Woodworking: A Great Retirement Hobby

Woodworking for Retirement

Woodworking: A Great Retirement Hobby

By Robert Johnson

Do you feel like using your hands to create something useful and beautiful out of nothing? Is your mind itching for a challenge? Are you in need of a new hobby? Well, woodworking might just be for you!

Now, learning a new skill might not be a top priority once you reach retirement, but it does have nifty benefits especially when it concerns your health. You see, a hobby is not just there so that you have a thing to keep you preoccupied. If it is as good as woodworking, it covers more than just the pleasure you derive from the activity—there would also be positive effects in other aspects of your life.

Let’s take it one benefit at a time:

Woodworking will keep you social

Woodworking classes at your community would, at least. While the current technology affords one to use even just your mobile phone, search for courses through apps and learn at your own pace, for some, nothing quite beats being in an actual classroom. It’s better to use your phone to search for nearby organizations that offer woodworking classes!

For those who have fewer opportunities for interaction with other people, this is a good way to widen one’s social circle. Besides beginning the same hobby, friendships could be established by exploring other interests and experiences, and working together on a common goal, say, a community project. And that is a good thing for the mind: being social delays memory problems and cognitive illnesses.

And who knows, if your skills are up to par, your creations can make for great gifts to family and friends!

But if you’re not a beginner…

Volunteering for workshops can be great for your mental state

Not every senior who will be interested in the hobby will be a beginner. When you feel that the classes are not up to your level, you can offer to share your knowledge instead. Facilities can always use a little help from volunteers. Practicing something you are good at regularly contributes to happiness and satisfaction. Plus, it is always good for your self-esteem to feel that you are making a difference even in a very personal way.

It’s great maintenance for both the body and the mind

Woodworking takes some physical exertion (and can come with some risk, which is why it is ideal for seniors to do it with other students), but it is worth the effort. The activity can be considered a low-impact exercise, so it does not have to be hard on the body. You can even be seated while working on your craft and you would still end up reaping some of the health benefits! That’s really something now, isn’t it?

But it’s not only the physique that becomes fit. The mind, too, can be in tip-top shape through woodworking. The aging brain has been associated with weak memory and general cognitive decline, but hobbies like woodworking can keep you sharp by always engaging it. Creating furniture, especially for the first time, can be challenging to the mind, and design can force one to be creative. This, and preventing dementia are proven by studies, the most recent of which perhaps is a Mayo Clinic research that found that the crafts decrease mild cognitive impairment by at least 45%.

So, there you have it, we have covered the basics of what could possibly draw you in with woodworking. Keeping an active social life, gaining satisfaction from the opportunity to share knowledge and help, and maintaining a fit body and mind are good enough reasons to reach out to your nearest center. In the end, you might actually go because of the potential for it to be a truly enjoyable experience. Don’t worry about the tools—you’ll learn everything you need there.

Going on a First Date as a Retiree

Going on a First Date as a RetireeGoing on a First Date as a Retiree

By freelance writer Jane Lester

Divorce among adults aged over 50 is on the rise in the United States, but statistics indicate that many are enjoying their newfound freedom to the full. According to Pew Research, divorce rates have tripled for persons over 65, with six in every 1,000 persons ending a marriage. Retirement and divorce can undoubtedly be challenging, but they can also open doors to meeting new people, interacting online, and experiencing the ‘pleasurable jitters’ that come before the very first date with someone one is interested in.

Subjects to Bring Up

Whether you have met a potential love interest online or through mutual friends or your local community, you should aim to keep the subject to ‘tried and tested’ topics during your first date. Psychologist Richard Wiseman carried out a study on the subject, finding that while only 9% of couples who talked about movies went on a second date, 18% of those who talked about travel saw each other again. Other studies have shown that you shouldn’t be wary about giving your true opinion on subjects of discussion, since shows that you are self-confident.

Keeping the Focus on Your Date

It is important to ask questions; keep it interesting by asking specific questions such as “What work project are you proudest of?” or “How important is seeing family to you?” or “What would your idea of a perfect day be?”. These questions will lead to longer discussions that will enable you and your date to really get to know each other. By all means, avoid talking about past relationships, especially about negative experiences with an ex. Also be sensitive to how long you talk about your opinions, thoughts, or interests. People like sharing information about themselves so allow your date to do so.

