Redefine Your Retirement With These Unique Hobbies

Today’s seniors are embracing their retirement like never before – with gusto and imagination. If you’re retired, or nearing retirement, redefine your retirement by focusing on activities that bring out your unique inner qualities. The following is a list of post-retirement hobbies that will have you experiencing life like never before…

TRAVEL
Whether you’re visiting distant relatives or planning a trip to Europe, it’s how you get there that supersizes your retirement. Anyone can purchase plane tickets or go on a cruise, but the truly unique find alternative routes.

Imagine touching down in your childhood home at the helm of your own small airplane. It’s not difficult to garner a pilot’s license, and you’ll have all the years of your retirement to fly anywhere you like. Plus, you’ll look chic sporting a pair of aviators and an aviation headset, among the other pilot supplies you’ll need to get you where you’re going.

If soaring through the clouds isn’t your thing, there’s still plenty of interesting travel opportunities on the ground. For domestic travel, a motor home is an excellent way to see the country and still wake up in your own bed. Alternatively, you could fly or sail to a foreign nation and experience backpacking, camping, and more.

CREATE
“I’m finally going to create my masterpiece,” said nearly every retired person ever…But, how many of them actually moved forward and completed their novels, paintings, or productions? Don’t get caught up in saying you’ll do something. Retirement is a time to actually create something; assuming that creation is your thing.

If you’re a writer, why not start a blog? You can’t write a novel in a single day, but you can create a blog in less than an hour. If you’d like to begin painting, but don’t know where to start, there are classes and YouTube instructional videos for every class of artist. Go there, and Do. Other creative pursuits include:

  • Interior design
  • Landscaping
  • Sculpting
  • Woodworking
  • Restoring vintage cars, boats and planes

MOVE
In order to live the fullest life, you’re going to want to stay healthy. Diet and exercise are crucial during this stage of life, but diet and exercise can be monotonous. In order to keep your retirement fun, don’t spend your early mornings walking around the mall.

Instead, learn a new sport, and then join a sports or fitness team. Swim with sharks! Go scuba diving! Kitesurf! Fitness can be fun, and it doesn’t have to be stressful. If you’re looking to get moving closer to home, why not try geocashing? It’s fun, local, and a great way to connect with your inner explorer.

SOCIALIZE
There’s this stigma that retired people are unexciting, and often lead slow, lonely lives. Grandma has her knitting needles, and grandpa has baseball on the television – the kids sometimes visit on the weekends…These are the stigmas of old. This biggest myth of retirement is that it’s lonely and boring. Though depression is a reality for all age groups, retirement can be just as exciting as college–seriously. You can socialize, and it doesn’t have to be over a game of shuffleboard on a cruise for seniors (although that does sound interesting).

In your supercharged retirement, you can socialize in new and exciting ways. If you miss the popularity of your formative years, go ahead and throw an epic house party. If that sounds a bit too loud for your tastes, why not take a cooking class, try speed dating, download Tinder, or put yourself out there in a way you always dreamed, such as joining a performing arts troupe?

Live the life you dream, and be as adventurous, socially and otherwise, as you want!

Set a Good Example by Staying Stylish

A post from our regular contributor, Jane Brown

When I was a kid, my dad wore thick white socks with sandals. He pulled those socks halfway up his calves, and they stayed there, whether he was coming out to watch my Little League game or posing with my mom and my sister and me in front of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle at Disneyland. 

The socks and sandals combination was only one of my dad’s many sartorial flaws; he, like many men, was a great dad but a man who had never really figured out fashion. That means that as I grew up, I didn’t either. I still remember one of my first job interviews, in college: I wore a “Dad-approved” combo of pleated khaki pants, a baggy polo shirt, black sneakers, and those ubiquitous white socks.

It took me a long time — and a lot of help — to learn how to wear stylish clothing, how to buy clothing that fit my body type, and how to match the right socks with the right shoes. But this is important to me, and it’s actually part of my parenting philosophy.

