semi-retiring, work life balance, lifestyle block living

Retirement: Autumnal activities

As I said in my last post, I was going to make feijoa chutney and guava jelly with the ripened fruit over the next week or so. And I have. Well, at least I have done one batch of each, and will do another batch in the couple of days. I have tasted the feijoa chutney and it is amazing, especially with cheese – forgive the lack of modesty here! I have yet to taste the guava jelly, barring a lick of the spoon when I finished putting it in the jars, but I am sure this, too, will be fine.

This morning I tried out a recipe for feijoa jam . This is crammed full of sugar, and looks totally unpalatable -I don’t think I will make anymore. I also whipped up a batch of yoghurt using powdered milk, and my yoghurt maker. This is both incredibly easy to make and a cost effective alternative to the bought options. I have included the instructions for it below this post.

The other big news is we have built a new vegetable garden. The original garden which was here when we arrived was a long way from the house – too far, in fact, to easily maintain. So over the last couple of years when I was working fulltime, I didn’t!

When I was planning for retirement, resurrecting the vegetable garden was on the list of ‘must do’ things. The man and I knew that for it to work we needed to move the garden and composting bin closer to the house. In preparation for this, we moved the worm farm and compost to the other side of the first row of trees in Spring. These are now about 20 metres from the house and we are using them properly everyday.

With regards to the vegetables, in early summer I planted my vegetables in pots on the patio outside the dining room to see if the spot worked out well for easy tending of them. It did, so we made the decision to put the garden in a space between this patio and the upper patio. The land here is on a slight slope, so the man built a small retaining wall out of rocks that were on our property, making the first level of the two-tiered vegetable garden. Last week the man back filled this level with volcanic soil, and added a bag of vegetable garden mix we had hanging around. We will add compost shortly to this garden and then we will be ready for the first of our winter planting in April. We will complete the second tier of the garden in the next couple of months in time for planting garlic in June.

We will keep you in the loop how this new garden pans out.

Yogurt recipe:

1 c. milk powder (I use full milk rather than trim)

1 litre cold water.

A culture- I use one or two tablespoons of plain yoghurt (this can be left over from last batch made or you can buy a small tub of plain yoghurt to start you off)

Mix milk powder into 1 litre of cold water in container with lid. Stir culture through.

Pop container into yoghurt maker (we have a Hansells one). Pour boiled water around the container. Pop on lid and leave on bench overnight.

Refrigerate the next day.


NB: I take a couple of tablespoons from the new batch of yoghurt and store this in a small screw top container in the fridge – otherwise the man eats the whole lot and I have lost the culture for the next batch.


Superannuation increase

Superannuation is going up on 1 April by $42.22 extra per fortnight. I have added an additional $22 per fortnight to our food budget which rounds the food budget out to $300 per fortnight.

I have increased my yearly expense budget by the remainder of the increase ($20 per fortnight).

On May 1st the winter energy payment comes in too. It runs from 1 May to 1 October each year.This is $20.46 per week for a single pensioner rate and this has not been allocated in the budget yet.

So how is the budget going to date?

Food budget: $278.00 budgeted per fortnight. Last food shop was $278.57 (over by .57) and the previous one was $273.50 (under by $4.50). I am getting very good at buying everything I need in this one fortnightly supermarket shop.

Our food budget does not include any cafe meals which are paid for out of our own discretionary savings of $200 per fortnight each. This fortnight we had Grant’s birthday so we went out for brunch ($56.60) and had a one cafe morning tea ($13.55) which was split bill with our daughter.

Electricity: $120 budgeted per month. Our electricity has remained under the budgeted amount. It was $47.85 for February with the $50 credit from Genesis for renewing the yearly contract. The bill in January was $98.61. March’s bill looks like it will be under $95 this month (shorter number of days in the cycle). It will be interesting to see what winter brings, but as I mentioned earlier, we have not allocated the winter energy payment yet, so I think we will be well and truly OK.

