Relatively early in our retirement, we took a three and a half week trip to Europe and visited three countries; Spain, France and Belgium. It was wonderful!
About nine months later I was ready to plan our next adventure. Given the fun we'd had on the previous trip, more European destinations seemed logical. When I asked my husband which places he wanted to visit he asked, "You want to go again? Already?" Apparently he wasn't eager to go again. Or at least not so soon.
That shocked me! We'd spent over 30 years working hard and saving so that we could "travel in retirement". His ho-hum attitude about European travel threw me for a loop and had me re-thinking how I was going to spend the second half of my life.
It's worth mentioning that my husband suffers from migraines, and overseas travel and many foods trigger them. Even though he's a really good sport, he made it clear that Europe with a migraine isn't all that magical.
For the next few months I did some serious thinking and took some imaginary trips via YouTube. I stumbled across the concept of "Solo Travel" and listened to advice from a number of female solo travelers. Interestingly, they were all young, but as far as I could tell, age would only make my experience easier.
I also thought about traveling with friends more and do enjoy that, but I found myself wondering what I'd do if I was able to make every decision myself. The thought was suprisingly energizing.
Up to that point, I'd never considered the idea of traveling alone, and initially I wondered if I could do it in a foreign country. It took me a while to realize that I'd done it many times in the past for business, and I figured a leisure trip would only be easier.
The next thing I knew, I'd booked a flight to Paris and it departed in 27 days. Then I rented a tiny apartment. (And by tiny, I mean tiny; Airbnb advertised it as 194 sq ft - not meters.) The. Trip. Was. Heavenly. Having spent over 30 years working full time and raising kids, 11 days to myself was not too long. I could go on and on about how much I enjoyed it, but will simply include one proof point; eight months later I spent 23 days alone in Rome :)
Did I plan to visit Europe alone in retirement? Not in a million years. Do I enjoy spending time with my husband and even traveling with him? Yes! But I've learned that sometimes the unexpected can be even more fun than the expected.
When I retired in early 2017 I knew I didn't want to keep doing what I'd been doing. But I wasn't sure I was ready to retire. If I retired, what would I do? Would I get bored? I knew I could be busy and happy for a few months. But the long term outlook was less clear to me.
On the first day of retirement we were literally in the middle of a kitchen remodel. (Professionals were doing the work for reasons described here.) There was a lot for us to do, and before I knew it, four months had gone by. I settled into other activities after that (hobbies, volunteer work, etc.) and time went merrily by. I continued to worry if I'd get bored at some point - but I wasn't bored yet.
Interestingly, I relished doing things that I considered burdens while I was working. For example, one summer day I was cleaning out the car. When I was ready to vacuum, I discovered the shop-vac wasn't working very well. I spent 20 minutes emptying and cleaning it out so it worked like a charm. When I was working I'd have realized the shop vac was full while preparing the car at midnight for a family outing the next morning. I wouldn't have had the time or energy to empty and clean the vac. Now, having time available to do something as simple as cleaning a vacuum, feels glorious!
As time has gone by (almost four years at this point), I've found I'm engaged in various activities. One volunteer effort mushroomed to the point that I needed to step back a bit. It was taking a lot of time. Don't get me wrong, it is (literally) the most satisfying work I've ever done. But since I want to stay with it for the long haul I know I need to pace myself. Interestingly and very satisfyingly, the new leadership that has come in after my tenure has taken the organization to levels I never could have imagined.
Two years into retirement I decided I was no longer worried about getting bored. I'm not saying I'm busy. I'm saying I always have something to do ... and the beauty of retirement is that one can pursue things at any pace they wish.
When something needs to get done do you tend to do it yourself or pay a professional to do it for you? House needs a new roof? I'm calling a roofer. A room needs painting? I'm off to research local painters. And although changing the oil in my car is not very difficult, I take it to the local shop. Other things, however, I refuse to hire out. I enjoy cutting the grass. And last summer I replaced the (regular sized) door that goes from our garage to the back yard.
What about your investments? Do you manage your investments yourself or do you have someone do it for you? Many people we know hire someone to manage their long term investments. It doesn't sound all that expensive. Management and trading fees generally run about 1.65% of total assets being managed. That sure doesn't sound like very much ... until you do the math to calculate the costs. Wouldn't it be nice if you could eliminate that annual expense? You probably can.
Managing your own investments is easier than many people think. Yes, it requires some "startup" time. Yes, some basic knowledge needs to be acquired. You may even have investments spread across multiple institutions which may be easier to manage from a single institution. (Consolidating at one financial institution can provide benefits not available when assets are in different places.) Getting things set up also doesn't always mean doing everything by yourself. Talking to a fee-based investment advisor can be very helpful. In this scenario you're paying a professional for advice based on your goals but implementation is done by you. (It's like hiring an architect for design but construction is done by the homeowner.) Investing companies such as Fidelity offer services like this as well. Once some foundational concepts are understood and established, ongoing management takes surprisingly little effort.
Where can you get started?
Managing your own investments isn't for everyone ... just like painting a room isn't for everyone and changing the oil isn't for everyone. However, if you are currently paying someone to manage your money, I encourage you to be sure you know exactly what it is costing you. You might discover you just uncovered a simple part-time job that pays really well.