We Can’t Spend Our Retirement Savings

Back in 2010, when hubs and I found ourselves both unemployed, we panicked – for about ten seconds.  Then we realized that we had been saving from every paycheck for our entire lifetime…we would be OK!

Skip forward eight years, and here we are – debt free, our home is paid for, our vehicles are all paid for, we are retired to whatever extent pleases us at the moment, we have sufficient pensions, and our investment account is healthy.  Now here is our dilemma:

We have spent our entire lives saving for our retirement,
…and now we have a hard time spending that money!

I can remember when my parents moved from acquisition to distribution in their own retirement.  My dad went out and bought a one-ton crew cab pickup and a matching 30-foot travel trailer.  My mom cried for days…not because she wasn’t up for the adventure, but because the idea of spending that hard-saved cash was contrary to our family’s deeply ingrained habits to “save for a rainy day.”

So here we are.  Hubs and I have been discussing (dreaming really) of buying a Class B travel van – basically a very fancy tent on wheels – so that we might load up our Roxy dog and take off exploring this country.

We have the cash, we could buy the thing outright – but wow, that would make a dent in our retirement funds, and we love watching that account balance go up…not down.  We could put down a sizable down-payment, and pay the rest off monthly, but there goes that “debt-free” thing.

So here we sit.  We’ve shopped different models, we’ve discussed the features we want to have, we continue to do internet research to learn new RVers tips and tricks.  Now if we could only pull the trigger.  A dilemma wrapped in a conundrum…

Lynn

Photo: Pina Messina ~ Unsplash

 

 

53 thoughts on “We Can’t Spend Our Retirement Savings

  1. RetirementallyChallenged.com

    You have outlined a very common problem (we should have more of these “problems” 🙂 ) in retirement. I have always been a frugal person as has been my husband. When we look at our savings and investments, we are doing fine but we can’t quite shake the feeling that we need to conserve “just in case”. Fortunately that gut feeling hasn’t stopped us from traveling, but we are more likely to use Airbnb or a home exchange as opposed to a high-end hotel. Also, fortunately, those types of accommodations are much more our style anyway.

    GO! Buy yourselves that RV and enjoy your freedom… just make sure you share your adventures with us!

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Encore Voyage Post author

      I know, right??? We are both so stinkin’ frugal that we are sort of “trapped” in the “when will be have enough ‘just in case’ money, that we can start spending?” It would be so helpful if we knew exactly how long we were gonna live! ~ Lynn

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  2. travelswithfran

    The mantra is to spend in your 60’s! Even if you love watching your account go up, imagine how much enjoyment you will have in using your travel van. You never know what will happen tomorrow.

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  3. Retirement Reflections

    Hi, Lynn – I agree with Janis and Fran: “Buy yourselves the RV, enjoy your freedom, and share your adventures with us.” Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Encore Voyage Post author

      Thanks, Donna! I already have the Twitter account @EncoreWandering, and I can see the Instagram Account in my head! I’ve even been studying up on what I need to take, and what to leave behind! ~ Lynn

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  4. Karen Hume

    And I’m with all of the above. These are your ‘go-go’ years. When you hit your seventies (slow go) and your 80’s (no go), you really won’t be able to spend your money. Spend it now!

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  5. Terri Webster Schrandt

    This is indeed a GOOD problem! I’m married to a saver which is a very good thing and he is badly in need of a new (ish) truck. Big ticket items should be thought over well then spent accordingly (as your commenter Karen says). We need to pay ourselves back but also save for unforseen medical expenses or perhaps help with the adult kids. We’re about to be grandparents and I want to start a savings fund for the first baby. It pays off when they are ready for college (after my former in-laws saved for my daughters). And here I just spent $130 on a cheap mountain bike to have with me at the delta (for when it’s too windy to SUP and not windy enough to windsurf). I hope you can maybe put a little $$ down on your RV and finance a small monthly payment (we just did for our new trailer)! Good luck and take pictures of it 🙂

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  6. Liesbet @ Roaming About

    I totally understand, Lynn! Like you, Mark and I have been putting money away whenever we can and could. It’s a big expense to purchase a van. In our situation, we are very frugal people when it comes to EVERYTHING else. The van we bought despite being his older age, is built really well and quite pricey for what it is. But, it retains its value, based on others on the markets. And, we were OK buying it, because we know we will use it often, if not full-time, which means it would be our home. Having these realizations might help with the dilemma.

