As you get closer to retirement – early or not – you’ll hear plenty of warnings about how isolating it can be.
You’ll be excited about all of the new-found freedom you’ll have, but you’ll probably miss talking with your colleagues at work each day – even if they aren’t your close friends. The people you work with provide you with social contact and when you retire, your social circles can quickly start to shrink.
Today’s post is from Vicki, my Women Who Money business partner.
If you have a spouse or partner, don’t plan on them meeting all of your social needs either. According to a UC San Francisco study in 2010, 43% of the people in the study over the age of 60 reported feeling lonely on a regular basis. And two-thirds of those people lived with a spouse or partner.
But don’t make the mistake of thinking this is an “aging” issue. It’s a social engagement issue. Entrepreneurs who build businesses at home can struggle with it too. It’s one of the drawbacks of working remotely from home.
Building Social Networks in Semi-Retirement
After accepting we had reached financial independence a few years ago, I left full-time work after finally curing my one-more-year syndrome. As a teacher, college professor, and school administrator – being socially engaged was NEVER an issue. But I knew I’d have “social” shock shifting to just doing some contract work from home.
I’ve been an active member of our local YMCA for years and I knew I’d still have frequent social connections there. Volunteering for different events would add more “face-to-face” time with others too.
I started my blog, Make Smarter Decisions in 2016, right after I announced I was leaving full-time work – the first time. As an avid reader of personal finance blogs for many years, I finally felt I had something to contribute and I jumped right in.
I found the online community to be very welcoming and I frequently engaged with dozens of people. This helped fill some of the social contact I was missing after leaving my job.
Balancing In-Person and Online Social Contact
As an extrovert, I definitely need to spend time connecting with people in person. (Introverts still need at least some face-to-face social contact too.) But I’ve also come to see the power of online communities in meeting some of my social needs.
There are plenty of headlines that would make you think spending time on social media and in online groups could make you feel lonelier and more isolated. And that is certainly true for some people – especially young adults.
But there’s also research to support social interaction in online communities lowers levels of social isolation for people – especially older adults.
As a 51-year old GenX’er, I’m not interested in being labeled an “older” adult yet – but I can certainly see how my mom who is nearing 80 could benefit from being in an online community to increase her social connections.
Leading a Life Zemplifed
Can joining an online community help you lead a more ‘zemplified’ life? I think so!
Let me explain how what I’ve learned and experienced in the last 2.5 years has helped me live a healthier, wealthier, and simpler life by finding a better balance with my finances, fitness, food, and fun.
Without the online personal finance community, I’d probably still be working full-time. The golden handcuffs would have kept me chained to my desk until I turned 55.
We weren’t ones to keep up with the Joneses and we had strong frugal habits while still enjoying life. But when a financially-savvy sibling sent me to websites like
After consuming every article I could and thoroughly reviewing our finances (more times than necessary), we accepted we’d reached FI – before I turned 50. “Retiring early” was never my goal but I can now choose how to spend my time and what work I’ll do.
I’ve done more than work-out at our local YMCA. I’ve
But I never would have guessed I could make more fitness-related social connections online. However, on January 1, 2018 – I started a Facebook group with Canadian finance guru Jonathan Chevreau, of the Financial Independence Hub.
Jonathan and I met on Twitter and were both very motivated by the NY Times Best Seller – Younger Next Year. We thought others would enjoy interacting in a group. I only knew about the book because of a fellow blogger (Jillian from Montana Money Adventures) who generously sent me a copy because she thought I would like it!
Thirteen months later, we have 720 members trying to “fight the tide of aging” and supporting each other along the way. People post interesting articles, healthy recipes, and ask questions about fitness and ways to stay motivated.
I’ve met a number of group members in person now too! And they are just as wonderful face-to-face as they are when they interact in the group.
That’s the bonus you forget about with online communities. When people say those you engage with online aren’t “real” friends, my feeling is they just haven’t found the right communities to belong to online.
One thing bothering me, is all of the “lose weight fast” and try this “new diet” messages continuing to be plastered all over TV ads and social media. It’s simply the “get rich quick” approach with food.
“It’s too good to be true” is the common sense we all know – but simply ignore sometimes when it comes to eating (and money…)
Younger Next Year has a companion book – Thinner This Year. I love it because it is
If you’ve followed Amy, you can see all her posts about making healthy food choices. It’s her lifestyle and it’s something you should consider too.
Being members of online communities is enjoyable but if you choose to engage more deeply with people from your online groups, it can create some amazing memories and relationships.
Our trip to PopUp Business School in Longmont, Colorado (at Mr. Money Mustache’s Headquarters) helped me grow a business and meet some amazing people from all over the country and the world.
Two trips to FinCon have resulted in meeting over a hundred people I only knew online. Our two new websites – Women Who Money and Women’s Money Talk came from a chat at FinCon! We’ll also be traveling to Cleveland this spring to meet up with a small group of bloggers who we’ve connected with to see our friend Jim from Route To Retire before he moves to Panama!
We have plenty of fun with people we know “in real life” and we always make time for those connections. But don’t discount all the fun you can have with people you meet online too!
Connecting Online Has Made My Life Better
If you’re looking to grow your social circle (especially if you are nearing retirement) – think about joining an online community.
Don’t ignore the people you enjoy and lean on in real life by spending all your time online, but find a group of people online with similar interests and engage with them. And always keep moving toward leading a Life Zemplifed!