Retirees Reveal the Best Ways They’ve Spent Their Money

cruiseline approaching land port

Now that you’ve retired and are on a fixed income, you try to spend wisely. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’re against big-ticket expenses — you just want to make a good investment.

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Whether the price tag is big or small, you seek out purchases that will add value to your life. Of course, it isn’t always easy to know which items and experiences are a good idea and which would be better to pass on.

To make this easier, GOBankingRates spoke with several retirees to find out what they feel is the best purchase they’ve made in retirement. Here’s what they had to say.

Tennis Racket

Since retiring from her primary career as a community college professor, Jan Cullinane cited a tennis racket as her best purchase.

“I had never played tennis, but learned how to play and tennis checked — and continues to check — all the boxes for me,” said Cullinane, who launched a second career as retirement book author and recently published “The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your Life.”

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Since tennis is a very social activity, she said it’s allowed her to make great friendships, as well as being good exercise — both physically and mentally — and it’s a lot of fun. She also noted that you can even play it year-round in areas with harsh winters by utilizing an indoor court.

Florida Vacation Home

Many people talk about buying a vacation home in Florida, but Heather Jalbert, a retired children’s hospital fundraiser, and her husband made their dream a reality.

“We bought low and it is worth three times the value now — great investment,” she said. “I would recommend anyone investing in a good real estate deal.”

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Cruise to Cuba

Since retiring in 2014, after working as a paralegal in a law firm, Joyce Williams has embarked on a major adventure.

“The best purchase my husband and I made since retiring was paying for a cruise to Havana, Cuba,” she said. “Our bucket list held a desire to see that country.”

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She said they made the trip in 2018, sailing from Tampa, Florida to Key West to Cuba. “Traveling can be a great adventure,” she said. “We were very happy we made the trip.”

Pickup Truck

“I retired in 2018 after 30 years as a plant manager for a small tool and die shop,” said John Huth. “I was able to purchase one of our company’s low-mileage pickup trucks for a good price.”

He said it was totally worth the investment, as it will last him the rest of his life.

“If you are able to purchase a big ticket item at the beginning of retirement, that is always a good thing and [I] highly recommend it,” he said.

Primary Home

Connie Wells, who left the workforce 32 years ago after owning a life insurance business with her husband, said the best purchase she has made in retirement is her home.

“I like the security it brings, and I am happy living there,” she said. “It has also gone up in value, so it was a good investment.”

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Cruise to the Baltic

“We love to travel and since I retired we have been able to take more trips,” said Marcia Freesemann, who officially retired in 2016 after spending 35 years working for local school districts. “One of my favorites has been our cruise in the Baltic during which we visited Russia, Estonia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Germany.”

She said she really enjoys getting to see other countries and immersing herself in their cultures. “It is so worth it to learn about faraway places,” she said. “It makes great memories and helps us build bridges with each other instead of walls.”

Fixer-Upper Summer Home

In 2015, Kathy Jadlowiec retired after spending more than 20 years working for a local school district. A few years later, she purchased a lake house with her husband.

She said her aunt had a home on a lake that she frequented as a child, and now has amazing memories of that time of her life. “We wanted our children to have a place where they could come to and share with their significant other or family,” she said.

Her favorite thing about her lake house is that it was a fixer-upper.

“We gutted the whole house and as a family finished it ourselves,” she said. “It took us two years to complete.”

Despite the work, she said the renovation a rewarding process.

“I would recommend the purchase to someone else, just for the experience of spending time with your family completing a project together,” she said. “Our son and daughter — as well as myself — were able to learn so much about what a home needs to operate.”

Essentially, whether you’re in the market for something relatively inexpensive — i.e., a tennis racket — or want to make major purchase — i.e., a vacation home — consider the value it will bring to your life.

As long as you can afford it, if it will truly enhance your quality of life, moving forward with the purchase will be a decision you won’t regret.

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About the Author

Jennifer Taylor is a West Coast-based freelance writer with more than a decade of experience writing about anything and everything. Since earning her MBA, personal finance has been her favorite topic, as she’s passionate about writing stories that educate, inform and empower. Specifically, she specializes in budgeting, debt repayment, savings and retirement.
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