Petrol: We are keeping to our $150 per month for petrol with ease. Most of our trips are local, with a trip to town about 3 times per month. We have been to Auckland twice since I retired in January, and to Mangawhai once.

We have spent $70 at the petrol station so far this month, but had fuel in the tanks from the previous month. We do use our fuel card when we can for the discount.

Car insurance: My car insurance is due for renewal on 30 April and I have just received the invoice. It has reduced in cost by about $1.00 per month which is a pleasant surprise, but this is probably due to the depreciating value of the car!

Luxury Purchase (don’t scoff, it is all relative!) I have gone wild and purchased a Neon tv subscription for $15.99 per month. This is in addition to Netflix. I will pay for this out of my discretionary spending $$.

Retirement: Feijoas, petrol and inflation!

It is now mid March and we are officially in autumn. Autumn is my favourite season – the weather tends to be settled, and the temperature is dropping a bit which I prefer.

Autumn is also when the feijoas are ready to eat. We have three trees on our property and the harvest this year has been good with larger fruit than the past few years (probably due to more rain) and very little guava moth.

To date, we have used them in a crumble and a cake as well as eaten them raw. This week I will make a few jars of feijoa chutney too. This is superb with crackers and cheese. I also intend to freeze some.

I also have some guava jelly to make from the red guava trees which are now ready to pick. Before I begin this, I do have to buy some muslin when I am next in town. This is used for sieving the cooked guava pulp in the jelly-making process.

Which brings me on to the question: am I missing work yet? The answer is an emphatic no. My days are full and I am enjoying every moment of my life. One of the things I have noticed since I have retired is that I have lost a few kilos. I guess this is hardly surprising – my job was an 8 – 4.30 pm desk-bound job which, when you think about it, is a very unnatural way to live for humans. Now I am moving about way more as I live my day to day retired life. I also get in a walk most days whereas when I worked, I was time poor and could only fit a walk in on the weekends.

Life is great.

Budgeting: Petrol and Inflation and falling $$ value of our investments

Firstly, if you remember, I recently transferred our savings for my retirement into the man’s Kiwisaver (private superannuation fund). I also changed the fund from Conservative to Balanced. We have an automatic payment every fortnight to meet the balance of our living costs.

With money markets falling, we have on paper lost a few thousand. Am I panicking, no, not at all – though I admit I don’t like looking at the balance at the moment. Regardless, we will ride it out and hope that it comes back up. If it doesn’t – well, it is annoying, but we aren’t going to starve!

Budget: Petrol, of course, is going up in price. Is it impacting us? We haven’t exceeded our budgeted petrol amount yet. Indeed, we find we are using the cars less than we envisaged we would, so think we will be able to stay easily within our budgeted amount, even if it gets to $4.00 per litre.

Groceries: These, too, are going up and will continue to for a while as the petrol increases etc flow through. At the moment, I am sticking to the budgeted amount, but I am careful. This week I decided to go back to making our own yoghurt. There are several reasons for this besides the cost saving: homemade yoghurt has less sugar, reduces the amount of plastic I put out to recycle, and as I have time to make it, why wouldn’t I?

Electricity: After checking their rates which won’t fluctuate over the year, I refixed with Genesis for another year. If my calculations are right, my bill will go up between $3 -$5.00 per month. This is no biggie. I also got a $50.00 credit for refixing – nice, but it didn’t influence my decision to stick with them.

Lastly, I forgot to mention last month that we have a heated towel rail. We do not, however, use it. In summer, the towels dry out naturally. In winter, we hang our towels in the hot water cupboard which is conveniently positioned next door to the bathroom.

Retirement is grand!

Eight weeks retired – summer fruits & electricity bill

As we head out of summer into autumn, the peaches on our tree have ripened and I am picking a few off most days. This year the crop has been the best we have had: the fruit is large and the guava moth which has attacked the tree for the last two years has bypassed us. This last fact is remarkable as we have not used anything to try and stop the moths; indeed, for the last couple of years, we have totally neglected that tree – no pruning, pest protection, mulching etc!

