DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
I have a forum attached to my blog where people from all over the world meet to discuss simple life. There are over 8000 forum members now so we have an enormous amount of good information about growing food, cooking from scratch, family, simple living, routines, budgeting, baking and much more. Please click on the image above to go there. Newcomers will have to register. It's free, friendly and we're waiting for you.

24 October 2012

Preparing for retirement

I've had a couple of requests to write about ongoing changes as you age and get ready for retirement.

Hopefully, by the time you're in your mid-to late fifties, your children will have packed their things and moved out to start their own lives. This is one of the things you've worked towards for many years - not for them to leave but to see them set up their own home, maybe with someone they love, or a couple of friends. At this stage, you hope that all you've given your children - the love, time, effort, advice and guidance will allow them to spread their wings and find success and happiness on their own.


When that happens, you go back to being a couple again, or maybe a single person. Either way, you'll have a lot more freedom. You'll probably have more money too. The key to this stage of life is to have all your debt paid off because you want to be at that stage before you retire. If you do find you have more money and you still have debt to pay, put all that extra money towards your debt. Make sure you're paying your mortgage fortnightly instead of monthly, continue to live frugally and use all your spare cash to pay off your mortgage as soon as you can.

It might be a good idea to talk to your bank to make sure you're on target with the mortgage and to find out exactly how long it will be before you pay that last payment. While you're in that frame of mind, check your superannuation fund (401K/retirement fund) to see what money will be available to you when you retire. Even though you've got another ten years before that happens, it's best to know now if there will be less than you expect so you have a chance to make adjustments if you need to. Work out for yourself how much you need each year to live and multiply that by 20 and that will give you an approximate amount. In most countries men live to their late 70s and women to their mid 80s but no one knows how long they'll live - there is a fair bit of guess work needed so most people go by the average age lived. If you know you'll have to live on a government pension, research that so you know what to expect.

On the practical side, now is a good time to take a fresh look at your home. Will this house suit you when you're 20 or 30 years older? If you have to move, it's best to do that after the kids have left home and while you still have some capacity to earn. Think how you might be in the future, you need your home to support your needs, not hinder them. You might need to move if your home has a lot of stairs, if you're in a built up area and you want a quieter place, if it's too big for you with the children gone, or if you've lost your partner and the memories are difficult. If you do move, look to a smaller home, maybe with two bedrooms, and a smaller yard. You might want to grow your own vegetables or have a flower garden and chooks. If you're lucky, the sale of a larger home to move to a smaller one, might wipe out your mortgage. Look around with that in mind. Now is not the time to upscale or go upmarket. Choose what you know you'll need and be happy with that. Financial freedom might be just around the corner and if it is, you'll soon see the benefits of a smaller home. If you're renting, ask if the future is reasonably secure. Again, if you think you might have to move, it's best to do it when you have the energy for it and possibly just before you retire.

Decluttering will also be on your agenda. It's an idea time to do this when the kids leave home because you'll be able to pass on a lot of your family treasures. It will give you the space you need and it will give your children a good start in their first home while keeping the heirlooms in the family.


When you're sure you're in the home you will live in forever, do an audit of the house and yard. What needs fixing - now, in five years time and in ten years? You may need to install some extra handrails or make sure the steps are completely non-slip. If you want to grow vegetables and keep chickens when you retire, think about that now. Think of all the ways you can save money in your home when you have more time to do it.


Will you need fences? Hanno and I have found that fences of various styles and lengths have been a feature of our backyard since we moved here 15 years ago. Sometimes we had dogs, always chooks, we now have grandkids and fences have helped us keep then all away from the garden. We moved our fences when the dogs died, re-fenced again when we had grandkids. Do you want to have a potting shed/green house? It's time to do all that work, and the fencing, in your fifties. It was my experience and that of a few friends of mine that we lost our strength between 55 and 60. Do all the work that will set you up later in life when you have the strength for it.


If you want to start a new hobby, raise a garden or chooks, now is the time to start researching and teaching yourself everything you can about it. There will be more learning along the way, but at least get a start on it now. Once you know more about one of your choices, it may not seem as sensible as it did before. When the kids leave home, learn to cook for two, or one. This will impact on your shopping and how you store food as well. Make sure you still eat healthy food and make the time to cook - you are worth it.

Look at your appliances - if you still have the same fridge or washing machine you had 20 or 30 years ago, now is the time to replace it. The new appliances use electricity much more efficiently than the old ones did so you might replace your fridge or stove now and notice a decrease in electricity usage. You might find you want to get rid of a few appliances you no longer need - such as the dishwasher, clothes dryer, microwave. If you can afford it, install solar panels - it's a sizeable expense but it will pay off in the coming years.

