Retiring offers you a unique opportunity to utilise your free time for self-betterment. Whether it’s learning to appreciate art, travelling or meeting like-minded individuals, there are plenty of low-cost ways to make your free time fulfilling.
As your working commitments come to a close, you may find yourself with free time to pursue a new hobby, or learn a new skill.
You can take advantage of Open Learn by the Open University or Future Learn, which provide many free online courses that you can take from the comfort of your own home from institutes around the globe.
The University of the Third Age (U3A) is a national organisation that provides “university” classes to those who have the time to pursue their interests in later life. Organised on a voluntary basis, the organisation has over 1,000 U3As across the UK. You can learn how to appreciate art, speak Japanese, explore world faiths and much more, all with others in your peer group and completely for free.
If you would prefer to train your mental acuity, there are plenty of free apps to help improve your memory and brain. For example, industry leader Lumosity is a mini-game app that challenges your memory, sharpens your attention skills, and tracks your improvement over time. It has a free option, or a more extensive option for just £8.99 per month.
With over 75% of the UK’s galleries, museums and other cultural attractions providing £65 million ticket price concessions for the over 60s, you can go and explore the country’s finest cultural offerings on a reasonable budget.
There are plenty of Senior discounts on theatre tickets to enjoy, and with the benefit of your new free time, you can visit the theatre on off-peak days for potentially lower prices. Similarly, the cinema is less expensive during off peak times. Vue Cinemas holds Senior screenings that are not only cheaper, but provide a cup of tea and a biscuit for free.
If you’re a football fan, you can enjoy a game from as little as £8.40, depending on the club you support, with senior season tickets.
Find out more about football club membership discounts with Which?
Depending on your age and where you reside, you can take advantage of travel options for older adults. For example, there are free bus and discounted rail travel options with the Freedom Pass for those over the age of 60, and the TFL 60+ London Oyster card, which gives you free travel within London. The Veterans Oyster card is also available for those who have served, which allows for free travel in London and discounted travel on other local services.
Find out more about applying for an older person's bus pass
Find out more about applying for a Freedom Pass or the TFL 60+ Oyster Card
Find out more about applying for the TFL Veterans Oyster Card
Though you might already be aware of these discounts, you might not know that there are other low-cost travel opportunities for your retirement.
As you are no longer constrained by a schedule of work or term-time holidays, you can take advantage of cheaper flights and accommodation. Some airlines, such as United Airlines and Air France do specific Senior discounts, so it is worth checking if there are concessions available when booking your next holiday.
One of the joys of retirement is that it can give you the opportunity to see more of your friends and family. Additionally, you can share your new free time with other like-minded people. You can make a new network of friends through volunteering, whether in your local community or for a cause that is meaningful to you.
Fancy a hike, a Tai Chi session or meeting people who have similar work experience to you? You can join one of many Meetup groups for a whole range of activities for free, including travel groups, technology discussions, walking tours and more. Simply search the Meetup site for your interests and join for free.
Age UK offers “friendship centres” for older adults, which organise free or low-cost social activities that you can join to meet other like-minded people. The Women’s Institute (WI) organises events and promotes campaigns in women’s interest. For veterans, there are several organisations and charities that connect those who have served.
If you’re interested in organising these events, you’re welcome to join or sign up and start your own.
Shopping trips and hobby options
No matter your interests or shopping habits, there are ways to fill your time with activities you love.
Waitrose offers two benefits for those who like to shop, read the paper and enjoy a coffee: if you sign up for a free myWaitrose card, you get a free coffee with any purchase, and the cost of any newspaper you buy is taken off a £10 shop.
If you’re a plant lover, the Wyevale Garden Centre group offer a 10% discount for Garden Club members aged over 60 on Tuesdays; simply present a form of ID to benefit.
Haberdashery chain Abakhan offer 10% off for senior shoppers every Wednesday with the provision of photographic ID, a bus pass or Senior Railcard. You can also take advantage of a daytime café offer, where you can get the pudding of the day free with any main meal or light bite – perfect for a day out shopping for your hobby.
No matter your interest, the list of possibilities for finding fulfilment in your free time is endless. Whether you love baking, exercising, walking the dog, playing golf or keeping up with the latest with your friends and family, there are plenty of low-cost ways to keep busy during your retirement.