Life without a partner doesn’t mean life alone. Rich social networks can enrich your life, serve as your chosen family, and ensure you’re never bored or lonely. Single retirement planning, though, is a bit different than planning for retirement with a partner. You might not need to save as much, and you’ll have total control over how you spend your money. But you may also need to develop a plan for remaining socially connected and active without a partner.
Whether you’re newly single or have long enjoyed an unpartnered life, your retirement years can be a golden era, rich with socialization, meaning, growth and thriving. You can maximize your opportunities to enjoy this new chapter with a little financial planning, but financial planning is just one prong of your plan. It’s also important to consider your values and hopes for the future. You deserve to feel inspired and hopeful as you move into this next stage.
Here are our tips for single retirement planning, so you can thrive in your golden years.
1. Take stock of your social relationships.
Your social relationships are as important for living a healthy life as exercise and a healthy diet. A rich variety of connections and support can help you live longer and better. Your relationships offer support, fun and opportunities for growth and learning.
For many people, a romantic partner is a built-in friend and default activity partner. If you’re single, consider other options for building deep social connections into your life. Here are some options to consider:
Enrich and deepen the connections you already have by scheduling regular time together. This eliminates the planning and logistics components. Instead, just show up for a weekly coffee date or monthly Zoom chat.
Join a group or organization. It’s easier to participate in a ready-made community than to try to build your own. Connecting over mutual interests is also a great way to continue growing and learning.
Invest in others. The best way to have a good friend is to be a good friend. Remember birthdays and special events. Reach out to neighbors who need help. Commit to a life of connection and caring.
2. Get involved in something new.
You may find that retirement offers more time than you’ve enjoyed in your career or while raising kids. For some people, this time can feel overwhelming. How can you fill it all? Embracing a new hobby or reinvigorating an old passion can help keep you mentally — and often physically — active. Join your local gardening club. Start a book club. Sign up for the piano lessons you've always wanted.
3. Refocus on your health.
No matter who you are, what you love or how healthy you are, maximizing your health can help you enjoy retirement more. Illness can sideline your plans, and aches and pains can make a date with a friend feel overwhelming. A lifestyle that focuses on holistic health and wellness can help you live better, more comfortably and perhaps even longer.
Take stock of your health. Are you struggling in any particular area? Is it time for an annual physical or to see a specialist about that issue you’ve been avoiding? Everyone can improve their health with a few simple changes:
Focus on eating a variety of nourishing, healthy foods. Cut back on refined sugars and processed, fried foods. You can make this easier by prepreparing meals or taking a cooking class to master the art of making food you love.
Become more physically active. Exercise doesn’t have to be painful or boring. Go for a walk at your local nature trail. Take a dance class with a friend. Go swimming.
Make slow and steady changes. You don’t have to change everything all at once. Start small, then build more and more good habits into the mix.
Ditch bad habits such as smoking, and replace them with something fun and healthy, such as a trip with a friend to your weekly farmers market.
4. Get your finances in order.
Thinking about your financial future can feel stressful — particularly if you’re worried about having enough money. But knowing what you need to do is always better than uncertainty. If you’re anxious about finances, you might have a vague idea of the large sum you need to have in savings. Falling short of this sum can intensify the anxiety. Instead, it’s time to get specific.
Ideally, you should work with a financial planner or accountant to determine how much money you need to have and how your retirement plans will influence the amount you need. Some questions to ask include:
What can I do to have more money for retirement? Is selling my home or reducing expenses an option?
What can I do to enjoy more activities and socialization without stretching my budget?
How much do I need to save for retirement, and is there anything I can do to save more?
Is working for another year or two, freelancing or consulting an option?
How might my investments affect my retirement savings?
For many older adults, a Life Plan Community (LPC) offers greater predictability to your living expenses, a higher quality of life, and a strong emphasis on healthy living.
5. Make a care plan.
Single people can live lives deeply embedded in a meaningful chosen community. But because you don’t have a default caregiver in the form of a partner, it’s important to think about what you’ll do if you ever need help, whether it's because of a short-term illness or a longer-term issue, such as dementia.
Long-term care insurance offers significant peace of mind that can help you afford any long-term care needs. Some other questions to ask yourself include:
Whom can I lean on if I need help? Is there a friend or family member who is willing to commit to mutual support?
Where do I want to live if I need help and support?
Could the right community offer peace of mind by providing social relationships now and assistance if I ever need it?
6. Make it easy to live the life you want.
When you’re ready for retirement planning as a single person, you could make a list of goals, then a long list of activities to help you achieve those goals. And then you could invest time and money in outings, planning and endless events tickets.
Another option is to invest in a Life Plan Community (LPC), which are senior communities with independent living, usually in apartments or cottage homes, plus care options available on one campus. LPCs offer it all under one roof: exceptional meals, tons of events, lifetime learning, a chance to invest in your community, easy socialization, plans in place for future care, and so much more. The strong focus on holistic wellness encourages you to enjoy the process of getting healthier.
Learn more about this all-inclusive option with our free “Complete Guide to Life Plan Communities.”