Preparing for retirement

Envisioning retirement

Before retiring, it’s important to take a step back and think closely about how you’ll spend your time in the years ahead. You may want to phase into retirement life slowly and continue working at least part-time, or you may have plans to take continuing education classes, visit family, travel or spend more time on your favorite hobbies. Having a mental picture of what retirement will look like can help make the transition to retirement much easier.

Leaving the workplace

While the prospect of retiring should be an exciting one, it will also be an adjustment. Whether it’s the daily responsibility, the people or even the commute, there are bound to be aspects of working that you’ll miss.
There are ways to smooth the transition process. Before leaving your job, create a list of the people you want to stay in touch with at the office. Social networks can also help you stay connected with friends and coworkers. Use any available resources at work to find volunteer or mentor opportunities, and if possible, try out a few volunteer options while still working to help you decide which to pursue once in retirement. You may also want to consider phasing into retirement or pursuing a second career part-time.  For more information, visit our section on Working Part-time.

Non-financial retirement considerations

As you near retirement, it makes sense to keep a close eye on your finances and have a plan for how you’ll spend your money in the coming years. But you’ll also want to plan ahead for the non-financial aspects of retirement.1 How do you see yourself spending your time, not just in the first few months of retirement, but also 10 or 20 years on?
  • Which activities and interests will you pursue?
  • Is travel important to you, or would you like to stay close to home?
  • Are there activities or professional passions set aside before you started your career that you’d like to re-explore?
  • Do you have the desire to give back through volunteering or charitable work?
  • Are there activities and interests you can share with your spouse or partner?
  • If you had all the time in the world, what would you choose to do?  In addition to finding activities to keep you engaged, it’s likely you’ll want to surround yourself with loved ones.
For more information, visit AARP’s Resource Center , as well as these exercise , and retirement jobs resources.

Pursuing academic interests

For many retirees, their post-work life is a perfect time to learn new things. This may include taking continuing education classes, which can help keep you intellectually stimulated and socially engaged with people from different age groups. There are a number of institutions and programs to look into if you want to pursue adult courses, including:
  • The Bernard Osher Foundation : This foundation offers Lifelong Learning Institutions on 119 colleges and universities across the country. The not-for-credit courses are for adults aged 50 and older and appeal to those who are taking classes for the “joy of learning.”
  • Coursera : In partnership with universities and organizations around the world, Coursera offers free online adult education courses in a variety of subjects, and even in different languages.
  • Road Scholar : This nonprofit group offers learning-based travel opportunities for adults aged 55 and older. Travel programs are offered in the U.S. (for example, hiking in Death Valley, food and wine tours in New England and photography in Colorado) as well as in 150 other countries (including natural history in the Galapagos Islands, a study cruise in Cambodia and Vietnam or snorkeling in Fiji) at discounted prices.

Funding new hobbies

Engaging in hobbies can add structure to your day and spice to your retirement. While some hobbies are more expensive than others, there are ways to keep costs low no matter which activities pique your interest.  As long as you are willing to plan ahead and incorporate a little flexibility, you can enjoy your favorite hobbies at an affordable price.
  • Travel: While most envision themselves traveling in retirement, it’s the most expensive retirement hobby. To save, travel mid-week or in the off-season and snag lower rates. After age 50, begin asking for senior discounts to possibly save on airfare, accommodations, car rentals, tours, and other diversions. Lastly, try a repositioning cruise, which is 30-70% less than a regular cruise ticket. These cruises typically have all the amenities and fewer ports of call, but you will need to book a one-way flight either to the cruise or back home. community garden
  • Seniors groups: Joining a group to play cards or games, or take day trips to interesting spots in your area is a great way to keep your mind active and remain social. Bridge is an especially popular card game to pursue during retirement.
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1 4 Keys for a Happy Retirement That Have Nothing to Do With Money, The Balance, December 28,2015.
2 Opportunities for continuing education in retirement, c14636 and c3300
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