Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Xmas - New Years - and good things to come in 2010...

Well Christmas this year was as good as they always are... the only big difference is this year was the beginning of us downsizing our Christmas expenses as we prepare our loved ones for fewer gifts and more wisdom.  Also, we have been reminiscing about the possibility of this being the last Christmas in our house.  I have not officially listed it as of yet but I did put up a "Make me Move" price on so you never know if someone will make us move sooner than we plan.

The time off has also allowed me to finish up the painting inside the house to get it ready for market.  The other large task I have started tot tackle is consolidating out photographs to prepare them for future scanning.  Once we figure out which ones we want to scan we will send the photos off to each of the respective children for the safe keeping and memories.

My Christmas present to me also arrived yesterday so I am anxious to start researching RV's using my CD's from  Now on to the research for 2010...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Last of the 50 things my RV could have...

I said there would probably be more and there is...

28. I want an electric Awning over main entrance
29. I prefer awnings over the windows
30. I want slide covers
31. I prefer a sliding storage tray in basement
32. I want electric storage tank dump valves
33. I want an automatic leveling system
34. I prefer one bedroom, separate from main living area
35. I prefer the slides be opposing in main living area
36. I prefer Washer and dryer space for stack-able units
37. I want additional batteries for extended boon docking
38. I want a generator
39. I want an inverter for converting DC to AC power
40. I want  solar panels for converting sunlight to DC power
41. I want a water heater that operates on AC power and propane
42. I prefer a heated basement compartments for freeze protection

43. I want a counter top extension in the kitchen
44. I prefer a separate A/C control for the bedroom and living areas
45. I want a large screen TV in living area and a small TV in the bedroom
46. I want a satellite system
47. I prefer diesel over gas but due to cost may get gas powered
48. I prefer a semi-monocoque over frame rail but cost may not allow that
49. I prefer to buy higher quality used than newer and lower quality
50. and lastly it must be suitable for fulltimers

Although this list is not exhaustive, and it is my no means complete, it will provide me guidance as I continue to seek out our future home on wheels...

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Too much information....

WOW!  What can I say... there is too much information to read about the possibilities of fulltiming!  I have decided I will need to break things into parts if I am going to ever be able to decide what is the best rig for us.  So what do we need to do next?

Well the next thing that I think my darling bride and I need to do is sit down and make a list of all the things we need in an RV that will ultimately be our house for an extended period of time.

Some things that come to my mind are the following:

1. It needs to *feel* comfortable
2. I want a living room/dining room slide
3. I think I want a bedroom slide
4. I must have a decent sized kitchen because I love to cook
5. I want a sturdy shower door
6. I want a bedroom with a queen bed (walk around) with a night stand/shelf  for my book, glasses, drink etc.
7. I want a dresser with at least 4 drawers and a closet of decent size
8. I think I want it to be not new but less than 5 years old
9. It should have less than 25000 miles
10. I hope to spend under $65k, out the door
11. I want double pane windows
12. I prefer an ice maker separate from the fridge (but can add this alter)
13. I think I need at least a 10 cubic foot Refrigerator
14. I want at least 2000 lbs. carrying capacity for our stuff
15.  I think I want the arctic insulation package
16.  We need adequate space on both sides of bed for ease in making it.
17. I want convenient access to dump valves
18. I want a large pantry
19. Windows in all the right places...
20 I need space for at least two house batteries
21. I prefer tinted windows
22 i want a black tank back flush
23. I want a desk area
24. I need lots of storage inside and in the basement
25. I need at least one "all the way thru" storage in basement
26. I want the doors to the outside storage areas to be large enough to put in a folding lawn chair
27.  I want the finish on my cabinets and interiors to be light in color so they make it feel roomier
28..... I am sure there will be more....

looking over my list makes me think I will never find a rig that will suits my needs... and I haven't even consulted with my darling bride about this list!  That is going to be the next thing on my list to do...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

One step closer...

