Three Ways I Rightsized in Semi-Retirement

rightsizing for retirementI love this life assessment piece by my friend Terri Webster Schrandt. Are you nearing retirement? Terri shares some great thoughts about how she prepared for and manages her retired life.

Three Ways I Rightsized in Semi-Retirement

rightsizing for retirement

We read a lot about downsizing these days as Baby Boomers are actively pursuing new ways of life as they consider retirement. “Rightsizing” is a process that implies a less than a cutthroat approach to restructuring than downsizing.

I have been following Kathy’s blog SMARTLiving365.com and recently had the opportunity to write this guest post while she was enjoying some travel. Kathy and I met in person at the BAM 2016 conference in Las Vegas. We found each other to be kindred spirits as well as neighbors living in California!

After reading Kathy’s book Rightsizing: A SMART Living 365 Guide To Reinventing Retirement, I also identified the ways I have rightsized my life. A big key for my semi-retirement was being able to retire from my day job of 32 years at the relatively young age of 55. After paying into the CalPERS (public employees retirement system) for years, I now receive 65% of my income as a pension.

Three other reasons factored into my semi-retirement decision:

1. Dissatisfaction at work. The economic downturn of 2008-2012, which acutely affected California, caused many folks to retire “early” (read: younger than if they had waited until the traditional retirement age of 62-65) from the public parks and recreation organization for which I worked. As a result, too many new people started making swift (and poor) decisions that affected best practices which became too much to bear. When I was passed over for promotion for the third time over a 10-year period, I knew it was time to go.

2. Being able to teach part-time. The ability to retire hinged upon the continuation of my teaching job at a university, where I am a part-time lecturer enjoying sharing my 35+ years of experience in the field with parks and rec majors. As a lecturer (and now “Retired Annuitant” I am able to teach 15 units per year). The money is GOOD and nicely supplements my pension.

3. My husband got hired with my former organization in facility maintenance. He now carries the health benefits, and he has the potential for moving up in the organization while still experiencing job satisfaction.

All those added up to my semi-retirement.

Best. Decision. Ever

These are the three areas where I rightsized my life: Read the original post to find out what they are.

Source: Three Ways I Rightsized in Semi-Retirement

“What Did You Do Today?”

Don’t you hate it when your mate comes home from a hard day at work, or your boss comes up to you and says those words?  Moms do this to their kids all the time.

When it happens to me, my mind immediately goes blank.  I am programmed to answer something, so I do a quick mental scan.  I made the bed, I think.  Maybe my husband did it while I was typing on the computer.  I posted two articles, one for Manny and one for me. That’s fun stuff, so it doesn’t count.  I shouldn’t even mention it.

SFW K & S working

Kalev and I walked two miles.  That’s impressive.  I made lunch.  It was good, but hardly noteworthy when expounding on what I “did.”   Here’s the most time-consuming, “I answered emails.”  Again that activity falls into the ho-hum category.  Let’s see, I edited an article or two for “What’s Happening in the Foothills.”  That might be impressive if it hadn’t taken me two hours to tweeze out 75 words with the help of a Style Writing program that keeps shutting down.  I posted the assignment for my writing class online.  My last assignment didn’t get award-winning stars and A+ remarks from the teacher, so that took a while, too.

making lunch

So when my husband came home and asked me that intimidating question, I knew he would not be overly impressed with my morning’s work.  But now you know, I worked really hard yesterday morning, and accomplished quite a bit.  It just didn’t look impressive.

What did you do today?  (hehe)  🙂

Accidental Vacation Chapter Four

Chapter Four

“The car rental agency in Crescent City, CA had one car.   We have water, and we have food,” Vince stated abnormally joyfully.  He flashed his wife a boyish grin.  “It’s actually kind of enjoyable here,” as he headed out the door to catch a ride with the tow truck driver.

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The road between Coos Bay and Klamath, California couldn’t have been more beautiful.  The fog looked like an elegant veiled gown draped across the beautiful landscape succeeding in making it more seductive.  Each more curve in the road revealed yet another grove of tall elegant lacy redwoods, their symmetrical branches dangling moss speckled in mist.  Every once in a while the redwoods would part, and frame a perfect view of the Pacific Ocean, gleaming white foam radiating a fine spray to the top of the cliff feathering to the tips of the giant trees.

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The car went through a series of jerks going up the grade.  “What are you doing?”  Marsha asked Vince, who typically tested and retested everything to make sure things worked correctly.  “This really isn’t the place to be testing out the brakes.”  For some reason it didn’t occur to her that he would not be testing the brakes going UP the grade.

“That’s not me,” he answered seriously as they entered California.  Only 10 hours  or so to go before they got home.

