Pack It All In: How to Squeeze a Lifetime of Pleasure into Retirement Years

Twilight. Golden. Sunset. Whatever you choose to call the years from 65 on, make them count. You’ve spent your entire life waiting (and saving) for this moment; now’s the time to enjoy it. Here are a few ways to do just that without draining your budget too soon.

If you don’t enjoy something, don’t do it.

This one seems like a no-brainer, but seniors often find themselves the designated “go-to” when family and friends need something. Whether it’s taking tickets at the church carnival or watching the neighbor’s dog while they’re away, you’re not obligated to stop your life for someone else’s. The same goes with common household chores. If mowing the lawn makes you ache or grocery shopping stresses you out, don’t do it. These and other tasks can be outsourced so that you can spend time doing the things you actually do enjoy. Remember, it’s all about managing and finding balance, so while you may spend some money, you’ll save time and sanity.

Partner with a good financial advisor.

Even if you have a plan in place, establishing a relationship with a financial advisor can help you get the most out of your money so that you can enjoy life. An advisor can help you keep track of where your money should be going for the long haul and how to keep investing it as you age so you can make the most of your hard-earned money. Also, it’s very important to consider the need for life insurance during this time, which might include getting prepaid funeral arrangements in order. This might not sound like a recipe for a great time, but making sure your financial and end-of-life affairs are in order can give you peace of mind and allow you to enjoy your retirement without having big, life-changing decisions hanging over your head.

Move.

City life is expensive and you may find that moving to the country offers up a chance to spend more money on joy and less on the electric bill. But before you pack the fine China, calculate how much you can save and compare this amount to the things you want to do. Realtor.com offers more reasons why a rural lifestyle is good for you.

Make new friends.

Friends are free, but you may need to spend a few dollars here and there to find them and enjoy your time together. Join a group that caters to your interests. Visit your local senior center. Go out to dinner with acquaintances. Volunteer. These are just a few ways to connect with your community—and there are plenty of reasons you should. As the New York Times points out in this article by Paula Span, a writer who regularly contributes to the paper’s The New Old Age and Generation Grandparent sections, loneliness can be deadly. Not only does isolation lead to heart disease and stress, it can also trigger depression, which comes with a long list of negative effects on people of all ages. So don’t just sit around the house watching reruns. Get out. Build your social network and thrive. Doing things with people you like costs much less than a therapist.

Treat yourself every once in a while.

If your bills are paid, you’re living within your means, and you know you can cover your expenses without taking on a part-time job, there is nothing wrong with loosening the purse strings now and then. You may need to compromise on what you do or how you do it, but whatever it is that makes you feel good, do it. If you want to travel, cut your excursions down to a night away in the middle of the week instead of a long vacation. Take a one-time painting class and hang your own artwork instead of buying something. Bake a cake with your grandchildren instead of taking them to dinner. Buy used golf clubs instead of new ones. These are just a few examples; there are literally endless possibilities when it comes to indulging your desires creatively.

The cost of a comfortable retirement depends, in part, on where you live and the things you enjoy. No matter how much money you have—or don’t have—there are ways to squeeze the most out of every dollar and get more smiles out of every day.

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