As the year winds down, it’s time for my 2023 financial check in.

Well… I usually try to do this in November, but this year my computer and I were in different time zones!

It’s been quite a year for me. Difficult emotionally and financially. I retired in June and lost my income and benefits.

If you recall in my Inching Towards Retirement Check List, retirement comes down to where, when, and how we retire. Retirement is something we have to think about. Finances keep getting more and more complicated. We’re seeing rising inflation rates. Grocery prices and gas prices keep going up. Housing keeps getting more and more expensive. It’s not going to get easier when we retire and our job income shuts down.

And that’s for sure. On my meager retirement income, my choices were to stay in Canada and struggle, or hit the road and become a nomad and spend time in places where it doesn’t cost me so much money.

My 2022 financial check in

Life changing events happen. Priorities change. Retirement decisions are reevaluated.

I wrote my 2022 financial check in a little over a year ago, and just about everything in my life has changed since then.

The year started off with much sadness. My beloved senior dog, Shadow, passed away in January.

Oregon Coast road trip with my dogs

Her actual age was unknown. The dogcatcher in Yakima, Washington caught her in October, 2010 and I adopted her a month later. She was full grown. When my vet spayed her a couple of months later, he estimated her age to be 5 or 6.

She was about 16 years old, give or take two years.

Shadow was so much more than just a dog or a fur baby. She was also my emotional support animal and went everywhere with me, including the office. Her presence is tremendously missed.

When Shadow left the world, it was time for me to discover my new world.

The biggest retirement expense

The biggest expense I have in retirement is horse boarding, vet costs, and the other costs that come along with owning a horse.

I moved Cajun up country to a ranch that specializes in retired horses and absentee horse owners. He’s living the good life.

In July I began collecting CPP, Canada Pension Plan, which is basically peanuts, but it just covers Cajun’s board. The money is automatically deposited to my bank account and then I transfer it to my online bank’s savings account so the money is there when I pay Cajun’s board.

In case anyone who doesn’t have horses hasn’t noticed, hay and grain has been going up in price too, along with everything else that’s getting hit with inflation.

Oh well. One of the joys of horse ownership. He’s my lifelong responsibility.

Yup, some of us have expensive hobbies…

Wednesday Thoughts: 6 Things on my Mind Today!

Finances

When it comes to the stock market – things are up, things are down.

Overall, I haven’t had too much volatility when it comes to my money situation.

Though now that I’m retired that might drastically change!

My biggest losses happened during the market downturn for Covid and the Ukraine war, and those stocks still haven’t recovered. They’re hanging in and providing me with dividend income.

With retirement comes a few oopses. The biggest expense is transportation. My flight to London was during the high priced summer season. That couldn’t be helped.

I also knew that spending three months in Spain would take a big hit on my bank account for accommodation and food. So I wanted to get that journey out of the way first.

Then there was an issue of taking a train from Gatwick Airport to London to spend a few hours there. The train staff at the Gatwick station made multiple announcements that instead of buying tickets, we can tap in and out of the gate using our credit card and the journey costs one pound.

And sure enough that’s what it was. Good price. The unknown – what would it cost to take the train back to Gatwick where I was staying in a hotel near the airport for three nights. I arrived at Victoria Station and checked the departures to see when the next train to Gatwick was. There was a train leaving in a few minutes called the Gatwick Express. I tapped in at the gate and tapped out upon exiting at Gatwick train station.

$58!!!!

Are you flipping kidding me???!!!!

That’s because it was the Gatwick Express which took about half an hour. If I’d taken a regular train, about an hour journey, it would have cost me about half that. Well, I’m a tourist. I don’t know these things. A price doesn’t show up when you tap in and out of the gate.

So ouch. That definitely was not frugal living at its best!

Even if I’m not rich, handling my finances responsibly is all part of living a healthier lifestyle. Living debt-free contributes greatly to this.

My TFSA

I’ve talked about my TFSA (Tax Free Savings Account) a few times. This Government of Canada website explains the contributions better than I can!

Without steady job income, my TFSA is no longer fully funded.

I did manage to save around $2500 towards my 2024 TFSA prior to retiring, so that will be transferred into my Questrade TFSA account where I’ll likely buy more ETFs.

The Canadian government adjusts the annual TFSA limit due to inflation and rounds up to the nearest $500. For 2024 it looks like it’ll be $7,000.

Company retirement plan

When I retired, the retirement savings match program at my former employer ended.

