Archive for Retirement

Milestone - One Decade of Retirement!

block-10.pngToday marks the tenth year milestone since I began my retirement from the Aerospace Mill for which I worked many years. I must say that those daily routines of getting up out of bed, commuting to the office, participating in whatever the plan of the day might have been, finishing up for the day, commuting back home and attending to home matters were comfortable for me right up until the last day. Now, however, at a decade down the road, I must also state that I don’t miss the old ways a bit.

During the last decade before retirement (starting 20 years ago), Damsel and I spent a lot of time planning for the retirement we were to have. It turned out that by the grace of God and our own foresight, we managed to get our basic plan together. Thankfully, my employer had good a retirement plan and an incentivized 401(k) savings plan, both of which we participated in. Upon retirement, we exercised our choice to roll the 401(k) into a managed payout mutual fund designed just for retirees. We opted for the retirement pension payout as well. Bottom line: we’re doing OK.

Sure, there were still some unknowns and other events post-retirement that would shape our destiny, but the foundation for our sustenance was set by the time we were out of there. We weren’t prepared to lose our California house to flooding, for example, but our insurance payout and a fortunate find of a “flipper” to take that property off of our hands made it a sweet departure from home ownership in California. Otherwise, we would have had to do the fixing up and “flipping” ourselves for which we weren’t exactly prepared. Between that example and a couple of other post-retirement glitches, we have managed to stay afloat.

Pardon all the metaphors, but it seems that we’re set for smooth sailing for the next decade of our retirement, God willing.

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A New Tax Season Is Almost Upon Us

irs_logo.pngDue to an upcoming change in income status, we started to review our 2019 and 2020 Income Tax situation. It seems that Damsel will now begin getting back some of her hard-earned money that the .gov stole from her while she was working. I know, there are laws that congress passed that made the removal of money from our earnings “legal” under the Social Security Act or whatever. Still, we as individuals would be better off if we had access to those funds to properly invest and not have them deferred for some of the ridiculous spending by congress. It is tantamount to theft in our opinion.

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OK - now that I have that out of my system, I can expound on the tax prep thing. It seems that if we have Damsel’s SSA distributions coming into the household, I have to make adjustments to some things, like withholding and IRA distribution rate. This is to be done in order to attempt to keep us in the current tax brackets and such.

Since the new income will start later this year, I had to analyze whether it would be prudent to make adjustments to those things I mentioned above. Fortunately, for this tax year, that won’t be necessary. It may cause us to owe a little more for 2019, but, as I have said before, we would rather owe a bit than loan the .gov interest free money.

Because of our retirement lifestyle, we set our income rate to accommodate our established needs. Now, because of the increase in available funds, I can reduce the IRA withdrawal rate to the RMD (required minimum distribution) as set by the IRS for retirement accounts. This is a good thing thus preserving those funds for the future while they multiply in our IRA investment pool.

So, until I see some of the exact numbers forthcoming, I have set up a spreadsheet with preliminary numbers to analyze our 2020 income and withholding situation. At first glance, it looks like we’re going to be getting our 2020 tax situation under control. We will fine tune things as soon as the actual numbers can be seen.

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Irrigation Problems - Solved

Back of the RV Drive

What a difference a couple of days make! We were bemoaning the problems we had with a busted irrigation system just a couple of days ago and today the problem is non-existent. Our landscape contractor found the time to come here and fix our woes this week instead of what we thought would be a delay of unknown length. They quickly diagnosed the problems, made the changes and this evening, all is working again.

Of course, the fixes weren’t all as simple as I make them sound in the first paragraph. They actually spent considerable time cleaning up the area behind the RV drive where our “Rosemary Farm” is growing - or maybe overgrowing. In the composite image above, you can see the after cleanup of the back area - I could look in the photo archives to find a before picture, but I’m too lazy this evening. ;)

I forget the exact number of one gallon rosemary shrubs they originally planted back there, but it was over fifty and under a hundred. Each one with a watering tube of its own from the irrigation feed line planted on the hill just above the shrubs. After the cleanup as shown, the crew installed an all new main line and “spaghetti” feeders for each shrub. This time, the feeders are short and they extended the larger diameter feed line for each group of two or three shrubs. We tested it this afternoon and it looks like everybody is getting the water they need in our arid climate.

The first thing they fixed (yesterday) was the leak shown in our previous post about the problem. They also replaced one of two electrically-controlled valves that activate the two main feeder lines according to the program set up in the controller. Both the leak and the valve malfunction contributed to the excessive water usage we have been experiencing.

We are still in the process of doing some other work with the landscapers; there is another area we want to have irrigated where we acquired a nice ocotillo after the fact. There is also some overdue rock and cactus garden maintenance they are willing to do while they are available. We should be in pretty good shape after they’re done with that and won’t need to do any of that for ourselves until after the weather cools down a bit.

