Retirement can be a glorious time of life. Days free of structure, no alarms dictating when you rise, the ability to take vacations whenever the mood or deal strikes instead of begging for the time off work. It's all great, right? Not exactly. Here are five signs that you are doing retirement all wrong:
1. You say things like: "Buying bras on sale with Amazon One-Click is the highlight of my day."
Yes, boredom in retirement is a real thing. Imagine being in a car in motion that hits a brick wall. Its occupants go flying when the car stops, right? That's what happens to people who stop work abruptly without considering what they will actually do all day. And since life doesn't come with airbags, it can get rough out there.
Many of us need something to do every day. And some new retirees learn the hard way that having a daily occupation was a bigger deal than they thought. A British study found that the retirement honeymoon period -- where you are happy-happy-happy when you first retire -- generally lasts around 10 months. Then doing nothing but catching up on sleep and TV begins to feel boring, you get mopey and depressed and don't have a clue where to turn. Half of the 787 people who took part in the Skipton Building Society poll said they missed the camaraderie that went with their life in an office, a shop or a factory.
Four out of 10 said that once the novelty of staying at home wore off, they no longer felt intellectually challenged and they were bored.
Solution: Consider easing into retirement by first reducing your hours. Before you completely sever ties with your job, explore other things you can and want to do. Everyone can use a few extra dollars in retirement and the first few years of your retirement are the easiest time to earn them. Make a plan.
2. Your wine regularly disappears even though you stock up at BevMo's 5-cent sale.
Several studies have found that retirement leads to drinking more alcohol. Alcohol is the most common form of substance abuse by older adults. Nearly 3 million Americans age 55 and older suffer from alcohol abuse; by some estimates, that figure will reach roughly 6 million by 2020, says the Centers for Disease Control.
This is bad for a number of reasons. As we age, we generally develop health problems for which we take prescription drugs. Alcohol and some of those drugs don't dance the Tango together. Be careful what you mix and it's never a good idea to swallow pills with a glass of Pinot Noir, no matter how smooth it is, notes the National Institute on Aging, although perhaps not in those exact words.
Solution: Think about why you are drinking more. And re-read point 1.
3. You are afraid to spend money and enjoy yourself because you worry you will outlive your savings.
Welcome to the world of retirement, circa 2016, where nobody thinks their money will stretch long enough if they live to be 100. If it's any comfort, chances are that the running-out-of-money scenario really won't happen. While life expectancies have increased, we aren't all going to live to be 100.
Centenarians are still pretty rare. The 2010 Census said there were 53,364 people in the U.S. who were 100 or older -- which is about 17 per 100,000 people; 83 percent of them were women. High-income men have gained eight years of life expectancy while low-income men have seen virtually no change. White men also live about 12 percent longer at age 65 than black men.
Social Security provides an income floor for older people in our country. Even if you retire and we have another recession that wipes out half your equity values -- which, by the way, is a more realistic fear than worrying about living to 100 -- Social Security doesn't get cut when the markets take a nosedive. Also, an annual withdrawal rate of 3 percent or 4 percent of your savings each year has been calculated to survive the worst stock market period in history, says US News & World Report. So while there's certainly the possibility that you will outlive your portfolio assets, you will always have Social Security payments coming in -- so you are looking at a very small chance that your money will ever completely run out.
Yes, we did just say that you will always have Social Security payments coming in. Current predictions are that the Social Security trust fund will run out in 2037 if nothing is done. After that point, retirees can generally expect about 75 cents on every dollar of their scheduled benefits.
If you're decades away from retirement, things could get dicey in terms of your Social Security benefits. But if you are near or in retirement now, you can quit worrying about running out of money because it will be there.
Solution: Go ahead and book that trip to France. Your kids? They may not be so lucky.
4. You think old is a four-letter word.
We have one question for people who refuse to avail themselves of senior discounts: What's wrong with you?! Seriously, do you really care what the teenage movie-ticket seller will think if he knows you are 62?
There are some great discounts to be had for being of retirement age. You would be amazed how some of your favorite restaurants will knock 10 percent or more off the check after a flash of your AARP card. Hotel rooms are cheaper; some grocery chains give those 55+ a discount off their groceries one day each month; and you pretty much can't beat the $10 lifetime pass to all our national parks that gets you and everyone else in your car into our national treasures without additional entrance fees. It also discounts camping, parking and tours within the national parks by 50 percent. Even Amtrak will give you 15 percent off.
And still there are those who won't speak up and volunteer their age. Such silliness must be put to rest already.
5. You believe that downsizing just means your house.
We all travel more smoothly when we carry less baggage. Retirement really is a time for carry-on luggage only. While you may consider moving to a smaller, less expensive home, also consider shedding the stuff that weighs you down. It's time to ask your adult kids to clean out their childhood bedrooms because you no longer have room for their Little League trophies. It's also time to see if they want your wedding gift china that was always "too good" for you to use. Discard the stuff from your mom's apartment that makes it impossible for you to park in the garage.
Unload it all. This is a new chapter and while you may or may not be moving into a physically smaller space, you want to make room for the new adventures that retirement bring -- whether that be turning the garage into a crafts studio, renting out an empty bedroom for extra income, or turning the den into a work space where you can write your novel.
Solution: Many charities will pick up unwanted items and give you a nice tax donation receipt to boot. If it's cash you want, you can always hold a garage sale.
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