Category Archives: How We Did It

The Best Things About the Voyage!

Good morning!  If you’ve popped over here to check out An Encore Voyage, there’s a really good chance that you were directed here by Donna over at Retirement Reflections!  You see, Donna does a weekly Sunday Guest Post series, and for reasons that completely befuddle the mind, she asked me to participate!  How cool is that!

If this is your first time visiting here, WELCOME!  We are on an Encore Voyage because, after long-time careers, we sort of got thrown into the deep end ———– um…we found ourselves both unemployed!  Or as hubs likes to describe it,

“We were given the opportunity to reinvent ourselves!”

And so we entered the early retirement group – even though we weren’t planning on it!

Since this voyage began, we’ve learned a great deal!

We’ve learned that sometimes being together 24/7 can be a bit of a challenge.  But guess what?  It’s really a lot of fun if you follow some simple advice.

Admittedly, we needed to do some simplifying and minimizing to maintain our lifestyle.  But in the end, it has brought us a clearer focus about what’s really important.

We started up our Encore Career – We didn’t want to be just “finished,” but we didn’t want to start over from scratch either.  So we reinvented ourselves and created a business that we can be passionate about – and we do it from home and on our own schedules!

And we’ve learned that this type of “retirement” is a total blast!  It doesn’t look anything like the things we feared retirement might be.  And there are lots of things that make this encore gig of ours a delightful experience.

One of those is the time I now have to be creative on this blog, and to engage with others in the blogging community.  It’s a little weird that in just a few short months, I have developed on-screen relationships with so many other bloggers.  It’s like we’ve gotten to know each other.  And as I said earlier, one of my very favorite virtual friends is Donna at Retirement Reflections.  Donna is my neighbor to the north – She and her husband are from Vancouver Island, British Columbia…(Lucky ducks!)  Donna is adventuresome, organized, just a tiny bit nerdy like me – and a fabulous writer!  So if you haven’t gotten the chance, be sure to click on over and check her out!  She’s awesome-sauce!

And thanks again, Donna, for inviting me to participate in your Sunday Guest Post series!

Lynn

Calling All Retirees – What’s Your Best Advice?

Remember I told you about my friend who is nearing retirement?  I tried give him as many pointers as I could.  But then I came to the realization – “Hey wait!  That’s just little old us, and we are pretty abnormal by some folks standards.

And it occurred to me that in this beautiful little blogosphere we share, there are people far wiser than me.  So I’m going to put it out there for all of you!

What is the one piece of advice
you wish someone had given you
prior to your retirement?

I’m not talking about the financial stuff – there’s plenty of info out there about that.  I’m talking about the stuff you would want your best friend to know if he or she was about to take this retirement voyage.  I mean the nitty – gritty, day-to-day, “If only I’d known…” kind of stuff.

So I’d appreciate it if you’d leave your BEST advice in the comments.  Then pass this post around to your retired friends so that they can add their two-cents worth!  In the end, I’ll put together a great big list with links.  Won’t that be awesome?  I thought so, too!

Teacher has given yet another assignment…Make sure your pencils (erm, computer keys) are sharp…No copying off your neighbor………………..BEGIN!

Lynn

Photo Credit: Joanna Kosinska ~ Unsplash

How Much is Enough? 8 Things We’ve Learned

When we first found ourselves both unemployed seven years ago, my younger sister posed a very simple yet important question:

How much do you really need?

At first, it calmed our fears.  We had saved up plenty to survive while we decided our next steps.  But more importantly, it started us on a journey to sort of pseudo-minimalism.  We lightened our load, examined our stuff, started conversations about our values, and took a hard look at what is really important to us.  We started designing our lives on this Encore Voyage with much more intention.

Examining ‘Enough’

In the early days, hubs would spend sleepless nights trying to answer the question, “Am I doing the right things?”  “Am I taking the right jobs?”  Am I taking all the steps I need for us to be successful.”  At first, those were questions born of fear and uncertainty.

The same questions are true for anyone entering retirement.  Have we saved enough?  Are we prepared both financially and emotionally?  Do we need to do more? Are we ready to take the leap?

Well, it’s taken us a few years, but we have finally learned to stop and take some very deep breaths.  And we’ve learned some things about “Enough.”