Discreetly Showing Off Your Savvy

Both men and women enjoy being with someone who has keen knowledge in culture and gastronomy. Research shows that over 40% of Americans’ food budget is spent eating out, so being with someone who is keen to share their knowledge of food and wine with you is a treat. Numerous studies have shown that red wine can promote better heart health, so don’t be surprised if your date asks you to recommend a good red or white. If you are a novice, there are numerous online guides that will provide a select list of bottles that pair well with particular dishes (e.g. try a fruity Pinot with vegetables, Chardonnay with fish, or Merlot with white meat). Instead of ordering a typical fish dish you can access at the supermarket, why not try scallops, lobster, or better yet, aphrodisiac oysters?

Dressing the Part

Take a look at your wardrobe before calling your love interest for a date. Are your suits cut to the latest trends? If you plan on dating regularly, one no-fail investment is in a good suit. As noted in a study published in 2015 in Social Psychological and Personality Science, what you wear affects the way you think; a good suit can make you feel more creative and ‘powerful’, which is great news for those feeling a little nervous before a diet. Opt for blue clothing to calm you down; red has been shown to actually raise the heart rate in a 2013 study published in the Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology.

If you are very worried about an upcoming date, focus on being yourself; on sharing your interests, future plans, love of travel, and other subjects that your date will most likely be able to relate to. Positive energy tends to attract others, as does humor, so do include these elements in your conversation, while you impress your date with an excellent meal that reflects your interest in learning about the world and enjoying a wide array of experiences.

Why Seniors Should Combine Weight Training With Cardio

Why Seniors Should Combine Weight Training With CardioHere's Why Seniors Should Combine Weight Training With Cardio

By freelance writer Jane Lester

Obesity rates have increased among most age groups in the U.S., but the sharpest rise has been among people aged 65 and over. Because obesity significantly increases the risk for heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and cancer, it is vital for seniors to stay at a healthy weight, considering that age is a risk factor in itself for some diseases. Regular activity is one way to burn calories and fat, but if you really want to optimize your workout time, weight training is also key.

Weights and a sound diet equal success

Doctors generally recommend consuming a healthy diet and working out for half an hour a day. However, a recent study by researchers at Wake Forest University found that adults in their 60s who worked out using weights machines had less muscle loss but significant fat loss, compared to those who walked and dieted, or those who merely dieted. “Surprisingly, we found that cardio workouts may actually cause older adults with obesity to lose more lean mass than dieting alone,” said the researchers, adding that the results are even more significant for seniors who tend to lose and regain weight repeatedly since seniors don’t typically regain muscle; they regain fat.

Why do seniors need strong muscles?

Having strong muscles is vital for bone strength, balance, and carrying out daily tasks such as carrying groceries. Muscle strengthening has also been found to help manage blood pressure, glucose, and cholesterol levels. It also prevents and controls diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and heart disease. A 2016 study carried out a Penn State College of Medicine found that older adults who met twice-weekly strength training recommendations had a lower risk of death. It is important to remember that from the time we hit the age of 30, we start to lose 3% to 5% of our muscle mass. Luckily, we can build strong, healthy muscles by working out regularly using free weights or machines.

Where to begin?

Before commencing any new type of workout, see your doctor and receive a personalized recommendation. A qualified personal trainer will be able to provide you with a workout in line with these recommendations and your fitness level. Usually, you will complete one or more sets of 8 to 12 repetitions of exercise targeted at muscles in your core, as well as your upper and lower body. As you progress, your trainer will usually recommend increasing repetitions and increasing weight or resistance. These may include knee extensions, hip flexor exercises, partial squats, and calf raises For the upper body, you might try exercises such as bicep curls, tricep exercises, shoulder lifts, and back strengthening machine exercises.

Cardio was once King when it came to workouts but clearly, research is pointing to the importance of weight training for disease prevention and longevity. Get advice from trained professionals and ease into your new workout regime slowly, remembering to balance strength workouts with aerobics too boost your heart health and enhance fat burning.