Well today I have finished up one of the projects I needed to complete before going full time in the RV in a little over a year.  I bought an ION USB turntable to convert my LP's to digital music some time ago and have now converted a couple of hundred LP's into songs saved onto my computer.  I liked the turntable so much we got one for my wife's brother since he recently was wishing there was someway to play his LP's again since he broke his needle on his turntable.

Now this took a lot of time... but the time was enjoyed as I was able to reminisce about the good old days while listening to the songs of yesteryear.  Like where were you and what were you doing when the Beatles sang "I want to hold your hand" or when Janis Joplin sang "Mercedes Benz" or when Neil Young sang "The Needle and the Damage Done"...????  These were pretty easy for me place myself back in time and relive some enjoyable moments in my life.

Other moments in my life I relived when I play Pink Floyd, Greatful Dead, Led Zepplin and Uriah Heap albums...  Funny these moments in time were hazier than others :).

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The rituals of a wo$king man...

Well this past week I was sent out to Las Vegas for one week of training.  Many of you may think this is a good thing... I did not!  I have been to Vegas for training and trade shows many times in my life and have "done Vegas" enough!  While I was there I was sitting in my room in Mandalay Bay thinking this may be the last time I stay in a hotel as luxurious as this.  Which then led me to thinking about the rituals of work in my life that will go away once I retire.  Not only will I no longer be jetted around the country to become more valuable for my company other things will change as well.

We all have our morning rituals that we do each and every day we are working.  Mine is fairly simple... wake up anywhere from 4:30 am to 5:30 am (without an alarm clock - and yes I am cursed) and get a cup of coffee from my pre-programmed coffee maker.  Sit down at my computer and check my work related email... reply to any emails needing replying to and do any necessary morning work.  Then I will surf the web for a while and then go outside and pick up my daily delivered local newspaper to catch up on the news.  I then work the soduko and other puzzles in the classified section of the newspaper... have another cup of coffee and then get ready for work.  Get dressed and have breakfast then its off to work...

This ritual has served me well for many years but it is one that will come to an end in a little more than a year when I retire.  So while in Las Vegas being trained on software that I will be using for only a little more than a year I started wondering about my future life and how the parts of my morning ritual will soon be changing...

.... for the better!

Monday, December 7, 2009

First look at the RV's...

Well we finally ventured out to look at RV's for the first time.  We had pretty much decided initial that we wanted a Class C in the range of 29-32feet.  After a lot of research and me asking questions on chat groups in various forums we were beginning to believe that we would be better off in a Class A of the same size as we were thinking before - 29-32 feet.

You see one of primary goals in our quest to full time in an RV is to be able to camp in some of the out of way spaces found in state parks, corp of engineer sites and other sites that may or may not limit access based upon the size of your RV.  In the research we have done most  recommend 30 feet or less but we have seen on some blogs RV's up to 34 feet claiming to camp in most of these sites.  We still need to ascertain the real truth.

So we had to pick up our daughter who was coming home for the xmas break from college. We stopped on the way over at a RV resale spot located near the airport for our first look at RV's.  Our goals were pretty simple for our first visit to an RV dealer:

1. We needed to see if there was anything about the small size that would scare us from succeeding in our quest
2. We needed to see if 29-32 feet of RV would be an issue or were we in need of longer/larger RV's
3. We needed to either keep or eliminate Class C's in our quest
4. We needed to get of feel for quality differences in RV's
5. We needed to get a feel for floorplans in the RV's

Well our trip was quite the success as we have now made several important decisions.  Most important is that we are not in the least bit scared to attempt this!  We have eliminated Class C's and for now 5'ers.  We like the kitchens that have a 2 door fridge and we need to find out if we can get them in the smaller RV's.  We learned that 30-34 feet of RV's is more than adequate for us with the right layouts and at least 2 slides. 

Next... learn more about size and it's constraints, start learning about models, decide between gas and diesel.... ahhhh the list goes on...

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Burning the LP's into digital land...

Well I am now using my brand new turn table that comes complete with a USB cable that plugs directly into my computer.  Comes complete with software that can be used to catalog the music by using the dead space between songs that effectively breaks out each song separately.  This way I am able to play an album, cut each song out, name them with their singer, album name, and title and save them into my itunes folders.

