31 Jan 2018

Rescuing an unplanned retirement.

Yesterday I had a lovely time catching up with an old friend who retired a three years ago and moved away. We worked together about 10 years ago and became good friends, however this was the first time we'd got together in quite a few years. She had lots of good advice about preparing to retire which I thought I'd share.

Save Save Save!!   and use the salary sacrifice to the maximum.  Her retirement was unplanned and happened suddenly, about 5 years before she expected to retire. The toxic workplace stress thats is rampant in our organisation meant that she went from taking a week off exhausted to never returning to work again. He health was really bad from years of working under such stress.

Fortunately she had some retirement funds, but wishes she'd saved the max under salary sacrifice to boost her funds more. She initially found it quite difficult to adjust to living on a pension along with needing time to recover from being burnt out. So start saving early in your career for your retirement, you may not be able to work as long as you planned & max out tax advantaged savings.

Get involved & keep busy. My friend is a very smart and active person, very community minded. In her work role she was in contact with many people daily, sat on committees, ran projects, gave talks and organised events. Suddenly it was all gone. Overnight all that mental stimulation and challenge that comes with a career was finished, and her days were empty.

About six months into retirement she sold up, downsized and moved closer to family which also  improved her financial position. Then she got busy finding different activities she could get involved in where she could meet people. Book clubs, volunteer tours of the city, genealogy group, singing, doing a writing course, hosting overseas visitors, service clubs and doing airbnb - I am amazed at how much she had packed into her week and as a single woman she has really filled her life up with lots of interesting people and activities.

Keep physically active.  Every week day she does some type of exercise tai chi, swimming, aqua-robics, yoga, walking group and weights class. Using a combination of pension discounts and free/low costs groups shes able to go the gym and keep active in lots of different ways. Move or die she told me - you have to keep as physically active as you can.

On weekends there is work in the gardens. She grows veggies and eats very healthy and has even sold some of her cooking and catered some small events. She's done several cooking courses as well to expand her skills & meet new people.

My friend looked so healthy and happy! It was so nice to see her out of the workplace stress and she really inspired me to keep workplace stress in perspective and start now to build a life outside of work. She's a great example of making the most of a bad situation as she retired with far less than planned and not at all in the way she would have liked. I feel like I was given a great example of how good retirement can be and a pep talk about planning properly for a life after work.

My takeaways were that I'm heading in the right direction financially -but  I need to seriously up my game in terms of exercise & diet and I need to start building in more activities outside of work.

Don't simply retire from something;
have something to retire to.
-Harry Emerson Fosdick

28 Jan 2018

Off to Bunnings!

Our house gets quite hot in summer, most days over the last few weeks its hits 30C inside. We have air conditioning but use it as little as possible due to the cost. We use fans till it hits 28 and then use the air conditioning for a few hours in the evenings.

We've been looking into putting blinds/awnings on the outside of the windows so yesterday we headed off to Bunnings - a regular weekend pastime in Aus! (Though I can't buy a sausage sandwich unfortunately) Our windows are all big - one is 3 metres. I had $800 budgeted and for that we bought an awning to go over the 3 m window and four outdoor blinds for some of the 1.8 m windows. They have 5 year warranties & should cut the UV light by 90%. That should bring the heat down.

We will eventually do all the windows and put ceiling fans in as well.

Rockstar Finance is having a "blog off" where you read two bloggers posts and vote for the best one. Round 1 is up now if you'd like to check it out:

Rockstar Rumble Round One 

26 Jan 2018

Extra money off the mortgage.

Well the week has flown by and today is a public holiday here for Australia Day. My pay this week had extra money so this morning, after paying the bills, I was able to pay an extra $400 on the mortgage & an extra $1000 on the redraw.  Once I get the redraw paid back then that will free up more money for the mortgage.

The balances are now:
mortgage - $165,475
redraw-  -$5,962

I also set up salary sacrifice this week, $200 a week. This, combined with employer contributions, will get me close to the $25,000 max I can contribute pre-tax each year to my retirement savings.

Yesterday when I called in at the shop for milk I saw these packs of bananas on sale for 99cents - 19 bananas in total. So its banana bread & muffins on the cooking list!

We've had temperatures here this week in the mid 30's every day. I have a few pot plants that have been doing it tough in the heat and I almost lost my basil plant, but with a bit of TLC its come back nice and strong.

Well my plans for today are some housework and more decluttering in the lounge room. Its almost finished, mainly old games, CDs, papers and ornaments to go through. And the ongoing paper shredding!

22 Jan 2018

Weekend Cooking

I'm trying to reduce food spending and waste so my plan is to check the fridge each weekend and cook for the week ahead. Food that needed to be used up included, carrots, celery, apples, broccoli, cauliflower, sausages & big block of cheese, baby tomatoes, sweet potatos and some bananas. I'm also trying to eat down whats in the freezer and the stockpile in the pantry:

So I made a batch of curried sausages using up a half a bag of carrots, celery, some slivered almonds & sultanas from the pantry. There was enough for 6 meals so I have some ready for this week.

