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10 Ways Retirement Will Surprise You

Emily Brandon

Reinventing retirement

It's fun to picture a retirement on the beach or traveling the globe, but that isn't the typical retirement experience for most Americans. Many retirees have significant health and financial concerns, and sometimes struggle to fill their newfound free time with meaningful activities. Consider these often unexpected aspects of retirement.

Spending your nest egg

After decades of saving money for retirement, it can feel uncomfortable to spend down that money and watch your nest egg get smaller each year. It can help to develop a sensible withdrawal strategy that minimizes your risk of running out of money too soon.

More investment growth

Saving enough to retire is not your final goal. You also need to develop a plan to make that money last the rest of your life. While you may want to shift part of your portfolio to more conservative investments, you also need a growth component that will help your savings keep up with inflation.

Reliance on Social Security

Social Security is a significant source of income for most retirees. Almost all retirees (86 percent) receive income from Social Security, and Social Security payments make up at least half of the retirement income of 65 percent of retirees and comprise 90 percent of retirement income for over a third (36 percent) of retirees. The average monthly retirement benefit was $1,282 in December 2014.

Medicare's gaps

Although Medicare covers a large amount of the medical treatments older people need, there are several popular services it doesn't cover, including routine eye exams, eyeglass, dental care and hearing aids. And Medicare only covers up to 100 days of nursing home care.

Alone time

Without a job to go to every day, you could find yourself spending an increasing amount of time alone. Some 44 percent of Americans age 65 and older live alone, according to Census Bureau data. Unless you sign up for a volunteer position or make an effort to socialize on a regular basis, you could find yourself bored and lonely.

The dating game

While just over half (55 percent) of Americans age 65 and older are married, the rest are widowed (28 percent), divorced (12 percent), separated (1 percent) or never married (5 percent), the Census Bureau found. If you outlive your spouse or divorce, you may find yourself single again in retirement. Some of these single seniors start meeting new people and eventually dating.

Staying put

As attractive as it sounds to move to the Sunbelt, most seniors don't relocate for retirement. Only 5.7 percent of Americans age 65 and older moved to a new residence between 2009 and 2013, and most of those people stayed in the same state and even the same county. Only 1 percent of retirees moved to a new state, and just 0.3 percent moved overseas.

Getting older

While the act of aging isn't surprising, a loss of independence can be. There may come a time when you can't drive, mow your grass or do your own laundry. You may even eventually need help with meals and bathing. Although the beginning of retirement is often full of fun and adventures, it's also a good time to make contingency plans for when you may not be able to care for yourself.

Screen time

Retirees spend over half of their leisure time watching TV. Seniors ages 65 to 74 tune in for 3.9 hours on weekdays, and those 75 and older watch TV for an average of 4.1 hours each day, according to the 2013 American Time Use Survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Taking your time

Retirees have more time to linger over household activities than younger people, including enjoying meals, working on home improvement or garden projects and shopping, according to the American Time Use Survey. Retirees also spend more time reading, relaxing and volunteering than younger folks.

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