Free stuff!

Who doesn’t like free?  This post should help you on the Creativity-Social area of the Retirement Activity Compass.  You will probably want to update your personal Retirement Activity Plan (RAP) when you’re done reading!

RAC - star LL

Remember back to the “Pre-retirement or retired, why not RAP?” post?  We focused on ‘creativity’ to help keep our retired minds sharp and ‘social’ to help keep us connected to each other and the community.   One way to get a toofer on that is to learn something new by taking a class – a free class.

Free #1

Mrs. NoSurprisesRetirement has completed a number of classes on various aspects of the history of the United Kingdom from her favorite free e-learning site, Futurelearn.  A couple her favourites (British spelling of favourites, get it?  Ha!)  were ‘A History of Royal Food and Feasting’ and ‘England in the Time of King Richard III’.   I looked at Futurelearn today and they have pretty much everything from anatomy to writing fiction.  Classes are available both anytime (Beginning Dutch, anyone?) and scheduled. Mrs. NoSurprisesRetirement likes the scheduled courses because of the interaction available when you comment on the content or questions.  Futurelearn is Mrs. NoSurprisesRetirement’s favorite e-learning site because of the diversity in class formats and the international audience. People in her Richard III class lived within a few miles of the key historical sites and provided really interesting comments.

Free #2

If you’re like us here in the frozen northland Minnesota and you are 62 or over, you can audit (sit in on the class for no grade, but it’s OK this time) classes at the U of M and MNSCU’s universities, colleges and technical colleges.  If you’re someplace warmer else your state likely has something similar to the Minnnesota benefit and you can find out here at A SENIOR CITIZEN GUIDE FOR COLLEGE. This is a really good way to learn those things you always wanted to but did not have the time/money before now.

But wait, there’s more!

You can go to Harvard, MIT, or the Sorbonne with edX  This is Mrs. NoSurprisesRetirement’s other favorite e-learning site and, similar to Futurelearn, edX has a wide span of classes. Introduction to German Opera from Dartmouth, The Rise of Superheroes and Their Impact on Pop Culture from the Smithsonian, and Urban Design for the Public Good: Dutch Urbanism from TU Delft are just some examples.

Don’t stop there – check the library

My local public library provides two different language learning programs, one of which is from Rosetta Stone.  They also provide Lynda (now from Linkedin) which has classes on just about everything, including Microsoft Office for that new computer you’ll get for Christmas and photography for that DSLR you got last year.

Sample Retirement Activity Plan template – free!

I put a RAP template out on Google Drive for you to download and modify to personalize as needed.  It’s in Word format, but let me know if you need one in Google Sheets format. Copy and paste this link:

into your browser (I primarily use Chrome) and you should be able to see them and download.  Let me know at if you have a problem.

Actions you can take include:

-Develop and/or update your RAP.

-Don’t forget about the social aspects of retirement – reach out to a friend and re-connect, especially now in the holiday season.

And if you have not seen the “Why you should read this blog…WIIFY” post, it’s here

Questions, comments, or suggestions for retirement surprise areas you want to know more about?
-Leave a comment
-Use ‘Contact’, above, to send an email.

A Tale of Two Motorhomes

The yellow star tells us we’ll be on the Activity-Personal side of the Retirement Activity Compass for this post:

RAC - star UR

A note on this post – we will primarily discuss married couples here, but unmarrieds will also find value because the same principles will apply if you plan to engage in retirement activities with friends or relatives.

The Two Motorhomes

Last week I heard from a reader about the motorhome that she and her husband researched and bought so they could tour the country when they retire.  They read Bill Myers’  Buying a Used Motorhome and bought a lower cost motorhome.  They will be trying it out this winter with a trip to Arizona and, if they don’t like it, they can sell without losing a huge investment.  They have discussed their shared activities in retirement and are aligned.  I suspect that if we measure their retirement satisfaction in a couple of years, it will be fine.