The fruit we have picked has either been eaten straight from the tree or made into peach and ginger jam. There was possibly enough to bottle, but I didn’t. Next year if the crop is as good, I may be more organised and get around to bottling a few jars. Later in the year, I will plant another peach tree.

In spring we planted two avocados, two passionfruit vines, a mandarin, lemon, plum, and tamarillo. Instead of planting these where all the fruit trees were, we selected places where we felt the conditions would be best for them. I am pleased to say that this strategy has worked well and the plants are thriving. The only victim has been a passionfruit which the man executed by mistake when the weedeater slipped. He secretly replaced it with a new one before I found out – and yes, he narrowly missed being executed himself. Luckily, the new plant is doing exceptionally well!

The man cut out three fruit trees a couple of weekends ago. Past their use-by date, these were an apple, nectarine, and possibly an apricot – I say “possibly” because although a previous property owner had told us he thought it was, we’ve never had any fruit off it so we actually don’t know for sure. Most of these old trees were cut up for the firewood pile, but the man also sliced some into small rings to use for smoking meat.

In the next month to six weeks we will prune the stone fruit trees, spray as required, remove the grass growing round each trunk out as far as where the tree’s canopy extends. We then will add compost and mulch to this area. We hope this will encourage a better crop next year from the trees, particularly the plum trees which have had a lot of blossom but very little fruit to date.

Lifestyle block living – always work, always rewarding!

Electricity Budget

I have had a few comments about our cheap electricity bill, so I thought I would reply. In summer it is costing between $92.00-$98.60 per month.

To clarify, we don’t actually sit there and think, “oh, we must save power”. We use what we want, when we want it.

We also aren’t with a recognised low cost electricity provider like Power Shop or Electric Kiwi. We are with Genesis, so we could possibly reduce costs if we change. I will review this in the next couple of months.

1. We are on a low use plan – low use plans are being removed shortly. By my reckoning, this will add about $12.00 – $15.00 per month to our bill.

2. We wash on sunny days and use a cold wash. I aim for a full wash, although sometimes this is not possible.

3. We have a rotary clothes line outside which I thoroughly recommend. It has heaps of capacity, lines are well spaced out and clothes dry fast (way faster than those static lines.)

4. We don’t run a dryer. We had one when the children were at home, but with two of us, we have found we don’t need it.

5. We have a clothes rack. It is wooden and is the same model my grandmother had. I bought it second hand off TradeMe. It holds less clothes than the more modern models, but the clothes are better spaced out in my opinion and dry faster. If it starts to rain, we will finish the clothes off on the clothes rack. It is great for kids’ hut building too!

6. We don’t use electricity to heat our house. We have a wood fire. The wood for it comes from our land.

7. We run one fridge freezer. It is an LG which we purchased new about 9 months ago. It was selected because it was the right size (great freezer capacity) and had a 4 star energy rating. We don’t do the old, (inefficient) spare fridge in the garage trick.

8. We don’t have a freezer. We did buy a second hand upright freezer when we moved here. We gave it away for two reasons: firstly we didn’t actually need it. We get lamb about once a year, but tend to give a lot away and our fridge freezer can house the rest. Secondly, it was not energy efficient and was costing us over a dollar a day back then.

9. We have a dishwasher but only run it when we have guests. We use the dishwater from our sink in our garden.

10. We have an electric double oven and an electric hob. I tend to cook double the amount or more for dinner. I either freeze the leftover portion and use it later, or we eat it the next night. We use the microwave to heat it up.

11 I bake regularly. I bake two things at once and freeze one of them.

12. The man has a workshop and his machines use electricity. He is in there most days. This does not seem to add much to our bill.

13. We shower. We actually don’t have a bath in the house. Because we are on tank water and have been for years, we don’t dawdle in it.

14. We don’t have a spa pool or a swimming pool. We do have water troughs for the sheep, but they don’t need to be heated etc.

