By Kate Benzin
When you first retired, you were probably thrilled to have so much free time to start hobbies or activities that you’d been putting off for far too long. You were probably happy that you no longer had someone telling you what to do each day. Or maybe you just enjoyed sleeping late for a change.
Were you planning to travel to places that you’d wanted to visit for years? Have you done that, or are you still dreaming about seeing Machu Picchu or the Grand Canyon?
For many people, retirement doesn’t turn out to be all that they expected. Are you in that group? As the days passed, did you find it difficult to schedule an interesting daily routine for yourself? Did you become bored with the freedom that you had longed for?
If these questions identify your state of mind, then you’ve passed through the honeymoon stage of retirement and gone into the disenchantment phase. But never fear. Disenchantment is not the last stage.
Some people get stuck in the disenchantment stage for the rest of their lives, but the fact that you’re reading this article and asking questions shows that you are ready for the next stage – reorientation. This is the time when you adapt your lifestyle to retirement so that you can take full advantage of your golden years.
Are finances depressing you? You’re pretty sure you have enough saved for retirement with your 401k, social security, IRAs, and more. But as you look at money going out with nothing coming in, you’ve started to worry that you might outlive the money you’ve set aside for retirement.
There are lots of ways to change your spending habits in retirement so that you can live the lifestyle you like and yet preserve your savings so that your finances keep you afloat.
- Discounts for retirees – Restaurants, grocery stores, movie theaters, drugstores, travel companies, clothing stores, museums, and lots of other places have discounts for people aged 65+. If you’re a member of AARP, you can get discounts on all kinds of items. And whenever you’re out shopping, be sure to ask for a senior discount at the cash register before paying. You never know!
- Downsize your home – You may no longer have a mortgage to pay, but you’re still paying for heating and cooling your large house. Maybe this is the time to downsize to a smaller home or even a condo.
- Downsize your car or cars – Do you and your spouse have more than one vehicle? Do you really need more than one? Can you downsize your mini-van or SUV to a smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicle?
- Work part-time – Working part-time and using that money for living expenses instead of continually taking from your retirement fund can give you peace of mind that you won’t live longer than your savings. Even more than that, working part-time will give some structure to your days and bring you into social interaction again.
Help Others by Volunteering
During your lifetime, you’ve learned all kinds of things, some work-related and some just life-related. Teaching others what you’ve learned can be very rewarding. Local community schools have classes in just about everything from gardening to knitting to car maintenance to woodworking. Look for opportunities to share what you’ve learned.
Learn Something New
You could go back to college to learn something that always interested you. Most colleges allow people to audit classes. Auditing involves attending classes without taking exams or getting a grade. It is often free.
Maybe college doesn’t interest you, but perhaps you always wanted to learn to play piano but just couldn’t find time. Or maybe you wanted to express your creative side in painting. Now is the time to do that. Look around for free or inexpensive classes at your local community school or a store that sells the kind of supplies you’d need for whatever craft you want to learn. Stores often offer free classes in the hope that you’ll buy your supplies from them.
Sitting around the house reading or watching tv or even chatting with friends can be detrimental to both your physical and mental health.
- Encourage your friends to go out walking with you.
- Check out exercise DVDs geared toward your age group from your library, but don’t let those DVDs just sit on the table. Get busy and move with them. Start out just doing part of a DVD and lengthen the time little by little.
- Check out exercise classes at your local community school or YMCA.
- Join a gym, but don’t forget to ask for your senior discount.
- Look for senior centers in your area that have day trips, dances, game centers.
Remember – you can get discounts on all aspects of travel. Check what is available via AAA or AARP.
The freedom of retirement can be overwhelming at first. You are responsible for filling your time with activities that you enjoy. Don’t give up. Savor this time in your life. Enjoy the freedom of not working.
Kate is a freelance writer who has lived on the island of Java for the past 30 years. Java became her home when she took a 3-month work assignment to train Indonesians on word processing equipment in Jakarta, and she fell in love with the adventurous lifestyle that she found there. She worked as a tour director in many countries of the world, but she now spends most of her time writing in her home/office in Yogyakarta, Central Java, which she shares with her two whippets and four Dalmatians. You can visit her at KateFreelanceWriter or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.