Staying productive can make retirement more fulfilling


After working hard for most of our lives, many of us may find adjusting to retirement difficult. Some people struggle to find a purpose to fill their days – but being retired doesn’t mean you have to sit around watching the world go by. Of course, 1 of the joys of being retired is to have that option whenever you feel like it, but there’s also nothing to stop you staying active and involved in your family and community after you’ve retired.

In fact, keeping busy after you’ve retired can have positive effects on your physical and mental health. Many retirees find that a routine of doing nothing leaves them bored and depressed. Physical exercise will keep you in shape and improve your mental well-being, while mental stimulation will keep you sharp and interested in the world around you.

Apart from making your retirement more fulfilling, staying productive during this new chapter can also present financial opportunities to supplement your income and make your golden years more comfortable.


Tips to stay productive in retirement


  • Have a daily routine
    We’re not suggesting that you must run your days according to a rigid diary or an ambitious to-do list, and you should certainly feel free to enjoy lazy afternoons with your feet up whenever the mood takes you. But you don’t have to drift into a completely unstructured life after retirement. Establish a regular routine that keeps your mind and body active every day. Make sure your routine gets you out of your home and socialising with other people several times a week.

  • Find the natural rhythm of your retired day
    For example, when do you sleep best, and when are you most active and alert? If you’re a night owl who has spent years getting early nights so that you could be fresh for a 9-to-5 job, you now have the freedom to adjust your sleeping and waking cycle to the hours that suit you best. The same applies to when it’s most convenient to do your personal grooming and household chores, when the best time is to tackle bills, shopping or contacting service providers, what time of day works for your hobbies or outdoor activities, and when you’ll spend time socialising with family and friends. Being able to set your own pace is an undervalued benefit of being retired.


You could have valuable insights to share with others … you could teach those skills to paying clients


  • Ease into your retirement
    Working until your chosen retirement date and then stopping abruptly can be overwhelming. Instead, you could make this a more gradual process. For example, you could step back from certain responsibilities and start working shorter hours a year before retirement, and then hand over your other responsibilities in stages. Or you could retire from a full-time post but stay on as a consultant for an agreed period, offering your former employer your experience and expertise for a few hours a week. This will not only help ease you into retirement and make the changeover smoother for your employer, but it will also help you become familiar with the project-based ‘gig economy’. After you retire, you’ll be able to consult for various companies and stay productive while earning extra income.

  • Explore hobbies and social pastimes
    After you retire, you get to choose what you want to spend your time and energy on. If you enjoyed certain hobbies, sports or social pursuits when you were younger but neglected them when your work and life got busy, retirement is the perfect time to rediscover those joys. Or there might be pastimes and experiences that you’ve always wanted to try but never got around to – retirement should give you the freedom to start ticking off your bucket list.

  • Learn a new skill
    According to Harvard University, ‘a cognitively active lifestyle in old age may boost cognitive reserve, delaying the onset of clinical Alzheimer's disease by up to five years.’ In other words, you can maintain your mental faculties longer as you age if you keep your brain active and stimulated. You’re never too old to learn something new, and there is a treasure trove of free short courses by reputable establishments available online. Platforms like YouTube and other social media sites also have plenty of content creators sharing their knowledge and expertise.

  • Downsize your lifestyle
    To manage your retirement finances carefully, you may need to re-evaluate your spending habits. Consider how you currently spend and identify areas where you can cut back without sacrificing your quality of life. Downsizing to a smaller home or selling unnecessary clutter can make your life simpler and boost your retirement savings. Create a budget that aligns with your retirement income and stick to it. If you have to choose between them, spend your money on experiences rather than material possessions.


5 ways to boost your finances after retirement


  • Monetise your hobbies
    You can turn certain hobbies into profitable side hustles to supplement your pension, especially if they are based on skills that not everyone has. Fishing, home repairs, gardening, cooking, baking, photography, carpentry and sewing are just a few examples. By selling your catch of the day or upcycling fabric into a chic outfit, you can earn extra cash while doing something that you genuinely enjoy.


It’s always a good idea to chat with a financial adviser before you make any big decisions


  • Monetise your skills
    Whether these are job skills you picked up over years of employment, or expertise you’ve learnt from your hobbies, you could have valuable insights to share with others in the field. Depending on which medium you’re most comfortable in, you could teach those skills to paying clients via online videos, live training sessions or corporate event presentations.

  • Check for pensioner discounts
    An upside of growing older is the number of retailers that offer pensioner perks. Make the most of the discounts offered to people over 60 by stores, companies and service providers. You can spend less on groceries, dining, travel, entertainment and more – and even get a discounted rate on your banking fees with Nedbank.

  • Keep investing wisely
    Investing smartly even after you retire is important. But watch out for scams promising big returns that sound too good to be true – they most likely are. Before you invest, do your homework. Research the investment product as well as the people behind it. Make sure it's legit by checking whether anyone else has had issues with the product. Be cautious of anyone who pressures you to invest, especially if they contact you via spam texts or emails.

  • Take advantage of tax benefits
    Retirees are subject to the same income tax rates as other individuals, but they have higher tax thresholds and rebates:

    • If you’re over 65, you qualify for a secondary tax rebate amounting to R9,444.
    • If you’re over 75, you get a tertiary rebate of a further R3,145.

  • As a result of these rebates:
    • If you’re under 65, you have a tax threshold of R95,750.
    • If you’re over 65, you have a threshold of R148,217.
    • If you’re over 75, you have a tax threshold of R165,689.

It's important to use these rebates and thresholds, along with your capital gains tax annual exemption, to ensure that you access your investments in a way that gives you the best tax benefits. Also explore products like tax-free investments and retirement annuities to be even more tax-efficient.

It’s always a good idea to chat with a financial adviser before you make any big decisions. They can help you understand the risks and find the right investment for you. Spread your investments across different financial instruments to lower your risk. Remember, if someone promises you a sure thing and that they’ll double your money overnight, it’s probably a scam.