Empty Nest Goals
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21 Reasons to Look Forward to an Empty Nest

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Empty Nest Goals
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Solo Flight

The kids are gone, and the house is finally your own. And while there are plenty of mistakes you'll want to avoid as empty nesters such as blowing your retirement savings on a spending spree or immediately remodeling a now-vacant room, maybe it is time to let things slide a bit now that you've reached this milestone and (gasp) have some fun. Here is a list, sometimes playful, sometimes serious, of things you can now do however – and whenever – you like.

Related: 15 Affordable Fall Getaways for Empty Nesters

You'll Have a Cleaner House (If You Want It)
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You'll Have a Cleaner House (If You Want It)

With less people living in the house, there will naturally be less of a mess. You don't have to clean the floor seemingly after every meal — or make bed after bed (or nag endlessly to get it done by the people who messed up the covers). The end result should be a cleaner house with less work exerted.

Related: Decluttering Projects You Can Easily Tackle in Less Than 30 Minutes

You'll Do Fewer Dishes and Less Laundry
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You'll Do Fewer Dishes and Less Laundry

No matter when you'd come in the kitchen, there seemed to be dirty dishes on the table, sink or counter. Now you may have to wait a few days to load the dishwasher — and that's fine. You can also forget those loads of wash dedicated to grass-stained baseball pants or damp-and-stinky swim-team uniforms — or worse, mixed in with more delicate clothing. These days, the wash you do will be just your own, which should really cut down on the resentment, too.

You Can Save Money
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You Can Save Money

Expect expenses to go down, from electricity to water to groceries to health insurance. Maybe you're not ready to cut the kids off completely just yet, but now is a good time to encourage them to gain more financial independence — and you deserve the little extra in the wallet for what you need – or simply want. Enjoy the extra cash, but don't forget to set aside enough for when higher health care expenses associated with aging kick in.

Related: Top 23 Money Mistakes to Avoid in Your 50s

You Can Begin Downsizing
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You Can Redecorate the House
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You Can Have a Full Fridge
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You Can Have a Full Fridge

Hungry teens, both boys and girls, have been known to raid the refrigerator after school. These days, you only need to stock up if you want to do it — if you buy some cold cuts on Sunday, you can be pretty sure they'll still be there for lunch on Tuesday. Also, no one will swipe your fancy cheese.

You Can Cook What You Want — Leave it to Someone Else
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You Can Cook What You Want — Leave it to Someone Else

If preparing the family dinner was drudgery, you can throw that tradition out the window. Order in as much as you like – or dine out often. Splurge on the fancy restaurant you've always had on your dining bucket list, since the bill for a table for two is much easier to stomach than soup-to-nuts for six. Want to eat in instead? Now is the time to pull out all the stops in the kitchen. Make that complicated recipe that takes all day or includes flavors your picky little eater simply wouldn't touch (Brussels sprouts or curry?).

You'll Have a Full Tank
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You'll Have a Full Tank

Gone will be the days of getting into the car to head to the grocery store and realizing you probably don't have enough gas to get there (or, if you drive an electric car, finding out no one plugged in the car) because the kids took the car to the mall (and who knows where else) last night. Now, you'll be the one keeping an eye on the fuel gauge, so if you hover at empty, no one else is to blame.

You Can Travel Anytime
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You Can Travel Anytime

If the forecast is showing an unexpectedly warm weekend, you can hit the beach or the lake at the drop of a hat — and you don't have to schedule your trip during spring break unless you want to do so. Call and rent a room, and take off when you can. It's much easier to coordinate a getaway when it's just for one or two — and you might even be able to score a senior discount. Need inspiration? Check out the suggestions of James and Nancy O'Leary on their Life of the Empty Nesters blog.

