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Combine Hobbies, Volunteering for More Purpose in Retirement

Photo of author, Joshua Johnson, CFP®.
Joshua Johnson, CFP®
Financial Strategist

Many retirees organize their new schedules around their hobbies and interests. They no longer have to squeeze precious practice and learning time into their off-hours and weekends, but rather can invest more of their every day life into those activities that make this new stage of life more fulfilling.

If you're a retiree, you can also use your unique skill set to give back and help the causes that will improve your community's Return on Life. Orienting your volunteer work around the things you do best could help you find new meaning and satisfaction in your hobbies, while also creating new social connections that will deepen your retirement experience.

Here are some examples of the synergies retirees can create between what they love to do and what their community needs:

Bookworms
Share your love of reading with adults who are trying to make a positive change in their lives. The teaching curricula that many adult literacy programs use will give you a fascinating new perspective on how words work, block by block. And as your students progress, you'll gain a new appreciation for the power of story and the importance of communication.

Animal Lovers
If your dog or cat spends more time on the couch than you do, find some younger, more enthusiastic playmates at your local animal shelter. There may be opportunities to walk, groom, and feed animals, or to help on the administrative side to find your new furry friends good homes.

Doctors, Dentists, and Nurses
Take a couple weekly shifts at a nearby free clinic or senior center. Connect with organizations like the Red Cross or Doctors Without Borders and work on a major health care mission at home or abroad.

Gardeners
Put your green thumb to work outside your backyard. Volunteer to help neighbors with their own lawncare needs or gardening projects. Turn that patch of weeds at the end of your block into a community garden. Volunteer at your local parks and recreation department or nature center.

Artists
Your favorite nonprofit or charity might need a new logo, or some graphic design work for its next big campaign. You could also offer to teach a class at your local senior center or start a new after school program for kids and teenagers. Neighbors might appreciate your help adding a splash of color to a bare wall or a peeling fence.

Writers
ChatGPT hasn't replaced you yet! Charitable organizations and schools still need wordsmiths who can create and edit professional copy. You could also start a local writer's circle to encourage other writers and get feedback on your own budding masterpiece.

Cooks
Help homebound friends, family, or neighbors do their weekly grocery shopping. Cook healthy meals for folks who can't, or folks who need a little extra help, like new moms or a neighbor who's on the mend. Organize a monthly potluck dinner that rotates through your neighborhood, bringing people together to share good food and new recipes.

Grandparents
Are your grandkids too far away for a daily visit? Spend part of your week at your local grade school as a substitute teacher. Many states are facing a high demand for teachers and offer accelerated paths towards earning a substitute teaching license. If you don't want to teach, volunteer in the lunchroom, library, or at after-school programs.

And when you do spend time with your own grandkids, give them some one-one-one instruction on those hobbies that you can easily share. Paint, sculpt, or woodwork together. Start a family book club. Take them on a run and show them your half-marathon training schedule. Straighten out their drives or strengthen their backhands. These kinds of activities may not fit a traditional definition of “giving back,” but helping the children in your life grow as individuals is certainly a very high use of your talents.


What hobbies and causes do you want to organize your retirement around? Visit our offices and let us help you start designing your "Ideal Retirement Week." Our advisors are here to help.

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