15. We tried energy saving light bulbs in the house. In some rooms we went through a few i.e. they didn’t last long so we replaced those with conventional light bulbs. We turn off lights when we aren’t in the room.

16. We turn off items which use electricity when we aren’t using them.

Lastly, all people in the area of NZ where we live are shareholders in our electricity lines company. Each November (or so), we get a dividend or credit on our electricity. For the last two years this has been $250. For us, this works out at 2.5 months of ‘free electricity,’

Feeding ourselves on a budget

Eating on a budget is not new to the man and me – it is how we have always operated. Being retired means it is essentially more of the same, but being no longer time poor, we are more organised which (often) translates into better meal planning.

There are several things now in our favour with regards to sticking to our budget. They are as follows with some comments:

1. Being older we find we don’t eat as much as we did when younger. We also have found that we put on weight just by looking at food – so another reason we are mindful about what we put in our mouths.

2. We aren’t big consumers of meat. Our portion sizes aren’t huge but are in line with what is recommended by the Heart Foundation. We aim to eat 6 meat dishes a fortnight, 6 vegetarian (non-meat, more than vegetarian in truth), and 2 fish dishes. Often I cook enough for two nights, and have it the next night too or freeze it for later in that fortnight.

3. I bake weekly. I normally bake two things at once, and freeze one for later. It is something I like to do and it is nice to have something sweet with a cuppa. I am not convinced it is cheaper, but I know what has gone into it and it is free of palm kernel oil! I also make bread on occasion for something different.

4. I make jams, marmalade and preserves from the fruit and vegetables we grow.

5. We are very light drinkers. We may have a glass socially, but it is the exception rather than the rule. This summer we have bought two lots of beer, a bottle of wine and sherry for a boozy trifle. That is it. This was over the Christmas break for the day itself and for when guests come. We have a lot of that second carton of beer left.

So how do I shop?

1. Shopping list: I shop fortnightly to a list. I also meal plan to a degree, particularly for dinner. I have a kitchen blackboard where I write things I need to buy – this can be things I am about to run out of or things I may need to buy for a particular meal. By having the list, I know what we need so this removes the need to pop to the local Four Square for top-ups. The only regular exception to this is milk which I do buy between shops. Of course, there are times when extra things jump into my trolley; some of these things will be sensible buys e.g. items I use that are on special and some are things that are the polar opposite of a good buy – the odd packet of kettle fries, or block of chocolate, for example.

2. Supermarket: I shop at Pak n Save for groceries, meat, and any fruit and vegetables I need to supplement what is in our small garden. I do this for convenience and price – there is no butcher’s shop in town and the vegetable and fruit shop is miles away. We do have an amazing Farmer’s Market but sadly, we are not frequenting it as we should! I normally shop in person at the supermarket, however, at the moment with Omicron circulating up here, I am doing the shop online to minimise the mixing and mingling with other shoppers.

3. Fish: I get my fish from the local fish shop as it is fresh.

4. Pricing: I compare prices and quantities e.g I buy a 1kg or 2 x 500g coffee beans rather than 200g packets, as it is cheaper. Same with flour. This is not true for every grocery item, however, so it pays to check quantities against prices if you are trying to stick to a budget.

5. Brands: In some cases, we have our favourite brands and we stick to them. These aren’t necessarily the cheapest but I am willing to pay extra for what we particularly like. Having said this, I will also buy cheaper brands if I can’t spot the difference. Yes, you will find Pams, Value and Budget items in our shopping bags.

6. Specials: I will buy two or three of a brand we use/eat if they are on special and stockpile them. I also will buy extra meat if it is well-priced and freeze it for later.

7. Supporting local: We do like buying local. We buy most of our honey from a local who sells from his house. We did this for eggs too, but have lost our supplier. Yes, yes, I know we should have our own hens and we are giving it some thought!!

8. Takeaways: We now rarely eat takeaways; maybe once a month. If we are feeling too lazy to cook, we aren’t beyond whipping up something easy like an omelet or beans on toast – it hasn’t killed us yet!

