Here Are The Actual Dollar Amounts Of My Retirement.

I’m not going to tell you that my current income is 33.6% less than what my pre-retirement income was. That’s what most other financial retirement bloggers do. Unless you know the actual numbers of what their pre-retirement income was, you have learned absolutely nothing. I’m also not going to tell you I saved 5% of my gross income over my working lifetime, or 10% or 20% or 50%. Again, if you don’t know the base-line figure amounts, you know absolutely nothing.

I’m not going to give you percentages of dollar cost averages. I’m going to give you the real, honest-to-goodness, actual dollar amounts DH and I are currently living on. Our figures will include one paid-for primary residence home, one paid-for vacation condo in paradise, two paid-for recent model vehicles (one is a luxury SUV and the other is a fuel-efficient mid-sized car), one recent 2017 RV purchase that carries an interest tax-deductible loan ($140 a month), two paid-for 6s iPhones, one food bill ($350 regardless of where we are residing at present) two bills each of: electricity, internet, cable and security as well as primary homeowner’s insurance, condo insurance, RV insurance, DH health insurance, my Medicare additional insurance policy, heating/air conditioning, sanitation. I even have a category thrown in for misc ($25), haircuts ($8), maintenance on the primary home ($75) and travel ($100 per month which carries over to about $1200 a year). Throw in a $272 a month credit card bill that covers two more zero-interest purchases of all brand new appliances for our primary residence and a brand new Apple iMac computer for me to continue with my photography hobby. Oh yes, toss in another zero-interest $48 a month to cover all the new furniture I purchased for my new condo for the next four years.

We can cover all of the above ($2125 per month) quite adequately and comfortably from our passive income. That’s what it costs us to own two homes and two cars and travel around America in our brand new RV.

I’m not finished yet. I didn’t mention property taxes and HOA fees. Those run us about $933 a month which boils down to $2800 per quarter or $11,200 a year, which we withdraw out of our saving accounts. I rather like paying these bills out of our increasing savings account. Any overflow from our passive income goes into savings, as well as future earnings. DH is always hustling for some extra cash. He likes his work income to cover the annual HOA fees and property taxes. So, in essence, we’re really not touching our savings account at all. I don’t consider property taxes and HOA fees part of our day-to-day living expenses.

view from the top.jpg - 1Granted, if we sold one of our homes we’d have a helluva lot more money in the bank. But neither one of us right now thinks that’s important. What’s the point of having all that money in a bank or invested? Right now, we’re using just about everything we own and enjoying all our assets at the same time. Our annual expenses come to $36,720 and that’s just about right to what DH and I are currently living on. I’ll let you do the math. Our current living expenses comes to around 51% less than what DH and I earned AND lived on before retirement, when both our daughters were living with us at home.

Even if and when you figure that number out, you’ll come to realize DH and I lived on a lot less money together from what one person earns today. Our frugal lifestyle got us through everything. Intact and in my kind of luxury. DH and I have always owned two homes: one primary and one vacation, two cars and two cell phones.  And we’ve gone through a few several RVs over our time. Additionally, every winter we took our annual February vacations in paradise.

When you master the fine art of frugality and you know and respect the value of an ordinary dollar, you can accomplish a lot in life.

Live well and prosper, my friend. Live well and prosper.

Planning Our RVing Adventures

sunriseFirst trip we are taking is to The Arcadia National Park in Maine. It’s also the first place the sun rises in The United States, so at least one very early morning is in the planning stage. (Coffee thermos mandatory!) DH and I are going to spend a week there, right after Labor Day when ALL the prices for almost everything drops significantly. In-season our full hook up site rents for $86 a night. We’re getting the site for $65 a night.

I’ve given lots of thought to boondocking (camping with absolutely no hook-ups of water, electricity or sewage). I have no problem boondocking an overnight stay while on the road BUT anything longer than that and I am NOT comfortable with it, at all. I like my amenities. I like a good, hot shower each and every night. Makes sleeping deeply more profound (I love a good night’s sleep). I also like to prepare a good hot dinner and in the morning I like a good hot steaming cup of coffee. You can’t get any of that in boondocking, unless you use solar, generator or battery BUT you always have to keep one eye on the clock, and that to me is too stressful. Plus you have to tow gallons and gallons of heavy water and DH doesn’t like the strain that puts on the vehicle.

