For recent retirees, adjusting to life on a fixed income can be particularly difficult at holiday time. Are you obligated to continue inviting a lot of work friends to your holiday party? Is everyone in your family expecting the same level of gifts you've always given? Can it be someone else's turn to host the holiday meal? Add on a layer of possible remorse after getting that last paycheck and it all makes for a potentially depressing holiday.
Well, we are now into the “between the years season,” with New Year’s Eve just a few days away. If you are newly retired, then perhaps you may have clung to your holiday traditions to this juncture with Thanksgiving, then Hanukah or Christmas. Perhaps you cannot get out of following through on your New Year’s traditions. If not, then this article is not for you.
On the other hand, if you will be retiring in the coming year or years, then maybe this article is for you.
Experts say that the key is to find a balance between keeping some of the traditions and saying goodbye to those that no longer fit.
The first holiday after retirement can be a “golden opportunity” to set new expectations, accordingly to a recent article in the Chicago Tribune titled “Tips for recent retirees to stretch holiday budget.”
With new-found additional free time, retirees can offer dinners out or home-cooked meals, rather than spending money on expensive toys for the grown children. They can also write letters to their grandchildren filled with family stories or set spending limits on gifts that focus on creativity rather than on price.
Don't force sudden change all at once. If—and only if—you can afford to do so. The original article notes that keeping holiday budgets the same in that first year of retirement can be comforting when you've been hit with a lot of other dramatic changes.
However, what must change, is the conversation. With the family gathered, you can begin the discussion about your retirement in general, not just during the holidays. It's a chance to say, “We're retired now, and there are some changes we want to tell you about.” Also, it's the perfect time to talk about estate planning and to tell your kids that you have a solid retirement plan, and that they need not worry.
It’s a nice idea to also set up some new expectations. The original article also advises speaking with, or perhaps coordinating with, the other set of grandparents on the presents for children and grandchildren. No sense creating a sort of unnecessary “gift-giving arms race.”
Getting a plan together for your retirement is always a good idea and worthwhile. Talk with your estate planning attorney to help coordinate a sound strategy with your financial advisor.
Reference: Chicago Tribune (December 8, 2014) “Tips for recent retirees to stretch holiday budget”