9. Eating out: We will have morning tea or lunch at a cafe about once a fortnight. We go out for dinner infrequently – maybe three or four times a year. We pay for these out of our own discretionary money.

So what do we eat? Starting with the main meal of the day and working backwards, here we go:

Dinner: We aim for 6 meat and 2 fish meals per fortnight, and 6 vegetarian based ones. As mentioned before we have a garden that provides some of our vegetables and fruit, but do also buy from the supermarket. We rarely do dessert, unless we have guests or it is a special occasion.

Lunch: This tends to be sandwiches. We have recently changed to Vogels bread as it seems to be kinder on the man’s heartburn. Our sandwiches in summer are more often than not made from salad ingredients, cheese, hummus, slices of meat (we tend to buy roast beef, rather than ham), chutneys and pickles. In winter, we swap the above out for toasted sandwiches or soup other days.

Breakfast: In winter, we have porridge. The man follows this up with toast topped with marmalade and jam (often homemade), or honey. In summer, we have muesli, yoghurt and fruit. The man again follows this up with toast. I would like to say the muesli is homemade to impress you, but, truthfully, it isn’t; ditto the yoghurt. We also occasionally mix it up and have poached eggs on toast, bacon and eggs, or pancakes.

Snacks: Home baking, sandwiches, fruit, or cheese over the day.

Drinks: The man drinks lots of water – I don’t. We have coffee – indeed, we have converted to coffee beans recently which we grind (we like the ceremony around this), tea (English breakfast and red bush tea), and milo. We do also have juice in the fridge which we drink occasionally.

We are both light drinkers, but will have the occasional drink socially.

We rarely buy soft drinks either. We have purchased two bottles over the summer.

So how is our $280 per fortnight budget holding?: Three shops in and we have an underspend with Shop 1 and 3, and an overspend with Shop 2. Shop 2 was our Omicron stock up shop, so that is hardly surprising we went over budget with the extra food, panadol, ibuprofen and electrolyte supplement.

Despite shopping to a budget, our pantry and freezer are well stocked, we are eating a good variety of nutritional food and remain happy and healthy.

Budget realities

I have been retired for near on a month – so how has the budget panned out?

Pretty well, really, with one exception – the man’s Kiwisaver account.

In the last three weeks, I transferred most of the savings I had put aside into his Kiwisaver, leaving a few thousand behind in a not-to-be-touched savings account for unforeseen situations.

We then set up a fortnightly direct debit into our bank account from the Kiwisaver which would supplement the man’s government superannuation.

All well and good; except, the Kiwisaver balanced fund got hit by the money markets which are doing backflips at the moment – anyway, long story short, on paper we lost a few thousand of his fund’s value. This is not good for my planning or my heart- having said this, I will follow the advice I have read – leave the money where it is and not panic! What goes down, must come up, right?

Onto our monthly expenditure:

In tables below, I have included figures. This makes me feel like I am standing here naked revealing all to the world -I mean, who talks actual dollar values? Having said this, retiring early on what amounts to about the same as the government superannuation for a couple does require planning, and I know there are people interested in what we are spending and where.

But before I begin, I must point out we have things going in our favour – these include our wood fire which heats our house during winter with wood from our land, the occasional sheep for the freezer (one a year on average at the moment, so not a lot), a small vegetable garden this season with plans to expand, fruit trees, low land rates as rural so on septic, and tank water (after 20 years or so of tank water, we are dab hands at managing it and don’t buy in water)

Anyway, here goes:


January expenditure:

Monthly bills

Budget Actual cost Comments
Power $120$98.61 Power came in $21.39 less than budgeted for. This was in spite of the fact there were 4 more days in this month’s bill cycle.
House/garden maintenance $100$100.00Lawns done once this month.
Will review our 2 cars payment schedules when they come up for renewal and see if worth paying them in one lump sum
NB paying insurance on 3rd car until sold
Subscription $6.10$6.10Magazine. This is a fixed monthly price, and worked out considerably cheaper than paying for it as an annual payment.
Netflix $12.99$12.99Fixed price
Kidscan $30.00$30.00Fixed price
Slingshot – mobile phones/internet$104.64$104.64Fixed price

