the process

The Home Stretch To Do List (and the Surprisingly Strong Urge to Acquire)

We’re down to 13 work days and weekdays left before we’re all done with our careers. (Is 13 unlucky? If you don’t hear from me next Monday, you’ll know it was!) And that means we’re in that final mad dash to wrap up the things that need to be wrapped up before we pull the plug.

The mix of feelings is still very much here, but paired with a sense of focused urgency to get loads of things checked off our list, especially given that we’ll be at our company headquarters in D.C. for our last week of work, not at home where we can get more done. (DC people — plan on a meetup on December 9! Details next week.)

Today, a rundown on what’s left to do, and the strong urge we’re fighting in the home stretch.

The Home Stretch To Do List Before Early Retirement! We're less than three weeks from our early retirement, and still have a few things to do, mostly on the health care front. Plus we're noticing that the scarcity thinking in these final weeks is strong -- even stronger than we'd guessed it would be. See how we're coping and help us make sure we're not forgetting anything!

Updates on the To Do List

I’ve shared some to do list updates along the way in this last year, most recently the to do list with just over three months remaining.

At that point, we were still cramming on health and dental care, and had some items remaining to be checked off, including:

Deciding on a cell phone and plan for meUpdate: I get to keep my phone, and we’re just trying to figure out if we can go straight to Consumer Cellular (thanks for the tips!) or need to go onto a short-term AT&T plan until my phone unlocks in March.

Locking down our withdrawal strategyUpdate: Done! I’ll share more about our unconventional strategy in its own post.

Registering our business entityUpdate: Now that we’ve revealed that we live in California, I can share that we’ve decided not to register the business until 2018 because CA mandates a minimum state tax on all partnerships and corporations. So we’ll wait until next year when we’ll have a bit more revenue to make that tax worthwhile.

Deciding whether to keep a landline phoneUpdate: Out with the landlines as soon as work is done! 

Buying a new-used mountain bike for MarkUpdate: Located, purchased and still getting ridden despite the snow on the ground.

Planning the first big tripUpdate: We’re going to Taiwan, a country filled with national parks and natural beauty. We’re planning to meet up with Jeremy and Winnie from Go Curry Cracker, since I know some folks will ask. ;-) 

Still To Do — A Whole Lotta Health Care

It’s been a banner year on the medical front, and I’ve learned that most doctors look at you funny when you ask, “What else should we do, knowing that I might not be back for a while? Like maybe there are some other shots I should get or something?” (Also, oww, my arm still hurts from that tetanus shot last week. And also also, you can totally get pneumonia vaccines designed for seniors if you ask nicely enough. I’ll be a retiree, after all!) ;-)

But despite all the cramming, we have a few health things left to complete:

Mark’s final dental cleaning and check-up — Hoping not to need any follow-up work!

Two dental appointments for me to replace almost every filling — Another thing that gets a weird look: when you say to your dentist, “I have the Cadillac insurance right now, and will never have it again, so let’s replace every filling that looks like it could possibly fail in the next decade.” Don’t try to talk to me next week — I won’t be able to move my jaw.

Mark’s final eye exam and one last chance to get cheaper glasses —  Because it’s convenient to be able to see.

One more specialist visit for Mark — Hoping to get some resolution on our last remaining medical mystery.

Enrolling in Affordable Care Act (ACA) health insurance — If you live in most states, your deadline to sign up for an exchange plan is December 15, so don’t waste any time signing up! California and a few other states with their own Obamacare exchanges have a January 31 deadline to sign up for 2018 coverage, so we have a smidge more time. But the truth is I have researched this so much that we know exactly what kind of plan we’ll be purchasing. I just want to be able to write a detailed post about it (because I know how to party), and so have put it off til this weekend.

The Last Few Financial Items in 2017

Our cash accounts are already topped up, with two full years of expenses sitting there, but we’ll have a last couple of items to do after we get our bonuses in a few weeks:

Top up our donor advised fund — Everything above our magic number goes in there, and we’ll decide once we know final numbers how much to donate directly this year vs. to sock away for future donations.

