Managing Financial Stress in Retirement

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Rear view of a senior man and woman couple walking arms around each other on a deserted tropical beach with bright clear blue sky

Retirement is fueled by dreams for the future, and for many Americans, retirement truly is a chance to start a vineyard, turn a hobby into a job, or spend more time with the people they love the most. But retirement is not a magic gateway to a life free of problems. You’ll still have to take out the garbage, pay bills, and bicker with your spouse about household duties. You will also probably still have to worry about money—especially if you’re not bringing in additional income from a side job, and your spouse has also quit working.

Financial stress doesn’t have to wreck your retirement, and doesn’t have to constantly weigh on your mind. Here’s how to deal with your financial stress in healthy ways.

Get a Regular Financial Tune-Up

Before you retire, establish a relationship with a financial planner you trust. Then go in for annual meetings to assess how you’re doing with your retirement goals. The reassuring words of an expert, coupled with tips for managing financial distress, can make retirement a lot sweeter.

Consider Alternative Income Streams

More and more Americans see retirement as a career change, not the end of work. If there’s a dream you’ve long wanted to pursue—knitting, freelance writing, or pottery, for example—consider turning it into a side gig. Sell your wares online or at craft shows, and enjoy watching your efforts turn into cold, hard cash.

Get Help for Big Expenses

If you’re facing a major expense, such as a home renovation or costly medical care, don’t drain your savings or go into credit card debt to cover it. If you are over the age of 62 and own your own home, a reverse mortgage offers tax-free money you can put toward the purpose of your choosing. You don’t have to repay the loan as long as you remain in your home, and quick access to this cash can ease even the most anxious of retired minds.

Get on the Same Page with Your Partner

Research consistently shows that couples fight more about money than any other issue. This won’t change in retirement. Getting on the same page with your partner can help reduce your financial stress. Talk openly about money, including specific figures. Share your different philosophies of money and savings, and be willing to compromise. And if you need to, go to a couples or financial counselor together. Once you feel like you have a partner on your side, the daunting task of funding your retirement can feel just a bit less overwhelming.

Get Help for Your Anxiety

Some people worry about money no matter how much they have, no matter how frugally they spend, and in spite of endless reassurances from financial experts. If this sounds familiar, the problem might not be money at all. Retirement is a major life transition that can trigger feelings of anxiety and depression. And if you were already prone to financial anxiety, that may only get worse when you have more time. If you just can’t shake your anxiety about retirement, know that there is no shame in seeking counseling; your family will likely be thrilled, and you may be surprised by how much better you feel after a few sessions with a therapist.