We have other things planned for us to do in Maine like lobster dinners, sailing jaunts, beach combing, bike trailing and major hiking. I’m dragging along my camera with its respective tripod, so start expecting A LOT of photos from yours truly.

tikiOnce we get down to Florida this winter, DH and I will be spending a few additional days in Key West. I adore Key West! It’s the closest thing to a Caribbean paradise in America without leaving the continuous 48 states. The site I rented mid-week includes our own personal Tiki Hut and pier (that we can jump off of and do our own private swimming). The waterview is spectacular and since its off-season, the price is reasonable. That’s the glory of retirement: we can do things when others can’t…..thus we save money AND IMHO have a better time.

Once winter is over and spring starts to bloom, DH and I will be setting out on our lifelong dream to the Grand Canyon. Again, because its off-season, I rented a full hook up site for a week, right outside the National Park for only $57 a night! DH and I are working and scheduling the sights and sounds we want to experience. The only thing left for us to decide on is which route to take! I prefer sticking to the coast line. DH wants more inland. We’ll probably compromise and take the route in the middle!

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A Dollar Saved Is A Dollar I Didn’t Have To Work For

It’s never been a secret of mine to reveal to the masses that I detest working for a living. I hated it when I took my first job for Merrill Lynch down on Wall Street when I was a seventeen year old senior in high school. And I hated it when I breathed my last day on a part-time job when I was fifty-five and working for yet another attorney. UGH. I couldn’t drive home fast enough.

Over the years I discovered if I handled whatever money I earned frugally, I didn’t have to work so hard OR for so long. I made up my own ‘Art Of The Deal‘.  Buy low and spend low and sock as much money away in a bank account as possible. Stay out of debt as much as possible and live below your means as small as you can. Never pay retail. Never buy new if you don’t have to. And only buy what you need NOT what you want. Figure out the barest of necessities and then, still go lower.

Never stop learning to be frugal. Never stop learning how to save money. Learn from other like-minded people. You don’t know everything. Times are always changing. Change with the times and learn all the tricks of the trade. I betcha there’s an app for that! When you make a new frugal discovery, share it with everybody. The universe will share right back at you!

I enjoy saving money, living as frugally as possible. It’s a joy and a pleasure to live this way. Learn the true value of things, the true price of labor and other pleasures in life. Pay the reality price not the exorbitant price. But always, always enjoy your life! That’s the secret to living an authentic frugal life. If taking a cruise in Alaska is on your wish list, you have the money and the resources to make it happen. Make it happen BUT on your terms. NOT theirs. You can have and you can do and you can go anywhere on this earth that you want to. Just make sure it’s priced right!

Live well and prosper, my friends. Live well and prosper.

How I Keep Myself Wealthy

587fd5f944027151941214bdFor over forty-five years, the giant supermarket, Shop Rite, has been offering its customers a twice-a-year (January 1st and July 1st) savings bonanza entitled ‘The Can Can Sale‘ (click here). I’ve been going to this bi-annual event since 1987. That’s thirty years of stocking up on the basic essentials, as long as it came in a can! On each visit, I would buy enough to last me for 6 months until the next can can sale. That meant healthy caned fruit juices for my kids, oodles of tuna fish, peanut butter, fresh pasta sauces, coffee, vegetables, fruits and beans (to name a few of the many items offered at steep discounts) If you live within driving distance to the store, it’s worth the can-can sale trip!

