40 Best Ways to Spend Money in Retirement
The smartest (and most fun) ways to spend the rest of your days.
Boom. You did it. A lucrative career is behind you, and now all you have to do is enjoy life. There's plenty of advice floating around about how best to save for retirement. In fact, you'll find some of the best on this very site. However, not much is written about how to get the most out fun ofs the moolah you've wisely squirrelled away — particularly if, like millions of Americans, you opted to retire early. Here are some ideas about how you can have a blast during your next act. And click here to discover the story that has changed thousands of lives (and will change yours by extending it): the essential 100 Ways to Live Until 100!
Grow your own
Nothing says "I'm a master of nature" than putting delicious, nutritious organic food on the table that you've grown yourself. (Plus, it's a hedge against the collapse of society.) Even if you don't have much space or time, try growing some low-maintenance herbs.
Get a personal stylist
Your 20s were a time to experiment with personal style. Your 30s were a time to get comfortable with your look while making important life moves. Your 40s and 50s are the time to take the results of that success and reinvest it in you. Now that you're not working, it's the time to be you, whatever that looks like. Need some help? See a look you'd like to emulate in a magazine. Rip it out, put it your pocket. Once you've collected a half-dozen, step into a top menswear store near you, develop a relationship with a salesperson, and be prepared to plunk down a not-insignificant amount of moolah on clothes. Don't worry: Pieces from this splurge should serve you well into your dotage.
Hire a personal trainer
Prepare to be that 81-year-old guy who runs marathons. It's never too late to start. After the age of 40, inactive people lose 3% to 5% of their muscle mass every decade. The good news: You can prevent that by strength training. Research shows that using weights, resistance bands or kettlebells two to three times a week can substantially improve your muscle mass in three to six months. Hire a trainer who can get you where you need to be. It's only one of these essential 50 Things to Do Before You Die!
Have your home updated
Getting out of the world of work can also limit your exposure to what's going on in the world. That could mean that the home in which you live could start to look like people of a bygone era live there. Stay current and have your environment look and feel as alive and vibrant as you do. To that end, make an investment in an interior designer.
Sponsor a child
Whether you do or don't have kids of your own, sponsoring a needy child is a way you can absolutely change lives for the better. You've done well in your career. Now's a great time to give someone a fighting chance to do well for themselves. Being charitable is just one of the 25 Ways to Be Happier Now!
Update your technology
Stocking your home with the latest tech and gear will help you to get the most enjoyment out of your retirement. More and more, we experience our world via technological devices. Keeping in touch with how people younger than you are experiencing the world is a great way to prevent alienation and a needless widening of the generation gap.
Travel like a young person
Retiree tourism often conjures up images of interminable cruises, fusty hotels and guided tours. Take a lesson from the millennial travel handbook and live like a local in the city you're visiting. Stay at a stylish, centrally located Airbnb, make your own bed, shop at the local markets, eat at the restaurants favored by locals and, if you're not digging where you are, make no bones about heading right back to the airport and making a beeline for somewhere else. Start with these 20 Cities You Must Visit Before You Die!
Go back to school
When you're younger, resuming your education can be the edge you need to progress in your career. Now you're no longer clocking in and grinding it out, you can look at education not as a means to an end, but as a way to stimulate your mind in new ways and enhance your understanding of the world around you.
Buy an island
Having your own private island sounds out of reach, right? Thing is, you don't necessarily have to be a billionaire to buy an isle all your own. About a thousand of them come on the market each year, many for less than the median price of a home in the U.S. (about $210,000 in 2016). Check out some examples in Your Own Private Island: It's Cheaper Than You Think!
Indulge your children
You've had a career, you've made your money. Maybe you did it all on your own, or maybe you got a little help along the way. Whatever your own story is, use it to inform when and how you enhance your kids' lives without denying them the opportunity to learn about making their own way.
Become a space traveler
Commercial trips into space have yet to begin in earnest, but that hasn't stopped pioneering companies like Virgin Galactic from selling tickets in advance. As it stands you'll need to fork over $250,000 for a spot. That's a hefty sum for sure, but if you're really ready to invest in a fun retirement, it's a pretty stellar strategy. (If that's a bit out of your price range, try one of these 8 New Luxury Vacations.)
Move to the city or country
Chances are that you live in the suburbs. Safe, quiet and orderly. Why not take your retirement to experiment with living at either extreme, or split your time between both? You'll stand to learn a lot about yourself by being surrounded by your fellow humans, or going for days without locking eyes with someone else.
