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What to Do When You Retire to Keep Busy


A wide range of studies shows the value of seniors keeping busy for their physical health, mental acuity and memory. That presents one of the few downsides of retirement: How do you keep busy when you are suddenly, and permanently, out of work? There are many ways for retired people to engage with the world around them, and they depend on a person’s preferences, location and resources. We outline seven ways that people can get the benefits of staying busy.

Get a Hobby

While you were in the workforce, you likely didn’t have ample time for hobbies. Things like painting, projects around the house and even playing a musical instrument likely fell by the wayside. That’s why now is the perfect time to either pick up an old hobby or rediscover a completely new one.

The even better news? Some studies have shown that those who dedicated daily time to hobbies are less likely to die early or experience dementia. All the more reason to dust off that old guitar.

Spend Time with Family

You probably didn’t get to spend as much time as you wanted with your family when you were working. You may have even missed a soccer game or piano recital or two.

Retirement is the perfect time to make family bonding a priority. While your kids have likely already left home and started lives of their own, now’s the perfect time to start bonding – or even babysitting for – your grandchildren. Invest in a grandparents’ pass to the pool, the zoo or the local museum, and let the grandparental adventures commence.

Take the Time to Travel

What better time to check all those places off your bucket list than during your “golden years”? Of course, if you’re on a fixed income, you may need to travel with frugality in mind. The good news is that you don’t have a job to rush back to, so use that time to your advantage. Rent or buy a car or RV and take a road trip, whether that’s driving across the country or finally taking that trek up the Pacific Coast Highway you’ve already dreamed about.

More conventional travel options can also be more affordable as a retiree: You can be more flexible in your travel dates to score the best deals on flights, hotels, and rental cars. And don’t forget to take advantage of travel discounts geared toward your age group, either. In addition to AARP discounts, many airlines and rental car companies also offer senior discounts.

Give Back

Volunteering is another avenue via which to use your time effectively during retirement. Not only is it a great way to give back to your community, but it can also provide those who perform the volunteerism with a sense of community, mental health benefits, and perhaps most importantly, can help prevent isolation in retirement, which can pose a serious issue to seniors.

Popular organizations where seniors can volunteer include Senior Corps, Musicians on Call, and the AARP Foundation Experience Corps.

Go Back to Work

Don’t worry, we’re not suggesting you delve head-first back into the workforce. Rather, return to work on a part-time basis. Not only can it help pad your savings well into retirement, but it can also encourage socialization with peers, keep your mind sharp, and keep you busy. If you do decide to head back into the workforce during your golden years, you’re not alone. In fact, more than a fifth of those ages 65 and older are working or actively looking.

Keep in mind that going back to work can potentially impact Social Security benefits. That’s especially so for folks who retire before full retirement age.

Get Fit

Getting into better physical shape has probably been on your to-do list for years. But now that you’re retired, you have the time to actually do it. Plus, did you know that just 15 minutes of exercise a day can add nearly 3 years to your life span? In other words, you don’t need to spend a small fortune to get the exercise you need to be healthy.

But before you get started, be sure you’re healthy enough to exercise before starting a new fitness plan, even if you just plan to take a 2-mile walk daily or start going to weekly classes at your gym. And once you do sign up, try to join a class with other seniors. That way you can socialize and get fit.

Make a Move

Have you always dreamed of living somewhere warm where you won’t have to shovel snow or de-ice your car every winter? Or of living in Napa Valley, sipping wine overlooking a gorgeous vineyard? Maybe you just want to live somewhere with no income tax. (Hello, Florida!)

Either way now’s the time to actually do it. Many seniors move when they decide to retire, whether it’s because they’ve finally had enough of the cold or simply can’t afford to live in their current location while on a fixed income.

But before you take the plunge, be sure to research your new location, cost of living, and tax ramifications, which can all have a major effect on your bottom line. Here’s a list of some of the best places to retire in the U.S.

The Bottom Line

Retirement is the perfect time to pick up an old hobby or discover a new one. Plus, some studies have shown that those who dedicated daily time to hobbies generally live longer than those who don’t. Travel is another great way to spend your time during retirement. Don’t forget to take advantage of travel discounts geared toward your age group from AARP discounts to those from several airlines and rental car companies. Just keep tabs on how much your post-retirement activites and hobbies will cost.

Tips for Post-Retirement Activities

  • Consider talking to a financial advisor about budgeting for post-retirement activities to help you find the right financial plan for you. Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goalsget started now.
  • If you’re unsure of how much you can prudently spend on activities without jeopardizing your financial security in retirement, this calculator will be helpful.

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