April 30, 2015

Another Great Day of Retirement

I've been sitting here today waiting for the grass to dry so I can mow the lawn later this afternoon. It's tall as usual this time of year and with the light rain early this morning it's not dry yet. It just proves that when you are retired things do not matter. If something is not done one day it can be done the next or another day.

A lot has happened this past year, nothing major, no problems but just the way my life has adjusted to my first year of retirement.

I had no doubts I would NOT miss work and I haven't. If I wasn't traveling, I am doing what I pictured I would be doing if I decided to stay around the house and the local area.

All the plans for traveling and the reasons for delaying them have been discussed in past posts.

My daily activity is not much different than what I have done for years while working. The only difference is, what I spend all day, every day doing now I use to do during weekends and when I had time off from my job. It seems like a lot of my time I do nothing and that's fine with me. It just doesn't matter to me, nothing is scheduled nor prioritized. Sure there are things I want to get done around the house, some things I need to get done before going anywhere ... and they are getting done, just at a slow pace.

I use to be a workaholic, rarely took vacations, worked on days off and at home. Still deep inside I knew I could and would adapt to be someone would slow their pace down to almost nothing. There are days I follow the same schedule as my hounds do ... eat a little, sleep a lot.

Through the help of my Excel spreadsheets I've always kept that track my monthly spending and a book I read a few years ago called You Don't Need a Million Dollars to Retire, I have been able to adjust my lifestyle this past year and my spending from the days of working a stressed out job to daily routine of relaxation and leisure.

Sure, there is always unexpected expenses and there always will be. Mine have been small amounts  compared to others. They were no more than the cost of vet treatment for Heidi's skin rash/allergies. It seems like a lot of money but is nothing compared to medical bills, car/rv repairs or house repairs that other people are going through. I'm thankful for that and know that I am fortunate my life is what it is.

I have gone past my 1 year anniversary for retiring. I stopped working last year on April 11 and then it was official a couple of weeks later after my company processed what was needed for my departure.

At the time of the exit interview I had just bought a 2006 Chevy 2500HD 4x4, with plans of purchasing a larger trailer and was deciding on a trailer around 19'-21'. It was a great pickup truck, short bed, crew cab, plenty of room for me and hounds and enough power to tow about anything I wanted.

At times it felt like it was too big for me and when thinking of adding another 20' feet behind it ... I had doubts that was what I really wanted to do.

Within 4 weeks after buying that truck I saw a Toyota FJ Cruiser for sale that had low miles, one owner that had it serviced on a regular basis at the Toyota dealership. Of course that would put me back into the range of small fiberglass trailers 16' and/or the converted cargo trailer option. It was a costly move but one I'm glad I made.

Still that smaller vehicle was going to put me further off the grid to camp and a vehicle that would get me further off-road when exploring the local area.

It must have been the right rig to buy because for the first time in almost 15 years, I have not had the urge to look at other vehicles online, buy, sell or trade it. I've been happy with the two vehicles I have and that says something after the amount of cars and trucks I have bought, sold over the past 15 years. The only thing I have noticed though since retirement, I rarely drive anywhere. When I reported my annual mileage for my car insurance, which decreased my premiums, I thought they might have a really hard time believing the mileage I was telling them.

Luckily with my addiction to spreadsheets, I already had a spreadsheet made, where I take the odometer reading the first day of each month, recording the monthly mileage of each vehicle. I know those miles will increase later but since last June, it is consistent and extremely low.

So if you have read this far, you must be asking yourself where is this leading to ... what is so "great" about today? Nothing really, except I am not in the long line of traffic every afternoon that passes in front of my house, of those that work where I use to work. That is the "great" thing about today and every day ... a job is not soaking up my time and after a year plus two weeks, I am still able to do what I want when I want. To me, that's a fantastic thing to have.

I have not missed spending money on a whim. I do miss the dollar amount of those checks I use to get electronically deposited in my account every two weeks, but I really like the trade off of dollars for time. Time seems to be much more valuable and is much more enjoyable.

For those readers that may be on the fence, trying to decide how much longer to work, it's doable to retire and live on less money than you planned on having. It's doable if you have as many things as possible paid off. It's also doable if you have a few monthly expenditures and can control your spending.

Enough about wasting days away retired.

As you can see from the photos, Heidi has decided to come out of her hibernation and enjoy the good weather outside. From day one when I picked her up 4 hours away at the Basset Hound Rescue in 2010, she has always been a true homebody and will spend the majority of her time inside the house, no matter how nice it is outside. Plus she loves to sleep more than any other hound I have had since 1987.

The other two, Winston and Sadie love being outside. Winston will sleep in the sun unleashed, while Sadie will roam the field in back connected to a rope to prevent her from taking off chasing deer, rabbits, squirrels, birds or butterflies. She will sniff every inch of that hay field. The length of the rope is long enough where she can reach the back of the field near the woods.

One thing I have noticed. When I am sitting outside enjoying the day, the sun, sometimes the cool breeze and they have all those acres of open field to move around in ... they either sit or lay in the grass within 6' of where I am sitting. If I move my seat, they follow me and stay within 6' of me. They don't get too far away from me if I am sitting outside.

That makes me think they would all do well at a campsite boondocking. I have made each of them a 20' lead that can be connected to my FJ bumper, to a stake or a cable run when traveling. They have also passed the nighttime test sleeping with the windows open and a lot of animal noises nearby, such as dogs barking, or coyotes howling. Things that wake me up do not wake them up. That's another good sign for their future in traveling.

I think right now it's down to a couple of things for use to get sorted out ... the process of all three of them wanting to get out of the FJ at the same time when the door opens in back. Then the process of me controlling three 6' dog leashes with two hands and keeping them from wrapping them around my legs like on the trip in September 2013.

Sadie has no issues jumping in and out of the back of the FJ like she did with the H3 Hummer I had on the September 2013 trip. She has even jumped into the FJ that was full of groceries when I have opened the door after returning home from the store. She never did that when I had the Hummer. The two bassets have to be lifted in and out of course due to their short legs. They would jump out but that isn't good for Winston's bad back and both basset's knees. I have a ramp picked out to buy for them to use. It's retractable and can be easily stored.

So once again it's that time of  year where the travel 'bug' is with me. Some things with the hounds have been figured out and tested with positive results. I know the two kinds of weather I don't care for but put up with are "hot and humid" and "freezing cold" ... those are looking like travel times.

We will see.

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