  1. We do not need to fill every hour of every day.  Down time is now cherished! We are mindful about doing “enough.”
  2. We do not need to exist on the 8 to 5 schedule of the working world.  It’s OK for us to skip out in the middle of the afternoon or to work on a weekend. We get to decide what to make of the day, and no longer feel guilty for not doing “enough.”
  3. We don’t need to buy much more “stuff.”  We want the items we own to be useful, meaningful or beautiful.  Generally speaking, we own “enough.”
  4. Taking time in the middle of the afternoon to read a book or pursue a hobby is quite OK.  You can never have “enough” curiosity or interests.
  5. We travel lightly.  I’ve studied up on many travel blogs, and it really is quite possible to go anywhere in a 22 inch carry-on and a backpack. Just “enough” is waaayyyy better when traveling than too much!
  6. Keeping up with the Joneses is stupid.  They are broke!  Our “enough” is not for anyone else to judge.
  7. You can never have “enough” meaningful relationships.  They are far more important than the things you own!
  8. There will NEVER be “enough” time for us to love each other and be together.  We need to take advantage of every moment we’re given in this life.

So how about it…What’s “enough” for you?  Any important things I’ve left off the list?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

~ Lynn

 

 

Photo credit: Patrick Fore ~ Unsplash

An Encore or a Second Act?

As I mentioned in my last post, my absence from the blog has been in part related to the fact that we’ve been CRAZY BUSY with our “Encore Careers.”  He’s an architect, and I do virtual administrative tasks, and we have created our own second act that allows us to work mostly from home.  In the last year we’ve learned some great things in this Encore, along with some not so good…

The Great Things

  1. The world is flat – We can work from anywhere, provided we have a strong cell signal.  I purchased a wi-fi hot spot which lets us connect to people and projects, even if we are in another city or on the top of a mountain.  I have found that I can check email and send a quick response from anywhere.  Often, a client needs to hear, “I’ll have it to you by close of business tomorrow.”  They don’t need to know that I am on the 7th tee box at my favorite golf course!
  2. Starbucks is our conference room – We joke that we have many coffee house conference rooms in and around our city, perfect for meeting with clients.  Or we offer to meet at their offices.  Works perfectly, and I benefit from frequent pumpkin spiced chai teas!
  3. We don’t use an alarm clock – The voyage allows us to set our own schedules.  This is the best!  I never feel exhausted as I did when I was teaching.  We are able to schedule so that our days meet our needs, and we schedule our “down time” with intention.  Oh yeah, and I am always rested now….No seriously, I am!
  4. Togetherness with QUALITY – Back in the days of full time employment for others, we would both drag in at the end of the work day, and it was all either of us could manage to get some type of sustenance prepared for us.  The evenings progressed with me doing school paperwork and him manning the TV flipper, then collapsing into bed.  Now, we plan to do things together, often during the day!  A lunch out, an art museum, a park – whenever WE decide!
  5. Saying “NO” is an option – Because we get to decide what to make of our business, we get to select which projects we will take.  Which leads us to

The Not So Good

  1. We don’t say “No” enough – We have found from the early days of the voyage, we were a bit afraid to turn anyone down.  While we have adequate retirement funds in place, we like not having to draw upon them – and you never know if and when the next job will come along.  We’re more comfortable now, and we are seeking the perfect balance between encore and voyage.
  2. We’re always “at work”  – Even when we’re on that golf course, it’s important for us to care for our clients.  So even if I skip a hole to take care of business, it is that availability that ALLOWS us to make these chosen careers work well.  Being an entrepreneur isn’t a part-time job or a full-time job.  It’s a lifestyle!
  3. It’s easy to over-schedule – Number 1 above has occasionally caused us to pick up too many projects at once, making short-term scheduling difficult.  While we’re pretty good at scheduling our long-term goals, sometimes we let our alligators overload our hummingbirds…
  4. There’s no escape from the office – Our offices are at one end of our home.  We don’t have the luxury of leaving the office to go home.  Sometimes, for good or bad, the settings run into each other.  We are learning to consciously “leave the office” and shut down.

Don’t get me wrong.  We have had more fun since we started this voyage than we ever had in our “pre-retirement” years.  We love that we get to remain mentally engaged, with important work to do, on our own terms and in our own way.  Nearly every day one of us says to the other,

“This is a good gig, scooter!”

And so we we will continue to make adjustments as we journey down this road. Are any of you working any side gigs during your retirement years?  We’d love to hear the things you’ve learned!

