4 Tips for Setting Up a Home Computer After Retirement
Congratulations! You’re officially retired. Just like with other areas of your life in this new phase, you’ll experience a palpable shift in digital assets. Did you have to give back a mobile phone? Hand over your laptop?
If you are retiring from a conventional office career that provided use of a personal computer and other technology accessories, you may need to replace or upgrade your home equipment.
If you used your work computer for personal reasons like banking, shopping and convenient browsing, you’ll probably want to review your at-home Internet usage plan. You’ll also need to update your contact information and the way people contact you.
Long gone are the days of two phone numbers, one for work and one for home. Multiple email addresses, social media accounts and mobile telephone apps are a constant in our lives and generations use different means to communicate.
What Are You Using Technology for?
Before replacing a work computer with a home computer, it’s important to take the time and consider for what you’ll be using your investment. A lot of people are so accustomed to a traditional PC set-up with a desk and keyboard that they don’t realize how liberating a tablet or laptop can be.
Go through the main uses for a computer in your retirement. Will you be writing a memoir or doing post-career consulting work? Will you be spending more time on hobbies like digital photography? Or will you limit your tech time to catching up with family and friends, writing email and planning travel opportunities?
While computer store staff are there to sell you their merchandise, they are also trained in assisting you in large purchase decisions. Take advantage of their knowledge!
Additionally, talk to people you know who have trimmed down to tablet or smart phone use over a large bulky computer. The mobile options are liberating if you can compromise the traditional look and feel of an office.
Looking to Save or Splurge?
Keeping cost to a minimum may be a common factor in retirement, but it doesn’t limit your options as bluntly as you may think. If you are starting a small home office or are tempted to indulge in a photo printer, wireless speaker system and all the fun stuff, you can consider financing.
There are also generic brands and refurbished options. If you browse sites like Craig’s List or opt for second-hand sales, there is more to consider than the integrity of the vendor and the condition of the equipment.
Compatibility is important and will quickly cost you dearly if you don’t verify on both sides. A two-year old printer might work beautifully with an equally aged computer but will struggle to connect wirelessly to your new iMac.
Software versions and upgrades will quickly become a burden, so be sure to research products diligently if you’re bargain hunting.
Flex Time and Flex Data
Lots of retirees make a slow transition to the golden years and may wish to continue working, yet do it on their own time or with their own resources. Today’s business landscape is all about digital data.
If you’d like to keep your home technology simple, yet have access to on-demand documents, there are plenty of options.
If you’re tech savvy, or have data security concerns, an external hard drive is a great option. If not, there are lots of online resources that can be used to transfer documents or store them.
Google Docs, Drop Box, iCloud services are only a few. You can easily keep your hardware investment lean even if you have large projects on the go.
Stay in Touch, Stay Up to Date
One of the main uses for at-home computing is staying in touch with family and friends. If you’re like most retirees I know, your grandkids are more likely to text than call.
Even more heart-warming is being able to see everyone. If you haven’t already discovered FaceTime, Skype or video calling, what are you waiting for?
Make sure your computer, tablet or smart phone is video call ready! You can save money for yourself or the person on the other side of the call with free apps like Messenger or WhatsApp and off-set the cost of long distance communication.
Be sure to update social media professional sites like LinkedIn or other resources. It’s also a good time to revisit your online security and digital privacy settings. Online crime often targets seniors, and retirees can be easy prey.
Do you have a computer at home? If you used your work computer at home, are you thinking of purchasing a new device now that you are retired? What are the ways you plan to use your computer in retirement?
Jennifer Stern is a self-described “writer in geek’s clothing.” Drawing upon years of communications experience in the tech industry, she started a personal blog to address common concerns about technology and the internet, specifically for Canadian seniors. She believes seniors can benefit from embracing technology and the convenience it offers. Read her blog at www.digitalseniors.ca