Save. Spend. Splurge.

If I retired now, what the heck would I do?

My partner and I were discussing this the other day, talking about when we’d like to retire.

He thinks he wants to call it quits in about 5 years, and for me, I am not sure. Maybe in 10 (I’ll be around 40 then).

But the real question, is not so much the money. Why?


I heard on this podcast I’ve been dabbling with by the NY Times called “Tell me something I don’t know”, where a financial advisor stated a few things:

  • People who think about saving, actually save too much money when they retire
  • People who don’t think about saving, don’t save enough money for retirement
  • We spend less money every year in retirement, no matter our social class, status and net worth so we don’t need as much as we think

OK, so all personal finance nerds will pretty much be fine in retirement.

We (yes, I’m deigning to somewhat include myself in this group) save, think about saving, spending, budgeting, invest our money and generally know what’s coming and are preparing for it.

Everyone else? Get to work, you dreamers.

What was more interesting of what he said was that we need less than we think when we retire.

We assume 4% withdrawal bla bla bla.. but he said there was a serious body of research that proves consistently that at any income level or social class, we spend less each year we are in retirement.

I guess that makes sense.

As you get older, you can’t move around as much, so traveling is not really on the list any more unless it’s slower and easier on the body. Sports, except for golf, same deal, and status shopping like for cars, jewellery and clothing become less important because you… don’t care as much. You care, but not like you used to when you were younger. If you aren’t going out as much, you derive less pleasure from pretty outfits, perhaps, and would probably like a nicer lounge-at-home getup than a fancy high-heeled one.

(Wonder if that’ll hold true for me, as I age… )

Anyway, all of this is partly why my partner and I already did our worldwide traveling before we had Baby Bun and plan on traveling every year to make the most of it before we’re too old to want to, or to care to do so.


The big question is:

What the heck am I going to do in retirement?

My partner has it figured out. He wants to take care of Baby Bun, help him through his schooling years and maybe go back to school himself.

Me, I just want to spend money. You know, travel. A lot. Hang out in Europe for months on end, stuffing my face with food but that just doesn’t seem like the thing to do in retirement if Baby Bun will be schooling and my partner is in school, himself. :\

Not only that, traveling is tiring. It’s fun, but then you just want to come home.

Perhaps we could move to France for a while, put Baby Bun in their schooling system and kill two birds with one stone.

I have no idea what I am going to do in retirement. I need ideas. School is out, I have been there and done that so I am not as keen on that.

I also thought about maybe starting a non-profit for financial literacy but I have no “credentials”, although I’d love to go to schools (elementary & secondary), and teach classes on this stuff.

But…. I’d really just be replacing work.. with MORE work.

So since I happily find that my own career does afford me a lot of great satisfaction, sense of agency, and pride, what would be the point?

Knowing myself, I’d end up starting a company. Doing what? No idea. I’d start another one. And of course, keep blogging.

I’m thinking maybe if my partner retires and Baby Bun is up for it in his early years, we could use my job to take jobs in other parts of the world & live there like ex-pats for projects, and then move back home.

I wouldn’t turn down these gigs in Europe, Australia or Asia any more and just move my family to live with me.

I only worry about being such a modern nomad for two reasons:

  1. Baby Bun – How would he take it? Socialization? Would he ever make lifelong friends? Be happy?
  2. Minimalism – I bought this place to have my STUFF, gosh darn dagnabbit. If I move constantly, I’d live out of a suitcase again..


What would you do in retirement? What DO you do in retirement, if you are already there?

(I see why people needle their children to have grandchildren, so they have something to do…)


  • Sense

    I hear you! But I think people find ways to fill their time easily…my mom plays games online, reads books, and watches tv. She cooks more, and goes to regular workout classes. She has a lot of doc appointments now and takes care of my dad and sister, who are both ill.. She also has really gotten into being a deaconess for her church. She LOVES doing all of this (except for the dr appts!), and not having to work while juggling sick family members!!

    Personally, like you, I’d travel. EVERYWHERE. Learn a new language. Volunteer my time in my chosen and related professions, teach skills, and do lots of public outreach and sci comm. Basically, what I do now, just on my own schedule. Train a therapy dog. Learn how to play an instrument. Exercise more. Hike and go on multi-day tramping trips more often. Get really good at surfing, tennis, golf, photography, pool, darts, cards, drawing, painting, etc. 🙂

    …all the things I want to do that I feel like I don’t have time for currently…why oh why can’t I just retire NOW?! 🙂

    • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      Wow. You really seem to have a lot of activities on the go at least, for retirement 🙂

      I don’t currently have any sick family members but my parents are getting older, so that may be a thing… As for new languages, I am less interested in that unless they’re useful for work or travel.