    I know you won’t go full-time, but you can see it as a buying a weekend cabin, or a summer home. You will get so much pleasure out of it, that you’ll soon justify its expense. Also, if you could find a second hand one in good shape, with less than, say 50,000 miles, you won’t “lose” too much money over time. If you have plans to sell it again at some point (like us), you can almost see it as an investment that would only set you back a few thousand dollars over the years. I hope you “cut the knot” as they say. Please, follow our example! 🙂

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    1. Encore Voyage Post author

      I so appreciate you Liesbet! That’s exactly how we’ve been thinking of it. I tell myself, “Look at the folks who buy a new 3/4 ton pickup, and then pull a big ol fifth wheel. That’s a hundred grand+ easily wrapped up in that rig. I really would like the 2018 model, in which solar panels were standard, so I’m content to wait until they are trying to get rid of them, or until I find a low mileage used one…Then we’re DOIN’ IT! ~ Lynn

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      1. Liesbet @ Roaming About

        What exactly are you guys looking at, Lynn? It’s always possible to get an older (2017?) model and install (or have installed) solar panels. Might be a cheaper solution. Solar panels are on our list for the future, but don’t fit in our budget quite yet. We’ve changed and upgraded enough already this year!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Encore Voyage Post author

        I’ve got it narrowed down to three choices. The Roadtrek Agile, or the PleasureWay Ascent (both 19 feet), or in my dream world, the ridiculously expensive 4×4 Airstream Interstate Grand Tour. (It’s a little longer with just a little more room for storage in the back.) Hubs is wanting narrowness that makes effortless driving in cities, and short enough (or 4 wheel drive) so that we can explore forest service roads.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Liesbet @ Roaming About

        Wonderful! It’s tough to find all the desired features in one small van, except if you’re willing to compromise on the sleeping area, in my opinion. 4X4 would be awesome, but good clearance gets you a long way as well. Exciting times! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Shallow Reflections

    I feel your conundrum, Lynn. We’ve done the math and know that we could start withdrawing money from our savings if we wanted to, but the thought of it makes me break out in a cold sweat. We are also debt free, and have been frugal for many years. How to tear off the bandaid and start using that hard earned money? I will watch you to see how it goes!

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      1. Shallow Reflections

        That reminds me I have a blog post draft about knowing the difference between frugal and cheapskate. I must brush that off and publish it one of these upcoming days! I am a cheapskate when it comes to some things and then other times (mostly when I’m buying gifts) I am extravagant. Also, I don’t scrimp on food. I like the finest food money can buy!

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      2. Encore Voyage Post author

        I can’t wait to read that post! I’m that way about spending extra on classic, high quality pieces of clothing. I have a London Fog trench coat that I’ve had since the 1990’s! Spend where it counts! That said, I absolutely hate to shop, and have a fairly minimal wardrobe! ~ Lynn

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Shallow Reflections

        I can do better when it comes to clothing, but I do try to maintain a small wardrobe with quality pieces. On the other hand I don’t care if I drive a rust bucket for a car, as long as it’s reliable. -Molly

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Shelley

    Funny that this should pop up on the day that my husband and I were filling out a questionnaire for a meeting with a financial advisor. Like you, we were savers and have lived a debt free life for more than a decade. Like you, spending freely goes against our DNA. So, maybe we need a nudge? Reassurance? With only one child, we want to make sure that we are not a burden–that we have enough saved to pay for whatever awaits us down the road…so we save a bit more, on top of our Long Term Care Insurance.

