One big predictor is, of course, money. Wealthier consumers tend to be more satisfied in retirement, although they're only spending about $10,000 more a year than middle-income folks, said Finke, director of retirement planning and living at Texas Tech University's department of personal financial planning.
It's not the amount spent that's making them happier, but rather, how it's used. "Think about money as access in retirement," he said. Wealthier retirees spend less time watching TV compared with middle-wealth retirees, and more time in physically active and social pursuits—which are ultimately more satisfying.
But there's a fine line. Having too much money can reduce happiness. Retirees who have saved more than about $3.5 million report lower satisfaction levels, said Finke. At that level of wealth, part of your retirement "job" is likely to include asset management, and handling requests from family and charities for assistance. "We have to worry about managing a complex nest egg, and that might make people less happy," he said.
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