Archive for Semi-retirement

Semi-retirement

It isn’t that I haven’t written about this before but I have been thinking quite a bit about it since I pointed out to T that she was now living in semi-retirement.  We were sitting by the pool listening to the lapping of the water, squinting at the sunshine glints, and talking about our latest movie day.  She turned her head away from the pool and smiled at me. “I like the sound of that but what does it mean?” she said.

I could feel the little thoughts start running around in my brain.  I didn’t really want to have to think.  But that’s the problem with having a conversation, sometimes you have to converse.  “It means to me that you work when and if you want to and on the things that you decide are important and at your own pace.”  I felt so proud.  I knew John D. McDonald wouldn’t turn over in his grave though now that I thought about it I wondered how such a prolific writer ever got to live his own semi-retirement.  Oh well, he’s gone now and so is Charles Schultz the man who created my other fictional role model, Snoopy.  Which reminds me did anyone else ever see that movie “My Life as a Dog”?  Because there is the perfect example of what it means to be semi-retired.  Dogs are born that way.  Cats even more so.  Domesticated ones at least.

Of course, a semi-retired human does so at their own peril.  This is not a world that likes us to do things halfway.  Either retire, you know get out of the rat race, or get back to work and, as the old song goes, “git me some money now.”  Yes, it’s also a little more difficult to be semi-retired if you live with someone who is still working.  You can see it in their eyes.  They don’t like the fact that you’re reading the paper while they’re packing a lunch.  Even if you do the housework, the laundry, the cooking, and take care of all the bill filing that doesn’t absolve you from causing them the pain of having to go into the “damn office” day after day after day.

Which is why it is really important that you figure out a way for your partner to semi-retire too.

Five ways to semi-retire without quitting your day job:

  • Set up a budget analysis – You need to know what your finances are.  How much of what you make is left over?  This can be done simply by just making a list of your expenses in one column and a list of your income streams in another.  Add up each and subtract the first sum from the second.  Think of this as laying the groundwork.  So if it turns out to be a negative amount you have already taken the first step by seeing that you are working hard for no reason since you now know that you are just treading water in the labor pool.

I know this seems like work but trust me organizing things on paper is a great way to relax.

  • Make out a list of your spare time activities – How do you unwind?  Are you a gym rat?  Do you head to the nearest bar?  What happens on the weekends?  Do you spend time alone or with friends?  When was your last semi-vacation?  You know, the kind where you went somewhere but brought your laptop just in case you had a little spare time to catch up.  While you are making this list, use a calendar to remind yourself of when these things actually happened.

Time is sometimes hard to quantify.  It passes on by or stacks up.  When you take the time to look at what you do in this backward looking way take note of how many unplanned things you do to.  Unplanning is key in the semi-retirement world.

  • Take a look at your job – Look at a week on your job, day by day.  How does each day start?  What is the first, second, third, …, thing you do once you get there?  Who is your boss or rather what is your boss?  Is a person in charge of setting your task load or are you in charge of doing that?  Do any tasks carry over from day to day?  Who do you work with?  Where do you eat that sack lunch and how long do you take to do it?  What happens at day’s end?  Do you drop your tools and head home or do you pack up some of the work to take with you? 

A semi-retired mind is in control.  The best way to get control is to know what your job really is about.

  • Figure out your hourly pay – Go back up to your budget, take the amount you added up from column two and divide it by the actual number of hours you spend working at, thinking about, and doing your job.  I know, sometimes the amount you get might turn into a reverse motivation, but that’s life.

Again, a semi-retired mind doesn’t spend a lot of time thinking about the hourly stuff but you might have to do a little growing in order to reach a point where you can mentally afford to semi-retire.  Maybe you’ll even have to do some work on the self-advancement plane in order to get there.

  • Figure out your hourly pay for the spare time activities – Same deal, go back to your budget only this time look at column one.  Total up how much are you spending on leisure time into two columns, one for cash expenses and one for credit expenses.  Divide the hours you spend into the credit expenses to see how much it is really costing you hourly to do those things.

Yes, here’s the key to semi-retirement.  It is a cash only state of being.  No credit card liabilities allowed.  Just remember that the reward is in knowing you can stay semi-retired for life once you take control.

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Weekly Tags

Yes, it’s that time again.  You and I get to go back into the future as we look at the varied and sundry.

  • Frugality is in.  Who knows, maybe we will even hear GWBIII telling us to save instead of spend those stimulus checks.  Well, I don’t know that seems a little far fetched.   Anyway, for those of you who always wanted to be like your grandparents, here’s a great place to start clipping those coupons and banking those pennies in the cookie jar.

 

  • Everyone has probably heard of Life Hacker the blog but I never took the time until I was reading a post by Trent at www.thesimpledollar.com the other day and he mentioned that one of the ways he has discovered to save money is to take up a hobby that doesn’t cost a lot to start and almost nothing to continue.  Like buying a basketball and a hoop for your garage door, like I did a 66 key keyboard to teach myself how to play.  Once I laid out the $200 for the board, the only cost is time spent playing.  And just like shooting hoops, it is just as rewarding.  Now Trent pointed me at this post on the LifeHack site.  Yipee.

 

  • I came across this site while researching my post on the real estate wasteland.  And because wordpress has some funny protocols about using javascript I haven’t yet taken the time to figure out if it will work for me on this blog but if it doesn’t work here I can always take it over to by blogger blog.  I know it always likes a brainy quote.

 

  • PC World lists it in its top five best blogs and I came across Alex Eckelberry because of a comment he made on jtaplinsblog about conservatism’s rise and fall.  But I visited the site out of a curiosity about security concerns on the internet.  How much firewall do we need?  I know that wordpress uses a screen to keep out spam and still I get one or two comments a week that could only come from a bot.  Anyway, I plan to go back to this site when I have time and ask some more questions.

