Retirement Resolutions

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I didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions last January, because, hey, I’m retired. I can just go with the flow, be in the moment. Oh wait, that would require me to be an entirely different person.

I like to plan, and I worry, whether I like it or not. So there are two retirement resolutions that I needed to make.

I WILL NOT HIRE SOMEONE FOR ANYTHING THAT I CAN DO MYSELF.

That doesn’t mean I won’t hire someone to fix or build things. My DIY skills are sorely lacking.

It does mean no more professional mani/pedis, no wax when I can save money by shaving, and no housekeeper. Do you know I’ve had a housekeeper for the better part of 35 years?

“Retire”, people said. “It’ll be fun”, people said.

I WILL TAKE ON ONE PROJECT AT A TIME.

That means no beginning project number 2 while project number 1 is still lying around half-done. Half-done projects are clutter. I got rid of 35 years of clutter by moving to Costa Rica. I don’t want to start rebuilding it.

MO AMIGO ROBERTO, LOADING ALL MY WORLDLY GOODS INTO HIS TRUCK FOR THE TRIP BACK TO THE USA

MO AMIGO ROBERTO, LOADING ALL MY WORLDLY GOODS INTO HIS TRUCK FOR THE TRIP BACK TO THE USA

And it also means, since shopping for projects is the be-all, end-all funnest thing in life, no shopping for project 2 (or more likely, projects 2 through 111) until number 1 is done. Ouch.

The latest “project” I’ve been working on is recovering from my knee surgery. I had a full knee replacement on the left side on April 26th.

I was in the hospital overnight, then went home with a walker. I just graduated to a cane today. Progress! Yay!

I have about 4 weeks of physical therapy left. I can move into my own apartment and start driving again as soon as I’m off the painkillers.

Does narcotics rehab count as a project?

Stay tuned…

4 Reasons I Can’t Retire In The U.S.A.

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I’m on a short visit to the U.S.A. to take care of No.2 Sis after she’s had surgery. Being back in freezing Minnesota has really driven home the reasons I can’t retire here.

HOUSING COSTS:

I’ve mentioned before that my rent in Costa Rica is $675 and my house payment in Minnesota was $1500. Both houses are similar in size and layout, with 2 bedroom-and-bath suites on opposite ends of the house.

When you add utilities in, the cost differential is even greater. In Minnesota, you need heat in the winter and and air conditioning in the summer. That ran me about $100-125 every month, year round. $100 per month in Costa Rica pays for all my utilities, PLUS internet, PLUS my land line phone, AND a security service for the house.

Of course, my utilities would be higher if I had air conditioning, but so far I’ve been okay without it.

MEDICAL COSTS:

My health insurance, still bought from the U.S.A., is a continuation of the group coverage I had at my last job at “The Company”. It costs me $680 per month, and I pay an additional maximum out-of-pocket of $2500 per year. That basically puts my cost at $890 per month.

Once I no longer qualify for the continuation of my work insurance, my per month cost may go up as much as another $400 per month.

When I qualify for residency in Costa Rica (which has, admittedly, been a moving target) I expect my premiums to be around $200 every month, with no further out-of-pocket expenses. That will be a per-year savings of (where’s my calculator?) $5760 over my current medical costs.

MAIL SERVICE:

Mail service in the U.S.A. is excellent (as opposed to Costa Rica, where’s it pretty much nonexistent). That’s both good and bad.

Since I’ve been home, I’ve ordered a few things to be delivered to No.2 Sis’s house. A puzzle book, a small dehumidifier, a clip-on lens for my i-phone camera (damn you, late night infomercials!), a puzzle book, ink cartridges for my printer, toothbrush heads, health supplements that promised to make me young again (damn you, late night infomercials!), a puzzle book, a Magic Jack, an herbal remedy for vertigo, a new Kindle, a puzzle book…

Okay, not having mail service in Costa Rica is really a big money-saver for me.

FOOD:

I don’t really like the food in Costa Rica, which has been really great for me. I’ve lost 25 pounds, and my blood glucose levels are back in the healthy range. Of course, I’ve lost the will to  live, but still, I think it’s a net positive.

And in Costa Rica, there’s no access to the Tasty Gates of Hell.

TASTY GATES OF HELL

TASTY GATES OF HELL

Stay tuned…

 

 

Retiring For La Pura Vida

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The Monday after my house closed, I gave my three week notice at The Company. Friday was my last day. I’m officially retired!

Just before I left, I stopped into my boss’ office to say goodbye. I told him I sent him and others my home e-mail address and said, “If you ever have any work questions, don’t bother…I mean, don’t hesitate…”

That was quite a Freudian slipper.

