Welcome to our Living in Retirement blog, where a couple is writing about their real-life retirement journey.
We said our final goodbye as residents to Toronto on a hot Tuesday afternoon last July, driving west through the rush-hour congestion to our new retirement life in Kingsville.
We arrived that night and walked into a newly-painted, air-conditioned home. To celebrate, Peter carried Astrid over the threshold. We checked the place out, fed the cat, locked the house and went to our favourite local pub for dinner. That night we fell into bed, exhausted from all that had happened in the last few months.
That first summer of official retirement in Kingsville did not feel like retirement. We did our usual summer things. Peter golfed at his new club. We visited friends in cottage country and family in Ottawa and Toronto. We kept pretty much the same pace we had in previous summers with friends and family – the only difference was that we were doing it from the north shore of Lake Erie. We had many visitors and that gave us excuses to visit local restaurants and wineries, and take a two-day trip to Pelee Island.
Because that first summer felt a lot like being on vacation, we had to keep reminding ourselves that we were living on a scaled-down retirement budget. At the same time, financial considerations seemed to take on a much more important aura than they had in the past. For despite the fact that we had responsibly done our financial homework, we were aware that it would be an adjustment getting used to living on a smaller income.
With our limited budget in mind, we looked into what types of free activities were available in our new surroundings. We learned that the Art Gallery of Windsor has free admission, and we have since enjoyed several interesting exhibits and events. We have combined a trip to the museum with a picnic by the Detroit river. Kingsville and the surrounding communities also have various art events that are available free or at a nominal charge.
Our proximity to the micro climate of Canada’s most southerly point opened the door to many wonderful outdoor hikes in Point Pelee National Park and Pelee Island. Though small in size, both locations have varied environments from beaches, to marsh to forests. Because their latitude is the southernmost in Canada, the Carolinian Zone forest is said to be at its best in this region.
In addition to hiking, the area’s bird watching opportunities soon piqued our interest. We haven’t yet invested in “birding” binoculars, but our small 8x10s have served us well . Either way, there turned out to be plenty of wonderful free things to do near our new retirement home.
We decided to track how much we spent each day on our bank and credit cards. Peter set up a spreadsheet and we got into the habit of spending a few minutes at the end of each day to see how we fared against our new budget. As we moved through each month, we measured our spending against our budget. We did not do this while we were living in Toronto and both still working, but in retirement we have found it to be a simple, effective way to manage our cash flow.
Although our income is now lower, our household expenses cost much less than they did in Toronto. What we have found is that we are still able to do many things we enjoy, like eating out at local restaurants, but are spending less on things like clothing (because we are not working) and gasoline (because we can often walk to wherever we need to go). We are also trying to use the library instead of buying books online or at a bookstore.
When it comes to living on a set budget, we have found that by keeping our expenses visible and updated on a daily basis we can make informed decisions about our discretionary spending.
In our next blog post, we strengthen our investment portfolio.