FullSizeRenderSince it’s just DH and me now, our hoarding has narrowed down a bit. I still get cases of Tuttorossa plum and crushed tomatoes, Botticelli Virgin olive oil, Bumble Bee tuna fish, assorted canned beans (kidney, chick peas and white beans), olives and a few more canned incidentals. Instead of going twice a year, however, we go once and buy enough to last us throughout the year. The sale usually goes on for two weeks. This week I bought one case each of plum tomatoes and crushed tomatoes, a case of assorted canned beans, some cans of Bumble Bee tuna fish (packed in water) and 6 cans of small black olives. That savings came to $36.24.

Next week, Botticelli virgin olive oil will be marked down by $3.00 to only $9.99 a can. Last year this was marked down to $8.88 a can but in all honesty, over the years I’ve seen these can-can sales dwindle in value. Nonetheless, we use about one gallon of olive oil per month and if you’ve ever checked out the price of olive oil, it’s very, very expensive. Shop Rite’s can-can sales still offer great values. DH and I are both Italian, so cases of plum tomatoes and olive oil are staples in our family. Stocking up on these items alone is a great value to us. (every Sunday is still pasta night in our home!) We’ll be buying a case of olive oil which will be another savings of $36.00.

Another way we have saved money this past week/month/whatever was by buying a new, left-over, heavily discounted RV all set up for boondocking. What is boondocking you might ask? Boondocking is the ultimate way for any travel frugalista to well, travel. Boondocking means you are camping for free! Boondocking has been so popular that websites, YouTube videos and smart phone apps have been dedicated to it. Our RV is set up to be totally self-sufficient, solar ready (to heat water, work the fridge, keep the lights and TV on) has a large capacity water storage unit just perfect for a daily Navy-style shower, has a back up generator and enough propane to heat the RV, heat the water, run the BBQ or interior kitchen two-burner gas stove.  In other words, DH and I plan on doing a lot of traveling throughout America via boondocking; meaning much of our travel expenses will be null.

I downloaded a free app off of iTunes for my iPhone called Park Advisor (vs $9.99 for All Stays). It lets me know where all the free campsites are located (Wal Mart, casinos, military locations, public state and federal parkland) as well as rest stops, RV campsites (KOA & Good Sam’s and other private camp grounds) the nearest gas station, restaurant and help center. If there’s a phone available, I just click and call for more information. Directions are just another quick click away. On the first night we got our RV we stayed at a campground that cost $60 a night, but I got a 10% discount with my Good Sam’s card. Nonetheless, we paid $54 for a full hook up. Next night, I used the app while we were on the road, the app found the closest Wal Mart AND gave us directions to the location. DH and I had a great nights sleep, for free. Got up the next morning, DH was able to brew us some coffee and we had a few muffins for breakfast before we were out on the road again.

Total cost: ZERO. Now, that’s the new way I like traveling. Times have certainly changed.

Another bonus on the road traveling: the discovery of Panera Bread cafe’s. It’s nice to get a good, organic, clean, chilled and healthy salad on the road. We joined Panera Bread’s frequent customer appreciation program and we will be getting some nice rewards (free food) on our many trails.

Plan on hearing some more good RV savings from me in addition to my landlubber savings. Retirement is all about keeping down expenses while doing more things, adding on more activities and more adventures. At least, that is what it is for me!

Live well and prosper, my friend. Lie well and prosper.

It’s RV DeJa Vu All Over Again

hooked up to car

All hooked up and ready to roll!

DH and I spent the entire July 4th holiday weekend driving out to Michigan, picking up our brand new (left over 2017 model) RV Hummingbird Jayco Model 17RB and then hauling it back home to New York. If we had purchased this same exact model in New York, it would have cost us $22,000. If we had purchased it in Florida, it would have cost us $20,000 BUT by buying it and picking it up in Michigan (thus eliminating any destination or delivery fees PLUS it was a leftover, year end model) we got the unit for $14,800 (and this includes a $218 make-ready fee, which was fine with us because New York wanted to charge us a $1,000 make-ready fee).