Decide how to allocate our remaining investable assets — We have a little more coming in this year that we need to allocate, and given where the markets are, we’re not feeling thrilled about dumping more money into the stock markets at the moment. So we may put the remainder in bond funds for the time being, or hang onto it in cash as a future stock purchase fund — or we may just buy stock index fund shares after all. It’ll likely be a game time decision.

Speaking of Finances…

A year or so ago, I noted how knowing our retirement date was nearing was giving us weird urges, like my desire to own some scary and uncomfortable shoes to stomp into meetings like a badass business woman for once in my life. (“Once” referring to stomping into meetings, not to being a badass.) Update: I resisted that urge. No scary shoes in my closet. 

We knew we’d feel the need to buy a few things before the year ends, while we still have paycheck cash flow, but like with the emotions in this home stretch, we underestimated how strong that urge to acquire things would be.

We’ve resisted on a lot of it, but I did buy new backcountry ski boots and am on the lookout for a deal on the downhill boots that I want (both big ticket items that I do need, and which would take a bite out of next year’s budget). And I went on a bit of a Black Friday (online) shopping spree for new socks and underwear, about the only items we aren’t ever interested in buying used. (For non-outdoorsy folks, FYI that technical socks are a whole lot pricier than standard gym socks, and thus the sales are a good thing. Sierra Trading Post deals with stacked coupons for the win.)

It’s also been a time of assessing all of our stuff to figure out what might need replacing in the near future, and then figuring out if we should buy the replacement now. Currently I’m on a hunt for a replacement fleece robe, because I practically live in mine in our cold house, and at 15+ years old, it’s looking a bit threadbare. (If anyone knows who currently sells a floor length, hooded, zip-up fleece robe, let me know! My current one is Lands End, but they don’t make it anymore. I’m striking out finding one that checks every box.) And there are a few shoes I’ve bought or am looking to buy — I got new snow boots, and am still searching for comfortable ballet flats that can stand up to a lot of walking in foreign capitals and still look nice. (I am not willing to shell out for Tieks or Rothys, and the Hush Puppy “Chaste” flats I’ve been rocking for years aren’t something I love enough to replace.)

Hey Scarcity

I could keep listing the other items on my lookout list, but reflecting on it all, it does strike me that I’m in the midst of a bout of scarcity thinking.

And maybe, for once, it’s actually well placed.

Because the truth is that we are about to have a lot less to spend. Not that we’ve been big spenders for quite a few years now, so in practice, things won’t actually feel much different. But our ability to spend should we need to or wish to will change in a big way in a few weeks. And it makes total sense that we’d feel some anxiety about that, because any change — real or perceived — is hard.

Help Us Out with Last Call!

Okay, friends, please tell us: what are we forgetting? What do we need to hurry up and figure out before the clock strikes midnight on 2018? Any other tips for us? What’s on your to do list? We appreciate your help getting us over the finish line… right in time to start the next journey. ;-)

Psst. A new episode of The Fairer Cents is out today! Find it on iTunes, or get the link to your favorite podcast app at the TFC site

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128 replies »

  1. Wow, that list is making me feel dizzy! I think you might have forgotten to allow yourself to breathe during this last, exciting stretch before the next big adventure! ;)

  2. I’ve never looked into this but why not incorporate in another state? The only cost is needing to have a registered agent there right? (if you have a friend in that state, it would cost you nothing considering in most cases there’s really never a reason to talk to a registered agent)

    • For people in lots of states, that would make sense, but not in California. (Trust me. I have spent a LOT of time on this.) ;-) California taxes your income from anywhere in the world, so even though we’d have a totally legit way to incorporate in Nevada (we own a rental property there), it’s ultimately not worth it because we’d owe all the same taxes and if we incorporated elsewhere and CA found out about it, they could force us to register in CA and hit us with a penalty. Simpler just to bite the bullet and pay the CA fees. ;-)

      • You are absolutely right, in most situations it makes the most sense to incorporate in the state you live in, otherwise you end up with more taxes and more compliance work because you end up involved with two states. Even though California isn’t the friendliest towards businesses and have alot of extra compliance laws, it still makes the most sense to incorporate there.

