Hey guys, welcome back Lois from Living Dubois back for another guest post on how their financial situation has changed 1 year into FIRE. Her last guest post discussed what overall life was like one year into FIRE and now she gets into more of the financial changes accompanied with such a big change.
My husband had to say it three times before I finally paid attention: “Honey, if you’d like to retire,
we could manage.” The first two times, I couldn’t imagine not working. I always took it for
granted I’d work forever; early retirement was the last thing on my mind.
The third time he said it, I finally considered what I might like to do instead of my job, and now I
have joined him in early retirement.
So what does “managing” mean in the context of a fixed-income retirement? It should be
obvious that the main key to not feeling deprived is having lived prudently in the first place, and
having amassed enough savings to know that you’ll probably be able to afford a comfortable life
without earning wage any more.
Time is money, as they say, and you know which one is more abundant in retirement.
Budgeting: Fortunately, there’s hardly anything I want for that we don’t have already. In fact,
we’ve been downsizing for quite a while. But gone are those days when I could buy whatever I
felt like buying, and when I was far too busy to think about comparison shopping. We do keep a
close eye on the price of things these days. I don’t just quickly grab an item off the grocery store
shelf. I take time to analyze the per-pound price.
Food: Fortunately, we’re both good cooks and generally prefer eating in. And having moved
from a big city to a small rural town, our restaurant options simply aren’t as tempting any more.
A nice dinner out is more of a special treat than it used to be, although we still do eat out when
we feel like it. More often, we spend time trying out (or inventing) new recipes, or serving our
favorites to our friends.
Clothes: Do you, like me, find that pruning your over-stuffed closet is a major chore, because
by now you don’t have any clothes you don’t really like? I’m no longer in a world where I have to
dress my best most of the time, so I have little need to buy new clothes. And fortunately, our
local thrift shop is full of great “finds,” so I can trade out for next to nothing when I do have the
urge. As to shoes, my older joints can’t tolerate the pain of wearing the temptingly beautiful high
heels any more, so costly footwear isn’t an issue. A few pairs of good comfort shoes aren’t that
Shelter: We have a long history of doing our own renovations and home repairs, rather than
paying others. This is one area which has changed for us: We get tired and achey now if we
take on too much, and that will not improve with time. So we prioritize home repairs carefully,
and the exterior doesn’t look as flawless as it would have if we were still both working at our
jobs. On the other hand, with no youngsters crashing around, the interior is definitely more tidy.
The bottom line is that, like many Baby Boomers, in this category we’re asset rich. So keeping a
home is more a management issue than a problem.
Entertainment: Here is where the meaning of “prudent” living is truly defined. Even back when
we worked and lived in New York City, we rarely went to the theater on Broadway, preferring the
more reasonably priced (and often more interesting) off-off Broadway plays. Long ago we
dropped subscriptions to opera and orchestra for the quieter pleasure of small local
investment in this category.
And thank goodness for the Internet, we now enjoy discovering great indie films on our flat
screen, at the cost of a modest subscription fee. Sometimes we just play Scrabble or cards,
which is free (except for the popcorn).
Travel: We were privileged to travel a great deal, both in the 13 years between our marriage
and our first baby, and afterwards thanks to all the frequent-flier miles amassed with business
trips. Back in those days, we felt a strong urge to escape the city; now, we live in a place other
people escape to. Our bucket list isn’t empty yet. But we’re able to enjoy quiet road trips close to
home, staying in our little RV or in budget motels, without pining for an elaborate get-away. We’ll
probably do a few big trips now and again, but it’s not a high priority.
Healthcare: This category, of course, is the wild card, because nobody knows what’s waiting
down the road. Our strategy, as always, is prudence: A healthy diet (usually), moderation in
drinking (usually), not smoking (ever), regular brushing and flossing, and healthy exercise (as
which aren’t covered by insurance but are the best “treatments” I have found, besides regular
exercise, for my age-related arthritis. Luckily filler injections and regular manicures and
pedicures aren’t requirements for most women where we live in rural Wyoming. Messy hands
mean you’ve been otherwise occupied, and nobody sees your feet inside hiking boots anyway.
Later this year, I must drop my Cobra health insurance for Medicare, which will be a whole new
adventure. With any luck, I won’t have to use it much.
That’s a nice one-year wrap up on how life has changed a year into FIRE. Thanks again to Lois for providing a nice glimpse into the living aspect of FIRE, as well as how it has changed her financial outlook and planning. For more from her check out her blog over at Living Dubois for some great posts on life, FIRE, and some beautiful pictures and stories from Dubois, Wyoming.