Key Takeaways:

People think retirement is one big vacation and it might start off that way but sooner or later if you go from working 20-60 hours a week to not at all it can leave you wondering what to do with all your spare time. Learn helpful tips for a productive and enjoyable retirement.

People think retirement is one big vacation and it might start off that way but sooner or later if you go from working 20-60 hours a week to not at all it can leave you wondering what to do with all your spare time. That’s pretty common and in fact due to the pandemic more older adults saw themselves taking early retirement or being furloughed near retirement due to the economic situation. 

According to the Swartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis older adults hit their lowest level of employment in January 2021, “For older workers, the decline since August represents 1.1 million workers who left the labor force between August and January 2021 due to the pandemic recession. Since January 2020, the pandemic recession has caused a total of 1.9 million older workers to leave the labor force. For context, 35 million workers 55 and older were employed in January 2021.”

The pandemic presented a number of factors that lead many people to enter retirement ahead of time. Some of the lucky few opted into retirement ahead of time as a personal choice. Others had to make the difficult decision between continuing to work or opting to help be a caregiver for an aging loved one or to help children care for their children. Others were furloughed or let go as the economy shifted and work itself shifted. 

Financial and well-being impact of early retirement

Retiring early isn’t always the road of leisure some anticipate a lot of planning may need to go into early retirement depending on personal circumstances. Early retirement affects a lot of aspects of a person’s life that may not always be considered in advance. 

Couple looking at financial documents.

  • Extra time: Most early retirees have a lot more time on their hands then they are used to having. For some it can be difficult to learn how to fill this time. 
  • Social circles shift: A lot of people’s social networks and circles come from our work. Retiring early can diminish our social circles so it can be important to plan to foster those relationships or find new social circles. 
  • Financial changes: Not receiving a regular salary impacts finances. It is important to assure that you have enough money to support yourself regularly especially as you age considering that healthcare costs as you age will rise, not decrease. Decisions need to be made and calculated regarding where your monthly income will come from savings, retirement, or social security. Take note that applying for early social security benefits may include penalties. 
  • Purpose: For many people work has given them a regular routine and purpose. Finding their new purpose and adventure as they retire is a fun-filled part of this next stage of life and essential to health and wellbeing. 

Retirement doesn't have to be permanent

Retirement used to be seen as a final stopping point of work, however, that has changed. There are many options for coming out of retirement. Many people realize they don’t want to retire the first time they retire in reality. They go on to retire second or third times and sometimes more or they never retire. All of these options are part of the fun of exploring personal aging needs. There are many options after your first retirement that allow you to have an added income or stretch your current savings. 

  • Consider a new full time work opportunity - Look for full-time work in your area or reach out and try something new in a different area if you are qualified for it. Reaching out to your network can be a great way to get the ideas rolling. Letting people know you are open to work is the first step. Also consider creating or updating your LinkedIn profile so people can easily reach out to you.  Need a little inspiration? Check out Norman's story of career transition.
  • Work part time - If you aren’t ready to take the plunge into full-time work look for a part-time job, just like our Guide Vicki did. This gives you the opportunity to have some additional income and enjoy some of the free time around retirement. 
  • Become a consultant -  Many retirees have decades worth of experience behind them. Consider becoming a consultant in your industry to help rising start ups, small businesses, or large corporations depending on your expertise. 
  • Start your own business - Why not turn your passions into a business and start your own business? You can start small and see if your idea picks up! 
  • Start a job in a new field you are passionate about - Consider a career shift and pursue something you are passionate about by doing new work or different work in an area perhaps you wanted to try before but had never had the opportunity to dive into. Now is a great time to see what possibilities are out there. 
  • Teach skills you know well - After decades in your field you have the experience to teach and train the newbies on key insights you have learned. Help others to grow by guiding and fostering their budding work experiences. 
  • Work temporary positions - If you don’t want to have a steady job consider part time work around the holiday season, crop seasons, or covering for someone out on medical leave. These are great ways to have temporary positions and then go back to enjoying retirement. 
  • Consider relocating to a place where your savings goes further either in the same country or abroad -  For those who aren’t as keen on working you can stretch your savings and retirement funding by considering relocating. This can mean downsizing, or moving out of a major city to a part of the country where the cost of living is cheaper. If you have already done some of those and are looking for more bang for your buck consider going abroad. Many retirees are finding the benefits of living in other countries include cheaper health care and great options for retirement visas with limited stipulations. Perhaps it’s time you look into living in the country of your choice.  Learn more at our Live and Retire Abroad series.

There are lots of options out there that can help you to adapt your work and lifestyle to help cover you as you age from co-living to relocation or ongoing work. There are options to meet a variety of tastes and styles. 

Great ways to take your first retirement (or forever retirement) and not get bored 

Now that you have extra time on your hands what will you do with it? There are lots of great options to keep yourself healthy, engaged, and having fun! GetSetUp learners have lots of great tips for those interested in filing their time in retirement. 

Lady painting in art class.

Top 10 ways to fill retirement

  1. Volunteer - Take the time to give back to the community and volunteer for a cause you are passionate about! 
  1. Take Classes - Learn something new! Not only will you get your neurons firing which is good for brain health but you will have more exciting things to share at your next social gathering. 
  1. Learn a language - Learning a language (or an instrument) are some of the best ways to keep your brain healthy and active as you age. It can also be a great way to prepare for your next trip or concert. 
  1. Travel - Take the time to finally see the sites you have been wanting to visit! Get out there and travel whether it's to visit friends and family, take a road trip, or use your passport nothing helps expand your horizons like traveling.  Our Travel Series will get you on your way.
  1. Pursue a passion - Take up a hobby that you have always been interested in whether that is dancing, singing, or crafting. Join groups that help to support your passion.  If you're interested in photography, take a look at our Learn Photography Like a Pro series. Or, discuss movies in the Movie Interest Group.
  1. Get fit - Now that you have the time there is no excuse not to start that exercise plan - whether it's morning fitness or daily walks keep moving and keep healthy! We have lots of options to help you get started in our Fitness series.
  1. Socialize - Get out there and meet new people. Share your passions in clubs, classes, and groups that meet over shared interests whether that’s book clubs, country clubs, or meditation groups, find your people and share your insights. We have a variety of Interest Groups where you're sure to find link-minded individuals.
  1. Dive into the arts - Now is your chance to learn more about the arts, from music to paintings. Explore as an artist yourself or as a connoisseur. Visit the museums and explore both old and new famous artists.  Check out our series Music and Art Through History.
  1. Mentor - Help the youth who need a bit of a lift up and mentor them in specific school subjects or life skills. 
  1. Create edible delights - Now that you have the time, start cooking! Enjoy making healthy foods and delicious treats. Help to create healthy diets that will keep you even healthier as you age. Cooking a new recipe is a great excuse to invite friends and family over to share as well. 

So whether you are evaluating retirement for the first time, re-evaluating it or just getting started enjoying it consider these great tips on how many other older adults find retirement a rewarding time to try new things, diversify, and explore!  

May 19, 2022

Classes by:

Liz Miller

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