I have deliberately not written about my finances here on the blog for a very long time. I had done it in 2013 and someone had come to my aid and actually paid for me to attend the Dave Ramsey classes, which changed the way I saw money and hence the way I treated money. If not for that class, and adhering to DR’s ideas, I would not have been able to retire at all. I am grateful every day for that.
When I retired in January of this year, I had a budget. I had a plan. I had a financial equivalent of a jig saw puzzle, the pieces fit, but there was not room for any deviation whatsoever.
On February 5 of this year, my car was totaled. Honestly, my first thought was that I was having a heart attack, my second thought? That my jigsaw puzzle would no longer work. I actually sat at the site of the wreck saying “oh no! Now I have to go back to work!” But I got much more from the insurance company than I ever would have dreamed, and I got a deal on a new car that was like a miracle. So I have a new car. And six years of payments. Those were not in my budget. Then my insurance went up. That wasn’t in the budget either. Then the furnace quit and I needed a new one, etc., etc., etc. It has truly been one thing after another.
The real bomb in the jigsaw puzzle though was Social Security. I was supposed to receive a check each month. Not large, but enough for groceries with a little to spare. My pension covers most everything else.
Warning: This is where I get into the weeds: I received a letter in June of 2016 telling me I owed every cent of money they paid me in 2015 when I retired for four months. It took several months and several phone calls to figure out what happened. When the state paid me out for my sick and annual leave upon retirement in 2015, the Social Security Administration decided that I wasn’t really retired, and hence, I owed all the money they paid me. I got the appropriate forms completed and mailed in December of last year. I thought it would just be a matter of a month or so until it got straightened out. And even if it never got straightened out, they could only take 4 months of my checks to pay back 4 months, right?
Wrong. It’s been over 6 months now. I called. I called again. And then I called again. Every person understood what had happened and assured me it would be resolved. In April, I packed a lunch, my knitting, and a bottle of water and sat in their office until I got a live human being to look in the eye and get to understand what happened. He said he fixed it and I would get a big check in June. June came and went, and I got nothing. I got a letter in late June saying I would get a check for $10. in July, and then my regular payments would commence in August. I tried to call about that letter, but I was so upset and angry, I believe the Holy Spirit intervened and I didn’t get through to anyone…. and I am grateful for that because it would have been ugly.
On Thursday of this week, I got another letter from Social Security. I sat on my front porch, I didn’t even feel safe to take it indoors with me! I prayed. Not my usual prayers of “thy will, not mine, be done.” Oh, no. I prayed that they finally wised up and were going to pay me the money they owe me. And, there it was, in that letter. I am supposed to have the back payments deposited in my checking account on July 18. And then I should have my monthly payments after that. I truly won’t believe it until I see it, but I have hope.
I have used savings to get through the last six months. I thank God I even HAD a savings account, let alone one with enough money to get me through for a while. But it is a lot smaller than it used to be.
It is a terrible thing to be afraid about your finances when you are retired. I have thought I need to get a job, but my heart’s desire is to never work again, so I haven’t even really looked. I have prayed so much about this. I feel like the answer I keep getting is to learn to live within my now small means.
On Monday of next week, my job will be to sit down with my budget forms and figure out if I can do that. It’s a very different budget than my planned budget for retirement. But I am going to give it my best shot. I know that I have lived on very little money before and those have actually been happy times in my life. I have things pretty much down to bare bones now, but if I need to cut more, I am willing.
I just do not want to work again. I love to wake up in the morning and leisurely get ready for my day. I am always busy because that is just the way I am. I go to Mass most days, which is an incredible blessing. I am now involved in all kinds of church things.
This is the life I want. Being a “church lady.” Helping others. Going to Mass every day. Going to Adoration once a week, and being available to substitute at other times. Being someone the church calls when they need help with something.
Being a homemaker. Canning applesauce (even though it is terrible) on a Wednesday afternoon. Making delicious nutritious meals for myself so that I can maintain my health (or even improve it). Working out for 70 minutes, 6 days a week. Being able to go to the lake for a swim, or take an early morning bike ride. This is what I want.
I hope this is my future.
I do trust God though that he will show me what I am supposed to be doing. And then I do trust that he will give me what I need to do that!