June 28, 2013

My First Few Years of Retirement: The Finances

A comment on Is Retirement a Bed of Roses? was an important reminder to me that few of my readers have been part of the Satisfying Retirement family since the beginning three years ago. What I primarily write about is where my journey is now. But, that may give the mistaken impression that I had it all figured out from day one, that retirement has simply fallen perfectly into place and there have been very few problems along the way.

That is not true. Like everyone else, I had to learn as I went. In 2001 there were very few books or Internet resources that seemed relevant to me. The slow decline of my radio consulting business pretty much forced me to decide retirement was the best option for my family. I stumbled along for several years until I found a path that worked for me.

This post will be the first in a series of four that deal with the key areas that confront anyone who retires. Over the next few weeks I will look back at the initial effect of my retirement on relationships, time use and management, and finding a passion. I will begin with the topic that most concerns those thinking of retirement or those who have recently left the work world: Finances.

I started saving for retirement when I was 27, the year I got married. I wasn't making much money as a DJ in Morgantown, WV but I knew it was important to start early. Over the years, as my career and income grew, I was able to set aside anywhere from 20-30% of my income each year, split between a retirement and a savings account.

When we stopped working in June, 2001 I was 52 and Betty was 47. Though I had played with the financial projections over and over, I remained seriously concerned that we were making a terrible mistake. Even with a decent IRA and a savings account that was designed to carry us until I was ready to start withdrawing from the retirement account, I just couldn't accept that we'd be OK. Every month I'd re-run all the projections and take another look at our budget. I was nervous and worried. I certainly hadn't projected the continuing escalation of health care costs which were eating up over 25% of our monthly budget.

Panic means back to work


Within one year of closing my business I got so nervous about money that Betty went to work at a local department store. She disliked the job intensely but bravely put up with bad bosses and mindless work. I sat at home feeling guilty about the arrangement. After nearly a year of that silliness we decided that the stress on us both wasn't worth the money and she retired for good.

Two years after that experience, I took a part time job as a tour guide that lasted almost five years. My job was to accompany business people who were in Phoenix and Scottsdale for conventions or seminars to dinners, golf outings, or trail rides. Actually, the  job was quite simple: tell people where the bathrooms were and make sure all the folks got back on the bus to the hotel. It was not very satisfying but earned us an extra $3,500 a year. It also allowed me to interact with other people, something I was missing.

In the fourth year of retirement I finally accepted the fact that our planning, budgeting, and sacrifices were enough to allow us to enjoy our retirement without constantly worrying about money. Sure, a disaster of some type could mess things up, but we shouldn't live constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop.

The 'Great Recession' knocks at our door


Of course, that "shoe" did drop in 2008. Our IRA lost 30% of its value in about 8 months. Our house value sank 50% in one year. My investments looked perilous and interest rates plunged toward zero. The so-called "Great Recession" hit us hard.

Frankly, I had every reason to panic. I was too old to get any type of job and Betty had enough physical limitations that she wasn't very employable either. My net worth had taken a hit of several hundreds of thousands of dollars. I could see no reasonable path to replace that money.

But, this is where the story gets interesting: I discovered I was less worried at that point than I had been when I first retired. Over those first six or seven years Betty and I had traveled twice to Europe and extensively throughout the U.S. We were living what we thought was a typical retired lifestyle.

With the financial meltdown we trimmed our expenses to match what appeared to be our new income level. Surprise! We discovered we were quite content with a much simpler, pared down lifestyle. We were happiest being home bodies, spending time with family, and enjoying activities closer to home. We didn't need to eat so many meals at restaurants, buy new clothes as often, get a new car every three or four years, or spend $200 a month on cable TV...for hundreds of channels we never watched! Grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner every once in awhile tasted just fine to us. Compared to my last few years of work, we were quite happy living on about 50% less.

I began reading every book on simplicity and simple living I could get my hands on from the library (no more big packages from Amazon every month). I delighted in finding free or inexpensive things to do in the area. I started using discount coupons as a way to do special things.

So where are we now?


Over the last four years the retirement account has recovered fully, the house value is now down only 25% from its peak in 2007, and we felt confident enough in the future to buy an RV last fall. Our income has stabilized and I have begun to receive Social Security checks as a nice addition to our monthly planning.