Being able to convert my records into digital music means I can rid myself of the 2-300 lbs of LP's I own and put them all on a very compact external hard drive.  The down sizing continues.... and the side benefit is going through all the nostalgia and memories that each record reveals through each song recorded.  Now where was I when The Beatles sang Let it Be?   Hmmmmmm........

Monday, November 30, 2009

Getting rid of the old slides...

Well as my wife and I went out for the tail end of the black Friday shopping I came across a slide scanner at our local Kohl's.  It was made by Innovative Technologies and was under $50.00 bucks so I thought I would give it a try.  The other option was to go online and pay 29 cents per slide to have them do them for me.

Well the slide scanner was very easy to set up on my computer and was easy enough to use so I proceeded to turn slides into digital images one at a time.  The interface between the hardware and the software was not very sophisticated therefore the quality of the images produced from the slides was not the best of quality.  So I mostly focused on converting slides that had people in them and ignored converting those with scenery... after all I will have plenty of time to revisit all those locations and retake those shots with a digital camera :) .

Above is an example of a slide converted into a digital picture.  Photoshop was used to remove the obvious blemishes and spots on the slide but as you can see the clarity is not all that great.  The picture is one of me and my trusty dog, Fred, in 1981 on top of enchanted rock in central Texas.  Enchanted rock is the second largest exposed batholith in the United States with the other being Stone Mountain in Georgia (on my list as a place to visit).  One more task can now be checked off the list of downsizing and reducing our stuff... next up is converting the LP's into digital music!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving and such...

Well here we are on Thanksgiving day and wondering what we will do since neither of our kids are coming to our house for the holiday.  So this is what it will be like on the road during a holiday...just another day! 

We have decided to help a friend prepare her thanksgiving meal where she feeds a lot of our single friends along with some of the married couples with no kids that we know.  So with our help and some wine we will help prepare a feast for many of our friends.  I see this as practice for when we go to RV parks during the holidays since as many have blogged that the RV'ers generally have some sort of pot luck event with their RV'ing friends.  So to all of you out there have a great Thanksgiving and don't eat too much!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Weekends and workdays...

Well here I am again sitting at the computer reading blogs of fulltimer's and their journeys longing for "my turn" when it got me to thinking.  I am sitting here relaxing and enjoying the last few hours of my weekend.  I return to my job tomorrow on one of those dreaded Mondays...  But as I sit here, I realize that soon there won't be a difference between a Sunday and a Monday once we retire.  Everyday will be the same!

The only way I will know it is a weekend in the future is that the campgrounds will be fuller and the stores more crowded between 8 and 5.  What a wonderful thought that is...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Research and Ponderings...

Well the research continues and if you haven't figured it out by now I am an information and data junkie.  Rarely do I make a decision that hasn't been thoroughly researched to death ... as my wife would say.  This has been the method that works best for me.  Now having said that you might think I am not a risk taker and if you thought that you would be very, very wrong.  What I am is a calculated risk taker!  So I will research RV's and the opportunity to full time in them to death but will eventually come to a point at which we will either buy an RV and full time or go on to plan B.  However, plan A looks too appealing at this time.

So a big part of my early research is simply discussing all the information I am reading about in fulltimer's blogs about the lifestyle with my wife.  We usually walk 3 miles or so up to 5 times a week.  During these walks I share the information I am gathering and solicit her feedback paying very close attention to the non-verbal cues she is giving off.  It is these non-verbal cues that give me the most information.

For example, I recently shared my thoughts about us being able to boondock and explained to her what that meant.  Non-verbal cues (NVC's) gave me reason to believe that this intrigued her as well... so I went on.  I talked about getting the rig hooked up for solar... her NVC's seemed positive... I further talked about the limitations of water and dumping that we would have to adhere to if we were to boondock... other than "Eeewwww" when mentioning black water dumping her NVC's were good... but when I described the way you need to conserve water by taking a "sailor's shower" her NVC's went south in a hurry.... mental note - must have large water holding capacity for boondocking.