 I also made a batch of savoury muffins using almond flour, bacon, cheese, baby tomatoes.

A loaf of banana bread with almond flour bananas, eggs, walnuts & cinnamon

and a batch of rock cakes for DH. I have celiacs and many allergies so my diet is a bit different to his.

For dinner tonight I found some minute steaks in the freezer and I'll use up the rest of the vegetables. I also made a batch of yoghurt which costs me a $1.30 for 1 litre of yoghurt. 

I'm not someone who love to cook or follows recipes well. I can cook, I just find it a bit of a chore after 35+ years cooking for a family to be honest. But I do get satisfaction out of stretching a dollar and eating good healthy, simple food. I tend to make up recipes as I go and measure by handful or what feels right. I'm pleased with this weekends effort. We also ate 3 frozen meals from the freezer so thats a start!

20 Jan 2018

Gas bill down and in credit.

Our gas bill arrived yesterday and I was really pleased to see that our use is down and we are in credit on our bill. Last year I was using the credit card for all our purchases and bills to increase the amount of money left in the offset account which did help with reducing mortgage interest and did get us a lot of free groceries. But I found that I end up spending more, a bit here, a bit there - it doesn't take long till it adds up! So I am in the process of changing back to paying my bills each week in advance.

Our bill for 3 months gas ( hot water and gas oven) was $151.07. Daily cost was $1.68; daily use was 25.98 MJ, this time last year our daily use was 30.55MJ. Our account has $154.59 credit so I have reduced the weekly payment by $10.

It will be interesting to see what our electricity bill is when the next one comes. We do everything to keep it as low as possible as electricity is expensive here but with the heatwaves this summer we've had to use the air conditioning more than I would have liked. We use fans as much as possible as it is much cheaper and quite effective, but temps have been 38-40C (100 - 104F) here so air conditioning needed some days.

My first week back at work was quiet. It was nice to catch up with people but I really am just focused on life outside of work and working towards our financial goals for retirement. I made a chart with 260 squares for every week till five years passes and I'll colour one in each week. In the meantime I'm spending this weekend doing more decluttering & paper shredding and I need to do some cooking as well.

16 Jan 2018

Back online & back to work.

Well I finally was able to pick up my laptop this afternoon - I've missed it! The good news is that they cannot find anything wrong with it after running all the checks so the final cost was $132.

I've been really busy decluttering and shredding papers since my last post. I've made progress but gosh, there is still so much left to do!  Some days I feel like I'm doing well and other days it feels like it will take forever. So I just keep plodding along with it - slow and steady wins the race.

I've used several vouchers for my grocery shopping so that has helped keep the costs down - I'll do a full grocery shopping post later. The last few days we've spent more than I would have liked at the corner shop.

We are both back at work and while its been lovely to catch up with some people its also been sad to hear of who lost their job and see those waiting to see if they get laid off or not. There is a chance I could get a redundancy but that won't happen for a few years if it does. I feel even more motivated to save and retire right now.

6 Jan 2018

computer troubles!

Well the day after my last post my hardworking Mac laptop just up and stopped working. I do love being online so I am missing it a lot!  I've taken it to the repair shop and am waiting to hear back from them as to wether it can be fixed and what the damage will be. This wasn't in the budget! So I've borrowed a laptop tonight so I can get back online. 

I've been busy doing a lot of paper shredding. I have at least three washing baskets filled with papers to be done so it will take a while. Its interesting reading back over some of my old papers and remembering what I was doing at different stages of my career. 

My application is in for the online work consulting - so far so good - now I just have to prepare and office space and set up a computer so I'm ready to go. My daughter has given me her old desktop mac to use so that should work well. 

I am also getting ready to return to work. After a year off it feel strange to think I'll be back in the 9-5 routine shortly. I've so enjoyed my 'practice retirement'  and I am really keen to retire for good. I was re-reading some of Janes posts earlier from when she first started her five year plan for retirement - it helps keep me motivated!

1 Jan 2018


An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.
Henry David Thoreau

We started the day with an hours walk. DH and I are going to walk before work. We leave at 5.30 when its just light and get back by 6.30 - its a great start to the day and its nice to have time to just talk.  I snapped a few pics from this mornings walk...

There was still some fog around when we first left and the sun was just starting to come up...

...  a bit further along and the sun popped out over the hills...

  The area we were walking in is along a creek bed not far from our house, its in town but beautiful and green, lots of trees everywhere and there is a lot of replanting and work by volunteer groups to keep the area clean and green. The whole time we walk you can hear the birds waking up and the smell of the fresh morning air is just lovely.

...  saw these beautiful tree roots ...

... and these sleepy sunflowers just waking up...

These are the simple pleasures I want to make time for in my day. I've signed up for Ilonas walking group to help me keep on track.

Once home I've been pottering about with a bit more decluttering in between finishing a book from 1001 list.  A lovely start to the new year!