The notion of buying less and being happier runs contrary to the more popular concept of 'more (and bigger) is better'. As more and more people become disillusioned with all their 'stuff', the idea that buying less can actually make you happier is beginning to take hold. (And, let's face it, with what's happened to pensions and interest rates over the last few years, some retirees just don't have a choice!)
Here are some suggestions on how you can buy less and be happier:
1. Distinguish between needs and wants. Before making a purchase, ask yourself why you're buying it. How will your life be better with that particular item in your home? Can you afford it? Does it have a practical use?
2. Spend time, not money, with your family and friends. This is the key to being happier with buying less - you will cultivate more meaningful relationships instead of spending money on stuff. Think in terms of relationships, not things. This may require a shift in priorities and, for some, may mean learning to put people ahead of material items. If you accomplish this, life will be much more fulfilling.
3. Learn (or relearn) to refurbish and fix used items, and learn to create and build. Often, these times of creativity can also be times when you come together with friends and family to get a job done. In other words, DIY can help you be happier!
4. Pay cash or write a cheque whenever you buy something. This is a safeguard against debt, which is, of course, one of the biggest robbers of happiness there is. You'll be much happier buying less if you can also look at it as way of incurring less debt.
5. Change your perspective about the role of stuff in your life. Think about the big picture before making purchases - will owning this item make me a better person? If I buy this electronic gizmo, will the world (or even just MY world!) be the better for it?
6. Take time to find out what true happiness means to you. When you're not trying to fill some imagined void with material things, it gives you some breathing room to figure out just what makes you tick. Accumulating stuff is probably not what really makes you happy. Dig deep and learn something about yourself. Keep a journal, meditate, spend time alone...
When you begin to cultivate relationships instead of buying more and more stuff, you might just find that you become much happier.
If you're due to retire in the near future, my free eCourse, The 6 Stages of Retirement, will give you a birds-eye view of the retirement process so you know what to expect. It includes a list of the major pitfalls at every stage of the process and self-coaching questions to help you avoid those pitfalls...
I recently acquired a list of 1000 business ideas. I'm not sure what, if anything, I'm going to do with it yet but it's, literally, an A to Z of ideas. If you're in the market for a retirement business but you're stuck for inspiration, here are 82 ideas that begin with the letter A for you to consider...
1. 3D Artist 2. Accessories Store 3. Accounting Auditor 4. Accounts Payable 5. Accounts Receivable 6. Ad Copywriter 7. Adult Daycare 8. Adult Entertainment 9. Adult Toy and Novelty Store 10. Adventure Tours 11. Advertising Agency 12. Advertising Sales 13. Aerial Photographer 14. Aerial Seed and Spraying Service 15. Aerobics Studio 16. Affiliate Manager 17. Affiliate Marketer 18. After School Care 19. Agricultural Consultant 20. Air Charter Services 21. Aircraft Design 22. Aircraft Engines 23. Aircraft Parts 24. Airport Transportation Service 25. Alarm Equipment Sales 26. Alarm Installation 27. Alarm Monitoring Service 28. Allopathic Physicians 29. Amphibian Breeding 30. Amusement Park 31. Amusement Park Equipment 32. Anesthesiologist 33. Animal Breeder 34. Animal Hospital 35. Animation Services 36. Announcements 37. Answering Service 38. Antique Dealer 39. Antique Locator 40. Antique Restoration 41. Apartment Building Maintenance 42. Apartment Cleaner 43. Apartment Rental 44. Appliance Rental 45. Appliance Repair 46. Appliance Store 47. Appointment Reminder Service 48. Appointment Scheduling Service 49. Aquarium Maintenance Service 50. Aquarium Sales 51. Aquarium Set Up Service 52. Arbitration Service 53. Arcade 54. Archaeologist 55. Architect 56. Architectural Engineer 57. Architectural Supplies 58. Aromatherapist 59. Art Broker 60. Art Gallery 61. Art Restoration 62. Art School 63. Art Supplies 64. Article Distribution Service 65. Article Writing Service 66. Arts and Crafts Classes for Children 67. Assistance Dog Training 68. Astrologist 69. Astronomer 70. ATV Park 71. ATV Rentals 72. ATV Sales 73. Auctioneer 74. Audio Visual Equipment and Supplies Rental 75. Audio Visual Equipment and Supplies Sales 76. Auto Body Repair Shop 77. Auto Customization 78. Auto Detailing 79. Auto Painting 80. Auto Part Refurbishment 81. Auto Parts 82. Auto Repair Shop
If you're one of the growing number of baby boomers who can't afford to retire, you might be interested in this MSN Money article - 10 Part-time Jobs for Retirees - to get you thinking about the range of possibilities available to you. (It has links to some other interesting articles/websites too.)