        • Yeah, definitely. And given what I preach about not trying to avoid all taxes, I’d be a hypocrite if I did some complicated incorporation thing to avoid a few fees that aren’t a huge deal in the scheme of things. ;-)

  3. Can’t imagine the excitement you guys are feeling now!

    As for the downhill ski boots, you might want to try one of the local shops in your area for used. We have a shop here that has a great gear-swap type of thing. They don’t put any of the gear on their website so you have to go to see what they have but you can score some great deals. As you know boots are tough to get the fit right, so lots of times it’s a barely-used set of boots that gave someone too many blisters etc for super cheap.

  4. I feel your dizzy head pain!

    We’re 8 months out and our heads are spinning too. That’s probably because we have a house to sell, and a family to relocate on top of all the other stuff. Our lists include house updates to make sure it passes inspection, purchasing a snow blower for our mountain place (plow service will be canned obviously!), and checking in on the kid’s new school. The lists seen almost endless at the moment.

    And yes, the buying stuff! Like you we have focused on the big ticket items that we ‘need’. New skis for each of us, new helmets (our old ones were over 10 years old!), winter and summer hiking boots etc etc.

    We’ve also apparently dropped the ball a bit on having the cash flow to be able to max everything out 401K wise in the first half of next year, and still manage moving costs etc. That’s taken care of now, but wow – so much to think of!

    I hope Consumer Cellular works out for you. It’s been great for me so far. The only thing to note – and I think this is true for other cheap plans too – is that if you want to use WiFi calling you’ll have to have a T-mobile SIM from Consumer Cellular. Just be sure to let them know if that’s something you want.

    Looking forward to hearing ALL the additional details in the next couple of weeks!
    All the very best!!

    • Wow, your list is definitely more dizzying! Thank goodness we are staying put or I’m pretty sure my brain would actually explode! Good luck with everything. (We decided, by the way, to keep paying for plow service for the time being. They are just so darn efficient and our Sierra Cement comes in feet, not inches. But we’ll see if we agree in a few years that it’s worth outsourcing!)

      Thank you for that tip on Consumer Cellular! It’s going to be so weird to have a cell phone bill again! ;-)

  5. “Sierra Trading Post deals with stacked coupons for the win”

    Ok to me that is the only need in life these days lol so seems you have it all covered (I am a recovering addict from this Website, husband and I are not allowed to visit it unless we have a very very specific need, it is like our version of Disney and Candy Store combined ha!).

    Beyond that I am sure you have through about replacement car and basic things for home (heater whatever) in your plan so I am sure you thought of all things that you could somewhat control.

    These feelings too shall pass, remember that transitions bring heightened awareness but let the feelings flow and soon you will find yourself on the other side!

    • Haha. STP is my fave. Nearly everything I wear is from there, and most of the stuff in our kitchen. ;-) It helps that there’s a store in Reno where I can return things, which makes it low risk to order. (Okay, I’ll stop. Not trying to reignite your addiction!) ;-)

      We have factored in future car needs, and have done major appliance service or replacement recently for everything. Thanks for those good suggestions!

  6. Oh one thing I forgot – I know you are not interested in the nomadic life per se but, you never know right? :)

    While you are in Taiwan (for example) check out health expenses on things just as an option. Having delivered one of my kids abroad (well under $1.6k TOTAL (8 month dr visits, ultrasounds and shots / pills included) for the entire thing vs $1,200 x MONTH cobra insurance I would have paid in USA) and had my teeth situation done there as well with zero insurance (at a fraction of the cost with extremely competent professionals) just something to have as an extra option and peace of mind – I know you like plans like me!

    • Great suggestion. And YES, we are health care spies everywhere we go. When we were in Japan earlier this year, we explored that option (obviously not the cheapest, but much less than the U.S., though requires working), and will do the same in Taiwan! We’re also glad that we’re a day’s drive from Mexico — that is ALWAYS in our minds and might be where we get dental care from now on! ;-)

  7. A comment on the flats–they aren’t ballet flats but I love “The Louise” by Dansko and you can get them about half off every few months from The Walking Company. I have a Tailor’s bunion (at the ripe old age of 26, #seniorrelevance) and these shoes are stylish/outrageously comfortable and supportive while fitting my awkward feet.