Rent a castle
A man's home is his castle, but for many cash-strapped aristocrats in the British Isles and elsewhere in Europe, a man's castle is becoming a means of keeping the lights on. Spending a few nights in a mansion, manor house or even a converted chapel that pre-dates the Norman invasion of England is not only well within the reach of many retired Americans, it's a snap, thanks to Airbnb. (For more ideas, check out these Most Expensive Airbnbs in the World.)
You'll never feel more empowered than when you face down your fears. It's likely that you've done that throughout your career, but now that you've clocked out once and for all, you might have to find some other fears to conquer. And what could be more fear-inducing and adrenaline-pumping than jumping out of an airplane 13,000 feet above the earth?
Start a business
Now that being an entrepreneur isn't a do-or-die prospect, you can invest your time and money in something that you're passionate about. Import pecorino, refurbish vintage electric guitars, open a cat cafe. Whatever it is, build it, and they might come. And if they don't, you'll have had some fun spending your days engrossed in something that revs you up. It's one of these 25 Best Wealth-Building Tips Ever!
Be the most-fun uncle
Even if you don't have children of your own, not being directly responsible for someone else's kids means that you can relax and be the uncle they think is cool. Take them to a major sporting event or a concert by one of their favorite groups.
Live in a foreign country
There's no better way to avoid getting too set in your ways than packing up to live part-time or permanently in another country. Not only are you never too old to learn a foreign language, picking up another tongue can actually create new neural pathways in your brain. And why not adopt more of these 13 Tips for a Sharper Brain!
Get a weird pet
It's just the truth: Behaviors that would have gotten you called a weirdo in your younger years become a lot more charming as the salt begins to overtake the pepper on your dome. Embrace this new latitude and indulge your eccentricities — given they're legal, of course. One of your weirder wants may be to own exotic animals: A pair of llamas, a Vietnamese pot-bellied pig or two, a brood of red pandas. Embrace the idea of becoming a more colourful character now that you have more time on your hands.
Get a seat on a private jet
As Uber has become the biggest transportation-industry disruptor since the locomotive, and even the first-class sections of commercial airlines are skimping on services and shrinking in size, private-jet operators have seized a golden opportunity. A number of companies now offer the chance to book seats on a private or semiprivate plane, in as long as it takes you to tap a few keys on an app, for a fraction of the cost of a traditional charter (which can cost upward of $5,000 an hour). It's easy — check out How to Uber a Private Plane!
Buy everyone in the joint a drink
Now that you can afford it, randomly treat the denizens of a bar to a round of drinks. Not only will it make you feel good, it'll start up a few interesting conversations and gain you some fast friends.
Get a hot car
Sometimes tooling around in a sexy car isn't related to a midlife crisis or some gross overcompensation for something but simply because it's awesome! 'Nuff said. Check out these 14 Sports Cars to Buy Now!
Donate to a cause
What do you stand for? It's time to put your money, time and/or effort where your mouth is. Instead of commenting on an issue that you're passionate about from the sidelines, have the courage of your convictions and make the difference you want to see.
Shower a loved one with roses
Flowers. They look pretty and smell nice, but within days wilt and brown. A prudent way to spend money? Heck no. But it's their very transience that makes them so appreciated. So go big the next time you want to make someone feel special, and shower her with a decadent display worthy of all the nonsensical decisions she's inspired you to make through the years. And don't forget date nights — that's one of the Secrets of the Best Relationships!
Buy an expensive instrument to learn
Most kids can only manage to buy pieces of junk which to learn how to play. One school of thought maintains that learning on an imperfect instrument will ultimately help you become a better player. Conversely, others say that playing on a real masterpiece can be such a joy that you're more likely to spend hours noodling on it. You have the money, you have the time to noodle. Go with option B.
Visit family and friends often
In our retirement years, it's easy to get sedentary, considering trips to be exhausting. Instead, choose to be reinvigorated by spending time with family and friends in far-flung places, and take pleasure in being a connector of people. Studies show that people with rich social networks tend to be much healthier in mind, body and spirit. That's just one of these scientifically proven 100 Ways to Live to 100!
Have a meal at Kitcho
It's just about the most expensive restaurant in the world. Traditional Kaiseki cuisine at this five-location Japanese joint will set you back around $600 per person, but it is famed for being one of the best meals you can get in Japan — perhaps on earth.
Build an adult tree house
What is your Rosebud? That thing from your youth that filled your heart with joy? Once you figure that out, revisit that thing and the feelings it inspired. If it still trips your trigger, see if you can't invite a little of that unbridled, youthful exuberance back into your life. For more ideas on how to be happier than you've ever been, check out these 25 Ways to Get Happier Now!