Even so, the lifestyle we adopted five years ago remains. We are content and happy to live more simply. Finding milk on sale for $1.79 a gallon instead of $2.79 is reason for a fist bump. Waiting for a book I want at the library is well worth the money saved that I used to spend to buy a copy.

So, what you read on Satisfying Retirement today is where I am after several missteps, financial panics, and a reevaluation of what makes us happy. Retirement for me has been a journey that hasn't always been smooth, but certainly instructive. It has been about adjusting, recalculating, and believing in how we had prepared.

What's your story?


41 comments:

  1. Great post! I look forward to seeing the rest in the series of four. I also look forward to hearing about the financial journey from other folks. I am only able to offer the perspective as a new retiree.

    About a year before I retired (my husband was already retired), I determined that I was ready to take the plunge myself. The decision to retire when I did surprised me. 10 years ago, if you had asked me, I would have said that "I love what I'm doing and I'll never retire". However a month vacation in FL during the winter, the contemplation of both of us getting older, and thinking about all the wonderful possibilities life had to offer, caused me to reconsider. In addition, the inspiration from your blog and several others provided me with a different perspective of how satisfying and enriched my life could be outside of work.

    For many years, we have done quarterly spreadsheets to update our financial status. But what we hadn't done was to project a retirement budget and evaluate how long our money would last us. Thanks to inspiration from your blog, and from Syd and Tamara, I developed spreadsheets that would project how long our money would last. Variables such as rate of inflation, rate of return, and % of drawdown were tweaked. The year leading up to my retirement, we started to live on a projected retirement budget, to see if it was doable. We started thinking about what was really important to us and found it relatively easy to cut back, so that we could use our money for our priority interests.

    Our financial adviser (fee only) confirmed our financial readiness to retire. We'll continue to consult with him on a yearly basis, at least for now, just to make sure we are staying on track.

    Part of my "insurance policy" on our financial future is to maintain my board certification. It will cost me several hundred dollars next year, but will ensure that I am able to return to work in my profession, should the need arises. I don't expect that it will, but you never know.

    We have talked about downsizing and moving to a smaller home with lower taxes. We don't need all this space! But we love our neighborhood, and at this point don't need to make this adjustment. But it certainly is an option that is on the table as we continue to evaluate our financial health.

    I loved what you said about the joys of simplifying your life. While working, I would at times purchase things just because "I deserved it". The pleasure from discovering the simpler things in life continues to amaze this new retiree!

    It still seems strange to me to not get a regular paycheck deposited in my account every 2 weeks. It also seems strange to actually start living on some of our savings. My husband will start SS next year at 66. I'll take his spousal when I turn 66 in 5 years, and then will take my own full benefit when I turn 70. This could change, but this is how we see it playing out for now.

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    1. I have had the same financial adviser for almost twenty years. He has picked some duds (think Greek Bank investment 4 years ago), but overall he understands my investment philosophy and doesn't try to change it.

      I have been conservative in that regard since day one. Sure, I have missed big run ups in certain investments, but I've also been able to weather the inevitable downturns. It is very important to have someone else watching things with you.

      Welcome to a simpler, satisfying life, Carole.

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  2. Hi Bob, I have been reading your blog for a while now and have enjoyed your insights and adventures. We live on the south coast of NSW Australia and we are in our mid fifties. I have just retired and my husband will be soon....we are looking forward to having some more life choices that we have not had with fulltime work. We have some plans for our future and are looking forward to so much. I have also read as much as I can on simple living etc and have had much to think about over the last few months. I appreciate your honesty - it is amazing what we can do without as we become content with all we have.

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    1. Hello to Down Under!

      A question for you: what is the status of retirement in Australia at the moment? Are folks counting on company pensions or government programs like many do in the U.S.? Are more people working later in life because of a lack of savings?

      With you retiring in your mid 50's you obviously planned well. Welcome to the world of a satisfying retirement, Roseanne.

