5 Ways Retirement Will Pleasantly Surprise You

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Getty ImagesRetirement can save you money if you use your free time to shop for deals.
By David Ning

Most worker bees who are grinding away at a day job will tell you they can't wait to retire. However, those who have saved enough money to retire sometimes don't quit right away, even if they don't like going to work. Many savers develop a bit of anxiety about hanging up their work hat and choose to suffer the obvious because they are afraid of the unknown. Fortunately, there are many wonderful aspects of retirement, so the unknown isn't always all bad. For the workaholics among us, here are some reasons to plunge into retirement.

You will never get bored if you allow yourself to seek out the fun. Many retirees have so much to do it's often hard to slow down. But the fun won't find you if you choose to stay in bed or watch TV all day. You have to actively decide to participate in what excites you. If you are a couch potato, you will probably eventually feel bored in retirement. But it's a choice you can make and change at any time in retirement.

Spending often goes way down. It's common for retirees to spend much less in retirement than they did during their working years. For starters, the costs for lunches out, commuting and work-related clothing pretty much drop to zero. Additionally, many retirees actually have the time and energy to seek out discounts and optimal times to buy what they want. Even vacations become much cheaper, because those who don't have a set schedule can travel in the off season, which can be less than half of what it costs to travel during peak times.

You don't have to worry about running out of money if you can control your spending. I fret about outliving my money in retirement, so I understand the temptation to work for another year to make your retirement finances just a bit stronger. But sometimes I have to remind myself that withdrawing 4 percent from a portfolio and adjusting the amount yearly for inflation worked during the worst scenario in history, when stock and bond returns were poor for years. Plus, the folks who save enough to only need 4 percent or so of their portfolio assets each year are mostly well off enough to have a great deal of flexibility in their spending. Simply taking slightly more conservative withdrawals when markets are misbehaving can make a huge difference in portfolio survivability.

You start appreciating just how stressful and grumpy you were during your high-flying career. Little things tend not to bother us as much when we are on vacation. Retirement is sort of like a long vacation. You will find that not having the stress of answering to a boss every day will help you feel more energetic and happy about everything that goes on in your life. Many retirees also start having more time to look after themselves physically.

New passions you never knew you had. Those who plan to stay active in retirement are likely to find more activities than they will possibly have time to try. While you aren't likely to enjoy every one of them, you will probably find one or two you will like enough to turn into a hobby. If you can be realistic about what you can afford to spend on the hobby, you will have a lot of fun without breaking the bank. I spend a lot of time playing table tennis and road cycling, even though I never thought about these sports when I was working nine-to-five. I know that when I retire I will find even more things I end up loving to do because I'll have even more time and energy to explore my passions.

David Ning is the founder of MoneyNing.com.
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