Lynn

Seven Ways to Make Retirement Seem Easy

Lately, it seems that many retirement blogs and websites have been issuing warnings about how difficult it can be to retire.  They warn of the dangers that lurk right behind the euphoria of new found freedom. Tales of depression setting in, boredom developing, and my personal favorite, “disenchantment” – that realization that freedom from employment ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.  There seem to be endless lists about the things that make retirement hard…

How about, for a change, we examine those elements that, with just a little planning,

Make Retirement Easy

Understanding “enough” – When we first started the Encore Voyage, we were in a state of mild panic. Oh my God, we have no steady income stream…Until my little sister wisely asked, “How much do you really need, anyway?” And it started our examination of exactly “How Much is Enough?”  Not in a financial planning sort of way, but in a philosophical, examine your life and decide what is really important, and think about what you really need to be happy. Hopefully, you can make the cash and the needs match up.

Minding your people – I would agree that retirement could get lonely if you don’t pay attention to your tribe.  It could be family, current friends, or new friends to be made.  The point is that relationships matter, and because the work environment no longer automatically forces us into talking with other humans, we must be diligent in nurturing our relationships with intentionality.

Embracing funny – There are lots of things about retirement, heck – in the world in general – that if we didn’t laugh about them, we would cry!  If you can laugh about your colonoscopy, you can laugh about most things.  And as we age, you simply must try to see the humor in the journey, or you’ll find yourself yelling, “Get off my lawn!”

Pursuing your passion – Retirement is nothing if not a Huge Opportunity to take the time to enjoy all of the interests, hobbies, and activities that always got pushed out of the picture during our working careers!  It is worrisome if you don’t have any, or if you don’t know what they are – the world is your oyster. If you are bored, you just haven’t examined all of the possibilities.

Having a purpose – It could be a working for a charity. It might be involvement in your church. Perhaps it is volunteering in some way in the community (Eh-hem…former teacher here ~ have you checked out your local school for volunteering opportunities?)  For that matter, like us, it could be an “Encore Career” – doing something important (maybe even your dream job.)  Retirement is made more sweet by having a good reason to get out of bed in the morning.

Cuddling the globe – OK, I will admit, I have blatantly stolen that phrase from a lovely travel blog that you can find here.  Exploration and travel, even if you never leave your own community, open your mind and your senses to all that exists in this big, wide, wonderful world.

Fighting the flabby – Not that I would ever think that you can stop the aging process, but there are lots of things you can do to stay as fit and mobile as possible.  I know it’s not always easy, but we need to get off the couch and move in order to make the most of our retirement years.

I have had so many people tell me that “Not everyone could do what you and Jeremy do.”  They imply that this voyage is, for some reason, very difficult.  I guess I’m just a “glass half-full” sort of gal, because I think this retirement gig is really pretty simple!

Lynn

Photo credit: Austin Schmid ~ Unsplash

Yet Another List – Needs vs. Wants

Recently, Kathy Merlino over at Kathy’s Retirement Blog, wrote a post called What Is Your Relationship with Money?  It seems that some folks really took exception to Kathy’s use of the term ‘Blow Money’ for that money which has been earmarked for “discretionary spending.”  She and her hubs allot a certain amount each month to spend as they see fit – without questions!  I think it’s great – It’s not “Money Blown” as her next post suggests, but rather money which is spent making their lives wonderful!  Yep, actual money for LIVING!

Hubs and I use a similar but slightly different “strategy.”  We keep what we call the Needs and Wants List:

Our Needs-Wants List

On the Needs side, we list things that are going to REQUIRE upcoming expenditures:  A new roof.  Tires for the car.  On the Wants side, we list things that come up that we would like to purchase, but are not actual necessities:  New tile in the guest bath, refacing the kitchen cabinets, those diamond encrusted wine glasses (OK…. Not really…. surely you know me better than that by now!)

The point is that the list accomplishes two things for us:

  • First, by putting an item on the list, we are forced to analyze our motives.  Is this something we really need, or is it something we’d just like to have?
  • Second, putting items on one list or the other allows us to prioritize our spending, while slowing down impulse buying (at least on larger items.)  Have you ever stopped to think something through like this – “Which would be more important to us…a new toilet or new carpet in the family room?”

