Category Archives: Retirement Ponderings

Trying It Out…

My entire working career I have always put a high priority on travel.  When I had the preschool I did not have paid vacation, so I worked a second job to pay for travel.  When I started working at the school district, my position was a year-round position and so I got vacation days.  Every year I planned our travel using every one of those days each year.

Over the past few years a number of circumstances have come together that have slowed my travel plans considerably.  As I result, I found myself with enough vacation days “left over” that I could take the week of New Years off.  I had no plans … I would just stay home.  I had NEVER in my working life just stayed home.  In fact, I had never even considered it, preferring to save my days for a big trip.

Suze Orman is always encouraging people to “try out retirement” while you’re still working .  This time would be a way to do just that.  It wouldn’t be a fair trial because it would not be long enough to really know what it felt like, but it would still be an interesting experiment.  So here’s what I learned:

  1. I had much more energy!  Even though I worked hard at home, my time at work is faster paced, more stressful and demanding.  Now, by the time I get home in the evenings I have already “hit the wall”.
  2. My house will be cleaner, because I was always taking a little extra time to more thoroughly clean.  Now, I am so tired after work that “a lick and a promise” is about the best I can muster.
  3. My husband was hoping for more together time than he got during that week.  He kind of followed me around as I busied myself around the house, hoping for a little companionship and maybe for us to spend more time doing something together instead of me being totally absorbed in my projects.  If I was working on my computer, he would want to be on his computer as well, wanting to share all the forwarded email and You Tube links he’d received.  Unfortunately, I have no interest in or patience for forwarded email crap, and his playing You Tube videos while I’m working at my computer, wanting me to watch them with him, was more than I could take.  From now on, when I think about being retired I need to include time for “us” as well as time for myself.  It WON’T include forwarded email or You Tube videos, however!
  4. I was surprised to find that I was not as physically active as when I’m at work.  Several of my projects were things like sewing, reading, working Sudoku puzzles, working on my computer…all very sedentary things.  While at work, I am up and down the stairs and hurrying here and there.  Once I’m retired I had already planned to join SARC and exercise at least 3X/week as well as walking more and working in the yard, but I did not do those things during my time off.  For sure I will have to make that conscious effort to stay active.
  5. I was NOT bored!  I did not think I would be, and in fact would have been very surprised if I had been.
  6. The TV drove me NUTS!!!  My husband LOVES TV and music and You Tube and often has all of them going at the same time…AWK!  I would retreat to my sewing room and close the door and put on quiet, background music in an attempt to drown out the constant babble, but that is going to be a problem.  We have worked around it in the evenings and on the weekend and when we go camping by him wearing headphones to listen.  But he can’t walk around all day, every day, wearing headphones the whole time.  We are going to have to work something out there.  I’m going to have to get some of my own headphones to share the inconvenience, if I like it quiet.

All in all, it was a great experiment and I’m looking forward to being retired even more than before.  I thoroughly enjoyed being home and puttering around the house and did not feel like those vacation days were wasted at all.

I was a little anxious about going back to work, knowing that it was going to be really busy… but once I got there it was fine.  I really do love my job and the people I work with.  I’m still looking forward to being retired, though! Continue reading Trying It Out…

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Beginnings…

Before I set a retirement date, I wanted to be sure that I could afford to retire.  Most of my working life I owed my own business.  I lived with debt.  I got a paycheck only after all the bills were paid and after everyone else got paid.  Seven years ago I closed my business and went to work for the school district.  Now I have regular paychecks and health insurance and paid vacation and sick leave and once I turn 65…a modest pension.  I no longer have debt, except for my mortgage.  I do not want to retire and then find out that I don’t have enough income to go anywhere or do anything or to fall back into debt.

There are lots of free calculators out there to help you decide how much you need to have in retirement.  But those calculators are useless until you figure out how much you currently have coming in, how much you have saved or invested to date, and most importantly…how much you have going out.  I keep track of my finances on Quicken.  I know at a glance what the answers to those questions are. But that is only the beginning.  The next part takes work….lots of work.

I like the Expense Tracker on the Suze Orman website.  http://www.suzeorman.com/suze-tools/expense-tracker   With the help of Quicken, I made a spreadsheet using Suze’s expense-tracker as a model.  Furthermore, I had to look back at previous years to make sure that the amounts I put down for each item were realistic.  This exercise is a real eye-opener for most people.

Next, I had to run different scenarios to be able to fill out the spreadsheets projecting into the future.  If I retired at age 62, what sources of income would be available to me?  How would that number change if I wanted until 65?  What if I wanted until my full retirement age of 66?  What if I waited until 70?   I remarried seven years ago and my husband is fifteen years older than me.  If he died, would I still be able to afford to retire?  I own two rental properties and am currently paying mortgages on both, as well as our home.  Would I be better off to sell one or the other of the rental properties, or both…. or neither?  These are the types of questions and scenarios that aren’t covered in those retirement calculators one finds online.

The last time I upgraded my Quicken to Quicken Deluxe, it came with a tool called Lifetime Planner.  Using what you already have entered into Quicken, it prompts you to put in all the information above, including all your assets, any loans, any future big purchases, how much you plan to contribute to your retirement accounts each year and etc.  It uses all that information to give you a red, yellow or green light about whether you should have enough money for the retirement date you put in.  The tool also allows you to change play around with different scenarios to see how changes might affect the plan.  After putting in all my figures I was happy to get the “green light” saying “you should have enough to fund all your life event goals and your expenses in retirement”.  For me, that was the confirmation I needed to feel confident that I had figured things up correctly on my spreadsheets.  It does appear that barring some sort of financial calamity, if I continue to put away what I have been every month, and keep paying down my mortgages, I should be able to afford to retire at the end of June, 2017.

There is a commercial on TV that always makes me smile.  It asks “Isn’t that what retirement really is…paying yourself to do what you love?”  That’s what I’m hoping.

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And so, the journey begins…

100_3358I have always looked forward to new journeys, both in travels and in life.  At various times in my life, I have kept a journal during times of transition, to help me sort my thoughts and hopefully understand why I made the choices I did … and how it all turned out!

I am now approaching another big transition in my life — Retirement.  For most of my life retirement has seemed far off and maybe something that would never happen for me.  For most of my working life I was self-employed and working a second job in order to have money to travel.  As the other part of this blog, I will tell about some of those journeys, as well.

But now I am into my 60’s and now retirement is starting to seem real.   In fact, I have a retirement date — July, 2017.  As I contemplated starting another journal, to chronicle this new journey, I decided to explore another path by sharing the journey, via this blog.

And so, the journey begins….