  8. Almost there! You can do it! I’ve also been in a stockpiling phase. I bought a new laptop and set it up with some sweet productivity apps. I’ve also been to all of the doctors and plan on getting new glasses. My contacts are out and my glasses are starting to show wear around the edges where the coating is chipping off. Hopefully the new glasses won’t catch my hair all the time!

    • Thanks for the encouragement! Which laptop did you end up getting??? And you know I looooooove EyeBuyDirect, right? They are almost always cheaper than glasses from the doc even with insurance, and you can stack coupons. ;-)

      • Zennioptical.com is one of my favorite life hacks. Just need Rx numbers from eye doc plus one extra measurement (pupillary distance) which you can do yourself with their tool or ask your eye glass to measure you if you ask nicely. No name brands to inflate prices, just their own styles. Glasses start at $6.95 and are just as good visually as the $300 pairs. Most are (understandably) lighter weight/less durable.

        • That’s how I feel about Eye Buy Direct. I heart my $35 prescription sunglasses, and I have some fun pairs that were super inexpensive. Though, as you said, not every pair is super durable — some are, though!

  9. Just a quick note on the alpine ski boot issue. Leif Voeltz of the Fifth Season in Mount Shasta is retiring, and he’s recognized as one of the top custom boot fitters in the US; it might be worth a phone call or two (because your list is so short!) to see if that is something you want to do.

    PS
    Love the podcast by you two rad women! Last week was perfect timing…ie long car trip with partner so we could both listen to your episode on emotional labor. No, I swear, that wasn’t a premeditated sonic ambush…
    Thanks for adding something new and interesting to the podsphere.

    • Thanks for that note! I think if we lived anywhere else, I’d call him up. But we have some excellent boot pros here. Plus, I have had enough boots by this point that I know exactly what mods I need. ;-)

      Thanks so much for listening to the podcast — soooo glad that you enjoy it! It’s been super fun, and I love covering some very different topics than the stuff here!

  10. I love a good countdown checklist:

    Since you mentioned the pneumonia shot, are you able to persuade the medical bureaucracy to part with a shingles shot? Those can get pricey.

    If you have employer prescription insurance, can you stockpile 90 days (or more) of maintenance meds? You could ask for a waiver since you’re going overseas for a long trip.

    Once you’re no longer commuting to work, your insurance companies might offer lower “retiree” rates under the assumption that you’re home all day to watch your insured items. Will your finances support higher deductibles? What else can your insurer(s) do for you with this major life change?

    Depending on where you are during your travels, I’d highly recommend medical/dental tourism.

    Have you already thought through your response to the e-mail(s) asking “Can you work this project for us?”

    You & Jeremy could have a long talk about tax planning. I hear he’s pretty innovative with it.

    • No! No one will let me have the shingles vax, despite the begging. Not even an insurance issue — that say it’s because of age. :’-(

      And I appreciate you putting the insurance adjustment suggestion out there so others see it — we’ve been working from home for seven years plus, so we got those adjustments ages ago. Plus, our mileage will likely go up now that we’ll be road tripping more. So we’ll see how that shakes out!

      And yes all the way to dental tourism, and potentially medical as well, depending on what we end up needing. I’m still not ready to give up on good health care here in the U.S., but I’m not naive about it.

      And YES, we have answers ready on those project emails! (Hint: It involves flying first class.) ;-)

  11. I can understand the scarcity mindset — but in actuality, if you don’t spend the “stockpile item” money before Jan 1 you will still have the funds after that date, it isn’t as if the money itself disappears like your cadillac health insurance. So if you don’t find what you are looking for before year end, could you add some additional amount to your cash reserves in the approximate amount that you think you would spend on ski boots and any other stock up purchases (e.g., robe) and let yourself spend this “off budget” from this amount next year on your predesignated “stockpile” purchases? It might ease the pressure and prevent you from feeling that you have to make the purchase now, rather than wait for more favorable pricing or the exact item you want in the new year.