The entire round trip for us cost us $394 cash for gas, breakfast and dinner (3 each) and a $99 hotel fee for the first night before we picked up our RV. Once we got our RV we boondocked all the way back home. We financed this purchase because we’re not fully retired (more on DH’s so-called retirement later on) AND since we still own two homes, I don’t want to touch our cash reserves just yet. So, what we did was pay off our previous zero-interest charge cards (due to remodeling  and new furniture costs) to the tune of $13,097.89 to make ready for this new loan. I know, I know, I know, we’re not supposed to go into debt when this close to retirement but here’s my justification:

There is no justification. No excuses. What we did makes perfect financial sense to DH and myself. We exchanged one debt for another, all payable within our monthly passive income should a calamity come our way. Both our homes and both our cars are paid for. Other than what I mentioned, we have no debt. The interest we are paying on the RV loan is tax deductible (as it’s considered a 2nd home). I consider this a lateral move with no stress whatsoever on our budget. The loan has no pre-payment penalty so if DH decides to sell his car, or we sell one of our homes, the debt will be paid off in full.

The only negative thing that happened with the loan was this: I was quoted, in writing (thankfully) the length, term and monthly cost of my loan, $142 per month. Naturally, when I got to sign the financial papers, the quote was changed to $162. I was told that that was because they couldn’t give me a 12 year loan as promised. They could only do a 10 year loan. Granted, yes, the salesman told me I should be happy because my loan would be paid off quicker. A light bulb moment went off in my head. NO! I said. You’re making me pay $2,400 more over the life of the loan! Then I made the light bulb connection……..MY AGE………I’m 66 and the bank wants its money back ASAP. To make a long story short, I showed the salesman my quote. That’s the reason, I told him, I’m here buying the RV. Honor it or I’m gone…….They honored it. End of story.

If anyone out there has ever applied for an RV loan, it’s one of the most difficult loans to get. Why? Because RVs are considered luxury items. The salesman told me I had an excellent credit score (near800) and I told him I am a fanatic with paying off my debts on time and in full as much as possible. I have graphs and spreadsheets and calendar reminders….I’m a nut…….But having that great score opened up a brand new door for DH and myself. Now, we can finally get to travel all over the United States, plus Canada, and a convoy trip to Alaska. My friends back in Newport RI keep clamoring and asking when I’ll be back. Our family in California and Colorado keep asking us when we will be there to visit with them. Paying for airfare, hotels (think:bedbugs) and worrying about my dog has been such a drag since I gave up my previous RV two years ago. I worked the numbers and because there is so much DH and I want to see and do, going back to RVing was our only thrifty solution.  Our main goal is to travel cross country and see the National Parks, especially The Grand Canyon and Zion National Park.

Now we can.

Here are some quick iPhone shots I took of our new RV. It’s only 17 ft long. As I said, if you go small (like DH and I always do) you can have it all. Don’t mind all the tags hanging down. The oven is a microwave/convection that also triples as a grill. Sweet. We have an interior flat screen TV (DH has to hook it up) and indoor/outdoor (bluetooth & USB) stereo music AM & FM radio and CD/DVD player. The bed is queen size. We have a full separate bathroom in the back with sink, shower stall and toilet (not those all-in-one toilet/shower combos……ewwwwww!) We have tons of space (even a linen closet in the bathroom). The unit is solar ready (for when we boondock) also has an outdoor shower (for when we party hardy at the beach), an outdoor hook up for a flat screen TV with satellite and cable and it has an outdoor gas grill. The electric awning has multi-color flashing LED lights if we want to turn the RV into a disco (tee hee….thinking seriously about that!) and we have one slide-out which makes the kitchen/eating area a bit more roomier.

