Ever notice that every book on “How to Retire” is really just about how to accumulate a big pile of money? I’m currently in the middle of How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free by Ernie Zelinski, which contains absolutely nothing about mutual funds, real estate, or safe withdrawal rates. Instead, it deals with the non-financial aspects of retirement. What does that mean? Well, many retirees spend at least some time being quite unhappy. They haven’t solved the other retirement problems:
- How will you create meaning for yourself?
- What activities will you keep your mind and body in top shape?
- Who will you spend your time with?
- Where is the best environment to live?
A recommended exercise is to write down the 10 favorite interests and activities that you would like to pursue in retirement. At the same time, write down how much time you are presently spending on these activities. If you are not spending any time pursuing these activities before retirement, the experts say that you are unlikely that you will spend much time on these activities after you quit work. Many people are surprised when their retirement is completely different from they imagined. They may become bored, aimless, lonely, and/or depressed. A surprisingly large number go back to work!
You need to develop activities as part of your retirement planning, BEFORE you retire. Here’s my list of favorite activities, along with time currently spent.
- Time with kids. Chasing bugs and jumping in muddy puddles. Learning new things with them. (Almost enough)
- Cooking at home. Becoming a better cook. Know what I’m eating. (4-6 hours a week)
- Time with spouse. Enjoying their company. (Not nearly enough)
- Play tennis. Social interaction and physical exercise. (3-6 hours a week)
- Keep learning about investing and finance. (Enough)
- Entertain friends at house. Cook for them. Socialize. (Very little)
- Read books. (2-3 hours a week? A little each day)
- Build an off-grid shed. Power from solar PV. Tinker with batteries and wind turbines for fun. Water catchment. Composting toilets? (None)
- Raise fish and/or chickens. I like to read about chicken tractors and backyard fish farms. (None)
- Travel. So much left to see out there. (Few weeks a year)
Right now, most of our non-work time is spent on toddler childcare, so many of these activities are being neglected. This list is a good reminder that I need to work harder on maintaining good relationships my wife, family, and friends. Once all the kids are in pre/school, we’ll see if I actually get around to the rest. Maybe the experts are right and I’ll never build that self-sustaining tilapia farm…
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