The retirement years often have been called "the golden years." As with virtually everything else in life, however, whether or not your later years are golden is a matter of personal choice. You can choose to live a joy-filled retirement, full of new opportunities, new insights, new friendships, new activities, new experiences, and new time to explore many of the ideas you've always wanted to, but never had the time while you were raising your kids, building your career, and being scheduled to within an inch of your life.
Or not. You can choose to shrivel up and die. You can brood about your aches and pains. You can feel angry that you were forced into retirement. You can lament your decreasing energy and stamina. You can excessively grieve for lost loved ones. You can feel very sorry for yourself. Is this really how you want to live? Then don't.
What is Spirituality?
Spirituality is a concept that means different things to different people. For some, the word is synonymous with religion. For others, it is the belief that there is a universal mind, a force if you will, that goes far beyond the superficiality of the "May the force be with you" slogan of the Star Wars saga. For still others, spirituality is the sense that everything in the universe - people, nature, the cosmos itself - somehow is connected and each individual is part of a much greater whole than possibly can be perceived, let alone explained. One writer phrased it thusly:
"The basic meaning of spirituality is that it is a term which encompasses everything that we cannot see directly with our eyes, directly perceive by the other senses and know by our mere reason. That is spirituality in its basic meaning."
Spirituality and Aging
Whatever your own definition of spirituality, there is a general consensus that the older a person gets, the more spiritual he or she becomes. Why? Many theorize that it's because older people are more aware of their own mortality. They're no longer the indestructible teenager or twenty-something with an entire lifetime ahead of them and the belief, if they think about it at all, that death is only for :old people" and of course they're never going to be old.
After retirement, however, people have the time - sometimes far too much time - to think about their own death, to think about the meaning of their own life, to think about what, if anything, they can do this late in life to become a happier, more fulfilled person. It's not "just" the big questions, it's also the personal, practical question of "What do I do now?"
Spiritual Retirement Communities
Many spiritually-inclined retirees discover that moving to a retirement community populated by like-minded people is preferable to remaining in the home that may hold many wonderful memories, but also requires continual upkeep and maintenance. Not only are they relieved of the responsibility for cutting grass in the summer and shoveling snow in the winter, they also get almost daily opportunities to meet new friends and engage in activities they had no idea could be so enjoyable. For instance, many retirees receive great joy and comfort from pursuing non-denominational Biblical research such as that provided by The Way International
The number of faith-based retirement communities has substantially increased as the American population continues to age. Nonprofit organizations own and operate up to 80 percent of continuing care communities, 75 percent of which are affiliated with various religions. This does not mean, however, that they are limited to people who share a common faith or denomination. People of different religious beliefs are welcome, as are people with no religious beliefs whatsoever.
The accent is on spiritual living, not religion per se. Or as one such community expresses it, JCISC, an acronym standing for Jesus Christ in Street Clothes and meaning that community life is based on the values of joy, compassion, integrity, stewardship, and community.
The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) reports that retirees often feel the need to give back to their communities, fulfilling this need in any number of ways. From volunteering their time and talents at a library, a hospital, a church, a school, or an animal shelter to participating in "seniors helping seniors" programs, retirees get good things done and make good things happen. Their almost universal comments are that they are receiving far more than they're giving.
Living a spiritual retirement can and does mean many things. It can and does encompass an almost limitless variety of ways in which to increase your own spirituality and happiness while doing good for both others and yourself. Yes, you actually will "do good" for yourself when you choose to live more spiritually. Research continues to show that people with a strong sense of spirituality are far less prone to both physical illnesses and psychological conditions such as anxiety and depression. The choice is yours. How do you want to spend your golden years?
With interest rates at an all time low, most retirees are keen to take a look at anything that could add to their retirement income. When we’re younger, stock market investments tend to be focused on capital growth because we’re trying to build up pension pots, or pay for children’s college fees. It takes a bit of refocusing to view the stock market in terms of what it can do to boost income.
Many of us find in retirement that while we’ve retired, our brains haven’t. So share trading and investing can also become an interesting hobby. Where retirees can win out, is that they have more time to read up company backgrounds, so they can make better informed decisions. Additionally, a certain amount of detachment from the hurly-burly of working life can lead to more objective thinking and make older investors less likely to behave like sheep, following the market no matter what.
How much risk can you handle?
When you consider income from the stock market, you first have to decide how much risk you are willing to take on. If you have a limited income and little to spare, you need to be careful about risky investments. The safer choices will be well-established companies, in sectors that everybody needs, such as utilities. Go-go technology start-ups are probably best avoided – and in any case, many are famous for never paying dividends.
The safer route – stocks that pay dividends
Dividends from stocks are usually paid twice a year. When you go online and look up a stock, you’ll find the dividend expressed as a percentage of the share price. However, it’s easy to be misled. If you see a nice high dividend – say 10%, you should investigate further and prepare to be disappointed.
This is because one way that a stock’s dividend goes sky high, is that its share price has taken a dive. Imagine that XYZ Corporation is trading at 3.00 per share, and paying a dividend of 5% - that’s 15.00 (pounds, dollars or euros, it makes no difference to this example).
Then something goes badly wrong and XYZ’s Chief Executive has to warn that profits for the year will be taking a hit. The share price falls to 150.00. But the dividend level quoted will be the last one that was paid – 15.00. This is now 10%. But we can be sure that the Chief Exec will be slashing the pay-out next time.
So if you see a great dividend, use online charting tools (CMC Markets have some good ones), to take a look at the share price and dividends over the past year or two. You’ll find that the steady, regular payers are often quite expensive and their dividends are under 5%. But remember that over time, that dividend will rise.
Trading for income
There’s a different route to earning an income from the stock market, but it’s riskier and you should probably only use part of the money you have – and then make sure you wouldn’t be completely sunk if you lost that amount.
This option involves trading online, where you can trade on margin – that means that you can buy stock without having to put up all the cash necessary. However, bear in mind that you are making a commitment to buy at that price. If the price suddenly drops, you may be asked to put more margin, as a security measure.
There are many ways to trade on margin, including “spread betting” where you decide whether a stock will rise or fall, and stake money on it. Contracts for Difference (CFDs) are another variation of this. However they all come with a health warning – you can lose far more than your deposit if the bet goes wrong, so you need to use some of the control measures the brokers offer, such as “stop losses” – research these before plunging into day trading.
That said, there are people who trade from their homes or while travelling, never holding a stock overnight, and make a living at it. Whatever your goals and intentions are when it comes to making money on the stock market be sure to make each decision with careful consideration as well as enjoying the experience to make your time really worth while.
Retired Brains does not offer direct financial investment advice, nor do we affiliate ourselves with any particular financial advisers or firms in the United States or worldwide. Rather, the sole purpose of this article is to present educational, helpful information that can help you decide what kind of investing strategy is right for you in your retirement. If you are interested in learning more about property or pension fund investing, we recommend seeking out a reputable adviser or firm in your area for assistance.