Keeping Retirement Stress At Bay

Keeping Retirement Stress At Bay

By freelance writer Jane Lester

If retirees are to make the best of their newfound free time, an awareness of the specific obstacles they may have to face is key, one of which is stress. As noted by Harvard academics, retirement is ranked 10th on the list of life’s 43 most stressful events for important reasons. Major life changes always carry some degree of stress, but as far as retirement is concerned, issues such as economic well-being also have strong impacts on one’s quality of life. Enjoying a good financial position early on in one’s life, for instance, allowed retirees to build financial resources and to retire with a more positive outlook.

Factors that impact views on retirement

A study by researchers at the University of Birmingham found that experiences of retirement differ greatly depending on factors such as profession, gender, and education. Those who were professionals, for instance, tended to work part-time after retirement (though not for a salary) while those whose career had been more disjointed (e.g. because they had to take time off to care for children) were more likely to continue working in some capacity because they were unable to retire. The latter group was less likely to view retirement positively because of concerns about financial instability.

Gender differences

The study also found that women who worked in administrative professions but who had also been close to family members were optimistic about having more personal and social time. On the other hand, men with semi-skilled professions were more worried about being inactive. They also felt that a part of their identity could be lost.

Top jobs mean lower stress

A recent paper published in the Journal of Gerontology (May 2017) suggested that those who have worked in ‘low-status occupations’ often had poorer health and higher stress levels than those in top jobs. In essence, early differences in life could be magnified as time passes. Data showed that retirement was associated with lower stress levels, but only for those with high-level jobs. Lead author, T Chandola, noted: “It may seem counter-intuitive that stopping low-status work which may be stressful does not reduce biological levels of stress. This may be because workers who retire from low-status jobs often face financial and other pressures in retirement.”

Lowering retirement stress through financial planning

Finding ways to increase income is crucial for seniors who may be struggling financially. In order to come up with a sound financial plan, they should seek out a recommended financial advisor who can discuss options such as reverse mortgages, downsizing, investment, or even opening a business. Extra income can also be obtained through continual work. In fact, according to a study by the American Psychological Association, those who work post-retirement enjoy better health and fewer functional limitations than those who fully retire.

Social networks are key

Retirees can find that their social network is vastly reduced, since work colleagues may live far, or may also retire and settle in remote areas. Establishing new social circles is important. This may involve joining local senior sports or art groups, taking part in fundraising and other altruistic events, or becoming more involved in one’s religious community. Constant learning keeps the mind active and boosts optimal cognitive functioning, so learning a new language or taking up a course in a subject one has always been interested in can be helpful.

Holistic activities

Millenary eastern practices such as yoga and meditation have been found in numerous studies to lower levels of stress hormone, cortisol. Not only does yoga improve strength and flexibility, but also boost one’s mental health. These activities also provide a venue through which to meet like-minded individuals and to learn more about the healthy yogic lifestyle. Seniors who are new to yoga will be pleased to know that classes can be adapted to all levels. Moreover, chair yoga is an excellent way to achieve the benefits of yoga with greater stability.

As is the case with all new life stages, retirement can be as stressful as it is a relief. Sound financial planning, the formation of new friendships, and taking part in healthy activities that focus on stress reduction can go a long way towards viewing this new crossroads as a positive time. Indeed, retirement is the perfect time to take part in hobbies we may never have had the time for, including the simple pleasures such as reading, enjoying nature, or spending more time with loved ones.

Here are 9 things you need to do before you retire

9 Things You Need to Do Before You Retire

by Gary Foreman

The things you do now could guarantee a comfortable retirement!

So you're only a few years away from retirement. Congratulations! If you're like me, when you were 20, it was hard to imagine working 40 or so years before you could retire. Truth is that those years have gone by and now you're nearing the finish line.

But that doesn't mean that you can just sit back and wait for a gold watch. First of all, most places don't hand out gold watches anymore. And secondly, you still have some things to take care of if you want a comfortable retirement.

Here are 9 things that you need to do before you retire.

Get Out of Debt

Debt is a killer if you're on a fixed income. Credit card minimum payments, auto loans, student loans, and mortgages all take the first dollars you have each month. You must pay them no matter how tight your budget.

Chances are that income after retirement will drop and perhaps by a significant amount. If you're unable to repay those debts now before you retire, what chance will you have after you retire?

Do whatever it takes within the law to repay any debts before you retire. That might mean considering transferring credit card balances to a lower rate card. It might cause you to ask for extra hours at work or even take on a second part-time job.

