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Georgetown Identifies 6 Themes of a ‘No Normal’ Retirement


The AgingWell Hub at Georgetown University recently released a study that helps readers imagine how different retirement journeys might look. The idea is that there is “no normal” retirement and that each path will be different. The study lays out six themes that will impact individuals’ retirement journeys. Let’s discuss what aspiring retirees can take away from this report.

A financial advisor could help you create a financial plan to protect your investments and identify new opportunities to make money.

6 ‘No Normal’ Retirement Themes

The Georgetown AgingWell Hub’s research and interviews helped identify the six main influences on the road to retirement. They are:

  • Health. How you eat, exercise and maintain your daily responsibilities – both at work and at home with your family– impacts financial planning. The opposite is true as well: How you create your financial plans can affect your health.
  • Finances. Designing a financial plan, regardless of financial status, will help you reach your goals. “A retirement plan should also provide for the eventuality that you will no longer be able to manage your own finances due to cognitive decline,” the study says.
  • Learning/education. Continuing to learn new things helps keep your brain healthy and mentally engaged. That could mean going back to school or aiming to work in a new career.
  • Community/place. Engaging in your community with family, friends and new people is viewed as a critical path to living well. This can involve joining in-person activities or social networks.
  • Purpose. Finding your passion can also help you live a healthy lifestyle. “Possessing a strong sense of purpose and meaning in life improves your physical and mental health and adds years to your life,” the report says.
  • Resilience. Things don’t always go as you planned. Life-changing events can shake any person. But your ability to be flexible and adapt to any situation with a great attitude can be a long-term positive.

What Is a Retirement Journey?

SmartAsset: How these six themes can carry you in retirement

The study focuses on three examples of retirement journeys that take into account how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted Americans. Generally, whether you are a young adult or a senior citizen, your goals and traits shape your journey to retirement.

The study showcases three examples, including a middle-income family, a single person who earns a middle income and an upper-middle-income family.

  • The middle-income couple plans for retirement and combines their income.
  • The middle-income single person hasn’t planned for retirement but is a hard worker and socially active. The person is, however, worried about finances, specifically related to student loans.
  • The upper-middle-income couple plans for retirement but keeps their income separate.

These retirement journeys illustrate how the six “no normal” themes play into and impact retirees’ successes and failures. Addressing and improving on these six themes may help retirees maximize their golden years. “Retirement is not finite and irreversible – there are endless risks, but there are also endless rewards,” the study concludes.

Bottom Line

SmartAsset: How these six themes can carry you in retirement

Everyone has a different journey to retirement. It doesn’t matter how old they are or how much money and family they have. Instead, everyone has a common denominator: the six “no normal” themes. Those themes will be with you. And if you continue to keep them in mind, they can be the key to your happiness heading into and during retirement.

Retirement Planning Tips

  • Working on a financial plan with a financial advisor is key to reaching and maintaining your retirement goals. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • SmartAsset’s free 401(k) calculator can help you estimate how much your retirement savings can grow over time.

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