June 18, 2014

Retirement Life Observations

On April 8, 2014 I decided to take vacation days up to my corporate exit interview two weeks later, so I guess my retirement really started then because every morning after I would wake up with my own schedule. It's been a little over two months since I have retired. Some things in my lifestyle such as my diet have changed considerably while other changes have been subtle if they have changed at all.

For those that are retired maybe we can compare our changes in lifestyle since retired while those that are considering retirement may see something they can consider in making their decision.

In my case I didn't feel there would be a lot of change because I've always lived a pretty simple lifestyle being single. There isn't a lot of drama in my life. My health is good, I'm active and have a few interests such as cycling, my hounds and reading. There have been some notable changes though even in the two months being home.

One thing I have noticed is the number of people I am around. I never socialized a lot in my non-work hours when I had a job because most of the people I worked with lived in other towns in opposite directions than where I live. Another reason is most of them have families and they are busy with all of their kid's activities with sports and school. So less people is not a surprise for me. I actually like the solitude that comes with being single.

Another, is my diet changed drastically and with that change I have lost 16 pounds since I walked out of the office on April 7, 2014. These changes were basic. I was no longer around Pepsi machines at work, no longer around the daily pastry that would be brought into work by different co-workers and no junk food available that I ate a lot of. Now, I think a lot of the junk food intake and my addiction of Pepsi Cola were job stress related. My diet now consists of a lot of fresh veggies and fruits...a lot. I occasionally have fish with rice and a vegetable or black bean burritos. I supplement beans into my salads for a little extra protein.

I am riding my bikes more than before but not as much as I want. I want to ride more and with the heavy humidity and high temps, my riding is going to take place early in the mornings until fall. It will be just like the old days when I was doing a little racing and all of our training rides were very early in the morning with a possible afternoon ride. Once I start a regular regiment of riding 5x/week, even more pounds will disappear. My 45 minutes of mowing my yard with a push mower is good exercise because of the heat but also my front yard is on an 80' incline. So I get some good leg and cardio workout while mowing.

Years ago I started an Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to track all of my income (different sources) and expenditures to get control of my money and my spending. I categorized each expenditure and then formulated a monthly average. As years passed I link those previous year's monthly averages so I can see where I might be spending more in different categories or where some prices are increasing since last year because I am buying the same amounts.

This spreadsheet was a key factor in deciding if I could retire or not and if I could survive financially.

Besides that spreadsheet on income and expenditures, when I thought of retiring I made a different spreadsheet just for retiring options. I listed all income and expenses buy the current monthly averages.

I will make a separate blog post just on this spreadsheet, because it showed me all the different options whether to retire or not and options if I were to retire and what the financial bottom line would be. It was quite shocking what some of those options showed once it was seen laid out on paper.

I do not plan on giving "expert" financial advice on this blog but maybe some basic things that all people can use. One would be the spreadsheet to track income and expenditures and two, a spreadsheet showing before and after retirement options with the incomes different due to your change in income sources once you retire.

I will say that since retired I am spending less and not making an intentional effort to do so. Sure, I made some adjustments. I sold my old Chevy Pickup that was never driven more than 300 miles per year and put that money in the savings. I sold my Kia Sorento that was never driven and decreased a car payment and insurance reduction. I sold a Class C RV that I was not going to use, that also eliminated a payment and insurance reduction. I got my 'herd' of vehicles down to two. A Mini Cooper for great gas mileage and local driving and my Toyota FJ 4x4 for winter driving, camping trips, dog trips to the vet and any other trips where I would have to haul something from a store.

I started downsizing my possessions two years ago more than I would with the annual spring cleaning because I was planning on changing my lifestyle to RV living and possibly full-time. So I downsized a lot of things. Sold a little of it, gave a lot away to goodwill and the local library. When I had the thought of selling my house and hitting the RV road, I continued this downsizing to the point of getting down to possessions that I did not want to get rid of. I knew then it was time to stop as I was in my "downsizing comfort zone".

I am not living in a skeleton house of things but I will say my house is not stuffed with anything that is not used, read or worn. For instance my table place setting was reduced to 4. Thats only 4 forks, knives, small spoons and large spoons, 4 plates, 4 bowls. I could probably even reduce that to only 2 and may do that. My suit and ties and dress shoes were all given away last year when I saw I no longer had to wear them at work and I had not worn them in years.

For those that are considering downsizing, I will tell you that there is nothing that I have missed not having. That includes the trucks and cars I have sold, even the RV. I still have things I want to sell, some things I will give away but I am pretty close to be downsized to just the things I need. Even the hounds were involved as I got rid of all their extra bones, kong balls etc that they no longer chewed on...threw some away and gave the kong balls to other friends with dogs.

So ... after two months of retirement I can say I am thrilled with my decision and that I had the guts to go through with it. I knew I would miss the income I was making but I would not miss the drama at work and constant changes for the worse. They had made it almost impossible to do your job by the time I left. My schedule if there is one, is wide open and I love that freedom.

One last thing, that constant heartburn I lived with thinking it was diet related and some of it was, is gone.

Good luck if you decide to retire and good luck to those that have.

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