More random thoughts on retirement…

RetirementAfter an exhausting and exhilarating weekend in which my kids, my sister and my husband’s sister made us a spectacular party to celebrate my 65th birthday and my husband’s retirement (both in June) and Joel’s 65th birthday this week, here are a few more random thoughts on retirement….

Timing: Although 43% of retirees who responded to the 2015 RBC Retirement Myths and Realities Poll said they didn’t get to choose their retirement date, Joel put a lot of thought, planning and a few sleepless nights  into his decision. He has no regrets so far. He may look for contract work in the fall. I am still working two or three days a week and will probably do so until at least the end of 2016. I must confess I find it much more difficult to work from home on a reduced schedule when Joel has no current employment-related obligations.

Money: We have done well with our full service broker at CIBC Wood Gundy over the last ten years or so, but I can’t imagine how much more we would have now if we had reduced our fees by managing our own money in a “couch potato” portfolio. However, we finally feel ready to make the jump so we are setting up mirror accounts at CIBC Investors Edge for now, because we like the clarity of their reporting and there will not be transfer fees to move our many accounts over in kind. We have already moved money from Joel’s Group RRSP at  Manulife into a new CIBC Investors Edge RRSP account and invested it in 3 Vanguard ETFs. We plan to sell the contents of our registered portfolio (RRSPs, LRIF, TFSAs ) and also invest them in ETFs with a 60-40 mix. We will move ahead more slowly with our unregistered account (over half of our assets) as there are significant unrealized capital gains we don’t want to trigger unnecessarily.

Getting stuff done: We have a long list of things that need fixing around the house and slowly many have been checked off the list. But  just because we have more time doesn’t mean we have turned over over a new leaf and everything is getting done done instantly. I hated cleaning closets before and I still do, so after emptying a few cupboards in my office I’m temporarily stalled. Joel has always preferred to approach a “Daddy-do list” in a random rather than a linear fashion and take frequent naps in between jobs — after I  inspect and give lavish praise! This continues to be his “modus operandi.” The other down-side of fixing all this stuff is that one project leads to another and each one requires tools and materials which means we are collecting an awful lot of credit card travel points.

Cutting expenses: According to our financial plan, we should be fine until age 90 when we will have to sell our house. However, we are re-evaluating money spent on our cleaning lady, grass cutting and snow shoveling because if we reduce these expenses we will have more money for travel and other unexpected bills. We are now eligible for seniors’ discounts at the movies, on the TTC and at several drugstore chains on different days. We try to take advantage of these whenever we can do so without going out of our way. We still have 2 landlines and two cellphones because we haven’t yet sorted the best options for us. And we continue paying for  satellite TV because we are not in a good area to use an antenna and we like the news, food TV and some other specialty channels that Netflix doesn’t cover off. But I expect over the next few months we will trim these expenditures significantly.

Having fun: We have done lots of fun things already that we didn’t time for before Joel retired. We have seen several shows at Stratford and have several more Wednesday matinees planned where we can easily drive back and forth on the same day. Because we are members of the festival we get emails about deals and rarely pay full price. We also enjoyed two afternoon shows at The Fringe Festival. We are planning a weekend at our daughter’s home in Ottawa Labour Day Weekend but we are leaving Saturday afternoon and coming back Tuesday instead of traveling at peak times on Friday and Monday. We are also looking forward to several two week cruises in the fall and in the winter.

I think its going to take until the end of 2016 until we can really evaluate “how we are dong” both financially and emotionally, but I guess that’s all part of the journey. I will continue reporting on our progress from time to time……

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