The change from a 40-hour workweek to retirement is one you accept with open arms. You’ve been waiting for this moment for decades and it’s finally here!
But don’t get ahead of yourself.
It takes a while to get used to this new lifestyle. And many retirees take their newfound freedom to wild extremes, ending up in debt or absolutely miserable.
Instead, start your retirement off on the right foot.
Take a look at these seven habits to apply at the beginning of your retirement. They’ll help you live a happier, healthier, and more productive retired life.
Keep a Close Eye on Your Bank Account
The biggest mistake new retirees make is not budgeting properly.
And it’s completely understandable — you now have unlimited time and a hefty retirement account to lean on as you experience the finer things in life.
But, this newfound freedom often leads to overspending. As you blow through the money you spent decades saving, the risk of ending up in debt mounts.
To keep your finances in order early in your retirement, consider the following:
Waiting to claim Social Security until you reach your “full retirement age”
Downsizing to a senior living community
Setting a monthly budget and sticking to it
Investing your savings to make money while you’re retired
Keeping an eye on your bank account is the most crucial aspect of retirement. One misstep can drive you right back into the workforce!
Get (and Stay) Active
You’ve been on your feet at work and deprived of sleep for 30 years or more. Now, you just want to take some to relax and do as little as possible.
It’s well deserved!
The issue is that it’s easy to take things to the extreme. And the last thing you want to do is go from an active lifestyle to a sedentary one.
For your mental and physical health, it’s vital to get active and stay that way.
The CDC recommends 150 minutes of aerobic activity a week.
With plenty of time and nobody to answer to, you can hike at a National Park, kayak on a nearby lake, bike the local towpath, or sign up for a group dance class.
Try to squeeze at least five 30-minute workout sessions into your schedule every week. That way, you can lower your risk of heart disease, depression, and arthritis.
Volunteer Your Time
Many people see retirement as a time to be grateful. You’re thankful for the economic position you built for yourself and the luxuries you’re afforded in life.
With so much free time on your hands, why not use it to help others?
For example, you can:
Teach skills at the local community center or after-school program
Register for a clean-up at the local park
Donate blood or plasma
Help out at the local food bank
Clean the cages and spend time with the animals at an animal shelter
Build homes with Habitat for Humanity
Senior Corps is a great organization for those 55+ looking to volunteer. This national program will match you with opportunities, like being a foster grandparent.
Stay in Touch With Loved Ones
When you no longer have a rigid schedule, it’s easy to forget to call your loved ones.
Life gets in the way.
Studies show that having a social life in your retirement years carries plenty of benefits. In fact, it can help you fend off loneliness and even add years to your life.
And thanks to technology, it’s extremely easy to do.
Reach out to your children or grandchildren at least once a week in person or via technology (like video calls or phone calls).
You can use your time to meet new people, too.
Go to your local senior center and sign up for fitness classes. Attend Bingo Night at the community center.
Basically, just meet new people wherever you can!
Dedicate Some Time to Learning New Things
Once you graduate from high school or college, education tends to take the backburner. But it’s human nature to want to learn and grow mentally.
But aside from simply being fun, learning has an added benefit for seniors:
It fends off conditions like Alzheimer’s!
So, use your now-open schedule to your advantage by learning new things whenever possible.
Take a non-credit course at your local community college. Learn how to code or the basics of photography. Stay up to date on social and political issues.
Now is the perfect time to learn about the world that you’ve been sheltered from because you were so dedicated to the workforce.
Try New Things (and Visit New Places)
In addition to learning new things, early retirement is also ideal for trying new things and going to new places. It’s your chance to expand your boundaries.
Here are some ideas:
Go on a road trip
Make a bucket list
Visit local monuments and landmarks
Attend parades, festivals, and cultural gatherings
Check out museums and local learning centers
Try new restaurants and foods
Listen to a new genre of music
These are all great ideas, but make sure that you’re not doing too much too soon (and draining your bank account in the process).
Promise yourself one new thing once a week (or even once a month.
It doesn’t have to be extravagant.
Do Absolutely Nothing
You dedicated your body and mind to your employer for decades and hardly had a free moment to yourself. And if you did, you had to schedule a vacation day in advance.
This is your chance to use your time to your benefit.
Use the first few weeks or months of retirement to just go with the flow. Watch new movies, lay on the hammock in the yard, and read a book by the lake.
You don’t always have to be doing something productive to make your retirement worthwhile. Your mind and body both deserve a little break.
Just keep a close eye on the amount of nothing you do.
Don’t let it get out of hand to where you sleep in every day or never leave the house!
Retirement is exciting, but you need to be careful to approach it properly.
You don’t want to burn a hole in your wallet, shelter yourself from the world, or miss out on new opportunities.
So here’s a word of advice:
Use this time to live the life you always wanted to live, and do it within reason.
Leon Grundstein has more than 28 years of experience in real estate development, with over two decades of experience in the retirement industry. He founded Tacoma Point Ruston with a game-changing business model to promote a healthy and robust retirement lifestyle for older adults.