March 2, 2018

How To Plan for Retirement (or Fix Things Afterwards!)

*What do I do all day after retirement?
* Where should I live?
* What if I need more money?
   * I get bored easily - now what?
* Why didn't I do this years ago?

All excellent retirement questions. In fact, after eight years of writing Satisfying Retirement these are the ones I am asked most often. If you have lots of time, you can explore the archive of old posts listed down the left side of this page where you will find all the original posts with my answers.

Or, you can stay right here and get the summary versions. I've included links to full posts if you'd like to explore a subject a bit deeper.

What do I do all day after retirement?

The short answer is, whatever you want. Retirement is the one time in your life when you have almost total control of your time. If you like to sleep late or get up at the crack of dawn, that is your choice. Are you most productive first thing in the morning, in the afternoon, or at midnight? Match what you want to do with when you can get the most accomplished.

Do you want to sit on the porch or hike through the woods, bathing yourself in nature's sights, sounds and smells? Or, are you happier at a coffee shop in the middle of a bustling urban setting? Is your idea of heaven a good book and a cup of tea, an old Humphrey Bogart movie, a Beethoven symphony at full volume, or total silence and a yoga mat?

Retirement means you build your day your way. Read all about it here: What do you do all day?

Where should I live?

You should live where you are happiest. The reality may not be that simple. Budget restrictions or  family commitments may affect your answer. Do you want to live closer to family or stay near friends you have now? Do you move for climate reasons? For a more complete answer, click here: Moving to be near family - a good idea? or try this post: The best place for you to retire

 I suggest not moving to someplace different for at least a year after you retire; stopping work and relocating are two huge stress creators. Give yourself time to adjust to your new life first. With no more commuting and a more relaxed daily schedule you may discover that where you live now holds all sorts of opportunities and joys you had overlooked.

What If I need more money?

Actually that question can be answered one of two ways: adjust how you live and spend less, or generate some additional income. The first approach is the easier of the two. Spending after retirement normally falls anywhere from 20-50% of what you needed while working. You may not need more money at all if you adjust your consumption habits to match your new lifestyle. Check out this post: How much money do I need to retire?

If you really are cash poor there are several options you can pursue, from part time to full time work (unretiring is perfectly OK), turning a hobby into a money-making venture, or starting a business. For more details I refer you to this article, 50 ways to earn money in retirement.

I get bored easily - now what?

Becoming bored when you have the time and freedom to do what you like and look for new passions or activities that fill your day with joy should not happen. It may mean you have to kick yourself in the behind, get off the coach, out the door, or to the nearest park. If might mean a period of being a little out of your comfort zone as you stretch yourself a bit. 

I remember being bored when I was traveling so much each week. I had little to occupy me at night in all the thousands of hotel rooms and plane flights. AT home, I didn't have a hobby or passion that I could use to recharge.

Now, boredom is not an issue in my retirement. Yes, it took a while to find out what I really liked to do. I discovered strengths and interests I didn't know i had until I gave myself permission to try. Read this post for some more encouragement.

Why didn't I do this years ago?

If you are asking that question then you have solved the riddle of the ones above it. Congratulations, you are enjoying a truly satisfying retirement.


  1. Ha--loved the last question!

    About where to retire, as you know I've lived in the same place for many years, and I love living near my children and grandchildren. But last week I reconnected with a long lost friend who now is retired and living in Costa Rica. She sent me photos. And I confess for a moment I thought.....

    1. No worries about that--I wouldn't miss your visit no matter what!

  2. Hi Bob! As a person not yet retired I can see why some of these questions would pop up over and over, but I'm surprised that none of the put a focus on relationships? I would think that getting along well with your significant other could dramatically affect retirement. Other than that, I would also think that people would be curious downsizing--or as I like to call it "rightsizing." Of course, overall it is probably normal for all of us, retired or not, to continually ask ourselves if we are living a "satisfying" life. And I always appreciate your answers! ~Kathy

    1. Both question areas you mention are important, relationships maybe more so. I think it is people's hesitancy to peer too closely at that issue that keeps the question from being asked as often. I can say, though, that when I write about relationships those posts tend to get a higher than average audience.

  3. We looked at retirement a few years out and agreed our large home wasn't something we wanted to keep when we did retire. We rightsized and are very happy with less square footage, a floor plan we LOVE, and less to care for. The money worries seem to lessen as the years go by, we just finished year 4 of retirement..although my husband has a home office
    now and does work 2 days a week doing something he loves. My husband is my best friend, so I love seeing much more of him,I have had time in retirement to nurture old friendships a lot more, and to even make some new ones! I am extremely satisfied with how retirement is going-- we're getting better at it every year! Some years, more travel,some years more at home.Work/not work. Moved/moved back. Retirement is a lot like the other times of life: must be flexible and have a sense of adventure!!

    1. One thing I know about you and boredom in your lives.

  4. While the questions you mention could be asked at any time, I would bet that those who give serious thought to these and other retirement-related issues before they retire will have the easiest time transitioning to retirement and will find it the most rewarding. (Bonus points for being sure to include your spouse/partner in the discussion!) By the way, Bob, I just recently stumbled across your blog and am enjoying it immensely!

    1. Hi, Mary. I read your blog post about Devil's Tower. Question for you: how did you stumble across this blog? Was it a Google search or following a link from another blog? I'd be interested.

      Thinking about these questions before leaving the workforce would be best, of course. But, sometimes life doesn't give us that chance. And, yes, including a spouse or partner, if appropriate, in this process is essential. A single mom or dad with children would be wise to be sure they have some input also.

    2. Bob, I've been retired for nearly two years but, about six months ago, our younger child entered college and I've had more time to devote to personal pursuits like blogging, following other blogs and reading all those novels I always promised myself I'd get to. I most likely "discovered" your blog via a link from another one although, I'm sorry to say, that I couldn't tell you from which one - I regularly read a number of blogs related to RV travel and finance. I can tell you, however, that I am enjoying your thought provoking posts and have found a couple of additional retirement-related blogs through your list that I enjoy and have been reading regularly, as well. Your efforts to reach retirees (and others who are interested in the topic of retirement) are very much appreciated!

  5. From when I first considered it, it took me several years to get into a comfortable financial position to retire. But even more importantly, it took 3-4 years to become psychologically ready to retire. I have now been retired for eight months. When I retired, I had left the possibility open that I might work occasionally on a consultant basis. However, I find that I seldom even read the job ads that appear in my email. Last week, a consultant opportunity came up. I read through the description carefully, and was surprised to discover that my response was: Work??? Why would I want to spend my time doing that? The strength of the feeling surprised me. So, although I won’t say that I’ll never work in my field again (as that particular job opportunity was not very appealing), I think it is clear to me now that I have achieved a satisfying retirement. Not bad for a former workaholic!


    1. A major step, Jude. Like you, for a few years I toyed with the idea of either going back on the radio or starting again as a consultant. Ultimately, I realized the business had passed me by, and I really didn't want to put in the effort get up to speed to become employable again. Since that brief flirtation, I have had zero thought of employment again in a field that dominated my life for over 30 years.