Unfortunately the money was a mandatory investment in a mutual fund operated by Manual Life.

While I was in Spain, Manulife sent me a letter that I need to move the money because I’m no longer employed and not part of the company’s retirement plan any more.

Basically I’m waiting until 2024 to deal with it. I plan to cash out the funds instead of investing in another registered retirement savings plan – RRSP. Unfortunately I take a tax hit of 20%.

It sucks being low income and getting taxed to death on everything. Life is not easy in Canada for lower income single women.

Yup, the government gets you coming in and going out.

Other saving goals

To be honest, I really have no savings goals at this time. In the retirement phase of life it’s all about living frugally and switching from saving for retirement to spending what you saved.

Expenses

How is everyone doing with their expenses this past year with rising prices at the grocery stores and gas pumps?

I don’t understand how gas prices can jump up 20¢ a liter in a day in Canada. Has anyone in the states seen their gas prices jump up a dollar a gallon in a day?

OK, moving on.

Let’s talk shrinkflation. That’s when manufacturers put less product inside the packaging and put the price up too.

This time of year, many of us like to pick up a box of Pot of Gold chocolates. They’re inexpensive and pretty good value for the amount of chocolates inside the box. Except the 2023 edition is about half the chocolates and more packaging. LOL. Check out this article called Pot of Plastic that shows a photo of what you get now thanks to shrinkflation.

Housesitting and volunteering

The biggest expense people have is housing.

Right now my plan is to housesit. That’s where I stay in someone’s house and take care of their pets in exchange for a free place to live.

Check out my post Discovering London While Housesitting.

Also read, Making the Most of my Time as a Housesitter in Bristol.

The other thing I want to do is volunteer with organizations that provide accommodations.

I recently volunteered with Vaughan Town in Spain, but that was only for a week. Generally I’m looking for longer positions so I don’t have to move around too much. Transportation = shelling out money!

Financial Plan

Financial plans are something that are constantly changing based on our needs, wants, and life situations.

You don’t need to spend a thousand bucks hiring a financial consultant to write up a financial play for you. We are all about DYI. You can draw up your own plan.

In the past, we’ve talked about various components needed for a financial plan. You want to understand your income and expenses. You want to figure out how to pay off debt, put money aside for retirement, create an emergency fund, and how to achieve your goals.

The following links should give you ideas on things you need to include on your financial plan and how to make them happen.

Financial plan in progress

In 2023 my financial plan adjusted by my life circumstances. I ended up mostly throwing as much money as I can at various savings accounts.

Then I ended up spending it when I transitioned to retirement life as a nomad!

This means my net worth is sinking. And if the stock markets take a turn for the worse, make that rapidly sinking.

I’ve been trying to find a financial plan for retirees, but all I find are financial plans geared towards retirement planning. In other words, working people who should put money aside for retirement.

Right now my financial plan looks something like this:

1. Incur no debt.

2. Research ways to save money.

3. Save $6,000 for horse board.

4. Keep an eye on dividend paying stocks.

Yikes! Pretty lame. I’m really struggling to find a financial plan guide for someone who is already retired.

A financial plan is creating a list of things you’re planning for, and then figuring out how to achieve the items on your list. Maybe at this stage in my life, I just need to work on goals instead of a financial plan.

If you need more information on creating a financial plan, there’s a great article at Clever Girl Finance: https://www.clevergirlfinance.com/blog/ten-steps-to-creating-a-solid-financial-plan/

2023 financial check in

As 2023 winds down, I can see that I at least partially hit a lot of the objectives from my 2023 financial plan: no more debit, and contributed to employer matched RRSP, saved money for TFSA, vacation, taxes until I retired.

I’m very thankful that I didn’t pay rent for most of this year and was able to beef up some of my savings accounts prior to retiring.

I’ve had a lot of changes this past year.

The most significant life changing event that affected me the most, was Shadow passing.

Followed by saying goodbye to Cajun as he begins his retirement. I never thought I’d get so emotional about that mischievous little guy. I’m dying to see him again and keeping my eyes open to find a housesit in the area.

Right now I’m living frugally, traveling frugally, and avoiding debt. My financial plan is to move from place to place for economic reasons. Next year’s financial check in may have me reevaluating that!

Maybe my 2024 financial plan sucks, but the financial plans I put in place over the years have helped me begin a new journey in my life.

Published by Cheryl @ The Lifestyle Digs on December 19, 2023.

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