Wednesday, December 14, 2016

What Should You Do When You Retire?

Once upon a time, it seems not so long ago, I was the mother of infants.  My hair's natural color was brown and retirement was a long way away.  Now my "baby" is twelve, my middle child is graduating from college and the oldest is twenty-four.  Time has flown by; I won't talk about my natural hair color, and before I know it, retirement will happen.  

Most of us realize we need to plan financially for retirement and so we pay off debt, contribute to our 401k plans and invest in stocks, bonds and real estate.  We want to have money when those paychecks stop arriving. 

But what are we going to do with our time, once our employer doesn't fill 35% or so of our waking hours?  Last time I checked, one of the best reasons to get a job was to avoid daytime television.  Are there other ways to avoid that wasteland?  While we don't want to turn retirement into another "to do" list or job, having a plan will help us get the most out of our golden years.


Retirement can be a time to start a new hobby as well as to continue and expand old hobbies--and don't let people tell you that you are too old for what you consider fun.  My cousin and her husband recently retired.  While they have always enjoyed riding their motorcycles, they now have time for more than a quick weekend jaunt.  Their current goal is to visit every state. They may not be able to ride motorcycles when they are eighty, but they are enjoying it now. 

I don't know how they maintained their bikes back when they were working, but if they were like most working people, I'll bet time was limited, and when the bikes needed work they got put in the shop.  Now they are building a large garage and can get motorcycle parts online and can do much of  their own work.  

For hobbies you know you enjoy, investing in quality equipment and accessories shortly before you retire is a good move.  If you know you will be riding motorcycles next year when you retire, now is a good time to buy motorcycle helmets, a warm jacket, or Icon Gloves.  Businesses like that cater to people with your hobby can help you find the things you need to do what you consider to be fun.   Once you are retired you may be squeamish about digging into your nest egg, so get the equipment you know you will need while the paycheck is still there.


I know, there are people who love to exercise and who have managed to find time to engage in all sorts of it, even while chasing small children and working demanding jobs.  Then there are the rest of us.  The CDC encourages older adults to not only engage in aerobic exercise but also muscle strengthening exercise.  Without work as an excuse, making time for exercise will pay off with lower weight, lower blood sugar, higher endurance and more flexibility.

You can join a gym, outfit a workout room at your house, or join the rest of the old folks in walking around the mall--the important thing is to get (and keep) moving.


During our working lives, most of us have to be content with two to three weeks vacation a year, and during our child rearing years we spend those vacations making the kids happy.  Now is the time for adult travel.  Drive the back roads since you aren't in a hurry to get there.  Go to places that have museums, not amusement parks.  Eat in restaurants that don't serve french fries (or at least don't have a franchise on every corner of every state).  Depending on your preferences and your budget, "travel" can mean a cross-country trip, or a day trip to the interstate exit you've passed for the last thirty years. 

Volunteer Work

Most of us have causes we champion, whether those causes involve people, animals, religion, historical sites or politics.  Once we don't have to be at work everyday, we can keep active and involved in the community via volunteer work that is meaningful to us.  We can foster animals, lead a scout troop, feed the homeless, or help a favorite candidate.  The nice thing about volunteer work is that you set the hours and if there is a task you don't want to do, just say "no".

A New Career

What?  Retirement is time for play, not work, right?  Yes, but since you are now independently wealthy (that's what you call it when you don't depend on an employer for your daily bread) you  have the time to follow your dream to be an artist, a writer, an inventor or to follow some other path that you were afraid wouldn't pay the bills.  

Learn Something New

While retirement isn't the time to start medical school, your local state university or community college may offer discounted rates for seniors.  If you have a motorcycle and want to learn to fix it, retirement means you have the time to do so.  If you've always wanted to study Shakespeare, your local college probably offers a course you can audit (unless you want to write the papers and take the tests).  

What Should You Do When You Retire?

Hopefully, whatever you like!  If you have planned well financially, retirement is the time to do the things that add richness and joy to your life, whether than means decorating cakes, quilting, riding motorcycles or exploring small town churches.  

I'd like to thank  for sponsoring this post.  I received compensation for writing it.

Disease Called Debt


  1. Keeping busy is the main thing. We watch our grandchildren a lot so that helps. Picking up the youngest has proven to be my weight training for now. They are also entertainment! Today though shoveling the driveway -is our biggest exercise.

    1. The first three years of retirement we hit all of the things in Ruth's list. Now our grandchildren are our main source of "busy" as well. Adding them into our lives has given us purpose in woodworking, gardening, shooting, sewing and cooking. Ah- cannot imagine life without them.

  2. This makes me forward to retiring so much! Have a while to go, though. Still in those years where I work and watch small children and don't get enough exercise. ;) Because I'm definitely part of "the rest of us."

  3. Retirement has definitely been a big change for me. Somewhere between hobby, new career, and learn something new comes my blog. And I've just recently started exercising again. I would like to travel more and do some volunteering, too.