Seems like it wasn’t that long ago that I was sharing my three year retirement update and we’re already at 3.25 years.
My, my how time flies when you’re having fun!
Anyway, let’s get right to it. Here’s what’s happened since my last update three months ago…
- I noted last time that we were staying in our house for the foreseeable future. As a result we’re starting to make some changes/upgrades. It’s coming along slow, but we have new curtains in several rooms, a rug, accent pillows, and rearranged furniture in our living room. We also repainted my daughter’s bathroom — from the pink it was when we moved in to a nice gray. We had some plumbing fixes done too (sink needed new pipes as the cabinet guys who did it messed things up years ago and our toilets needed new internal equipment as they all started running about the same time). Not much, but it’s a start.
- On the house front, new blinds are next for both the living room and my office. Then some outside work plus perhaps painting the kitchen cabinets and new flooring upstairs. I’m also on the lookout for a new (bigger) TV for our downstairs entertainment room.
- One key “discussion” point as we rearrange things: where do we put the Christmas tree? It’s been up for over two years now and doesn’t work in its old location. We may actually get a new one since the current tree is from our first year of our marriage (over 27 years old now). I would be willing to buy a new tree PLUS keep the old one (have two up) but I think I’m pressing my luck on that suggestion.
- Most of the plants in my terrarium are still alive. I think the ones that died were not suited for the environment. I ordered them from Amazon and only a couple of the 10 had instructions on how to care for them. It appears, based on my investigation, that half were wet/humid/sun plants and half were dry/arid/dark plants. As you might imagine, the two groups don’t do well in the same environment. So half are thriving and half (or a bit less) are dead.
- My daughter visited us from September 25 to October 7. Her husband was on military exercises away from home and she didn’t want to be home alone all that time. So she drove from Kentucky to Colorado with one of her eight cats (yes, EIGHT!). She wanted to bring one cat and we let her. He was pretty cute and I enjoyed having him visit.
- While my daughter was here we took several walks (including a soda stop for her and coffee stop for me), saw a movie (Ad Astra — save yourself the pain and forget seeing it), eating out, and visiting. We also made a vet run for the cat (who had a cold) at PetSmart and a doctor’s appointment for my daughter (cat scratch disease or some form of it). Overall, it was a very fun time.
- One of my daughter’s ulterior motives for bringing the cat was that we’d fall in love with him and want him. Well, that’s what happened. He went back home with her while we decided and eventually I talked my wife into it. As such, I am driving across the country tomorrow to get Zeus. Expect to see his face now and then on the site. And on my new Instagram account — what do you think of “Zeus the Early Retirement Cat”? LOL! BTW, I gave her $1,000 for him, but that’s an entirely different story…
- My son-in-law actually came as well — for a few days. In typical Army fashion his exercises were on again, off again, seemingly changing by the hour, but eventually he got to fly here on Friday, October 4 and then drive back with my daughter on the 7th. It was good to have them both here.
- My son has been working a job PLUS doing videos for ESI Money (you can find them on my YouTube channel here.) He’s saving his money and not doing much else since he wants to go on a ministry trip costing $10k. He will be trained for three months and then serve for two months, after which he’ll likely sign up for a training course on how to sail ships (used by doctors, educators, etc.) to help people less fortunate. Upon completion of his studies, we agreed to reimburse him for half the cost, but he needs to pay for the entire amount upfront. Hence lots of working. The fun news is that his three months of training are in Kona, Hawaii.
- We had a triple prong attack on Florida starting on October 22. That’s when my wife, son, and I flew from Denver to Ft. Myers Beach, Florida. My daughter flew in from Nashville (her husband couldn’t get the time off). My parents drove in from Iowa. We rented a four bedroom house on the coast of Ft. Myers Beach and enjoyed nine days of sun and family time. Meanwhile Colorado was hit with three snowstorms. Ha! Highlights of the trip are in its own section at the end.
