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A Year of Splendid Retirement

January 1st, 2012 at 06:20 pm

Yesterday dh and I were discussing how quickly 2011 flew by. After all, we are retired... shouldn't life seem a little slower? So where did the year go? And how are we doing financially... where did our money go?

January - Our "National Geographic Experience"
We started the year on an Amazon River cruise where we spent 4 weeks visiting everything from remote villages to the industrial city of Manaus. Our trip back to the USA took us to Devil's Island and several Caribbean countries. It was amazing and we learned so much about the flora, fauna, people and cultures of the Amazon Basin!

February - Family Time
Spring in Idaho was quiet and restful. We took a road trip to our condo in Silicon Valley, stopping to see family in Oregon along the way.

March - Time for Family and Friends
Went to Newport and Gleneden on the Oregon Coast for a week with dh to enjoy bird watching and the ocean. Later I took a "girls only" trip to Las Vegas to celebrate a friend's 70th birthday. Dh and I ended the month with a week in Cabo San Lucas for our niece's renewal of vows.

April - From NYC to the Rain Forest
The first week was spent with my sister from CA in NYC visiting my grandnephew (her grandson). Later that month, we were in El Salvador to see family for a week, followed by 10 days in Costa Rica on a Caravan.com tour, one of the best travel bargains around.

May - R & R
Had thyroid surgery... prognosis is good despite some unexpected news. Appreciated being home to rest and recuperate, and my daughters and dh were wonderful during this time. Prepared my garden for planting.

June - Home Sweet Home in ID
The garden is starting to bloom, I volunteered for the Red Cross, and took a four-day trip with dh to beautiful Yellowstone. We decided to sell CA condo... we just don't use it enough to justify expense of keeping it.

July - Cutting Ties to CA
The best part was that my sister and BIL from CA came to visit us in ID for a week of fun. We got an offer on the condo... drove back to CA. It was wonderful to spend time with CA family, including dh's family reunion in Soledad. Cleared out CA condo in expectation of closing escrow in August. Rented a storage locker in ID and hired movers to help us with items we are keeping.

August - Summer in the City of Trees
So happy with our beautiful flower garden in ID... annuals and perennials galore! Volunteered some more and enjoyed a relaxing summer in this beautiful city of trees (that is the meaning of Boise), biking on the greenbelt, and going to the fair, museums, parks and the zoo.

September - European Adventure Begins
We FINALLY closed escrow on our CA condo! Left on September 25 to celebrate with newly retired friends in for Barcelona, Spain, the gateway for our next adventure.

October - Wow... what a month!
We were in Europe most of October, exploring 8 different countries... an amazing experience. The best part: four days with my favorite cousin and his delightful family in Switzerland. Did some volunteer work for the Red Cross when we returned to ID.

November - So Much to be Thankful For
My DSS came home from Iraq, safe and sound after one year working as a medic with his National Guard unit in a particularly dangerous area. Thanksgiving in Idaho was lovely, hosted by DD1. After Thanksgiving, dh and I left for Cabo San Lucas, one of our favorite SUNNY and WARM places.

December - Escaping the Cold
Went to Cabo San Lucas for three weeks. Came home in time to celebrate happy holidays with 3 of our 4 adult children. DSS want to relocate to ID. We decorated the house and put up our tree. It was wonderful! I especially love the ornaments we've collected from our world travels.

On the Financial Front... where did our money go?
I spend less time on things financial now that we're retired. It's not that I care any less about personal finance... it's more that we are on autopilot. We have a property manager handling the rentals, so I do not get involved much. The financial planner I've used for 25+ years does a good job with the tax-deferred investments, so I don't worry about those. Our income is fixed and direct deposited to the bank, and most bills are on auto-pay. Life is simpler now.

I track our retirement income in four basic categories. "Living" is everything we spend that is not travel, giving, or saving: medical, property taxes, food, entertainment, clothes, auto, etc. I was surprised our net worth grew 4.87%, excluding real estate (I expected less). This represents the growth (averaged) of taxable accounts, tax-deferred accounts (to be tapped at 70 1/2), and stocks/mutual funds. I adjusted figures to exclude cash generated from the sale of the CA condo.