You Can Sleep on Your Own Schedule
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You Can Sleep on Your Own Schedule

No more crazed mornings getting everyone off to the bus. If you're a night owl (or have insomnia) this is the perfect time to indulge your affinity for going to bed long after the sun has set. If morning's more your thing, then you can get up as early as you want and not worry about waking up "the whole house." You can eat (or not), exercise (or not), watch the morning news or read the paper – there's no watching the clock or listening for those first steps on the stairs.

You Can Savor the Quiet
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You Can Savor the Quiet

Once the kids leave, there will be no one barreling down the stairs, slamming the door, or yelling, "Not sure when I'll be back." Read in peace and catch up on the books you've never had the time to finish. Any noise is your own — so own it. Writer Sharon Greenthal, who explores communication on her empty-nest themed blog, has an interesting take on the quiet. If it gets too quiet? Pick up the phone or say hi to the UPS guy.

Related: 22 Ways to Relax from the Comfort of Your Home

You Can Exercise When You Want
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You Can Exercise When You Want

Did you always feel you had to get up at 5 a.m. to get your jog in before the kids' frantic schedule started? Or perhaps you prefer to exercise in the evening but felt bad leaving the kids, even though your spouse was home? Now, you can take a class, hire a trainer, walk the neighborhood — or simply meditate whenever it feels best for your schedule. Don't forget how important it is to stay fit as you get older.

You Can Enjoy a Home-Based Spa
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You Can Enjoy a Home-Based Spa

Draw a bubble bath and sink into the warm water — and know you can stay there as long as you want. No more "Mom, where's my headband?" or "Can you sign this permission slip?" Nope, it's just you, your daydreams, and maybe a glass of sparkling wine.

You Can Binge Watch with Abandon
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You Can Binge Watch with Abandon

Now is the time to catch up on every show you missed because of car-pool duty, basketball games or first-fight-with-boyfriend drama. Think "Game of Thrones," "Grace and Frankie," "The Handmaid's Tale," and maybe even "Parenthood." Now, all can be enjoyed, episode after episode after episode.

You Can Get Creative
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You Can Get Creative

Now is the time to take up that hobby you've always wanted to try. Explore watercolors or collage, yoga or knitting, woodworking or brewing beer. You can set your own pace and feel free to leave any project half done, in place, until the urge hits you to resume your study. No one will throw it off the table to do their homework.

You Can Drive Your Dream Car
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You Can Work Late without Guilt
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You Can Work Late without Guilt

If you're still doing the 9-to-5 thing, you know that sometimes the work day turns into 9-to-7 or later. Now, you don't have to disappoint the kids by missing dinner or breaking that promise to take them for ice cream. Just remember to give your spouse the courtesy call (text or email?) to say you'll be late. Still, don't work too late for your own physical and mental well-being.

Related: 18 Things You Should Do if You Want to Retire Early

You Can Party However You Want
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You Can Party However You Want

Invite some friends over and have a late-night bash. You won't have to keep it down. You might not rage until 3 a.m. (college days are long over) but you can let the party wind down when it naturally will, not by any curfew. Want to rock out with less effort? Now is the time to sing out loud, whether it's to Elvis Presley or Elvis Costello. Let it rip, off-key or not.

You Can Be Intimate More Often
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You Can Be Intimate More Often

You and the spouse have the house to yourself, so enjoy it – and each other. Indulge in intimate moments whenever and as often as you like — just make sure the shades are down.

You Can Wear What You Like
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You Can Wear What You Like

If your kids are embarrassed by your zebra print pants or, gasp, your Rod Stewart T-shirt, who cares? You can wear whatever you like. Or maybe you've been wanting to refresh your style and update your wardrobe — without the judgmental comments and looks from the kids. Now's the time to step up your fashion game.

You'll Realize You Have Great Memories
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You'll Realize You Have Great Memories

Perhaps you spend a weekend framing and hanging some family photos, all the while taking that proverbial trip down memory lane. You'll not only realize that many of the trying moment of raising kids are gone — but, if you're lucky, you have a wonderful bank of memories that will last for the rest of your life.

Related: College Towns That Retirees Love, Too