March was the first full month of living and feeling like a proper retired person. The most important indicator for this was living on our actual retirement budget. Prior to last month the budget was a well-thought out – but untested plan. Could we really live on our reduced income? Could we really live within our means? The answer for that first month was yes. We managed just fine. However, it really did force me to re-think my relationship with money and spending. Prior to retirement I didn’t think twice about popping out to the shops (or online during the Pandemic) to get something I ‘needed’ or wanted. I was in the privileged position of having a good paying job and good disposable income. Unfortunately, I disposed of it too quickly! But now that my income is drastically reduced, I find myself asking, do I really need this? Is there money in the budget to buy this? If we need it, can it wait until next month or should I take money out of ‘one envelop’ to put it into this envelop? Can I find the same thing (or something similar) for less money? I have become mindful about all of my spending. We also continued to find more ways to economise – e.g., we planned out all of our meals for a week in advance, bought only the required ingredients, and did batch cooking…making good use of the freezer. I became much more mindful about money and spending.
Now I know this is pretty basic stuff and those living in poverty have had to do this all the time, but with even less and without the same safety nets I have now. But this was the next big test of my retirement planning. It’s been a long time since I needed to watch every penny and was barely scraping by from pay check to pay check. It has been even longer since I was without a job, a home, and without a safety net. Still longer yet since I watched my mother rob Peter to pay Paul. She was the queen of reuse, recycle, waste nothing. But somehow, in my privileged, nice income existence I stopped living like I had any of those experiences. So, I am embarrassed to admit that it is a ‘bit’ of adjustment to go back to having to be mindful about money. I have to say, I’m a bit cross with myself for not doing this years ago as if I had my retirement existence would be at an entirely different level. But at the same time, I’ve had an amazing life and a lot of great experiences, and I will be more than comfortable for the next 30 years. And it’s clear that my planning for retirement was sound. We really can manage on our retirement incomes. Now I just have to work on consistency….never one of my strong points!