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Retirement Hacks: Retirement? Hold your expertise sharp on your well being, wealth, and wellbeing

Many people retire with a plan to relax – and that's a normal, natural approach to this next phase of life – but they should maintain or even expand their skills after they leave work.

Retirement Tip of the Week: Whether you're already retired, about to retire, or have years ahead of you, consider what skills or tools you can acquire or maintain in retirement to help you stay active, healthy, and happy.

"It's not just about, 'Hey, get a hobby,'" said Chris Orestis, president of Retirement Genius, a company dedicated to helping older Americans face retirement. "That has a real advantage." He suggests starting with a mental inventory of what skills you already have and what your goals are, e.g. B. helping the community get back to work or just staying active.

Studies show that learning a new hobby or maintaining skills is good for brain health and aging. Retirees use lifelong learning to sharpen their specialist knowledge and cognitive skills at the same time, according to a 2019 study by Scientific American.

These activities could also help financially, should a retiree ever decide to return to work or start a small side business. Extra pocket money can delay access to retirement savings or potentially delay social security benefits so that this money can grow into later life.

Do you have a question about your own retirement concerns? Check out the MarketWatch column "Help me retire"

Some people may want to build on past experiences while others try something completely new. Skills can also be transferred to different types of work. For example, someone who is good at budget development could expand into accounting or office management, or someone who has had a lifetime of caring for children or relatives could take up a job in nursing or customer service, according to the Eldercare Locator Brochure with tips for elderly job seekers.

Read: These people, who are on the threshold of retirement, have a gap year after successful careers

Universities and other institutions offer free or discounted courses to older Americans across the country. Here is a list of some of the programs available in each state, curated by personal finance site The Penny Hoarder. The City University of New York has the Lifelong Learning Program, which brings participants from all backgrounds together in weekly non-credit study groups. Harvard University also has a program for retired working professionals. Orestis warns retirees to review courses or training programs before joining to make sure they are legit. "Unfortunately there are a lot of scams," he said.

There are also plenty of resources online, including blogs and videos, for people more interested in self-study.

No matter how the person takes these lessons up, hobbies and education can also strengthen social relationships and ward off loneliness. In addition to courses and training programs, retirees could acquire new skills and education through, for example, book clubs and guest speaker events. They could also approach lifelong learning through volunteering, according to the Whitney Center, a Connecticut nonprofit retirement community.

Developing or maintaining a skill set is just one way to promote a healthy, contented retirement, Orestis said. "It helps other people and helps yourself."

Want more actionable tips for your retirement planning journey? Read MarketWatch's "Retirement Hacks" pillar

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