Make sure you maintain your friendships and keep your family close over the years. Retirement is the time you will rely on them much more than in the past. And when you do retire maintain your internet activities and enjoy your online communities, but make sure you enjoy the outernet too. That is where life happens.

35 comments:

  1. Very well-written... we did not write these things down, but we certainly discussed them before I retired in August. I'm still in the decluttering phase... but this was a very interesting post with good points in it.

    ReplyDelete

  2. hi there :)
    A good post as usual :)
    Yes ,debtfree is a must!
    Heard of Dave Ramsey in Tennessee?? I have! And I live in Sweden :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have l ready retired and hubby at 72 chose to continue his practise. I search the web for fellow seniors to interact with in all sorts of ways. Your blog has just come to my attention. I'm not ready for the forums because I don't know what I could add. But I might learn new ideas. I'm trying to find ways to organize and down size that are efficient and practical.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Love this post Rhonda! My hubby and I are planning on retirement in 10 years so last year we started auto deduction from our account (weekly) for our farm payment this will get it paid off a few years early! Then we can take the last couple of years and put the money we were paying on the farm into a saving account. I have also (one of your past posts) started putting an extra $10-$20 dollars on a bill and this has paid off one bill 7 months early, so now on to the next bill....I try to make a game of it I post it on the wall and give myself a star and :) when a new one is paid off. We have also been able to (this summer) get 2 freezers full of veggies and canned 240 quarts, pints and half pints of fruit and veggies, this also saves on the grocery bill (I also set that back) Keep up the posts, dont know what I would have done without your help :)
    Love your picture, you are such a cute couple!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Country life, you're doing some very wise planning there. Keep up the good work.

      Delete
  5. I think you are correct about losing physical strength in your 50's. Also about making good decisions at that time to set yourself up for a comfortably 3rd age.
    We live on 5 acres and hubby is a real worker but as he is still very busy workwise ( a physical job) I see he is getting less able to do the heavy work required even though I do things like mowing and such. He is tired out.It is getting too much for us and he will not give up work for 5 or more years ( health staying the same )
    But we are ok financially and have recently purchased a normal size block of land that backs onto our daughter's normal size house and block . She is a single mum with a gorgeous little boy who we see very often.

    We intend to build a single story brick home with our main thought to be low upkeep and ease of living.

    The 2 blocks together are 1900 sq mtr. They will not have a back fence so the yard will be as one block , but we will still have our own homes.
    We will be able to have a few hens, our pets, a small orchard and vegie gardens.

    We can help with pick up of little fellow from school etc for the next few years and daughter can help with pet care and such as we get to the stage of longer holidays .

    If our situation changes the houses can be sold individually. That is our current plan as we head towards our 60's.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, we both get tired easily now and generally have a rest after lunch. It sounds like a good plan with the two blocks together. No doubt you'll support each other over the years and grow closer.

      Delete
  6. Today is "day one" of my retirement so I was thrilled when I saw your blog topic! Even though we have been planning (and dreaming) of retirement for a long time, I love mostly hearing how others are handling/preparing for this new chapter in their lives. I can report I feel calmer and happier even though it's been less than 24 hours since I left my job ~

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Congratulations on your day one. I hope you enjoy this new stage of life.

      Delete
  7. We are both 46 but we are preparing now and wer're saving hard to pay off our mortgage, top up our pensions and get the house fixed up long term to last. We've recently bought insulation, cut down trees and next are new fences all that will last, we installed a wood stove, built wood sheds and our preparations are long term - great advice Rhonda x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a wise move to start your preparation early so you don't have that sense of urgency about it. Insulation is another great investment. We had our roof insulated a few years ago and it's make a huge difference to our summer temperatures. I like the sound of your preparations, you've obviously thought it all through. Well done.

      Delete
  8. You have covered everything all good advice but one thing I did was I got rid of the lawn,
    mowing was a bit of a chore and I have lots of trees so it hard to keep it looking good.
    Merle.....

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hi Rhonda I have another 15 years before I retire but your practible advice should help me get everything done before I do thank you

    Linda ox

    ReplyDelete
  10. For me retirement came early and unexpected. Not at all welcome! I retrained at university and then discovered that finding a new job meant a lot of disappointments. I believe that having at least part time employment makes the transition to retirement easier. Retirement is not all fun. I found out that we had saved too much money by living carefully all our lives and now we can not even get a Government Health Card. My advice is to move to a new house hat does not need too much maintenance, and the most expensive house you can actually pay for. The home will be there for your estate later. Use the good china every day because your children have their own stuff. Stay fit; take out a gym membership and use it every day. Wear nice clothes; you may not have the chance later. Avoid television as it is made for people with no goals in Life. Retirement is hard work!!!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Topical as always Rhonda. We are 54 and 64 and I (54) have left the paid workforce with DH planning to follow at the end of this year. We worked towards this for many years and, since the kids left home, we've bought our farm, got rid of debt and paid for new infrastructer (water tank, fences etc) to set us up. I don't think of us as retired, but more of having had a 'career shift' and this is now how we make our living. It's not a business but it is our living.