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Irrigation Problems

Subterranean Leak

Since May or June, we have noticed an increase in water consumption on the monthly bill from the Town. At first, I thought it was because we had filled the spa for the summer, but then the increased consumption continued. In July, I found that the circuit breaker to the water system had tripped after having some of the shrubs appear to wither. I got that fixed and then the increased consumption resumed.

Yesterday, I finally contacted the landscapers that installed the irrigation system here. Together, the foreman and I discovered that a continuous water flow was occurring in an unknown location around the property. We also discovered a flow (pictured above) that ran during the active time for the irrigation to flow. Both problems, the one we can see and another somewhere stop when we cut off the main irrigation valve.

After discussing the problem with the landscaper and probable solutions, it would seem we’re in for a complete overhaul and replacement of much of the system. Chronically, in the desert, systems that use PVC tubing seem to need replacement at eight-to-ten year intervals, which is exactly how old the system is.

So, for the time being, we’re going to have to water the shrubs and trees manually since the irrigation valve is closed pending fixing things. Our landscaper has a number of other jobs ahead of us and it will be a week to a month before we can get back to normal.

For reference, the leak pictured above (the one we can see) is located between the ocotillo and the courtyard wall in front of the walkway to the courtyard gate. The irrigation lines and all are controlled from near the corner of the garage. Click on either image to enlarge.

Front Walkway

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We’re Home Again!

Approaching Flagstaff Saguaro Sighting

Our trip today took us from the high Arizona Desert (5700 feet MSL) through the mountains (7000+ feet MSL) and down to the lower high desert (2100 feet MSL) where we reside. The two photos above are (L to R) approaching the San Francisco Mountains east of Flagstaff along I-40 and the first Saguaro cacti along I-17 as we descended through 3000 feet North of Black Canyon, AZ.

Most of the driving over the past two weeks has been fairly easy in the big RV, but for some reason, today seemed a little more tedious, with rough roads, heavier traffic, gusty winds and some winding roadways, not to mention the ubiquitous road repairs underway. We got through it OK, however, and upon arrival home we ate lunch and relaxed with an adult beverage or two. The major unpacking and post-travel chores to resume tomorrow.

We still have no access to the RV drive at the west end, so I had to once again back up the east driveway to park in our customary spot. It’s a tight fit with an uphill in reverse and a nearly ninety degree turn in reverse to get in the spot.

Believe it or not, the recalcitrant leveling jacks deployed in their normal fashion and the RV is level again after having not worked for the past two weeks. We’re still going to have the RV in for service and to check out the levelers and the door step which has also been a problem. That service will be scheduled soon, but meanwhile, we’re going to get back into our usual routine and become accustomed to home again.

Home Parking Spot

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We’re Back in Arizona Tonight

Red Cliffs Along I-40

Our route was along I-40 all day with stops in Grants (Walmart - provisions) and Gallup (Diesel), NM with our evening destination here in Holbrook, AZ. Even along a major interstate, the scenery can be breathtaking as evidenced by the red cliffs near the AZ/NM border in the photo above (courtesy Damsel). There were many other worthy sightseeing photos Damsel took today, but we have neither the data space nor the bandwidth for the seven hundred plus images I downloaded from her camera today.

This is our last overnight stop and we will be home in Wickenburg tomorrow afternoon. Damsel and I both enjoyed this “vacation from retirement” excursion and will be anxious to travel again real soon as soon as practical. Meantime, we have some important things to do at home. Below is the campsite for tonight with dinner already being prepared in part within the grill on the picnic table (Chicken Jalapeño Casserole).

Holbrook Campsite

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We’re Back in the High Desert

American RV Albuquerque, NM

We traveled over 300 miles today from Colorado City, CO to Albuquerque, NM. We originally planned to camp in Santa Fe, but I screwed up and waited too long to secure reservations for a weekend in a popular venue. I managed to get reservations here, so we’re happy and relaxing after a long (for us) drive. We tend to keep it under four hours, but today was in excess of five.

We stopped in Las Vegas for provisions (the New Mexico Vegas) which extended our time a bit, but we now have things we need to continue. Damsel had some items she needed for a recipe she wanted to try and we both had some things on a list we keep as we go along. All is good.

The scenery was wonderful driving down I-25. Unfortunately, although we had scrubbed the front windshield clean of bug carcasses, by the time we were an hour into the trip, the view was cluttered with splats galore. Earlier in the trip, Damsel got this nice shot of Spanish Peaks (Huajatolla) before the bugs had completely taken over.

spanish-peaks-southern-colorado.jpg

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