How to Master the “ART” of Retirement

Retirement beach writing

Retirement is not an end. It’s an experiment in Activity, Relationships, and Time (ART). And like all experiments, the ART of retirement involves some trial and error. It’s not easy leaving behind the routine, the people, and the places that were such a big part of your life while you were working.

But a successful retirement is “work” too, especially at the beginning. Trying to settle on a new routine that will keep you happy and connected isn’t as easy as it sounds. You will make mistakes. You will feel frustrated. You might even feel a little bit lost.

One easy way to smooth this challenging transition is to plan ahead. If your retirement is just around the corner, start thinking about what your retirement ART is going to look like, and how you plan on practicing it.

Activity

Jack just retired. He has no idea how to spend his time anymore. So, he putters around the house, fixing stuff that isn’t broken, rearranging things that don’t need to be rearranged, watching a lot of TV … and driving his wife, Jill, crazy.

We chuckle when we see a scenario like this play out in a movie or TV show. But Retired Hubby or Wifey Syndrome is a very real problem. Many senior couples have spent eight hours or more apart from each other every single day for decades. Then, suddenly, they’re together all the time.

Often, this is the moment when spouses realize they each have very different ideas about what retirement is going to be like. One spouse might have visions of a hammock in the backyard. The other might have plans to see the world. Somewhere in between those expectations are the activities that are going to make retirement worthwhile for both people.

The things you do in retirement should be meaningful, stimulating, and energizing. Your passions should be your guide to a new routine – both with your spouse, and apart from him or her. Take professional lessons to turn a hobby like golf or painting into a real skill. Volunteer at a charity or nonprofit that’s close to your heart. You and your spouse can indulge your inner foodies with weekly date nights to try out all the new hot spots in town.

Relationships

Your spouse isn’t the only person you’ll be seeing more often in retirement. Your relationships with the rest of your friends and family are also going to change now that you’re no longer working. This too can be difficult, as many of the people you spent 40 hours every week with at your job recede from your day-to-day routine.

But this can also be a wonderful opportunity to connect with the people who matter the most to you. Once you and your spouse make it through the initial adjustment period, you’ll be able to spend time doing the things that brought you together in the first place. Planning trips and extended vacations around your children and grandchildren will create meaningful experiences that you’ll carry with you for the rest of your life.

Your social calendar also gets a whole lot bigger. Fill it up! Organize your friends for a weekly round of golf. Plan date nights with other retired couples. If there are people you lost touch with due to the grind of working and raising a family, reconnect.

Time

Time without the structure that work provides can be challenging for retirees. On the one hand, without meetings and project deadlines to worry about, time can seem so limitless that it’s overwhelming. On the other hand, many seniors still react to retirement like it’s an end to dread. They feel like their time is slipping away.

But these outdated notions just don’t suit today’s retirement or today’s retirees. Retirees are more active, more connected to their communities, more adventurous, more ALIVE than they’ve ever been! And they organize their time in retirement around the activities and relationships that make them feel happy and fulfilled.

Like we said at the top, retirement is an ART you have to work to perfect. You’ll make mistakes, and you’ll learn from them and adjust. You might load up your schedule with activities, only to find that having less structure allows you to explore your options a bit more. You might find the initial lack of structure maddening, and work on a new routine. You might try a part time job. You might like it. You might not.

There’s no one way to have a successful retirement. But the sooner you start working with us to refine your ART, the more beautiful your retirement picture will be.

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Saving for a Vacation Home: How Seniors Can Plan for the Financial End of Things

Vacation Home

Saving money for a vacation home can be difficult, and when you’re a senior on a fixed income, it can take some creative thinking to make sure you have the funds you need for the perfect getaway. Not only will you need to think about saving for a second mortgage, you’ll also need to consider the extra costs that you’ll incur from taxes and furnishing your new home. Then you’ll need to think about whether you want to turn your vacation home into a rental property when you’re not using it in order to recoup some of your investment.

A good financial plan begins with educating yourself about the real cost of a vacation home. Think about what it will take to make your dream a reality. Of course you’ll need money for the down payment, but you’ll also need funds to cover all the extra costs that come with a home, such as property taxes, utilities, HOA fees, and insurance, just to name a few. The location is a huge factor not only in cost, but in convenience, as the ideal vacation home is far enough away to be a “getaway” but close enough to your home that you can manage the upkeep.

Read on for some tips on how to plan for your vacation home and get everything you want out of it.

Location is key

The perfect vacation home means different things to different people. You may want something near the beach, near a ski resort, or in an area that has lots of restaurants nearby. You might want a home that fulfills needs for your health and well-being, such as a floor plan that works well for individuals with limited mobility. Take into consideration your lifestyle, your budget, and how often you’ll be using the home when you start your search, and gather some info on what the neighborhood is like as well.

Calculate well

Budgeting for something as big as a vacation home means doing some heavy planning. You need to make sure you’re familiar with all the rules of the area first, as some cities, homeowner associations, and resorts make their own set of laws when it comes to properties and amenities. Talk to a real estate agent and an accountant to get a good idea of what you’ll need to set aside.

Don’t forget the upkeep

Vacation homes often need updates when it comes to the kitchen and bathrooms, and these improvements can be pricey if you’re not careful with your budget and planning. One of the best ways to keep your home in good shape is to keep up with repairs and small changes rather than waiting to do them all at the same time. If you’re fairly close to your vacation home and can make a few trips a year for maintenance and upkeep, it will likely save you quite a bit of money in the long run. HomeAdvisor states that the average cost to remodel a kitchen is between $16,348 and $38,800, which is a big chunk of change. However, making green improvements, such as installing energy-efficient appliances or solar panels to the roof, can help you with tax credits as well as save you money on utilities every month, and that’s a great place to start with your budget.

Consider renting it out

While there are certainly downsides to renting out your vacation home, there are many upsides, too, including the fact that you’ll be getting extra income to help pay the mortgage. You’ll need to check and make sure this is an option before buying your home, as well as think about whether you’ll be available for emergencies should something go awry when the renters are in the home, but many vacation homeowners find this to be a great way to balance out the cost of the house.

Saving money for a vacation home starts with a solid plan, so make an effort to consider all your needs before you begin the process. Talk to your family about your plans and garner support and help from your loved ones to help make everything go smoothly.