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3 activities to make the most of retirement

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Retirement is your hard-earned reward after a lifetime of work — like a weekend, but one that lasts a couple of decades rather than a couple days. Just like a weekend, retirement is only as fulfilling and fun as you make it. Here are a few ways to make the most of your golden years.

1. Get healthy.

Some retirees might have a gut reaction at the thought of a retirement built around healthy living: I didn't work my tail off for forty years so I could spend my retirement eating kale and jogging.

But hear us out on this one. Whatever your passion — travel, golf, volunteer work — you'll need to be healthy to enjoy it. And as you get deeper into retirement, your health is no longer something you can take for granted. If you want to spend your retirement doing what you love, you need to actively tend to your health.

Staying fit and healthy can also have big financial benefits. According to HealthView Services, the average 65-year-old couple will spend nearly a half-million dollars on medical expenses over the course of retirement. A bit of preventative care can bring down that number and leave you with a lot more money to spend on the things you love.

The good news is that you've now got a lot of time on your hands to dedicate to healthy living. Spend that newfound free time cooking healthy meals, hitting the gym during off-peak hours, and committing to a couples' fitness hobby like hiking or tennis. You'll keep yourself spry deep into your retirement, cut down on medical expenses, and maybe even have a little fun along the way.

2. Get to work.

Yes, the whole point of retirement is not to work. But many a retiree gets only a few months into retirement before they start to feel the itch to do something productive with all that free time.

Work in retirement can take many forms. It may mean going back to a previous employer on a part-time basis. It could be a side hustle in the gig economy, whether that's driving for a ride-sharing service or setting up a consulting business that you can run from a home office. And if you don't feel any particular need to make money, there's no end to the volunteer work you can do, drawing on your passions and skills to make the world a better place.

With the exception of volunteer work, these pursuits have a nice side benefit of adding another income stream to your existing retirement income.

3. Get out of town.

Most Americans dream of traveling during retirement. And there's arguably no better time to see the world. With full-time work in the rear-view mirror, you no longer have to worry about amassing vacation days — and you can leave town for as long as you want. Plus, with your children long since grown and out of the house, you're no longer beholden to "child-friendly" travel destinations, nor do you need to plan around school vacations. The world is very much your oyster!

As you plan your retirement travel, keep these tips in mind:

  • Find ways to keep travel affordable: Set price alerts on travel sites to take advantage of airfare and hotel deals, travel during "shoulder seasons" and off-peak days of the week to save on airfare, and consider some budget-friendly destinations.
  • Determine which destinations are most friendly to older travelers, especially if mobility issues are a factor for you or your spouse.

Figure out your travel priorities. Don't take a pricey trip to Paris just because someone told you it should be on your bucket list! Your dream trip might be taking an RV across the country, or eating street food in Bangkok. It's your retirement — do it your way.

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