Congratulations: You’ve made it through the long, harrowing years of your career. You woke up to an alarm every morning for 30 years (or longer), dressed in uncomfortable business attire and trudged off to work. You put up with decades of unsympathetic managers, combative coworkers and bad coffee at your nine-to-five gig—but it was all worth it, because now you get to retire!
Amidst the elation you’re feeling about your new employment status, it’s still necessary to take a step back to assess your financial situation and set goals or limitations to accommodate your new lifestyle. Every aspect of your life is fair game, from the big things—insurance, retirement savings—to the smaller details, like your food budget and even your hobbies. Consider the following ideas to help you learn to live within your means while still enjoying every moment of your life after employment.
- Feed Your Soul (and Your Pocketbook)
Consider starting a vegetable garden to help you save money on your grocery bill. You’ll literally enjoy the fruits of your labor as you eat cucumbers, peppers and tomatoes straight from your backyard. As an added bonus, you’ll enjoy some fresh air and exercise as you tend to your plants, and you’ll see a significant savings on your grocery bill since you won’t be purchasing these items at the store. You could even sell your fruits and veggies to neighbors or at a farmer’s market to supplement your income. Retirees who live in a home without a yard can experiment with window boxes or planters that can be placed on an apartment balcony or front step.
- Working 9 to 5…Or Not
You may find that your retirement savings and Social Security income don’t quite cover your bills, or perhaps you miss the structure and challenge of having a job. If you must work, do your best to find a position that’s satisfying and stimulating without being too stressful. If you enjoyed your career, consider how you might work in the same field in a different capacity. Retired teachers might take a job as an educational assistant or school library attendant; a retired nurse might work part-time with a health organization.
Regardless of what you decide to do to pocket a little extra cash, make sure it’s worth your while and leaves you enough leisure time to still enjoy the benefits of your superannuation. And keep in mind there may be limits to how much you can earn while still drawing Social Security income.
- Protect Your Health as You Age
Although some retirees are lucky enough to have health coverage through their former employers, many others have to find other means of protecting themselves against financial crisis in the event of an emergency. It’s a smart idea to consider purchasing a short term medical insurance policy to cover you for the period between your last day on the job and when you reach Medicare eligibility age. It’s important to keep up with proper health care and treatment as you get older; carrying reliable insurance can help you take care of yourself.
- Florida, Costa Rica…or Idaho?
Deciding where you want to live as a retiree can be a complicated process. Numerous factors can influence the decision, including how much you have to spend on living expenses, whether you wish to move and where your friends and family are located. Many retirement communities offer discounted or subsidized housing programs, so take these into consideration when looking into homes. Remember that areas with lower costs of living still have a lot to offer, although paying a bit more for a home is a personal decision that may offer a higher quality of life. Either way, keep in mind the end goal of being happy and secure in your home.
Your retirement can be one of the most enjoyable, rewarding times in your life. Put some thought into how you wish to spend your time and how best to appropriate your funds. Making wise decisions can help you make the most of your post-working years.