    I see so many people who think that retirement is just a long annual holiday. They (perhaps) love holidaying on the coast so they move there in retirement only to find it's dead in the off season, they don't know anyone and there's a limit to how much fishing they can do. While retirement brings time to do more of the things you want to do, there still needs to be an impetus to get up in the morning and a sense of purpose about life. Some find that in their family and home, others take to volunteer work or similar. It's sad when people retire and become disconnected from others and that is the challenge of a healthy retirement.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Oh retirement! I can't wait, pity it's about thirty years away :D We have started thinking about it, mostly ensuring our mortgage is well and truly paid off before we reach retirement age, but also gathering paperwork to organise our superannuation and rollover any necessary accounts to avoid paying extra fees. I fear getting stiff and less mobile when I'm older so I make an effort to stay active and flexible now. When I lived in China I was amazed at the elderly doing their exercise in the park each morning and it struck me how much more active they were able to be because of their good health (e.g. walking to the markets to do their shopping etc compared to those of a similar age back home, like my Nana, who would need a mobility scooter to do the same task).

    ReplyDelete
  13. An absorbing piece, Rhonda. But I must say, a life structure that I do not wish to abide by.

    ReplyDelete
  14. What a fantastic post, Rhonda. As always, you give very wise and sensible advice. We won't likely stay in this home forever as it's probably too much land to look after when we are older, but I imagine that when we do sell up in 15 or so years, we'll be looking to move to a modest 3 bedroom bungalow with a smaller yard. Just enough space for a garden and a few chickens would be lovely. Having had a larger family, we are certain that we'll need 2 guest rooms for visiting family - I can only imagine how many grandkids we will have! I look forward to retirement, and the change of pace it will bring, but we've got a long ways to go yet... it's good to plan ahead and keep our efforts focussed on our goals. Thanks for the gentle push :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. This is really great advice. Thanks for posting this.

    ReplyDelete
  16. People can take this advice now, and save even more for their retirement. The less lawn you have to mow now, the more money you'll save on fuel in 20 years. The less house you have to insulate (ie: smaller home) the less you have to pay to heat or cool. By learning the discipline of decluttering now with children, you will find yourself wanting to purchase less over your life time.

    And finally, by downsizing now - if it's possible, you may be able to pay off your mortgage even sooner. Rather than thinking of all the ways to spend that extra money you save, you can have the security of knowing you have put money aside for whatever unforseens arise.

    I've always thought retirement is how we should be living our every day.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Such good advice .. I have actually gained strength in my mid 50's due to better nutrition and exercise .. hauling laundry up from the basement to hang on the line, etc. Better stamina, bone strength, joint health from consuming homemade bone stocks (beef, chicken). Getting in the best shape before the declining years is essential. My husband retired in 2008 while still in his 50's and went to work at a less demanding job (smaller police dept.) He's now ready to retire again in 9 to 12 months from this career. Our home is paid off and we are set up for gardening and home projects (canning equipment, switching to a wood stove from electric furnace, etc.)that should pay off in the long run after the initial investment.

    ReplyDelete
  18. We are not quite in our 40's yet but we have been thinking ahead to retirement and planning with our 401K and retirement savings for years. We felt it was never too early to plan for retirement because once we get there, there is no going back and we want to really enjoy it and be stress free. I am always so happy to read what you post about planning for retirement because it helps me see if we are still on track as far as planning for most of our needs, ex. making sure we have no bills, mortgage, car payments, etc. and plenty of savings for expected and unexpected. Our best laid plans are not the same as the voice of experience! Thank you sincerely for always sharing yours. Hugs :)

    ReplyDelete
  19. I retire at last this week and have been doing some pretty serious planning for it for the last 5 years I estimate. I was pleased to see the poster commenting that she has "more" strength now than she had - as that is my plan as well. I intend to go on a lot more walks and to take up yoga and generally live a healthier lifestyle than I do right now. I shall lose that bit of excess weight I have been carrying for a while, go from a healthy to super-healthy diet, etc. THE biggest thing is that I will be moving elsewhere in the country. At long last I will have a garden and will be able to get on with growing a bit of food for myself. I'll be living in a place with a slower pace of life than my current location and that will feel a lot "safer" to me. I don't know a soul there - YET. I don't get this idea that some people move elsewhere and then "don't know a soul" and are lonely. In my view - one gets out there and makes some new friends then. I know where I shall be moving to and my current house will be going on the market soon and I will be househunting there and I have already decided on some activities to get on with there and have a way of making new friends. My first look at "location-to-be" left me wondering what I was going to do socially (being used to living in such a bigger and "buzzy" place that I do now - but I investigated further and can spot a regular class I shall be attending and just the sort of environmental charity I want to help out with a bit (bagsie me for more of an "office" role in it to start with - but, once I get a bit fitter, then I have my eyes on a bit of physical work for it). I'm looking forward to having some much nicer countryside around and a much greater chance of finding any food I have decided to forage for is still there (rather than stripped bare before it even ripens - as happens so much in my current area, with so many people here).

