Living A Life I Can Afford

One of the top mistakes most retirees make in retirement is not adjusting their new lifestyle to their new income level. Most times, the new income level will be less than what they earned during their working years. Should these retirees continue to spend as they did before they retired, it won’t take them long to run out of money.

Retirement mistake #1: Succumbing to the post-retirement spending spike

This comes as a big surprise to many retirees – they spend more, not less, in the first few years after retirement. “We call it deferred spending, or the ‘Whee, I’m free’ factor,” says retiree Ellen Gerson of Florida. “We see all these folks retire and start doing all the things they were dying to do, from traveling to golfing to fixing up their houses. A year or two later, they look over their budgets and they’ve gone way over.

Overspending in retirement by not facing your income reality can lead a retiree to run out of money in their later retirement years. Keeping too many cars, moving at the wrong time, underestimating medical expenses, putting savings in the wrong places, keeping services you no longer need, downsizing too soon or even retiring too soon; by not having a retirement plan can all lead to your underestimating your future costs of living. (click here for more info)

True Confessions Here: I used to be a spendthrift. In my younger years, I used to get into a lot of spending troubles. I was always overdrawn at the bank, racked up tons of uncollected fees, bounced checks, tapped out every single charge card I had, spent every single penny I ever got. What changed me? Who said I was cured? I still have a spending problem but at least now I can control it. Again, what changed me? When my car was repossessed. I missed one payment and the repo man gave me a visit. It was all very civilized but I realized I was renting my lifestyle. I actually didn’t own a thing. I decided right there and then to change my life and become fiscally conservative. The memory of that repo man in my kitchen brings me back to reality any time I think of faltering.

My transformation wasn’t an easy one. It took me several years of kicking and screaming to finally live a life I could afford. I remember when I finally got off credit and switched to a cash-only basis, there was a blouse I wanted to buy. I didn’t have the money to buy it, so I couldn’t buy it. I was astounded that I couldn’t get that blouse. Later on, when I could afford it, I never did get that blouse. Because I realized the stupidity of that blouse. I didn’t need it.

I made the switch from wanting to needing. I only purchase what I need.

I live a life now based on what I can afford. I live in a paid-for house of only 1120 sq ft because that’s what I can afford. I own low-key appliances because that’s what I can afford. I drive a paid-for 2013 vehicle because it’s safe and affordable. I only own enough clothes to get me by. Nothing more. Nothing less. I wouldn’t call my lifestyle ‘minimalism’.  I most certainly, however, wouldn’t call it abundant either. I have enough.

his closet
This is DH’s closet. He has what he needs.
daily clothes
I keep my clothes in baskets in my TV armoire. 2 pairs of jeans, 6 long sleeve tee shirts, a sweater, a fleece pullover, PJ’s and underwear, a bag of new white socks.

Thankfully, I have mastered the fine art of budgeting. I am mindful of the finances that come into my life. I am even more mindful of what expenses go out of my life on a daily basis. I haven’t overdrawn any of my accounts in over 18 years! No more late fees. No interest charges or finance fees. No more overbalances or over extensions. I pay my bills before they are due. If my phone rings now, it’s either a friend or family calling to say hello. Never a collection agent. I’m no longer afraid to pick up my daily mail. I’ve gone from a 500 FICO score to an 800 FICO score. Brokerage agents are my new friends. When I talk about money now, it’s about how much money I have. Not what I owe.

If I wanted to buy a blouse now, I could buy 20 of them, for cash!

It’s very satisfying and rewarding to know hubby and I are living a retirement life we can afford. It’s comforting to know that when we vacation we won’t come back home to a stack of bills. If we need to cut back on something, we discuss it and mutually agree on a decision. We never feel deprived because we live a life of comfort. A/C in the summer. Adequate heat in the winter. Plenty of food on the table. An RV for local travel adventures. A paid-for home, paid-for cars, a comfy bed to sleep on each night, running hot water, clothes on our back, high-quality medical care……..all affordable.