Yearly expenses $490 per month Budget Actual cost Comment
Rates1763.00 $440.75 paid by quarterly instalment. Next one due Feb 2022
Car maintenance1000.00Services due April & Aug 2022
RUCs1000.008,000 kms still to go until next renewal
WOF 80.00Not due until Aug 2022, April 2024
Car Regos 305.00Not due until April & Aug 2022
 House and contents1721.00Not due until Dec 2022. There probably will be an increase in premium then. Will adjust for this later.

Food and Petrol $830.00 monthly Budget Actual cost
Food $280.00 fortnightlyFortnight 1: 265.00
Fortnight 2: 335.00*
Underspend fortnight 1: $15.00
Overspend fortnight 2: $55.00
See below for explanation*
Petrol$150.00 monthly$140.00$10.00 surplus, plus fuel still in tanks of car. This included 2 trips ( Auckland, and Mahurangi)
Pak n save Xmas club$70.00 monthly$70.00

Discretionary spending:

$400.00 per fortnight is budgeted for discretionary spending for the man and me. This month we spent money on flea/worm ointment for cats ($92.00), one doctor’s visit, ($30.00), one tip trip $59.00, one pair of ear muffs $26.00, two cafe morning teas $38.00, chainsaw chain $59.00. The residual was saved in to our own bank accounts.

Food: At the end of the first fortnight I had a $15 surplus from the budgeted amount. This probably doesn’t sound much, but we had two grandchildren stay over a period of 4 days, a barbeque for 9 people where we provided some of the meat, two salads, nibbles, and some alcohol we already had. The people who came brought food and alcohol too.

We had people staying for a couple of weekends – we provided food, but they also brought food to supplement it.

This fortnight we went over budget. This was deliberate as I stockpiled about two extra weeks supply of food as the country is expecting an omicron outbreak and I would rather a) make a few meals for the freezer in case we get it, and, b) avoid shopping as much as possible while it is circulating in the community.*

I also bought some panadol and ibuprofen and electrolyte drinks which I wouldn’t do normally.

Comment about our food budget: The man and I eat well. We eat in season and opt for zero waste.

I will expand on this next blog.

Newly retired

At 4.15 pm on 7 January 2022, I posted my swipe card through the hospital library’s after hour slot and walked out the door into early retirement. I admit I was tempted to skip out the door, but felt that was slightly tasteless!

It has taken me close to seven years of planning and saving to get here, but even at this early stage of being willfully unemployed, I can categorically say it was absolutely the best thing for me to do.

I wake up each morning feeling more relaxed, happy, and energised than I did when I was working. I also feel fitter and slimmer (no scales, but my clothes are already looser) – this is hardly surprising as my last two roles have been sedentary, desk-bound jobs – a pretty unnatural way to live, right?

Although a mere eleven days into retirement, my days are shaking down into a sort of schedule with a mix of housework (yes, I don’t overdo it, but the house is still looking way more ship-shape), a bit of gardening, some stripping of wallpaper off the kitchen walls (its painted over, so think ‘nightmare’ here), and lots of reading, walking and swimming.

I am also back writing for a few hours each day – a book I started seven years ago is finally getting some long overdue attention. It would be nice if the book when finished gets picked up by a publisher, but even if it doesn’t, its writing gives me immense pleasure and that in many ways is enough!

Early retirement – there is a lot to be said for it.


My last pay is tomorrow.

From then on, our income will be the man’s state pension and a top up payment from his private superannuation fund Kiwisaver, which we added our early retirement savings to.

This will require us to follow the budget that we have written.

We think it is doable and that we have covered every contingency, but, regardless, of whether it does or doesn’t pan out as we have planned, we will let you know!

