This has been a year of major challenges but transitioning into retirement has to be at the top of the list. Even though I have worked with this issue with many clients over many years, when it came time for my own transition I realized that the emotional issues definitely top the list! With both my wife and myself retiring at the same time the sudden departure from the “normal” daily routines was difficult. This was especially an issue when the weather changed and we were unable to get outside and play a round of golf and looking at our calendars we noted that there were many empty days and the appointments with various doctors stood out more than before! At least the Google calendar fills in many dates with all kinds of history events that occurred on the various days and then birthdays of friends and relatives fill in some of the gaps. We found that there were days that we felt depressed as we had nothing to “do”. This was more of an issue for my wife as I started getting more involved with my writing, marketing my new book and took on the project of building a doll house for my granddaughter. In between all of this I needed to go into the hospital for heart surgery and recovered well. But the additional stress that caused only added to some of the depression. Another transition issue was dealing with planning events for us to do together, there is just so much golf you can do and with weather changing that outlet is disappearing. We came up with a solution; we have decided that we would block off one day a week for just us to do something together. On that day we do not schedule any other engagements and we alternate on who decides what we are going to do. The first Tuesday was my choice so I suggested we take a ride to Annapolis, MD, and have lunch at one of my old favorite restaurants, McGarvey’s. We went and found that the downtown area was quiet and we were able to walk around and enjoyed looking in several stores and especially the local art gallery that has been there for almost 40 years. Lunch was great; oysters, fish tacos and steamed shrimp. This week we are heading to Williamsburg for two nights to enjoy the historic town and the Christmas lights. I think the idea of having a “date day” each week has been a very positive decision. It may just be going to a movie in the afternoon (senior discount and matinee prices!), or taking a ride in the country or spending special time with family and/or friends. Bottom line is establish new routines and fill in that calendar with fun events to look forward to doing together or individually.
The other issue that has popped up in our discussions during this period is the issue of “no more paychecks”. I did as I had described int he book, setting up deposits to our bank account that matched what we had been receiving while working and making the deposits on the same dates each month as before. This helps greatly in maintaining the “normal” cash flow. But it also generates a conversation about what accounts to make the withdrawals from and do we need to cut back our spending and then we get hit with several unexpected expenses that required making additional withdrawals. The real issue here is having a better understanding with your significant other about the cash flow and just where the money is coming from in order to reduce the anxiety of the old issue of “running out of money”. The solution we chose was to create a spreadsheet listing all of our current monthly recurring expenses and then a separate list of the non-recurring and a list of the unexpected expenses we encountered during this year. This gave us a base to begin building to have a spreadsheet showing our cash outflows. Next to these lists of expenses we entered the expected income from various sources. We listed all of the potential sources of income from SS, annuity, personal portfolios (after tax) to IRA accounts. We then listed the expected income from each source and noted when we would Strat receiving the income or taking the withdrawals or distributions. We now had a good picture of the amount of income we would have, the timing of the income and a list of all expenses. This overview allowed us to take control of our cash flow and reduced anxiety about running out of money.