Farm your own energy
As we get older, ornery and divorced from the world of work, some of us warm to the idea of becoming self-reliant. A great way to do this is to look at the ways in which you can get off the grid, ideally without changing the way you live your life much or at all. Look into farming your own power. You could harness solar, wind or hydro to run your home and, if you use less than you generate, even sell the excess back to your power company!
Do you really, really love your home but really, really wish you could change its location? Well, in many cases, you can. It doesn't come cheap, but if you can't bear to part with your castle yet want to change the view, you can do it. To pick up your house and physically transport it elsewhere, low estimates start at about $12-$16 per square foot.
Move your house
Sure, you'll see elephants, lions, leopards, buffalo, giraffes, hyenas, gazelles, etc. But even if you're from Dubuque, Poughkeepsie or Paducah, you'll feel an eerie sense of homecoming on the savanna. Sub-Saharan Africa is where modern humans got our start, and to experience the landscape, flora and fauna that would be recognizable to our ancient forebears will instill a sense of awe and wonder in you. Book one of our travel experts' picks for The World's 5 Greatest Luxury Safaris!
Go on safari
The famed weeklong art festival in Nevada's Black Rock Desert can be experienced in an infinite number of ways. If you want to see what it's all about but want to do so in relative luxury, you can charter an aircraft, secure a place in a luxury camp or even turn up in a high-end RC with all the mod cons.
Experience Burning Man
If you're a Bon Jovi fan, it'll cost a cool mil to have Jon and the boys serve up some Bad Medicine in your back yard. If, however, you are a fan of the English Beat, you'll be heartened to know that they'll be happy to bang out their greatest hits for you and yours for between $5 and $10k. Private concerts by many of your favorite vintage acts are more affordable than you'd think.
Have a rock star play your party
Flying internationally? The first-class experience is certain to make every coach flight from here on out a living hell, but sitting up front is the only way to see what all the fuss is about. LAX to Melbourne, Australia, on Qantas could set you back almost $15,000. LAX to Dubai on Emirates will be double that. Unless you have that sort of dough handy, find a credit card that delivers optimal airline rewards. That's one of 6 Money Moves You Should Make Now!
Fly first class
Whether it's painting, sculpture, poetry or interior design, think about ways in which you would like to express yourself and start doing it. The outlay will probably be pretty minimal, but it may open up a side of you that you've been neglecting while you made all your money.
Indulge your artistic side
Have a truly intimate experience by getting deluxe tickets that, in some cases, could even involve you getting up close and personal with a music legend. A careful splurge is just one of these essential 40 Things You Must Do in Your 40s!
Splurge on the best seats in the house
Some types of bars and restaurants are more likely to make big profits than others. Often, they suck. But if you're happy to see a retirement business make a modest return, what could be more fun than being the head honcho of an establishment where everything is made to your orer. You can call it Larry's. (Or something else, if your name isn't Larry.)
Invest in a bar, cafe or restaurant you want to hang out in
You know it's a terrific feeling to find clothes that fit well. But there's something very special about owning garments made to fit your body. Find the right tailor, and your silhouette will be transformed in ways you can't imagine. Bonus: Having clothes made for your current physique will deter you from getting out of shape. And make sure you've invested in great versions of these 15 Items Every Man Should Have in His Closet!
Have your clothes made
Get on one of those flights or machines that simulates zero gravity. It'll cost about five grand. Are there more practical ways to spend $5,000? Sure. Are there more fun ways? Eh, maybe. Are there more fun legal ways? Not really.
Experience Zero Gravity
The fastest you can legally drive on a US highway is on a 41-mile stretch of toll road between San Antonio and Austin, Texas. There, you can open her up to 85 mph without worrying about getting pulled over. Thing is, there are plenty of production cars in the U.S. capable of hitting almost twice that speed. Next time you're in Germany, rent yourself a 2017 Audi R8 – the fastest series production Audi of all time – and head to the Autobahn, where ordinarily there are no speed limits, and take it to the max: A scorching 200.7mph. And once you're home, check out one of these 14 Sportscars to Buy Now!
Drive on the Autobahn
Plan the ultimate party
If you're an American male in your 60s, you've got a lot of life ahead. But why not spare some thought for your legacy and throw some money at it? Think about being an invisible presence at your own wake. What do you want to hear people say? Start creating a sentiment you'd be happy with. The rest of your life will be all the better for it.