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    2. Hi Bob,
      The age that Australians can get the Aged Pension has been increased now to 65.5 years and will have incremental increases to 67 yrs by 2023. As it stands most Aussies do not have enough in superannuation to be self funded so will have to stay in the workforce until pension age. This of course becomes difficult for those in more physically demanding jobs. Apparently the average superannuation amount is only $80,000 - $250,000 so yes, many will be relying on governement pensions. Of course, you can retire whenever you like if you have the income. My husband has been putting extra into super (out of his wage) for a number of years now. Because of my interest in investments and money management, we decided to manage our superannuation investments ourselves (called a 'self managed super fund' here in Australia). We have put in as much as the government has allowed over the last few years, paid down our debt and can now afford to leave work......I have a budget, of course. It should allow us travel to Asia (cheap and we love it!)once or twice a year as well as time away in our caravan. We hope to pick up some casual work at times ....
      My advice to anyone wanting to do this is firstly, live simply and secondly, to spend much less than you earn. We have only been average wage earners and I did not work for 13 years when the children were small.

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    3. So, it sounds rather similar to the States: too many people have saved too little money and the age for government support is increasing.

      Your advice to live simply and spend less than you earn fits anyone, anywhere, and at any age who wants a comfortable, satisfying future.

      Thanks for the clarification, Roseanne.

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  3. THANK YOU Bob for this amount of detail and disclosure because as one of your readers who is not retired yet ALL of the things you experienced have run thru my mind the "what if's".However as I was reading your situations might not happen to me, something similiar could and what I got from your examples is the team work and adjusting that you and your wife did and do.With that knowledge I know my husband and I will be ok.All thru our 36 yrs together there have been some "pop ups" and we tackle them as they come as a team.I am confident that will continue.Plus we are creative, we don't need much to make us happy hot/cool shower, good coffee..you get the picture.

    One thing I am struggling with is having my paycheck gone.The idea of being dependent on SS or a company like Merrill Lynch etc to send my income every month hmmm.I know I put that money away for retirement, we paid into SS and pensions/401K/IRA but the dependency has me uncomfortable.I think that is why I always want to earn alittle cash flow AND I really like being busy both body and mind.

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    1. I completely understand the fear of depending on other sources to keep you afloat and happy. A good example is my hesitancy regarding annuities. To turn over a big percentage of my retirement money to a private company that promises to pay me every month for the rest of my life sounds great...except private companies can change the "rules," go out of business, be bought by some other company that has a different plan, etc. To me, that seems like too many eggs in one basket.

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  4. Thanks, that was good to read and identify with. Bob and I knew we would retire with pensions which makes us among the lucky few but still I worried at the cut our income would take. So when I put in my mandatory letter 4 years before retirement we tighten our belts and paid off every single debt we had except our house. We knew that we would be living on less that 50% of what our income would be. We then considered location since we had lived in the Chicago suburbs where real estate taxes were over $5000 a year for a 35 year old split ranch so out to Arizona we came. It was a dream for us that made financial success. We were able to get a ranch house on the golf course in sun city where the taxes are less than $900 a year and many amenities. Our house in Illinois sold and because of the real estate market we did not make money but we were happy to just be out, and loaded up our cars and headed west. We now live on just one pension, we bank the other for travel, we sold one car and found out that was all we really needed and have no debt. Yes it can be tight at the end of the month but with no creditors we can happily make it work. If I had only realized when I was younger that simple can still be satisfying. Our entertainment budget this week included frozen yogurt with a coupon on a 116 degree day. Quite exciting! Cindy

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    1. You almost feel like you won a contest when you can find all the free or inexpensive things to do. The Phoenix area is so full of opportunities that Betty and I could be busy almost every night of the week and spend almost nothing.

      Like you, we have no debt. We bought our house for cash 11 years ago because I didn't want a mortgage hanging over my head right after closing down my business. For our entire married life we have never carried a credit card balance and, except for once, always paid cash for our cars.

      Living "small" but well with no debt is amazingly liberating.

