Retirement, the First Four Months, A Report Card

Before I retired, I compiled a list of things to get done.  I ran across that list today so I’m ready to issue a report card on my first four months of retirement.

The list included boring things like cleaning out the kitchen cupboards, fridge, closets and car, pesky office tasks like comparing the rewards on my credit cards, switching my outlook to gmail, researching the best HSA account administrator and getting our printer/scanner to work.

It also included restorative things like daily exercise, eating clean, reading and meditation or stretching.

So, how am I doing?

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The Early Years Are the Hardest

After I posted my recent savings rate, I began to wonder how that savings rate changed as I got older.  In the early years, I was earning less and was paying rent or mortgage payments.  Both my earnings and my expenses improved as I got older.

So I went into the way back machine (my Excel budget spreadsheet) and calculated my savings rate each year. Then I thought it might be helpful to know my net worth each year as a percentage of the net worth I had when I retired this spring.

savings-rate-nw-accum2

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How Do You Eat An Elephant?

I went to a financial bloggers conference last week.  Yep, betcha didn’t know such a thing exists.  Well, it does.  It is called FINCON, it has been going on for 7 years and one of the taglines is “Where Money Nerds Unite”.  Gotta love that!  Now, I have a t-shirt that says it!

My goal for the conference was to learn how to get more eyes on my blog.  I want to help more people.

1199 young, smart, driven folks were in attendance.  And me.

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Your Retirement Match Is Worth More Than You Think!

If you read my path to financial freedom carefully, you may remember one of the steps was to contribute to your retirement plan at work at least up to the employer match.

When an employer offers a retirement plan, they often incent you to participate by matching all or a portion of your contributions.  When I retired, my employer was matching one-quarter of my contributions of up to 6% of my salary.  So when I put 6% in, they put 1.5% in.  Many companies have a match far better than this one. But even with this match, over $36,000 of my 401k balance was from my final employer’s match when I retired.  Add in my other company matches and I’d expect the current value is over $100,000!

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Don’t Let Perfect Be the Enemy of Good

I remember writing this reminder on the office whiteboard–Don’t Let Perfect Be the Enemy of Good.

Too often we want to do something just, exactly, right and if we don’t have the time or the knowledge to get it exactly right, we don’t attempt it at all.

This makes sense when you are creating an artistic masterpiece or preparing a speech to be delivered to hundreds of people.

It doesn’t make sense for many personal finance tasks including preparing a budget or tracking spending.  Rather than seeking out perfection, Nike’s slogan of Just Do It would be more appropriate.  Just sit down and do something. it won’t be perfect but it can be tweaked next week, next month or next year.

Preparing a budget is an art, not a science-there’s no right answer.  It is based on your best guesses.

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My Favorite Post This Week

The secret of a happy life summarized in three words:  Work Worth Doing.

By Chief Justice Sandra Day O’Connor as told to Gretchen Rubin.

Gretchen believes she takes a very broad view of what counts as work worth doing.

Your work worth doing can be raising children, having a rewarding career, your creative endeavors or anything else that is important to you. Our goal should be that everything we do is worth doing.

If you aren’t already following Gretchen, I recommend her books The Happiness Project or Better Than Before, her blog and her podcast.  I’ve learned many useful things about happiness and achieving goals from her.

Enjoy!

I receive a small commission if you order Gretchen’s books (or anything else) through these Amazon links–I appreciate your support of this blog.

You Have to Be Different If You Want to Retire Early

I just read a great article titled The Money Boss Budget by J.D. Roth.  J.D. dissected the Consumer Expenditure Survey and derived the Average American Budget:

average-american-budget

The average American directs 8% of their after tax income to savings or debt reduction.

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Oh, The Temptations!

If your goals include reducing or controlling your spending, you’ve got to figure out ways to tame the temptation beast.

The world we live in now has so many more temptations than when I was in my 20’s and 30’s.  There was no facebook, instagram or Kardashian’s (thank God!).  The world was smaller and there were fewer Jones’s to keep up with. Continue reading “Oh, The Temptations!”

How could you use your tendency to meet your goals?

I love my fiction reads but I mix in books that inspire me or teach me something every couple weeks.  Recently, I’ve been enjoying books by Gretchen Rubin.  She is the NY Times bestselling author of The Happiness Project and Better Than Before.  

In Better Than Before, Gretchen identified four tendencies that we each fall into.  These tendencies dictate how we respond to expectations.

Continue reading “How could you use your tendency to meet your goals?”