Spring has sprung (at least in Texas) and warm weather approaches. Meanwhile, I have been “spring cleaning” my finances. I have done the math and talked to the Social Security office. It looks like my guesstimate was pretty well on. After an offset, I will be receiving right around $2500 monthly between pension and hubby’s social security. The difference will be made up from various income streams and what is left of my limited savings.
In spite of this, I feel confident. The reason I feel this overall contentment is that I prepared myself, and positioned myself in a fairly good way. The truth is that we often can position and prepare for future living conditions. I’m not just talking fixed income retirement here. Obviously there are financial situation that arise that we cannot prepare for. Other times, we see a lifestyle change on the horizon, and there are things we can do to prepare for it. We decide to be a one income family when our children arrive, or we receive notice of the option to take an early retirement, our company lets us know that things are changing, we do the math and find out that our retirement options are not what we thought.
There are many steps we can take to position ourselves for future situations. One of the major ways that we can prepare for an uncertain future is to make sure we have everything we need. Put another way, we can spend money now to save money later.
Now, I’m not speaking of cruises or Cadillacs here, nor am I suggesting to stop savings or necessarily taking money out of savings. I’m talking about making sensible purchases over time that will serve you well later. In other words, using income while your finances are at a “high point”, to prepare for future situations. Just as we invest in financially, we can invest in durable and household goods,
Recently I mentioned on another blog that I may “never have to buy shoes again”. Another commenter felt I was being unrealistic. My shoes will not last until I’m ninety, obviously. That said, over the past few years I have purchased Clark’s Bostonian shoes at their annual sale. At this point I have four sandal pairs, four pairs of flats, four pairs of dress shoes and other sundry items. In my world, these shoes will last me beyond the foreseeable future. I said in another post on this blog I mentioned the reason many of us are able to live on much less is that we have everything we already need. Not only that, but we have it at a lower price (for the most part) than if we had to buy it today.
When I returned from Germany, I was in the position of having to buy( literally) every single appliance in my house from the clock radio, to the television to the refrigerator and freezers. I’ve said before that although I plowed through way too much money in way too short of a time, there were some purchases I made for which I have no regrets. With one exception, I bought the best quality appliance I felt I could afford, expecting that these will last me a very long time. If I have any regrets it’s over that thing I held back on (the front load washer), because I think that would have been a huge money saver in the long run. It makes sense to invest this way if you know where you will be living for a long time, or know these investment items will fit where you go.
My in laws, who are eighty, decided a while back that they would stay in their current home. To that end, they invested in repairs and in reasonable upgrades. Now their only expenses are food, medicine, lowered utility bills, occasional entertainment and the occasional part time assistance. When we decided to have one us be an at home parent, we spent money before I quit my job. We fixed all the important items on our house, upgraded my husband’s commuting car, and generally made sure that we had eliminated all debt and unnecessary expenses. Spending money in the short term made sense financially in the long term.
Because I was unsure of my insurance coverage and co pays after my husband died, I did things like getting and eye exam, and good glasses, having some things taken care of with regards to my son’s care, and had some minor surgery that I was putting off. Obviously, annual exams, flu shots and the like cannot be eliminated. But if you’ve been putting off a procedure, getting special shoes or another health related expense, think about doing it when you know it’s affordable.
Obviously, spending money on various items is by no means the only way I have positioned myself for retirement-there are many other ways I’ll share in the coming weeks. Making investments in home and possessions have however, allowed me to lower my monthly expenses significantly. The knowledge that I have everything I need, that gas and food and medical copays are my only regular expenses, enables me to feel a large amount of comfort. It also allows me to feel comfortable at making minor other purchases that would not be in my budget. So overall, life is good.