Goal Setting, Retirement, saving money

An update.

I was supposed to be off my blog for a month, not three.   I must admit I didn’t go cold turkey on social media.  I did read some blogs, watch some videos and follow some friends on Instagram during that time.  Although this blog remained silent, I’ve been busy moving forward with completing our Wills, updating our retirement accounts, bagging the concept of long term care insurance (blog post to follow), planning a few trips and generally enjoying the last of summer and beginning of Fall.

I do have a lot to share, especially with regard to some previous post ideas.  Needless to say, my opinion has taken a 180 on several concepts, which I will also share soon.

So, if you are still out there, I will be updating.  I look forward to talking with you all soon!

Goal Setting, Retirement

Our 5 Year Journey to Retirement

lose up photo of green flower
Photo by Vraj Shah

In about 4.5 – 5 years’ time, my husband and I plan to hang up the 9-5. We will be 60 and 62 respectively.

Saying goodbye to a steady paycheck can be a bit scary, but having the freedom to do things on our own time, while we are still relatively young, is intoxicating.  We will, of course, need to save a bit more and plan a bit more before we actually make the move.

Here is what we currently have:

  1.  HealthCare.  Good healthcare costs will be upwards of $30,000 a year before Medicare kicks in at the age of 65.  We currently have a Health Savings Account (and plan on keeping it!) that we contribute the maximum amount ($8,000) to every year.  This tax deductible account will cover deductibles and our long term care insurance.  Health insurance is the bigger nut to crack, and something we will research extensively.  We could use my husband’s firm COBRA for the first 18 mos, or private health insurance. We also have an investment account of $137,000 (the amount is an estimate, and could possibly be more) that I will receive at age 62.  We plan on pulling from this account to pay for our health insurance until Medicare.
  2. Retirement Account Growth. At the present time, our 401Ks and Roth Accounts stand just shy of $1.2M.  It’s been a bit of a roller coaster ride over the past several years, but it’s also been a steady climb.  We do not have a pension, so this, along with social security, is it.  We will be contributing the maximum amount over the next 4-5 years, so conservatively we believe it will grow to at least $1.7M.  Obviously we won’t touch a good portion of that so it can continue to grow over the next 10 -15 years, giving us enough to last our whole lives.
  3. Downsizing.  Since healthcare will, in essence, match the cost of our mortgage, it is imperative that we own our home outright.  We are not in a position to pay our current home off in 4 years (see #4), but we plan on downsizing and have no mortgage upon retirement.  Besides being mortgage free, we like the idea of lower utility bills, lower taxes and less to take care of.  The unknown at this point will be where we decide to live.
  4. A healthy cash stash.  By living well below our means, over the next 4-5 years we plan on having two years’ worth of living expenses in cash.  We hope to use this so either our retirement accounts can grow a bit longer, or use during a down market.  Of course, you know me.  I believe in balance and that tomorrow is not guaranteed, so we still will be taking vacations and having fun during this time period. 🙂
  5. Social Security. {UPDATE}  After learning more about social security benefits, we will both take our benefit at age 67.  I will be two years ahead of my husband, so part of it will start on Year 5 of our retirement.

Of course, you all know the best laid plans can go awry, but this is what we know right now.  I will be blogging about our retirement journey here in this space, (and hopefully be a bit more consistent. 😉 ).  I hope you will join me.

If you are retired, or planning to retire, am I missing anything??  Please share!

 

 

 

Budgeting, Goal Setting

No Spend Year: Cancelled

white apple keyboard near white cup
Photo by Lukas on Pexels.com

As a reader so aptly pointed out, trying to have a No Spend Year when I’m clearly not ready to stop spending money is setting myself up for failure.  On the surface, she was right.   Setting unrealistic goals is never a good thing.  It leads to guilt, self deprecation and the all around feeling of failure.   And, if you take the words ‘no spend’ literally, you don’t buy anything.  However, my “No Spend Year” wasn’t literal.  It was supposed to be a  “….no spend on mindless stuff that doesn’t matter and doesn’t help me meet my goal year“.   But if this reader thought this, there may be others who feel the same way.  I don’t want to come off as inauthentic, so I decided to clear this up for everyone.

My original post about a No Spend Year included this paragraph:

To be clear, this challenge isn’t about deprivation. It’s not about sucking the joy out of every day. It’s the opposite. It’s about spending money on what matters most – my health and wellbeing, my husband, my family, my friends. In fact you may be surprised as to what I actually am able to spend money on with this challenge, which makes it very different from what a typical ‘no spend’ has been.

