Visualizing Retirement

This week I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about retirement and what I want that to look like. I have a general idea and I’ve kind of come to think about it two different ways. I thought we’d kind of work through both.

After all, how you visualize your retirement drives how much you need to save.

Based on When to Do Them

One way I’ve been thinking about this is the idea of “seasons of life.” Usually I see this portrayed as that there are better times to do certain things. A common example is traveling across Europe staying in hostels. It’s much easier to stay in a hostel at 20 compared to 60. Traveling Europe is different depending on your age.

The goal of that is to help drive your energy now into things you should do while you’re young and put less energy into things you can do as you age.

To keep things simple I’m going to list out things I plan to do in retirement that will get harder as I age; easy, medium, and hard. For the most part I’m trying to consider the full breadth too from now to when I’m nearing end of life.

Not all of these need be limited to retirement either.

Harder over time

Some of the things I plan to do that will be easier to do when young:

  • Become a master blacksmith
  • Learn glassblowing
  • Travel the world
  • Backpack

Most of the things that get harder over time are extremely physical. Especially as I enter old age things like blacksmithing will become difficult. So the time to focus my energy on these things will be while I’m young.

Backpacking will be something I’m sure I’ll have to give up at some point as I get tired of sleeping on the ground. Although my dad is still backpacking and he is in his 60s.

Each of these has a cost and I can adjust my spending so that I focus my spending towards them.

Medium difficulty over time

This category would be things I could do when I’m older but get slightly more difficult as I age.

  • Run a marathon
  • Learn Spanish
  • Hike across the Rockies.

We start getting a mix of intellectual and physical tasks. There are ways I could approach this then to adjust my spending towards them as needed.

No change/easy over time

The final category I’d consider would be those that remain relatively easy or have no change as I get older, barring things like mental decline.

  • Podcasting
  • Hike
  • Write

These tasks tend not to be too physical in nature. In my 80s I should still be able to hike, even if not at the same intensity. Write for this blog or even record a podcast, although recording and editing the audio may become more difficult. All of this assuming I want to focus my energy into it.

These tasks would require the least amount of cash as I’m younger and in theory should stay consistent over time.

Visualizing the Average Day/Month/Year

Another way to approach retirement planning is to lay out what you expect the average day, month, and/or year to comprise of. We’ll do the same going through each.

While in each period they can vary some. This would be the average.


For me I’d like to see the average day unfold like so:

  • Breakfast
  • Hike
  • Lunch
  • Errands/Project Work/Classes
  • Dinner
  • Project work/Leisure
  • Reading
  • Bed

Essentially every day I’d like to get a long hike in, work on projects during the afternoon. Throughout the year what that project work would be could vary. Get some creative work like blacksmithing done or just relax in the evening. Finally some reading before bed. Although I could just as easily swap morning and afternoon as I tend to have more energy and drive in the mornings. This is what I plan to do.

I can then estimate how much each of these tasks will cost each day.


The same activity but for the average month:

  • 4 blog posts
  • 4 Podcast Episodes
  • 2 blacksmithing projects
  • 2 glassblowing projects
  • Hike 5-7 days a week.
  • Eat out once a week?

Basically I’d like to keep active, complete some projects across all of my hobbies, and go eat out occasionally. Even then they’re not set in stone. This is how much I plan to do.

Again I can use this to estimate my spending at a higher level.


The last is to do the same but on a yearly scale.

  • 1-2 Vacations/trips (fall and spring? How long are the trips?)
  • Language (or other) classes (spring and fall? Just one semester?)
  • 52 podcast episodes (work on them mostly in the winter ahead of time?)
  • 52 blog posts (Have to write these throughout the year)
  • Full day hikes (summer)

Essentially the average yearly section is when I plan to do these things. For my plans, this is probably the least defined section. But as I get closer to retirement I can fill this in some and then estimate the expenses at a higher level.

Now if I put this all together I have what I plan to do, how much of it I plan to do, and when I plan to do it. You could easily do the same exercise but make it the average day and month in a given season. For instance what the average summer day/month looks like. This will allow you to estimate your expenses over any period of time out to the yearly amount. Allowing you to better estimate your retirement expenses and what that cashflow looks like.

Bringing it together

Personally I think these two methods complement each other. You have one that is looking at the long term what age it would be best to do something, say travel Europe, and another looking at when in the year, month, or day that you might fit that activity in. Like most things in life, one helps you balance today’s wants, needs, and goals with when is best to do them and the other helps you pull those items out to look at what it will realistically cost to do each.

Wrapping it Up

There you have it, a couple of ways to look at retirement to help figure out what you want to do. I fully expect my list to change between now and retirement. But it at least gives me a general idea. Maybe even some of the items will be checked off the list before retirement.

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