Entering retirement is a dramatic shift in lifestyle. On one hand, there is suddenly plenty of time for those hobbies and activities that were postponed in favor of work. On the other hand, fixed income and prudent care for the nest egg require a new kind of budgetary discipline. Fortunately, there are plenty of fun and inexpensive retirement activities.

1. Volunteer

Few things are as fulfilling and stimulating as doing good deeds around the local community. Walk the dogs at the humane society, assist at a hospital or help new immigrants learn the English language. Most cities have official or unofficial websites that post local volunteer opportunities. There are also numerous non-profits based in most large cities that you could email to see if they need volunteers. Even if they are not requesting volunteers on their websites, they may be happy to hear from you regardless. Another approach is to simply stop by your local YMCA and read the community bulletin board. As a bonus, there is a chance of qualifying for a few tax breaks in the process.

2. Repair and Improve the House

Individuals with the energy and motivation may want to put some of those spare hours into sweat equity. Learning to repair things around the house saves a lot of money compared to hiring a contractor, especially preemptive repairs that prevent emergencies later. Improvements such as adding living space, building a patio or remodeling the kitchen make the home nicer. As a bonus, there are also sure ways to increase the value of the property. This helps secure better terms if the need to borrow against the property ever arises.

3. Photography

In the age of digital photography, amateur photographers do not have to deal with the hassles of a dark room or spending money on rolls of film. A decent modern digital camera set with a tripod and a few lenses can be had for just a few hundred dollars. It is an economical hobby for all seasons, and with practice, there may be opportunities to participate in local exhibits or at least showcase the photos online.

4. Take a Class

A local community college may offer courses on interesting topics. Tuition fees for locals tend to be quite modest, and some community colleges even offer discounts for seniors. Many larger colleges or universities also have extension centers, geared toward post-collegiate adults looking to further their knowledge and education. Learning new things, whether it is pottery or another language, can help you stay mentally alert during your golden years. Alternately, you might enjoy teaching a class or providing tutoring for a younger person who can benefit from your knowledge and experience.

5. Start a Blog

The wisdom that you accumulated from a long career can also be shared through a blog about your area of professional expertise. The same goes for hobbies. A person with 30 years of experience fishing in every river and lake in the county probably has some insights that may be of interest to other fishing enthusiasts. People with causes that they feel strongly about can engage in online activism and use their blogs to spread awareness of the issue. Starting a basic blog is free, while a premium account with customizable layouts and extra features typically runs about $100 a year. If the blog takes off and becomes popular, there is a possibility to earn extra income by including ads.

6. Join a Gym

Exercise provides an opportunity to physically de-stress from a lifetime of work, while also reaping some nice health benefits. Stationary bikes are a great way to get exercise while also listening to music or watching TV, depending on the kind of gym you join. There are also all kinds of classes at gyms that are geared toward seniors or toward beginners. In particular, senior yoga can help lower blood pressure, improve posture and alleviate aching joints. Check the web site of your local YMCA or gym to see a list of available classes.

7. Join a Book Discussion Group

Reading helps to keep your mind sharp at little cost. But why not add a social element, and get additional intellectual stimulation? Check out social gathering sites like Meetup.com to find local book clubs or do a web search for book clubs near your city. In addition, the bulletin board at the library or community center should also help in locating a suitable book club. Almost all book clubs are free to join, but it is customary to take turns bringing snacks and refreshments for the group.

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