Planning how you’re going to finance housing and healthcare is obviously essential, but what about the money you’ll need to pay for travel, going out and other delights? A recent Bankrate article (“Retirement leisure activities: Factoring fun into your retirement plan,” March 2016) suggests ways to budget for those expenses that really make life worth living in retirement.


It helps to be as specific as possible about how you want to fill the void left by not working. How often do you plan to vacation each year, and where do you plan to go? Research average costs for trips to your intended destinations, factoring in the difference between traveling on the cheap or going first class all the way. What activities do you plan to regularly engage in, and what are their costs? Discuss these things with your financial adviser, and be ready to compromise in order to keep within a reasonable budget; you may have dreamt of living in a vacation home in South America for six months every year, but renting a house for a month may turn out to be the more realistic scenario.


Of course, it’s also possible to enjoy retired life to the fullest while spending little to no cash; Time reports that retirees overwhelmingly value experiences and who they spend time with over things that can be bought (“The Huge Retirement Benefit You Probably Aren’t Expecting,” May 2016). People often focus on big trips and other once-in-a-while activities when planning for retirement, but neglect to think about how they’ll spend all those extra hours in every ordinary day.


Also in the Time article, a report compiled by Merrill Lynch and Age Wave (a company that focuses on information and marketing relevant to the aging population) concluded that the years between 61 and 75 are when seniors tend to enjoy the best balance of health, leisure time and emotional well-being. The ability to spend so much time with family and friends is at the top of the list for what contributes to positive feelings for this age group. It’s important to note that even those with modest means describe themselves as happy, as long as they are spending time strengthening relationships that matter to them. So it’s true what they say—the best things in life really are free.


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