Baby Boomer Retires – Take 1

(Continued from Be Careful What You Ask For … )

I was numb with excitement.

I couldn’t believe our good fortune and the timing was FANTASTIC! I accepted the early retirement offer and all of a sudden, I only had a month to work! It was a fantastic financial package. I got about a year’s salary, plus all my retirement fund and they rolled it all over into my 401k, so it didn’t get taxed as income until I took retirement distributions. WOW! And health insurance, too! It was too good to be true!

But whoops! Guess what – it meant that – all of a sudden – no more nice juicy paychecks for me! I hadn’t really expected that!

The next few months were a blur. Somehow our lovely, house of our dreams sold quickly and for a good price. Of course the equity was not as much as we expected. And the move cost more than we expected.

My numbness and excitement were slowly evaporating – to be replaced with some sense of reality…

The “fixer-upper” was definitely all that and so much more! When we bought the house, we hadn’t expected to be LIVING IN IT while we did the very necessary renovations. The cottage cheese goop, the drywall mess and doing dishes in the bathtub were just a few of the challenges we faced. Of course the kitchen remodel cost more than we expected.

We had this fantasy that we could do almost everything ourselves. Russ and I could be like the couples on the HGTV renovation shows and turn this rat trap into a thing of great beauty – of course we could! We hadn’t expected that even though we were young to be retired, maybe we weren’t THAT young! By the time Russ had scraped the cottage cheese ceilings off in all the rooms, worked with his brother to do the drywall, ripped out the kitchen cabinets, floors and a few walls, and I had painted all the interior walls and ceilings 3 times, we both had to check ourselves in for months of physical rehab!

We ended up having the flooring done professionally and of course it cost more than we expected. We ran out of money and couldn’t tackle the bathrooms or the downstairs renovations. So those would be phased in over the next decade (yes we ARE now finished with the interior!) Siding and roofing still left to go…

By the first year’s end we started to notice was that we were running a bit short on money. Russ had some contract work which brought us some income, thank heavens. But we had pretty much run through the equity money like a couple drunken sailors during our remodel and even run up some construction credit card debt at the new Lowe’s. We didn’t expect to STILL have remodeling left to do and to be in debt and out of money. We didn’t expect our living expenses to be so high either! Even though we didn’t have car or house payments, and the cost of living here is much lower, it was obvious that we needed to do something. We were proud that we hadn’t tapped into our actual retirement savings – yet. Through it all, we still had this feeling of a being a couple of kids on a great adventure.

We got our 1st health insurance re-enrollment package for the next year. Oh, we hadn’t expected the cost of it to almost double!

We needed to spend less or get more money coming in. My cocky little attitude about retirement planning and saving was starting to shrivel up. My optimistic “glass half full” mentality was shifting to “half empty.” We needed a new game plan to fund our “Island Adventure.”

(To be continued)

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