My dad never looked stylish. His clothing never fit right. And yes, both of his kids noticed. I knew that some of the other kids’ dads looked better than mine, and I saw how that filtered down. I remember, in my first jobs after college, looking at some of my entry-level peers and noticing that their suits fit differently than mine did; that they were wearing different ties and different shoes altogether. Did they grow up with a dad who wore white socks with sandals? Probably not.

So now that I’m a parent, I want to make sure that I always look stylish and set a good example for my kids. Appearance is important; it helps you get everything from better jobs to that all-important first date. I want my son and my daughter both to understand how to choose clothing that fits, no matter what your budget is, and how to take pride in your appearance.

Here are a few tips for other dads hoping to do the same:

1. Choose high-quality materials

Is it better to have a drawer full of cheap ties, or a handful of high-quality ties? The age-old question.The answer is simple: always choose quality over quantity. Investing in quality silk ties for men is one of the best ways to add a sense of style to your look, and you only need a few good ties to make all of your suits look great.

2. Fit is everything

We’ve all seen the men who wear khaki shorts that billow out like tents around their legs; the men who wear jeans that bunch and sag around the rear; the men who wear suit jackets that form boxy rectangles around their body.

Learn how clothing should fit. For example: jeans should fit closely to the rear without being too tight, then fall straight down the thigh and leg. Suits are more complicated; start with this Esquire guide and learn the seven different ways that your suit should fit. Chances are, none of your current suits fit correctly.

3. Avoid looking like an unmade bed

Leave the house in wrinkled or stained clothes, or in old T-shirts with holes under the arms, and your kids will think it’s okay to do the same. (And later, when they’re teenagers, they will avoid being seen with you.) No matter what you wear, it’s your job to make sure that it is clean, wrinkle-free, and in good condition. This philosophy also passes down to your children: if you fold and iron your clothes, they’ll learn how to fold and iron theirs.

If you stay stylish, you’ll teach your children many important lessons about taking care of their clothing and appearance. Don’t be the dad in the thick white socks. Learn how to dress, and make dressing well one of your family values.

How Many Savings Accounts Does Your Family Need? The Answer’s Larger Than You Think

If we were to take a look at your bank accounts right now, how many savings accounts would you have in place? One? Two? If you really want to be in charge of your finances, you need at least five separate savings accounts. Why? So you can have a clear picture of where your money is going, and so you can earmark specific dollars for specific financial goals.

Here are the five savings accounts you absolutely need:

The Emergency Fund

Your first and most important savings account needs to be an emergency fund. This is a sum of money equal to between three and four months of living expenses, which you do not touch unless you have an actual financial emergency. Losing your job is a financial emergency. Unexpected car or home repairs count as a financial emergency — no one wants to sleep in a house without heat. Health emergencies are also good reasons to spend from your emergency fund.

Look for an online savings account with high interest rates, so your money grows even when you’re not watching it. And remember that sometimes four months of living expenses is not enough; when you check out the online savings rates by Discover Bank, note that their experts recommend putting an additional 20% in your emergency fund if you are a family living on a single income.

The Retirement Fund

Saving for retirement is a doozy — even when you max out your company’s 401(k) plan, you still often don’t end up with enough money to retire comfortably. A good retirement portfolio includes both a 401(k) and a Roth IRA, and you need to max out both every year.

With your Roth IRA, you are able to contribute $5,000 every year. Of course, you need to save up that $5,000 before you can add it to the IRA. That’s where a retirement fund savings account comes in. Every paycheck, send a few dollars into the retirement savings account, so you’ll have the full $5,000 ready to contribute every time a new tax year rolls around.

The College Fund

After your retirement fund comes your kids’ college funds. Yes, you need to save for your retirement before you save for college; many families take the opposite tactic and find themselves financially strapped during their retirement years. However, it is important to put aside as much as you can for your kids, and for that you need a separate savings account. As your savings grow, consider transferring them to a 529 Plan.

The Vacation Fund

Once you have the other savings accounts taken care of, it’s time to start saving for vacation. Whether you plan to take the kids to Disney World or take your wife on the 10-year anniversary trip of your dreams, you need to start setting aside some cash. Don’t make the mistake of draining your emergency fund to go on vacation; instead, start a separate savings account and watch it grow.

