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How Will You Celebrate Your First Day of Retirement

Category: Retirement Planning

June 28, 2018 — LakeSinclair (LS) posted this challenging comment on the Topretirements Forum last week: “I’m eight days away from retirement after being a college administrator for 40 years. Any thoughts on a particularly profound way to spend my first day?”

What a great question, thanks LS. It is worthy of a lot of thought. Part of the answer has to do with how far you have come in your pre-retirement planning. If you did a good job of that, then Day 1 can be even more celebratory. You know where you are going to retire, how you are going to stay busy, and you are confident you are on a path to a financially secure retirement. If your planning is not so far along, or maybe not even started yet, then perhaps Day 1 involves some work in addition to the celebration of a long working career.

Our response – a middle course
Our initial response to LS’s question was aimed at someone assumed to be in the middle of that continuum – he has done some planning but still hasn’t reached a clear path through retirement preparation:

Congrats on completing your 40 year career, and upon starting a brand new chapter of life. One suggestion is to sleep in, read the paper over coffee, and take a walk with your partner if you have one. Then spend the rest of the morning going over your plan for how you are going to turn retirement into the next exciting chapter of your life. Enjoy lunch and a short nap, then do something you have always wanted to do. Maybe it is just experiencing a place in your area that you never thought you had the time to visit. Savor the moment!

Obviously this is just one take on how you might spend Day 1. You might have different ideas. If you feel your retirement preparation is really up to snuff, Day 1 might involve doing something very special, maybe a bucket list item like sky diving, taking a race driving course, cooking class, etc. We still like the idea of spending a little bit of time reviewing your retirement plan, though.

Visit a local museum that you never got around to

Retirement – An ongoing process
Retirement is not just a one and done process. Even with the best of planning things don’t always work out the way we thought they would. A financial issue you hadn’t seen might come up. You, your partner, or a family member might experience a serious health issue. You might retire to the Sunbelt or another area and realize you don’t like it. Or you might find out you are living too close, or too far away, from family. That’s why we encourage you to build regular planning sessions into your retirement, so you can adjust, regroup, and seize this opportunity for a do-over on life. Please see “Further Reading” for more suggestions on retirement planning.

Comments? What do you plan to do on Day 1 of retirement? Or if you are already retired, please share what you did: what worked and what you do differently? We look forward to all your thoughts in the Comments section below.

For further reading:
Free Baby Boomers Retirement Guide
Retirement Quiz: Are You Ready for Retirement
Case Studies: Actual People and Their Retirements (3 part series)

Posted by Admin on June 26th, 2018


  1. The luxury of time is how I will spend my first day of retirement. I will enjoy a slower pace in the morning with the joy of knowing that I do not need to be anywhere at any specific time and that I can take my time perhaps eating breakfast, reading the newspaper and planning my day—at my particular pace. This is not to say that it will be hard to not think of what might be going on at my old job, but that I can look back on the years I spent working and know that I can plan what I would like to do with my time and with my own agenda in mind. I can pursue doing things that I might enjoy such as volunteering, travel–even if just in my own city and enjoy all the things that come with a more leisurely pace.

    by Jennifer — June 27, 2018

  2. Since my lovely wife didn’t retire until a few years after I did, I got up at the same time she did, didn’t feel right for me to stay in bed. Then I hand wrote notes to all my friends and associates I worked with over the years and called the ones that lived in different parts of the country. Celebrated with a great dinner with the family that evening. The fun began as I now had time to paint and fix the house for sale. We already knew we were going to downsize and move and the house got new paint, floors redone and some new fixtures, along with all the projects that a house needs on a day to day basis. Was nice being able to cut the lawn when I wanted not around work schedules. Walked everyday and enjoyed the feeling no pressure work gave over the years. Loved the idea of no more travel unless it was for our pleasure as I traveled extensively during my career. Good planning for retirement allowed is to finally downsize, sell the house, move and build another. I would not trade it for nothing.

