Its crazy to think I am in month 9 of my retirement! As I reflect on these months, a few thoughts come to mind that I wanted to jot down!
1. Taxes - we got a refund this year for the first time in years and it was significant! With pre-retirement earnings, we never qualified for any of the stimulous money (since they continued to use our prior years earnings, we didnt receive the stimulous that was available earlier in 2021). When we filed this year, we qualified and received an additional $5700!! We also received a good refund aside from that! 1/2 of the money went to our final emergency fund savings which now is $100k. The other half is in savings for upcoming expenses this year.
2. House payment - I regret not paying off our mortgage before I retired, but we are now paying an extra $1000 per month to the house payment (plus any extra income over budget). I am finally looking at extra money as $$ to pay on the mortgage. I wasnt comfortable doing this until I got the emergency fund up to our current level.
3. Food - while the hub is away working, I eat as inexpensively as possible. I found a great recipe that I love using black beans and brown rice, both of which I buy in bulk. Many meals cost pennies rather that dollars! Thankfully, FD loves it too...she also loves ramen, eggs, pasta and salads! When the hub IS home, we have a well stocked freezer of meats to pull from. As meats come on sale, I stock up! I also started stockpiling last year during holiday food sales - so we have lots of canned/frozen veggies, and other items we use regularly.
Black beans in the Instant Pot (cook brown rice separately and combine with cooked beans as desired. we make a lot of burritos with them)
1lb black beans, 5 cups water, 1 smoked hambone, 3 bullion cubes, 2 TBSP taco seasoning, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 onion diced and sauteed. I cook for 1 hour and natural release for 25-30 min.
Silly frugal me, puts the hambone back in the freezer and then reuse it for a second batch before discarding it.
4. Can/bottle returns - this is new for me. Previously, I gave our cans/bottles away. Now I have an account to return them myself and get extra $$. I am using the $$ to help FD set goals and find ways to save towards the goal. She really wants a pair of birkenstock sandals this summer, so she is saving her change, helping with the cans/bottles and realizing a little planning helps make a goal come true! So far she has $35 in can/bottle money and $16 in cash.
5. Gasoline - holy gas prices! Living 15 miles outside of town, we def plan trips to town to cover all errands for the week. Thankfully, we have the stockpile and rarely have to run to get something outside of our weekly trip. I generally go once each week to watch my youngest grandaughter and another day to take FD to her appts and all the other errands.
6. Airline tickets - Costco offered a great deal of 10% off airline gift cards at Christmas time. Since the hub travels so much, I bought 10 - $500 gcs for $4500. This will last us pretty much all year. I hope Costco does this every year! I have saved enough to buy another 10 (which is the max allowed) this year! The mileage he earns goes for fun trips or vacations. In May, DD1, her newly adopted daughter (13), me and FD (17) are flying down to California for a long girls weekend to celebrate the adoption. Price for travel: $44 thanks to miles!
7. Camping - because I am retired, and FD does school online, we can camp anytime we want when the hub is home. A state perk for foster families is that we can camp for free at any state campground. Weekends are often booked, but again, our flexibility allows us to camp during the week when spots are more readily available. We have a beautiful 5th wheel that we paid off before I retired which we enjoy as much as possible. However, gas prices will likely reduce the number of trips we take this year.
8. Part time job for me - I had thought I would need to return to work part time to be able to have "enough". However, that has not been the case. We are making it just fine as is and can still afford to pay house quicker Fostering a trouble teen is pretty much a full time job, especially with the hub gone 3 weeks at a time. Between appointments, parenting, teaching her independence skills, and helping her feel safe and secure (something she has never had) I am "on" 24/7. Thankfully I have this flexibility to be a full time parent and friend for her.
9. Time Management - Days can get away from me. I have enjoyed the freedom to use all this time as I want. That will not change....but time is finite, not infinite. I am working on being more intentional with my time, while enjoying not having a schedule. This continues to be a work in progress.
10. Enjoying life - YES I DO!