- We have had an ever-changing winter trip schedule too. We had planned to be in Grand Cayman for TWO WEEKS in January, but life got in the way. First, my son-in-law couldn’t commit to getting the time off before we reached the point of no return on canceling our house. Second, my parents finally sold their house and will be moving out on December 13 (hitting the road in an RV). They have a TON to do and wouldn’t even know where to book a flight from at this point. And then…
- We planned to visit my son in Hawaii in March, but the organization he’s with told us that February is better since they will be working on deploying in March. So if we went to Grand Cayman in January, we’d be home for a couple weeks and then off to Hawaii. It’s still a fluid situation so catch my 3.5 year update in February to see how it works out.
- My wife finished her year-long training at church, learning everything there is to know about the children’s ministry. It was more fun than learning for her since she’s been working in some capacity in it for 20+ years, but she was happy to do it. Now the question is, “what will she do with her free time?” 🙂
- My wife’s oldest sister and her husband visited us for a few days in October. Her husband was doing some work in Denver so his wife came with him. They drove down on a Saturday, then my sister-in-law stayed for a few more days until my wife drove her back up to Denver. It’s always good to see them and it’s great for me as the ladies do their own thing and I’m on my own. Can you tell I was an only child? 😉
- My brother-in-law who used to live in Erie, PA sold his home and moved to Florida just in time for hurricane season. They didn’t have any issues this year and seem happy there.
- I tried the Impossible Burger at Burger King in September. It looked strange, but for a plant-based burger tasted like beef. I’ve seen conflicting reports on its healthiness, so not sure it’s better nutrition-wise or not. Plus it will probably be another 10 years before I go to Burger King again. Ha!
- I participated in a focus group at our local library in September. They are looking for ways to improve their services and had about 10 members come and talk to them. It took 1.5 hours, was interesting, and netted me $50, so why not?
- One of my good friends at church (a 30-something guy) gave up his wood-working business to become…wait for it…a financial planner. He’s a great guy — I hope the industry doesn’t eat him up and spit him out.
- On October 6 my wife and I attended a small group of newly married couples from our church. We talked to them about finances (I shared about financial freedom) and had a great time equipping these young people with some knowledge that could changes their lives. We’ve had a couple follow-up meetings since then and we have a few more set up for next week as well.
- I’m still working out six times per week (three cardio and three weights). I also am averaging just over 21k steps per day, so I’m moving a lot. One reason for this is…
- I played a TON of pickleball this summer — probably averaging 15 hours a week (mostly Monday through Friday, I avoid the courts on weekends) from June through September. As the weather turned colder and life became more busy (daughter here, trip to Florida, etc.), I tapered off. I did win a gold medal in our local pickleball tournament on August 10. And on August 17 I played pickleball at a friend’s private court at his house (he’s a dentist), so it’s been fun in many different ways.
- Another fun exercise and pickleball experience was on August 21. A retired Air Force officer who plays pickleball with me invited me to swim laps at the Air Force Academy pool. Swimming was my primary form of exercise for many years (before I met my trainer about four years ago) so I was excited to swim in a nice pool. They had it set for 50-meter (or could be yards) laps which is a looooong distance between turns for someone who hasn’t done it for several years. I huffed and puffed my way to 30 minutes of swimming — a very good workout. Afterwards he gave me a mini-tour of the AFA athletic facilities. It was very cool!
- I’ve also started eating a bit differently. I do intermittent fasting on the 16/8 plan, which means I don’t eat anything for 16 hours each day and focus all my eating in eight hours. I also do mostly proteins and vegetables, though I do allow more carbs than I probably will in the winter since I’ve been so active. I’m at a decent weight but would like to lose 10 more pounds to be at my “peak”.
- I’ve been working a lot on ESI Money (see below) which remains my main form of mental exercise. I also do three chess puzzles a day plus a “hard” Sudoku a few times a week. Anyone else have fun ways to challenge your brain? I’m open to ideas.
- On September 12 I had my six-month dermatologist appointment and they found a mole they didn’t like. So on September 30 it was removed and I spent the next few weeks dealing with that (it was on my back, which impacted the exercise I could do for a couple weeks.) As with the other two times I’ve had this, Samaritan Ministries was a champ at covering the costs. This is why I recommend SM or Medi-Share — both are very good IMO.