So you see not all the pertinent information can be found in the written word, much of it lies in the NVC's of your spouse or significant other so pay very close attention to them! I am...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Decisions, decisions and more decisions...

While I continue to toil on the thought of which RV might best fit us in our future lifestyle I always come back to either a 26-29 foot class C or a 30 to 32 foot class A.  Now either way we will be purchasing a used vehicle so I continue to research what the gotchas are in the used RV market.

Number one gotcha is delamination!  What is delamination?  Well according to wikipedia - Delamination is a mode of failure for composite materials.  So what does that mean to me?

First the history: Long ago RV builders changed the way they did construction.  They began putting smooth fiberglass exterior walls on RV's that were constructed by sandwiching fiberglass with the frame's structure and other materials.  Each of the layers were held together with adhesives making a single bonded wall which decreased the cost of building the walls and also provided for better aerodynamics and they just looked better :).  But as time passed some had noticed the early models started having problems with the bonded layers of the wall coming apart or delaminating.

So to avoid buying an RV with delamination one needs to look for evidence of bubbles or blisters on the sidewalls.  Now remember delamination is usually caused by moisture getting between the layers resulting in the bubbles or blisters.  They also may cause cracks so look for these too.   And since moisture is the culprit causing the damage look for signs of moisture leaks in and around the windows, vents and any other exterior openings.  Discolorations on the ceiling may also be a sign of future trouble.

Moisture on the inside is the enemy so make sure the used RV you are buying does not have any signs of moisture on the inside.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Man we have a LOTS OF STUFF!!!! So not too long ago I asked my wife to walk through the house with me and look at each room in detail.  Our task was to answer some questions:

1. look in this room and what in here can you just not part with - Absolutely Must Haves!
2. of the remaining stuff what would you like to store or give to family for safe keeping - Could Keep!
3. of the remaining stuff what should we sell - Sell it!
4. any stuff remaining should be thrown away or given away to someone who could use our old stuff. Toss it!

Well we went to the dining room first and it went something like this:

"I really like our antiques but we could give them to one of our kids"  ... I agree.
"Then there is the china and silverware we have ... I guess we could give that to the kids too..."  ... I agree.
"Well I guess there really isn't anything in here I MUST have" ... I agree.

On to the living room.... we could sell the piano and all the furniture and our books and TV, sound system etc... "Well I guess there really isn't anything in here I MUST have" ... I agree.

Amazingly we go through each of our rooms and we surprised ourselves by coming to the overall conclusion that there really wasn't hardly anything we had in our house that we just couldn't part with.  Then it struck us -Why do we have all this stuff if it isn't really of importance to us?  The only obvious answer we came up with was because we had a "stick" house.

I think it is going to relatively easy for us to part with our stuff and move into an RV.  It wasn't until we went through this exercise until we fully realized that traveling in an RV is not only a dream but could become a reality.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

To stuff a class B or an A... that is the question????

So there is little doubt that if we were to purchase a used Class A it would be larger and provide us more living space.  It would also provide us more storage and more capability for hauling a greater amount of stuff.  There in itself lies the problem for us.... we have a LOTS OF STUFF!!!!

I have been contemplating retirement for some time and had already challenged my bride to help in getting rid of stuff we no longer needed or wanted.  So for the last two years we have been tossing stuff into the trash can on our trash day.  So every Wednesday I would look into our trash can and see how much space it had left for unwanted stuff.  Every week for the past two years we have been filling up the left over space.  Now I want to tell you we have gotten rid of a lot of stuff!

So why do we still have too much stuff?  It appears we have finally gotten to the point that the stuff we have left has some value ... either perceived or real.  So now our dilemma is what stuff do we have left that we won't need in an RV?  And that too is a lot of stuff... but that is another story....

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The ABC's of RV's...

There are two major types of RV's - motorized and non-motorized.  The only non-motorized RV's one can consider as a full timer is the the fifth wheel or fiver and the towable trailer. Both of these require heavy duty trucks to tow them so both of these are not a consideration for us if we were to full time in an RV.

