To be a happy retiree, what is the magic number for close friends?

To exploreWes Moss: Find Your Top Activities in 2021

Albert Einstein would have called compound interest the eighth wonder of the world. If he found so much joy in letting his money work for him, one can only imagine how thrilled he would have been to calculate the cumulative effect of social ties on overall happiness.

Of course, none of this diminishes the positive impact of saving and investing on retirement happiness. In fact, these are essential stages of the HROB journey. The prescription here is not to decrease the value of money but to increase the prioritization of close social ties.

How often should you see each of your confidants? About once a month seems to do the trick. Friendship and close relationships take time and effort, far beyond a Facebook post. Seeing an acquaintance once a year at Christmas is great, but the inflection point for someone who really matters is higher.

Another factor to consider is the number of social groups you belong to. Some examples are tennis teams, church groups, running groups, and book clubs.

Here’s the good news: HROBs only need a social epicenter.

The Wall Street Journal article arguing against early retirement, my favorite argument to challenge, felt that retirees have enormous difficulty connecting socially once they stop working, as this office environment serves as a connection catalyst for multiple tangential crowds. Once that has evaporated, it is sometimes difficult to recreate those connections and their respective fallouts.

The data we found on this topic showed that no matter how many groups a person belongs to, only one is vital because their social ties spawn others.

A wonderful example that we can see is based here in Atlanta with Monday evening brewing. Its origin story is that of three guys who met in church, formed a Bible study, and realized they all had a passion for brewing beer. After a few years of casual homebrewing, the trio opened their West Midtown store serving Eye Patch Ale and Draft Kilt Scotch Ale. Their love of hops and ridiculously named craft beers and lagers spawned quite a stir, and they continue to be in business to this day. A social group, the Church, has led to a thriving brewery business with multiple locations that continues to foster a sense of community, creative incubation, and ripple effects for others.

Social groups generate more social groups. It only takes one to start, and you never know where it may lead.

Another important question is how many times a year do you travel with friends?

Think about your last big Thanksgiving reunion. How much quality time did you actually spend with your favorite parent? Was it around a table with 15 other family members who all asked you to pass the sauce? If you’re like my family, it’s a bit difficult to have a word on the side. Conversely, planning a getaway with a manageable number of companions lends itself to an abundance of quality time that can lead to truer and deeper connections.

Our data clearly shows that traveling with friends is worth more than the cost of a plane ticket. If you use loyalty miles it doesn’t mean much, but you get my point. In fact, traveling three or more times a year with friends increases your chances of being happy in retirement by more than four times!

A friend recently told me that while lamenting the cost of the next vacation, his therapist told him that his job was to “make memories with your wife.” I think the same goes for our close friendships. Working and saving are important, but if we never spend a little time and money connecting with our loved ones, what’s the point? There is simply no substitute for traveling with friends!

The bottom line is that social connections are an essential part of the HROB formula. Not only do they help us live longer, but they are a main ingredient for happiness. Without a social epicenter, the chances of becoming or remaining a happy retiree drop dramatically. Spend time and effort, pack your bags for this trip, and let that compound happiness build up.

Wes Moss is the host of the podcast “Retire early with Wes Moss”, Which you will find in the podcast app directly on your smartphone. He’s been the host of “Money Matters” on News 95.5 and AM 750 WSB in Atlanta for over 10 years now, and he does a live broadcast from 9 to 11 on Sundays. He is the chief investment strategist for Atlanta-based Capital Investment Advisors. For more information, visit


This information is provided to you for informational purposes only and should not be construed as investment advice or recommendations. This information is presented without taking into account the investment objectives, risk tolerance or financial condition of a specific investor and may not be suitable for all investors. This information is not intended to, and should not, form a primary basis for any investment decisions you may make. Always consult your own legal, tax or investment advisor before making any investment / tax / estate / financial planning consideration or decision.

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