It’s Finally Time To Retire

21 February 2020

“It is better to live rich than to die rich.”
Samuel Johnson

To many people, retirement is something to look forward to. It represents a momentous milestone worthy of celebration after decades of slogging away for a living. Retirement marks the phase of life when you are finally financially secure with enough assets to last you for the rest of your life. While the financial decisions involved are certainly important, it is just as important to figure out what kind of retirement life you would like to live.

What are you going to do with all your free time, now that you have an extra 8 hours (or more) freed up each weekday? Are you thinking of travelling more? Volunteering at a charity? Finally getting started on hobbies that you’ve dreamed about for years?

Will these activities be able to keep you fulfilled and entertained once the novelty of no longer working wears off?

Here are some tips to make the most of your retirement.

Schedule Your Time

No matter what your plans may be, it is important to think about how you’ll manage your time each day. Without any kind of schedule in place, your days will seem short and pass quickly. Nothing makes the hours fly by like waking up late, pottering about, and having a late breakfast (or going straight to lunch). By the time you know it, the sun is setting.

Are you someone who likes having a routine to keep yourself on track? Or perhaps you prefer to live a spontaneous life free of commitments now that you’re no longer tied to your job. Maybe a combination of the two will work best for you: 3 unscheduled weekdays in a week and a schedule for the other 2.

Be honest with yourself about how you work best, and set your schedule accordingly.

Running Errands

Even after retiring, you’re still going to have some obligatory tasks you can’t escape from. Unless you fully rely on a supermarket delivery service like Redmart, you’ll have to get out of your home at some point to stock up on groceries and other necessities.

However, you’ll no longer be restricted to doing so only after work or over the weekends. Embrace the opportunity to get your errands done while most others are working and queues are short. You’ll find it a much more relaxing experience.

Get a Full Body Health Check-Up

COVID-19 fears aside, it is important to have regular medical check-ups as you enter your retirement years. Just as it is helpful to have a benchmark to measure your investment performance against, those regular check-ups will keep you informed on whether your health is improving or deteriorating as the years go by.

While you’re there, talk to your doctor about possible lifestyle changes you could make to improve your health, so that you’ll be able to enjoy your retirement to the fullest. You now have the time to go for walks, play sports, join a gym, set up a home gym, or start doing yoga, as well as to experiment with new recipes to ensure a nutritious diet. You also have the freedom to exercise at off-peak times, when fitness centres are least crowded.

Whichever you choose, be consistent in your new exercise programme, while being aware of your limits so you don’t push yourself too far.

Take Stock, Financially

What would you like to do with your assets while you’re still alive? How would you like to spend your money on yourself and others? Where would you want your money to go after you die?

If you haven’t yet made plans, retirement would be the time to start. You may want to speak to a fiduciary adviser who can help you lay the foundations and advise you on your goals. A good adviser will be able to access the expertise of other professionals, such as estate planners and attorneys, to help you set up your wills, trusts, a Lasting Power of Attorney and other matters.

Meanwhile, are your retirement savings enough to support the kind of lifestyle you would like to have? You can take this quiz to get some idea of how much you might need.

Simplify Your Home

If you have children, they will likely have grown up and moved out by the time you retire. You probably won’t need as much space as you used to. This means you have an opportunity to downsize to a smaller, cosier home. Smaller homes are cheaper and easier to maintain, with lower utility bills, less to clean, and a smaller carbon footprint.

Whether or not you plan to move, you should consider how many of your current possessions – including furniture – you actually still need. You’ll be spending a lot more time at home now you’ve retired, so you want it to be a relaxing, uncluttered space.

Take this opportunity to go through everything you own and see what you can do without. The KonMari method of tidying up, popularised by Marie Kondo, offers one way to decide. Does each possession spark joy? Does it serve a purpose? Or has it become a burden you could do without? Donate or recycle what you can. If it is particularly valuable, you could also try selling it for some extra cash.

For items you’re keeping solely for sentimental value, consider if it’s the item itself or the associated memories that are important to you. Perhaps you still have shelves of your children’s old clothes or toys that are still in good condition. Why not pass them on to your own grandchildren, or donate them to childcare centres? If you have disintegrating albums of yellowing photographs gathering mould at the edges, consider scanning the pages into digital format to ensure that the memories will be preserved. You can then part with the physical books themselves before they become a health hazard.

And if you have family heirlooms you plan to pass on one day, why wait? You could give them to your loved ones now and see them enjoy them while you’re still here.

You’ll also spare your loved ones from the additional pain of sorting through roomfuls of your belongings when you eventually pass away. It might be difficult for them then to throw away anything that reminds them of you, or to figure out what is important and valuable and what is not. You probably don’t want your children to one day be weeping over your pile of free airplane earbuds or a shirt you stopped wearing because of the holes.

Clearing out some of your years of accumulated stuff will help you create a much more restful home. It can also help you become more mindful of what you purchase in future, and to ask yourself if it’s something that will truly add value to your life. This will, in turn, keep you from overspending your budget.

Consider Volunteering

Many retirees find themselves getting bored after the first few months of retirement. It will be good to have something to engage your mind while helping others and bettering our society.

There are many organizations that could benefit from your skills, personal experience, time and energy. This includes not just charities and social services organisations, but also businesses in your previous industry where you could help to mentor younger workers.

If you don’t presently know of any group to help out with, you might want to check out this collation of volunteer opportunities to see if any resonate with you. They include religious institutions, schools, hospitals, and community boards, just to name a few.

You could also help out on a more casual basis, such as offering to babysit your neighbours’ kids or look after their pets while they’re at work. Or perhaps you might want to contribute to a community garden, or get together with other retirees to organise meals for low-income families in your area.

However you choose to spend your retirement, don’t neglect the importance of planning ahead. Take stock of what you have. Review your investment portfolio. Figure out how you’d like to engage yourself. Determine the sort of legacy you’d like to leave behind.

All this will help you get the most out of your sunset years and attain the rest you’ve worked hard for.


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