Whether you retired on New Year’s Day or are retiring next week, the first summer as a retiree is an exciting time. Your days of sitting at work, daydreaming about spending the afternoon in the sun and the warm weather are through. But this first summer of retirement isn’t always as perfect as it might sound.

To help you navigate the first dog days away from work, we put together this short list of things to do to get your retirement started on the right foot.

First Things First, Celebrate   

Your retirement is a huge accomplishment! You should be proud of yourself, and you should be celebrating. Whether it’s having an intimate meal with family and friends or heading out on a trip to commemorate the occasion, take some time to celebrate your career and the beginning of this new chapter in your life.

Use Routine to Stay Active

For the last 40 or so years, you’ve likely been spending eight hours a day (or more) working. Whether you liked it or not, that time gave your day structure. To avoid feelings of isolation, we recommend creating a schedule for your new retired life as well.

That might mean getting up to walk the dog every day at 9 a.m., watching the grandkids, volunteering at your favorite nonprofit or diving headfirst into a new hobby. No matter which activities you choose, doing something that gets you out and about and keeps you active can help you feel engaged and happy this summer.

Finalize Your Plan for Health Insurance

Now that you’re retired, you no longer have any employer-sponsored health insurance options. So, it’s important to make sure you know what your plan is for medical coverage.

If you are eligible for Medicare, make sure you have the right plan for you, including any supplemental gap coverage or Medicare Parts B, C or D. Your Medicare initial enrollment period runs three months before the month you turn 65 through three months after you turn 65—basically, you have six months to enroll with your 65th birthday smack dab in the middle of that window. If you aren’t sure about which options will best fit you and your medical needs, talk to an insurance specialist and/or your financial advisor for guidance.

If you retire before you’re eligible for Medicare, you’ll need to purchase an individual plan from the Health Insurance Marketplace. Your options and costs will vary depending on your location, age and medical history.

Think About Social Security

Knowing when you need to start collecting Social Security benefits to maintain your lifestyle is an important part of your retirement income planning. If you are at least 62 years old, you may start receiving Social Security benefits now. However, it could pay off to wait until your full retirement age (FRA), which is 66 or 67, depending on the year you were born. You might even want to consider delaying collecting your benefits, as it would earn you an extra 8% for each year you delay up until age 70.

The best time to start taking your benefits will differ for each individual person and their unique circumstances. We highly recommend talking to a financial advisor about when to take Social Security as a part of your comprehensive financial plan so you can make the most of your new life as a retiree.

This article was originally published May 27, 2019.

Bruce Helmer

Bruce Helmer

Co-Founder, Financial Advisor and Author, Speaker and Host of the "Your Money" Radio Show

Series 7 & 63 Securities Registrations,1 Series 66 Advisory Registration, † Insurance License Bruce has been in the financial services industry since 1983 and is one of the founders of Wealth Enhancement Group. Since 1997, he has hosted the “Your Money” radio show, a weekly program that focuses on delivering financial advice in a straightforward, jargon-free manner. Bruce also hosts with the "Mid-Morning" crew on WCCO-TV each Tuesday morning to...Read More