I can feel my belt tightening already
Most of you will know that OH retired at the end of November and now we are finally getting to see what this will mean for our finances. We opted to draw down as little as possible from his annuity for the next five years while I am still working in order to preserve as much capital as possible.
The reality of this decision, whilst financially sound, is going to put a bit of a spoke in our wheels. The coming year will be a learning curve in that every purchase will have to be justified if we are to keep within our reduced budget.
It won’t be all frugality though; one has to find the balance between living in the present and preparing for the future which could be months, 5 years, twenty years or more. I think I’m pretty good at saving money when it comes to food shopping. I can make a little go a long way and OH is not a fussy eater. We don’t buy many luxuries in the food department and never any processed or prepared foods. Winter is much easier than summer in that regard as healthy soups, stews and casseroles can be made in bulk and frozen in portion sizes and I already do a lot of that. Summer is more difficult as we both love salads and salad ingredients have a short shelf life as does summer fruit.
Eating out will definitely have to be one of the pleasures that we enjoy less of although we don’t go crazy there either. Our theatre season tickets will definitely stay as half-price shows are a pensioner’s friend and it’s normally a great night out. We will make more use of our Discovery movie benefit and watch out for specials and deals that we can enjoy without a guilty conscience.
I’ve had some experience in belt tightening in my lifetime and I’m hoping that the things I learnt in the past will come back to me now that I need to budget more carefully again. I would love to hear from others at this stage of life what adjustments they have made and what advice they can offer.
Obviously if OH should be offered some contract / consultant work he would seriously consider it but I do think that having reached 65 and having survived both leukaemia and a heart attack he deserves to take it easy now.
I’d better get back to work since I’m now the main breadwinner 😉
Tomorrow is OH’s last working day before he retires. Yesterday the whole company was called together and told that there were to be massive retrenchments and restructuring. This is a company that was taken over by an international company that is on a mission to buy and takeover other companies, wiping out the competition and firing people. What a lovely Christmas these folk are going to have not knowing where they stand job wise. OH must have been the only one to leave that meeting feeling relieved that he is no longer going to have to deal with all the crap that goes on. At the moment he is probably the most envied person in the company.
Meanwhile I have had some disturbing news about possible restructuring by my major client which could seriously affect my business. If the proposals go ahead my situation will become untenable and will most likely hasten early retirement for me. This might not be a bad thing because we have made plans for five years hence when I was due to retire and we can bring those plans forward although financially we won’t be quite as strong but quality of life is more important to us. We might even be able to take on a new venture and generate an income to supplement our retirement. I am not stressing about this, what will be, will be. One door closes and another opens. As long as we have each other and our health we will be happy.
This could be my last blog post for a while because we leave on Monday for our cruise and the weekend is already packed with chores and stuff that we need to do. The weather in Cape Town is terrible at present and the port is windbound, hope it eases up by Monday. A friend’s son is going to house and dog sit for Ozzy and Milo and hopefully they will behave themselves. Milo has been on a mission lately to destroy our irrigation system and OH has had to effect repairs every evening when he gets home from work. This is on top of me giving them filled hooves to try and keep Milo out of trouble when I have been out for an extended period. He keeps going back to the same spots and I am trying to convince OH to smear wasabi paste on the piping there – am I being cruel or do you think it would be a good deterrent?
So take care bloggers, don’t shop till you drop while I am gone, will catch you on the other side of our cruise.
I have been unable to blog for a while due to too many other things taking up my blogging time (like work) but I have tried to keep up and read the blogs I follow, but I am sure I have missed a few.
Other things that have taken up my time are organising a 65th birthday/retirement celebration for OH, booking a 4 night cruise for the week after he retires to get him in the spirit of being retired, attending a 60th birthday/retirement celebration of a good friend, supervising the cutting down of neighbour’s trees that were blocking out all light and sun in our garden (with their permission, of course), taking Milo for his rabies shot, going to the theatre to see Caberet, and the normal day-to-day stuff of running a home.
We did the neighbour’s trees on Sunday morning beginning just after they left for church. It was a massive job and could not have been undertaken without our trusty gardener who managed to remove all the cutting to our side of the wall before they returned. Had they seen how much we had cut they would probably have had a heart attack. This was years and years of neglect on their side (they are elderly and not really interested in gardening) and the gardener they employ is more of a charity case than a gardener. We were very careful to cut so that there is no disfigurement on their side but plenty of light and sun now coming through to our garden. I noticed yesterday that our potato bush that had just been bare stems on their side is already pushing out green shoots – isn’t nature wonderful! The gardener is coming back on Saturday to tackle our pussy willow and one of the neighbour’s trees at the back and to plant some grass plugs where the lawn was taken over by shade loving weeds.
My airplants are in full bloom and looking stunning – here is a small selection:
OH is still in quite a lot of pain and can’t really walk for very long without his feet swelling up and becoming very uncomfortable but every day there is a little improvement.
This coming Sunday our daughter from whom we have been estranged for nearly four years is visiting with her baby and partner. She has agreed to come for a braai which means she is not planning to be just in and out. We are so looking forward to meeting our granddaughter for the first time and hoping and praying that this visit represents a change of heart on her side. From our side we will welcome them as if nothing has happened and when I see that she has relaxed I will ask her if she will remain in contact and allow us to be part of our granddaughter’s life.
What I have learnt over this four year period is that I am stronger than I thought, the thing that I believed I could not survive I survived. Life did eventually become worth living again and this strength has helped me to forgive her and will help me if Sunday does not go well.
Driving into town for a meeting this morning I got a phone call from a very shaken up OH who said he had just been informed that he was facing a disciplinary hearing. To say I was shocked would be an understatement. I finally managed to get the story out of him in bits and pieces and this is the gist of it.
Our Financial Advisor requires an up-to-date value on OH’s Provident Fund, the last statement we have is December 2011. OH asked his HR Department to request this from the management company but what we got back seemed to be employee contributions for this year only. Again OH requested a current value and was told that the statement would only be available at the end of October which is a bit late as he is retiring at the end of November.
So we asked our Financial Advisor if he could try and access the information for us seeing as we have given him signed permission to act on our behalf. I’m not sure exactly how what happened next came about but it turns out that one of his staff emailed everyone in the management company requesting the information but did this by forwarding my email to him containing the previous correspondence between me and OH and OH and his HR company. The management company contacted OH’s company and raised the roof because we said we were not getting what we asked for (and still don’t have it) and because only the provident fund trustees at OH’s company are allowed to request this info (who would have known?). The HR lady had the cheek to ask him why he involved his wife!
I am still waiting for our Financial Advisor to return my or OH’s calls and I am extremely unhappy that OH has been put through so much unnecessary stress. One would expect the staff working in the Financial Advisory Industry to use some discretion with people’s personal information. Poor OH is being held responsible for something completely outside of his control.
I went into my meeting with chest pains as a direct result of the stress of the situation. Here we are, trying to prepare for his retirement and employing the services of an expert and this is what we end up with.