4 Ways to Reward Yourself in Retirement

The path to retirement is rarely easy. While navigating your journey expect to encounter numerous potholes, unexpected twists and turns, and even the occasional dead end. Saving and preparing for your second act requires devotion and constant vigilance lest you stumble and as a consequence delay your arrival. The best laid plans often require modification, adjustment or sometimes even a start over. But with perseverance, determination, a good dose of prayer and a little luck we eventually hope to count ourselves amongst the retired.

Few of us entering retired life have a clear picture of exactly what may be in store for the next 20 or 30 years but as a whole we are plenty glad to be here. This should be our time to do what we want, what excites us and brings us joy. We have earned our time in the sun. So where do we start? How do we learn to be good to ourselves first after so many decades spent putting our personal desires on the back burner?

Is there any “thing” that would add to your joy in retirement?

All of us learn to do without on the way to retirement. If we hope to have sufficient resources down the road we have to watch ourselves along the way. That little red corvette, those amazing Italian shoes, upgrades to the home that are not 100 percent necessary, everything must be prioritized as we strive to keep that ultimate prize in sight. Once retired we still have to watch our expenditures – in some cases more than ever. But with some expenses no more – kids, college, commute expenditures, dry cleaning – perhaps you can afford a little splurge. Is there something that you have always wished for but just could not justify the expense? Think hard or maybe you don’t have to. Perhaps you can manage the books a bit and find what you need to go for it. It needn’t be Bakerysomething extravagant or over the top, just something you want. It doesn’t even have to be something you necessarily need. If you can swing it why not give yourself a well-deserved reward.

And if you really want to get the retirement off to a good start, find out if your partner has any secret wishes. Sometimes giving can truly be better than receiving.

Spend time with people you like

The realities of the working world occasionally require us to interact with people we would rather not. Putting on that happy face when you so do not feel like smiling can be stressful not only to the mind but to the face. How much better is it to spend your moments with people you love and enjoy? Is there someone at the top of your like list who you have not had time to be with? Retirement can be your chance to fix that. Now retired, I am able to reach out to old friends on a more frequent basis. I am free to arrange my calendar to make time for visits by the kids and the parents. I can join my sister for a lunch in the middle of the day and stretch the experience for hours if I want. What a welcomed change from a career peppered with meetings and conventions and business diners where I was often forced to talk nothing but business when it was the farthest thing from my mind. Reward yourself by spending time with those you choose.                                                      

Consider a furry four legged addition to the family

Not everyone is enamored with the thought of caring for a pet in retirement. The house if finally free of responsibility, so why not enjoy. With a pet, instead of being spontaneous you have to make arrangements for your four legged friend first and foremost. As many relate having a pet is like having another child. And nothing is cheap. But for those who like the idea of a loveable perpetually giving only-here-for-you companion a pet might be the ticket. You won’t be alone. Many places are dog friendly these days. In CV it is not uncommon to find yourself seated next to someone’s pooch while dining at the local bistro. Stores maintain full bowls of fresh water outside their doors just waiting to slake the thirst of visiting canines. Services available for pets include everything from walking to boarding to personality improvement. And what can be better than a warm body nestled at your side happily yipping and twitching as they dream their doggie dreams gloriously content with the occasional belly rub and simple pat on the head.

Use your good fortune to reward someone else

If life has been good you may want to give to those less fortunate. Retirees who spend time volunteering typically find the experience incredibly rewarding. Caregivers are in big demand in many communities and taking care of the aged is a good karma thing considering you too will someday be there. Small businesses can benefit from your counsel while at the same time you keep engaged and active. If you have a hobby or interest, share your passion by teaching others. “Memories of our lives, of our works and our deeds will continue in others,” said Rosa Parks. Find a worthy cause and pitch in. What have you got to lose? And the good you do may reward you in ways you could never imagine.

My Wife is Ready to Retire

I retired a few years back. A big part of my decision was based upon the ever changing job environment. What I described as “diverse experience across multiple years and technologies” unfortunately translated into “too old”. At the time I was 53 and had enjoyed for the most part where my career had taken me. But the powers that be did not feel I had a place in their future. And so began my retirement journey.

I have learned a lot over these last three years – most significantly that I have a lot to learn. It took me awhile to start figuring things out. Although somewhat at a loss in the beginning not always sure how my days would play out I feel I have evolved into a relatively happy, engaged, rarely bored retiree. Best of all I look forward to what tomorrow brings.

Now the time has come for my wife to join the ranks of we retired. I am excited about her becoming more a part of my daily life. And I look forward to sharing our respective second acts side by side.

After a successful career across multiple start ups Beatrice has had her fill of office politics. Dealing with inefficiencies that could easily be addressed if someone just took responsibility is no longer intriguing. It is time for something new. Although she will miss some friends from the job she has always been willing to make the effort to keep in touch with those she wants. And although the safe comfort of a place to go each day will be no more, she looks forward to the many new things she will be able to do with her free time.

She is excited – for the most part. What she is not 100 percent clear about is what she will do to stay busy and engaged once she leaves the job behind. Having worked steadily over the past decades she has only had to fill her weekends with worthwhile activities. Monday through Friday was spoken for by the demands of her career. Now suddenly her weekends will extend to seven days – that is a lot of additional free time. I can relate as this was the biggest single fear I faced when I first retired.

Her plan for now is to take it easy for a few months, enjoying a little downtime to recharge and contemplate the future. But not too far down the line she plans to look for work of some kind. The ideal would be a part time job without much of a commute doing something she enjoys that makes a difference. She is happy in the same line of work or willing to try something new. I support her completely. I have come to learn from readers and fellow retirees there is no reason work cannot be a part of the retirement mix especially if you like what you do.

My wife is very social with a wide range of friends scattered around the globe. She likes to get out and engage with people in the community. In our new digs she plans to reach out to neighbors and locals to learn the lay of the land as well as discover common interests. I see many a dinner party and afternoon get together in our future and look forward to it. She has always been interested in volunteering for worthwhile causes. Now she will have plenty of time to do just that.

One of my wife’s and my great loves is hiking. We are fortunate in that we live within a few miles of a wonderful national park with trails and vistas to fit every want. I imagine us exploring early morning strolls along winding dirt roads as the sunlight filters through majestic redwoods and ancient eucalyptus groves. I see us navigating the many paths to find the most challenging, most scenic, and most hiker-friendly for later down the road when we may no longer possess the fortitude to climb the highest heights. Should we need an alternative to the mountains, 12 miles down the road is some of the most beautiful coast line in the world. It is easy to picture a nice five-mile walk listening to the breakers booming along the shore, breathing in the fresh air, watching seals and gulls go about their merry way,  and ending up at a quaint café where a frothy cappuccino waits. Not too bad if you ask me.

I hope my experience evolving into a happy retiree might in some way help her hit the road running. Although we are different in many ways she will likely have to deal with a lot of what I went through coming up to speed. Why not learn from my mistakes? I will let her know that she does not have to stay busy every minute of the day. Sometimes it is okay to do nothing and if you enjoy what you are doing who is to say it is a waste of time. I will highlight the joy of an empty calendar as well as one filled with only those things you choose to do. I will encourage her to try new things she has never done before. I will recommend she revisit hobbies and passions she may have been forced to push to the wayside while busily employed full time. Now she has time. I will share with her my daily routine that sets aside time for exercise and creativity and exploration and relaxation. If difficulties arise I will remind her we are in this together for support, love and enjoyment. Together we are stronger. And I will invite her to join me in this retired world where the future looks promising and we have the enviable luxury to do what we want when we want.

Welcome to retirement my dear. So glad you are joining me. :)