    • Your point is a great one. We just haven’t actually set any money aside — we’re cash flowing things. So that’s why it feels urgent, even though that’s a totally artificial constraint and we COULD just set money aside. If I don’t get my ski boots before the end of year, for example, we will do that.

  12. I’m sooooo excited for you both!!!!

    Might be not your aesthetic, but Keen has some nice flats that can take some good city trekking. Oh! And fitFlop’s Uberknit series are soooo comfy. Both of those might be too sporty looking, but just thought I’d put those out there. :)

    • You may have noticed me wearing Keens for nearly all of FinCon (when I wasn’t in my Hush Puppies ballet flats!). ;-) I live in my Keen Sienna MJs. I’m probably asking too much because I want a ballet flat I can comfortably walk around in AND wear to a nicer dinner. Like how I want a city-looking sneaker that’s also a legit hiking shoe and sandals I can hike in, wear in a hostel shower and potentially wear to a decent restaurant. You know… realistic expectations. ;-) Hahahaha

      • I live in Toms and if you go with solid black with black sole, they are just under the ballet flat in “dress code.” So incredibly comfortable for walking and lightweight for traveling!

  13. Try the Vermont Country Store for the robe? Or hell, just get someone to make you one. It would be really, really simple since it doesn’t have to look good. A giant fleece sack with a zipper should be no problem :)

    • They definitely come close to what I’m looking for! But no hoods, and we keep our house at hood temp. ;-) And truth is I could probably take on making it as a project after quitting. I have a bunch of yards of fleece sitting around, in fact! Don’t know if my little sewing machine is up to putting a zipper in fleece, but only one way to find out!

      • Last reply I’ve got for you! Just in case you run across this robe on Amazon (fleece, long, hood, no zipper)- I have this one and it’s super warm! A bit oversized (I have the smallest size and I am pretty sure we are about the same size). I use it more as a blanket/couch hang out than a functional all day kind of robe. So, just wanted to give you both a suggestion and a warning at the same time :) Alexander Del Rossa Womens Fleece Robe, Long Hooded Bathrobe, Amazon.com

        • Thanks for sharing this! It is funny how attached I am to the zipper — it stays closed all the way that way, and doesn’t have the extra folds in the way. But I may just give up and get the one you have given our strong endorsement. ;-)

  14. My tip from a year on the road. Silk! (wool socks #2). Silk is good for both hot and cold, looks great, hand washable, breathable, light and small to pack and NO WRINKLES! Banana Republic used to be good source, We’ve taken a year off twice to travel. Second time at age 55. That time I wondered IF we should have applied for a home equity line of credit (just in case of health catastrophe), assuming if we didn’t go back to work we may never have access to one in future.(Told based on income, not assets). I think you said you ruled out need for that. This is fun to watch and live vicariously through you. We hope to be out there with you soon!

    • Appreciate that tip! I am one of those weird folks who can’t tolerate any animal fibers (so annoying), but I definitely load Mark up on wool and silk. And yeah, we ruled out a HELOC for us, but think it makes sense for other folks in some cases!

  15. It’s amazing how much this sounds like the way we prepared before having a baby. Such big feelings, so many things do get done. You’re nesting ;)

    Maybe I missed this – but how much downtime will you have at home before heading to Taiwan? Have you planned out anything for that time, or so you just plan to “be bored”?

    • When I read this, my brain kind of exploded, because HOLY CRAP, WE *ARE* NESTING. :::Shocked face:::

      And from now on, we’re not sharing timing of our trips, unless we’re hosting a meetup and can’t avoid it, because we don’t want to announce to all the weirdos on the internet when we’re away from home. But I’ll share everything after the fact!

  16. I’ve written extensively on phone savings here. We get VOIP land line from Google voice, free calling within wifi, free texts within wifi, and $0.03/min prepaid calling, and $0.02 prepaid data through Tello.com which runs on Sprint’s network. It ends up costing us < $1/month/phone. Here's my writeup: https://www.frugalprofessor.com/phones/

  17. Have you looked into dental discount plans? When we retired two years ago, we looked at getting dental insurance but felt it was too expensive for what you get in return. Our dentist recommended a Cigna Dental plan that has worked well for us. Like you, we did most of the major work like crowns and fillings before we lost our company coverage. With the dental plan, we pay about $100 a year for access to dental discounts. For example, our dentist charges about $300 for a full checkup, cleaning and X-rays. With the plan, we pay about $180 And are coming out ahead of what we would have paid for and with dental insurance.