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  5. Here's my story: I have always been a saver and brought no debt and savings into my marriage in 1974. My DH started saving for retirement the minute he started in the railroad business 1971, age 21 with the Tier 2 employee contributory annuity, a mandatory 3.75% withholding that was income taxed federally and 3 different state governments where we lived. At the end of his career 16% of his gross pay was taken for SS, medicare, and this Tier2. In 1985 his company started a 401K and we always contributed 6%-enough to get the match and at some points we contributed the max-10%. He volunteered for a management early retirement package in 2004, age 54 and I was 51. This included health insurance coverage. This was the true reason we took it, since they threaten discontinuation of early retirement health care coverage in the future. The next year, when he would be 55, we were planning on him retiring. I had left my job in 1998 to care for aging parents. I was the CFO and financial planner behind the scene running the numbers. The sweetened pension and health insurance made it a win- win for us. We had 18 months of a satisfying retirement before DH got ill. 10 months later he lost his battle with cancer. I'm now 9 years into retirement. After his death, expenses and pension went dramatically down. Living frugally and investing conservatively, I actually grew my assets even through 2008. Each year I found different ways to keep living expenses down and my personal inflation for these I calculate over the 6 years at 1.9% or less then .3% each year. In 2004, I had set aside a separate bucket of regular taxable accounts for emergencies & discretionary expenses and this provided out of pocket medical cost, the house maintenance , weddings expenses for my two children, gifts, and spoiling the two grandchildren, ages 4 and 2. Luckily I didn't totally deplete it and hopefully will be adding to it. In March 2013, I started my Railroad widow pension after turning 60 and a whole new type of retirement is starting! So many possibilities where cost is not the over riding issue of whether I can do it. I love math and two of the most rewarding tables I ran recently were: what if I live till 95 and a second one what if I live till 100. You divide your total assets (option of including your home or not) by the number of years till you reach that age. You can put in a lot of variables( like inflation or investment return) but the bottom line is if you can live on your income(social security & pensions) plus the amount shown that you can tap from your assets each year- you can stop worrying about finances. It shows that with each year if your money has stayed basically the same amount at the end of the year- the money available each year increases starting with a 2.5% increase the next year and more each succeeding year because the number of years the assets have to cover has decreased by 1. My parents passed at 87 and 88, so I'm building into the charts many more years then probably needed but that will be a legacy for my family. I feel your last paragraph says it so well for me also. Thanks for covering all of the different aspects of retirement. I look forward to the other three topics.

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    1. Lara,

      First let me express my condolences over your loss. Even though it was many years ago I'm sure your thoughts about the life you would have lived with DH are still quite strong.

      With that said, you have this retirement thing figured out financially. Being the person running the numbers certainly gave you a tremendous perspective on how things were unfolding. And, it is obvious you worked for a company that continues to keep its promises to you.

      Like you I have a some longevity genes in my family. I just played with the numbers again last night and feel I can make it to 91 without a problem. After that, an estate from my parents will be available if needed (unless my dad lives to be 120!)

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  6. We read almost daily how baby boomers can't afford to retire. Obviously, I know that many people are going to struggle. With that said, one of the things I enjoy most about writing about retirement is learning all the wonderful ways people are making it work. ;-)

    Because fear about not having enough money is a core issue for me personally, I've been fascinated by the psychology of money. http://www.retirewow.com/retirement-money-and-why-there-is-never-enough/ As you point out, part of your retirement journey was not only learning do deal with the actual finances, but how your attitude and beliefs affected your situation.

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    1. I have learned over the years that attitude can be one of the most powerful forces in someone's life. It can dampen fear, strengthen resolve, and make any situation seem OK. Having a positive attitude isn't being a Pollyanna. It is understanding that life is a long series of choices and challenges and how we react determines how we are doing.



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  7. My husband and I were poor retirement planners. We thought we had plenty of time and we diverted lots of funds for our european travel lifestyle. I was a foolish money manager in widowhood and not where I expected to be. However, I am blessed to hae both a pension and social security, giving me a monthly income greater than some folks take out each month. Add to that fact that I what I hope is a creative person who also loves to search for those little goodies and I find life rewarding in retirement. Im train and road tripping instead of cruising, but that works fine-for me. Its amazing how simple life can be and how many free and low cost things one can find to do-with ease, in most places.

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  8. Your story, after your husband died at the very beginning of retirement, is one of grit and fortitude, Barb.

    I'm right there with you: Betty wants to go to Europe again; I'd rather not. I so dislike air travel and all that it entails I would choose an RV or train anytime. We are flying to Portland in August but that saves 8-9 days driving round trip, the wear and tear on us and the car, and all the expense of motel rooms, meals, and gas. It is the only logical choice.

    I think about wanting to take a canal boat through southern France until I realize the cost of that for one week would fund several months of RV trips!

