Home > Catching Up

Catching Up

June 10th, 2023 at 03:36 pm

Thought I'd check in with you on how my new semi-retirement arrangement is working out. As you may remember, I sprung for a single premium immediate annuity  back in March, and I also took Dido's advice to redirect dividends to my checking account instead of reinvesting as I've always done. And then I'm still writing 2 stories a month for the university.

These 3 things produce the following monthly income, net of taxes:

Annuity: $933

Dividends: $708 (from 3 funds)

Job: $1,220

Total: $2,861

This covers a good portion of my typical expenses, although lately I've been trying to knock off a variety of deferred home improvements and maintenance. 

What I still haven't managed to do yet is assure myself all will be fine (financially speaking) in retirement. I still feel like I'm overspending when I look at monthly income vs expenses, and in fact, from that perspective, my spending has already exceeded income by $10,000 and we're only into June!

I'd just as soon stop working entirely, but I hope to keep it up for another year and 2 months, when I turn 65 and pick up Medicare. Continuing to work helps slow the money drain from all the home maintenance projects and I'm always delighted to see the direct deposit in my account, but I do have to push myself to focus on the next story.

Actually, writing the story is not a big deal, and they pay me well for it, but she often wants me to quote someone from the university, and that' s where the delays/hassle occur because their spokespeople are slow to respond, prefer to respond via email rather than a real conversation and give me boring, generic quotes to work with.

The above-mentioned home improvements include:

- Instead of a new lightening rod, which I was told is kind of obsolete, my electrician recommended a (very affordable) whole house surge protector, which I got.

- The kitchen cabinets were refinished and look much better. I've got a drop-in, stainless steel sink ordered and appointment scheduled for plumber to install that and the new faucet I already purchased. My original plan was to replace the laminate counter-top, too, but knowing now just a quartz counter would cost $, it's not that important to me. The laminate is in almost perfect shape. My main complaint is the challenge in keeping it clean, since it's white and shows every speck. If I planned to move, i'd be more motivated to do it but since i plan to stay put, it's personally a little less compelling.

The sink/faucet replacement, on the other hand, is something I'm really looking forward to. I've grown to hate the cast iron sink, which has a very thick lip on it where dirt collects and it just looks gross. Very hard to clean. The faucet is corroding and has a drip so that's overdue.

- The plumber was already here and did replace the shut-off valve on my washing machine in the basement. I'd discovered the old valve just didn't work, and water poured through it even when shut off. I'm in the habit of shutting off that valve whenever I'm not using the washing machine (memories of my sister's basement flood), so I want to make sure it's in working order.

- The plumber told me of an easy fix to my outdoor patio faucet dilemma. The old faucet back there sits maybe 2 inches above the patio (patio was raised when redone) and it's hard to attach a hose to it. Instead of the very expensive idea of having him attach a pipe to it and then install a shut-off valve in the basement so the pipe didn't freeze in winter, he gave me a link for what's called a 90 degree elbow pipe, so i could attach the hose from the spigot pointing sideways instead of straight down. It's a $10 item and he said I could do it myself. (We'll see.) I already ordered it. Since he's coming here to do the sink and faucet, I can have him do the pipe if I encounter any problems with it.

- My other guy was here this week to make some general repairs to a basement window looking out on the back patio. He removed all the rotted wood and replaced with pressure-treated, repaired the screen mice had chewed with stainless steel screen, and redid some mortar, etc. He just needs to caulk and then at summer's end, after the mortar has cured, I can prime and paint the wood frame.

- Earlier, he made some repairs to my side garage window, which has a sill where rain water would collect, rotting the wood. He replaced the rotting wood and using trim fixed the angle of the sill so rain would drain off.

- His next job is replacing the 2 Leaning Tower of Pisa concrete footers supporting the lower half of my tool shed, built by my father 28 years ago. The whole tool shed is listing forward and in danger of sliding off those pillars. He's dropping off a bunch of cinder blocks today.

- A month or so ago the electrician replaced two upstairs ceiling fixtures and installed a digital thermostat in my family room. I had an old rotary knob thing in there before which did not supply an exact temperature in the room.

Each of these jobs seems small, but I'm paying quite a bit for them. The cost of labor is not cheap.

Still to come, I'd like to do something about 2 different doors on the house. That may well be it for the year because my bigger projects, like fence replacement, are way more expensive.

