WHEN I WALK AROUND my neighborhood, I see beautiful and expensive automobiles parked on the street. When I look at the garages where these cars should be parked, they’re full of stuff. I just can’t understand why someone would spend thousands of dollars on a vehicle and let it be exposed to theft, vandalism and severe weather, while their garage is used as a storage unit.
Even though I can still fit both our cars in our garage,
MY WIFE RAN INTO an old acquaintance at our local grocery store. I asked my wife if she was surprised to see her. “No, but she said she was surprised to see me. I asked why. She said she didn’t think I could afford to live here.”
Maybe that’s what most people would have thought, especially if they saw my wife in the neighborhood parking lot getting out of our 2007 Honda Fit.
It’s become extremely difficult for a middle-class family to own a house in California.
WHEN I RETIRED, friends would ask me how I was going to celebrate my retirement. A buddy suggested I take a cruise around the world. Another friend said, “Why don’t you explore Europe?” I did neither. I wound up exploring San Diego, which is about 120 miles from my home. That’s pretty much how my early retirement went. There were no expensive vacations or large purchases.
I didn’t feel comfortable spending a lot of money when I first retired.
MY WIFE AND I are planning a cross-country trip next year, and we need a new vehicle for the journey. The dealer we visited didn’t have a lot of SUVs to choose from because of the global semiconductor shortage. The SUVs in stock had dealer add-ons, such as a $1,900 alarm system and $1,500 for paint sealant. My thought: The dealer was trying to take advantage of the vehicle shortage by adding more options to drive up the price.
IF SOMEONE ASKS ME what my favorite day is, I’d have to say the second Wednesday of the month. That’s when my Social Security check gets deposited into my checking account. I’ve received three checks so far and each one has been a joy. The experts might be right when they say retirees who have predictable income are happier. At age 70, I feel like a little boy who just got his first bicycle.
ON THE NEWS the other day, they were discussing technological change. “It happens gradually and then suddenly,” said the guest commentator.
The commentator was borrowing a memorable phrase from a book written almost a century earlier, Ernest Hemingway’s 1926 novel The Sun Also Rises.
“How did you go bankrupt?” Bill asked.
“Two ways,” Mike said. “Gradually and then suddenly.”
Although this fictional conversation refers to financial ruin, “gradually and then suddenly” is also how most financially successful people accumulate wealth.
WANT A LONG and prosperous retirement? Here are six numbers to pay attention to:
No. 1: Retirement savings. Add up all your retirement account balances and divide by 25. This will give you an estimate of what you can safely withdraw from savings in your first year of retirement.
No. 2: Social Security benefit. To your projected income from your nest egg, add your estimated Social Security benefit and any other retirement income you’ll likely receive.
REAL ESTATE PRICES in California are through the roof. The price of a smaller home in our neighborhood just sold for $80,000 above the list price. Not only is housing expensive for retirees like us, but also the cost of living in California is very high. Gas, food and taxes are a lot higher here than in other places favored by retirees, such as the Sunbelt.
When I was going to school, I was never good at math.
I RECENTLY HAD LUNCH with four friends I’ve known since the seventh grade. Because of the pandemic, this was the first time we’d all seen each other in more than a year. Every time we’re together, I’m reminded of how important my friends were in helping me start a new life when I left home for the first time. Our continuing support for each other is probably the reason we’ve stayed close for 57 years.
IN A FEW YEARS, my wife and I will have additional income, thanks to both Social Security benefits and required minimum distributions from our IRAs. Our thought: Any money we don’t spend from these two income streams we’ll invest for the long term. We wanted to keep this money separate from our other investments, so we opened a new joint brokerage account at Vanguard Group.
We decided to invest our extra cash in the Vanguard Total World Stock ETF (symbol: VT).
WHEN LYING IN BED at night, I sometimes hear the horn from the distant train that once took my wife and me to San Diego. We used to ride that train to its last stop, which was walking distance to our hotel. From the hotel, we would then walk to Petco Park to catch a baseball game. After the game, we’d head over to the Gaslamp Quarter and choose a nice restaurant for dinner.
I SAW MY MOTHER walking through the neighborhood the other day. She was wearing this big floppy hat hiding her face from the sun. But I knew it was her because I can tell by the way she walked. I see her from afar quite often. She drove by me just yesterday when I was coming out of the grocery store. I wonder why she didn’t wave to me. I knew she saw me.
I HAVE TO ADMIT IT, I’m one of those guys who likes to hide money. I have cash hidden in a couple of places in my house and even in the garage. And I’m not talking about a few dollars. I probably have more than $3,000 in denominations large and small tucked in envelopes. I also have a jar of coins.
You might ask, “Why in the world would someone have so much cash lying around the house?” I keep it on hand in case of an emergency.
WHEN I RETIRED, I was surprised by how many of my friends and former colleagues had a financial advisor. My thought: Why would folks pay someone else to manage their money when they could easily do it themselves?
But I found out early in retirement that hiring an advisor was a good idea. There’s a big difference between investing while drawing a paycheck and investing without one. When I retired, I realized that the money I was investing was all the money I’d ever have,
I WENT TO SEE MY primary care physician about a medical problem. I actually felt pretty good and wasn’t in any pain. I was fairly confident there wasn’t anything seriously wrong with me, so—when the doctor greeted me and asked how I was doing—I said, “I’m doing well.”
When he responded, “No, you’re not,” I knew this wasn’t going to go well.
I gave him my explanation of what might be causing my physical condition.