saving money, Spending Freeze

Gearing up for a 3-mos Spending Freeze

abundance achievement bank banknotes
Photo by Pixabay

How does one save a bunch of money really fast?  Don’t spend any!

I’ve been revisiting the idea of a spending freeze. I did a successful one for the month of February several years ago. And I saved a bit of money.  But as I was perusing the internet, I found one person doing an arbitrary 4-month spending freeze. Hmmm.  If I want to save a lot of money fast, why not do more than a month, perhaps a 3-month spending freeze?

We are about to enter my least favorite months of the year Jan/Feb/Mar- which I affectionately call winter suck.  Why not do something productive to get ready for spring?

christmas cold friends frosty
Photo by Pixabay

This spending freeze will be about giving up wants.  After all, I’m already living with abundance and more than enough.  I certainly can go for 90 days without purchasing any more.

THE RULES:

The following items are off limits for 90 days: (Every one of these items is a trigger for me.)

  • Clothes, shoes
  • Books, cds, dvds
  • Household decor
  • Wine (I may or may not stock up in December)
  • K-cups
  • Purses/wallets
  • Jewelry/clothing accessories
  • Planners, stickers, pens (yes, they are a thing)
  • Trips (other than NY to see my parents)
  • Eating out
  • Travel items/accessories
  • Manicures/Pedicures
  • No online spending (unless it can’t be purchased in a brick/mortar store)

Things I can spend money on:

  • Groceries (within a budget of $100/week)
  • Medications/Medicine/Drs. appts.
  • Anything that Ben (my sweet, sweet boy) needs
  • Replacement products (i.e. toothpaste, toilet paper, shampoo, conditioner, make up) * Find the cheapest way to replace through coupons, sales
  • Bills (utilities, mortgage, etc.)
  • Gasoline (but only one fill up a month for me)
  • EZ Pass for my husband to go to work
  • Date night (2x) No need to punish my sweet husband. 🙂
  • Travel to my parents in NY (a necessity)
  • Gifts (3 to be exact – 2 birthdays and an anniversary)
  • Hair cut and color 1x (absolutely, positively necessary.)

If anything else should come up that I didn’t account for, I will update this list.  In the meantime, I will work on coming up with at least 100 things to do for free to keep me from spending.

This freeze will officially start January 1st.

I’m actually excited.  A challenge that will bear fruit at the end.  Money fruit, that is. 😉

Gratitude

Weekly Gratitude

yellow leafed trees
Photo by Wendy Wei

“The more grateful I am, the more beauty I see.” – Mary Davis

This weeks’ gratitude (in no particular order):

  • Time alone with my husband 😉
  • Time with my whole family
  • My health
  • My children’s health
  • My grandchildren’s health
  • A ‘free’ dogsitter (thanks to good friends and family)
  • Hair color
  • Red, gold, orange leaves
  • Doctors I know and trust
  • Vacations.

Your turn!

Retirement Journey, saving money

Retirement Series: Our current savings.

blue and yellow graph on stock market monitor
Photo by energepic.com

After posting about our expenses, the next retirement nut to crack is savings.  Do we have enough?

Ah.  The million dollar question.  Literally.

We used  NewRetirement, a free retirement planning tool to figure out if we were on the right track for retirement.  After inputting all of our financial information, and with the assumption that we will continue to contribute the maximum to our retirement account over the next four years, we come out with a ‘great’ score for retirement in 4 years.

 

Screen Shot 2019-10-24 at 7.26.30 AM

Our net worth includes retirement accounts, home equity and cash savings.  This program also included our mortgage and healthcare expenses, so if we wanted to, based on the above, we could stay in our home.

Thankfully, we have weathered the stormy markets and have come out ahead.  We are more conservative investors, and have rarely averaged a 12% return in a years’ time.  Our average is closer to 8%.  But we still managed to hit the $1M mark.  After 35 years of saving in our retirement accounts, we are finally seeing the fruits of our labor. 😉

What I LOVE so much about the New Retirement site and the chart they provide, is that it lets you know when your social security starts and when you need to take RMDs (required minimum distributions) from your retirement accounts.  It also assumes a 2-3% investment growth, which, to me, is very realistic.

So, do we have enough to cover our expenses and retire in 4 years?  I believe we do.

