by Martha Walling

After months, or even years, of preparing, planning and decision making, the day has finally arrived, your last day of work. The next chapter of your life is about to begin. If you're like most people, you're probably just as scared as you are excited. Leaving the workforce after 30 or 40 years is like leaving home for the first time. You're place of employment has provided, security for you and your family, a daily routine you could rely on, and friends you'll miss greatly. Yes, all of these things can be scary but you'll work through it and be enjoying your retirement in no time.

I am currently one year into my retirement and a lot of realities are beginning to settle in. I realized that I wouldn't be seeing my friends as often as before so we decided to schedule a monthly luncheon. A few retired friends as well as friends who are still working get together and share what is happening in our lives. I look forward to our luncheon each month and have found it to be a great way to stay connected.

I realized that exercise is one of the most important elements of retirement. Now that I'm getting older, my body needs more exercise than before. Staying flexible and strong is the key to being able to do all the things I want. Being home more now also means I'm less active and staying healthy has to be a priority. I've started walking my dogs every day for a mile and am working up to 3 miles. I've also joined a recreation center near my home where I try and go 3 times a week.

I realized that I needed to reassess my financial direction. I receive a pension from my former employer, but unlike the years I was actively working, my check does not increase yearly. The only money I receive that will adjust is social security. My pension money covers my essential and incidental spending. But, I've watched my savings account remain static. Therefore, I thought it was time to reassess my direction.

I began by considering selling my home and downsizing into a condo or townhome. This would give me more savings if I was able to downsize to something less expensive. But, after a few months of looking I realized I'm a creature of habit. After 25 years in the same house, I couldn't see myself moving. I also realized that the improvements I've made to my home over the years weren't going to be available in a new place.

My next plan of action was to look into finding part time employment. I figured this could help me fill some of my free time and give me that little bit of extra income to help me feel more secure with my decision to retire. Contacts from my previous employer were a great place to start looking. I also scanned the newspaper, watched craigslist, and got advice from family and friends for employment opportunities. One reality of part time employment is the reduced pay. Don't plan on getting a paycheck comparable with what you had before, unless you want to start working full time again.

Now it was time to reevaluate my budget. I started with the budget I created before I actually retired and amended it to included things I hadn't thought about before. I also needed to make some modifications for things that were now a reality. Once again, I kept track of everything I was spending and put those things into categories.

  • Essentials, groceries, gas, household bills, etc
  • Entertainment, movies, dinners out, etc

I added together all my expenses and deducted that number from my income. Now I knew if and where I needed to make spending changes. I recommend retirees reevaluate their budget periodically to ensure they are still on track to living a comfortable retirement.

In the end I decided to go ahead and get a part time job. It was a good choice for me as it keeps me busy and provides that additional income I needed. I also get to share my knowledge and experiences with others.

Retirement can be isolating and even boring at times but only if you let it. Schedule monthly activities with friends, get active by joining a recreation center, find part time work or try anything you've always wanted to. Remember, retirement is your time to experience whatever you wish, so go for it.