"To be too certain of anything is the beginning of bigotry." -- Novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah

Saturday, August 28, 2021

10 Ways to Make Friends in Retirement

     I'm still on vacation, but I thought this was a useful blog post, written by Kimberly L. Curtis for the Wealth Legacy Institute, so I got permission to reprint it here. (She did reference my blog, which is always a good thing.) Otherwise, I myself will be back after Labor Day. Cheers!

What’s the key to a happy retirement? Is it a big trust fund or a country club membership? While having enough money is certainly a factor, there’s a host of data indicating that when it comes to happiness in retirement, money isn’t everything. 

One researcher from American College of Financial Services identified three pillars to a happy retirement: money, health and social well-being. These three pillars give people the foundation to live a vibrant, fulfilling and stress-free retirement. 

We see lots of articles about money and health, but social well-being is often neglected. Developing relationships can take some time and effort, but whether you're approaching retirement, or already retired, it is an investment that often brings immediate results -- and certainly pays off in the long-run. Here are ten tips to help you build your social network and make new friends in retirement.  

1.  Take a Class for Adults

Following your passion is one of the quickest ways to find people who have something in common with you. Whether your hobby is cycling, painting or classic cars, take the next step and find an event, class or hobby group. For retirees in Denver, for example, classes for adults include everything from language learning to brewery immersion. Or you can also teach a class in your community like Tom explains in his Sightings Over Sixty post Opportunity Knocks.

2.  Small Group Travel 

Even if you didn’t enjoy group tours or all-inclusive travel when you were younger, they may have new appeal now. Most of your transport, reservations and meals are taken care of, plus pre-planned itineraries and a group of fellow travelers to share memories with. Of course, you’ll want to find a travel company geared towards seniors (or at least not aimed at partying college students)

3.  Facebook 

Love it, hate it, or never been on it, Facebook (or Instagram or other social site) can be a great place to keep in touch with people from all areas and all eras of your life. Facebook has a robust Groups section where you can connect with people based on similar interests. To find in-person activities, use Facebook’s Events Section. Clicking on the Events tab on the left side of your Home page will show a list of public events going on in your area.

4.  Meetup.com

Meetup.com is a free digital service you can use to find local events and casual meet-ups. With over 56 million users worldwide, Meetup.com is the place to connect with people who share your interests - and there’s a whole section just for seniors! You can easily browse groups in your area, but you need to register for an account to join a specific group or event. 

5.  Get a Pet

Owning a pet can be a great way to meet people and stay active at the same time. Dog walkers routinely meet neighbors or find themselves striking up a conversation with strangers. Going to the dog park is another way to make new connections - plus your furry one gets to make friends too! If you can’t or don’t want to permanently adopt, volunteering at an animal rescue or participating in temporary foster programs can be equally rewarding.

6.  Serve Your Community

Getting involved in your community is a great way to enrich life in retirement - and meet new people. Many retired and semi-retired folks find joy and purpose by volunteering their time and expertise to causes they care about. The experience puts you in direct contact with other volunteers, members of the organization, and in some cases, the individuals you are helping.  

7.  Look Outside Your Age Group

Hanging out with people younger than you keeps you connected to new trends and technologies and exposes you to new ways of doing things. Retirees who interact with people of all ages, especially young children, say they have less stress, anxiety and depression. So why not offer to babysit the neighbor’s kids after school? Or bake something and take it to the young family down the street. 

8.  Dating Sites 

Online dating has become routine in the last 20 years. For retirees who are divorced or widowed, the idea of dating again may be exciting, scary or a mix of both. If you’re looking to maybe meet that special someone, there are a number of online dating sites for older singles, like SeniorFriendFinder and SilverSingles. And you never know, a date that isn’t “the one” could still end up becoming a friend.

9.  Utilize All of Your Relationship Circles 

Although you may not realize it, you’re supported by rings of people with whom you share varying degrees of connection. If you think back to the close friendships in your life, they often began as classmates, co-workers or acquaintances from church. By recognizing the importance these “outer circles” can play in your life, you evolve your relationships and open yourself up to more joy and appreciation. It’s possible your new friends are already in your life, just waiting to be discovered.

10.  Don’t Be Afraid to Make the First Move

For some of us, striking up a conversation with a stranger is intimidating. But new friends aren’t just going to come to you - sometimes you have to have the courage to put yourself out there. Many people are craving connection, but they’re scared to take the first step. So, compliment someone’s outfit or ask how their day is going. Invite someone to coffee. Be willing to try new things or even start your own group.