Elements of Retirement: Leisure

Elements of Retirement: Leisure

Charlie Jordan, CPA, CFP®, CeFT® | Partner in Charge, Retiring Well | Lead Advisor


“In our leisure we reveal what kind of people we are.” - Ovid

A pillar of the Retiring Well framework is the 10 Elements of Retirement.  You can see the entire list and take the self-assessment here: 10 Elements of Retirement. With every Element, we want to examine how we can identify opportunities and plan for how your wealth can be used to improve that area of your life. Today, we will take a deeper dive into the Element of Leisure.

If we admit it, leisure is one of the first things we often think of when we picture the perfect retirement. Advertisers have certainly picked up on this dream. A couple enjoying a sunset walk on idyllic, secluded beach, golfing on a perfectly manicured private course, waiving bon voyage from the deck of the river cruise ship, etc.  The life of leisure, however, only represents a fraction of your time in retirement. 

For our purposes, we group Leisure into the following activities:

  1. Travel
  2. Hobbies
  3. Recreation/Entertainment

Leisure activities are a very important part of life satisfaction in general. But, for retirees, they represent an even more critical component of happiness in retirement years.  According to a 2018 study, spending on leisure had the highest correlation to life satisfaction of any other category. Spending money on leisure makes us happy. Some would argue that the primary purpose of retirement is leisure.

3 Steps to Make Leisure Satisfying:

1. Budget your Money
Some retirees fear spending their money in retirement. When faced with utilizing their savings for living, they can become so anxious of running out of money that they forget to live. Some retirees are so burned out from their work life they spend their retirement years justifying overspending to “make up” for lost time. A good balanced life exists somewhere between these two. Set aside money in your budget annually, or in a separate account if you need to, for leisure spending.  If you are worried you are spending too much, talk to your advisor about how much capacity you have in your cash flow to put your mind at ease.  This simple step will serve to reduce anxiety and allow you to use the money as part of a plan.

2. Budget your Time
I have observed that most retirees I work with struggle more with their time management than they do money management. They retired to get out of the rat race of work life only to find themselves busier than ever.  Some have expressed to me they don’t have time to travel like they thought they would. Between keeping the grandkids, taking Mom or Dad to the doctor’s office, or juggling the various volunteer roles they are in, their calendars are simply full. Just as you make an annual financial budget for leisure, capture that time on your calendar in advance.  This may take some shrewd planning. But, if you don’t plan for it, it probably won’t happen.

3. Enjoy the Bucket List
A significant portion of retirement spending revolves around family. An equally significant portion of time is also spent with family in what I will call regular visits. These are non-extraordinary times together These are special moments and one of the great joys of many a retiree. But do NOT miss the opportunity to experience the extraordinary. What are those items on the bucket list?  Keep your balance, but plan for these moments to enjoy.

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