Wednesday, April 6, 2011

retirement planning

The truth is that I never made a lot of money, but I was always able to live well. At work, strangers would come in and assume I was the boss because I dressed so well. I lived well because I put a cheap roof over my head. Lots of my friends insisted on living in Manhattan. I didn't want to pay the high rent. I got a place with an easy commute and kept my money in my pocket. I was never house poor. I always could afford HBO and cable. I had no complaints. My apartment maintenance included heat, gas and electric. I had one bill to pay and it was always the same. I miss my little apartment. Now I have a house which is paying us an income, putting money in our pockets.
Anyway retirement is looming and I can tell that I won't be able to afford to live in my house because of taxes, heat and bills. My goal this year is to buy something to live out my golden years. I have been thinking of Florida. Prices are rock bottom and even if I have to pay maintenance for the next ten years, it will still be cheap and I can escape the cold for a couple of weeks each winter. It'll be cheaper than a cruise. We banked our entire tax refund check and I'm selling all my jewelry and banking that as well. Any extra cash gets thrown into the pot. By Christmas I figure we'll have enough to fly down and take a look around.
Once we buy a place we'll set it up slowly and be ready for retirement. This will work for us because we don't have grand plans for retirement. I don't want a Tuscan villa. I don't want a big house. I want something small enough that I can take care of myself. We'll live mostly on Social Security supplemented by some real estate sales and rental income. But mostly we'll make do with what we got. As long as we can put good food on the table and be comfortable with heat and air conditioning, it's nobody's business how much money we've got stashed away. Nobody will ever know. People get in trouble trying to be bigger than they are. Retire to a golf course? That's just not me and I never wanted that. A lot of people lost loads of money during the financial meltdown and now think that retirement is impossible when It's really a lot closer that it used to be in some ways. For example the apartments and houses I'm looking at were 80,000+ in 2005. Now they're 12,000 or less. I can afford them now, which I couldn't five years ago. The trick is to see the world as it really is. The most important thing in this world is to have a cheap roof over your head. All the rest of it, golf courses, Tuscan villas, apartments in Paris, is just cultural noise, drowning out what's really important. What's really important is being warm and dry and having good food on the table. That's all that really matters

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