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    1. Encore Voyage Post author

      We do we understand that feeling! We have NO children. (I have an upcoming blog post about “who will wipe our drool?) That’s what makes it even harder to spend, because down the road, I want the resources to have Options! ~ Lynn

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  9. Kate Crimmins

    I feel the same way. We are one catastrophic illness away of bankruptcy. I bought a new (unneeded) car 4 years ago to replace a 4 year old I never liked. I had guilt for a few weeks but eventually got over it. I’m trying to balance living to the fullest as I wish with being able to support myself when I’m dotty. Go buy that damn RV! Have some moments of guilt, then enjoy it. Don’t they retain some value just in case you decide that lifestyle isn’t for you? You go girl!

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Encore Voyage Post author

      Thanks for the encouragement! This spending guilt seems to be a theme from many of my friends, blogging and otherwise! And all of you are reminding us to live life to its fullest! I do agree with you that a solid insurance policy is a necessity, to prevent that catastrophic illness situation! Thanks, Kate

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  10. Dan Antion

    I understand, and I’m not even retired yet! I’m trying to wrap up some projects before retirement. I know it’s all coming out of a finite amount of money, but…

    Buy the RV. If you both enjoy it, it will be fun.

    Liked by 1 person

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  11. patwdoyle11

    Totally understand! Years of habits are so hard to change. I’m looking at buying a new car this summer (my current 2006 model needs significant work … at 130000 miles, not surprising) and am in sticker shock. We just got debt free with downsizing and I haven’t really figured out life without a mortgage payment. Every downturn in the market freaks me out (our old MegaCorps, which are still big aspects of retirement finances, are both doing poorly) and I get another spasm of Bag-Lady Syndrome. But, you never know what the future will bring and I agree with everyone else… buy the RV (you’ll do the due diligence to get it as the best price you can) and go. Life is too short to say “if only” in 5 years.

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Encore Voyage Post author

      Thanks, Pat…My first piece of advice is that you shouldn’t pay attention to the market! Watching that thing from day to day these days is enough to make you seasick, isn’t it? I just remind myself that overall, the market will eventually outperform…And besides…you are such a strong lady, you’d make a stellar bag lady! LOL! ~ Lynn

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      1. patwdoyle11

        You made me chuckle! And I try not to look daily… but we still have many friends in the Companies and hear about things from them. Our (long term) financial advisor even discussed it with us recently – it’s that bad. But I’m going to buy a new car this summer…and you should buy that RV. We’ve talked about renting one to try it out.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. footloosefogeys

    Wow! Lots of comments on this topic. In the first place, some advice about the RV. Rent one before you buy one. You may not even like trying to drive that monster through traffic and crowded RV parks. And remember, if it is yours, YOU have to repair, replace, and maintain all of the systems that it includes.
    Now about the money. Our money guy told us about average returns and drawing down the IRAs, and so on. Said we would still have lots of money when we are 90. Our plan is to live very well and have our adventures NOW while we are still able. We can ride the (frugal) rocking chairs when we are old and rickety. There may not be a big inheritance left for the kids, but they are doing just fine on their own.

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Encore Voyage Post author

      I love that so many people are being so encouraging on the “spend a little cash now” topic. And your comment about the “frugal rocking chair” really hits the mark! Thank you so much. We are looking at a sprinter van because we just want a glorified tent on wheels. I’m not planning on living in it, really, and I want the occasional hotel room for unlimited hot showers. That said, I want to be able to microwave the popcorn and keep the wine chilled! We should really consider renting a sprinter to try it out – just to see if we can live together in those close quarters! Thanks! ~ Lynn

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  13. Natalie

    There are so many wonderful places to explore in the USA and cross borders either North or South. You could rent and go for an extended long trip to see if it’s something you want to invest more money in. I’m looking out for EncoreWandering 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Encore Voyage Post author

      Thanks, Natalie! The more I read these comments, the more excited I get! We may, indeed, try a rental before we buy. Look out world, here we come! ~ Lynn