    I looked forward to how my life would be here - and realised that it will mean my current house steadily deteriorating round my ears (as I've paid out so much money for work on it and simply can't be bothered any more - as its never been My Home)/not doing that much walking in the countryside (because of everyone else having already foraged the food I intend to get - so my incentive to do so has gone)/seeing the particular little "area" I live in deteriorate further (when it wasn't really good enough in the first place)/I suspect the Council will have plans of a "not nice at all" nature for my personal little "area" in the future and I need to get out before I have them changing this "area" for the worse.

    Where I'm going is much smaller, much more attractive, much more of a "community" feel, I'll have my garden at last and there is no risk of being pushed in the direction of being an unpaid carer to someone who is nothing like me and not even a particularly nice person (which is a very strong risk if I stay here). I do understand and sympathise with the person concerned (ie my mother) - but we never have got on very well and she is still as hypercritical and prejudiced as ever and I am well aware that if I were turned into a "carer" for her that it would ruin my own life and I would resent it hugely.

    So - new adventure coming up and I am looking forward to it hugely. Can't wait to get started.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Congratulations on your retirement, Ceridwen. I hope all your plans work out.

      Delete
  20. Thanks for that Rhonda, couldn't have said it myself. I am certainly in that 'loss of strength' area now, jam jars are a right pain but have found gadgets that help. My hubby took early retirement when he left the forces 20 years ago, he is now officially fully retired and I with him although I'm still not officially retired nor will I be as my retirement age keeps going up! All the changes you mention are so correct and we have just about finished sorting out our home for our retirement. People think we are mad - ah shucks!

    ReplyDelete
  21. I have trouble opening jars too, datacreata, no problem digging or working in the home, just little silly things. People do think we're mad, let's all us mad people sit here together, smiling.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I couldn't second more vigorously the need to start downsizing and decluttering in advance. My parents failed to do this, and were hampered in their later years by their refusing to admit that the 5 bedroom house on a large block was too much for them to maintain. I am sure that this burden on them took a lot of the possible joy and rest out of what should have been their golden years to enjoy their grandchildren. By not freeing up the capital value in their house, they also felt they were limited in their income which could have been a lot more generous.

    Sadly, the burden then fell on the family to clear out their "treasured junk" and make some hard decisions to sell the house after they both died within 2 years of each other.

    I would hate to be this type of burden on my children and keep this thought uppermost in my mind regarding my inherited hoarding tendencies.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I believe it's wise to declutter in every decade. Leaving it until retirement just creates a problem that looks too big to tackle.

      Delete
  23. Hi Rhonda!

    Just to let you know I have recently discovered your most inspirational blog, and have been an avid reader since. I keep reading back through your archives, and have found a lot of useful information, along with a confirmation that we are indeed not alone in trying, to a degree, live a simple life.

    I have started to knit my very first dishcloth, and have just posted an entry in my blog, where I refer and link to your blog. I hope it is fine by you.

    Thank you for your wonderful blog. I shall keep reading, and aspiring to live a simple, frugal, down-to-earth life.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Hi Rhonda, What a wonderful post! I'm approaching 40 myself so this is a little ways off for me but I think I'll pass this along to my parents. Very useful and practical advice and information. Thanks for sharing ~ it's so important to set yourself up well.

    ReplyDelete
  25. HI Rhonda .My latest read is Eat Well Save More by Cath Armstrong.It is interesting and full of good recipes and handy hints.A small book to keep.Cheers Affussa

    ReplyDelete
  26. My life has been so different..I raised 2 children and then 1 grandchild....so when I was in my late 50's I was dealing with a teenager again! Now I am 68 and trying to figure out my life from here on. There is so much still to do and enjoy that I finally feel I am at a point to see the splendor in each day. I scramble for any little job I can find to bring in income aside from my small retirement benefit from my teaching years. I do many crafts and love being outdoors in nature swimming and walking. I know I am getting older, but remain young at heart, embracing the wonders of the world.

    ReplyDelete
  27. thanks for share.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for your comment today. I love reading your opinions and thoughts. We have built up a wonderfully diverse community here that I'm very proud to be a part of.

A link to your blog will be automatically added to your comment. Please don't add another link to your blog in your comment. Those comments will not be published.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...