Have you ever dreamt of what you will do in your retirement? I am sure we all have ... I am not a huge fan of early retirement; research suggests that we might actually live longer if we work longer! But I do like the idea of retirement meaning a less pressurised lifestyle, more time off for holidays and relaxation. Taking time to slow down and enjoy life, family and hobbies. But still maintaining a sense of purpose maybe with a part-time job or by giving something back in a volunteer role. And of course, most importantly we want a healthy retirement with financial freedom so that we can continue enjoying living life to the full!
On this blog post I am sharing my plans for a fun retirement and some tips on how we can enjoy this more relaxed time in our lives!
This is a sponsored blog post with Pension Buddy.
How to have a healthy retirement
Age Watch, a UK based charity, conclude that there are three important factors to consider when thinking about a healthy retirement:-
WHEN you retire, if it is the same as most other people, then there is unlikely to be a health risk.
WHY you retire, if it is your own choice, then you are likely to feel less stressed and therefore less likely to become unhealthy.
AFTER you retire, is very important, suddenly stopping work increases your health risk but carrying on with some form of part-time paid or voluntary work and staying physically, socially and mentally active all tend to be good for your health.
We want to be able to make the most of this next phase in our lives, it is exciting to look forward to new challenges and opportunities and it is worth spending a bit of time now to think about and plan how our retirement will look both in terms of finances and health.
It was a beautiful sunny day in Marlow when we took these photos, and much quieter than expected as it was Marlow Spring Regatta slightly further up the river, so I think everyone was busy watching the rowing. The view towards Marlow Bridge and All Saints Church in Marlow from Marlow Lock is one of my favourites. On the left is the Compleat Angler Hotel which is where we had our wedding afternoon tea and it is a stunning place to visit for drinks on the lawn overlooking the bridge.
12 fun things to do in retirement
When retirement day comes what could our retirement plan look like ...
Katy and Bonnie are our two westies, they love watching the world go by, I can't imagine not having a dog now and I am sure we will continue to enjoy walking with our dogs in retirement.
Do more of what you love in retirement ...
Travel ... of course travel had to be at the top of my list of fun things to do in retirement, isn't it at the top of everyone's retirement bucket list? Where would you like to go ... I want to go back to Sri Lanka, I'd love to go to Canada, and I want to explore Italy, I'd also love to do some Greek Island hopping and of course, there are so many cities I'd like to see .... Rome, Budapest, Madrid, Lisbon and maybe go back to some that I have already visited but want to see more of, like Prague, Paris and Amsterdam. I'm also desperate to go to New York! I would love to do an American road trip in a red Chevrolet Corvette! Of course I'd need plenty of time to rest and relax! The beach would be calling me - hopefully the Maldives - and I would want a selection of gorgeous bikini's, a cocktail in one hand and the best chick lit novel in the other!
We had a short city break in Barcelona recently, myself, my husband and our daughter. We love the pavement cafe culture of the warmer Mediterranean cities and particularly enjoy people watching whilst chatting over an early evening aperitif! It got us talking about retirement and we wondered if it would be a better way to enjoy travelling if you could live in a country or a city for a few weeks rather than the full-on itinerary of a few days. With the rise of Airbnb accommodation, it is so much more flexible and cheaper to travel now.
Volunteering or a part-time role ... if working until we are older is better for our health then what options are there, we don't want the stresses and strains of a full-time job in the corporate world or the morning commute any more but how about setting up and running the small business you have always dreamt of having but never had much time? Or how about finding a perfect volunteer role, a love of history might mean becoming a tour guide could work for you ... it would also be a great way to join a new social group and make new friends! I've always thought I'd like to mentor young people or help at a local National Trust property. Supporting the local community is something I have done in the past, I used to help run the nursery school and for a while I volunteered at the Citizen's Advice Bureau.
Learning new skills ... retirement is the perfect time to learn a new skill, learn a new language or have you ever wanted to learn to play a musical instrument? I have just started tentatively learning to crochet, the reality is I don't really have time at the moment to fully embrace my new hobby but I hope that I will be able to in the future, I'd love to be able to make a baby blanket for when (or if) my grandchildren come along. I'd also love to learn more about photography and maybe treat myself to a new camera.
The river at Marlow is a superb place to hire a boat for a few hours, a day or even for overnight trips. There are lots of options for self-drive or organised trips.
Start or join a book club ... reading more books is also one of my goals, I used to be an avid reader, I'd visit my local library or bookshop and always have a book on the go, now with less free time, I have a pile of books I want to read but never get around to! I think starting a book club or going to an existing club locally would be another fantastic way to meet new people.
