Your Retiree Routine
Are You Spending Your Retirement Days the Same Way Others Are?
It’s common for those on the verge of retirement to struggle with imagining their days without work. So much empty space on the calendar can be exciting, but it can also cause feelings of anxiety and overwhelm.
Don’t fear – once you actually retire, you’re likely to find that your days are not as different as you thought they might be. If you’re intentional about how you structure your schedule and open-minded about the experiences and activities you’d like to try, you’ll soon find yourself with a full agenda designed to create the fulfilling retirement you’ve dreamed of.
A Day in the Life of a Retiree
Believe it or not, there has been much research conducted on how retirees spend their days. A recent analysis from the Pew Research Center examined data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics in order to break down a “typical” retiree’s day. Here’s what they found:
- Grooming and health care: 1 hour
- Eating: 1 hour
- Unpaid volunteering/caregiving: 1 hour
- Work: 2 hours
- Chores and errands: 3 hours
- Leisure: 7 hours
- Sleeping: 8 - 9 hours
Are you surprised at this rather mundane schedule? Rest assured, there are plenty of retirees enjoying vacations abroad and other big-ticket experiences, but you’re likely to continue spending much of your time as you do now: eating, sleeping, running errands, etc.
Wait – 7 Hours of Leisure Time?
When you’re accustomed to working all day, the concept of leisure time is exciting. However, seven hours can seem like an eternity and you may struggle to imagine how you’ll fill it. According to the Pew analysis, many people are filling it in unhealthy ways – namely, too much screen time.
There’s nothing at all wrong with watching your favorite home improvement show or catching up on the latest movies, but you should guard yourself against so-called Couch Potato Syndrome. According to the Pew Research Center, the majority of people over the age of 60 spend more than four hours in front of their television, computer, tablet or smartphone each day. This trend is troubling because screen time does nothing to promote your physical, mental or emotional health. What’s more, most people tend to be alone during this time and, while alone time can be healthy, too much of it can lead to unhealthy isolation and a decreased sense of wellbeing.
Striking the Right Balance: An Ideal Week in Retirement
If you do the math, you’ll find that you have nearly 50 hours of leisure time at your disposal each week. How you fill this time will play an important role in how you feel about your retirement years overall.
So, how do you determine your ideal week? Start by making a list of things you love to do and people you enjoy spending time with. If you love golf and want to improve your swing, schedule a weekly lesson. If you love trying new recipes, find a local cooking course. If your grandchildren live nearby, plan a weekly meal or outing together. The possibilities are endless.
This leisure time also presents a great opportunity to do something that your spouse or partner isn’t much interested in. Spending some of your leisure hours alone is actually healthy, so don’t be afraid to venture out on your own.
You may also benefit from watching how other retirees are spending their time, especially those who appear to be happy and fulfilled. Are they participating in activities you might enjoy, too? The reverse of this scenario is also helpful – if you know retirees who seem to be having a miserable retirement, don’t model your ideal week on theirs.
It may take time for you to figure out the precise formula that makes your leisure time meaningful and fulfilling – and this formula could change over time, too. Just remember, one of the greatest aspects of retirement is that you are no longer tied to a schedule that serves someone else’s needs over your own, so use that freedom to explore different uses of your leisure time until you discover exactly how to live your very best life in retirement.
About the Author
Carroll W. “Bill” Hayes, MBA, CFP® Mr. Hayes started his financial career at Merrill Lynch in 1989. In 1992, Bill left Merrill Lynch for Fidelity Investments. During his career at Fidelity Investments he held roles in various divisions of Fidelity. Those roles included positions in the Trust, 401(k), Brokerage, and Money Management divisions. Bill held management positions at Fidelity and in 2001 led a Private Access team based in Boston. In the Private Access role his responsibilities included managing a book of business in excess of $3 Billion and a client base that was international in scope.
In 2008 Bill established Charles Carroll Financial Partners. The firm is an Independent FeeOnly Financial Planning and Investment Management firm. Charles Carroll Financial Partners embraces its fiduciary responsibility to its clients.
Bill is a graduate of Marquette University, and holds an MBA from the Sawyer School of Management. Bill holds the designation, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER, and currently presides as a Commissioner on the Disciplinary and Ethics Commission of the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards. Bill resides in Massachusetts with his wife Christine and travels up and down the East Coast meeting with clients of the firm.