Spending the last 15 months in a pandemic lockdown didn’t stop me from continuing on with my retirement planning. Nothing should stop anyone really from continuing to prepare for retirement. Despite my being retired already for over twenty years, retirement planning is still my number one priority. Being home based these past 15 months with nothing to do was actually a great time for me to get my retirement plans in order. The main thing I concentrated most of my efforts on was paying down and eliminating over $8,200 in zero-interest credit card debt. Since there were very few activities I could spend any money on (such as vacations) I diverted most of my income towards my consumer debt.

Once my zero-interest credit cards were paid off, I concentrated on building up my savings reserves. I also knew that somewhere close in my future retirement years I had one more vehicle purchase to accomplish, so I started a newish car savings account. I was able to amass $10,000 in to this account which helped immensely when it finally came time to buy a new-to-us car. My husband and I had been kicking around the idea to finally buy a pick up truck. Since future international travel was nearly out of the picture, we decided to ramp up our tow vehicle to a stronger more powerful model. Apparently it looked like future vacation travel for us was solely going to be done by utilizing our existing RV. We bought our newish pick up truck just weeks before all used car prices hit the stratosphere. Luckily our trade-in vehicle transaction had already reached it’s highest peak so we got a great high price for that while getting a great low price for our newish purchase. The timing couldn’t have been more near perfect. The $10,000 savings plus the $14,000 trade-in price meant we only had to withdraw $16,000 out of our retirement savings account to cover the cost of the new-to-us 2019 pick up truck. No car loan was needed!

We also utilized our lockdown time to prepare our home and property for our future. It became apparent to both of us that we weren’t going to be moving out of our permanent residence any time soon. Visions of downsizing and relocating evaporated as the housing market sizzled most people, such as ourselves, out of the market. We heard too many stories of retirees selling their homes at what they thought were great, high prices only to be priced out of any future housing market purchases. These new, now house-less people had to resort to renting rather than home ownership. No thanks. Being a retiree and having to come up with rent each and every month PLUS be at the whims of a landlord was not in our futures. Instead, we spruced up our property, cut down many un-necessary trees, cleared out some landscaping and fixed up our interior living spaces equally.

We became more organized and focused. We purged. We de-cluttered. We streamlined. We cut down on cleaning time by diving up the chores respectively. We knew as we got older, I couldn’t do as much as I had done before so hubby took over where I would slack. We updated our twenty-year old appliances. We had our heating system and water treatment equipment inspected and maintained. We had the home’s exterior powerwashed. The roof inspected. The decks re-fortified. Walkway egress simplified.

In other words, we spent the 15 months preparing our home, our vehicle, our lifestyle to remain in place yet ready for our retirement futures.

We mastered keeping the costs down in our future vacations by learning to camp in state and national parks vs privately or corporately owned RV resorts. We stock piled non-expiring foods, such as beans and canned goods as a means to prepare for our future. This paid off once inflation reared it’s ugly head! We continue to save as much money as possible in our respective savings account. Still, to this date, our frugal habits have aided us in NOT touching any interest or investment withdrawals so our money continues to compound and grow. We made new friends. We finally met our neighbors. We became more involved in our community because we realized, as we grow older, all of these factors will become more important and prevalent with each passing day.

A recent block party:

We learned over these past 15 months, how to make sacrifices. We learned what is a priority, what is a need vs a want, what is important, what is vital and what can be tossed away and forgotten. No more restaurant meals. No more new clothes. Goodwill and The Salvation Army stores are our go-to shopping meccas. All meals are cooked from scratch. We never skimp on quality but we mastered the fine art of fine dining at home. Square foot vegetable gardens now replace grassy open spaces. Hiking and biking trails keep us healthy and in-shape.

We value the meaning of family. Having lost my brother and an ex-sister in law to the pandemic has taught us the meaning of family. How never fighting or extending a disagreement with a family member is not worth the aggravation and discomfort it produces. We’re all just human. We make mistakes. We can make other people mad or upset. Don’t sweat the small stuff. It’s not worth it because we don’t know if we will ever see each other ever again. Why spend the rest of remaining years in regret? Don’t let the sun set on any family disagreement. Forgive and love as best as you reasonably can. I had no idea that when I last saw my brother, he would be gone within the next three months. Same for my sister-in-law. I had no idea when we were talking on the phone about the passing of my brother, she would later die in a botched up hospital operation within the month. Look at each person in your life as if it were the last time you would be seeing them. The realization of our immortality will change your perspective instantly.

We retirees have a difficult future challenging us as we move ahead. Inflation is a retiree’s nightmare. Inflation is a silent killer (click here). I don’t care who you are or how well you think you are prepared. Nothing in your bag of tricks is going to prepare your finances for the double digit rate of inflation heading our way. We’re going to find out that mastering the ‘four walls’ (roof over our head, food on the table, utilities turned on and transportation) are going to be paramount to our continued good success. Many sacrifices might have to be made but as long as we keep our focus on the end result, we’ll do just fine.

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