Progress toward my new normal has slowed. I blame reality. My expectations and imagined outcomes couldn’t possibly be the problem.
Thursday afternoon I saw my financial planner. We needed to talk about the impact of the changes I’m making on my retirement plans. First a little explanation is in order.
When I started my day job fifteen years ago, I had a choice between two retirement plans: a defined benefit (pension) plan and a defined contribution (savings) plan. According to someone–I can’t even remember who now–the pension plan was the better option if and only if I planned to live in Georgia for the rest of my life. Since I wasn’t sure, I opted for the savings plan. I’ll get Social Security and a tiny pension from a previous employer. The rest of my retirement income will come from my savings.
My financial planner was ready for me with reports, recommendations, and forms to sign. As I’ve thought about downsizing, my focus has been on the immediate impact on my budget. She reminded me that the amount I need to save for retirement is based entirely upon my predicted expenses at retirement age. Downsizing means I’ll need less and be able to save more. The difference is significant.
Selling at a loss and buying a new house does pose a bit of a cash challenge. The good news is that I’ve got the funds. I won’t have to pull them from a tax-deferred account either, so no ten percent penalty or taxes to pay. Autopilot works, and within twelve to eighteen months, I can replace whatever I take out. Since we have no idea what it will be, we didn’t include any income from my writing career.
All this good news prompted me to action. The sooner this move happens, the better off I’ll be. My planner’s biggest challenge was reining in my enthusiasm and keeping me from doing something stupid–like buying a new house before mine is sold. I told her I’d wait two weeks.
Yesterday I signed the papers and the realtor stuck her sign in my front yard. She’d done her homework, too, and informed me that the asking price we’d initially discussed was too high. Sigh. Not what I wanted to hear. But it only adds a few months to my payback plans, so I can cope.
I know exactly where I want to live and have been cruising through the neighborhood. There are half a dozen houses for sale for $100K or less. Could I live comfortably in one of them? After we put the sign up in my yard, the realtor showed me two of the three houses on my list.
The cheapest of the three would be perfect were it not for neighbors who had four cars parked in the middle of the cul de sac and giant dogs chained up in the front yard. No thanks. Even new carpet, a new kitchen, and vinyl siding isn’t enough to compensate for the redneck clan in the cul de sac.
The most expensive of the three smelled bad, had old shag carpet I couldn’t abide for even a minute, and other issues that made me wonder if cheap was going to be an option for me. The third house was just about perfect. Yeah, the carpet needs replacing and the fence needs repaired. But the price is right and I could see myself being very comfortable and content there.
I’m not going to make an offer on another house until mine sells. Doing anything else would be foolish. My house won’t show up in the computer listings until Monday or Tuesday, and is priced well below anything comparable in the area. Hopefully, it will go fast. Let the waiting begin.
Reality has taken the wind out of my sails. Doubt has crept in. My faith is shaken. But I know that whatever happens, things have a way of working out for the best. The hard part is not knowing.
Everything is going to be fine. I can do this. And until I do, I’ll keep you posted on my progress here on…
My Glass House