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  9. Thanks for sharing your story. I've had the same experience in that as I've managed to cope with the financial aspects of retirement, and learned to live with no more regular paychecks, I've become less worried, less concerned about money -- certainly much less so than when I was younger and working and had all those financial obligations like kids and college tuitions staring me in the face.

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    1. Maybe it is just the people I know and those who interact with this blog, but the common occurrence is to have less worry after retirement. The media would like us to believe otherwise.

      Once the step is taken, most of us understand our worst fears simply don't come to pass.

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  10. Bob, I have found from your columns over the last year+ that we share a lot in common - work ethic, background, and attitude towards finances. As I get closer and closer to actual retirement, it is refreshing to read from yourselves and others how you have made it work. Your point about weathering the last crash and coming back is useless not only for retirees or soon-to-be's, but the public in general. Congratulations for making it work for you and Betty.
    BTW, be real careful of that heat out West this weekend. You may be breaking some records in your town.

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    1. I am going to guess you meant "useful" and not "useless" Chuck!

      Oh my, the heat is on. We may be pushing 120 before cooling all the way back to 105 by the middle of next week. We actually have a 3rd birthday party for my granddaughter on Saturday. Part of it involves running through sprinklers. Even that doesn't make the weather any better.

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    2. Bob,, too many systems up and running on the desk at the same time. Glad you knew it was "useful". Stay safe in that heat - incredible.

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  11. As a relatively new retiree (15 months in) I really appreciated your post. I actually retired because of a non-life-threatening health issue; I hadn't thought much about retiring until right before it happened. The biggest item is that, although I didn't plan well for retirement, the few things I had in mind to do & accomplish have not been nearly as much fun as the unexpected turns life has taken. I, like Barb, have a moderate pension & SS, and feel blessed to have that. The recession has been hard on my family; even though technically life is getting better, we are not seeing a lot of that here, so one child (with her Australian Shepherd) has moved in with my significant other, myself, two chihuahua/dachshund mixes & a VERY unhappy cat; it should help her financially.

    Travel is the biggest question for us. We don't have a lot of money & our trips are to see family, including a recent one out of state because my uncle (87 years old) had health issues. While I'd like to travel, mostly in the US, I find that when it comes time to set that money aside, I have other priorities.

    I often look for coupons & values myself, trying to balance that with patronizing, as much as possible local establishments. We are also frugal with our utilities; we're currently in the Western US heat spell & are doing as much as possible before 9am & at night. The middle of the day is slow-down time & not using utilities time. My love is right; there is enough money for us, we just have to figure out how to use it.

    I'm looking forward to the other posts.

    pam

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    1. As Chuck noted above, the Phoenix area is looking at temperatures above 116 this weekend. That is toasty, though not all that unusual. We normally get some of these super-heated days just before the monsoon season starts with its violent thunderstorms and more humid conditions. Even so, today, Friday, I have limited my outside chores to a few essentials: watering pots and picking up dog poop! It is interesting how we adapt, though, to extremes. Betty just left to run errands and the thermometer says 112!

      The RV has changed our mindset enormously concerning travel. We are giving serious thought to being gone for two months next summer on a trip across the upper Midwest. April's 22 day trip to Texas and back just whetted our appetite for more.

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  12. Bob, I have appreciated your patience as I have lamented out loud about retirement. Knowing that you two did a bit of the hoop jumping as well mades me feel even better. You help me see that it was not odd to view it from different stages.

    My husband and I retired together. I went back to work, and now have fully retired in the last six months.
    We used to "run the numbers" monthly- sometimes weekly. I forget when we last ran them. Letting go has caused so much less anxiety. (Loved your column on worry and refer to it from time to time).

    We live off my husband's pension and travel off of the extra money that comes in through various doors. For a while we thought we should save that extra income- but decided our nest egg is doing fine. My husband will take his SS at 66- three more years. His comment is that we should start to loosen the belt about then- travel outside of the US and such. Turkey seems to be his destination of choice.
    Spousal benefit starts for me seven years after his SS. I'll take my own SS at 70- which will be a bit higher then the spousal. It is SOOO complicated.

    We decided to stop worrying about our health care. We are covered for now and if things change, he will probably change his SS to cover it.

