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What If Every Day Were Saturday?

Ideas on how to spend your time after you retire

When Thrivent member Jerry Begley retired in 2010, he wanted to travel with his wife and get more involved with his church. But soon the always-active Begley realized he was sitting around the house too much.

So he created "work" for himself and others by starting the "Wednesday Warriors." It's a group of about a dozen retirees who meet every Wednesday morning at his church to do things like paint parking lot stripes, repair fences, clean gutters and lay sod.

"The group allows us to get some things done for the church, and it breaks up the week," Begley says.

Many people retire with a solid, much-discussed financial plan. But they haven't thought through how they'll spend their days. Yet a recent Bankers Life and Casualty survey asked retirees ages 55 to 75 what they missed most about their jobs. Sixty-five percent said the interaction with coworkers and other friends; only 15% said they missed the money.

So before you retire, think about:

What do you like to do?

"At 50-plus years old, we get to choose our own 'shoulds.' It's not about what someone else thinks we should be doing with our time," says Bart Astor, author of the book AARP Roadmap for the Rest of Your Life: Smart Choices About Money, Health, Work, Lifestyle ... and Pursuing Your Dreams. If you've never had hobbies, try some before you retire. Or maybe you abandoned some during your work-filled years that you want to pick up again.

Who can you help?

For many retirees, volunteering leaves them feeling fulfilled. "I don't know anybody in my circle of friends who is retired and doesn't volunteer at least some," says Jim Dalbec, a Thrivent member who retired from GM. "I get such a sense of satisfaction from giving back. And because the Lord has blessed my family immensely, I plan on continuing to give back as long as I can."

What if you still want to work?

When Thrivent member Michelle Angell retired after being laid off, she initially enjoyed spending more time with her daughters and grandchildren. But "eventually I started missing the structure of working in an office environment and interacting with other employees," she says. So when her family's Thrivent Financial representative offered her a part-time job in her office, she happily took it. "Returning to work part time gives me the best of both worlds."

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