Fast forward to yesterday where I was talking with a couple where the husband will retire next month. The husband is looking forward to buying a motorhome and touring the country.  Sound familiar so far?  The wife is looking forward to starting a pottery studio, not driving around in a motorhome. As Scooby Doo would say, “Ruh ro”.  This couple clearly has a failure to communicate.  It appears that the couple did little or no shared retirement activity planning and are not aligned.  Where do you think their retirement satisfaction measurement will be in a couple of years?

What Can We Learn from the Two Motorhomes?

Discussing, negotiating, and planning well before the retirement ‘day’ comes will help balance the interests of both parties.  There usually has to be give and take on both sides, whether it be a married couple, or retired friends planning joint activities.

Be adaptable – you may find you don’t like to motorhome (or run a B&B, or a pottery studio…).  Planning to try out any activity, especially the expensive ones, before you commit large resources will help avoid bad retirement surprises.

Be realistic – take into account your budget for retirement activities, mobility restrictions (oops, Bill’s knee can’t take standing for more than about 45 minutes!) and insurance restrictions (will I be out of network if I go to Alabama?).

On your own?  Singles aren’t hermits, so consider starting to build your retirement activity network early, but remember, it’s never too late to start.

Actions you can take include:

-Open the discussion.  Make a date to sit down over coffee and discuss what major activities you want to do in retirement (hint – surveys say ‘travel’ is on a lot of these lists.)

-If you find that you disagree on direction, search the web for ‘interpersonal conflict resolution’ and use some strategies for getting to compromise.

Questions, comments, or suggestions for retirement surprise areas you want to know more about?
-Leave a comment
-Use ‘Contact’, above, to send an email.

Pre-retirement or retired, why not RAP?

Retirement – it’s not for the old, it’s for the tough, and the RAP is a Retirement Activity Plan.  Remember, No Surprises Retirement is about helping you avoid bad retirement surprises.

Fight Cognitive Decline!

The abstract of the Mental Retirement study in the Journal of Economic Perspectives noted, ““Some studies suggest that people can maintain their cognitive abilities through “mental exercise.”… In this paper, we propose two mechanisms how retirement may lead to cognitive decline. For many people retirement leads to a less stimulating daily environment. In addition, the prospect of retirement reduces the incentive to engage in mentally stimulating activities on the job.”  A RAP can help you minimize cognitive and physical declines, maximize your retirement satisfaction and avoid bad retirement surprises.

Finding a Plan

Many of you probably have some type of retirement savings or retirement income plan (I hope!). I looked around and I was able to download a number of sample plans from different financial planners but they were all financial. I could not find any sample Retirement Activity Plans, and I think that’s a big gap in ‘real’ retirement planning, so I started researching and outlining a plan for us.

Retirement Activity Planning – the Retirement Activity Compass

Take a look at our Retirement Activity Compass:

Retirement Activity Compass - v3

The Retirement Activity Compass shows that people have key points for which to plan:
-Activity, for physical health
-Creativity, for mental stimulation
-Social, for connectedness, with community, family and friendship
-Personal, for solitude and personal time.

We’ll talk about planning in each area in future posts.  For now, don’t run out and start frantically exercising, especially without getting clearance from your medical professional first, but do start thinking about what you want out of retirement and where those wants line up on the Retirement Activity Compass.

Actions you can take include:

-Think about each point of the Retirement Activity Compass; Activity, Creativity, Personal, and Social.  Consider what you want to do (or are doing) in retirement and what you need to do to start.

-Next, look at your gaps on the Retirement Activity Compass.  Are there areas in which you do not have activities or plans?  If there are gaps, consider what you might do.  ( I did start up an activity plan, after physician clearance, which includes exercycle or walking, situps, and pushup, er… pushups. (Get down and give me two, pre-retiree!)

-Find a place to get physically active.  If you’re on Medicare, you might be eligible for a ‘free’ Silver Sneakers health club membership.  If you’re retired Military, you might find a gym on base/post.  I use my basement floor (it’s carpeted!)

Questions, comments, or suggestions for retirement surprise areas you want to know more about?
-Leave a comment
-Use ‘Contact’, above, to send an email.