You’ll have to excuse me for now. DH and I are exhausted. I need to sleep now. DH has to go back to work tomorrow. Oh, which BTW, they are so happy with the quality of his work, the company made DH the project manager. This means he got an instant raise PLUS a sign-on bonus, which went right into The Grand Canyon Fund. DH has once again delayed his so-called retirement, which as long as he continues to stay healthy, is fine with me. He’s happy. And our bank account is super happy. Go figure!

awning lights

LED lights under awning turn red, green, blue, yellow & white via remote control

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convection:fridge

Fridge with freezer, microwave/convection/grill oven

kitchen

Two gas burner, sink, exhaust overhead, spice rack, ample storage space

overhead storage

Overhead storage space (above kitchen table)

queen bed

queen size bed (messy, I have to tidy up) kitchen table fold down to another bed

separate sink and shower

bathroom has separate shower stall w curtain, free standing sink

toilet

RVs best feature: your own toilet. Linen closet behind mirror

What To Expect In Your 60’s

th-1This month’s AARP magazine (click here) has a ‘surprising snapshot’ about what we all can expect in our 60’s regarding our health and wealth. Sure we have a few challenges along the way, but when you get right down to it, our 60’s can be a whole lotta fun. It’s the time when we have the money and the resources to do what we always wanted to do. We aren’t afraid to career-jump, travel, spend money, find our passion, balance and party-hearty (I’m guilty of that last one…….)

Did you know that we 60-year-olds spend about $90 a day? We lead the nation in workforce growth, have incredibly high credit scores, are less stressed out about money (after all, our mortgages are paid off) and we all look great as a result? We may party too hearty BUT we carry that partying into our bedrooms. We probably take daily multi-vitamins and we also get our annual exams thus keeping our blood pressure, sugar count and cancer screenings in check. We’re keeping up with the news, staying in contact thanks to social media, we know what matters most, we tend to be charitable and we live our faith. Amen to that!

In our 60’s we’re also very adventurous. Now is the time for us to see Zion National Park, take that cruise down the Danube River and finally for the first time ever, drive that fancy sports car! Over 40% of boomers have a travel wish list (guilty!) like to bask in the sun (guilty!) bathe in the sea (guilty!) enjoy bringing the family along but now, secretly plan on having fun at Disney with or without them (guilty as charged, baby!)

If you thought your 30’s, 40’s or even your 50’s were fun, you ain’t seen nothing yet. For me, turning and being in my 60’s was the chance to finally toss off all the negative feelings and emotional crap I had clinging to my mind and body (BTW, we ladies in our 60’s love, love, love yoga and meditation…..who knew?) I don’t give a rats ass what anyone has to say about me, mumble about me or spread rumors about me. This is MY time now and no one, including you, is going to ruin my almost last and final chance to live a good and fulfilling life. I’m having fun and enjoying my new-found freedom with my same-age wonderful new friends!

Your 60’s is also a time to give back to your community. I’ve teamed up with a long time friend of mine (46 years and counting) who for over twenty-five years has been working with women who are recovering from cancer. She helps fit women who have lost their hair due to chemotherapy and radiation with either custom-made or OTC wigs, hairpieces, scarves, hats and sometimes make-up to hide their scars. I’ve been working on her website and have been instrumental in her press releases and promotion. In the very near future, I hope to be accompanying her when she does a wig consultation. Her office or your home, she will meet the needs of these women and help them get through one of the most difficult times in their life.

Enjoy your sixties. Welcome them into your life. They are the gateway to your seventies and if all my summations are correct, our 70’s are going to be even brighter than our 60’s.

Live well and prosper, my friends. Live well and prosper.

 

Debt Snowball Report.

We started on May 30th, and to date so far we have paid off $4,746.98 of zero-based credit card debt. We plan on paying another $2,621.31 by the end of June. In the interim, we paid our HOA quarterly fee of $1226, got a certified bank check for $1,500 as our RV down payment and somehow managed to put an additional $1,650 into our savings account. WHEW!

Then we will be taking a break from paying down our debt for the first two weeks of July because we’ll be in Michigan picking up our new RV. On our way back we’ll be spending a few days at the Letchworth State Park in upstate New York (click here).

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Letchworth is oftentimes referred to as  ‘The Grand Canyon’ of the east. DH and I have been looking forward to visiting the state park for some time. Now, with our RV, it will be possible.

Once we are back from vacation, we will be ‘attacking’ the last strand of old consumer debt in the amount of $5,729.60. We set up a six week plan of paying $955 a week (with a final adjustment on week #6). Once this final debt has been paid off, DH and I will have paid off approximately $13,097.89 in consumer debt (not including the HOA, RV down payment or savings).

