychological investment

“There’s a big difference between people who retire to something and people who retire from something,” Anthony says. “Anecdotally, those who retire from something and have no vision going forward are more likely to flounder in the first year or two of retirement. I can’t tell you how many retirees tell me they felt aimless.”

Jenkins advises exploring other areas of interest before stopping work. 

“You invest financially in a portfolio for the future; you should invest psychologically in the future,” she says. “So many people often plan more for a two-week vacation than for their retirement.”

Belatedly, Fred Gladstone is doing some of that planning, weighing whether to take a part-time job unrelated to education. “My dream was to be a tour guide,” he says. He also sees himself spending more time helping his mother and mother-in-law, both in their early 90s, as his wife is still working full-time.

Susan Kelly is also looking ahead. She’s exploring freelance speechwriting and blogging and now has the time to focus more on creative writing, having previously taken classes and workshops in playwriting. She is also considering going back to school for a graduate degree in religious studies.

“I’ve always been interested in religion, and to stay intellectually engaged, I always see myself studying,” she says. In addition, she’s focusing on fitness, having worked with a personal trainer for six years, and has more time to spend with Tyson, the beagle rescue she adopted last fall.

After retiring, Kelly created an office in a spare room at her Washington, D.C., home rather than continue working at her dining room table, as she had done during the pandemic. She says remote work made the transition to retirement a bit easier.

“I was one of those people who always wanted to be in the office. I liked the camaraderie. But now the department works remotely,” she says.

“Not having that sense of purpose will be a challenge,” she adds. “That said, I know I’ll redefine my life and myself in the months and years ahead. I feel like a lot of what I’ve done so far is setting the stage for this next phase of my life.” 



How can you incorporate it into your travels?

Sustainable tourism, also known as responsible tourism or ecotourism, refers to the practice of visiting a place as a tourist while minimizing the negative impact on the environment, supporting local communities, and preserving cultural heritage. It aims to promote economic development, conserve natural resources, and foster social and cultural integrity.

There are several ways to support sustainable tourism, and this article will focus on the following:

  1. Choose Eco-Friendly Accommodations
  2. Support Local Businesses and Communities
  3. Respect the Environment
  4. Conserve Resources
  5. Choose Sustainable Transportation
  6. Minimize Plastic Waste
  7. Learn About the Local Culture and Customs
  8. Support Conservation Initiatives
  9. Educate Yourself and Others
So How Exactly Do You Travel Sustainably?

Let’s have a more detailed look into each of the above categories.

Choose Eco-Friendly Accommodations

Look for hotels, resorts, or lodges that prioritize sustainability practices, such as energy and water conservation, waste reduction, and use of renewable resources.

Support Local Businesses and Communities

Opt for locally owned hotels, restaurants, and shops to contribute directly to the local economy. Engage in cultural exchanges by participating in local activities and purchasing locally made products.

Respect the Environment

Follow the principles of “leave no trace” by minimizing your impact on natural surroundings. Avoid littering, respect wildlife and their habitats, and use designated trails when hiking.

Conserve Resources

Be mindful of your water and energy consumption while traveling. Take shorter showers, turn off lights and air conditioning when not needed, and reuse towels and bed linen in your accommodations.

Choose Sustainable Transportation

Opt for eco-friendly transportation options whenever possible. Consider using public transportation, cycling, or walking to explore destinations. If flying is necessary, favor direct flights and try to offset your carbon emissions.

Minimize Plastic Waste

Carry a reusable water bottle and refill it instead of buying single-use plastic bottles. Bring your own reusable shopping bags and say no to plastic straws and bags.

Learn About the Local Culture and Customs

Respect and appreciate the local culture by learning about their customs, traditions, and etiquette. Be mindful of appropriate behavior, dress modestly where required, and ask for permission before taking photographs of people.

Support Conservation Initiatives

Consider visiting national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, or nature reserves that focus on conservation efforts. Your entrance fees and donations can contribute to the preservation of these natural areas.

Learn About the Local Culture and Customs

Respect and appreciate the local culture by learning about their customs, traditions, and etiquette. Be mindful of appropriate behavior, dress modestly where required, and ask for permission before taking photographs of people.

Support Conservation Initiatives

Consider visiting national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, or nature reserves that focus on conservation efforts. Your entrance fees and donations can contribute to the preservation of these natural areas.

Supporting Local Communities

Sustainable tourism emphasizes the empowerment of local communities. By choosing locally owned accommodations, restaurants, and businesses, travelers can directly contribute to the local economy and support the livelihoods of residents. This helps create employment opportunities, reduce poverty, and improve the overall well-being of local communities.

Preserving Cultural Heritage

Responsible tourism promotes the preservation of cultural heritage and traditions. By respecting local customs, engaging with the local community, and supporting cultural initiatives, travelers can help protect and celebrate the unique identities, languages, arts, and traditions of different cultures.

Enhancing Social Well-Being

Sustainable tourism aims to benefit the local population and promote social inclusivity. By engaging in community-based tourism projects, travelers can interact with locals, learn from their experiences, and foster cross-cultural understanding. This kind of interaction can lead to meaningful connections and promote mutual respect and tolerance.

Personal Enrichment and Learning

Eco-friendly travel offers an opportunity for personal growth and learning. By immersing yourself in different cultures, landscapes, and communities, you can gain a deeper understanding of the world and develop a broader perspective. It can be a transformative experience that promotes empathy, cultural sensitivity, and appreciation for diversity.

Responsible Tourism Industry

Traveling sustainably encourages the tourism industry to adopt responsible practices. As more travelers demand sustainable options, hotels, tour operators, and other service providers are incentivized to adopt environmentally friendly and socially responsible measures. This shift towards sustainability can lead to a more responsible and ethical tourism industry as a whole.

Traveling sustainably allows us to explore the world while minimizing our negative impact, supporting local communities, preserving cultural heritage, and contributing to a more sustainable future. It is a way to make our travels more meaningful, responsible, and beneficial for both the environment and the people we encounter along the way.


Some large employers suspended matching contributions to retirement plans last year, but this was only temporary for many of them. Studying 260 such companies, consulting firm Towers Watson reports that 75% have already restored employer matches, with 74% matching at the same level they did before the arrival of the pandemic.*

Source: MarketWatch, December , 2020

Did you know?

Looking for the longest beach in America? Try over 70 miles long!

The longest beach in the U.S. is Cape Hatteras National Seashore in North Carolina stretching 70.4 miles in length. Cape Hatteras National Seashore protects parts of three barrier islands: Bodie Island, Hatteras Island, and Ocracoke Island. Beach and sound access ramps, campgrounds, nature trails, and lighthouses can be found and explored on all three islands.*

Source:, July 18, 2022

On the Bright Side

Investment Advisory Services offered through Trek Financial LLC., a (SEC) Registered Investment Adviser. Information presented is for educational purposes only. It should not be considered specific investment advice, does not take into consideration your specific situation, and does not intend to make an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of any securities or investment strategies. Investments involve risk and are not guaranteed, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. For specific tax advice on any strategy, consult with a qualified tax professional before implementing any strategy discussed herein. DISCLOSURES