I will follow this post up with a future post on how we managed to accumulate $1.7M in net worth.  But for now, know that it took hard work, steady investing and a bit of luck.  No inheritance.  No rich relatives.

How are you doing in retirement savings?

 

Cruising, saving money

We are cruising again!

man and woman holding hands walking on seashore during sunrise
Photo by Asad Photo Maldives

We set sail on a cruise to the Caribbean in a couple of days.  We were not planning on taking another trip this year, but a deal came along that we couldn’t didn’t want to pass up.  And, since we put money away just for these such occasions, we decided to go for it.

We will be sailing on Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam, which is a new cruise line for us. This trip was appealing mainly because we will be visiting four new locations: Key West, Half Moon Cay (their private island), Amber Cove, DR and Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos.

Because this is a ‘money’ blog, I thought I’d share our cost:

  • 8 day – 7 night Cruise (balcony cabin), taxes and fees w/drink package included for 2:  $2,100.00
  • Insurance: $200.00
  • Jetblue (2 roundtrip air fares to Ft. Lauderdale): $400.00
  • Gratuities: $203.00
  • Excursions: $100.00
  • Spending and tipping$: $300.00

Total: $3,303.00

What we won’t be spending money on:

  • Excursions in every port $300.00
  • Pre-cruise hotel $250.00
  • Upgrade in flight seats (since we are taking JetBlue – no need) $800.00
  • Pre-cruise meals $100.00
  • Shopping, drinks $250.00

“Savings”:  $1,800.00

My husband booked this trip as an early birthday present to me.  I’m looking forward to the time I get to spend with him and all the ‘new’ we will experience.  I can’t quite explain why my husband and I love to cruise, but I think it has something to do with unpacking once, visiting various islands, having delicious food prepared for us morning, noon and night, and various delightful entertainment every.single.night.

Of course sometimes our most joyous times on a ship are just watching the waves go by….

aerial photo of water waves
Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com

What’s not to like?

Sea you soon! xoxoxo

If you would like to follow along on our adventure, I will posting on Instagram at SeaYouSoonTravel.  Request to follow, and I’ll let you in! 🙂

 

 

 

 

Gratitude

Gratitude. It’s a thing.

Sometimes I forget to be grateful for all the blessings that have come into my life.  Research shows that having a grateful heart improves many aspects of your life.  Practicing gratitude is on my ‘to do’ list nearly every day, but sometimes I let that slip.

Here is this space, where I’m documenting my life and money, I thought I would add in something just as important, if not more.  My weekly gratitude.

Here’s what comes to mind for this week (not in any order).

I’m grateful for….

  • The sunshine that streams in my kitchen each morning.
  • The hot coffee that warms me up.
  • The warm bed that I awake from each morning.
  • The soft sheets that I straighten out to make my bed.
  • Friends who meet me for my morning walk, and of course, the ability to walk.  I never want to take that for granted.
  • My husband, who leaves before the crack of dawn to go to work to support me.
  • My sweet boy Ben, a dog who is as loyal as they come.
  • My children and their children.
  • My parents.
  • My siblings.
  • Crisp fall weather.
  • Another trip to get excited over.

Your turn.  What are you grateful for this week?  Please share.

 

Wills

The $5,000 work benefit we didn’t pass up and a public service announcement.

agreement balance blur business
Photo by Pixabay

Updating our Wills has been on our agenda for several years.  We procrastinated in updating mainly because the attorney that did our previous Wills had left the area.

However, after handling an ugly estate issue for my parents for a cousin who didn’t have a Will but a sizeable estate, (relatives you never heard of or have known will come out of no where when that happens) it became apparent to us that this was no longer a ‘should do’, but a ‘must do’ to complete ours.

Recently my husband discovered an employee benefit at his firm –  $5,000 towards preparing Wills.  Yes, please.

We knew our estate didn’t warrant all of the $5,000 benefit, so we figured that we could get these done for free.  And that’s exactly what we did.  After we completed them, we spoke to each of our children about the Wills, gave each a copy and feel confident that they will be carried out to our wishes.  We will revisit again in 10 years if something unforeseen happens.

