Trial Retirement in a Weekend

Middle Aged Lady Enjoying Her Meal

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How do you tell if you are really ready for retirement? We’re not talking in a financial sense but more in a “What will I do with myself?” and “What will it be like?” sense. Well, what if I told you that a trial retirement is possible and that it only takes three days!

Trial retirement over a long weekend

Just like real retirement the key to a trial retirement is planning. Let’s assume our trial retirement is three days. Two of the days can be a weekend. One of the days (a Friday or Monday) should be a work day for the rest of the world. Memorial Day or Labor Day weekend won’t work.

Next think of the kinds of things you will do in retirement. How and when will you do them? Here are some examples:

Experience shopping on a work day

Do you know how you always end up doing grocery shopping on the weekend? Well, when you are retired you don’t have to do that, and in your trial retirement you don’t have to either. So, go shopping at 10:00 AM or 2:00 PM on a Friday or Monday and see how empty the stores are compared to a weekend.

Lunch or dinner on a work day

In a similar fashion try lunch at a spot away from the business lunch crowd on a weekday. Or try dinner on a Monday night. I used to know people that owned fancy restaurants and they always suggested going to dinner on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday when the staff wasn’t overwhelmed by the crowds

Time for chores

Yes you will still need to do chores when you are retired. The difference is that you can pick the time, so try that during your trial retirement.

What will you do during the day (besides TV?)

Here are some ideas to get you thinking:

Time for hobbies – dust off an old hobby and spend a couple hours enjoying it.

Can you visit somewhere out of your ordinary? I’m talking about the kind of place that you would consider a little too different to risk wasting your time, or maybe a little further than you usually travel for a day trip.

What people are included in your plans? Maybe surprise somebody with a visit. (You might want to call first!)

Can you do a mini-vacation that feels like a retirement trip? Maybe stay overnight somewhere at a Bed and Breakfast, or an overnight camping trip.

Afterward, review how it went

Were you bored? Were you stressed? Did you enjoy anything you don’t normally enjoy? What did you do that was out of the ordinary?

Give your trial retirement a rating

On a scale of 1-10 with 10 highest how would you rate your mini retirement? How would your spouse rate your mini retirement?

By the time you are done your mini retirement you will learn something about yourself. What would you change? Why not wait a month or two and try the mini retirement again. This time incorporate changes based on what you have learned. More importantly you can use what you learn in planning for your real retirement!

Until next time…

 

10 Hobby Ideas

Stamp Collecting

Image courtesy of zole4 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Everyone needs a hobby and there are hundreds of possibilities. Many hobbies can be divided to yield more hobby ideas, and sometimes one hobby leads into other hobbies. A hobby doesn’t have to be forever and you can have more than one. Or you might have one “mega” hobby that takes all your free time.

Anyway, below are some hobby ideas to get you started. Also, check out “How to find a hobby.

Coin Collecting

Here is a hobby that is as easy to start as reaching in your pocket or purse and pulling out your change. It can be as simple as getting one penny from each year. There are dozens of ways to collect coins and there can even be an investment angle sometimes.

Photography

Digital photography has made this hobby easier and potentially less expensive. You can start with a simple point and shoot camera and then learn how to use your favorite software. It gives you an excuse to travel.

Writing

Many people have an interest in writing but never start. Some have said the key to writing is to write and they are probably correct. You can write on anything that interests you. Your purpose can be just for yourself or as a means to help others. Today you can share your writing with others almost immediately by starting a blog (see below) or even by publishing your own books.

Start a Blog

Almost everyone should start a blog. It can be just a way to express yourself and then grow to build a community. A blog can really get you thinking outside your day to day comfort zone, and get you communicating with others that you ordinarily would never get a chance to meet.

Gardening

Gardening can start with a simple container and a flower. If you have a little space the hobby can expand exponentially. Gardening is good for you both physically and mentally. You can even grow your own food. There is nothing like a home grown tomato right out of the garden.

Bicycling

Bicycling can start as a way to get a little exercise and grow into much more. You can start with a good quality used bike and trade up over time.

