What We’ll Do When We Stop Working

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Part of figuring out how much we need to save for retirement is considering the kind of life we’ll be having once we stop working and rely on retirement savings and social security. Some of us want to travel the world, which will cost more, but even that can be done reasonably with careful planning. The reality is that a lot of us will be spending our retirement at home, watching TV or reading. Here’s the WSJ looking at a new study in the Journal of Financial Planning:

…researchers looked at the top 20 activities of middle-income and high-income retirees (age 50 and older and at least $60,000 in household income). They found that retirees spend significant amounts of time on “inexpensive leisure activities” (like reading and watching TV) and “household production activities” (such as preparing meals or working in a garden)—neither of which drains lots of cash from savings accounts.

As such, dire predictions about individuals ramping up spending in retirement and running out of money as they age could be overstated. At least somewhat.

“I don’t want to tell people not to worry,” says Charlene M. Kalenkoski, an associate professor at Texas Tech University in Lubbock and co-author of the study. But, she adds, if the behaviors identified in the research hold true in years to come, retirement “isn’t going to be as expensive as people might think.”

It makes sense: If we’re spending our pre-retirement days obsessing over Serial and hit TV shows, and reading best-sellers, we’ll be doing that in our later years too. My parents spend a lot of time at home, in front of the TV, or practicing ballroom dance. I often imagine myself in a quiet little house, away from the city, still writing something even if it won’t be seen by anyone but me. And there’s pie.

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