I’ve been retired, or at least not earning a salary, for a year now. It’s a shock, when I think about it, what a massive swing in income and expenditure that has meant for me. So I tend not to try and think about it too much!
What I do think about though, is what the costs associated with “retirement’ can be. Where is my money going every month, and what am I spending it on? I’m certainly not spending any less on myself than I did when I was working – I allow myself the exact same “personal” spending money as I always did every month – but the way I spend it has brought about some noticeable changes.
These days, I think a lot more about the value I’m getting out of what I’m spending. A lot of the time, my money is going on the same things that it always did, but the results coming from that expenditure are different. For example, my gym membership is still the same at forty pounds a month. When I was working, I used the gym maybe two or three times a week. Now I am there almost every day, so the value I’m getting from my membership versus previous has increased immensely. On the other hand, I do spend more cash at the gym because I tend to have a coffee and a read at the paper in the cafe after I’ve finished my ordeal in the pool or on the treadmill. It’s a small reward that I’ve time to indulge in – I’m generally not rushing off to do the next thing on my list. I reckon that’s costing me an additional tenner a week that I never used to spend, but in terms of pleasure and relaxation I’m pretty happy to pay it.
Talking of coffee, I now tend to meet up with my wife in town maybe twice a week after her work. Previously this was a weekend “treat” crammed into everything else we had on our agendas. We’ll head somewhere for a coffee and a cake in one of our favourite cafes and moan about how before, when I was working, we never used to spend this money. But what’s it worth to sit and chat, knowing that the mobile won’t ring, the e-mail won’t ping and our colleagues (and bosses) won’t wonder where we are? It’s such a totally different and more enjoyable experience now and feels like something we want to do when we feel so inclined, as opposed to “have to do” as part of a weekend routine.
On a similar subject, we do still eat out quite a lot, but not quite as much as we used to. Previously, we’d often impulsively jump into a restaurant to simply save the time and hassle of cooking. Or we’d grab a takeaway. When I think back to what I used to cram into a weekend I’m surprised I ever cooked at all. Now, not only do I have the time to cook, I also have the inclination to do it. The same can be said for grocery shopping, which used to come late night via the Tesco website and delivery van. These days I grace Lidl or Aldi with a personal weekly presence.
Where else am I spending my cash? I do find I’m spending a bit more on socialising, because I actually enjoy going out more than I used to. The kind of job I had, the hours I put in and the enforced socialising I had to do that went along with it meant that come the weekend, I pretty much put seeing friends on the back burner. And, being away for three or four nights a week, I’d feel guilty about heading for a few pints on the fifth. It was just another area where although I had the money, I felt I didn’t have the time. These days I might be a bit more conscious about the cost when I’m handing over twenty quid for a round of drinks, but I’m definitely thinking it’s money well spent.
There’s quite a lot of other areas where my spending habits have changed – I don’t buy any Kindle books now, because I visit the library. I used to pay to have my work shirts laundered, but now I don’t need the shirts and (deep breath on this admission) I do my own ironing. What else? Buying convenience food has pretty much gone by the board. We probably save a tenner a week just on local parking charges because now we always walk into town.
Going forward, when it comes to holidays, the flexibility we have to take flights when we want to and at relatively short notice will be a big cost reduction for us, and I’ve been surprised at some of the savings you can make if you’re prepared to do the research (I could never be bothered with all that “work” in the past).
My goal for retirement was to ensure I had the same disposable income available for us as we had when I was working and, so far, I’m on track with that. But I am still a lot more conscious about costs, which is probably an inevitable output when you have no monthly pay cheque coming in (believe me, taking your income from your investments is absolutely not the same thing!) But I think I am spending money much more thoughtfully than I used to, and getting more personal value from it. And that can only be a good thing.