 

  • And finally, it is Memorial Day and stores and banks are closed while outdoor barbecues and baseball games go on.  Somewhere a soldier is killing or being killed.  Somewhere a family is mourning their loss whether it be the soldier or the ones she killed.  On this site which I think I’ll be visiting quite a bit in the future I discovered a different sort of party. 

 

 

And I leave you with this poem I penned anon:

THE SUNSHINES BLUE . . .

On the day outside my mind,
           bike rides like wind flies and trains of inconsequence trade themselves for
                        thoughts as I wish for more than I can have or hold or even use in this
                world gone mad as a hatter,

In a world where anything can un happen, can re happen, can happen more or
              less with consequences and all the trimmings,
While we (you and I) still stay in a quandary, at a loss,
Up in the air like a coin star-crossed, our minds flipping, tripping

                        at all the evil dripping from the last bomb tossed.

 

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Scooterville

For several months T has been looking at bikes.  Harleys, Vespas, Yamahas, and now at our local Costco, a Schwinn.  Yes, they all have motors which works just fine for her since she really doesn’t like pedalling a bicycle very much.  Says the seat is too hard, or there are too many hills, or it’s too much like exercise to be fun.  Weird eh?  Anyway, as gas prices have continued to rise, we’re at $4.05 today in California, she has become more and more concerned.  It takes $50 to fill her little run around BMW and that lasts about a month.  But the truck we have to take to the field to pick up our produce every other day costs $100 a tank and has to be filled weekly.  So her awareness has risen.  She also likes to think of herself riding a motorcycle, roaring around the curves of the road that leads from our produce stand back up to our house.  But that’s just a dream because the lightest Harley is way to heavy for her to balance.  Hence the Vespa or the Yamaha.

Vespa has a new model, the 2008 Vespa S, that sells for around $4,200 and weighs in at 243 lbs and get about 69 miles to the gallon.  While Yamaha’s 2008 Vino comes in at $2700, weighs 229 lbs and claims to get 96 MPG.  Both fit her needs but the extra $1800 has her leaning towards the latter though she likes the history of the former.  Strange but true, if she can’t get the big bike then she’d like to get the one everyone knows.  But neither one of the above has a wind screen so since bugs in her teeth isn’t her style either, we have been forced to widen our search.

Here’s where price makes a difference.  Honda has its Silver Wing ABS for $8,600, and Suzuki has its Burgman 650 executive at $9,000.  Both are more solid and good for freeway traffic if you have to but since she doesn’t we are now taking a long look at Yamaha Majesty.  It’s priced at $6,000, gets 51 MPG and weighs in at 432 lbs. 

Once we make a pick though the fun really starts with the training.  First, it’s highly recommended that you practice first by doing some bike riding.  Get used to the balance required and the comparitively easy shifting.   I have to laugh as I tell her this but she doesn’t appreciate the irony.  Then take a safety course.  The Motorcycle Safety Foundation offers a 4 hour scooter school but we found out it’s not available in Cali.  Luckily, California has its own Basic Ridercourse offered through the California Motorcyclist Safety Program.  A 15 hour course leading to the M1 license that’s required here if you want to drive a bike that engine-sized over 49 cc. 

Still I have one bike I have been leaning towards that I think may be our best option.  It’s a motor bike.  It’s light in weight and is offered at least 8 different models all priced at below $2,000.  To be truthful, every time we see someone riding a motor bike, that’s really the one that T seems to like. 

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Found Money

No, I’m not talking about that “stimulus check”.  Nor do I mean those pennies, sometimes nickles or dimes, that you find spilled out of someone’s pocket in front of the 7/11.  I am talking about real found money.  You are going through the pockets of an old jacket, and there inside the inside vest pocket, folded up nice and neat, is a sort of crisp $50 bill.  A quick memory search reveals that a  couple of years or so ago, you don’t wear jackets that much, you put the bill there in anticipation of needing it to pay your share of some trip you and T were taking.  But that is all history now.

So what do I do with it?  Back in those spendthrift days, $50 was a night out dancing, or the movies for two, or dinner before a Laker game.  It was pocket money.  But that was before the plan.  And the monthly budget that developed from the plan.  I am semi-retired (more on that another time) and the plan is that T join me in that state as quickly as possible.  Hence the budget.

Budget for T

Monthly income less monthly expenses less minimal entertainment costs less coincidental repair or replacement expenses less automatic savings deduction to ING account and Ameritrade Save Yourself account less $10 pocket money = semi-retirement in three years.

Income stream = monthly paycheck + stoozed money market, CD, saving accounts, loan to the corportation interest earnings + off the book cash bonuses + 5 real estate rental property rents + part time real estate jobs.

Expenses = Share of  monthly rent + $25 towards weekly food + difference between monthly rental income and mortgage/insurance/repairs + medical bills for recent gall bladder surgery + ING savings + Save Yourself Ameritrade auto deduct + self-directed IRA + $ for occasional eat out/movie out/trip to casino out (more on this later too)

 So the first question is when should I share the news and let her decide about her half?  Because that’s the way it is now.  We share everything 50/50.  So now the question is what do I do with my $25?   Boy, I can tell you I am suddenly a lot less excited.  $25 is half a tank of gas, it’s a week worth of groceries, it’s my weekly expensed money, it’s the bill for two weeks worth of dry cleaning, it’s . . . not much in other words.  Wait I know where I can use it.  I’ll put into my newly formed freedom account, thanks JD.

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