Yes, some of those things won't be easy or convenient, and you'll be tempted to put them off. If you do, those debts will be a heavy burden once you no longer have that regular paycheck.

Estimate How Much Retirement Income You'll Have and Make Necessary Adjustments

While we all look forward to not having to show up for work, let's face it, we will miss the paycheck. That's why it's vital to estimate how much income you'll have in retirement.

The common sources of retirement income include Social Security, pensions, retirement savings plans (IRAs, 401Ks, etc), general savings accounts, passive income sources (rental properties, etc.), part-time work, and self-employed income. You'll need to estimate how much income you can expect from each source.

For many retirees, Social Security is a major element of their retirement income. Although it was never meant to be the sole source of a retiree's income, many try to live on Social Security alone.

To estimate how much you'll receive from Social Security, you can visit their estimator. You'll be asked a few questions including how much you made last year.

Will you have any pension benefits coming your way? If so, you'll need to contact the pension administrator to find out how much you'll receive and what you'll need to do to begin receiving benefits.

Next, you'll want to estimate how much your retirement and savings accounts can provide each year. As a general rule, financial advisors say that you can expect to take 4% of your invested assets each year without depleting them. Some planners have more sophisticated formulas, but the 4% estimate is good enough for a pre-retirement figure.

If you have any passive income sources, you'll want to add them to your income estimate. Many people have rental properties, hobby income, or even blogs that throw off regular monthly income. Even if you don't have any passive income now, you may be planning on creating some once you retire.

You may choose to work part-time. Many work because they need the income. Others work to stay active. To estimate how much you might earn, you'll probably need to do a little research to check on job availability and what level of wages you can expect.

You'll want to total all these sources to know how much income you'll have in retirement. Failure to take the time to calculate your expected income can leave you in a position where you don't have enough money for the lifestyle you want.

Decide When You'll Begin Taking Social Security

For most of us, Social Security will be a major part of our monthly income. You can begin collecting when you reach age 62, but you may choose to delay benefits until you reach age 70.

Why delay? Because the longer you wait the bigger your monthly checks will be. The reduction is greatest if you begin benefits before you reach your full retirement age (between 65 and 67 depending on your birth year).

Knowing when to begin collecting SS isn't an exact science. Much of it depends on whether you need the income right away and how long you expect to live.  You may want to use this tool to help you make a decision.

Create a Budget Based On Your New Income

If you're like most people, you don't like the idea of a budget, but at this stage of your life, a budget is really just a plan for your financial future. It's a way of projecting what will happen with your money, and it is the best way to avoid serious problems after you retire.

Expect your monthly expenses to change when you retire. All your work-related expenses (transportation to work, clothes, lunches, etc.) will cease. Depending on your work, those expenses can be significant.

But you're likely to take on some new expenses, too. Many retirees for years have dreamed of the travels they'd take when they had time. Others throw themselves into hobbies.

As you get older, other expenses can increase. Depending on your age when you retire, Medicare may cover many of your medical bills but not all. You'll probably want to buy one of the supplemental plans that are available.

You may also need to hire help for household chores that you can no longer do.

If you're planning on downsizing, you'll need to include those changes to your expenses.

After you've estimated your after-retirement expenses, you'll need to compare them to your expected income. Now is the time to resolve any shortfall. You'll find that your options may be limited after you retire.

Save Like Crazy

Many of us haven't saved enough for retirement. Fidelity investments suggest that you have eight times your annual salary saved by the time you reach age 60. According to the Census Bureau, the average net worth of Americans aged 55-64 is $45,447, so most of us are nowhere near the goal.

Even if it means sacrificing, now is the time to do everything in your power to save. Passing up that all-inclusive vacation or cruise the next few years could make the trips you'll want to take after retiring more affordable.

Take advantage of “catch up clauses” that allow you to put more into your retirement accounts in the last years you work. If you're 50 or older, you can add thousands of dollars above the normal maximums to your retirement accounts. This is especially important if you haven't saved enough. Not only will you increase the amount you'll have in savings after you retire, but you'll also reduce your taxes this year.

You may even want to consider a part-time job. Giving up weekends and days off is tough, but tougher still is retiring when you don't have sufficient income to enjoy it.

