Emergency Preparedness, Goal Setting, Retirement Journey, saving money

How I saved almost $45,000 in 6 months.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is pexels-photo-2068975-1.jpeg(In case you were wondering, I stopped blogging for a while so the robo boomer haters would stop commenting. Life is stressful enough without reading such garbage. BUT, this is my happy place, where I can talk about all things money and I wanted to continue to document my journey to retirement, financially speaking. Besides. There are way more nice commenters than mean, so I’m back. 😉 )

There are many ways the present pandemic has changed my life, but none so significant as the way I look at money.  After all these years, I thought I had it down. I didn’t. I’m still learning.

After my husband’s salary took a 10% pay cut, and many employees were furloughed, I started to realize that we may have to retire earlier than we’d like. It changed how we looked at our preparation for retirement, and how we would change the way we handled our money going forward.

We wanted to save money….FAST.  And we did.  $45,000 in six months.

How did we save $45,000 in six months?

Here is my breakdown by categories:

TRAVEL/VACATION ($11,942.00)

The pandemic cancelled our Anniversary trip.  We had prepaid all of the trip, so all of the money that has been returned to us went straight into savings.  Unfortunately, the airlines decided they needed our money more than we did, so they kept $3000 for future flights (to be used by December, 2021). The cruise lines had no choice but to refund the money on trips they cancelled.

Our anniversary trip was expensive.  We had hotels, airfare, cruise, etc. Our total refunds for that trip totalled $9,000.

Because cruising has taken a huge hit during this pandemic, and the unlikely chance our Disney cruise would be “normal” by May, 2021,  I decided to cancel our family cruise.  I received our deposit back in the amount of $2,942.00.  It, too, went straight into savings.

CAR REPAYMENT ($12,000.00)

We purchased a car for my son while he was in college with the assumption that he would pay us back as soon as he started working.  I’m proud to say he is now gainfully employed as an Ensign in the Navy.  And I am equally proud to say he paid us back every penny (in record time, I might add).  We deposited that $12,000 directly to savings.

MONTHLY SAVINGS. ($15,000.00)

I’ve been able to save $2,500 monthly based on salary and expenses.  (the 10% pay cut didn’t occur until May.)

OTHER SAVINGS ($6,000.00)

The rest of the money came from saving on our usual spending categories:

There have been monthly expenses that have increased.  Food for instance.  The cost has been ridiculous.  But by saving in other areas, it has not busted my budget, thankfully.

We also did a few home projects totaling $1,500.00. In fact, I’m typing this blog in my new ‘yoga/office room’.  🙂 I’ll write about these projects in another post.

$45,000 added to our other savings gives us almost a years’ worth of expenses.  We are comfortable with this.  However, we will be very selective of how we will spend future money.  Our plan is to send most of the extra money to pay down our mortgage, leaving us some for fun.

Although we still have the travel bug, we will start up again with small, weekend trips.  Cruising is no longer appealing as long as they have ‘pandemic’ procedures in place.  I mean really, who wants to have their temperature taken every day and wear masks on a cruise ship?  Really?

Anyway, that’s how we did it.  How did the way you handle money change during the pandemic?  Please share!

 

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?