Archive for Retirement

The Wickenburg Quilt Show

Hot Rod Quilt

The Damsel and I took time out from our busy retirement lifestyle today to attend the Quilt Show being put on at the Community Center Downtown. I posted the photo I took of one of the unusual quilts featuring “Hot Rodding USA.” Click on the image to enlarge.

There were hundreds of quilts on display, each one being a unique artwork unto itself. There were themes of Christmas, Halloween, Cowgirls, Boots, Aprons, Winter Scenes, Animals (Dogs, Cats, Horses, Livestock), Rodeo, University of Arizona and a myriad of more conventional quilting styles.

The people attending and running the show were mostly in the “senior” category, although I did see a couple of under 12 kids at one point. Despite being a weekday afternoon, there were a lot of people attending. We had to park out in back of the community center and walk a bit to get inside.

Inside the community center, there were vendors catering to quilt hobby aficionados as well as vendors selling finished quilts. Some, but not all of the quilts in the display area had Price Tags on them. Like you might expect of original folk art, some of them were a bit pricey now, but might continue to increase in value as time goes on.

We enjoyed our little outing today, and expect to attend more local events in the near future. There’s always something going on of interest in our little western town.

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2019 IRS Return 99% Complete

taxes.jpgAs of today, I can say that the 2019 returns are about complete. All we’re waiting for is the final 1099s from investments, retirement, etc. One such investment 1099 won’t be available until the second week in February, so we will have to wait another month for that little (very minor) tidbit of fiscal information.

Looking at the bottom line, i.e. the cash back or balance due, it seems that we planned pretty well in 2019 and the resulting difference is a relatively small amount in our favor. We used a predicted tax rate based on past experience and forecast that value for 2019 in our “Withholding Planning” spreadsheet. We adjusted the rate of withholding according to the results of the spreadsheet and it worked out to a difference to within a few hundred dollars from breaking even. I love it when a plan comes together.

This year is the first year that we have taken the standard deduction rather than itemizing. We went through the deductions exercise to see if we could surpass the new $27000 (married filing jointly) Standard amount, but the total of all our deductible fees, charity, mortgage interest, medical premiums and other miscellaneous items did not surpass the Standard. That actually makes it easier for us if we can depend on claiming the SD in the future, but we will track the deduction numbers just in case.

Tax year 2020 will be a bit different from the past since the Damsel will become eligible for some SSA income. We have that factoid programmed into the 2020 version of the spreadsheet to account for the difference. The delta from adding her income will be conveniently offset by a reduction in my draw from the IRA to retain about the same level as before with an appropriate cost-of-living increase of course.

Now awaiting the forms so we can claim our paltry refund. :)

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Getting Organized in 2020

Getting Organized

We finally got the new laptop and external display set up in the home office. Thanks to having some shelves to relieve the desktop clutter, we now have a better sense of organization. The photo above is preliminary since we have some desk lamps on order and we’re going to replace the aged speaker system with a new bluetooth system. The lamp in the left will be going away along with the old speaker system.

The shelf itself was advertised as a TV stand, but the literature it came with shows it is intended to be a shoe rack (for Imelda-wannabees, I guess). Regardless of that, the shelves are now serving as a desk organizing unit.

Frequently-accessed items and the wireless router/modem get the top shelf of the organizer, while less-frequently-accessed items get lower places behind computer monitors and such. It’s impossible to hide all the wires, but I think it is much better than it used to be. I’m sure that as time goes on, I will tweak things here and there.

I’m still installing applications and transferring files to the new machine as the need arises. I have the old computer set up in the motorhome out back and since it’s on the LAN, I can get most of what I need from the old system without having to go out there.

I sure like the new laptop computer. It is super fast compared to what I’ve been used to, although it isn’t in the supercomputer category by any means. Still, I’m enjoying the change.

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Winter Cactus Flower

Winter Cactus Flower

Damsel’s so-called “Christmas Cactus” has flowers opening about a week after the holiday. From the looks of the plant, it’s showing that many more of the flowers will be opening over the next several days. Damsel took this image today when the sun was shining into the front window where the plant sits on the sill.

We didn’t post a new year message on the eve or the day, but we take this opportunity to wish everyone a very happy and prosperous 2020. We let the post slip in favor of just relaxing and doing the usual holiday things, football bowl games, food, you know - celebrating in our own way.

It turns out that the switch from the old laptop to the new one has a few wrinkles. I have slowly been transferring all my “stuff” to the new one, but need to stay on line here until the complete switch over. My laptop is also the print server for the household, and it would put a drag on things if it were to be down for too long.

Another project associated with the computer replacement is the overhaul of the desk/workstation in the office. It needs to be reorganized and updated to new stuff. I just finished assembling a three-level desktop shelf (something needed for a long time) that will hold the various devices and get a lot of the stuff currently on the overcrowded desk up and out of the way.

So, we’re making progress on everything while keeping the pace comfortable for ourselves as we move through it all. Again, may you all have a blessed and happy new year.

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New Office Furniture for the RV

Office ChairEarlier this fall, the Damsel and I purchased two office chairs to replace the stock RV dining room chairs. Today, I finished assembly of the first of the two and took the photo seen at the right. The chair is positioned facing aft just behind the cockpit chairs. It will move to its normal position at the dining room table after assembly of the second chair.

The original chairs consisted of two fixed and two folding chairs which were a matched set of four. We only used the folding chairs on a single occasion when entertaining friends in Kalifornistan in 2018. At that time, one of the original folding chairs COLLAPSED while one of our friends was sitting on it. Fortunately, he wasn’t hurt. The RV dealer replaced the chair, but we haven’t trusted them since.

Damsel and I used the fixed dining chairs as office chairs when we would set up our computers on the dining table. After a while seated on them, however, our butts would get sore or fall asleep. We then resolved to replace them with some chairs comparable to those we currently use in the Arizona Home Office.

We figure we can just have a couple of garden-variety folding chairs standing by in the RV wardrobe closet for the rare occasion where we have guests in the RV. The old set of chairs, which are reasonable-looking and nice as a set, will be donated to a local charity for resale.

The second office chair will be assembled sometime in the first of the year, well before they will be needed for our spring excursion. The first one, pictured above, sure is comfy to sit in. Click on the image to enlarge.

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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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