I’ve been retired for a bit more than a year now. I’m stunned to write this. Where did the time go? Time moves at the same pace, of course, but it seems to be zipping by faster now than in earlier stages of my life. I think becoming more sensitive to time goes along with nearing 70 and appreciating how precious each day has become. So, what have I done with my time since I moved out of my office at Goddard Financial Planning (Blue Canoe) at the end of February in 2015?
First, there’s the time I devoted to my “loves.” I love the freedom that retirement has provided. Each day is all mine! I love having lunch with my wife Sandy. After 47 years, we still have an awful lot to communicate and share. I love walking a few miles with our dog Lucy every day. Being outside is a tonic. I love hour-long phone calls with my children and grandchildren. I have time for real conversations and not just the usual family updates. I love the chance to learn about things like photography and fishing that up to now I had a lot more interest in than I had time to practice.
Along with these everyday pleasures I dedicated a lot of time to two major endeavors. The first was the New Bethlehem Project (NBP). Organized by volunteers within Holy Family Parish in Kirkland, NBP committed to becoming a driving force for the development of an Eastside day center and a 12-month emergency shelter for families dealing with homelessness. Beyond a winter shelter open from October to April, there were no resources for families on the Eastside living in their cars or on the streets. NBP spent a year analyzing the problem, studying other shelters and day centers, and winning the support of key players like Catholic Community Services and the City of Kirkland. A critical step was establishing a partnership with Salt House, a Lutheran congregation, also in Kirkland, that agreed to convert the basement of their church into the day center. NBP raised $500,000 to modify the space and pay for its operating expenses. Families that are homeless on the Eastside will therefore soon have a place to rest, eat, shower, store some belongings, and get professional help. By the end of the year, NBP should also be able to extend the availability of the night-time emergency shelter to a year-round resource for these families as well.
My other big undertaking has been relocating to Colorado Springs, CO. Sandy and I lived in Seattle for 25 years and expected to remain there after I retired. Sure, I would like more sun but winter vacations to sunny spots could help with that. So why did we move? In Kirkland we lived a few minutes from Kris, the oldest of our four children and Mike, her husband, and their four children. Our lives intertwined with theirs seamlessly. We treasured them and all the activities we shared. Imagine the look on our faces when Kris and Mike told us they were moving to Colorado Springs last fall! They decided to move for better weather, less traffic and a lower cost of living. We faced a dilemma: stay in Seattle or move somewhere else. We decided living close to one of our kids’ families was our top priority. Okay, but where? We have one in London, another in Minneapolis, a third in San Luis Obispo on the Central Coast of California, and now Kris and Mike in Colorado Springs. Our initial thought was to move to the Central Coast. Beautiful area with a perfect climate. But, we discovered, a cost-of-living that might make even Seattle blush. The decision eventually brought the financial planner out in me and it did not take too many calculations to conclude that a move to Colorado Springs would not only keep us near our family but would also be far better for our retirement plan. So, we now reside at 6,000 feet with Cheyenne Mountain and Pikes Peak keeping an eye on us. We miss Seattle, of course, but we view the change as a new adventure and are eagerly exploring all the beauty of a different but equally amazing part of the country.
Sandy and I continue to follow our financial plan. I just turned 69 and have another year to go to start collecting my Social Security retirement benefits. Our investments are primarily in low-cost index funds organized into a portfolio that has a target stock allocation of 50%. I rebalance it annually but make no other changes. Sound familiar? The case for market-tracking index funds becomes stronger each year. A recent example is Warren Buffet’s comments on the foolishness of paying investment advisors to manage assets with the expectation that they will be able to beat the market. Evidence to the contrary is overwhelming.
What’s coming up? Lot of visitors. We’re looking forward to most of our family coming to see us and spending some time meandering among the mountains. More photography. More fishing. More hiking. More work on homelessness. More gardening. And more writing.