I do admit to not being overly social, I like my own company and I can't do late nights anymore. My parents are both only children and when retirement came along they were quite happy just doing their own thing but as the years went by and with failing health, they regretted not joining in more with social clubs and local friends. My dad loved playing golf but when mobility put a stop to that, he wished he'd taken up bowling or bridge lessons. My mum always loved to sew, read books and do puzzles. Mostly solitary activities but being with other older adults is really important for both our mental health and cognitive health and I hope that we can embrace more leisure activities with friends in our retirement years.
Take up a new hobby and make new friends ... I'd love to do more walking, I don't mean my usual 'bimble' in the woods, I mean more serious (ish) hiking, it would be amazing to walk some of the famous national trails in the UK like the Cotswolds Way, Hadrian's Wall and the England Coastal Path. My husband did laugh at me when I suggested this as one of our new hobbies, he cannot imagine me with a backpack and no essential luxuries (like my hair straighteners) but I plan to do some research, surely there must be a more luxurious way of taking a walking holiday!? Maybe I am more suited to hiking in warmer (dry) climates like Italy or the Alps in the summer months are stunning, we had a great time staying in the French Alps when the children were younger. But there are so many of the British National Parks that I have yet to visit properly, like the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales and Snowdonia, they'd need to be on my list too!
Renovate a classic car ... This one is more for my husband but renovating a classic car would keep him happy in his garage (and allow me peace in the house) but also complement other hobbies like travelling, meeting new people and visiting National Trust houses or botanical gardens! I do think that having separate hobbies and interests in retirement is really important, as well as having your own money, learning from my experience of working at home, I know that it isn't always good to be together all the time.
Declutter your home - but don't move house!? I know a lot of people move house when they retire, this is not something I am desperate to do, although I'd love to live by the sea, the reality is that I want to be close to where my children are living. I have learnt from needing to care for my parents that having them nearby has been a huge bonus. If they had been a 2-3 hour drive away I would have really struggled to help them especially during the pandemic.
A great option would be if I could have my cottage in the woods AND a seaside retreat, that would work! I still think I'd choose the British seaside though; I love hot holidays and there is the lure of summer in the UK and winter in a warmer climate but ultimately, I am not sure I could be bothered with the frequent flying.
I would love to keep my house updated and decluttered. I'd like to have enough money to be able to decorate regularly and keep our furniture and accessories up to date so our house doesn't feel too dated or old fashioned, and of course downsizing isn't an option, I want to have my grandchildren come and stay.
I absolutely love this area of Marlow, the houses fronting the river are stunning and have private gardens with boat moorings and places to sit and enjoy life passing by.
Write a book (or start a blog) ... I have never felt 'I have a book in me' but I do love writing my blog and I see no reason to give that up in retirement, but maybe it would have to go back to being more of a hobby with less pressure from social media. But many older people do write a book in retirement and what an achievement that would be, as well as being great for cognitive health. There are lots of online courses so we can learn new skills as we get older, including creative writing and mastering technology.
Study your family tree ... when my son was a baby I began researching our family tree, it started because I needed to find out the history of our house to enable us to establish who owned a piece of land next to us. Once I got started I loved finding out about the people and places from the past that have shaped us.
In those days it was all about visits to the local library to inspect microfiche records or visits to the National Archives but nowadays it is so easy to do from your own desk and computer, although maybe less social with no personal interactions, there are downsides to all this technology! As life with a toddler got busy and my dad had recently retired (slightly early) he took over the family history research and has now built up an extensive portfolio of old photographs, family information and a long list of family members and important places.
All Saints Church 'the church by the Bridge' has for nearly two centuries been the iconic image of Marlow. In its central location, the church is not just at the heart of Marlow geographically, but also spiritually.
Days out ... my own dad retired slightly earlier than the usual at 65 but with hindsight I think he feels he should have carried on for longer with a part-time role or volunteering. He has enjoyed a long, happy and healthy retirement though. More recent years have been sadder with my mum developing Alzheimer's but dad continues to keep himself busy and active. This summer he has a British Isles Cruise booked, he goes on coach trips and of course loves spending time with his family and grandchildren. We celebrated his 80th birthday with a big family get-together at The Fish Hotel in the Cotswolds. Dad makes sure he has an aim for every day, whether it be an outing like a walk in his local town, by the river in Marlow or visiting a National Trust house, he never likes to be bored!
Never underestimate the joy of local pursuits though, sometimes we can overlook the best places to visit in our immediate vicinity.
