What to Do in Retirement? One of These 7 Things

Girl (6-7) with grandmother planting flowers in garden
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How much you spend in retirement will be related to what you do with your time. Before retiring, give serious thought to what you will do once you are retired. If you will be on a limited budget, as most retired people are, you’ll want to find affordable activities that contribute to your overall well-being. If you have expensive hobbies, such as golf or sailing, you’ll need to budget for those.

Some retirees know exactly what they will do with their time, but many don’t. For those looking for inspiration, below are seven things you can do in retirement.

Key Takeaways

  • Learning a new hobby or rekindling your love for an old one can be a fulfilling way to spend time.
  • Volunteering, teaching, and even working a bit as a contractor are productive retirement activities.
  • Connecting with family in retirement is especially great for individuals who struggled to make time for family activities during their working years.
  • Traveling in retirement can mean anything from luxury trips to humble RV adventures.

Learn Something New

Whether it be fly fishing, woodworking, or needlepoint, retirement can be the perfect time to learn something new. You can usually find affordable local classes (on almost any subject) taught by your city’s park and recreation department, a local community college, or a local business or hobby store. Road Scholar is a popular program that offers educational trips for adult learners.

Volunteer—Invest in What Matters to You

Some retirees find that what they miss most is a sense of contributing to another’s success. Volunteering can be a great way to continue to contribute in an area that matters to you. It could be teaching children to read, volunteering at a local school, helping out at an organization that feeds the homeless, or using your business skills by donating time to an organization like SCORE that helps new business owners. There are organizations that specialize in volunteer opportunities for those age 55 and older. Check them out, and see what’s out there.


Perhaps you have a specialized skill or knowledge in a particular field. In that case, you may want to tutor or begin to teach classes. You could do those things for free on a mentoring basis (for people with whom you want to invest your time), or you could charge for your services by formally tutoring or starting small classes.

Skill-sharing is another option. It's a way to combine teaching and learning. You offer to teach someone something you know, and in exchange, you learn something from them. If there aren't skill-sharing groups in your area, you could set one up or connect with others online.

Connect With Family

During working years, it can be difficult to find time to connect with family. Retirement is the perfect time to bring these relationships back to life. Pick up the phone, and start a conversation, or use video chat on Skype to talk to and see family members who may be far away.

If you're connecting with family in person, be sure to set firm boundaries around what you are and aren't able or willing to do. Some might view a retired grandparent as a free babysitter, and while family time is valuable, you also need to take care of yourself.


Travel can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. If you have the means, by all means, plan your dream vacation—or a few of them. If you’re on a limited budget, check out alternative travel options such as the RV lifestyle or the costs of living abroad. These options may make travel more affordable than you might have thought.

Work on Your Terms

After a year or two of retirement, many retirees choose to go back to work as a contractor. They may pick up a project or start a consulting business. Your experience may be in demand, and if you don’t have to work, then you get to set the terms as far as your hours and how much time you will commit.

You may also choose to work part-time. It gives you a chance to connect with people and make money without a demanding schedule.

Rekindle an Old Hobby

Did you play a musical instrument as a child? Or did you take a shop class but never pursue your mechanically inclined side? Maybe you tried a cooking class but were just too busy working to pursue it. Or perhaps you used to ride motorcycles and always wanted to go to Sturgis. Now is the time to dive back into a hobby you didn’t have time to pursue years ago.