If you are lingering with trying to decide to have a Will or not, may I strongly suggest you do so?  If you don’t sign a Will, your money and valuables will go to the next BLOOD relative in line.  No choice there.  It’s the law.   I’m sure you wouldn’t want a judge deciding who is going to take care of your kiddos either.

If you don’t want to hire an attorney or have the funds for one, there are plenty of online sources that can walk you through the process.  One of the best online Will Makers is Quicken Wills & Estates.  [NOT SPONSORED] For less than $100, you can do a very simple Will.  We were all set to do this until we found out about our benefit.

Don’t wait.  Do it today.

Do you have a Will?

 

 

 

Budgeting, Retirement, Retirement Journey

Series: Retirement Preparation. The retirement budget.

grey metal case of hundred dollar bills
Photo by Pixabay

Expenses.  This is probably one of the most important of all the areas of preparedness for retirement.  Without knowing how much you will need in retirement makes saving goals for retirement a guessing game.

I have been preparing my budget now, and will be living off of our potential retirement income over the next four years, while saving the overflow in a cash liquid account.

Of course, we don’t know exactly what will happen in retirement, but we do know we will need a good amount for health care.  I am not going to nickel and dime this category  because quite frankly without health, nothing else matters.

Another line item I want to have is a significant amount in travel.  For the first 10 years of retirement, we plan on taking full advantage of our current health (good!) to blow through our travel bucket list.  (a topic for a future post!)

white cruise ship
Photo by Matthew Barra

That leaves us with the every day expenses — mortgage, utilities, cell phone, car expenses (insurance, gas, maintenance) food, eating out, gas, gifts, clothes, subscriptions, giving, personal care, blow $, household, taxes and insurance.

Mortgage.  Ultimately, we don’t want a mortgage.  Unfortunately, four years doesn’t give us enough time to pay off our current home.  Our plan is to sell our current home and downsize to a smaller home in our area.  Our children and grandchildren are here, so moving to another area doesn’t appeal to us.  However, downsizing into half the space, half the utility bills and half the taxes and insurance does. 😉 We hope to downsize in the next three years before we retire.  Potential Savings:  $30,000/year.

Cars.  We will be going down to one car.  In Virginia, there is a personal property tax on cars each year.  If you have a fairly new car (which we do), it can be as high $1,000 or more.  Going down to one car would be a HUGE savings to several line items, including car maintenance, gas, taxes and insurance.  My husband never uses his car on the weekend, and I barely use my car during the week.  When he is retired, we don’t see needing both.  Potential Savings:  $3,500.00/year.

By rejiggering just those two categories alone, we would save over $30,000 in yearly expenses.

All other expenses.

We are in a good place with other line item expenses, so I’m keeping them all the same for retirement.  By saving on the big ticket items (mortgage and cars), the other line items can remain the same.

So, where does that leave us?

Here is our preliminary REALISTIC retirement monthly budget, and one we follow now except the $2,500 is our mortgage instead of healthcare, and our taxes and insurance is $1200/mo.

  • HealthCare:   $2,500.00** (This includes insurance, co pays, medications, and concierge service for my endocrinologist )
  • Travel: $1,500.00 (5 trips a year)
  • Taxes & Insurance: $550.00
  • Utilities: $275.00
  • Cell/Cable: $200.00
  • Groceries: $500.00
  • Household: $100.00
  • Subscriptions: $25.00
  • Eating Out: $100.00
  • Home/Car Maintenance: $250.00
  • Gifts: $200.00
  • Clothing: $150.00
  • Personal Care (makeup/hair): $100
  • Blow $:  $200.00

Total:  $6,650.00

**Healthcare will go down significantly when Medicare kicks in, although I anticipate spending some money for gap insurance.

Well there you have it.  After months of agonizing over our expenses, I can honestly say the above numbers are as accurate as they can be.  I’m not going to lie, that is a high monthly nut to cover.  $400,000 for the first 5 years to be exact, then $135,000 for the next 2 years (when medicare kicks in).  However, once we start social security at age 67 (yes, we changed our minds again 😉 ) our monthly draw from personal savings will be $2,625/month or $31,500/year.

Will we have enough to retire at age 60 given the above numbers? I think so.  But stay tuned for the next post in our series, OUR CURRENT SAVINGS.

If you are retired or planning to retire, how do your expenses align with mine?  Please share!