Most people approaching retirement plot it all out by attending seminars, getting estimates from HR, and then taking multiple trips to the water cooler thinking, “Oh my God, can I pull this off?” I was no different, except in my own case I only had a few months to figure it all out.
As expected, the biggest challenge so far has been with money management. Simply put, there just isn’t the discretionary amount we used to have when I was getting a full salary. My plan long-term is to find a part-time job which will infuse some shekels into the budget. But first we had agreed ahead of time that I could have this immediate post-retirement period of navel-gazing for the remainder of the year. Sometime after January, I will figure out what I want to be when I grow up.
My short-term plan is to hide all the calendars in our home.
Fortunately Gorgeous has a dedicated and core group of clients that make her, for now, our primary breadwinner. Her income is the basis for my being able to retire early. In later years, when Social Security will hopefully still be there for both of us, and we can also start distributions from my 401(k) and other savings, she won’t need to work as much as she currently is. But for the moment, we are exceedingly grateful not only for that income but also that she absolutely loves her work and clients.¹
Which brings us back to the issue of discretionary spending. We have done a pretty good job of scaling back uncontrolled purchases. Unfortunately, shortly after arriving here Gorgeous began suffering from what can only be described as a perfect storm of dental issues. Her new dentist, oral surgeon, and endodontist are all going to have a very nice holiday season courtesy of her patronage. This was our first lesson that health care is one of the primary retirement costs that cannot be controlled. I am very fortunate that I carried both health insurance and optional dental coverage into retirement. For two beats as I was filling out my application papers, I thought of dropping the dental coverage to save money. I’m obviously glad that I refrained from doing so.
So we do cut back and save where we can. We love to have our cocktails out at classy joints, but we’re learning that it’s best to do this maybe once every two weeks rather than every week. A gourmet cook like Gorgeous has always refused to entertain the notion of store-brand ingredients, but now she’s willing to at least try them in a recipe. I like to go to places and think nothing of admission fees, hotel nights, gas, etc. But we’ve held off from making too many plans like that. Freedom has a price.
Today we drove to a new area for us at our favorite beach. We walked on a boardwalk that led to a fine-looking ice cream stand. Sorry all you readers in cold places, but it was 72 degrees and sunny here today. Ice cream after a nice afternoon walk sounded really good. I ordered a cherry vanilla and Gorgeous had a half coffee and half coconut pineapple. Feeling happy and drenched in sunlight, I handed the cashier my debit card with the same carefree attitude that I had in my salaried years. As I signed the receipt, I saw the $11.75 cost. We spent nearly $12 on two ice cream cones today.
Old habits apparently die hard.
¹ I’ve had a handful of private messages asking what it’s like to be married to a psychic (Hi, L, C, and T). I promise to write about this in a future post.