Heidemarie Schwermer, a 69 year-old former school teacher from Dortmund in Germany hasn't used money for 15 years. Instead, she lives nomadically, trading things and services for everything she needs. It's an intriguing story. Read it over at Wake Up World.
If you can't wait to retire, you may have never given a moment's thought to the things that could go wrong with retirement. However, up to 20% of retirees report feeling dissatisfaction or disillusionment with retirement, so, if you're still in the planning stages, it can help to take a look at what can, potentially, go wrong. That way, you still have time to take evasive action.
The reasons for retirement dissatisfaction can be many and varied but they tend to fall into categories. These are:
1. Retiring for the wrong reasons. The 'wrong' reasons include:
- retiring just because you're the right age for it (and without checking in with yourself about whether you really WANT to retire)
- retiring because your partner is retiring and they're pressuring you into retiring at the same time, whether you're 'ready' for retirement or not
- allowing yourself to be 'pushed out' by a boss who seems anxious to replace you and who already has your replacement lined up and ready to step into your shoes
- retiring before you've met all your professional goals
- retiring before you've met all your financial goals
- being forced into retirement by redundancy, ill health, company relocation, etc
2. Not having anything to retire 'to'. For example, having insufficient hobbies, activities and pastimes to keep you interested, interesting and engaged. Not having a plan for your retirement (or having a plan but not taking action on it). Not having a bucket list of things you want to be, do, have and achieve before you 'kick the bucket'.
3. Unresolved relationship problems. Like the fact that the two of you don't get on. Maybe your relationship worked while you were both working and had routines to follow and not much spare time available to find out how little you actually have in common. Or you're spending too much time together, you're getting under each others' feet and you need regular time apart to each do your own thing and/or have some privacy. Other causes of relationship problems in retirement arise from:
- partners who have never learned to communicate and resolve their differences like adults
- one or both partners having inadequate boundaries around the way their partner is allowed to treat them
- not living your own retirement - i.e., always doing everything your partner wants to do and none of the things that you want to do
4. Financial woes. Not having enough money to be able to live the kind of life in retirement that you want to live. Or not having enough money to be able to stop worrying about what the future will bring. Also, when partners have different values about money, they can often gloss over these when both are working and have a steady source of income. In retirement, when people become more reliant on savings, simmering resentments about money can intensify into something much bigger.
5. The failure to replace the benefits you got from your work. The benefits that we get from working are generally recognised to be:
a) financial stability b) time management c) a sense of being useful d) socialization and companionship e) status
We need to find ways of replacing those benefits once we retire. So, our pension and possibly a part-time job or home-based business will, hopefully, provide us with financial stability. Having a structure to our days and somewhere to go/something to do will provide us with a way to manage our time. Voluntary work or starting a service-based business will give us a sense of being useful. Having a wide circle of friends of all ages will fill the need for socialization and companionship. You might not feel the need to replace the 'status' that you got from your working life but if you do, some sort of voluntary work might do the trick. Volunteering makes us feel valuable - it helps us realise how competent, accomplished and fortunate we are in comparison with others and it provides us with the opportunity to be perceived as a wise person.
6. Wasting time. Once the initial excitement about being retired has passed, some people don't actually DO anything with their retirement. They act as if they have all the time in the world to check off all the items on their bucket list. Or they spend their time procrastinating about what to do and how to do it. Or they get sucked into watching too much daytime TV or getting distracted online without acknowledging they're in the final chapter of their lives and that this is their last, best chance to do all the things that they've always wanted to do.
7. Not taking care of yourself. Many people report a little weight gain or loss of muscle tone in retirement but there comes a time when you have to make the choice to either take that in hand and do something about it - or not. Not doing what you know to do - i.e., not taking the necessary action, makes you feel bad about yourself and this is often compounded by what you see when you look in the mirror.
8. Having so many ideas that you feel overwhelmed and don't know where to begin. Here's what to do:
Make a plan and then work the plan. Just take the first step... I'm 99.9% certain that you know what that first step is. Decide what it is you need to do and take the first baby step in the right direction. I love baby steps. They're much easier to take than a big leap and, no matter how small the step you feel able to take, you'll have made progress. Which will give you the incentive to take the next baby step and the next and the... (Okay - you get it!).
Most of us spend more time planning our annual holiday than we do planning the non-financial aspects of our retirement. Some time spent thinking about what could go wrong with your retirement, can help you avoid many of the potential challenges and pitfalls, and help make sure you get the retirement you want and deserve to have!