The Retirement Lifestyle

17798519_sSusan and I teach a course called Rejuvenate Your Retirement. The purpose of the class is to help retirees create a successful retirement by learning about income planning, investment planning, estate planning, tax planning and legacy planning. I have to admit, one of my favorite sections of the class actually has nothing to do with finances. It is one of the sections that Susan teaches: how to create a great retirement lifestyle. Essentially, Susan talks about strategies that can help people create a happy and healthy retirement, regardless of their financial situation.
 
In the past, many people thought of retirement as an extended vacation. But that is changing. With advancements in medicine, people are living longer and healthier lives and therefore plan to have an active retirement. Many look forward to doing things they never had time to do when they were working. But after devoting the better part of their lives punching a time card, some new retirees just don’t know what to do with themselves when they have an abundance of what was once a treasured commodity—time. And without knowing what they want to do, how can anyone create a financial plan that will allow them the freedom to have the retirement lifestyle they want? So . . . let’s talk about some ideas for an active and healthy retirement lifestyle.
 
The first is travel. With short vacation times and workplace stress, many Americans do not have the time or money to travel during their working years. Retirement is your chance to get out and explore! Based on your budget, a fun way to begin your adventures is to mark destinations of interest on a map of the United States or the world with pins. You can plan a grand adventure and follow your pins in a logical order, or visit locales at your own pace, and even make a game out of choosing your next destination—think of it like pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey. And I must say, with the winter we have had, I suggest starting with the warmer destinations first.
 
Teaching is another way to stay active during retirement. One of the original “Fireside Poets,” James Russell Lowell, said in the mid-1800s,
 
“Not what we give,
But what we share,
For the gift without the giver
Is bare.”
 
I find teaching to be one of the most rewarding ways to give back. If you find yourself missing work, consider teaching the next generation your knowledge and skills. Imparting this valuable information often brings immense satisfaction, as you are making a personal investment in the future. Everybody wants to hear the tips and tricks of the trade from the experts who have been there, and it is great to stay involved in the activities you love.
 
Above, I referred to time as a “treasured commodity.” It is also a commodity that can be donated to a cause close to your heart. Why not devote your time to a great cause? You would be surprised by how many volunteers are needed for any number of charities, so finding a cause that appeals to you should be easy. For help finding just the right volunteer opportunity in your area, I suggest visiting www.VolunteerMatch.org. This site allows you to choose from a number of topics that interest you, and then performs a search to provide an impressive list of volunteer opportunities in your area. Pick one and offer the one thing more valuable than money—your time.
 
Without the day-to-day stimulation of the workplace, many retirees feel as though they are losing their once razor-sharp acumen. That is usually not the case; rather, our brains just need stimulation to stay healthy and sharp. Everything from Scrabble to Sudoku to good old-fashioned Memory can help to engage your mind in positive and fun ways. And, of course, what’s more fun than a game night with friends? Break out the Trivial Pursuit, Boggle or Monopoly and inject a bit of competition to really enthuse your guests—and get them thinking.
 
Keeping your brain healthy is key, but keeping your body healthy is critical. It should go without saying that even in retirement, you still need to care for your body, and regular exercise is a great way to do just that. You don’t have to run a marathon, but consider hiking or walking on a regular basis, a match of tennis with a friend every week, or hitting the links. Even fishing counts! You will likely discover that you relish the chance to exert some pent-up energy and you will not have any good excuses about not having enough time to hit the gym a few times a week.
 
Folks, each week I try to teach you sound financial principals and strategies that you can incorporate into your retirement plan. But, don’t forget to prepare for a healthy recreational life as well. After all, what are you working so hard for, if you can’t enjoy it later?