    I also recommend looking into routine dental and medical care while you are traveling. We have found it to excellent and very affordable, especially in Asia (We lived in Asia for 16 years before retiring and really miss the medical care there.)

    For your cell plan, since you are planning on doing a lot of international travel, look into T-Mobile. They offer unlimited text and data in over 140 countries. It’s been a life saver for us on our travels, especially since we can use internet based calling like Skype for any calls we need to make. They also offer a 55+ plan with two lines for $60 a month

    • We haven’t looked at these yet, but we plan to! I know that USAA offers something similar. And we will for sure do dental care on the road, no question.

      The good thing on international travel is how many companies are better on that! And how cheap it is to get a local SIM card or local pocket wifi, like we did in Japan earlier this year. I think we’re leaning toward doing that stuff since our trips won’t be super long and paying a lower rate month to month, but appreciate the suggestion!

  18. Have you tried ballet flats from BedStu. I have loved their oxfords and just finally purchased some booties from them. Really well made and I walk everywhere while looking fabulous.

    • If I resign myself to having to pay more than $50, I will look at them more closely. But I’m cheap, despite talking a big game about our baller years. ;-) (I totally wore $25 DSW clearance shoes to our $1000 Per Se dinner.)

      • Haha! Perfect! I am not cheap in shoes, but that is one of the only areas. My feet get made at me if I don’t pamper them. Makes a big difference in my body pain. My professional wear definitely comes from TJ Maxx.

        • I think my problem is that my feet are unhappy no matter what (unless I wear running shoes at all times — um, no), including in pricier shoes. So I refuse to wear *cheap* shoes, but I search out highly discounted medium-priced ones. The highest quality ones go on sale so infrequently, or it’s a small discount. :-(

        • My feet are super unhappy unless I do PT and give them fancy shoes. Once I could afford it and figured out what worked for my body, it made a huge difference. But every foot is different.

        • Oof! That’s a fair jealousy. $300 is a ton.

          Shoes play an interesting role in my life. For the past 4 years, I’ve purchased so many shoes for my girlfriend because she destroys them so quickly due to the way she walks. The rules for shoes for her, which will never actually be comfortable for her, are very different from the rules for shoes for me. For her, nothing over $60, but I got great at finding deals $30 and below. $60 was for “fancy” sneakers only. For me, only high-quality well-made shoes that I can walk in for miles. Neither of us spend under $60 on shoes for me.

        • Fancy shoe place just misdelivered an extra pair to me. They are beautiful and comfy. If you are a 7.5, I could bring them Saturday for you to try.

  19. I’d sort of like to start a whole thread about flats that will look decent and still stand up to years of international travel use, including urban biking, walking, and a bit of weather. I wouldn’t mind making an investment in some shoes that will last, and I can’t stand the revolving door of $35 ballet flats that disintegrate by the end of one or two vacations. I want the shoe equivalent of a Patagonia jacket. Any suggestions?

    • Amen Joanna! Honestly I can’t imagine any ballet flats with a low rubber heel surviving lots of city walking – they’re just fundamentally not designed for that. You’d have to find a wooden or packed leather heel/sole and have your foot be at least 1/2” or 1” off the ground to preserve the lower sides. I have not found ballet flat styles that have those features and also look cute. Maybe you could take ballet flats to the cobbler to have a second sole placed on them to increase durability? I’ve had some success with this in the past for shoes I really loved.

      Anyway, as my orthopedist says, if you can bend your shoe sole, it’s not giving you the support you need for lots of walking… even if they are damn cute.

      • Yeah, you should see the soles of the ballet flats I’ve used as my travel shoes for the last three years… it’s not pretty! ;-) I just ordered several pairs and very well might return them all, but I’ll report back!