- Movie day on Tuesdays (discount day) has backed off a bit given that my son is so busy working and I have been so busy playing pickleball. Since my last update we’ve seen Downton Abbey, Hobbs and Shaw, and Ad Astra. We also were invited to an advanced screening of A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (I have an upcoming post about this movie). When my daughter was here we upped our movie snack game. We stopped by Hurts Donuts and took them to the movie. They made a bad movie (Ad Astra) tolerable.
- I have been reading/listening to several books — for both personal interest as well as things I’ll be doing here on ESI Money. For most of the past quarter it’s been the Robert Kiyosaki show as I’ve completed the following: Rich Dad Poor Dad, Why the Rich Are Getting Richer, and Rich Dad’s CASHFLOW Quadrant. I used to think of him as kind of a quack, but now I see him as a decent teacher who is oftentimes a poor writer (and communicator) which is where he gets into trouble. I got started on his stuff because millionaires listed his main book as their #3 money book…so I had to read more.
- As you know, we did the Parade of Homes in August. It’s become a tradition for us and a ton of fun for my wife and me. If our daughter moves back here (which is her plan one day) she would go with us — she loves looking at homes too.
- One thing that has suffered because of pickleball is my video game playing. Plus there haven’t been any of the type of games I like out recently, so that helps too. 😉
- We’ve cut back on TV too. Thankfully, we finally got rid of Comcast, Xfinity, or whatever they call themselves. I hate supporting a company I dislike so am glad to be rid of them. They tried to hike our TV fees significantly and we said “no thanks!” We have YouTube TV instead and like it so far. I’m debating on Disney+ too. We still do have Xfinity internet, but are praying for Google Fiber to come our way.
- We’re still doing well on the net worth front! Barring a stock market collapse, I think we’re over $4 million to stay (on the way to $5 million!) and are about to be up $1 million since I retired.
- I have been writing a ton for ESI Money as well as creating our YouTube Channel (you can see all the videos here.) I also just started an Instagram account to document the retirement life in Colorado (and our various travels). I also have three e-series: “30 Days to Great Finances”, “The 52 Best Ways to Save Money”, and “Creating a Great Retirement.” If you want to subscribe to any or all of them (it’s free) you can do so here. I have plans to add new series every couple of months or so, so stay tuned.
- Readers are still loving my millionaire and retirement interviews. If you want to be interviewed for either of them, drop me an email and I’ll give you details. I’m especially looking for someone who’s done a 1031 exchange — either for one of these interviews or a separate post.
- As announced yesterday, I’m trying to give away $50k over the next two months. If you want to contribute to a great cause and force me to match it, go to my $50k challenge post.
- We FINALLY updated of our wills along with all the supporting documents. Stay tuned for a post where I’ll give details of what we did/decided.
- I’m down to $7k at Lending Club and $4k at Prosper. It’s taking me forever to get rid of everything I bought.
- I went to FinCon, the financial bloggers/media conference, in early September. It was in Washington, DC, a city I love to visit (since my daughter went to college in Virginia and did a summer internship in DC, I’ve been there several times in the last few years). I flew first class there and back as part of my plan to spend more on what’s important to me. It was very nice…made the whole trip so much more enjoyable. As a special treat I took $10 Amazon gift cards for all the flight attendants each way. They were very appreciative. 🙂
- While in DC I visited the Newseum, the only DC museum I haven’t been to (that I wanted to see). Looks like I made it just in time as it’s closing soon. I also made it to Pi Pizza (three times!), saw tons of friends, and had the chance to meet some cool guide dogs at one of the special FinCon events. I even did some research when I got home regarding what it took to raise a guide dog, but it’s a HUGE commitment that I don’t think we’re prepared to take on at this point in life. Still, the dogs and handlers were very impressive.
- On the rental real estate front, I had five of the best income months we’ve ever had all in a row starting in May. In those five months we had over $46k roll in when we’d normally get $30k or so. Needless to say, we’ve been very happy with that. Last year was down a bit so I guess it’s moving the other way now. One piece of bad news, the guy who managed my properties for the management company I use is leaving. He’s been with me since the beginning and is awesome. He’s starting his own business which is something I expected him to do — he was always off to better things eventually. I wished him the best, of course. Now I’m working with a new manager and will see how he is. My fingers are crossed.
