5 very practical lessons we learned in our first year of early retirement

As our first year of retirement came to a close, we set down to talk about what went well, what didn’t meet expectations, and lessons we learned along the way.  Here are 5 of the more practical things we learned about ourselves and living life as early retirees.

1 We’re starting to sound more and more like our parents

Yep, I’m starting to sound like my mother!

Remember when your parents said things like, “when did the price of bananas go up to 25 cents per pound?” or “I’m not paying more than $9.99 for a shirt.”  We swore that we’d never say those words…but, you guessed it, we say it at least a couple times each week.  We don’t think it’s that prices are jumping dramatically, but we’re just more aware of prices now that we’re on a tighter budget.  25 cents vs 50 cents per pound makes a difference. Well, kinda!

2 Vehicles are darn expensive to maintain

Holy smokes!  We spent a ton of money on our vehicles this year.  Between regular maintenance and extra work we needed to have done, we spent thousands of dollars.  Additionally, we had to replace the tires on our Honda, F350, AND travel trailer.  And, while we were in Maine, we had trouble with the power steering in the truck and had to make an emergency pitstop.  Anytime the words “emergency” and “pitstop” are in the same sentence…it’s not going to be good. 

It’s fair to say we were WAY over budget with our vehicles.  We had to make up that overage by saving in other areas like home repairs and entertainment. We’re thankful that our vehicles are paid for, so at least we didn’t have additional monthly payments on top of the extra expenses we had this year.

3 Our grocery bill was HUGE

Before we retired, we used to go out to eat quite a a bit.  We didn’t have time to prep and cook every meal.  Now, we eat at home most of the time.  We save our dining out and entertainment budget for special occasions and going out with friends.

We have a monthly grocery budget of $600.  And, we use almost all of that budget each month.  We go to Costco to buy meat, poultry, dairy, vitamins, etc.  We get all of our staples at Walmart, and we get fresh produce and bread at local grocery stores.  We also scour the weekly ads to find good deals!  We never guessed we’d be clipping coupons, but we are.  At least they’re digital! 😊

4 We gotta keep up with technology

It’s so easy to be lazy with technology.  It feels like there are non-stop changes in the way we access the internet, shop, watch TV, listen to music, research pretty much anything, pay bills, navigate and travel, maintain friendships, stay in touch with family, etc.  As early retirees, we can’t get complacent.  We have to keep up with all of this.  Since we can’t rely on our workplaces to challenge us to stay up to date, we have to do it ourselves.  That’s means we’re signed up for news feeds about all kinds of technology, we use technology as often as we can, and we look for automated ways to do basic tasks.

5 We want a more permanent home in the summer

Our tiny home in Arizona

We absolutely loved our travel adventures this summer, and we were super excited to get back to Arizona.  We would have never guessed we’d love our little 700 square foot home so much, but we do.  Yes, it’s a tiny home, but it’s OUR tiny home.  Plus, we have a built-in community and friends for the 7 months we’re in Arizona.

We’re thinking we’ll spend the next 3 summers on the road, then we’ll focus on finding a more permanent, affordable summer destination to call home for 5 months each year.  For the next 3 summers we’ll be traveling in Colorado, Montana, Alaska, and Europe.  After that we want a more permanent spot with minimal humidity and bugs, maximum fun, and a community!

We’re excited to see what 2020 has in store for us. We’re positive it will be more fun, a few challenges, and plenty of lessons learned!

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