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Marsha had visions of ending up at the bottom of the cliff waiting for the rescuers.  She was still concerned about brakes.  “Even new brakes fail,” she thought to herself.  They pulled over and watched a rescue operation, and gave the truck a chance to rest and recuperate from pulling its unaccustomed load up the long steep climb.  “It wasn’t any steeper than this over Interstate 5, or was it?  Well it wasn’t this pretty,” she continued her internal conversation.  “Well, it was gorgeous, and not wet, but there’s nothing like having semi wheels rolling down the freeway less than 12 inches from your face at 80 miles an hour,” she reasoned, confirming to herself why they had chosen the longer coastal route over the freeway.

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Vince pulled over just north of Klamath, CA.  “I’ll be right back.  You wait here with the dog while I check things out.” Vince disappeared inside the Jet Boat Tours Store.  Within minutes he came back, bubbling with enthusiasm.  “The man in there says that there’s a steep grade up ahead, and they have a nice RV park here,” he told her when he returned to the truck.  “What do you want to do?  Do you have cell service?”

Marsha knew that his mind was already made up.  There may as well not have been any punctuation marks between the two questions if she had seen the words typed out instead of spoken.  In fact there might not even have been space between the words either.  What she heard was, “Whatdoyouwantododoyou have cell service?”

“No,”   she answered before he started his next sentence.

 

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“I’ll go check us in.  I think that is best.  Is that ok with you?” he said in one breath.

“Muh huh.  I’ll wait here with the dog.”

Somehow she missed the part when he told her they weren’t going to even look at the truck until Monday.  She walked over to the campground office to use the phone.  She cancel their reservations for that night in Eureka KOA.  Then she went back and canceled the next few nights in Eureka, and the following one at Durango RV in Red Bluff.  She had already cancelled the KOA in Sacramento, and she had thought she was done.  The truck would be fixed Monday, and they would be on their way.  She could be optimistic, too!

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The campground manager rode around on his bike back to the office.  “There’s no TV service here,” she told Vince when she got back from the next trip to the office.  “No phone, no internet.”  It was a good thing they had brought a deck of cards.

“We’ll be here until Tuesday.” Vince told Marsha as they drove to dinner.  The paper on the wall of the campground office advertised a “Prime Rib dinner for only $15 a plate.”

“Tuesday, …..  I told the woman in Eureka, we’d be there Monday.”  Marsha knew she was whining a little when she realized another call was in order.  In fact it was beginning to dawn on her that they would probably not even stay at Eureka.  They would drive on to Red Bluff.

The Country Club turned out to be a smoky bar just a half-mile from the campground. They ordered at the door, and paid the glum cashier-waitress.  Vince heard the total incorrectly, and reached into his pocket and pulled out an extra five.  The glum one looked at Marsha with a challenge in her eye, gave her the change from the original amount, and quickly latched onto the extra five without batting an eye or uttering a thank you.  The prime rib dinner, which had sounded so good on the flyer, reminded Marsha of a potluck dinner at the Nazarene Church, except that they didn’t have to stand in line to dish their own food on paper plates.  The same well-used waitress came by and threw a rolled up napkin at her side of the table.  Wrapped inside was the silverware.  Vince asked her if he could have some silverware, too.  She nodded, seeming irritated that he should ask for silverware with a burger and fries order.  After about a half hour of watching the two elderly servers carve and serve the rest of the customers, Marsha’s meal arrived.  Marsha decided that the mashed potatoes on her foam plate were probably as instant as the gravy.  The canned green beans had bits of bacon and onion in them just like her mom used to make. The prime rib slab was real meat that probably weighed three pounds.  She decided to take 90% of it home.  She knew Vince would throw it away in a couple of days, but she couldn’t bear to discard it at the Country Club.

“Isn’t smoking illegal even in bars?” Marsha wondered almost to herself.

“It is in California,” Vince answered as if magically his ears were open to her mutterings.  “Oh we are in California.”  He touched the ashtray in the center of the table absently as he said it.  “It doesn’t look like it’s enforced,” he finished with a little grin.  They didn’t realize they were on Yurok tribal lands.  Reservations have different laws, and even have their own police force.  The Yurok Tribal Police car rolled by them as Vince and Marsha left the Country Club Diner.  The foreigners were pretty sure that the enforcement officers weren’t going to the Country Club to enforce the no smoking in public buildings law.  They looked like prime rib kinds of guys.

By 7:30 Vince lay curled up on the couch with his head resting on his arm, and his mouth open.  It had been a stressful day, even for the optimist.  He would be uncomfortable when he woke up, but he was nowhere close to that yet.  The book that he dug out of the cabinet to read, lay closed on his lap, and his chest moved rhythmically with each breath.  Vince never snored.

Marsha read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz – for the first time.  Puppy Girl put herself to bed in the bedroom.  She wasn’t stressed.

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She had her tribe.

