Think of it as practice for your retirement

March 15, 2020

These are strange and incredibly fast-moving times, and as the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues unabated, many people have been forced to work from home, or have chosen that for themselves. So I’ve been thinking about some silver linings in all this….

If you currently commute to work and now have to work from home (employer or self-imposed), and you’re close-ish to retirement, you have the ideal opportunity to test out some of those “Perhaps I’d like to do this in my retirement” ideas. Not travel at the moment, of course, but if there are hobbies or non-group activities that have crossed your mind, and you have the means to do so, now is a great time to try them out. You’ve probably gained 5 to 20 hours per week of discretionary time without your daily commute. What will you do with it? You can only binge watch TV or read books or go for a walk or run for a while… Think of this enforced extra time as training for retirement!

YouTube has a wealth of videos on how to do almost anything. If you’re thinking more along crafting or baking activities, you can sign up to Bluprint.com (was Craftsy) for around AU$120 a year (often less when they have their regular sales) and get full access to their hundreds of online classes (far more organised and with paid experts than random YouTube videos). If you’re perhaps thinking of tracing your family tree, you can sign up to year’s worth of Ancestry.com for the price of a couple of week’s of gas that you would’ve used if you were commuting by car.

If you’re more into volunteering, there are lots of things you can do online from home. In my case, because I do genealogical stuff and because words are what I’m good at, I edit the OCR text of newspaper articles in the Australian National Library’s Trove database. Ancestry has a World Archives project too, deciphering handwritten immigration and other records. The Australian War Memorial has something similar for transcribing war records. Of course, there’s always Wikipedia article editing, or transcribing the words on headstones in graveyards (BillionGraves.com); yes, that really is a thing! Or you could contribute to various volunteer scientific research projects at Zooniverse.org or any of the projects at https://www.openobjects.org.uk/2015/05/crowdsourcing-world/. Every country will have these.

If you do get into craft activities and need supplies, try to buy them from your local bricks and mortar ‘mom and pop’ store, not the big box retailers or online. These local stores are likely already hurting badly and may never recover from this. If you’re hesitant about going into a store, call them and see if they can mail/deliver to you, or come out to your car if you order and pay by phone and drive in to get them. The worst you can get is ‘no’, so it won’t hurt to call ahead and ask.

And if you find that that all those extra hours are too hard to handle, maybe you need to rethink your retirement plans — those extra 40+ hours per week are your life once you retire.

Any other suggestions?

See also:

[Links last checked March 2020]

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