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  14. Joanne Sisco

    I’m the last person to ever give any advice on this one. I’m stuck in the same dilemma with a couple of my own things I want to do. The thought of ever not having enough terrifies me, so it delays any decision making.
    Good luck – and when you finally pull the trigger, enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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  15. Jan Wild

    It’s the biggest financial issue of our later lives isn’t it; moving from building wealth to spending it. Not knowing how long we will live, whether we will be dealing with health/care expenses, how governments will change legislation which might affect us (a very regular event in Australia)

    Liked by 1 person

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  16. ladylance

    Love this post. My hubby and I sold everything except bare neccesities , got rid of the big house, rented a small basement apt. and purchased a 5th wheel camper. We travel for his work. Making the giant step was daunting, but we love this life, and only have two years till retirement and we can do this for fun! Oh wait, we are having fun now!

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Encore Voyage Post author

      How perfect! We are doing much the same thing…we work for ourselves and love this gig we’ve got going. The only part missing is the RV part! Thanks for the encouragement! ~ Lynn

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  17. Kalpana

    I understand the dilemma you’re going through. I’m not there yet but I know I will be. Like you, I come from a family with a deeply ingrained saving habit. When my Dad retired and began splurging (as I saw it) it made me very nervous indeed and I just couldn’t understand it. I do now. I hope you get to make your big purchase soon and shift your focus to enjoying it and the traveling around. I’ve found that once the money’s been spent I rarely remember it again, instead what’s uppermost in my mind is the pleasure I derive from the new purchase.

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Encore Voyage Post author

      You are absolutely right. We paid off our mortgage, and it seemed like such a big deal at the time, but right after, we went right back to our saving patterns, and didn’t really think twice about it. ~ Lynn

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  18. leannelc

    It’s a wonderful conundrum to be in – but I totally get it. We’re in the last few years leading up to retirement and busy squirreling everything we can away into savings and superannuation. We live frugally and are debt free because of that. The idea of blowing big chunks of those savings on something “frivolous” just messes with my head – so I totally ‘get’ it – something will happen to make you take the plunge – I bet you find one for sale at a fantastic price and that flips you into going crazy and buying it – Good luck!
    Thanks for linking up with us at #MLSTL and I’ve shared this on my SM xx
    Leanne | http://www.crestingthehill.com.au

    Liked by 1 person

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  19. Miriam

    Gosh, I wish I had your problem!!! I say do what you love m, though I totally get the trepidation at spending all that hard earnt money. Still, as cliched as it is, you only live once. There’s no point sitting round watching that money accumulate, if you can’t enjoy it. You’ll always get by financially. Go for it. 😊

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    1. Encore Voyage Post author

      You know, in retrospect, that title does sound a little like we’re rolling in it. We’re not, really, just trying to save so we won’t be a burden to someone else when we need to have our drool wiped! Scary to spend it, but I’m now thinking we shouldn’t be so tight! ~ Lynn

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  20. Mary Lou

    Absolutely agree with the advice ‘Spend it in your Sixties’! While realistically holding aside funds for providing when you’re ‘really old’ if necessary. I’m so grateful that I took my trips of a lifetime in my sixties. The seventies can bring more health issues/mobility issues that make getting around more difficult. Enjoy!

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  21. Mother & Daughter

    I have an account that was saved for the sole purpose of travel money in retirement. So far I haven’t dipped into it though we have done some traveling. I am not sure why but I am also hesitant to dip into this money but I guess at some point I will. I say buy the rv while you are still young enough to enjoy it and sell it when you aren’t.

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  22. simplywendi

    Congratulations! This is an awesome problem to have. I so wish I could go back and give my much younger self some financial coaching/advice/tips as it would have made a HUGE difference in my life now.

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Encore Voyage Post author

      It is an awesome problem to have, and we are truly blessed. I recently wrote an “if only we’d known” post, because many have said the same thing…If we had only started saving when we were younger. But it’s never too late. Even now, we put a little something away every month.

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