Newly Retired

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Blog posts have been few and far between over the last 6 months as I navigated the countdown to retirement.  I had previously managed to successfully combine the running of a household with full-time work but once I could see the end in sight I tended to put several things on the back burner so that I could focus on tying up as many loose ends as possible in my job as well as training my successor.

So, my last day in the office was Thursday 4th July, otherwise known as Independence Day.

I searched for a suitable retirement image but nothing sums it up better than this photo.  We now have the time to explore our own backyard as well as further afield and simply enjoy being surrounded by scenery like the amazing Glasshouse Mountains.

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The past 3 weeks have been an absolute revelation.  You do not have to be constantly busy.  It is OK to take your time.  What does not get done today will be done tomorrow.  It has been a huge relief to feel the pressure fall away.

The first week of retirement coincided with school holidays so we had our granddaughters visiting for a few days and managed some outings and activities with them.

Since then I have caught up on sleep – no more 5am starts, exercised – walking each day and socialised – lunch with school friends, morning tea with cousins and several more lunches planned as well as a gallery visit.

Catching up on appointments is much easier without having to juggle them around work.  Dentist, optometrist, financial planner, tax agent and so on.

On the home front, meals are prepared, rooms cleaned and washing done with the minimum of fuss.  I am doing some sewing, too.

Meanwhile, we are putting the finishing touches to the plans for our next overseas trip.  We leave in a little over 3 weeks and have a couple more train trips to book.

That is only a brief overview but suffice to say that I am not bored.

I plan to share more details of the day to day activities now that life is running at a much more reasonable pace.

Thank you for sticking with me during the very lean blogging periods.

 

End of an Era

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Yesterday was a momentous and somewhat emotional day as GMan left the office for the last time. After almost 47 years of full-time work he has now joined the ranks of those who have retired.

You may remember this post from a few months ago in which I mentioned that we were both planning on retiring in the middle of the year. Well, as we all know, needs and circumstances can change and while plans are great, we also need to flexible enough to alter our plans and adapt.

Use it Up, Wear it Out……

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……Make Do or Do Without.

So, the saying goes.

It is relatively easy to ‘use it up’ but ‘wear it out’ does not seem to occur very often.

However, today I have an example which caught me completely off-guard.

I have a  black short-sleeve cashmere/merino top.  I have had it for several years and wear it regularly with different skirts and trousers.  It even gets worn with shorts.

After carefully handwashing the top I was placing on the hanger to dry when I noticed a hole just below the underarm.  It was not moth-eaten but simply worn out!  On closer examination I discovered that the other side was in an almost identical state.

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A closer look.

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I am not sure whether there is any purpose for which I can use the remainder of the garment.  Padding of some sort?  Otherwise it will be binned.

Will I replace this?  Probably not. It was mostly worn to work and I only have another 7 months of work and I am also looking at having less black clothes in my wardrobe.

 

Recalibrated

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This blog post has been unfolding in my mind over the past few days as the next phase of our lives – retirement – is on the horizon but looming ever closer.

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We have been ’empty-nesters’, with no children at home for over 12 years.  This coincided with our move from Brisbane to our current home on a semi-rural block of 1.5 acres.  There has been no shortage of things to do as we have developed the garden as well as undertaken several renovations to the house.  There are other projects which we are looking forward to working on once we have more time but most of the major work has been done.  Additionally, we have gradually sorted, culled, decluttered and generally streamlined a lot of stuff so the day-to-day cleaning and maintenance is becoming simpler and easier.

To add to the busyness we have both continued to work full-time, however, this will change when we retire in the middle of next year.

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I am regularly quizzed by well-meaning people as to what I am going to when I retire and my somewhat truthful but flippant answer is ‘travel’.  Of course, travel will be only a small part of what we do.  I think my comment to GMan a few weeks ago really summed it up when I said that I was looking forward to having 7 days to do what I currently try to fit into 2 days of the weekend.

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A few things recently have led me to rethink how I manage my working hours which I am fortunate enough to have very flexible arrangements.  However, this has led to me not working in the most efficient manner at times.  Even though I will still be working full-time I have decided to structure my office and working from home times so that I will only work 4 days each week with Mondays off each week apart from once a month when I will swap it for a Tuesday so that I can continue my involvement in a community project.  Thursdays will a full day of working from home and I will be in the office on the other 3 days.  There is still a degree of flexibility if I need to swap my days around for a particular reason.

I believe that having a 3 day weekend most weeks will allow me to do things I want to do at home without feeling quite so rushed and be be organised for the remainder of the week.  I am thinking particularly of cooking and meal preparation and gardening.

With only 10 months (but who’s counting) until I retire I also need to consider how I will manage the workload whilst handing over the role to my replacement in the first half of next year.

There are certainly different seasons of our lives and what was necessary when I had young children is not relevant in my current situation.  We are all at different stages of our lives and sometimes the biggest hurdle is actually identifying what is best for you and your family now.  It will not be the same as mine but by finding what works for you will help to promote a sense of calm, peace and gratitude while minimising angst and stress.

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It is admirable to strive for goals and targets but do not wish your life away.  Be grateful for what you have today because this stage of your life will not last forever.

 

 

Retirement Planning

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As with everything else in life, nothing is certain when it comes to retirement – redundancy, illness or even death can interrupt the best of plans but it is important to have a plan.

