I take saving money seriously. You have to when you consider we now live on less than half of what we made only a few months ago as full time employees.
Severe? To the uninitiated of the secret cult of retirees, maybe, but we've been preparing for our retirement for a long time.
Here are some of the things we've done to stay ahead of the curve.
• I buy in bulk whenever something we use or eat goes on sale.
• We're disciplined with our spending. We've learned to recognize impulse buys for what they are-- cash-sucking vampires.
• We buy used whenever possible. Garage sales help here. Last weekend, we spent twelve dollars for:
-a Pyrex measuring cup
-1 xBox game
-an electronic food scale
-an excellent hanging feed bucket (for my goats)
-an electronic range finder
-steel beams for Greg's metal working projects
-a metal work stand, also for Greg's projects
-a stone entry table that's tres chic
A lot of these things were 25 cents or less. Others were free (like the entry table). It had a broken metal leg that Greg welded back to new in seconds. By the way, that little piece of red decorative porcelain was a quarter.
• We still keep an expense journal which has helped in keeping us honest about what we really spend. To be fair, though, it's a pain in the tuckus to keep it updated.That takes discipline too.
• We reuse and repurpose whenever possible. For example, we need a hay barn. We could build it from scratch, but we have a HUGE greenhouse we're not using. We're going to dismantle it and use half as the skeleton for the hay barn and half for another building elsewhere.
• We sell what we no longer need. Our last garage sale was so successful, we plan another one with what's left over from the other house. We still have appliances and furniture over there.
If you want to make some quick cash, sell the stuff you no longer use. It's not doing you any favors sitting in storage. Use Craigslist, eBay, or team up with friends to hold a yard sale. Even Facebook has groups that lets you sell your stuff locally.
• I freelance. Even a little extra cash softens the blow of surprise expenses.
• We don't care about keeping up with the Joneses. I used to be envious of friends who were ten years older than us. Gorgeous home, expensive cars, great vacations. I didn't know then that they were always in debt...and probably still are.
When you're used to a certain amount of income, it can be jarring when you cut it to the bone, but it's entirely doable. Before we both retired, we spent a long time calculating expenses. The hard part is calculating emergencies and major auto or appliance breakdowns. And replacements? Those are killers!
We're lucky in that Greg can diagnose and fix most anything. In back to back weeks, he's had to fix both our AC units, each with a different problem. Replacing the parts wasn't cheap, but still a helluva lot cheaper than hiring a specialist. You can't live in Texas without air conditioning. Well, you could, but you wouldn't be happy.
I am not handy. I can grow stuff and I'm pretty good at keeping man and beasts alive, but that's the extent of my practical home skills.
Sometimes I toy with the idea of going back to work. Fortunately, I've managed to talk myself out of it. I guess if we ever have to replace our ginormous roof, or put Greg through school for his doctorate, I might consider working for da man, but until then, I'll stick to making do with what we've got.
Do you earn income from something--aside from your regular job? If you were retired right now, what would you do with your time?
I've had to teach myself to be more easy going and not try to do everything in one day. Retirement is still a hard concept for me to grasp.
In retrospect, I now know why retirees look younger than people their same age who work. We get to sleep more. :)
I highly recommend it.