No. of Recommendations: 59
Now that I am really into retirement, I can look back and see what worked and what didn't when I was preparing to retire. Sometimes the same thing both worked and didn't work. For example:

I kept track of every penny I spent for about 4 years before I retired. It really helped, allowing me to see where I could cut costs with little pain, but also letting me see where the money was going. As a result, I knew what I needed to retire on - I thought. I still keep that budget, and it's a good thing. Here are some of the things I didn't include in the budget. Some I should have though of, others were unpredictable.

Costs of including spouses of my children. Everything from birthday presents to an extra mouth to feed on Sundays. I should have expected that. And I think I have to get a new dining room table - there just isn't enough room for everyone. Definitely hadn't thought of that.

Costs of grandchildren. I must have been in heavy denial (thought I was too young to be a grandparent, even though my kids are in their late 20s-early 30s). It's wonderful having them, but there are costs as mentioned above. I try not to go overboard, but that's hard for a proud grandma (new baby showing up in October - just added him to the budget).

Rapidly increasing health costs - for pets. I knew that costs would go up as they got older, I just wasn't ready for how fast.

Costs for leisure activities, including volunteer. This was very hard to get a handle on, though I tried. I wasn't sure what volunteer activities I would engage in - and now that I'm involved, there are definite expenses - but I'm keeping track.

However, some categories went down more than I expected - mainly clothes. Jeans and T-shirts don't require a lot of money. In fact I have a gift certificate for LL Beans that I'm not sure what to do with.

When you first retire, you have all this time staring you in the face. But that goes away real fast. If you let them, volunteer activities can take up as much or more time than a job - but that it under your control. Still, it is easy to get over-involved. Grandchildren take time! If you want to get to know them and be part of their life. Duh (denial again). And hobbies may generate the use of more time than when you were working. My garden is requiring more time - but that's because I enjoy it. I just have to be careful not to reach the point where it is a chore instead of a joy. And I do everything at a slower pace - much more enjoyable that way.

I really worked hard on having enough money to retire without having to worry. And I must say that I'm glad that I read everything that intercst and TheBadger wrote because they showed me the right direction and gave me the confidence to go ahead and retire. So far, even in this dismal market, I am managing to stay under my 4%. One reason is because I started closer to 3%. One thing I am sorry about is not having a CD ladder in place. That would have made me feel better in this market, but I still have enough padding to make it for another year without having to cash in anything.

I was a bit scared when I retired, but now I wouldn't have it any other way, because what I have now it time. I can use it any way I want to - I may get over-committed, but I can always back off or quit, because I am FI. It's a wonderful feeling.

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When Life Gives You Lemons
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