Motorized RV'S are generally the preferred choice of many full timers in the USA. They weigh from 15,000 to 35,000 pounds and can be as long as 40 plus feet in length. The biggest are the Class A units which have all the comforts you would expect in a "stick" home without the grass to mow. They are usually on a 3-10 ton truck chassis and will typically have many slideouts. Class A motorhomes range in price from $100,000 to $500,000 an d can be even much higher.

Class B motorhomes or van conversions are the smallest RV's. Constructed on a van chassis they generally weigh less than 8,000 pounds and are usually less than 19 feet in length.  These are generally considered too small for full timing in.

Class C homes are kind of like mini-class A's since they are simply scaled-down versions of them. They weigh from 10,000 to 13,000 pounds and are from 20 feet to 31 feet long. These are mostly on a larger van chassis which explains why the driver area is like that of a van. Class C motorhomes range in price from $50,000 to around $150,000.

Class A motorhomes are too expensive and too large for us.  Class B's are too small.  We really don't want to have to buy a huge truck so that really only leaves us with a Class C.  This will call for further research!


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

6. Make a his and hers bucket list and 7. Discuss your lists together

Now I can't stress how important I think it is to make your bucket lists.  For those of you that may have missed the movie "Bucket List" let me explain.  Your bucket list is simply a list of things you want or need to do before you die.  Simple as that! So if you always wanted to learn mandarin Chinese or walk the great wall of China then put it down on your bucket list.  Put it all down on the list.

Even more important if you will be retiring with a partner is to have them also make their bucket list.  Then compare your bucket lists and you may find that you have many things in common ... or not.  However, as I stated before this simple exercise allowed us to determine that we weren't ready to settle down in Florida yet even though the real estate values there had plummeted making it relatively cheap to relocate there.

Looking over our bucket lists we noticed that they included a lot of travel items... want to see Arches National Monument, want to hike on the Appalachian trail, want to see Yosemite etc. So as a result we determined it might be best for us to travel for a year or two ... or more before we settle down in retirement.  Also, traveling may help us better determine where we want to finally retire.

So now we are researching and investigating the RV lifestyle to see if that appeals to us... but that is another story!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

5. Where do you want to retire and what do you want to do?

The question of where you want to retire and what you want to do is a question that is very hard to pin down.  One of the things I recommend is that you and your spouse (or just you if you are single) construct a bucket list.  Once you create a bucket list with all the things you want to do, to see, or just to visit it will help determine what type of life style you should pursue in retirement.

My spouse and I initially thought we wanted to retire near the beach and were looking at Florida since the real estate market there was in shambles and we thought we could pick up something inexpensive and live near the beach.  However, the more we talked the more we were uncertain about it.  It wasn't until we came up with our bucket lists and compared them that we have come to the conclusion that we might best be suited to purchase an RV and travel around a lot before we settle down.  If we hadn't done our bucket lists we may have made an early retirement blunder.  Now I have a lot to learn about fulltiming in a n RV!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

4. Determine your retirement date

We now understand better what monies are coming into our income stream and what monies are going out of our income stream. Now for the hardest question to answer - When can we retire, in other words, what is your retirement date?

The very best way to assist yourself in determining the WHEN question is to better understand what your needs will be post retirement. Some expenses may disappear but others will likely replace them. Some say they will no longer be paying for the kids education but they want to travel more so the costs tend to balance out. A lot of people have said openly that their expenses don't change a great deal in post retirement, however each person is different. I believe I will need about 85 percent of my w*rking income in my retirement years.

But a great exercise is to come up with different spending scenarios and run the numbers through firecalc or other retirement calculators. Also, use different retirement date scenarios along with the expense scenarios. Looking at the results of each one of these scenarios will allow you to better determine when you can retire which will assist you as to when you should retire.

For me my date is February 2nd or March 2nd. For now I am calling it Feb, 2nd 2012.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

3. Run your numbers through a retirement calculator such as firecalc

Once you have gotten a thorough understanding of what your revenues and expenses are currently, what do you do next? I recommend that you need to start running through different retirement scenarios to see what will work best for you. One of the best online and free products I have come across is the firecalc calculator.