      I guess my point is more, I don’t know what I plan on doing that would make me really happy in retirement.

  • restful

    Exercise religiously and cook all my meals and raise my kid.

  • Taste of France

    I don’t expect to ever retire, but if I do, I would like to join the Peace Corps, for the second time. There were several retirees in my group when I served the first time, and I always thought it would be a brilliant way to spend a few years in retirement.
    You know what they say: the first years of retirement are the go-go years of travel, etc.
    Next come the go-slow years.
    Then come the no-go years.
    Make the best of where you’re at!

  • Alexis

    My retirement plan:

    – volunteer at a community center or library
    – do yoga all the time (really take advantage of a monthly unlimited package)
    – learn how to cook REALLY well
    – walk at least 10,000 steps every day – probably more
    – weight lifting
    – reading
    – hanging out with all my friends and family
    – maybe blogging or whatever is the new platform by then
    – maybe piano lessons
    – work at a jewellery store part-time and spend whatever I make AT that jewellery store 😉

    All I know is that for me, it will need a lot of structure because I hate wide empty expanses of time and I love being around people very very often.

  • Kathy

    My husband and I retired the same year at age 55 and 53 respectively over 11 years ago. We’ve loved every minute. And like you said early in this article, we thought about saving for retirement and followed through on that thought, and we save still now that we’re retired. We did some traveling but have gotten to tired of airport hassles and security lines, over packed planes etc. that we now are becoming more and more content just to stay home and do shorter trips where we can drive. Our days seem unbelievable full and we actually welcome a boring afternoon now and then. One thing I will say more about aging as opposed to retirement is that medical bills do seem to increase. Perhaps we just were better able to ignore aches and pains when we were younger and had to suck it up and go into work regardless of how we felt. I guess it is just all part of the experience.

  • ArianaAuburn

    I would paint and play video games. And grow veggies. Or travel if I can afford it.

  • Tim

    “I also thought about maybe starting a non-profit for financial literacy but I have no “credentials”, although I’d love to go to schools (elementary & secondary), and teach classes on this stuff.” Just a thought, have you looked into Junior Achievement as an organization to help with? They do PF stuff and also help kids about learning to start a business. I’ve done some classes for them (1/2 day) and it was fun. You don’t need any formal qualification to help out.

    As to my plans, lots of writing (fiction and non-fiction)…which seems boring as hell to most people but heaven to me. That and then some fun part time work…like at a library (I LOVE books) or perhaps a craft brewery (I like making my own wine and beer already). Most of all, I’m looking forward to the feeling of playing again. Doing what I want and when I want on what ever interests me.

  • raluca

    I want to retire at 40, 6.5 years from now. I’m pretty sure I won’t be bored at all in retirement. Like your partner, I’m thinking to go back to school, I will probably try to get a doctorate in my field. Also, I will probably want to get involved in politics,

    There are a bunch of non-profits I have been eyeing for a while, but regular work doesn’t really afford me the time to contribute with time, just with money. I’d love to have 3-4 hours a week to donate towards helping kids with computer literacy, or just plain literacy, because unfortunately there are a lot of gaps for kids from lower economic brackets. Also, kids in foster care need people to just interact with them, and there is a non-profit in my town that does exactly that, it matches willing “time donnors” with kids.

    Then there are my dogs, which I would love to take out in the woods for 2 hours every day, not just a hurried 30 minutes per day at 6 AM in the morning before leaving to work.

    Then there would be the posibility to start a business, knowing that you don’t have to kill yourself working so that you can eat that month. You can make decisions for long term, not just for short term.

    And I could finally write a series of short stories I keep thinking about and start to paint.

    Of course, all of these things “can” be done while you’re working. But should they? Should I try to cram my novel writing between 7:30 PM and 9:00 PM every work day? Or is it ok if I spend that time just relaxing and watching the sunset on the terrace while my dogs jump up and down chasing bugs?

    Life becomes a lot more un-complicated when your needs are taken care of. You can then explore your real motivations and real creative impulses.

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