Adjusting…

I know its been a while since I wrote anything about retirement. The last few years we have been making our plans and socking away as much money as we could knowing the day would come. We spent time talking to financial advisors, making a budget and exploring options. So I am pleased to announce that we are about two thirds retired as of end of May!

My wife finished up her career as a therapist for hearing impaired children as the 2020 school year came to end in May. It was a very weird ending for her due to the COVID shutdowns, as she had to suddenly learn a new skill to be able to do online therapy with her students via Zoom. It was also sad in that she was unable to give her students a final good bye hug. I have always been impressed with how much she cared for her students, and it has been hard for her to let go. She has gone from working all week to having no set schedule so it has been a pretty dramatic change. In past years she did some summer work, but not this year. She is running out of drawers and closets to clean out, but is enjoying getting to walk more with her sister (and me). I think once we can do some more traveling and things, she will adjust well.

As for me, I am taking the slow route, and have transitioned into a three day week for the next few months. Depending on workload, I may go to two days in October, with the plan to be completely retired by the end of the year. (I have been promised a going away party, but we shall see). The first six months of this year included training a younger me to take over my management position, from which I stepped down at the end of June. I am now just another project manager again, working my way out of a job as project close out. It feels good to be relieved of the greater responsibility, but I think my former job is in good hands, so I will continue to mentor as needed and enjoy my four day long weekends! I am developing a new routine that includes (long overdue) exercise in the mornings and other activities in the afternoons. I will miss my coworkers, but look forward to making new friends and doing new things. I have a lot of past accomplishments to feel good about but its time to move on to new things. I also finally have time to tackle my wife’s ‘honey-do” list as well as some other home maintenance items.

One good thing about working part time for a first step is it allows us to transition to a fixed and reduced income more easily. We were already pretty much living our retirement budget which allowed us to save more money, so I am not expecting too many surprises as we go from saving to living on our savings. We are blessed to have these resources and can’t stress to much how important is is to live below your means for most of your life so you can be properly prepared for retirement. We are now eligible for Medicare, but remain on my company policy for now. That made sense as we had already paid our deductibles for the current year and would have to start over with that if we moved to Medicare, so we will make that change in 2021.

We remain in our family home, but still plan to downsize. Currently, I am thinking we may put the house on the market next spring, depending on the state of the markets and economy. Lately, we are taking some long drives to explore different neighborhoods and areas around town that we might enjoy moving to. My goal is to move to a lower tax jurisdiction as well as a smaller, more easily maintained house. See some earlier posts for other considerations.

We have had to make one rather unexpected and unpleasant adjustment. We had to put our cat Niki to sleep in the spring after she developed a fast growing and inoperable form of cancer. We miss her, but are not sure we want another pet this time, until more is settled.

Painting by Elaine Madere

While cats are easy to take care of and can be left at home when we travel, we are actually thinking of getting a dog now that we have time to train a puppy. Dogs need more care and attention, but make better companions, I think. Kittens are fun, but dogs stay fun and entertaining even when grown.

If we do get a dog, we will be looking for one that makes a good traveling companion as well as a home companion. This fall, (if COVID allows) we plan to do some camping to see if we once again can enjoy the outdoor lifestyle we enjoyed in our youth, except this time with some sort of travel trailer. Lets face it, it is harder to sleep on the ground at our age! If we feel like this type of traveling still works for us, we may get a dog to share the road with us. There are still a lot of places in the USA we would like to visit (and for me to write about). We will soon have time for some long road trips . So, if you have any advice regarding the experience of having and traveling with a dog in retirement, please feel free to share!

Adjusting to the COVID crisis has been difficult, and certainly was not in our retirement plan. We are at the age at which the risks of having COVID are worse according to statistics, so we are being extra careful. We have most of our consumables delivered and trips to the store are limited. Everything that comes into the house gets a wipe down. Our dream of a long trip to Europe has been put on hold for now, and we miss seeing our friends and going out to eat on a regular basis. Take out is ok, but sometimes you just want to be waited on and enjoy the atmosphere of your favorite restaurant, or a cool one from the tap with a friend. We were able to enjoy some takeout at our favorite local parks in the spring, but in the South, it is just too humid for that in the summertime. The whole thing is getting old.

Photo by Helena Lopes on Pexels.com

That is all for now. As we continue to adjust to our new lifestyle, and hopefully get out soon, expect to see more posts. There is still so much more to do, see and share!

Thanks for reading, and stay safe!

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