The Upkeep Fund

Some types of repairs are true financial emergencies and are good reasons to spend down your emergency fund. On the other hand, you’re smart. You know that eventually you’re going to need a new car and a new roof. Start saving for them now, in your upkeep fund.

Here are a few additional savings accounts that are not mandatory, but can help you manage your finances:

The New School Year Account

Every August, your kids need new clothes, new school supplies, and new educational tools like TI-99 calculators and tablet computers. Start saving now so you won’t end August strapped for cash.

The Holiday Account

Christmas, birthdays, and other major holidays don’t ever go away. Since you’re going to be spending on them, you need to start saving for them.

The Tax Account

Once you get into the tax bracket where you stop receiving yearly refunds, you need to set aside a separate savings account for your annual tax payments. After all, the more money you make, the more taxes you pay — so don’t let your financial success cause you to fall short in April. Likewise, if either you or your spouse work as a freelancer or entrepreneur, you need to keep track of quarterly tax payments. A good tax savings account helps you prepare for these upcoming expenses.

These are just a few of the savings accounts you can create to manage your finances — the more you have, the better you’ll be able to see where your money is going. Make sure to look for online savings accounts with high interest rates, so your money does part of the work for you by earning compound interest. Then, every paycheck, divide up your cash into your various savings accounts, and watch your nest eggs grow.

Things Today’s Dads Do That Your Dad Probably Didn’t

Parenting isn’t what it used to be. Every generation brings new child-raising challenges and new hurdles for parents to overcome. Of course, this is a huge benefit for dads, as we have the opportunity to be involved in our children’s lives in a way that our own fathers perhaps did not. On the other hand, we also have a few extra responsibilities our fathers did not have on their plates.

What are some of the biggest differences between our parenting and our fathers’ parenting? Here are a few things today’s dads do that previous generations of dads did not:

Share the parenting and household work equally

For our parents’ generation, moms took on most of the burden of what’s called the “second shift” all of that work involved in caring for children that comes after a full day of working in the office. Even when dads volunteered to help with homework or take the kids out to the backyard so mom could fix dinner, moms still felt like they were handling the bulk of the work.

Not anymore. Today’s dads are proactive, stepping up to handle an equal burden of the parenting and household load. The stereotype of the dad who doesn’t know his kids’ teachers names or their pediatrician’s phone number is over.

Teach internet safety

This is a big one, and I’m still not sure how I’m going to handle it with my own kids. Parents these days need to teach children about safe surfing, how to handle social media, and how to both prevent and manage cyber bullying.

Luckily, there are great resources at www.staysafeonline.org to help us prepare our kids to be good digital citizens. Right now, my little girls only know that the internet is the place where they watch movies and chat with Grandma, but when they’re ready to learn more, I need to be ready to teach them.

Manage health insurance and life insurance

Your dad probably didn’t think too much about health insurance and life insurance; it was all taken care of for him, by his employer. Now, of course, times have changed. Even if your health and life insurance are taken care of by your company, you still have to sort between multiple policy offerings and choose the one that is best for you and your family. You also have to manage copays, flexible spending accounts, and other factors your dad didn’t even have to consider.

If your health and life insurance aren’t taken care of by your company, you need to step up to the plate and find your family a suitable policy. Luckily, there are many good options out there; sites like www.simplifiedissuelifeinsurance.com offer life insurance online, and there are plenty of ways to find the best types of policies for your family.

Prepare for college costs

When my parents went to college, they were able to pay for an entire year’s worth of classes with a single three-month summer job. When I went to college, my parents weren’t aware of exactly how much college costs had risen; I’m one of the many graduates with $50,000 in student loans. My wife and I want to make sure our children have better options.

So: in addition to our girls’ 529 plans, we’re also preparing them to excel in school so that they can get scholarships and help defer the cost of their educations. Right now, that means a lot of reading aloud — reading to your kids is one of the best predictors of educational success. Plus, it means I get to share my favorite books with them. I don’t remember my dad ever reading to me, but my girls and I are halfway through The Hobbit.

What about you? What do you do for your kids that your dad did not? And how do you think parenting has changed over the past generation?