As long as I continue to be mindful of my purchases (and not have to declutter them in six months), I will be keeping my goals intact.  Simply put, I will not feel guilty for buying a purse or anything else that makes me happy and doesn’t take away from goals that I have set.   As long as it meets my criteria of an intentional purchase, I can pay for it, and not have to borrow money, it will be acceptable.  The purse was somewhat of an impulse purchase, I’ll admit, but I never said this year was going to be perfect.  Baby steps.   It did stay in my cart on the Fossil Website for a week.  I still wanted it, so I purchased it.  Next time I’ll wait 30 days. 😉

Going forward, I’ve decided it’s best not to use the term ‘No Spend’.  I agree that it’s too confusing, and doesn’t convey what I intend.  So it’s out.  (In fact, I went ahead and corrected all of my other posts).

I hope this helps.

Happy March everyone!

 

 

 

Goal Setting, Living for TODAY, Retirement

Making TODAY count.

See the source image
QuotesIdeas.com

This quote actually caught me off guard when I finished up my last post.  I’ve been concentrating on my dreams for my life seven years from now, when I should be concentrating on today.

Every now and again I have to remind myself to find the joy in what’s happening in the present.  I tend to find myself looking to the future and not enjoying what is today. Tomorrow is not guaranteed, so making each day count is imperative to living a full and happy life.

This doesn’t, of course, mean to forget about the the future.  Planning is important.  But planning and living a beautiful life today is too.

The weather has changed.  It’s cold and wet and dark out. I won’t be surfing the net to find a new property in Florida (to enjoy seven years from now).  Today I will enjoy a hot cup of coffee, walk my sweet dog, tidy up the house, prepare a warm meal for my family and enjoy a good book.  Perhaps I will bake a sweet treat.  I will definitely take a hot bath and listen to soft jazz. And be grateful.  Grateful for the days I’ve already been given, and for today.  24 hours, 1,440 minutes to enjoy and make count.

How are you making today count?

 

 

Goal Setting, Retirement, saving money

2019 Goal: Living on our future retirement income – with real numbers.

black calculator near ballpoint pen on white printed paper
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

One of my 2019 goals is to live off an amount we will need in retirement…an amount we believe we need to live a life we want to live in retirement.  For us, that includes travel and spending three months every winter in a warm climate (destination undetermined).  (I write the last part with conviction, as the temps are cold and there is 10 inches of snow on the ground.)

So what is our magic number?

After numerous calculations and a bit of guess work (who knows what healthcare will be when we retire), we figured we will need between $7,000 – $8,000 a month.  For 2019, I will be taking the lower number of $7,000 (which includes our $2,400 mortgage).  We hope to have our mortgage paid off by the time my husband retires at 62, however we kept the $2,400 in the budget as it most likely will be replaced by purchasing health insurance until the age of 65.

How will we come up with $7,000 in retirement?  We will have three sources to pull from:

  1. Personal Savings;
  2. Social Security (yes, we will be taking it at 62); and
  3. Retirement accounts

Social Security will provide $3,000 of the $7,000 (at least as of this writing), and we can use personal savings/retirement accounts for the rest.

By withdrawing $7,000 a month from our retirement accounts, our savings will still last more than 30 years based on very conservative calculations.  So, between social security and our retirement accounts, we can go as high as $10,000 a month (to help with inflation) if we need to.

MONTHLY RETIREMENT BUDGET

Here is our monthly retirement budget *in real numbers*  (and what we will be living on for 2019 and beyond).

*Please note we do not have any debt.  Being debt free is very important when entering retirement, including your mortgage.

  • *Utilities/Water/HOA $500
  • Food/Eating Out $600
  • Household $125
  • Subscriptions (i.e. Netflix, Amazon Prime) $50
  • Gasoline/Car $200
  • HealthCare  $2400 (Our mortgage for now)
  • HSA – Medical Expenses $500
  • Vacation/Travel $500
  • Misc. (clothes, personal care, etc.) $400
  • Cell/Cable/Internet $300
  • *Insurance/Taxes  $1,000
  • Gifts/Christmas $200
  • Home/Car Maintenance  $225

*These are figures based on where we live now (a high cost of living area).  It is probable that we will be moving out of our large home into one that is smaller and fits our future lifestyle.  We are hopeful that insurance/taxes/utilities will all be lower when we do so.

