By Betty Fitterman
Note: This is Part 1 in series. Here is the link to Part 2: “Living on a Dime, Or So It Would Seem“.
When we retired in July of 2008, we thought we were set for retirement. After all, we had over a million dollars in the bank, had just sold both house and condo, furniture and cars, and we’d settled in for a wonderful ride across the country in our new home, a classy motor coach with all the bells and whistles anybody could ask for. Little did we know.
If you want all the details of our three-year odyssey, you can see them all on my blog, but for now I want to talk to you about the money. And where it went. And went. And went.
First of all, there was the market, which dipped like elderly dancers doing the waltz. We’re still waiting for them to get back up. We watched as our balance plummeted below the million-dollar mark, even before we’d spent any real money.
Then there were the realities of mobile living, which, while cheaper than living in a landed home in New York, were more than we’d expected. We didn’t pay taxes anymore, but we did have bumps and bruises, flats and floods, all of which cost lots of money to fix. It seemed to me that every repair cost us $2500, but that could just be my flair for the dramatic.
When our floor buckled under a murderous onslaught of water while we were out one day, and the brakes got softer with each stop, we decided we needed to replace our coach with a newer model. Needless to say, we fell in love with a beauty and mortgaged ourselves to the tune of $300,000 to possess this siren of speed, this goddess of glide. We threw caution to the winds, and our money went with it. Anyone with any experience at all knows how a vehicle depreciates once it’s off the lot.
Not six months later, we landed in Florida and made the decision to look for a house. Not a huge house, just a modest house in a gated community. With a pool. We found it, and took on yet another mortgage. Then there was the matter of furniture, the majority of which we had sold, so we had to furnish this house with fresh stuff, all of which cost money, not that I ignored the Florida Estate Sale rounds, a favorite activity of people down here.
That brings me to today, and our dwindling resources. We are down into the under-fives at this point, and were told by our financial advisor that unless we got some source of income, we’d have to die in two years. We had been spending way above our projected level all along. Now our bus sits idle in a storage lot, a white elephant that costs us over $2000 a month in payments and storage fees, and so far we’d had no luck in finding a buyer offering even close to our asking price. We may just give this baby back to the bank. So much for good credit.
I didn’t plan to work again. I’ve traveled the country, started my novel, met lots of people, learned the game of croquet, joined the Arts Council, gone to concerts, thrown dinner parties and sold my hand-made jewelry enough to know it’s not the path to riches. It’s been a great four years, but it’s time to grow up and plan for my future.
We are currently weighing the benefits of starting a new business together versus getting jobs with real salaries, although they will likely be less than a third of what we made while we were at the top of our respective games. We figure if we work part-time we can stop the drain on our nest egg and still be able to go out to dinner, and hopefully, travel again.
Moral: Read the “Top Ten Misconceptions About Retirement” article on this site and commit it to memory.
Meanwhile on my side of the great divide, four years after the fact, I’m practicing saying, “Welcome to WalMart.”
But don’t ask me where anything is. Please. I’m retired.
About the Author:
Betty Fitterman is a frequent contributor to Topretirements.com. She was in advertising for over 30 years before her retirement. An award-winning writer, she was EVP/Creative Director and a member of the Board of Directors of Lintas Advertising until 1997, when she and her partner Frank DeVito formed DeVito Fitterman Advertising, which today is a successful agency serving blue chip clients like Johnson & Johnson, Ricola, ASCAP. Fujifilm and Arch Insurance, among others. To read her humorous observances on mobile living, visit her blog at http://adventuresinthebettybus.blogspot.com. You can find her Topretirements articles in our Tips and Picks section.
Comments? How is your retirement going? Is it turning out better than expected, or perhaps not quite up to expected par? Please let us know in the Comments section below.