Planning for a Longer Retirement: Six Ways to Spend Your Down Time

by Michelle Seitzer
Published March 19, 2015


After decades of putting their careers first, many boomers are now facing years of down time.

According to an article from FiveThirtyEight Economics, What Baby Boomers’ Retirement Means for the US Economy, nearly 17 percent of baby boomers are currently retired, compared to only 10 percent in 2010. Rising longevity rates mean that some boomers will work past their 65th birthday — be it for financial or personal fulfillment reasons — but only 3.5 percent will work past their 85th birthday, per Current Population Survey data. Though boomers won’t blow out 85 candles for some time, more of them will celebrate 85 than previous generations.

With these anticipated longer years of retirement ahead of us plus an increased risk of clinical depression (40 percent, to be exact, per an article by health expert and author Dr. Joseph Mercola,) as a direct result of retiring, retirement planning must be multi-dimensional, extending beyond a financial strategy to one that includes a plan for the free time of the non-working years.

Here are six ways to spend your down time and build a well-rounded social retirement plan:

  1. Strengthen family relationships and social connections: In prime working years, family and friends do not always come first for boomers. However, spending time with family and friends near and far is certainly an ideal way to stay active and avoid depression in retirement. Get to know your grandkids better. Take them on special trips, watch their soccer games and dance recitals, chauffeur them to school, work on a hot rod together. Help your kids with home renovation projects or with a new business launch. Schedule a regular weekly lunch date with your parent(s) or best friends. Join a book club. Make new friends.
  2. Cultivate personal enrichment: Learn a new language. Take lessons for an instrument you’ve always wanted to play. Start a band and take the show on the road. Go skydiving. Take a pottery class or photography course. Become a Sudoku master. Read the Sunday paper instead of simply recycling it. Transform your empty nest rooms and workshop spaces into Etsy shops or eBay shipping centers. Host an exchange student. Join a competitive or noncompetitive sports league or team. Play lots of golf. Work part-time at a wine store, specialty cheese shop, or favorite department store. Retirement is a time for reinvention and relaxation, for crossing off those bucket list items great and small, and for adding new ones.
  3. Participate in charitable work: Serve on a board of directors or on a fundraising committee for an organization you have always supported. Consider the Peace Corps. Start a support group for caregivers based on your personal experiences. Become foster parents or foster grandparents. Work (for free) at a local animal shelter. Be a part of the next election, either as a canvasser or Election Day volunteer. Advocate. Volunteering at any level is good for your all-around health, and giving back is a tremendously valuable way to contribute to the economy even after your income-earning years are over.
  4. Further your education, formally and informally: Get another degree, or a first one. Attend classes, teach classes, listen to lectures online, be a guest speaker at your alma mater or at your grandchildren’s school. Learn something new every day. Lifelong learning programs in retirement communities and universities nationwide are popular for good reason.
  5. Become an entrepreneur, your way: Start a business. Flip a house. Make your primary home or vacation home an Airbnb or Evergreen Club location, or open a bed & breakfast. Open a restaurant or coffee shop. Become a freelance writer or consultant. Though entrepreneurship among boomers is not always about the money, making money is still a valid goal for the retirement years.
  6. See the world: Retire abroad and fill your days with adventures in a new country, learning a new language and culture. Fly the kids and grandkids in to explore your new home together. Backpack across neighboring countries. See the world beyond your American dreams.

Need more cash flow in retirement to achieve some of these post-career goals? Talk to an HJ Sims Income Advisor today.

Michelle Seitzer is a freelance writer and not affiliated with HJ Sims. Ms. Seitzer spent 10 years working in various East Coast senior living communities, then worked as a public policy coordinator for the PA Alzheimer’s Association before settling down as a full-time freelance writer in 2010. Specializing in elder care content, Ms. Seitzer is the co-moderator of the first #ElderCareChat on Twitter. The opinions expressed by Ms. Seitzer are strictly her own and do not necessarily reflect those of HJ Sims & Co, Inc or their affiliates. The material presented here is for information purposes only. Information and opinions are current up to the date of publication and are subject to change without notice.

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