As noted above, we traveled to Ft. Myers Beach, Florida on October 22 to check out the area as a possible retirement winter quarters (as discussed in Retirement Housing Decisions and How to Find a Place to Retire To). Here are some general highlights and thoughts from the trip:
- Here’s where we stayed in Ft. Myers Beach. It was a decent house (a bit dated) but was 1) on the beach and 2) had four bedrooms, both things we wanted. That said, the beach was fairly far away, as you can see from the photos. While we stay one row back from the beach in Grand Cayman, we’re actually closer to the water there than we were in Florida. That said, the pool in the Florida house was better and we spent way more time in it than we did in the ocean.
- The ocean was “ok” compared to what we like best, namely clear water with snorkeling nearby. We knew this going in but wanted to see if we’d like the alternative (mucky water with no snorkeling — and even if the water would have been clear, there was nothing to see). We didn’t. We also went to Naples and Sanibel Island and the beaches were the same. Big thumbs down on this result.
- The red tide was also visiting Ft. Myers Beach. It wasn’t bad, but was ugly and stinky. Ugh.
- My brother-in-law and sister-in-law who just moved to Vero beach came over on Thursday and spent all day with us. They stayed overnight and went home the next day. It was great to see them.
- Some of our activities included going on a two-hour harbor cruise (where we saw dolphins), riding wave runners, visiting Sanibel Island and the JN Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge, shopping at the local outlet mall, and several trips eating out. If you’re ever in Ft. Myers beach and you even slightly like cinnamon rolls, you MUST stop by Mom’s Restaurant. Her rolls are the best I’ve ever had BY FAR!
- We watched a lot of the World Series at night. The ladies chatted while the guys took in all the baseball excitement! We also watched a couple movies but we were generally so tired by the end of each day that we preferred a game where we could tune in and out as we chatted to a two-hour movie commitment.
- Overall, it was great being with family in a warm place doing fun things while it was snowing back home. But we won’t be going back — either for vacation or as a winter break spot. We prefer Grand Cayman for the former and maybe even the latter. If we do decide on a winter spot other than GC, that part of Florida (and likely the state) just doesn’t have the beach experience we like so it won’t be a consideration. We’ll keep looking.
Here are some pictures of our trip I thought you might enjoy:
Here are some articles I found interesting from the past few months:
- American seniors employed at record-high levels: “Retirement savings challenges – as life expectancies increase – are one reason Americans might be opting to stay in the labor force. According to a report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), nearly 30 percent of people over the age of 55 have no retirement savings and no pension plan. Meanwhile, the personal savings rate has declined from 14.2 percent in 1975 to 6.8 percent in 2018. Insufficient savings, combined with low wage growth – which the GAO says remains near 1970 levels – rising health care costs and longer life expectancies are creating trouble for many American workers hoping for full retirement.”
- Visualizing How Much Money Americans Spend on Commutes: “We know commuting is costly, but just how much are Americans spending on their commutes? Depending on the state, Americans spend as much as $5,000 per year on their daily commutes – including gas, maintenance costs, public transportation, and other expenses.”
- 10 Charts About Retirement Every Retiree Should See: “I’ve selected 10 charts that I think everyone transitioning into retirement should see with a little commentary on each.”
- Financial Advisors: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly with Michael Kitces: “What Michael Kitces really wanted you to take away from this discussion is that you have to get pretty far down the line of investing portfolios before the growth rate of your portfolio is larger than the impact by just spending less than you make and figuring out how to grow your income. It always comes back to the basics.”
- Why You Can’t Rely on Credentials Alone to Find a Financial Adviser: “A recent Wall Street Journal Page-One investigation of financial advisers found that more than 6,300 of the 72,000 financial advisers on the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards’ website to help investors find Certified Financial Planners (CFP) had customer complaints or faced criminal or regulatory problems that weren’t disclosed on the site. That means if you’d gone to the LetsMakeAPlan.org site, you’d have had about a one in 12 chance of picking a planner who violated the CFP Board’s requirement that all advisers with this credential must adhere to the highest standards of ethical behavior. The CFP Board has disclosed the problems to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), though, the Journal said.”
I love the music in and sentiment of this video — even if it is a commercial:
Any thoughts or questions?