        • I’m glad I’m not the only one waiting intently on the ballet flats outcome. I just tried on Tieks and was so close to biting the bullet but just can’t spend that on baker flats. Solidarity!!

    • I want exactly the same thing! I want to be able to travel with three pairs of shoes that cover everything: flats that are nice enough for nice dinner but can also handle walking miles, sharp looking sneakers that can work as hiking boots, and sandals that are restaurant-appropriate, can handle a little hiking and can also go in a hostel shower. Something tells me I am not going to get my wish. ;-)

      • Didn’t see fitflop flats mentioned here. The heel is thick which makes them durable and like walking on a cloud. I got them in black and wear them with SO much. The key for me is that the tow is just pointed enough to look cute with a pair of well-tailored trousers. Plus the thick heel gives me a little height (i’m 5’2”). They’re about $69 on DSW – after 2 foot surgeries i have no problem with that price tag.

  20. I’ll be looking out for DC updates! I’ll have family in town that weekend (moving to a new apartment on the 8th and baby shower on the 10th), but hopefully I can sneak out for a bit. :-)

  21. Exciting times! The home stretch to retirement can be tiring, but exhilarating. We retired 3.5 years ago, to travel full-time. A few things we did that might help you:
    We choose to have two cell phone carriers/plans, one on Verizon (because of their wider footprint) and one on AT&T. We find this very helpful, since we are periodically are in areas where only one of the two carriers has coverage. If you plan to travel a bit, you may want to consider one or more carriers that are known to have coverage where you will travel.
    Regarding Healthcare, we selected an EPO/PPO plan with an insurance company that has a large national network (e.g., Blue Cross Blue Shield). For us, it was important that our health insurance covered more than emergency medical care outside our home state and it may be important for you as well.
    We tried to resist the urge to purchase many items that we “might use” while we still had two paychecks, although that was assisted by concurrent downsizing. In hindsight, I would create a larger “account”/budget line item to spend overtime for “might need” stuff. Although we did not go on wild purchasing sprees prior to retirement, I did purchase some things that in hindsight were not needed (i.e., stuff that we have not used in 3.5 years of retirement)—no large purchases, but many small items. However, I did make some really good strategic “sale” purchases –I watched the price on a few key items that I knew we would likely use or needed replacements/upgrades (e.g., good hiking sticks, hydration backpacks) and purchased them at reduced prices.
    Oh, if you are thinking about donating any “stuff” this year, compared to next year when your tax benefit will be lower, one way to make that process easier to accomplish are charity donation pick-ups. We found that many charities will pick-up donations, if you have a large number of donation boxes, bags or furniture items. Typically, I would just leave the donations in the driveway, so I did not need to be home for the donation pick-up. FYI: Advanced scheduling of donation pick-ups is particularly important this time of year, if you want to secure a pick-up date prior to the end of the calendar year.

    • Thank you for sharing all of this, Lynn! On donations in particular, that’s totally great advice in larger places. We’ve found that in our small mountain town, no one will come here for anything. ;-) But it’s okay because we’re more of the steady decluttering types, so never have a bunch of boxes to go. Just a few things here and there.

  22. Great list. My only suggestion- make sure the cell service is good in your area, including on the slopes. My parents have a second home in the mtns and had to change their provider b/c service on the mtn wasn’t so great. So if one of them went in for lunch early or whatever and needed to call the other who was still on the mtn, it wouldn’t work. That’s more important than you think it might be!

    • Oh, yes! Soooo important in the mountains. We know we’re solid on AT&T and Verizon in the area, but Sprint is not an option. But we’re also hoping to get walkie talkies for Christmas, which are better for backcountry travel, so we’ll be slightly less worried about cell bars on the slopes. ;-)

  23. One thing I’d mention is to make sure to enjoy your newfound freedom! I’m “quasi-retired” for the time being and it’s typical for Type A people like us to fill the vacuum with more work! It doesn’t matter as long as you’re enjoying yourself but I’ve had to ease off the throttle (or plan my day a bit better) a few times already in the month since I left my job.

    Looks like you’ve got the right idea with your first big trip scheduled, but just thought I’d throw that out there.