    by Bruce — June 27, 2018

  3. I think I’ll do the same as Jennifer. Just enjoy not having to hurry through breakfast and my morning routine knowing it’s the start of endless days of the freedom. Just three years to go!

    by Kay Lynn — June 27, 2018

  4. My last day of work at my job was March 5, but sadly my stepmother died the day before. Unfortunately retirement’s first day does not feel as if it has arrived yet. From day one of not working at my job, I have been caught up in a whirlwind of helping my father with adjusting to life without his wife (I am his durable POA), getting ready to move 1200 miles with all that entails (I move on July 5), and doing a million things on my own to take me into the next chapter of my life. It is a lot of work, and I am glad I have the time that not working allows me to do all I must do. This is how I am living my first days, weeks and months of retirement, but it is still at breakneck speed and requires sometimes great efforts of mental and physical labor. When it all slows down in late July, I will take a breath and recognize that, oh yes, I am retired and can move forward with my plans for this next chapter of my life. The day for sleeping in, drinking coffee and watching the day awaken will come soon, but not yet.

    by Elaine C. — June 27, 2018

  5. I am exactly one month away from retirement – July 27 is my last day of work! My first thought has always been that now I can wait until after 9am to shower so that I will actually have hot water all the way through a nice, long, shower instead of rushing through my shower before the hot water disappears.

    My first month will not be leisurely because I will be packing for my move from Chcago to Mesa, Arizona. Lots of stuff to donate, sell, throw away (how did I acquire so much stuff?) and decide what to keep and pack.

    In case you can’t tell, I’M EXCITED!!

    by EDNA BELL — June 27, 2018

  6. I was a teacher for over 35 years and always dreamed of sitting on a beach on the first day of school. My husband and I traveled to Cape Cod MA and did exactly that. What a happy way to begin retirement!

    by Pat — June 27, 2018

  7. For Elaine C. Congrats on your retirement. As far as your move is to note is very similar to mine.
    After two years in my new location I have found I missed some very important details. Number one on the list is keeping tabs on friends and relatives. Be sure you keep or get contact points and stay in touch. Even after two years in my new location I covet my contacts from the old neighborhood, church friends and relatives. Oh yes I have new friends and neighbors, but the ones I’ve maintained over the years I greatly depend on even if only emails or facebook that keep me posted on their activities and thoughts. That’s enough of #1, but it’s my most important.

    by Dick — June 27, 2018

  8. I lost my job in 2011 and was laid off. My Hub kept working and I was trying to find a job. My Mom got sick in 2012 and I took her to doctor appointments and treatments. She passed away in 2013. I was glad to have had the time with her and I think it was a blessing I was laid off. I never found another job. The Hub worked till 2015 and retired. So I guess I retired then too. I never had closure by announcing retirement and leaving a job willingly. That is the one thing I really feel I missed out on is working till I wanted to leave. So, I never had that ‘first day of retirement’ in a sense.

    My Hub on the other hand has enjoyed every moment and I was so happy he was able to retire at age 63.

    Not all of us reire on our own terms. Big Mega Corp. makes its decisions for us whether we like it or not.

    by Louise — June 27, 2018

  9. When I retired from my job of 35 years as a guidance counselor in March, 2014, a job I loved for most part, I took the weekend off and returned to my job as a nurse the next week. I had been working 70-80 hours a week for so many years that working one full time job was like a vacation. A couple weeks later, my husband and I, with adult children and their significant others took a trip to a luxury resort in Acapulco from Massachusetts. It was grand. Since, I have worked full time as a nurse in my “other” job, but I enjoy it. Round two of retirement is a few years away, if I ever retire completely. It is not just about money for us.

    by Joanne Ragwar — June 27, 2018

  10. I booked a solo cruise (widow) for my 66th birthday, when I planned to retire. Our family had taken many cruises over the years and I’ve had two solo ones since becoming a widow. The trips were always relaxing, and I thought I could spend the week mulling over the next phase of my life and celebrating freedom.

