We all dream about retirement: extravagant travel, spoiling grandkids, sipping wine while watching beautiful sunsets off the deck. For many, the cold, hard truth will be a little different, though.

In 2020, the median retirement income for a U.S. couple with one partner at least 65 years of age was just shy of $44,000.00 according to CNBC. There will always be the necessary fixed costs of housing, food, healthcare, and utilities. How does a retired couple possibly stretch what’s left over to provide for a full, satisfying next chapter? Creativity and being open to what’s possible can go a long way in carving out a retirement that keeps you joyful, connected, engaged, and healthy.

First off, take advantage of low-cost and free entertainment and senior discounts in your community. Local museums and zoos often offer reduced-price or free days and a trip out with your spouse, with friends, or with your grandchildren can provide a day of great memories.

Use that library card! You can check out books, movies, popular TV series (Downton Abbey, anyone?), and music for free. Post-COVID, check out a great Bogart/Bacall movie, pop popcorn, and invite your friends for a “movie night”. Local park boards often have a range of seminars and classes encompassing cooking, learning a new craft, investing, photography, yoga…you name it…at very reasonable rates. Communities often host street fairs, craft shows, car shows, concerts, outdoor movie nights, etc.

Check your city’s website and the websites of surrounding communities often. Inquire if your local library hosts any book clubs…or start your own! What are you passionate about? Gardening, art, history, politics? Google is your best friend: Google “ ____ near me” and see what pops up.

Ok, so you love to travel, but $ 44,000.00 per year doesn’t leave room for much. What to do? Seniors can save 10% off coach travel. Imagine a cross-country trip with time to read, relax and play cards while watching the scenery pass by from the observation car while savoring a hot cup of coffee. Buy an annual pass to the U.S. National Parks.

For $ 80.00 per year, one car with up to 4 adults can visit as many national parks, recreation sites, and historic homes as you wish. What a deal! Have you ever thought about spending a season at a ski lodge, a dude ranch, or a canoe lodge? You can earn room, board, and a small stipend by working at a vast array of leisure venues all over the U.S. Go to www.coolworks.com and scroll through the list of available positions.

Up for an educational travel adventure? Go to www.roadscholar.org and scroll through the many possibilities to travel all over the world at reduced rates. Some trips even allow you to bring your grandkids along! Then there’s always your AARP membership. Not only is it good for local discounts, but there are great travel options for reduced flights, hotel rates, car rentals, cruises, and even “last minute” deals on Expedia.

Staying healthy and engaged means mind AND body. Often, local gyms have Y’s have senior memberships. Staying healthy and strong with yoga, Pilates, and strength training will keep you living independently longer. Keep your brain active.

Open Education Database lets you choose to take free classes from universities all over the world. Go to https://oedb.org. Many local colleges and universities allow seniors to audit classes for free or at a greatly reduced rate.

Now is the time to write your memoirs for posterity. Even if you’ve never tackled a big writing project, you can get help at www.thewritelife.com. Learn about your genealogy. Share it with your kids and grandkids.

I want you to have a retirement chapter that exceeds your expectations. Have questions about investing, taking income or leaving a legacy? Please reach out to me at heidi@hhcinvestments.net or 563-949-4705. Happy March!

Securities offered through J.W. Cole Financial, Inc (JWC) Member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services offered through J.W. Cole Advisors, Inc. (JWCA). Huiskamp Collins Investments, LLC and JWC/JWCA are unaffiliated entities.