    The change that finally hit us was that we decided that enough was enough. We did not need lots of extra things to keep us happy. My husband rejoices over a wood sale. I call my daughter when I can find diapers for her under $6.00. Life is pretty darn good on our small Kansas farm- even when our 100 degree days seem just as hot as the 110 degree day we got married on in Phoenix all those years ago!

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    1. Kansas heat and humidity can be brutal. Be careful!

      Your final paragraph begins with the sentence that all retirees eventually have to accept: "enough is enough." If you've done your homework, prepared diligently and have faith in the future, then live life before it is too late. We don't get a second chance on life so we'd better not leave any regrets on the table.

      Big Lots and dollar stores....I've discovered a whole new world out there!

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    2. Jannette, I loved this story. The fact that you rejoice over the small things just hit a cord with me. Best wishes.

      b+

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  13. We still have a few months before my husband retires at the age of 67. Six months after that I will collect the reduced spousal benefit at age 62.

    There are two things that frustrate me. First, we are not able to receive the quote of what his company's medical coverage will be for us until three months before his official retirement date. While my husband is eligible for Medicare, he needs to stay on the company's plan to have me included. We're lucky to have the option because I have health issues but it's hard to plan retirement expenses without this information. Maybe we will be able to find a better deal when the HCA kicks in all the way.

    My second frustration is that while my husband now wants to retire he is just trusting that I have our finances figured out. That's not usual I bet.

    Good article today, bob, and I enjoyed the comments.

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    1. I face a similar uncertainty. I will be eligible for Medicare in May of next year. But, what will my current provider do with my policy starting in January? Will I go 5 months without coverage, will they simply grandfather what I have now until May, or will I have to sign up for a new policy that will only be good for 5 months?

      Uncertainty reigns until October, but is that October 1st or 31st? I predict some major headaches getting this all set up in time to kick in on January 1st.

      We're all in this together, Denise.




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  14. I'm widowed, 18 years now (was married 18 years) w/a military pension and social security. I have a 4 br, 3 ba house in CA that is paid off, so when my daughter's marriage did not work out after 8 years, I offered my 2nd story house to her and the 4 grandchildren, ages 7, 6, 4 and 2. 2 of the bedrooms are set up w/bunkbeds for what were summer visits. So they relocated, have moved in, and at the same time, the house next door, that has 1/2 the square footage and is a single story became available for rent and I rented it! I'm 60-1/2 and run 45 mins. ea. morning and so now can watch my grandchildren grow up. We've established boundaries, and after a month, it's working out well for us. I am thrilled to be in a smaller house, (have been wanting to downsize), and she has the energy to take care of my 4 br. one next door. I have 0 interest in traveling, so realize I am in the minority there, and would much rather interact w/the grandchildren, and be a positive influence in their lives, so long as I get my private time too, which I do. We made the best of an unfortunate situation, and w/my daughter's personality, she'll meet someone else in time. None of this was planned and yet for us, it's ideal. I was traveling to another State 3x per year to visit them. If my rental house ever becomes available to purchase, I will! Should she ever relocate, my plan is to rent out my 4 br house since I truly want to make my rental house my permanent home now. Sandy

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    1. Interesting how these things sort themselves out, isn't it Sandy? While maybe not perfect, you, your daughter and her kids are truly fortunate to have the situation develop the way it did. It sounds almost like destiny.

      Our youngest generation needs the solid influence of caring grandparents. Yours are truly blessed to have you as part of their lives.

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  15. This was such a great reminder that retirement (like life) is a journey, not a destination. I think it's especially helpful to be reminded that our problem-solving abilities do not suddenly dry up and blow away when we leave the labor force! I still have 18 months of income from my job left, so I am trying to take care of all kinds of home maintenance issues so that they won't be hanging over my head when I retire. I am also starting to cut back on some discretionary expenses (like books!) to develop the discipline I'll need later. (Like you, I'm learning that I don't have to buy it; I can wait until the library gets it.) My strategy for travel is to set aside a certain amount each month ear-marked for travel. When I want to travel somewhere, I see how much has accumulated in that account and where I can go on that amount. Then I can make a decision to (1) spend it now; (2) defer the travel plans until I can save more to take that special trip; or (3) rethink whether I can do the special trip on a lower budget.
    Thanks again for this great post! -Jean

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    1. The only books we buy anymore are used paperbacks for RV trips. When we return home we take them back for partial credit until we need to load up for the next trip. I have all sorts of books on my Kindle but am enough old school to prefer to hold one in my hand and turn pages as I read.