Almost retired

At the end of this week, I will lock up the library, post my swipe card through the after hours slot and walk out the door as a paid employee for the last time. It has taken me six to seven years of planning and saving to get me here, but I have made it!

So how do I feel about this (imminent) early retirement? It is, to be truthful, both a frightening and glorious feeling. Frightening, because I am saying goodbye to the structure employment has given me and also to the fortnightly pay check (never a six figure salary, but always welcomed). Glorious, because my time is now entirely my own to do with as I wish!

I have no doubt that I will feel like I am on holiday to begin with and that is fine with me. As I settle into the new norm, I suspect life will shake down into something more structured and I am happy with that thought as there is only so much holidaying one can do and I have things I want to achieve!

Roll on Friday.

Early retirement money matters :

Kiwisaver fund:

The man has changed his Kiwisaver (private superannuation) account to a balanced fund from a conservative fund. Historically, the balanced fund has paid better returns, so although slightly riskier, we are willing to take the chance in the hope it will keep us ahead of inflation for the thirty three months we need it.

My kiwisaver fund has always been in a balanced fund, so no changes are needed there. I will continue to contribute at least the minimum amount required to get the Government supplement each year until I am 65.

Early retirement funding

We are putting most of the savings earmarked to fund early retirement into the man’s kiwisaver: the returns being better than any bank term deposit.

We are setting up a fortnightly withdrawal from this fund to cover the period until I turn 65 when I will be eligible for government superannuation and can access the funds in my Kiwisaver account.

We are leaving an additional few thousands in a savings account as an emergency contingency fund. We hope not to use this.

Please note we do have other funds invested. These are a share in a property and in a few shares. We are not intending for these to be used to supplement my early retirement.

Budget Prepping

I am now thirty three sleeps away from retiring, or if you prefer, three pay days away.

As the Stone’s CFO, I finally took the budget I had drawn up and sorted out what bank accounts we will need to make sure our finances work seamlessly (hopefully). Micromanaging, possibly? Overkill, perhaps? Yeah, maybe, but I prefer to think of it as mitigating risk – simply, I don’t want any cash flow problems in the future which may result in me needing to return to paid employment! Ever.

I, therefore, approached the task with a level of precision that wouldn’t go amiss in a military operation. Firstly, I worked out what expenses needed to be grouped together e.g. fortnightly, monthly, annually, one-off costs. This information was used to establish what bank accounts we needed. Using the budget figures, I then calculated how much I needed to deposit in each of these accounts to meet our expenses. I decided to deposit money in each account fortnightly as this aligned with the man’s superannuation payment ( this superannnuation will be topped up with a set amount from savings to meet the budget shortfall). I saved this bank account structure information in my computer, but I also printed it off for the study wall as I prefer using the old hard copy to refer to!

Now I have the outgoings structured, I do need to review where we have our savings deposited which we will be using over the next three years. At the moment we have money in the bank but the interest rate is far from flash. We also need to do something about the man’s Kiwisaver which remains untouched and wallowing in a conservative fund with an abysmal return rate at the moment – indeed, it is way below the inflation rate which is not something to make a CFO smile.

Yes, more to sort, but it will be absolutely worth it, I have no doubt.

Bank Account structure:

KIwibank – (Account 1) monthly bills   
Power xxx  
House/garden maintenancexxx  
Slingshot – mobile phones/internetxxx xx xmonthly totalxxxx fortnightly expense

ASB Joint account – Yearly expenses

Car maintenancexxx   
Car Regos xxx $total cost $xxx monthly$xxx fortnightly

Kiwibank –(Account 2) Monthly-  Food and Petrol

Christmas savings (supermarket club) xxxxxx monthly$xxxfortnightly

Discretionary money:

Heather – (personal bank account)- $xxx per fortnight
Grant – (personal bank account) $xxx per fortnight

Discretionary spending e.g. clothes, hair cuts, meals out, outings, small NZ trips, doctor’s bills will be funded from our own personal bank accounts. Overseas trips (unlikely, while Covid is impacting on the world) and other big adventures, or unexpected expenses will be funded from our retirement funds which are separate from these accounts. Ditto: home improvements. Although we live pretty frugally naturally, our intention is to have an enjoyable retirement and do what we want -after all, you can’t take it with you!

