You've put in your retirement papers and are ready for the next phase of life. Now unless your financial situation allows for globe-trotting and a carefree lifestyle, you may need to readjust your spending habits to suit your income. However, there's no reason to cut down on leisure activities and hobbies. We offer a few suggestions that will keep you active and happy, but won't break the bank.
Snapping your favorite images was costly when buying film and paying for processing were your only options. However, today's digital cameras (relatively inexpensive for a non-professional model) allow for unlimited picture-taking, sorting and printing on your home computer or laptop. Name-brand models with 10MP or higher can run for less than $100, a bargain for those starting out.
Extra costs: photo paper runs about $15 for 50 sheets at most office supply stores.
Bonus: You can post and send emails on your favorite website for free.

Tracing your family roots can be a wonderful way to spend your spare time and preserve a little bit of history. Local libraries and the Internet are valuable resources for getting started. Also, there are several government websites where you can access free archived information, such as names and photographs, to trace your family tree. You might also look into forums and other online sources for information searching and sharing.
Cost: free.

Reading and Writing
Want to be the next great novelist? Love poetry? Need to catch up on the latest best-seller? Retirement affords you the time to do all of it, and you needn't dish out big bucks. Many public libraries participate in exchange co-op programs, so you can access any book, book-on-tape, CDs and DVDs for free. If you're interested in writing on a casual or personal basis, or if you want to try your hand at making a few extra bucks, try blogging or submitting your work to free sites that accept entries.

Meditation and Yoga
These hobbies are relatively easy and inexpensive, as well as beneficial to your health. You may want to take a few yoga lessons to ensure proper positioning and breathing techniques. Senior centers and local adult school programs may offer lessons at reduced rates, and how-to guides are available in libraries and book stores. Once you achieve a basic understanding of the principles, you can perform the techniques on your own to suit your personal schedule. The best part: your body (and mind) will love you for it.
Cost: yoga mat $20.

Arts and Crafts
The word "retirement" might immediately bring to mind images of rocking chairs and knitting needles. However, today's retirees have access to a lot more options for their leisure time. While knitting and crocheting are wonderful hobbies and yield beautiful homemade items, yarn, needles and other supplies are not cheap. However, origami and paper crafts, scrapbooking, drawing, woodcarving and floral arranging are inexpensive ways to create wonderful gifts for friends or loved ones. Take a class or borrow how-to books from the library to get started.
Cost: nominal supplies.

Sports and Physical Activities
Golf and tennis are sports that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. However, memberships to exclusive country clubs can set you back a pretty penny. Instead, sign up to play on public golf courses, which charge considerably less for a round. If possible, walk rather than rent a cart (you'll get extra exercise in, too) and have your clubs cleaned and re-gripped instead of springing for a brand new set. Also, adapt your schedule to play in the off-hours, such as late afternoons or weekdays, when rates are reduced. (Some courses also offer nine-hole rates for off-peak times). The same applies to Tennis. Not only are outdoor public courts free, but you'll also get some fresh air. If sports are not your thing, dancing, bicycling, hiking and walking are perfect for staying in shape, meeting new people and having fun.
Costs: varied.

Games and Puzzles
Experts agree that playing games like chess, scrabble and cards are beneficial to your mental health and memory, warding off conditions such as depression and Alzheimer's. Crossword puzzles and Sudokus also help to keep your mind sharp as you age.
Cost: Minimal.

Offering your time and talent is a wonderful way to spend your retirement and give back to the community. Whether with a national organization or a local food bank, volunteers are always needed and always welcome. You also may want to consider tutoring or lecturing in your area of expertise, or doing odd jobs for folks who don't have the financial means to pay contractors.
Cost: Nothing.
Bonus: You'll be helping where help is needed the most.

The Bottom Line
Retirement doesn't mean you have to stay still, and you don't have to break the bank to have fun and keep busy. Be sure to stay mentally and physically active in order to remain healthy and energetic after your working years are over.

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