Only four months to go until Mr. Groovy and I quit our jobs! It’s so close, and yet, two weeks ago I was inches away from resigning. I even asked Mr. Groovy to check with his employer about putting me on his health plan. We would be OK if I jumped ship now. But we’d really like to stick to the plan, which is to retire together right after his 55th birthday. I think I’m over the hump now. We’ll see.
At the eight-month mark of our Freedom Countdown, we began a “To Do” list which we’ve made some adjustments to. For instance, we want to relocate to be near Mr. Groovy’s family who all live 3 ½ hours north of us. We intended to begin our property search at seven months out, but we decided to hold off. We’re not in a rush to relocate, and we’d rather focus on our future home at a leisurely pace after we retire. Removing this from the list also allows us more time for tying up loose ends with our current home.
At the six-month mark, I wrote about the mind games I play to convince myself I’m closer to the end goal. The latest manifestation of my warped brain is how I view scheduled time off from work. For the July 4th holiday, my office will be closed an extra day and a half. The same goes for Labor Day. Additionally, I’ve scheduled two paid days off—one for dental work (a sick day) and another for vacation. And on my final week of work, we’re closed for Columbus Day. That’s a total of six days out of the next four months. In other words, I only have to work nineteen of the next twenty weeks. Yippee!!!
Mr. Groovy and I initially chose October 7th as our final day of work. That’s the Friday following his 55th birthday, which is when he can begin collecting his small pension. We decided to change the date to October 14th because we want to be together to celebrate. A chocolate moonshine retirement toast wouldn’t be possible the previous weekend because Mr. Groovy will be away with a bunch of friends. They’ve been planning a trip to a football game for more than a year and the dates just recently came together based on everyone’s availability and the league schedule. Therefore we’ve pushed back the date one week.
As I mentioned, my office is closed on Monday, October 11th, the day Mr. Groovy will be traveling back. That’s an extra day’s pay for doing nothing, although I’ll spend a few hours on work email and on tidying up some document folders. But mostly, I’d like to send out a few good-bye notes. Those will be easier to get done on a day I’m not expected to answer email. It will also be an opportune time since my boss won’t be around to interfere. There’s no doubt in my mind that when I give my notice she will ask me to keep it a secret. If she were to have her way, no one would know of my departure until my last day. But there are a handful of co-workers and constituents that I have known for more than eleven years, and I want to personally reach out to them before I’m outta there.
Although I haven’t given notice yet, I’ve been a little passive-aggressive about dropping hints that will surely get back to my boss. In some cases, it’s been unavoidable—such as with an inquiry I made from our HR Department (a department that consists of one manager). I needed clarification on the company policy for paying out vacation days when an employee leaves the job. I’m sure the HR manager will mention this inquiry to my boss. Meanwhile, the good news is I learned we get fully paid for up to 308 vacation hours. Based on our 7-hour work day, that’s 44 days. I’ll have over 20 days accumulated and Mr. Groovy will have a similar amount with his job. That’s a bonus of around $9,000 (minus taxes, etc.) to add to our cash reserve.
At six months out I also added a very important item to the To Do list that I had omitted in my prior countdown. I had totally forgotten about filing for Mr. Groovy’s pension. We’re still on target to do that in July, when his 55th birthday is three months away.
Then there’s another important action item I haven’t put into our timeline, which is enlisting a realtor for the sale of our home. Since selling will be somewhat dependent on what/when we buy or build a home, this too can wait until after we retire. But I’ve been mapping out a strategy similar to the one that worked very well for us in New York. We gave our condo listing in New York to the realtor who had the last sale of a unit similar to ours in our apartment building—which also happened to be at the highest sales price, ever. That was, until our listing—when she topped herself. No one has broken the record since.
Currently, we’re deluged with mail from realtors who want to sell our home for us. They include recent sales in our area and our subdivision and ask for consideration. I’d like to interview three of them and ask each to provide the same information: 1) I want to know the list price they recommend, 2) I want to see the recent comps they come up with, and 3) I want to see the written text they would use to describe our home in an ad. Between the upgrades the builder put in and the ones we added, there are some key selling points a good realtor should pick up on.
On the financial end we’re a little behind in researching IRA accounts for our rollovers, talking to an insurance broker, and consulting with a fee based financial advisor. Again, these were the points I laid out in my initial countdown post at eight months out. We still plan to take these steps but we’ve become a little complacent since our finances are looking good. In fact, Mr. Groovy repeatedly says, “We got this!”—meaning, our nest egg is big enough to retire comfortably. But we will follow up on scheduling these tasks because it doesn’t hurt to get second opinions from experts.
Now that I can almost feel what it’s like to be on no one’s schedule but my own, I wake up each morning thinking “FREEDOM, here I come!” Oh, I’m going to be pinching myself on October 15th! And Mr. Groovy’s been walking around saying “I can’t wait to FIRE, I can’t wait to FIRE!” Since his post about the workplace acronyms that will soon be banished from his vocabulary, he’s been focusing only on positive acronyms. Well, he’s finally worn me down and now I’m on an acronym kick! I’ve been thinking about what FREEDOM stands for, but every time I try to focus, I hear a tune—“Cue the music, Mr. Cole!” It’s the one that begins with the following four lines:
L is for the way you look at me.
O is for the only one I see.
V is very, very extraordinary.
E is even more than anyone that you adore.
They acronym spells out LOVE and the song is called Love is Made for Me and You.
So I decided to pen a version of an acronym song and call it Freedom was Made for Me and You. At the risk of sounding hokey (yes, again—sorry James @ Retirement Savvy ) it goes like this:
F is for fulfilling our travel goals
R is for relaxing with friends and family
E is for every day being a holiday
E is for extra sips of chocolate moonshine
D is for daydreaming like kids again
O is for the opportunity to volunteer
M is for being mindful of our incredible good fortune
FREEDOM was made for me and you!