Why are DH and I so gung-ho in paying off this zero-based consumer credit debt (after all, it’s at 0% and we have many more months to go)? We did it to make way for NEW consumer debt, in the guise of the RV loan, which will be slightly under $15K and spread out over 10 years. DH was fortunate to take on this high-paying project work purposely to pay off the old debt and make way for the new debt. Once DH complete this job, it will be his last. He will officially retire. He will probably sell his car (since we won’t need two cars anymore) and pay off the RV loan balance in full. Could we have waited? Should we have waited before we bought the RV? In retrospect……..NO…….life begins today. Especially when you are in your sixties and life is ebbing away. Let the young work, toil and save. We sixty-somethings have a time limit.

Once DH officially retires at the end of August, come September DH, the dog and I will pack up our RV and start touring America.

Go west, old man. Go west.

And so we shall.

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There are over three separate falls at Letchworth.

I Feel Terrific! Best In Years.

It took my cardiologist a bit of time and experimentation to finally get my meds in balance (in the beginning statins and other drugs he prescribed were making me sick, nauseous, weak and depressed) BUT I am happy to report that these last three weeks, I have felt terrific. With no end in sight! I got my nighttime sleeping habit (or lack thereof) under control and I am actually going to sleep at night at a decent hour (around midnight, a BIG improvement from 3AM!) and waking up in the morning at a reasonable hour: 5AM (instead of noon!) I’m breathing much better at night, thanks to ‘Breathe Right’ nose strips (I have a deviated septum).

My whole body seems to be functioning much better and clearer. I guess my arteries are running smoother, my heart must be beating better and everything feels like it’s doing what it was supposed to do all along. But, I must say that the Number One thing that is gone from my life, which, if you have been following my blog, was a BIG Hindrance Factor (BHF), is gone! And that BHF was stress! I finally chucked it to whatever was irking me and said to hell with it all! Once I put that stress out of my life, the rest just fell in to place.

I’m feeling terrific now. I’m feeling positive and I actually am happy when I wake up in the morning. No more dread. No more fear. I’m not afraid of anything anymore. I’m losing weight. I’m more mindful of the food I have been eating currently (or wrongly eating in the past) and have made many positive changes to my lifestyle. DH and I got rid of so much clutter that I am even more certain that living in a clutter-free zone helps my mental status tremendously. My home runs now like a fine tuned engine. Everything has a purpose and a place. If it doesn’t, it’s tossed into the garbage. No regrets. I am absolutely peaceful just sitting in my comfy chair, on my back yard deck staring off into the tree tops just so happy to be alive AND to feeling so, so good.

Have you ever known me to be so happy and content? I don’t complain about anything anymore. And NO! my doctor hasn’t put me on mood swinging drugs. Just a statin to help lower my cholesterol, which has been making my blood flow more freely, thus nourishing my brain. The other drug I take helps prevent heart attacks.

I guess it takes a while to find the right doctor, who understands you and takes the time to prescribe the right medicines that are right for you. I also realize that this point in my life, may be my last hurrah, so I had better make the best of it.

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My sister and I both just recently got this book: :1,000 Places To See In The US & Canada Before You Die. I rented mine from the library but will be buying a used copy as soon as my library rental is up. My sister has already started her travel journey and is determined to see as much of the world as she can. DH and I are a little bit behind her BUT we should be off in our RV seeing as much of the US and Canada as possible, within the next two months. Our main goal is to travel together in the future. We’re all eying a cross country trek to Alaska! That’s going to be super fun!

Another one of our mutual friends has been eying an Airstream RV Bambi model, and will probably join us on our travels to Alaska. The more the merrier!

Live well my friend and prosper. Take care of your health. Downsize and de-clutter. Pay no attention to the negative, toxic people you may meet on your journey. Toss them aside and just concentrate on yourself. Because in the end, you’re going to be ALL you have.