Run your numbers through a retirement calculator such as firecalc (firecalc calculator ) to see whether or not you are reaching your goal of retirement. There are many other devices and tools you can use. Many of which are based upon Monte Carlo simulation models but I highly recommend using the firecacl calculator along with the use of your own personal advisers or your own excel spreadsheets.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

2. Get your expenses in order...

I already talked about getting control of your most likely largest expense in a previous blog - your mortgage. But it is equally important to get all of your expenses in order. Besides your mortgage you need to pay off all the debt that you can... Pay off those cars and pay off those credit cards if you have them ASAP!

To better understand my expenses was to go back in time and record all of our expenses in an excel spreadsheet. This was easy for me to do since all of my expenses are paid out of two accounts. Our primary bank account and our primary credit card provide us all the numbers we needed. Between these two accounts I was able to easily categorize our expenses.

I created a column for each category of expenses I wanted to track and by doing so it made it very easy to see where our largest expense categories were. For us they were department stores and travel. Well having discovered this made it very obvious to us which category was needing our attention. We needed to begin a reduction in expenses and it wasn't going to be in the category travel. I now have 17 months of expense data in my spreadsheet along with the same number of months for our revenues. Our financial picture has become clearer and even more clearer is what we need to do to prepare us for reduced income in our future retired lives.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

1. Get you finances in order

This item is the foundation of what makes a successful retirement happen. You must have a really good understanding of what your revenue flow is. When you are w*rking this is easy as you can always look at your weekly or monthly paycheck and go from there.

When you retire that paycheck no longer comes in and the income it brought must be replaced? How will this happen? Well hopefully by the time you retire you will have alternative income streams available. These could be in the form of pensions (not likely anymore), IRA savings, 403B's, 401K's, rental income, stocks, savings or many other income producing instruments.

You must sit down and collect all your income streams and put them on paper or in a spreadsheet for further analysis. Will these income streams provide you with the necessary income for retirement for the "X" number of years that you will be alive post-retirement. If not plan now for the future and start saving or investing wisely to provide for your retirement.

Monday, October 12, 2009

So we have a target... make a list!

So now that I know the date that we wish to retire... everything from this point forward means we are working towards getting everything done that needs to be done before retirement.  Whew! What a mouthful. So what needs to be done? Below is a list that I used to get ready, some of the items have already been discussed.

1. Get you finances in order
2. Get your expenses in order
3. Run your numbers through a retirement calculator such as firecalc
4. Determine your retirement date
5. Now the hard part - where do you want to retire and what do you want to do?
6. Make a his and hers bucket list
7. Discuss your lists together and using these discussions you should be able to get a better idea of the answer to question 5

I will stop here and add to the list later because of the importance of item 5 above.  My wife and I  had initially considered retiring in Florida since the price of real estate was cheap and the life style of living near the beach appealed to both of us.  However, after looking over our bucket lists it was apparent that we had a lot of traveling to do before we settled in for any duration.  We are now investigating full time RV'ing and even looking into retiring/traveling overseas.  So for us now we have lots of research to do...

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Getting your numbers in order...

So I talked about how we got our expenses into numbers into a spreadsheet now we have to get our revenue streams or income into numbers.  Once we have a better grip on what these numbers mean and what they tell us we will have the predictive means to determine an estimated retirement date.  Since I love spread sheets I started gathering up all my numbers... Roth accounts balances, Traditional IRa's, bank accounts, savings, life insurance cash values, retirement accounts, social security allotments, stocks, bonds, ETF's ... oh my...  So many numbers!

Gathering all your financial records into a spreadsheet can serve two purposes - it serves as a source to retirement planning and it also serves as a source for estate planning by having all your account numbers and passwords etc. in a single place.  Now that makes this file very valuable so I suggest you get one of the free encryption programs to protect this file on your computer.  I use one called Truecrypt.  Now you will be down to only one password that your significant other needs to know to access this very important file.