What is your home away from home?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Relaxing – Organizing and Cleaning the Junk Room

Everyone has a little clutter.

http://lifeafter50.com/news/2011/jun/10/challenging-chaos-clutter/

Today is cleaning day.  Working together makes the job so much easier.  I don’t want to throw away his trash.  to him it’s not trash.  He would love to throw mine away – to me it’s not trash.  So it sits.  And more piles in.  I moved my office home a year ago.  The books went in the office along with the new furniture.  The old office furniture and whatever else we didn’t want out in the public eye went in the weight room – now junk room.  Today we found the perfect solution.  Move most of it to the garage.  I wonder how long it will be there?  The house looks better, though!  🙂  Better yet, no fights over throwing out Great-grandpa’s best fingernail clipper that he gave me to remember him. (Seriously, I have Grandpa’s pocket knife still.)  What kind of junk lurks in your junk spaces?

Investing Before and During Retirement

Today I thought I would write about investing for retirement.  I didn’t invest by doing anything difficult or brilliant, but I am pleased with my outcome at this point.

When I started teaching I was fortunate to have a wise investment counselor who told me “cash is trash,” and taught me to invest the maximum I could from my income into a 403 B.  I did this faithfully for the 20+ years I worked as an educator.  I invested in moderately conservative funds.  Some years they grew a little, one year they lost about half of what I had invested.  I left the money in the market, and eventually all that money was regained.  The long and short of it was that at the end of my career I basically had the money I had invested, without too much gain.

Interest rates are extremely low right now for investors.  I have come to the age when I must think about withdrawing the money I invested.  In the program I have I can pull out a guaranteed sum each month, and at the end of 15 years the principal is gone.  I say guaranteed because even if the market dips to below that amount I am still guaranteed that amount of money for 15 years.

My husband is a realtor, and he wasn’t very excited about that investment.  Vince convinced me now to invest in real estate instead.  I opened up a self-directed IRA and transferred the money from my  403B account.  Then we made a cash offer on a beautifully restored home in an older part of Visalia, CA.

SFW SF Walking Tour #2001

The process was simple, if not a little strange.  We couldn’t have anything to do with the purchasing process including writing the check to hold the property.  Because of regulations Vince’s sister had to do that.  We also can’t rent to anyone to whom we are related ie. kids.  The entire process from writing the offer to closing took three weeks.  The income will be about the same, and at the end of 15 years I will still have income, AND I will still own the house free and clear.

1816 Heritage

There are many ways to invest as you prepare for retirement.  Stocks have been pretty good for me in spite of the extreme dip in the market.  We have also bought and sold a few pieces of property over the years we’ve been married, and some of those have made money, and some have broken even.  The difference between buying property and owning stocks are many, but here are a couple.

First stocks are liquid.  You can cash them in for money in just a few days, and spend the money.  Houses and land are not so easily exchanged for money – usually.  A house that is priced right, in a good neighborhood, and is clean may sell in a few days, as did the one we purchased, or in a bad market, it may sit for a few years.

We have two beautiful pieces of property that have been for sale for several years.  We bought them at the right time, split the land, and by the time the county had processed the split, the property had dropped in value.  At this point if it sells it will sell for half of what the other two pieces sold for 4 years ago.  Nonetheless, the two pieces that we did sell just about paid for the cost of splitting the property, and we do still have two pieces of property that some day will be worth something.

Second, houses and land retain some value, you can lose everything in the stock market.  We did have a guarantee for our stocks, but in the end the money would be entirely gone.  That will not be the case with our property.

Similarly, you can invest in the wrong stocks, and you can invest in the wrong land.  If you invest in the wrong land, and say the soil is found to have cancer producing chemicals in it, there is nothing you can do about it.  No one will buy it.

The moral of this story is that you have to be wise and careful with how you spend your money all your life if you want to live comfortably.  I think you have to work hard, and spend as though you won’t have millions of dollars later to pay it back.  Most people don’t have.  I also think you have to be faithful to God and give away part of your income.  The Christian church calls it a tithe, or tenth. Research shows that people do better financially if they give away 1/10 of their income to charities outside of their immediate families.  To me it is a way of expressing gratitude, and humility, realizing that my existence in this world was not caused by me, and I am extremely fortunate to be here.

Some people seem extremely lucky, almost like they win the lottery – everything seems to turn rosy for them.  Other people appear extremely unlucky.  They buy the property that has cancer growing in the garden.  Most people can expect to be somewhere in between.

How are you preparing or have you prepared for retirement?

Here are some pictures of our new rental.

If you live in Spain, you probably don’t want to rent it, but if you live in Visalia, and know someone who might be interested, the rental company is

Millcreek Management and Real Estate Inc.

300 School

Visalia, CA  93291

559-733-7145