Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?


Episode 211 Keeping Up Financially Part 2

The best financial advice I ever heard, "Spend less than you take in". We've always tried to follow it. We also try to save a little bit each month. Not a lot but a little. Our first financial transaction each month is a deposit in our savings account. We spend the rest. I know Mr. Marx told me not to invest but we do just a little at a time. Over several years it accumulates. We never tried to invest and get rich but we did save a little in case of a rainy day.

This is the second in a series dealing with a request to talk a bit about how our retirement worked concerning finances. Since we have been retired for twenty four years and never felt the need for taking another job we must have been doing something right. Certainly, luck played the biggest role. We all need that. But here are some of the factors we could control that we used.

This is Retirement Talk. I'm Del Lowery.

Two financial factors that have allowed this comfortable retirement has to be a house that was mortgage free and an outstanding health care plan that was part of our retirement package.

We had built a house ten years before this retirement opportunity came our way. We had acted as the contractors on the house and so had secured a construction loan and made payments during the construction phase and just decided to leave them there. It would pay off in ten years. We had grown accustom to living with them at that level. This is a great example of learning to live on what you have and no more. When retirement came having no mortgage made a big difference in our spendable income over the past twenty four years.

Our health care plan was the second most important factor in allowing for our fortunate situation to continue. The State of Alaska had blessed us with a plan that has allowed us to get glasses, dental work, and all sorts of regular medical expenses for free. We do have to make a nominal payment for inclusion of the dental, visual, audio. Everything else has been completely covered at no cost to us. I am always amazed when I hear what people pay for health insurance. We were lucky. We escaped this major expense.

I haven't really thought much about money throughout our retirement years. It wasn't something I wanted to think about. I'm sure I have missed a lot and much of it I am glad to have missed. We did have some money that had accumulated over the years that we needed to invest. We had also bought a couple of pieces of property while in Alaska that paid a dividend some time in there. Enough that we had to invest, or put it somewhere. I trusted to the advice of someone who it was said, "Did very well in the stock market" and seemed to know what they were doing during.

I lost a few thousand dollars. I seemed to have an uncanny ability to buy at the wrong time and sell at the wrong time. We ended up with some money market funds that we could pretty much just leave alone. And that is what we did. And that is what the money market funds did. They just sort of sat there. No gain. No loss.

During this time I became very disillusiioned with the philosophy and operation of corporate America. I became convinced that corporations were controlling our government and thus citizens of the country. I found law after law that favored the power of corporations over the needs and desires of the citizens. I wanted nothing to do with assisting. I decided to draw all money we had out of the stock market - every penny.

The question then became what are you going to do with the cash. The solution came in the form of a condo in downtown Vancouver, BC. That city was growing. it was in a foreign country which is suppose to be a good place to put some of your money and it was only fifty miles from where we lived. We could, and have, use it as a hideout or get-away on short notice. The city was beautiful and economically healthy. We could enjoy the life there and invest in something that seemed like as good as any other place to invest.

We didn't have enough money to cash out the condo. We worked out a partnership with our two kids that we would all join in the project and thus all have a place to send our savings every month rather than to wall street. This became our saving account. The best thing about it was that we could stay there and enjoy the city amenities. Another good thing was that it never suffered the bust that the U.S housing market did. Once again, we have been lucky. That might not hold forever.

That pretty much sums up our "investment" strategy. Nothing fancy and northing big but it has worked out very well for us. Not that we have made a lot of money. We haven't but then again we haven't lost much. We will sell our condo "savings account" some day and then we will be able to determine whether it worked out, or not.

Our timing seemed to be perfect. Our steps seem to almost always to right on target. The rest of the world seems to be cooperating with our efforts. We did not incur a major illness. We were not caught in a debilitating car crash. Our retirement fund did not go broke. Our house was not swept away in a storm. And my wife did not run off with some young stallion. There is no substitute for good luck.

As finances day to day, week to week, or month to month,  I will leave that for the next in the series.

This is retirement talk.   


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