Marlow is a great place to visit for a day, a weekend or longer. Boat trips on the River Thames, walking part of the Thames Path, enjoying some of the amazing local eateries like The Waterside Inn at Bray, The Hand and Flowers in Marlow or Sindhu at The Compleat Angler, you are spoilt for choice in Marlow and the surrounding areas. There are also some stunning houses like Cliveden - stay there if you can afford it! Or Oxford and London are within easy reach, both perfect for a day out.
Keeping active and healthy in retirement
Staying healthy is paramount in our golden years so we can enjoy all our new free time! A healthy diet could boost our chances of living to 100, the University of Southern California recently reviewed hundreds of studies on nutrition in their goal to find the diet that offers the best chance of living longer and healthier. They concluded we should eat mostly plant-based protein but can include fish and white meat, that plant-based fats are important (including olive oil, nuts, avocado and dark chocolate), plus unrefined carbohydrates ... like brown rice, wholewheat bread, lentils and oats. They also concluded that periods of fasting are good for us as it is the body's way of cleaning out damaged cells, so it is good to eat our days worth of food in an 11-12 hour window and then every 3-4 months fast for 5 days!
We should also keep our physical activity up, muscle mass decreases as we get older and we need to maintain our strength with some sort of resistance training (body weight or weights) but we don't need to overthink exercise, the important thing is moving more - getting out for a short walk every day is one of the best things we can do for our physical health (and our mental health).
Financial freedom and pension planning
Maintaining financial security is also essential for a long and happy retirement and it is never too early to start planning our finances ready for retiring. Even my son started a pension plan when he was 22 and my husband has been paying into his pension since his 20's. My own pension has been a little more sporadic due to being at home with my children but I am getting there.
Unfortunately though with more regular job changes common and pensions worth less than they once were, we do need to give it some serious thought. I am continually getting letters about old pension plans that I had forgotten about and I really do need to make sure I find them all and merge them into one pension pot, I will need some help with that.
And of course with all my exciting retirement plans I will need the money to finance my dreams. My husband does like to remind me that we must make sure we save as well as spend! I am good at spending, I am less good at saving.
There is an element of living for today, we are a long time dead and none of us know what is around the next corner, but I do agree he has a point and I don't want our lifestyle to be curtailed by a lack of funds. I want to be able to do that travelling!
With life expectancy increasing and earlier retirement becoming popular we will need to fund our retirements for longer or risk running out of money.
A good way of assessing our financial security as we plan for retirement is to use a service like Pension Buddy a new website that will help you understand retirement and feel positive about your financial future.
Pension Buddy cuts through all the jargon and waffle and has an extensive database of information to support your financial wellness and you can create a free Pension Buddy Plan to get you started. The Pension Buddy website is clear and easy to navigate and starts with 'the absolute basics' so you can understand exactly what types of pensions exist and what other options there are for retirement income. Their service is totally confidential and will direct you to all the information or advice you need.
To get a simple, tailored retirement plan within 5 minutes, visit Pension Buddy now and they will email your plan to you and help reduce the overwhelm of what needs to be done.
I tried out their retirement planning online questionnaire and it is really simple and intuitive to use, it is very quick, and easy to follow with boxes to tick and it then presented me to an easy to read plan. It was displayed on my screen in bite-sized chunks and saved so that I can refer back to it and read it in my own time. I was then emailed a link so I can find it again!
The earlier we plan and prepare, the simpler the process will be, and then we can get back to the business of enjoying retirement and having fun!
I think at the end of the day we all just want the same thing, after all our hard work, retirement is a great opportunity to enjoy life at a slower pace, spend time with our families and friends and be able to afford to treat ourselves and not worry too much about money.
I'd love to hear what your retirement dreams are? Comment. below with your ideas of the best retirement activities, I always enjoy hearing from you - maybe you have already retired and have some advice to share!
And don't forget to try out the service from Pension Buddy!
Disclaimer: this blog post is part of a paid collaboration with Pension Buddy, however all views and opinions are my own.
Welcome to Fifty & Fab, a lifestyle blog to inspire you. I am a blogger with a passion for writing about style, beauty, health and fitness with a focus on the over 50's. I am based in Marlow but work across London and the South East.
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Hi, I’m Michelle and my blog Fifty & Fab is all about my journey into and through my fifties. I share style tips, health and fitness inspiration, I talk about my holidays and days out and I tell you about my beauty regime and my lifestyle. I hope you might pick up a tip or two and get some inspiration!
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