5 Tips for the First Year of Retirement

A successful retirement requires adjustments to you routine, budget, and even your marriage.

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I had a long list of things I wanted to do when I retired. There were the hobbies I never had time for, the home projects I had been meaning to get to, and so many new activities to explore. One year later I hadn’t even made a dent in that list. Shouldn’t retirement be easier than working? Your only job now is, well, nothing. Here are some tips to help you through the first year of retirement.

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Try spending less money than you’ve budgeted. It’s pretty easy to acclimate to the part of retirement where you don’t go to work anymore. The part where you don’t get a paycheck anymore is a little harder. What you get instead of a paycheck, though, is the novelty of being retired. The best parts of retirement are absolutely free: no waking up to an alarm, no more performance reviews, and no commuting in rush-hour traffic. Despite the free benefits, money is still a worry for most new retirees.

Luckily, when I retired, the last thing I wanted to do was spend my time and money shopping for stuff I didn’t need. I wanted to spend time enjoying the time I didn’t have before. I’d much rather read a good book, go for a walk with a friend, or work outside in my garden. Most of the things I had looked forward to in retirement don’t actually cost any money. Once you see how little you can spend and still be happy, you’ll have a lot more confidence about your financial future.

Try spending less time with your spouse. Just because you get to spend the whole day, every day with your spouse, doesn’t mean you should. Demanding careers may have had you both longing for more time together, but you’re not going to want to devote all your time to your devoted spouse. Get out and see your friends, run your errands separately, and create some individual space for each of you at home. You’ll have a much better retirement together if you’re not depending on each other for full-time entertainment.

[See 4 Ways to Test-Drive Retirement While Working.]

Spend more time with your friends. Giving up your job also means giving up part of your social circle. Maintaining an active social life will take more initiative, especially if your friends are still working. Go meet a friend at her office and catch up over lunch, cater dinner for your friends on a weeknight, or take care of a project at their house while they are at work, so they will have time to enjoy a glass of wine with you when they get home.

Combat boredom. The great thing about retirement is that your life becomes completely self-directed. The hard thing about retirement is that your life becomes completely self-directed. How you fill your days is all up to you now, and that can be surprisingly hard. Over the years you may have had to put your interests second to your job, your family, and the general state of your to-do list. It may take time to rediscover those passions, but you’ll eventually realize what experienced retirees know: Even without a job, there still aren’t enough hours in a day to do everything you want to do.

[See 5 Ways to Tell if You are Ready to Retire.]

Don’t rush it. You too may have a long list of things you want to accomplish when you retire. Don’t feel guilty if you don’t get it all done the first month, or even the first year. It takes time to settle into your new life as a retired person. While there will be many things you’ll want to get to, relish the novelty of having no real reason to get to them just yet.

Sydney Lagier is a former certified public accountant. Since retiring in 2008 at the age of 44, she has been writing about the transition from productive member of society to gal of leisure at her blog, Retirement: A Full-Time Job.