Sunday, May 6, 2018

Best retirement financial decisions you have made?

I have been taking stock of what we have done right and what I would have done differently during our first six months of both of us being retired. Let's talk about the financial front for now.

As you know we sold and bought houses as part of moving across the country to be near family. We rather reluctantly decided to live where we are currently because it is near my FIL's assisted living facility. That has turned out to be a good decision not only because being near him is a good thing but also for the financial impact. For one thing, it has certainly reduced our travel costs as most of our travel in the past was to visit family. Unfortunately it has also made us less likely to do other travel as we have yet to find a way to leave our special needs dog while doing so.

The main thing about moving in financial terms though was that we were able to buy a property that suits us at this stage for a little less than we received from selling our Atlanta house. Our monthly home related bills are lower too even with the HOA fee. As a bonus, after living here a year we do like it and are quite comfortable.

Secondly we decided to try to live with one car instead of two. That decisions was prompted by the need to only drive two vehicles across the country - the rental U-Haul and one car. So we sold the oldest, highest mileage car and kept the newer, albeit smaller one. We figured we could always buy a new one if we truly needed it and thought we would probably get a hybrid do to the increased driving that we would be doing as we travel longer distances to spend time with family.

The good news is we haven't yet needed that second car. So our gasoline bill has gone up as we drive more overall, but our car insurance, licensing and maintenance costs are lower. So far we haven't even used Lyft or Uber although those are options. We have each used the free to us city operated shuttle bus, taken the metro to the airport, or accepted rides from new friends (especially when DH is going to play pickle ball with those friends). So far so good on this front.

We both went on Medicare after the move and had to decide what to use as supplemental medical insurance. So far we have managed to keep our insurance costs about the same (which was a priority) while improving our coverage in the sense that our co-pays are almost non-existent except for prescriptions and dental. I do know that this outcome is at the whim of the market, but so far so good.

The biggest decision we have had to make so far has to do with when to take Social Security or to start withdrawals from retirement funds vs living on DH's pension and our cash savings. This is a work in progress. We decided to take DH's federal pension with survivor benefits which did lower the monthly amount but gave me peace of mind for my future financial security. Since I am older and have a slightly lower SS payment I started collecting at the same time I started paying for Medicare. Right now the plan is to hold off on DH collecting SS until he is 70 - again to maximize my future financial security (as well as his if he lives longer). We are hoping to wait until mandatory withdrawal age on our other retirement accounts but will start withdrawing sooner if we need to.

So how do I know all of this is working out?

The best decision of all is that I have tracked our income and expenses for years so I know exactly what we need to have to spend and what our cash flow will be. We continue to practice being frugal where we don't care how much we spend so we can spend on what we really want to and care about. Also we revisit our decisions about every 6 months to make sure we are on track .

How about you? What have been your best retirement financial decisions so far? We'll talk about the worst ones later LOL.


  1. Good question.
    We also moved across country, to be close to grands. It has saved with some of our travel bills, but I still travel three times a year to see my mother. That is getting more and more expensive. I think we come up even on that one.
    We are seven years apart. My husband chose to start his SS the year he started medicare. We have a tiny part of suvivor plan on his military pension. We chose to convert almost all of his IRA to Roth so he has very little to "begin pulling" at 70 1/2. I've done the numbers. I will start my SS at 68 (seven more years) and my tiny pensions at 65. We live well (and save) on what he brings to the table now. We feel pretty confident that it will be alright in the end.
    We seem to gain vehicles instead of losing them....
    Our retirement is going is going by tooooooo fast. How can he be approaching his 70s already?

    1. It sounds like you have made so careful decisions and it is working out for you. What happens to the survivor financially is so important to consider in planning. And I'm with your husband as I am fast moving towards 69 and find it hard to believe!

  2. We downsized as well. But my best decision since retiring -- even my best financial decision -- was getting married.

  3. Living on a slightly-lower then recommended withdrawal rate since we both retired six years ago. This has allowed our portfolio to continue to grow, which gives me considerable piece of mind, even if it means a healthy amount will end up going to our daughters and grandchildren, rather then being used by us.

    We are getting closer to the point when pensions, Medicare and SS will come into play, and now need to make all the decisions you've just detailed, Juhli. I'm looking forward to the positive impact all will have on us financially, even as I'm dreading all the decisions and paperwork that will go along with.

    I'm really happy to hear you are pleased with your home buying decision, as that is a biggie.

    1. Just so you know we found Social Security and Medicare extremely easy to set up once we had made timing decisions. We do have to pay Hubby's Medicare quarterly since he is not yet collecting SS but mine is automatically deducted. Glad your plans are working out so well.


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