So after a month of careful scrutiny and calculations my spreadsheet was complete. Using my own spreadsheet and my own predictive future variables allowed to me to project when I would run out of money based upon my projected expenses.  This also answered the question of when we could retire - the answer:

February 2nd, 2012!

Friday, October 9, 2009

So what is next....

Now that we figured out a way to pay off our mortgage early we need to start planning for retirement in other ways.  What about our expenses?  In order to retire at the earliest time we can we have to watch the only two things that we can impact -  savings and expenses.  We have made the necessary adjustment to increase our savings in both the tax-deferred and taxable areas.  So now we need to get a grip on our expenses.

The best way to do this for us was to set up a spreadsheet in excel that allowed us to track in detail what our expense were currently.  So I went back in time and pulled all of our financial records together and recreated our expenses for the last 16 months.  Since we have never really budgeted but always watched out for our money's best interest this provided us with a snapshot of what we were really spending.

Our two biggest expense categories were our travels (we love to travel) and department stores!  Department stores????  Now that had me scratching my head... it appears that my DW loves to shop more than I had originally thought.  We sat down and discussed this new information and decided that we should not change our spending habits at all at first.  But we should at the very least start asking the question - "Will I really need this in my retired life?  This has resulted in us not buying any big ticket clothing and other w*rk related items that we won't need after two years and thus, don't really need now.  We will see what this does to our expense over the next 4-5 months. My guess is they will drop some.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

What to do with all this money...

So paying off your mortgage is the single best thing you can do to get you ready for retirement. In our case we were paying double principals for 5 years and 3 months... guess what! At the end of that time we owned our house and had a whole lot of money that was no longer being paid to a mortgage. So what did we do with that money?

Every month after we paid off the house we continued to make our mortgage payments as we had always done except we were paying them to a 403B tax deferred account. It is amazing how fast that money adds up over the course of a few years. Fully diversified in vanguard accounts makes the money grow even faster due to the lower costs of ownership.

This is one of the best ways to fluff your nest with more dollars for your future retirement. It's not too late to start now as we still have many more Mondays to w*rk before we retire.

So what is next....

More about me and my quest...

Most of my life has been dedicated to enjoying each and every day. This philosophy never became clearer that when my lovely bride of 34 years was diagnosed with breast cancer. It wasn't until this day that we both sensed our real mortality and realized that time would run out if we didn't seize the moment. So starting that day we spent a larger portion of our budget on travel. This was four years ago as my bride appears to be in complete remission.

Also, at this time our lives required some tweaking with regard to our retirement planning. We had to decide between "living for the moment" and "living below our means" (LBYM)... difficult to say the least. The first real decisions we made were to take one really big trip per year, to fly out east in the spring at least once a month to watch our athletic daughter play sports for a division 1 school in North Carolina , and we decided to pay off our house as fast as we could. A mix of living for the moment along with a smattering of frugality allowed us to do this.

The simplest way for us to reduce our expenses and pay off our mortgage really fast and early was to pay double our Principal and Interest. By paying double we reduced a 15 year mortgage by over 60 percent in months of payback. Paying this way reduced our disposable income forcing us to make life style changes to accommodate our new budget. This worked for us... as a result we now own our home outright!

More to come....

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Beginning of the Future!

Well here I am at the apex of my work life looking down towards the retirement part of my being. I have had a very eventful working life but now am longing towards my retirement days... my target is February 2nd or March 2nd, 2012. Only 121 more Mondays until I am set free.

About me: I am now 54 years young and early in my life I decided I needed to do as much as I could do while I was young while I could do it. I was an avid backpacker and outdoor enthusiast. I traveled every where I could afford. I married very early in life to my wonderful bride of 34 years and counting. Interesting enough we were very opposite in what we enjoyed but over time we have slowly migrated to a mid point... I admit it is skewed in my direction.

... ahhh the beginning of my blogging career seems to be coinciding with my wish to retire. This blog will be dedicated to this pursuit of figuring out how to best retire and obtain the worldly riches we desire. These riches will be anything but monetary since true happiness can be obtained in many different ways. On to this pursuit...