Then a co-worker caught me just as I was heading to the door. She told me I didn’t actually attach my e-mail address to the message I sent about my e-mail address.

That’s a pair of Freudian slippers.

GE DIGITAL CAMERA

So what am I going to do now? I’m moving to Costa Rica! When I visited in May with No.1 Sis, No.2 Sis and soul-sister V, No.1 and I found rental properties and decided to make the move.

We’ll each have our own house on the same little street near Lake Arenal, in the northern part of the country.

The unofficial motto of Costa Rica is “La Pura Vida”, the pure (or good) life, and we plan on living by that motto to the max. That means reading, doing art work play and napping for me. Throw in a few cocktails and I think you’ve described La Pura Vida for No.1 Sis, too.

La Pura Vida

During our visit to C.R. in May, the group relied mainly on my smattering of Spanish recalled from high school. Hah, fools!

I’d read that it’s rude in C.R. to just say no. It’s better to say “un otro dia” or “another day”. When a street vendor tried to sell us an unlabeled bottle of amber liquid (liqueur? syrup? hooch?) I politely said to him, “Un otro dios”. The guy laughed and walked away. Then I realized I had told him “another god”.

Crazy Americans.

Stay tuned…

 

 

Retirement Plans A, B, C….

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My first job as a mechanical drafter was at a company called Peerless Chain. To the employees, it was known as “Cheerless Pain”. I wasn’t thinking about retirement at the tender age of 20, but the company had yearly profit-sharing that went into an account for my old age. Unfortunately, I quit before I was fully vested, and most of the money went back to the company.

I worked temp jobs for a few years after that, so I didn’t have profit sharing or an IRA, or a 401k. Nor did I have health insurance, sick time or vacation time, for that matter. By the time I settled into another permanent job at “Brand X”, I was 27 and I knew it would be wise to start saving.

RETIREMENT PLAN A:

Stay at “Brand X”  and invest my profit sharing, and later 401k, in mutual funds until I turn 65. When I projected out my earnings over the next 38 years, I figured I’d have about $3,000,000 in investments.

The reality was that I was laid off after fifteen years with “Brand X”. They were bought out by a large corporation, and everyone got the sack. A few years before that happened, I spent 75% of my retirement account. Don’t ask me what I spent it on. It seemed really important at the time.

After eight months of unemployment, I was hired by “Brand Y”.

RETIREMENT PLAN B:

Stay at “Brand Y” and invest my 401k in mutual funds until I turn 66 years and 8 months (thanks, Reagan). Since I was basically starting over, I knew I couldn’t save millions, but maybe $800,000 was possible.

The reality was that I was doing pretty well saving and investing for several years. Then the Twin Towers fell on 9/11. Being in an aerospace engineering company, things were pretty harrowing for a while. Then, when the economy totally collapsed (thanks, Bush), I got laid off again.

I was only out of work for about a month when I was hired for my current position with “The Company”. I was able to take my entire retirement account (what was left after the crash) with me.

RETIREMENT PLAN C:

I realized I couldn’t make it to 66 years and 8 months. I decided to retire at 56 years, 6 months. I planned on moving to Mexico where the cost of living is low.

Unfortunately, you can’t make penalty-free withdrawals from your retirement accounts until you’re 59-and-a-half. I thought it was 56-and-a-half. Oops.

The other problem was that Mexico had gotten extremely dangerous over the years. I didn’t want to live in constant fear.

RETIREMENT PLAN D:

Stay at “The Company” and keep adding to my 401k until I can retire at 59-and-a-half. Sell my house and move to a small town to lower my cost of living.

Sad to say, my financial adviser felt this plan was unrealistic (harumph). He didn’t think I’d have nearly enough money to retire at that young(ish) age.

Also, I hate small towns.

RETIREMENT PLAN E:

Stay at “The Company” and keep adding to my 401k until I can collect Social Security at age 62.

This is the most realistic plan, assuming “The Company” doesn’t get sick of me and kick me out on my full and generous bottom. I just got a new boss who’s about 25 years younger than me, so we’ll see. If I do get laid off, I always have the nuclear option.

RETIREMENT PLAN NUCLEAR OPTION:

Sell the house, cash out my retirement account, and live the high life in Las Vegas until the cash runs out. Then take a Thelma-and-Louise style tour of the Grand Canyon.

Stay tuned…

p.s. After Mom saw “Thelma and Louise” she told me, “I just don’t know why girls these days can’t have fun without shooting somebody”!