May 25 marked the first anniversary of our retirement. And boy, what a year it’s been! What we most wanted to do in retirement was to travel, and I’d say we did a pretty good job of it. Looking back over my Lightroom catalog provides a visual history of our adventures, starting with an amazing trip to Italy, shorter trips to the NC mountains and NC coast, a road trip to Ohio and Virginia and a month at the beach in Hilton Head. And that was just in 2018! So far in 2019 we have been away 61 days out of 151. We’ve taken two cruises (29 days at sea, including two back-to-back 7 day cruises and a 15 day cruise through the Panama Canal), made a road trip to Florida, another to Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, and we just finished another Ohio-Virginia road trip. But we’re home for a while, I think. Frankly, we’re a little tired! The next scheduled trip is a trip to the beach in August, although there is a pretty good chance that something will come along in the interim!
One of our neighbors asked us the other day if we were trying to spend all of our retirement money in the first year! We’re not, of course, but we obviously have done more than our financial advisor might prefer (sorry, Steve!). But travel is what we do – we don’t have other expensive hobbies, our kids are self-supporting, and we have very reasonable monthly expenses. We are very aware of how fortunate we are to have started the savings habit early and to live (mostly) within our means for the last 39 years (our 39th wedding anniversary is in October).
Here are some of the things we have learned and experienced in our first year of retirement:
Expected (good & bad)
- LOTS of time to do whatever we want.
- We really like being able to come and go as we please, without having to check vacation schedules and “request” time off from a boss.
- We especially like not having to stick to a week-to-week or weekend routine.
- We love to cook, and having time to shop for good ingredients and be creative in the kitchen has been fun. As a result, we rarely go out to eat any more.
- Less going out to eat has meant that we’ve both lost weight and saved money (to spend on travel!)
- We manage to get in a good walk just about every day, continuing a habit we had established at work.
Unexpected (good & bad)
- Lots of time means it is easy to get lazy.
- We didn’t expect to miss work, and we really don’t. At first, we missed the people and were really good about checking in. We still miss the people, but the farther away we get the less often we seem to make contact.
- It’s hard to keep track of what day it is!
- We’re even more laid back and relaxed than we thought we would be!
- We’ve gotten a lot more reading done, although we read more at home and less on the road. It used to be that we needed to go on vacation to read! Now our vacations are busier and we’re more relaxed at home with more time to read.
- We can go for days without getting in the car. Other than going to the grocery store or visiting the kids we rarely leave the neighborhood. We need to make a point of getting Kathy behind the wheel periodically so she won’t forget how!
- Our monthly expenses have gone down, due mostly to not eating out as much and not using as much gas, but also due to just not buying stuff.
- Without an alarm every morning, our sleep schedules have diverged. I like getting up early in the morning and don’t mind going to bed early. Kathy is just the opposite and our schedules can some days be a couple of hours different.
So what’s in store for the next year? We’re telling ourselves that we need to do a better job spacing things out. The first 5 months of this year have seen a lot of travel, partly because of the last-minute addition of the Panama Canal cruise but also because of the January road trip immediately followed by the two cruises. We’re anxious to continue checking off states as we try to get to all 50, so there will undoubtedly be a few more road trips. I wouldn’t be surprised to find us on another cruise or two, and there will most certainly be visits to the mountains and the beach.
US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama
So watch this space! I’ll do my best to keep posting articles and photos – when I have time!