Many people who imagine their lives in retirement envision themselves on white sandy beaches, traveling the world, or enjoying myriad other fun or leisurely activities and hobbies. Although retirement is often depicted or imagined in this way, the reality is that most people do not factor these expenses and luxuries into their retirement plans, making this prized retirement lifestyle few and far between.

Retirement plans are generally based on a simple income statement analysis – a calculation of income in retirement minus estimated expenses. Often, these calculations are based on a monthly budget, plus an emergency fund for unexpected expenses like medical bills. Most people, however, miss a major component of retirement planning: factoring in fun.

Recent Study Reveals Retirees’ Visions of Retirement

In a recent study conducted by Merrill Lynch and Age Wave, nearly all retirees surveyed agreed that retirement presents them with both greater freedom and opportunities. They also told researchers that retirement is the time of their lives when they have the most fun, reporting peaks between the ages 65 and 74. The retirees surveyed were also 10 times more likely to say retirement is more fun, enjoyable and pleasurable than when they were working.

Despite these optimistic claims and visions about life in retirement, the same survey found that of current retirees, most do not factor in funds for these leisure activities. The survey found that of current retirees, 58% say they do not know how much money they will need to fund leisure activities and 66% have not discussed and agreed with their spouse or partner on how much money to spend on leisure in retirement.

While many leisure activities are certainly low cost, others need to be planned for, such as travel or funding a new hobby in retirement. If you envision travel or picking up a specific activity during retirement, it is essential to plan for these extra funds and discuss how much money should be set aside for fun activities in retirement.

Start Making Your Fun Plan

To start factoring in fun into your retirement plan, the first thing you can do now is to sit down with your spouse and agree on some of the fun things you would like to do in retirement. Many of these things will be low cost or free, such as volunteer work or spending time with family locally, while others activities will need to be budgeted for. These types of activities include learning new hobbies, traveling or taking continuing educational classes. Once you determine which activities you’d like to participate in, you can readjust your income statement analysis with fun factored in, giving you a complete retirement package that will allow you to live out your dream retirement.  

Retirement should be fun. It’s a time that allows for more freedom, time, and perhaps opportunities to pursue lifelong passions, but without the right plan in place, you could be missing out on your dream retirement. It’s never too early or too late to start planning for your life in retirement to ensure you aren’t missing out on your golden years!


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