When you start your career your financial priorities revolve around the present – paying off student loans, buying a house, your next vacation.

You completed the company pension forms because they were part of your new employee documents package.  You opened an RRSP account because someone told you it was a good idea – and you received a good tax refund each year.

Retirement is a far off idea – you’re interested in living life to the max now.

As you get older you start formulating your wish list.  Most financial plans focus on accumulating sufficient money to retire on, but have you actually thought about what your retirement life would be like?

What will you do In Retirement?

Travel is high on the list for many people.

  • Cruise around the world.
  • Tour all the interesting countries you see on the travel programs.
  • Visit your homeland and reconnect with extended family.
  • Buy an RV or motorcycle, and drive from one coast to the other.

My friend Gloria has travelled to New Zealand, China and Africa with her Seniors Club travel group and finally has the time to spend 6 weeks to 3 months to explore countries she’s interested in.

Related: How This Couple Spends Their Retirement Travelling

Others would rather stay close to home and spend more time with their spouse and family.

Pursuing hobbies is another common desire – golf, fishing, gardening, photography, and woodworking, to name a few.  You can rekindle an old interest – or try something new.

Some people want to help worthy causes – volunteering in far off countries, or in their own communities.

Others would like to keep working – especially part-time – for extra income, to fund their hobbies and travel, for the social aspect, and to keep busy.  You could turn a hobby into a small business.

  • Stan goes to garage/estate sales and flea markets looking for collectibles to resell.
  • Evelyn designs wire-sculpted jewelry to sell at the consignment store she works in.
  • Roger enjoyed his previous job and keeps his hand in by consulting occasionally.

Where will you live?

We Canadians like to dream of living somewhere away from snow – or at least someplace warm for the winter.  There are many ex-pats living in such countries as Mexico, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Italy and the Southern United States, either year round or just in the winter months.

Related: Snowbirds – What You Need To Know

A common wish is for a place close to the beach or a waterfront property (lake or ocean).

Many retirees purchase a smaller downtown condo to be closer to the arts and cultural events.

Some people expect to stay in their family home for as long as possible to be with close friends and good neighbours, and pursue community activities.

Think ahead

You may think how wonderful life would be once the 9 to 5 grind was behind you – you can sleep in, not have to dress up every day or commute in bad weather.  If you say all you want to do is relax you will quickly become bored by not having anything to look forward to each day.

An astounding 40% of retirees are disenchanted with retirement and say they were happier when they were working.

While I can definitely waste my time with the best of them, I do better when I have plans and some structure to my day.

Related: Create A Retirement Income Plan

People have a better chance of living a long and happy retirement if they plan and set goals for things they want to accomplish instead of aimlessly puttering around and getting up every day for the next 30+ years and doing it all over again.

Don’t be like this person – When a retiree was asked what advice he could give to someone just retiring, he replied, “Don’t go to the bank and the post office the same day.”

Be realistic

I always wanted to live on an acreage with a small herd of alpacas, a couple of those funny smiling New Zealand pigs and a few chickens.  This puzzles my husband because we are both city born and bred with absolutely no experience with farm animals (plus I’m a little bit afraid of chickens).

While retirement is a great time to re-invent yourself you still need to be realistic.  Try the things you think you want to do ahead of time.

  • Rent an RV for your next trip and see if it’s a good fit for you.
  • If you want to move abroad, on your next visit do some of the things you’d do if you lived there rather than just lounging on the beach with a fruity cocktail.

Final thoughts

Everyone prepares financially for retirement and preparing for the life that will be lived is an important piece of the puzzle.  What are your priorities?  How do you make yourself useful?

Related: Our Retirement Philosophy – Lock It Away Until You Need It

“How am I going to have enough time to do everything I want?” should be the question you face, not “What am I going to do with my days?”

With some planning you won’t have that problem.

What is your dream retirement?

Where will you be?  What will you do?  When will you do it?

Are you on track to reach your dreams?

If you are already retired, is it what you envisioned?


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