      Having 18 months of income while developing retirement spending habits is an excellent start. You are well on your way.

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  16. Interesting that one year in, I too do that financial exercise just to reassure myself that there is enough. I guess it is more about having had a paycheque for a whole lifetime and now to not have an income is just a little disconcerting.

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  17. It is a little disconcerting after so many years, Kelly.

    Maybe that is one of the reasons I enjoyed receiving my first Social Security check last week. That was the first time in twelve years I got what will be a regular "paycheck."

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    1. I like the fact that next month it will be there again!

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  18. We have been very fortunate in that we did not know any other way to live but simply. Even when we took big hits and take them we did, we knew how to get by and still be happy. It must be very hard for people that live on the edge of "beyond their means" when the other shoe drops.

    I don't know that I even worried about money when we retired. We had always lived on what we had and less was about the same as more. As I look back I can see several incidences when I should have worried a little bit more. But then we all know that they say about hindsight!

    Be well Bob. See you soon!

    Barbara

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    1. ...something about 20/20. Knowing you and hubby, Earl, I am not surprised you remained level-headed through the whole experience of work and retirement. You certainly strike me as someone who doesn't get rattled too often.

      Oregon is calling in just over a month!

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  19. My husband and I thought we were set for retirement but I guess we figured incorrectly some where along the way. We had to sell our vacation home last year to pay off our house and if it were not for the temporary job my husband has we would not have much at all. His job will probably end in November and then since he is over 60 he probably won't be able to find another job or go back to the one he has been going back to since his retirement. So far he has been able to be off a year and back on for two then off again and back on. I was working when he first started so there was no problem but I can't find a job to save my life now so that is out. I know we will work it out, God always takes care of us, but I am a bit apprehensive about the years to come. We only have health insurance for the next few years but when he is enlargeable for Medicare his retirement health insurance ends. Obama care demands that you have health insurance but there is no way we can afford insurance for me out of pocket. So I have no idea what the future holds. But I know God holds my future. I have concerns about my house too. It is 30 plus years old and is in need of care right now. But I will say again, God holds the future and I will continue to lean on Him.

    I didn't read all the comments but so many of you sound so blessed. Be thankful for you blessing and they your retirement has turned out so good.

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    1. Thank you, Sue, for sharing the other side of the issue. I can guarantee you that many others are struggling like you and your husband, but they aren't comfortable leaving a comment. That leaves the impression that you are alone but that is not true.

      What you do have that many don't is your faith. God's promise is to never test us beyond our limits. I believe that, and so do you. Hold to that promise.

      And, thank you for reminding those of us with a satisfying retirement that we are blessed. Regardless of any setbacks or problems we are better off than 95% of the people in the world. It is too easy to forget that.



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  20. Cari in North TexasThu Jul 04, 02:24:00 PM MST

    Thank you for sharing your financial journey, Bob, it's always interesting and educational to see how other people handle situations. I'm very fortunate in that I have my military pension now, and in a couple of years maybe Socail Security, and that covers all my living expenses, plus I have IRA's to pull from now, so (knock on wood) financially I am okay for now. Through the military I also have health insurance paid for (or a small copay, depending on the doctor).

    My mother was a single mom raising 4 children, so I learned to be frugal at an early age. I've never been on to splurge on luxury items - who wants to walk around with someone else's name on their clothes? I've never understood that LOL I always ask for a senior discount at restaurants now, and McD's has 50 cent small coffee/soda for anyone over 55. Like others, I set money aside for travel and other intermittent expenses/luxuries, and so far I've never had to forgo anything I really wanted to do. It will be interesting once I quit my part-time job in December, though, to see how I handle things. I'm definitely looking forward to it!

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    1. I hope you keep us all up to date starting after the December change. No matter how well we think we are prepared, retirement is still an adjustment, both mentally and physically.

      Money should not be a worry for you (or health care, either). Like you, I don't need name clothes. Frankly, when I want a T-shirt for yard work or some project, Goodwill is my first stop.

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