Covid stole time from retirees. Here are some tips for doing so.

Bob Moore and Mary Ann Chiulli, a retired married couple from New York, had just returned home in March 2020 from a week-long volunteer trip to Belize when the pandemic shut down large swaths of the United States and the world . The jet-set couple had many retirement plans – international holidays and more volunteer work, visits with their three grandchildren and other relatives scattered across the country and the world – but Covid-19 put these plans on hold for the most part.

For the better part of two years, they hunkered down, ordered meals and groceries, and tried to avoid indoor environments and crowds. When vaccines became available in early 2021, they began to venture out, visiting family in upstate New York and Europe. Then he caught a mild case of Covid in early May while visiting his daughter and three grandchildren in the UK, and the couple’s travel outlook changed again.

“Travel was kind of our reason for being in retirement,” says Moore, 78, a former vice president of operations for a shipping company. Chiulli, 70, who previously worked as director general of conference services at the United Nations, adds: “We realized that time was passing and we couldn’t do anything that we really loved.

Whether it’s traveling or attending local cultural events or something else entirely, millions of retirees like Moore and Chiulli are ready to return to their pre-pandemic lives. Many are on edge, even after factoring in inflation and the recent market turmoil as stocks and real estate have surged over the past two years. And many of those people in the age cohort most likely to catch Covid are now vaccinated and receiving multiple boosters, giving them some confidence to reappear despite the variants that may continue to disrupt life.

“We’ve seen many retirees whose expenses have dropped significantly – they weren’t eating out or traveling – and they may have accumulated more assets along the way,” says Heather Osborn, senior vice president and director of financial planning at Baird.

But money cannot make up for lost time. And that’s what many retirees and older Americans say has been the unspoken toll of the pandemic — the memories and missed milestones. Still, financial planners say retirees who can afford to spend shouldn’t hold back, and time-management professionals say there are strategies to help people make the most of their healthy years. remaining.

Prioritize and rush

Time management expert Laura Vanderkam suggests thinking about what you want to do most, then setting a slightly accelerated schedule for those things to happen.

“If you’ve had the past two years, what are some things you think you’ve missed?” she says. “If you normally had two big trips a year, maybe you would like to try three or four.”

Also consider who you enjoy spending time with and how you can arrange those visits, says Vanderkam.

“It can mean doing a weekend, driving three hours; it may sound boring, but why are we wasting time? ” she asks. “Realize that it’s good that life is a little busier now, given that it was a little less busy for the past two years.”

Karl Wagner III, partner and senior wealth advisor at Biondo Investment Advisors in Milford, Pa., advises clients the ways: don’t hold back.

He encouraged a retired client to buy his dream car, a


convertible. “If Covid has taught us anything, it’s that life is fragile,” says Wagner. “We always want to be responsible, but if there’s something you’ve been waiting for, don’t wait.”

“I haven’t had to tell anyone to hit the brakes yet,” he added.

Creating memories doesn’t have to mean going on a trip or giving someone gifts, says Grant Gallagher, financial wellness and brand communications manager at Affinity Federal Credit Union. It could be something as simple as going to a park or a zoo. A Gallup survey of Affinity credit union members showed that experiences have a greater impact on well-being than tangibles, he says.

Rethinking commitments

Given the time wasted doing nothing during the pandemic, making the most of your best retirement years can mean being “a little more judicious about how you use your time,” says Vanderkam.

“If you just do [something] because you’ve always done it or because you think it’s expected of you, you should reassess it. If it’s not meaningful and it’s not enjoyable, then what do you do? ” she asks.

That doesn’t mean avoiding commitments that give your life meaning, she says. Instead, try to build in some flexibility. For example, if you like being a reading teacher, do it during the school year and keep the rest of the year free for other leisure activities, she says. Or retirees caring for their grandchildren can help their children find alternate caregivers for a few weeks so they can travel, she says.

And spouses or couples don’t have to do everything together, and in fact, breaking up can be a good way to use time as efficiently as possible. “You want to spend time together, but you don’t have to do everything together. “If one part is a homebody and the other likes to travel, you can travel alone.”

Play the clock

When trying to make up for lost time, it’s crucial to take a moment to plan. After all, no one wants to arrive at their destination and waste time queuing or spending hours in traffic and missing all or part of an event.

Chuck Failla, certified financial planner and director of Sovereign Financial Group, and adviser to Moore and Chiulli, advises clients to plan their trips up to a year in advance when possible and to explore alternatives when their usual transport or their hotels are not. available for the days you want. He suggests using online rental marketplaces such as Airbnb or Vrbo, and choosing the highest-rated hosts.

He also suggests waiting another full year to see how the pandemic develops before booking international travel, as any stoppages could lead to last-minute cancellations or trap travelers abroad, costing even more time. to retirees.

As for Moore and Chiulli, they’re back, even though they know they try to cram in a lot. “We’ve done quite a bit,” Moore says, but there are plenty of other places they plan to visit, including Australia, China, Japan and Madagascar. “We think what we want to do has now been compressed into a rather shorter period of time than we originally planned before Covid.”

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