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4 new goals for the empty nester
Contrary to popular belief, a so-called “empty nest” need not be maudlin, or mundane.
Sure, you’ll miss having your children around 24-7. That is a natural feeling which may never completely go away. At the same time, watching these amazing individuals you raised grow into their own lives and build their own families using the tools you so lovingly provided them is gratifying in its own unique and wonderful way.
Indeed, the key to finding the joy and opportunity in this next phase of your life is to view it not as the end of the book, but, rather, a new and exciting chapter.
Here are four ideas for how to make the most of your newfound freedom.
Plan your dream vacation.
Most of the trips you’ve taken over the better part of the last couple decades have likely revolved around your children’s interests. Why not start catching up on all the dream trips you and your spouse have casually chatted about over the years? After all, traveling for two is less expensive than with an entire family. If you’re not sure where to start or want to play it a little more spontaneous, there are plenty of travel websites and magazines teeming with ideas for adventures and exotic getaways. And with the John Hancock Vitality program, you can earn travel discounts and rewards from retailers like Amazon, iTunes, REI and more. It’ll give you an opportunity to not only reconnect with your spouse, but also create new memories.
Challenge yourself with life goals.
If you’ve spent most of your free time involved with your kids and their activities, consider moving some of your backburner goals to the forefront: Embrace a new project or responsibility at work. Start that business you’ve been mulling over for years. Actually start plugging away at that home remodel or DIY project you’ve been delaying. You’ve got a little more wiggle room in the schedule—make the most of it!
Focus on saving for retirement.
Now that school trips and extracurricular activities are a thing of the past—along with the myriad of other costs that spring up as you raise children—redirect some of that extra money toward your own future. After all, most people in their fifties and sixties are financially unprepared for retirement1—and if you’re in that camp, this change in lifestyle is as good a time as any to take stock of where you are vis-à-vis your current and future financial goals. Get creative. Have fun. Revisit your budget. Compete with your spouse to see who can give the biggest boost to your 401(k) or IRA; it’s important to make retirement planning fun. Launch a side gig or take a part-time job to earn extra money for retirement savings.
Build up your emergency fund.
Even if you have an emergency fund for household emergencies, you may need to bulk it up or create a new emergency fund for your child's college years. Whether it’s a major car repair or an unpaid summer internship, planning ahead of time for the unexpected can give you peace of mind today and protect both your resources in the future. As a bonus, it also models responsible financial behavior for your child, which can potentially pay major dividends throughout their life.
Remember, a nest is only as empty as you make it. With the right attitude and a bit of forethought, you’ll not only find a way of coping with empty nest syndrome but you may discover new joys in this next stage of life.
This material is not intended to provide advice. It is intended to promote awareness and is for educational purposes only.
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