The list is generally for bigger ticket items.  We have always had a shared bank account, and because we both have similar financial values, we don’t get crazy on the day to day splurges.  (Yep, occasional quilt fabric counts as day to day spending.)  Neither of us is a compulsive shopper – I repeatedly remind him that he is a lucky man, because clothes shopping is just not in my wheelhouse!  Our Needs and Wants list helps us to think about the question, “What do we need to save for, and what should we “blow money” on?”  In either case,  we believe that as long as it’s thoughtful, deliberate, and within the retirement budget, none of that money is actually “blown.”

Not Completely Retired? 8 Tips for Working From Home

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about what actually “counts” as being retired. Obviously, times have changed, and “retirement” is looking a great deal different than it did during my parents’ time. In reinventing ourselves on the Voyage, hubs and I decided to start our own business, partly because we wanted the additional income stream, but also because we enjoy the creativity and opportunities we’ve discovered. Hubs will remind you that Frank Lloyd Wright did not actually hit his stride until he was 70 years old!

But we don’t pay for the overhead of an outside office space and instead, we work out of our home. In living and working together 24/7, let’s just say we’ve learned a few things as they relate to working from home. You might find these tips helpful:

1. Keep a workday schedule – If you want to operate a business, you need to treat it as you would a business outside of the home. Hubs gets up every morning, showers and is in his office generally before 7:00 AM. He recognizes that business is taking place out there, even across time zones, and he wants to be at his computer and participating in it!

2. Dress for the job – It’s a mindset. No, really it is. Hubs may start the day in khaki pants and a polo, change into jeans and a t-shirt to mow the lawn later in the day, then change back into “work clothes” when he returns to his office. Now I will admit that I’ve done some paperwork in my jammies, and occasionally I’m barefoot – but as a rule, we respect our business enough to dress the part.

3. Have a “space” dedicated to doing business – Perhaps it’s an office, maybe it’s a desk or even a table in a corner. The point is, it’s a space that is way different than sitting on the couch or recliner. It’s pretty darned easy to get distracted away from the task at hand if that TV flipper is too close! Wherever that space is, it needs to be functional for the demands of the job, with easy access to whatever materials and resources are necessary.

4. Professionalism on the phone is important – This was sort of weird for us at first, as we both use our personal cell phones. Decide, in advance, how you will answer your phone to take business calls or to answer numbers which are unknown. Your business persona is most likely quite different than the way you answer calls from your mom! In some cases, you may want a phone and dedicated line specifically for business. Either way, the current state of cellular technology has convinced us that “the world is flat” and that we can conduct business from nearly anywhere that we have a cell signal!

5. It helps to have a “hotspot.” – We’ve found that having a Wi-Fi hotspot, separate from our phones, has allowed us to have secure internet connection no matter where we travel. When we have traveled out of the country, we have put the hotspot on the international plan with our provider, allowing us to hook up as many as 5 different devices on the road.

6. Be aware of background noise – There is nothing that will make a business seem more questionable than a barking dog or a crying baby in the background! Do you want to do business with someone when you can hear the sounds of “Days of Our Lives” in the background? Didn’t think so…

7. Have a place to meet “clients” – Do you want to have clients come to your home? Early on, we laughed at having “Conference Room East” and “Conference Room West” – coffee shops on both sides of town where we would offer to meet and buy coffee for potential business associates. We also have several professional partners who have offered to let us use their business conference rooms when needed. Some cities have “incubator spaces” where a conference room could be rented on an as-needed basis. Once, when needing to meet with a members of a visiting out of town architectural firm, we had to scramble to find a professional place to meet! It would have been helpful to have a plan up front!

8. Know how to communicate, “I’m Working!” – This has been one of the trickier aspects of the Voyage, and while every instance will be personal, it is fairly universal for those working from home. It is easy for well-intentioned friends and family to believe that you should be able to set business pursuits aside in favor of other activities. “What do you mean you can’t go shopping this afternoon??? Can’t you just do that later?” It can be difficult to explain that while being your own boss does allow for some flexibility, business often must come first!

On the Encore Voyage, we claim to be one-third Frank Lloyd Wright, one-third Warren Buffet, and one-third Jimmy Buffet. We spend quite a bit of time on the Frank Lloyd portion of this gig…it’s not all Jimmy having cheeseburgers in paradise. And while we absolutely love being in charge of every day, stretching our entrepreneurial wings, working from home has been an interesting part of the journey. So how about it…any other tips you’d like to add? I’d love it if you’d share in the comments!

Lynn

Photo credit: Bench Accounting – Unsplash