Retirement can be a daunting life transition in and of itself. But while many new retirees are trying to figure out who they are without work, another important life role could be changing as well: mom or dad.
As much as you're missing your kids, an empty nest also creates opportunities for you and your spouse to reinvent your home, your schedules, and your lives. These four ideas can help you embrace those opportunities and plan for a more fulfilling retirement.
1. Enjoy your revamped budget.
Every parent has that cynical little voice in the back of their head that grumbles from time to time about the hassles of raising children. And while you won't stop worrying about your kids or supporting them now that they've moved out, be honest: having a little less hassle isn't all bad!
With fewer people to feed, clothe, transport, and entertain, your monthly expenses are probably going down. Maybe it's time to unload that extra car you and your spouse don't really need or cancel a couple of the extra streaming subscriptions you won't use. And now that they're out of the house, it might be time to get your adult kids off your cell phone plan as well.
Add all these costs up and you could have a decent chunk of change to start a special savings account dedicated to bucket list items, like big vacations or buying that dream summer cottage. Or you could use those funds to remodel an empty bedroom -- or two – into a guest room, library, home theater, or workspace.
2. Plan some "remote parenting.”
Now that you don't have to work and you don't have to worry about rushing to and from soccer practice, you probably have more free time than you've had in years. And while it's important that retirees devote some of that time to activities they find fulfilling, you can also put some extra family time on your schedule as well.
If your kids are still close by, plan regular brunch dates, backyard hangouts, or rounds of golf. Extend your visits to kids who have moved further away into vacations so that you and your spouse can spend time together in a new place seeing the sights. And in between, dust off those virtual communication skills you mastered during lockdowns to organize the occasional game night or long-distance cup of coffee.
3. Volunteer, mentor, or work part time.
The skills you've developed as a parent are every bit as important as the professional ones you developed in your career. The sum of all that life experience can be invaluable to young professionals, nonprofits, rec centers, and schools. Volunteering or working part time at an organization where you can make a difference can add some structure to your weeks and give you a feeling of purpose that you might be missing since you retired. You'll also have a chance to meet new people, build new relationships, and expose yourself to new ideas that will help you continue to learn and grow.
4. Invest in your other roles.
We identify so much with our work that it can be disorienting when we're no longer a doctor, engineer, or CEO. It's important to remember that an empty nest doesn't mean your work as a parent is over. You'll always be mom or dad -- and soon, maybe grandma or grandpa! Raising kids who are now able to stand on their own two feet is as much of an accomplishment for you as it is for them. Be proud of what you, your spouse, and your kids have achieved together. And be excited for all the life experiences you'll share together during your golden years.
But as your relationship with your adult children evolves, you'll have more time to invest in other aspects of yourself: husband, wife, friend, mentor, traveler, athlete, artist, chef, entrepreneur, philanthropist. Finding the right combination of these roles for the next stage of your life can be one of the most meaningful experiences of retirement.
A comprehensive financial plan can help you and your spouse explore ways to fill your empty nest. Make an appointment to talk to one of Keen Wealth's advisors about how our process can support you during all of your retirement transitions.
Bill Keen is a CHARTERED RETIREMENT PLANNING COUNSELOR℠ and independent financial advisor with more than 25 years of industry experience. As the founder and CEO of Keen Wealth Advisors, a registered investment advisory firm, he specializes in providing personalized retirement planning designed to help people thrive before and during their retirement years. With a passion for educating others, Bill regularly blogs about retirement planning, hosts the podcast Keen on Retirement, and has contributed to U.S. News and World Report, Reuters, Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch, Yahoo Finance, and other publications. Based in Overland Park, Kansas, Bill and his team work with clients throughout the greater Kansas City area and across the nation. To learn more, connect with him on LinkedIn or visit www.keenwealthadvisors.com.
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