We made a plan and follow it. Take off the rose-colored glasses and plan realistically for contingencies. The more specific you can be in anticipating what your future life might look like – and cost – the better you can plan. And be.

Live well and prosper, my friend. Live well and prosper.

Side Note: I’m not going back for that $40-$50 haircut. It was a one-time thing. I’m back at Super Cuts @$16 (with tip). It was nice while it lasted but I’m over it.



  1. Love the basket idea . Always hated dressers no idea why . My stuff is in laundry baskets or luggage . Sounds nuts but i am . Baskets sound move civilized. Thank you for another brilliant idea. I also never wear socks !


    • Hi Ev. I only wear socks in the winter and I am hating it right now! I feel so constrained. Baskets are def more civilized. Let’s call ourselves the ‘Two Basket Cases’ LOL! So much more easier.


  2. I can’t believe you can fit all of your clothes in three baskets even your new LlL Bean sweats and your dresses! I am trying to sort out my closet right now and it is going slow. My new way is grab a garbage bag when I head to Market32 and fill it for Goodwill. I will never get down to a minimalist definition of a wardrobe! And really I don’t want to because I like the clothes I have. Do you switch out summer and winter wear in the baskets. This is definitely one thing we do not have in common. Another thing I don’t have in common is overdrawing my checking and paying fees to the banks or credit card companies. We went four years of our marriage with only a gas card my husband had before our marriage and live on a cash basis . We got one when my husband was been going transferred and he had to pay for his meals and hotel bills and then submitted them for reimbursement. We bought our first house with this transfer and used d the convenience of the credit card to get things for the house but only if we could pay the bill when it cane in. Did you use your budget spreadsheets and ever total the cost of the fees you incurred?
    I now operate on a different mindset? I pay all my standard monthly bills within the first three days of each month. Set aside some in savings . And then any entertainment or discretionary spending I ask myself-Will a purchase with my discretionary income add happiness for me or my family? I don’t sweat the small stuff. Sincer, Lara


    • Lara, when I think about how careless I used to be about money, I cringe. I can’t believe it was me and I was the same person. I used to delude myself and tell myself that the uncollected fees were just the cost of doing business. WRONG.
      Yes, I switch out my summer and winter clothes. I keep my summer clothes in the bottom draw of my end table (matching bedroom set) I do have a closet. A little bit bigger than Nick’s but I never use it. That’s where I keep all my dress pants and dresses and handbags. But as I said, I rarely go in there because I rarely use any of the clothes too go out anymore. Every six months I purge the closet and toss even more stuff. I keep my coats and jackets in the front closet by the front door. Again, I only have in there what I am using, including rain gear and snow boots.


  3. So I am in a tsunami of a money pit for house repairs and it keeps on getting worse! I woke up to a shocking discovery of water at the bottom of my basement steps. When I went downstairs it was from a seepage from my septic. I bleach and cleaned up the water. But, I faithfully get it pump every two years. They pumped it ($250)but did not clear the problem. SOS to get it snaked not till next morning, another mess and $250. The plumber showed me the problem- the pipe between the tank and house had drop leaving less then an inch whole to drain the pipes. Back to my septic guy and will be another $1500 to fix. I can’t put anything but liquid in the system till Tuesday. And with the snow we are not sure if the utilities will come Mondayand mark with my underground lines are. I am having the plumber switch my bathroom sink tops and new faucets for another $800. $3800 and my outside faucet handle broke and that will need to be replaced also! A mouse also got in the house with the plumber going in my basement with the casement door open! I am keeping my fingers cross everything is fix to host Thanksgiving here. If not I will be lugging everything over to my daughter forty miles away and cook there while they are at their in-laws! Lara


    • OH NO! This is very bad news. That’s the price we homeowners have to pay for the ‘benefit’ of owning our own homes. I hope everything gets fixed properly and it doesn’t cost you too much.
      Let me know.
      Good luck!


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