I joined some friends of mine last night for what sounded like a fun softball game about 50 minutes away. The deal included a free hot dog, chips, drink and t-shirt.  This is a couple I met through the MS dinner lectures, and she has often made overtures of friendship to me. I drove down to their house and we then drove up together, hitting on and off thunderstorms (and a rainbow) of more than one kind on the way. A married couple, they bickered constantly. It was really too much. Not relaxing. I have to fault her for being constantly on his case and telling him what to do or questioning what he was doing every step of the way.

When we arrived, we learned they cancelled the game, which was a big disappointment. We hadn't even left the stadium when she was asking me to stay and watch a movie with them once we got back, or take a walk. We did the latter, but I was relieved to be on my way and leave the pettiness behind.

I have a garden party coming up with my Facebook garden group, and after volunteering a few times doing litter pickups, the Lions Club tried to recruit me as a member, but ultimately I decided against it. I agreed to meet the membership guy for coffee, but the impression I got was that they really want a strong commitment to their activities, and I would be concerned about taking on more than I could handle with my limited free time. They want members to join more than one committee, sell as many tickets for their 2 major fundraiser events as possible (I hate doing that sort of thing as I don't like being pressured to buy anything) and attend their twice monthly ($30 a meal) dinners each month to socialize at the country club. (If you don't go, you're charged $8 per missed dinner). The membership fee is $92 a year.

I already agreed to serve on a new committee elsewhere seeking to combat the growing infestation of knotweed in town, and on their agenda is trying to get the town to set aside funds to spray certain targeted areas. This is the one invasive plant that really doesn't respond to any other measure. Our first meeting is Monday and I have some reading up to do beforehand.

I have read a few other blogs here and understand others are going through some tough times here. I do hope things improve for you all; please know you are in my thoughts.



8 Responses to “Catching Up”

  1. Petunia 100 Says:

    I like how you have the 3 income streams, so that you don't have to rely too much on any one source.

    I too dislike it when couples bicker in front of you. It's no fun for anyone.

  2. Wink Says:

    Good to hear from you, I always enjoy your updates! Ongoing home maintenance was one of the main reasons I sold my SFH and downsized into a condo. I knew that I just wouldn't have the money (or energy) in retirement to keep up with it all in older home. I do sometimes miss my yard though. You are doing a great job of managing it all, and it helps to have a few trusted handymen you can rely on.

  3. Turtle Lover Says:

    You sure have a lot going on and I always appreciate when you post! Having dinner with the "Bickersons" does not sound like fun though ... LOL Hope to hear your updates again soon!

  4. Dido Says:

    Looking at your annual expenses, what percentage of your investment portfolio (taxable, tax-deferred, and tax-free/Roth) accounts are these?

    Also, a lot of what you are doing with the home improvements are "one-offs" that you won't be repeating, and, while inflation will increase many expenses, these other expenses will typically reduce over time. Not in the short-term because you are young for a near-retiree, but as you get towards your later 70s.

    And, of course, Social Security will come into the picture in a few years, increasing your monthly cash flow.

  5. patientsaver Says:

    Hi, Dido. Last year's total expenses were $43,687 and total investment portfolio is $936,158, so i guess the percentage is .046%, but that doesn't include the annuity, which annually will pay out gross of $13,804.

  6. Dido Says:

    If you include your original investment in the annuity as part of the portfolio, then your annual spending is 3.8% of your portfolio. That's not bad. Annual spending of 3.5% or less of the portfolio is regarded as good, while spending of 3.5% to 7.5% is regarded as "constrained" (and if annual spending exceeds 7.5% of the portfolio, that is "underfunded.") Given that your spending is extra high with the home projects and that you have yet to take Social Security, I think you'll be fine in the long run.

    (Advice for constrained and underfunded investors may be to use a SPIA. This counts towards the fixed income (bond) portion of your total allocation. When a person uses just stocks and bonds for the investments, you want to make more conservative assumptions, assuming a longer life and lower returns. Having a SPIA (or multiple; you can layer them if you want more guaranteed income) gives you the freedom to invest more aggressively in the investment portion of your portfolio since you aren't counting on it as much for ongoing income. [The downside of annuities is that you are lowering the legacy value since the SPIA generallyh dies when you do; but if you don't have legacy concerns, the tradeoff may be worth it.)

  7. LivingAlmostLarge Says:

    I also think you will be fine. With the part time work you aren't tapping into your savings as much.

  8. rob62521 Says:

    You've gotten a lot done! And you are correct, labor is expensive. But at least you are getting things checked off your list and it appears they are done correctly.

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