This is our plan, but of course everyone’s retirement plan will be different. Some will need more, some less.  My parents, who live in upstate NY, live comfortably on $2,500 a month.  My MIL, who lives in PA, unfortunately, attempts to live on a social security check of only $1,500 and it’s rough.  So, don’t plan on living on Social Security alone, you won’t make it.

We have seven years before we actually take the plunge into our third phase of life called retirement.   A lot can happen between now and then, but I’m hopeful our health stays good and the retirement accounts continue to grow.

If you are in retirement now, or are gearing up for retirement, how does your budget look?

 

 

 

 

 

Goal Setting

3 Steps to Achieving Your Goals

double downYearly goals can be overwhelming.  You know it’s all about ‘action’ and following through, but how do you do that?  Here are three simple steps to turn your large goals into bite size ones.

Step 1.  Break it down.

Break down your yearly goals into quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily action steps.

To illustrate, I’ll take my personal goal of reading 12 books and show you how I’ve done this.

1. Quarterly – Jan/Feb/Mar – Read 3 books (12 divided by 4)

My 1st quarter picks:

  • The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg
  • Getting Things Done – David Allen
  • The Year of Less – Cait Flanders (a re-read)

I’ve chosen these three books specifically to jump start all of my goals for the year by working on changing bad habits to better ones, actually completing things, and “spending less” inspiration.

2. Monthly:  January – Pick 1 book

I’ll be starting with the book – The Power of Habit.  It is approximately 300 pages.

3. Weekly

There are 4 1/2 weeks in January, so I’d have to read about 66 pages a week.

4. Daily

There are 7 days in a week, so I’d have to complete at least 10 pages a day to stay on track to finish for the month.

10 pages a day not only seems doable, but I’m sure I can surpass this.

Step 2.  Keep track.

Write a ‘to do’ list of each action step that will bring you closer to your goals and keep track of your accomplishments.

I’m a planner girl, so this step is actually fun for me.  I use a planning system with a personal size ring Filofax and a daily habit tracker.  At the end of each day, I review what I’ve accomplished and which areas I’ve been slacking on.

Daily Planning Tracker.png

Step 3.  Do the things. 

This, of course, is the most important step of them all.  You have to actually do the action steps to achieve the goal.

chairbook(1)

Of course, try to make it an enjoyable process.  A cozy chair, throw and a hot cup of my favorite beverage makes reading much more enjoyable. 🙂

By following these simple steps you should be well on your way to achieving all of your goals for 2019.

 

 

 

Goal Setting, saving money

My Year of Intentional Spending (and what it really means)

You may have noticed that I wrote in one of my goals for 2019 that I was going to challenge myself to have a No Spend Year. What it should have said was:”Have a no spend on mindless stuff that doesn’t matter and doesn’t help me meet my goal year“. But that was too long. So I shortened it.

The Why

After spending the last six months decluttering my home while still spending money on stuff that I will probably declutter in 2019, I decided it was time to stop the madness of all of this spending on stuff that doesn’t matter and redirect the funds to things that do matter. This isn’t just about spending, however. It’s about appreciating the things I already have and being grateful for all that has come into my life already. That’s hard to do when I keep bringing more stuff in.

My inspiration to attempt this challenge came from a book I read last year. Cait Flanders’ book, The Year of Less, changed my way of thinking. It is a book about her year long shopping ban, how she changed her habits and discovered what truly mattered to her. I continue to read her blog as a source of continued inspiration.

To be clear, this challenge isn’t about deprivation. It’s not about sucking the joy out of every day. It’s the opposite. It’s about spending money on what matters most – my health and wellbeing, my husband, my family, my friends. In fact you may be surprised as to what I actually am able to spend money on with this challenge, which makes it very different from what a typical ‘no spend’ has been.

The Rules

What I will be spending my money on:

  • Regular bills
  • Necessary replacement clothing only
  • Food and eating out (limited because of my health goals)
  • Vitamins, medicines/medical expenses (of course)
  • Travel/Experiences
  • Gifting (but limited to special occasions)
  • Replacement of consumables – toilet paper, household products, make up (limited)
  • Haircuts/color
  • Home Maintenance
  • Paint and furniture for my new room
  • Charitable contributions*

*I may have missed something from this list, which I will add later.

I anticipate, based on my spending in 2018, that I will be able to save at least 10% more of our income, helping me reach my goal of 40% total savings. It’s amazing how much spending one can do in a year without really thinking about it.

I will do monthly updates to keep myself accountable. I’m hopeful that I can and will change my mindless spending habits, not only for 2019 but in the years to come.

If you would like to participate, or are doing something similar, please share! I would love to hear from you. 🙂