OK folks. It’s getting real—only two months to go until quitting time. Even Groovy Cat’s senses are on high alert. His ears perk up every time he hears us discuss our plans. “Oh boy”, he says to himself, “soon I’ll have even MORE of mommy and daddy’s undivided attention!”
In last month’s post I’m Engaged to be Retired, I wrote that I was at my wit’s end at work and informed my boss that Mr. Groovy and I plan to retire before the end of the year. I intend to provide my exact last date of employment (October 14th) during my upcoming performance review. My boss may be in for a big surprise.
Mr. Groovy filed for his pension and received confirmation his paperwork is in order. He, too, informed his boss he’s retiring and she asked whether he’s interested in staying on as a consultant. We both have mixed feelings about that. What compensation will they offer? Can he do projects and structure his own time? What about travel? Will he be required to participate in regular conference calls with clients? What about tax brackets and health insurance? Will our Obamacare subsidies get cut drastically? Or maybe Mr. Groovy’s employer will agree to continue his health coverage?
You may also remember an item from my retirement checklist was to meet with a financial planner. I reached out to several and I’m frustrated with the results, although Mr. Groovy expected as much. I clearly explained we’re not seeking a full range of services but simply an extra set of eyes to review our plan. I received responses offering packages of sessions, portfolio analysis, income projections using simulation tools, etc. Not one person was willing to provide guidance for an hourly fee. Quotes ranged anywhere from $900 to over $6,000— whaddaya kidding me? One planner, without knowing much about us, suggested we might need to work another year or two. We don’t. What was that recommendation based on? Creating fear?
I’m now looking for a good CPA who is also a Certified Financial Planner, someone who specializes in tax strategies for retirees. I’ve identified one, so far.
We attended a family wedding in New York this past weekend. In my post at six months out I mentioned this occasion as a marker along the highway to freedom. And now it’s come and gone. The ceremony was short and sweet. The party was fun, but loud. I got Mr. Groovy out on the postage-stamp-sized dance floor for a few songs. The beer, hard cider, rum and coke, and Jack Daniels helped loosened him up. He’s so cute when he’s a little smashed—except for when he twirled me while we held hands and my shoulder nearly came out of its socket.
The highlight of the trip was spending time with my brother and sister-in-law. After we landed on Friday my brother took us to a familiar haunt in Brooklyn, Spumoni Gardens. It’s known for its square (Sicilian) pizza with the sauce on top of the cheese.
Spumoni Gardens was already on our itinerary when a few weeks ago we heard that the owner was gunned down in his backyard. Nothing like a mob-connected murder to add a little flavor to our meal.
On Saturday Mr. Groovy and I joined my brother and sister-in-law for a little New York exploring. For me, being back in Manhattan is like riding a bicycle after taking a break from it. It’s very familiar, almost too familiar. I could do without the smell of garbage and cigarettes. I could also manage without the cabbies who tried to mow us down as we crossed the street. We headed out on foot to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for a dose of culture.
When we arrived at the Met we headed for the Egyptian wing. Jackie Kennedy originally wanted the Egyptian tomb pictured above to be exhibited in the Smithsonian Institute. But the head of the Met convinced Jackie to bring the tomb to New York. His winning pitch? He would create an exhibit where Jackie could observe the tomb from her penthouse apartment, hence the lights and the wall of glass to the right. It’s so nice when the world is your oyster.
The Egyptian tomb, along with thousands of other artifacts, paintings and mummies are on display at the Met for free. That’s right, FREE. The Met has a suggested admission price of $25. Give what you want, or don’t give at all. When I lived in New York, a friend and I stuffed a dollar in the collection box for both of us when we frequented the Met. Sometimes we got sneers from the ladies who gave out the tickets—and we sneered right back at them. We returned the attitude because they were docents, or volunteers. Rather than sitting in their Park Avenue digs all day eating bon bons, they “worked” at the museum. Hey, bully for them. They don’t need to work for money but some of us aren’t so lucky. Grants and tax dollars fund the Met and the suggested admission allows the general public to enjoy it.
After we checked out the Met’s rooftop garden (see picture above) we split up. Mr. Groovy and my sister-in-law have the patience to meander and explore at length. My inner timer goes off after an hour, especially on a Saturday at the Met, when you have to elbow your way through the crowds. My brother and I strolled through Central Park and people-watched. We passed many tourists taking photos, couples who posed for wedding photos, and even ballerinas dressed in costume for the camera. I saw at least four vain girls who posed and primped for selfies. They thrust out their legs and boobies and smiled as if they were Miss America. All that self love is very weird.
We stumbled upon some children’s entertainment too, in the form of Bubble Man.
Bubble Man hangs out in the park with a bucket of soapy water and a contraption he jerry-rigged to make enormous bubbles. He parks himself in a good, shady spot and the kids flock to him as if he’s the Pied Piper. His bubble thingamajig is a far cry from the Wham-O Monster Bubbles set we played with when I was a kid—although I was very satisfied that Monster Bubbles came with secret formula bubble fluid, a magic pan and a monster hoop.
Bubble Man is proof you don’t need money, even in New York City, to entertain children.
I’ll leave you with two more shots from our Central Park adventure. The first is the Boathouse restaurant. The second is of New Yorkers enjoying the lake (no, they’re not playing bumper-boats).
So friends, Mr. Groovy and I are winding down, moving into the retirement home stretch. We plan to coast through work over the next two months. Hopefully work will cooperate. The only serious consideration left is to plan a special evening on October 15th to raise a little celebratory hell. Wish us luck. Stay groovy.