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Bored by retirement? Do this

Bored by retirement? Do this
(Dreamstime)

I recently read an interesting article about retirees who become depressed and bored, even ones on sound financial footing, because they haven't found enough activities to keep them busy.

I have been retired for over 20 years, and I am fortunate to have found enough activities to keep me busy and engaged. The things I do might not interest a lot of retirees, but they might generate some ideas for readers who find themselves dissatisfied in retirement.

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The first thing I'd advise is volunteering in a field that interests you and that matches your talents. If you love animals, for instance, you could volunteer at a shelter helping to walk the dogs or socialize the cats and get some exercise while supporting a great cause.

If you are good at graphic or web design, you could help a nonprofit improve its website or design posters or other promotional materials.

There are many advantages: You can learn new skills, meet new and interesting people and even make connections that could lead to part-time work. It also helps keep the brain sharp and allows you to make an impact in your community, and that just feels good.

Shortly after I retired, I saw a volunteer listing in the newspaper for court mediators, no experience or legal background required. My wife, also retired, and I took a three-day intensive training course. With some guidance from experienced mediators, it didn't take long to be on our own. I have been happily mediating now for more than 15 years.

I have met many interesting retirees from all walks of life and have befriended many of them. There has been a financial benefit as well. For example, I learned how to initiate a profitable small claims case against an insurance company, which benefited me.

I have also volunteered for AARP helping people with their income taxes. The training is free, and it will help you do your own taxes efficiently.

I have also volunteered for State Health Insurance Assistance. This organization is funded by the federal government and is available in every state. SHIP provides free counseling to individuals with Medicare and other health issues. Training is free, and by volunteering you will become better educated and able to handle your own health issues more competently.

I also volunteered for several years in SCORE, a small business mentoring organization with 10,000 volunteers, available in each state. SCORE volunteers generally have had prior experience running their own business. SCORE provides free counseling to people starting their own business.

In addition, at nominal cost, they offer courses such as marketing your business or establishing a business plan. As a volunteer, you will receive free training, and will meet many knowledgeable retirees.

Another activity I have spent in retirement is bridge. Although I played bridge before I retired, I played a great deal more in retirement, especially duplicate bridge, which involves more skill because you compete with people playing the same cards as you.

Bridge can help keep you mentally sharp. I know many good players in their 90s who are still excellent players. You can learn to play at low cost with lessons at a bridge club. At most clubs, you can play for three hours for a nominal fee, and most clubs provide refreshments.

If you become experienced, you can become a bridge director on cruise ships and obtain either free or heavily discounted fees on major cruise ships when you direct bridge games. For example, my wife and I paid $400 for a seven-day cruise on a major cruise line during which I directed bridge games for part of the trip.

The bottom line: There is no reason to be bored during retirement. Try out a few volunteer activities and pastimes, and you're sure to find something that suits you.

Elliot Raphaelson welcomes your questions and comments at raphelliot@gmail.com.

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