Distribution of our 2011 net income is as follows:
~ Living 32%
~ Giving 12%
~ Savings 31%
~ Travel 25%

We spend a lot on travel, made possible by diligent pre-retirement planning and saving. Our expenses are low, our income is fixed (~30% goes to taxes), we save almost one-third of our net income, and we are in relatively good health. This is the "go-go" stage of our retirement. The "slow-go" and the "no-go" stages will follow, but for now we are actively crossing items off our bucket list. 2011 was a good year!

Happy New Year to All at SA!

11 Responses to “A Year of Splendid Retirement”

  1. snafu Says:

    Is your out-of country travel self directed or primarily tours? We are interested in details sine we are taking more time to travel and taking fewer contracts. DH finally bought an RV [talked about it for years]. Would you RV/Caravan to central AMerica?

  2. Analise Says:

    @snafu - We tend to be eclectic in our travel... a little of everything. We bought timeshares years ago and I have become adept at leveraging those to get some really great deals. We also like to travel with companies like Road Scholar (formerly Elder Hostel) and Caravan, and have also taken cruises. I Internet research to get the best deals. For example, a few years ago we rented an apartment in a Zen meditation house in Paris for a bargain. It had no phone or TV but was clean, quiet and in a great location. I use points from CCs to buy air fare upgrades and we can travel at best times because we are retired.

    In Central America, we have used Caravan for Costa Rica and Guatemala. In El Salvador I have family so we have more assurance of safety in that they know the ropes. Not sure I would RV in El Salvador, even though I speak Spanish.

    RV travel is something I would like to do some day... it would be great to see more of the world without the hassle of moving bags and with the convenience of healthier home cooking. We would have to rent one since our home/lot is too small to store an RV here.

    We know people who RV to Mexico and Central America but I would be cautious as there are some dangerous areas. It might be good to take an organized (Caravan?) trip to check out the area before you RV there. Caravan is very affordable... they put you up in excellent hotels and feed you well, but can do so because they deal in volume. And they have been around since 1952.

  3. CB in the City Says:

    Your travel is impressive!

  4. Ima saver Says:

    Wow, you have had a very busy year!

  5. Mary Ann Says:

    I certainly enjoyed reading your post. Happy New Year.

  6. terri77 Says:

    Sounds like a wonderful year!

  7. Grace Says:

    Ok, I am officially jealous! (Except for the thyroid part--I hope all continues to go well for you.)

    Am I correct in assuming that your net worth would have shown a decrease if you counted your real estate? That was what happened to me in 2011--my 401(K) went up some but not my home or my rental, both of which showed some loss in value.

    I fully agree with your decisions to travel now in the early part of your retirement and hope to emulate it in a few years.

  8. Analise Says:

    @ Grace - Real estate values in ID continued to drop in 2011, so if I had factored in real estate, net worth growth definitely would have been lower.

    I know you will be able to travel in the future because you are determined and smart. I enjoy reading your blog and admire you've done as a single mom.

  9. PatientSaver Says:

    Wow, you've traveled nearly every month of the year! It sounds like you're having a wonderful retirement and I say, you go, girl!

  10. EarlyRetirementJoy Says:

    Analise, I was searching for blogs on early retirement a couple of months ago, and your's appeared in my search engine, leading me to your blog and the SavingsAdvice community, both of which I have thoroughly enjoyed.

    I am retired since April, my spouse will be joining me in May, and we are eager to get started on our own version of splendid retirement!

    (I've given him one week to get his retirement legs, then we are off and running!)

  11. Jerry Says:

    Looks like quite a year, and the DSS coming back from overseas definitely leads to reason for thankfulness. I like your breakdown of the budget, but I fear that for many people their health insurance will eat up a lion's share of their retirement income. That is certainly looking like the case for my parents. It is great that you are seeing so much of the world! Smile Jerry

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