    Ultimately, I decided to retire at 65 instead of 66. At that point I felt that just not having to go the office anymore was enough of a celebration! The first day of retirement was fantastic. I didn’t set the alarm, watched the morning news with my coffee. went to a matinee of a movie that I wanted to see, and read. My time was my own! I still have that 66th birthday cruise scheduled, and plan on using it to celebrate one full year of retirement but the actual retirement was much lower-key.

    by Kate — June 28, 2018

  11. Kate that sounds like the perfect retirement!

    by Tomi Huntley — June 28, 2018

  12. 1st day of retirement was spent flying back from my overseas assignment. Week after was spent packing and moving my elderly father 650 miles back to Bay Area. Then a couple days coaching high performance driving. After a quick Lake Tahoe vacation, I’m now in week 2 of training for my year-long volunteer position within our county’s court system. If this first month is any indication, I think I need to go back to work so I can get some rest!

    by Greg W — June 28, 2018

  13. I well remember that first morning of retirement. My eyes popped open, and I said to myself: “You have to get up! You can’t waste any time! It’s YOUR time now!” Have since learned to relax more.

    by Rose — June 28, 2018

  14. Many people tell me they are busier or just as busy in retirement as they were while they were working. My Aunt tells me she has no idea where the time goes as the weeks pass by. She has projects around the house and gardening that interests her and also used to volunteer at a pelican rescue. La dolce vita

    by Jennifer Lee — June 29, 2018

  15. My first day of retirement was at the end of August 2016. And I remember that it was such a wonderful feeling to know that I didn’t have to get up at 5 am to exercise and drive an hour to work. I had my time back and I could do whatever I wanted. I decided to sleep in, exercise, then review the paperwork for a six-week retirement celebration beginning in October 2016 that included a Hawaiian cruise and time in Australia and New Zealand. Almost two years later, I now help take care of my elderly Mom, I assist with the grandchildren, and I support my husband’s photography profession. I also focus on self care and continuing to travel and learn. I typically exercise five days/week and I now have the time to take long, wonderful walks along the D&R canal in NJ and PA and continuing education courses at Princeton University. And so far we have traveled to California, Nevada, Florida and four countries in Africa. I went on my first safari, paid my respect to Nelson Mandela at Robben Island, and walked through the mist at Victoria Falls. I feel so grateful for the blessing of retirement and most importantly the time to make meaningful choices about activities that add value to my life and to those around me. My first day of retirement represented the door I was walking through to the next chapter of wonderful experiences in my life. So far this next chapter has been magnificent!

    by Michele — June 29, 2018

  16. If I had been able to plan for my first day of retirement, I would have been boarding a plane to a Caribbean destination. My last day at work I would have had my bags packed, come home to load the bags in my car and take off for the airport. I would arrive in maybe Aruba at 11 pm at night, have a few cocktails and wake up in a lovely resort. I would have spent around 3-4 weeks just chilling and listening to Caribbean music drift in and out of my ears day and night.

    by Louise Wyant — June 30, 2018

  17. Retirement was supposed to have taken place two weeks ago. We just returned from Alaska this morning after reseting the countdown clock. We’ll be attending my nieces wedding on New Years Eve with the entire family. When the New Year chimes in, it will put a close to my 41 year career a few months short of my 66th Birthday.

    by Artie — July 1, 2018

  18. Louise Wyant – That is exactly the way I would want to plan my first day. Many times I dream of throwing some luggage in the car and just driving. Destination unknown and just see where I end up. Then drive some more…

    by JoannL — July 2, 2018

  19. I’ll find out on 07/09/18, as its my first day!!!!!!!!

    by Christopher — July 4, 2018

  20. Christopher……. congratulations on your retirement. As you turn the next page of life hope you enjoy each and every day.

    by Bruce — July 5, 2018

  21. My wife and I and have a few years to go before the Big “R.” She will probably retire before I do but when I do I think the first day I will wake up, have an iced coffee and cinnamon toast. The second day, and this may sound weird, we will go to the Statue of Liberty in NYC Harbor. Have never made it to that cultural icon even though I have lived in the tri-state area for 97% of my life.

    by Rich Lawson — July 11, 2018

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