GMan and I plan to retire from full-time paid employment in about 3.5 years so it is still some time away yet.  We have worked hard to get to this point and have a financial plan that is coming together.  Our goal is to be able to live a comfortable existence on our terms.

This post is not about superannuation, investments or even travel plans – although we do give that quite a lot of thought.  It is about forecasting future needs and changing circumstances.

I was thinking about this yesterday as I folded and put away clothes.  GMan does not generally wear a suit to work but his attire is mostly business shirts and trousers. However, the dress code seems to have become increasingly casual over the last 10 years.  He no longer wears ties every day and even the shirts that are worn in his workplace are less of a business shirt and more of a hybrid business or casual item.

So, how much of this will be worn once he walks out of the office for the last time?  This is where the planning comes in.  It seems ridiculous to think that we could be left with 3 or 4 pairs of trousers and 8 – 10 business shirts that may never be worn again in a few years time.

I have decided to try to keep track of approximately how long a shirt lasts.  I think it is around 3 or 4 years.  About half of the shirts GMan wears now also double as shirts for dressier non-work occasions.  I hope that any future purchases will also fit this category and they will not be redundant when no longer required for wearing to work.  Keeping the number of shirts to the minimum (6 or 7) is also a goal.  This will give me very little leeway when it comes to washing and ironing each week.

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Even socks can be considered when reviewing clothing needs.  The front row of socks in the photo are mostly the ones GMan wears to work – black, grey or navy but they are rarely worn with casual outfits as he tends to mostly wear lighter colored trousers and often different shoes and thicker socks.  Some of these socks are very nearly at the end of their life.  Some have been darned several times.  I think he could get away with not replacing them and keep wearing the remaining ones.

Why the focus on GMan?  What about my own clothes?  I am in the fortunate position of wearing very similar clothes for both work and casual wear.  However, I have taken note of those items that are worn more at work and will be less inclined to replaced those styles in the next 3 years.  I will also consider how any future purchases will fit into a post-employment wardrobe.

I can visualise how easily changes of lifestyle or circumstances could result in a build-up of clutter if steps are not taken to identify and remove those things that are no longer used or useful.  This is particularly evident as children grow up.  Think of the things that are considered essential for a baby who is less than 12 months old.  Are any of them still relevant 5 years later when are going to school?  While it is reasonable to keep large items such as a cot or high-chair for subsequent children, there is no logic in stashing piles of baby equipment and toys in the garage or attic.  Pass them on to someone who can use them now.

What is your life-stage?  Are you planning for change?  Do you have stuff that is no longer relevant to your life?

Retirement Plans

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No, we are not about to retire, although today is GMan’s birthday and it is a reminder that the time when we are no longer in paid employment is edging inexorably closer.

2015-08-06 01It is strange how thoughts seem to align.  A friend posed the question on Facebook today, “What are your retirement plans?”  The answers varied but an overarching theme seemed to be travel and writing which may have something to do with her particular group of Facebook friends.  However, I was blown away when one respondent stated, “I’m hoping to simply make it to retirement age!!”  That really put it into perspective because although we all risk not making it her odds are definitely not as good as most of us.

I also saw my own plans with a great deal more clarity.  I realised that my retirement  plans are very similar to the reality of my life today and while some could view that as rather boring I can see that I am living my life as I choose here and now, today and every day.  I don’t want to sound morbid but if anything happened that I did not reach the age at which I intend to retire I would still have done and seen much of want I want to do and see.

We need to create a balance in our lives but I would implore you to savour each and every day as well as planning for the future.

Tracking 2015

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Today is Saturday.  Where did the week go?  I am very busy at work so although I have been thinking about my blog that is as far as it went.

Not only is it Saturday, it is Saturday 31st January.  The final day of the first month of 2015.  1/12th of the year gone.  Have you already forgotten what you resolved to do better/differently/more consistently in 2015 already?

BudgetingOne of my goals was to actually track how much we spend.  We have never worked to a real budget – actually allocating a certain $ value to each item/category but we keep careful track of the regular bills – rates/insurances/phone/internet but is the variable spending that is more difficult to calculate.  I do not have a specific amount of money for groceries each week as I tend to bulk shop for dry goods and meat and buy perishable items on a weekly basis.  I need to average my grocery spending over at least 6 months to get a fair and accurate idea of how much we spend.

As I said it is the last day of the month and we have been shopping so there will be no more spending today.  The grand total of our variable spending in January was $5,134.53 – yes, over $5K!  Almost exactly half of that was airfares and accommodation for our Singapore holiday later in the year. So, $2,618.73 looks somewhat better.  This figure includes food, clothes, gifts, hobbies, eating out, entertainment, alcohol, car fuel and maintenance, haircuts, public transport, pets, medical/dental and incidentals.

Apart from the holiday spending which is really a one-off, the categories with the highest spend were food $623 closely followed by public transport $620.  This is really interesting because what finally prompted me to track our spending very carefully was that I wanted to know how much we would need to live a comfortable lifestyle on our terms in our retirement.  Giving up paid work is a few years away yet but it is important to budget for life without regular employment.  We will still need to eat when we are retired but public transport will cease to be an issue as all of that expenditure is related to our lengthy commute to the office.

Do you know how much you spend?  Working or retired?  I would love to hear your comments.