Thank you for inquiring!
For the past few months, I transformed to a lurker, rather than a poster, as I figured that the moderators should be allowed to spend more time with their families…
I have been retired for 102 days. I reversed my count-down timer to a count-up timer so it is easy to track. The time has flown, and I do not know where the ‘extra’ 40 hours a week went to. I still get up ~6 AM, and hit the sack ~10 PM.
The first couple of days after I retired I totally wasted, so I looked in the mirror and told myself “I better get more productive, or life will be short”. So I do a better job on time management now.
I am still healthy, and I decided to lose some weight. I went from ~210 to ~180 since the start of the year. It helped my blood pressure go from 135/85 to 115/75. So my life can continue on for a while longer, at least up until my planning age… I turn 57 in November.
It was simply a diet change and a bit of exercise and stretching. I used to drink 4-5 regular cokes a day, now it’s less than one a week. More salads, more fruit, more chicken. I tried that when I was still working, but since I was never home much of the food went to waste.
I am 100% VA Healthcare now and intend to stay that way for the foreseeable future. The VA should pay for the out of VA network emergencies, no different than any other private plan. If I have another healthcare plan, they will not. If they do not pay, I will worry about that later. Being healthy is a big part of having quality healthcare... I will sign up for the VA Delta Dental plan in December for 2017.
I went to the VA urgent care recently, and it seemed pretty good. The DGF is on MinnesotaCare, which is free so far.
I have fixed a few things around the house that were long overdue, and built a 16x24 deck. The old 6’x50’ redwood deck was rotting away, and the DGF fell through one of the deck boards. The railings were long since rotted off. Even the joists were rotted. So a complete teardown and rebuild. I was going to hire a guy to help, but in the end I just did a little bit every day and now it’s done except for the railings. I hired a guy with a bobcat to drill the postholes, which saved a ton of time. I mixed and poured the 38 bags of cement, built the structure, wired the outlets, and installed the composite decking myself.
With the extra time, I can now return extra parts to the store when I am done with a project. I used to just hang onto the stuff and use it ‘next time’, whenever that came around. Mostly it added to the clutter.
The rentals have been great this year. So far, with 25 rentals and 300 rental months for 2016, I have only had only 4 apartment turns, with another turn coming at the end of November. I had 2 months of vacancy from back in March before I retired, otherwise I am 100% full for the year. I used those two months to do a major remodel.
I have not touched my 401K, IRA, pension, dividends, or investment accounts yet, nor do I plan to for a few years. I just live on the monthly cash flows of the rentals. I do not pull money from any savings account to pay the major expenses; I manage the monthly cash flow to make any payments that come through, as they come through.
I have had some large expenses since I retired, mostly planned, but they still sting. Property taxes ($10K), estimated taxes ($4K), new boiler ($3K), new deck ($6K), driveway ($10K), truck repair ($1K), etc. I paid an extra $19K on a rental mortgage in the past four months. Once that mortgage is paid off next summer, it will give me an extra $5K a month or so to spend.
The savings has diminished a bit from my working days, which is to be expected. Although most of my work income went to 401K and extra withholding, so there really isn’t much to miss. Counting my extra principle as savings, even with the extra expenses, I have saved about $23K since retiring over the past four months. I will need to boost the spending a bit more in 2017.
I should generate a bit of additional income in 2017, as I have a Real Estate license and a friend recently called and wanted to see a home. He made an offer that was accepted, and if it closes will be a $9K+ commission. I will take the commission next year for the 2017 income. Rents are up ~$600 a month over the start of the year, plus my new rental is providing another $400 a month in profit.
Saving Money on Everyday Things
I am a miser at heart, so now we are not working, we can save money by going to the restaurants during the week. We can eat at Outback on No Worries Wednesday. Or Perkins for the BOGO on Wednesdays. Or the local restaurant for Monday steak night. We do not have to wait until Friday or Saturday and wait in line or eat after 9 PM.
Of course, we rarely go anywhere without a coupon.
I put up a 125-mile outdoor antenna so we get 58 channels on the TV. The antenna is 14’ above the ground, plus we live on an elevated lot. When the DirecTV contract is up in February 2017, I am going to cut the cord. All the TVs are connected to the antenna now, via a master splitter/amplifier, so it’s only a matter of time before we save $100 a month. I also have a Roku 3 box, and will likely get a Roku 4 box next year for another TV.
Relaxing and Travel
I have done few things that I would not have been able to do if I was still working. We went to the MN State Fair on opening day at 10 AM. Went to the Renaissance Festival. Joined the Science Museum and went to an IMAX film, with plans on going to the next film. Attended a Toby Keith concert in a town 60 miles away. I was a Pallbearer for an elderly relative on a weekday.
I took my Branson trip. I stooped to see a friend that I have not seen since I was in the service over 35 years ago. Stopped at Bass Pro shops in Springfield and stayed in Branson for 6 days. We saw the Branson Jubilee, The Haygood’s, Abba, Titanic museum, the Dixie Stampede, and a Mark Chapman concert at Branson Landing.
For more adventure and active part of the trip, we did some hiking at “Top of the Rock” and “Dogwood Canyon Park” and went zip lining.
At home, we spend some time outside in front of the bonfire, just relaxing and burning up the old deck boards and fallen branches. It’s nice to be able to do that on any day, not just the weekend. A cool night, with little wind or fire hazard, does not always present itself on the weekend.
Our daily 2.8 mile walk with the dog is only missed if it is raining. We can go a bit earlier, and avoid the bicycle traffic on the trails. And now that it is getting darker earlier, we can walk during the daylight hours.
The upcoming trips I have in my head in the next 6 months or so will be something like dogsledding in northern Minnesota, a trip to Branson in December, a Trip to Florida in January (via the St Louis Arch, a week stopover in Nashville, TN followed by a couple of weeks in FL). I should be able to be gone somewhere for 2-3 weeks every month if I desire.
My sister lives near Gainesville so I will visit her for a few days, then head to Kennedy Space Center and Fort Myers for a week before we head back home.
I may squeeze an Arizona trip in February or March if I have time. Or a sprint to Panama City, FL. None of which would be possible while still working.
Work Colleagues and Socializing
I still keep in contact with several friends from work. I have been to lunch with several work friends. I even spent a day working on a Habitat for Humanity home that the old department volunteered to work on. It seems I have more tools, and better tools, than the work teams…
I have a pheasant hunting trip set up for early December with a work colleague that is coming back into town. He moved away about a year ago, and it will be great to catch up. A HS friend will be in town deer hunting, and I will be able to spend some time visiting that might not otherwise happen if I was working.
I have been on a few MeetUp.com outings, mostly hiking and dog walks. It’s a great way to socialize and get to experience a different area of the city. I may try some additional ones.
Future Major Expenses
My eyes are set on a 2017/18 Ford F350 platinum. 6.7 4x4 with a Crew cab. And a lightly used fifth wheel. As soon as my rental mortgage is 100% paid by next summer, I will put in the order.
Other than that, I have been just laying around.