Review Your Estate Plan

Every adult should have a will, power of attorney, and appropriate medical directives. It's especially important as you age. With the lifestyle changes you'll experience in retirement, it's a natural time to review your end-of-life planning. Make sure you get competent advice when creating your documents. You don't want your heirs to find out that the DIY will you prepared isn't valid.

Plan for Changes in Your Medical Insurance

If you've been paying for your own insurance, you know that it's one of the biggest bills each month. At some point, you'll transition to Medicare. You'll be eligible for Medicare when you reach age 65 (earlier if you're on disability).

So if you retire before 65, you'll need to make provision for medical insurance. And, if you retire at age 65, you'll still need to consider the various Medicare supplements. These supplements are designed to help with co-payments, coinsurance, and deductibles. There are a variety of standardized plans to choose from. The Medicare.gov website has a good page explaining the various plans.

Prepare for Lifestyle Changes

Retiring is one of those big events in your life. And just like you made plans prior to your marriage or the birth of your first baby, you need to make plans now before you retire. You'll face decisions on where to live, whether to work part-time, how to spend your time, etc. You may have been thinking about these questions for quite awhile, but now is the time to begin to finalize your plans.

Decide What's On Your Bucket List

We all need a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Before you retire, think of all the things that you've put off but now will have the time to do.

You may be tempted to find your favorite easy chair and park it, but studies show that keeping active is one of the keys to longevity. And anyway, if you don't keep busy, it's likely that you'll just sit in front of the TV (and probably upset your spouse).

Enjoy Your Retirement

We all have dreams about what retirement will look like. Whether you've taken the steps to make that dream a reality or not, there are some things that you can do now that will put a happier retirement within reach. Hope you enjoy it!


BIO: Gary Foreman is a former financial planner and purchasing manager who founded The Dollar Stretcher.com website and newsletters in 1996. He's been featured in MSN Money, Yahoo Finance, Fox Business, The Nightly Business Report, and US News Money.

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Comparison is the Thief of Joy!

image of a disenchanted lady, probably thinking of her comparison to someone else.I came across this great quote in an article I read recently, “comparison is the thief of joy”. Too often we look at others and think ‘man, they have retirement sorted – just check out their updates on Facebook; a great house, strong relationship, busy social calendar, and regular holidays away…” We then turn inwards and a sense of envy develops. We feel our life is nowhere near as exciting and therefore we are lacking.

The challenge is that we never truly know what is going on in another person’s life. What we see and hear is what they choose to share with us. Too many people only share the good news on social media and omit the mundane days, any loneliness, and disagreements. That glamorous lifestyle that we use as the yardstick for retirement success might be all for show and that the sense of inferiority is a creation of our own doing.

As Malcolm Forbes said “too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are”.

Rather than worrying about “keeping up with the Jones’” and what you feel you should be doing in retirement, why not focus on the good things in your own life and take action to bring about the retirement you desire.

Focus on the good things in your life!

You get more of what you pay attention to. Take the example of wanting to buy a new car. They’ve never been on your radar before, but as soon as you decide that you want to buy a yellow Jeep, you start seeing them everywhere on the road, everyone seems to have one! The same goes for the good things in life. Once you start looking for and acknowledging them, be they simple things like a great dinner with friends or big ticket items like that dream holiday, the more positives you will see around you. The trouble is that too often we simply forget to take the time to stop and appreciate them.

Take action!

The other alternative is that other people seem to have a more exciting retirement because they take action towards achieving their dreams. Rather than just reading travel magazines or browsing the web, they book the tickets and go!

How do you want your retirement to be? Is travel is on your to-do list? Sure, first-class round-the-world cruises may not be an option for you, but what is it about travel that lights you up? Perhaps it is visiting new places, meeting new people or trying new foods. Consider how you can incorporate these things into your life on a regular basis. Why not take short trips away to somewhere you haven’t been before (even just a couple of hours from home), try that Argentinean steakhouse you drive past on your way home, or sign up for a photography or salsa class – who knows what you’ll learn and the people you’ll meet.

The beauty about retirement is that there is no rule-book, no one right way to live retirement. Most important is doing what lights you up. If you only worry about what others think or what you believe you are lacking, what are the wonderful things you missing out on in your own retirement?

Megan Giles: Retirement Transition Consultant supports those approaching retirement to successfully transition and create a retirement they will love to live! For more tips, advice and practical resources visit www.megangiles.com.