Puzzles

Puzzles come in all sizes and shapes. Some people go crazy over them, even those 5000 piece jigsaws. Collect unusual puzzles. Build your own. How about brain teasers that exercise your brain?

Music

Music as a hobby can take many forms. It can be everything from collecting recordings, to learning an instrument, to writing your own music and performing.

Art

Art means different things to different people. That’s what makes it so interesting. You can learn about famous painters. You can learn about modern sculptors. You can learn to paint or make your own pottery. The variety is endless.

Astronomy

How about learning your way around the night sky? You can start with a good book and learn the stars and constellations visible to the naked eye. Maybe then you move up to binoculars and eventually a telescope. I was interested in astronomy as a teenager and am now trying to get back into it a little. Best book I have came across is “Nightwatch” by Terrence Dickinson. It is quite comprehensive for beginners, explains lots of concepts, and teaches you the way around the night sky. Highly recommended!

So what is your hobby? Hopefully this article gives you a few more hobby ideas than you had before!

Until next time…

Camping Trips – A Great Way to Travel

Camping

Image courtesy of think4photop / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I’ve always camped

It seems that people that camp have always camped. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t camp. When I was growing up I don’t think I knew there was another way to travel besides camping. Who ever heard of hotels and motels except in emergencies! Now that I am a little older we have electric air mattresses that are more comfortable than my bed at home. And sometimes we forgo the tent completely for a rustic cabin, but we still camp.

Break the paradigm – Give camping a try

Even though many people are introduced to camping at a young age it doesn’t mean you can’t give camping a try a little later in life. Let’s be clear what I am suggesting here. Some people think of camping as backpacking into the wilderness with no modern conveniences. I’m not talking that (although there is nothing wrong with that once you have some experience.) I am suggesting modern camping in a developed campground with hot showers and real toilets!

One suggestion I can make if you are just starting out is to try the KOA (Kampgrounds of America) chain. KOA is a franchised chain with fairly strict standards. While some locations are better than others, I have been using KOA for over 30 years and usually have a good experience. Most importantly, the facilities are modern and very clean. If you don’t want to pitch a tent most locations now have cabins you can rent fairly reasonably. This is really appreciated if you hit a few nights of rainy weather or are tired from long distance traveling.

The best camping sites

While the KOA’s are pretty uniformly comfortable, and in fairly good locations, some of the prettiest campsites are right in the state and national parks. However, sometimes the facilities in the public parks are not quite as nice and can vary greatly between locations. Some might offer only a tent site, a nearby water source, and a pit toilet. But the scenery can be simply amazing. This is common in many of the national forests. I remember a site like this Wyoming. Not much in the way of facilities, but it featured a beautiful site right along a white water creek that looked like a postcard. I have found that is sometimes the trade-off – you trade a little less in beautiful surroundings for more in the way of modern facilities.

Watch the weather

Watch the weather forecast for your first camping trip. It is hard to stay positive when you are facing three days of rain in a tent. It may be disappointing, but it might pay to put off that first trip for a few days.

Camp off season – just a little off season

We’ve had good luck with camping just a little off season. You avoid the crowds, prices are lower, and you have the attractions more to yourself. I am not talking winter camping here, leave that to the rugged professionals. I am talking a few weeks before most schools let out, or in the early fall.

Car Camping checklist – packing is half the fun

I can’t over emphasize how important it is the make a list. Although many of the modern campgrounds have little stores its not unusual to find you forgot something at the most inconvenient time. Things like can openers, salt and pillows are hard to find in the woods! I think I’ll make a suggested camping list a subject for a future post.

Don’t travel too far and know when to take a break

I have learned the hard way to not travel too far each day when relying on camping. Setting up a tent and campsite is work, and hard to do after 10 hours of driving. So it pays to end your driving early or plan on doing your camping in stretches of two or more days at each location so things aren’t so rushed, and you have time to enjoy yourself. Don’t be afraid to take a break once in a while on a road trip and stay in a comfortable hotel to recharge your batteries.

Hopefully I have given you something to think about if you have never tried camping or encouraged you to try it again if it has been a while since you went off on your camping road trip.

Until next time…