A perfect fit

It is Sunday afternoon.

Our weekend has been a corker one. Firstly, the weather has been summery which is always a plus.

Secondly, the man and I have managed to fit in a nice balance of productivity and relaxation.

The productivity side included going through our wardrobe to identify clothes we no longer wear. For the man, the clothes he pulled out were only fit for rags or the bin.

Mine? Well, mine are all in pretty good condition but are no longer fit for purpose. These ‘no longer fit for purpose’ can be divided into three categories. The first are the clothes I no longer fit – yes, I have finally admitted that I will never again squeeze into those lovely GAP jeans I bought in London in 2007. And, Dear Reader, this isn’t weight- related surrender – the reality is my 62 year old body is a different shape entirely to the one I had in my late 40s. Blame estrogen depletion, rather than a high fat diet!

The second lot I am culling is way more exciting though. These are the clothes I wear to work. As I have about two months employment to go, the cull is a bit restricted, but I have made a start. To this end, I have a bag full of shoes – high heels, anyone? l also have a bag of work clothes that I won’t be wearing between now and retirement day.

The third pile is clothes I will never wear again because I simply don’t like them. The fact is I probably never liked them, but kept them just in case I might one day have an epiphany and change my mind! I haven’t. Time for them to go!

Unlike the man’s rags, my clothes will be sent to the local charity shop, where I hope they will find a new owner to love them.

The second thing we got rid of was our old fridge. I had kept it on the offchance I needed the extra freezer space for one of the lambs presently grazing in our paddocks – yes, country life can be harsh if you are a lamb! However, I have decided that the extra space is not needed so yesterday I cleaned it out ready for its new owner and ran it overnight to make sure it was in tip-top running order, which it was. Today I put it as a ‘Free to good home’ bargain on the community Facebook page and it was snapped up straight away and picked up shortly after. A win for both parties, I thought!

This afternoon the man and I factored in the relaxation time in the work/life balance equation and drove to The Deck Cafe in McLeods Bay for afternoon tea, before heading to Urquharts Bay for a walk along the beach. As we strolled along, we said hi to groups picnicking or just hanging with friends and family. In the water were a few swimmers. Further out from the swimmers were boats anchored with dive flags out. If you squinted your eyes up, you would occasionally see a diver surfacing with their bag full of scallops. Kai moana at its best!

The man and I love this part of the world with its beautiful scenery, friendly community, and laid back vibe. It is a lifestyle that is a perfect fit.

Retirement Planning:

I recently read a financial article which stated that due to loyalty (or, should that be, inertia?) most of us stick with companies that are no longer the best for us, be it what it covers and/or price. The writer of the article suggested we take a more business approach and review the companies we deal with on a more regular basis.

As I read it, I nodded in agreement. We are loyal old things and we have been with our insurance company our entire married life. It was way over time for a (mini) review. As I am keeper of the purse, this job fell to me!


The first thing I did was check the policies and what and how much they covered. I was pleased with the replacement value on everything.

I then looked at the payment side. We are paying our premiums (house, contents, 2 vehicles) on a monthly payment plan. I know if I pay these premiums annually, there is a discount. I think it used to be 9%.

I contacted my insurance company to find out how much the annual payment discount was now, but have been told that each time a policy comes up for renewal that the annual payment discount would be calculated then. This is weird, but I am willing to work with it at this stage.

The policies will come up for renewal in three lots – the vehicles are two separate policies, but the house and contents are due together. As they come up for renewal, I intend to get the two prices (annual and monthly amount) I will also compare the price with other insurance companies to see if it is competitively priced i.e. I will get quotes from other insurance companies*. I will then make the decision as to what is the best option for us regarding the company I go with and whether I pay annually or monthly.

*I will check reviews of insurance companies too before I make any changes.

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