    Love these lists, I’ll be referencing them again when I do this for the long-term! Thanks, Tanja.

  24. Chiming in with what a few others said… great list, lots of good thoughts… but make sure you’re both taking time to enjoy this amazing moment in your lives. I liken it to planning for your wedding. As the big day approaches, you can get all caught up in the stress of what still needs to get done… but when you look back, the stress isn’t worth it… it’ll be perfect whether it was or not. Create memories of joy.

    A little curious about the urge to acquire/replace stuff. And honestly, my plan kinda looks the same… upgrade to a better car to travel in, buy a bike carrier, good bikes, kayak rack, etc. But strictly from a logical standpoint, whether you save now and spend the money later… or spend now and have less saved for later… I can’t really see the advantage of acquiring/replacing stuff now… agree?

    • And there will be a revolving need for socks and underwear every so often anyway. I assume it is the nesting feeling/the need to stock up and feel safe and ready. As you say, an exciting time!

    • Such a good reminder, and we’re pretty good about that generally. We took things totally slowly on our wedding day, and it was wonderful. And when we go to DC, we’ll turn the to do list off and just enjoy that home stretch.

      And the answer on saving vs. spending now is that we haven’t saved money for these purchases, we’re just cash flowing them. And we probably should set the money aside, but I think there’s already something scary about going to the new budget (even if it’s not very different), and knowing we need to subtract big ticket items from that makes me anxious. So we may just need to add a little slush to it for next year!

  25. Do you both own a great pair of jeans? Also, leggings and sports bras will go on sale in the next few weeks, so maybe checking on the state of your personal stash.

  26. Re: cell phone plans — have you looked into Total Wireless? It’s a MVNO that runs on Verizon’s network, which we’ve found has the best coverage around Tahoe and out in the mountains, esp. eastern Sierra. We live off Mt Rose highway, and it’s the only carrier with reliable coverage in our neighborhood. Not super-ridiculously-cheap, but $57ish for 15gb on the 2-phone family plan isn’t bad.

    • I’ll take another look at them before we pull the trigger with Consumer Cellular. In truth I wish we could split networks and have one on AT&T and one on Verizon, like we have now, so we could increase our chances of one of us always having coverage.

    • Thanks for the suggestion! That is a bit above what I’m hoping to spend right now, but if I strike out with other options, I will check them out! (And lots of others have clicked that link — so I’m sure they appreciate the suggestion, too!) ;-)

  27. Congratulations! I’m enjoying reading about your journey each week. I retire in about 4 months. March 30th 2018 is my last corporate office work day. I’m very interested in hearing more about your reasons to have 2 years expenses in cash and read all about your withdrawal strategy. I like the sound of this much cash buffer but I’m still in the process of trying to decide how much cash we want to have on April 1. My current plan is to max 401k and HSA Jan-March to reduce my tax burden for 2018. So many decisions to make in a short time frame!

    You have me motivated to get my countdown list nailed in the next couple of weeks!

    • So close for you too! The cash buffer is straight up traditional retirement planning advice. Folks all seem to recommend two to three years of cash, and we didn’t want to go all the way up to three. But given where the markets are currently, we’re definitely feeling all the more like that cash is a necessity. It just doesn’t feel like the current levels will stick, and when things recede, we’ll be glad we don’t have to sell shares for a while!

  28. Ooh ooh, for the ballet flats, nothing can beat the Merrell Avessos, but OF COURSE they don’t make them anymore! My first pair has lasted maybe 2.5 years and I just bought another almost-new pair on eBay, so if you can find them, I promise they are worth it! I pretty much only wear Tevas and Merrells, though.

  29. Consider getting glasses from the web. I use Zenni.com. I just ordered a pair of progressives with clip on sunglasses for less than $100.

    • We *love* EyeBuyDirect. Similar, though I’ve gotten prescription sunglasses under $40, and single vision glasses for under $30 with their coupons. Definitely love that this isn’t our last chance to get affordable glasses!

  30. For a cell phone & plan, Republic Wireless. Been using them for a few years now and love it. About $10/month and it works internationally with no extra fees due to it’s WiFi configuration. Check it out. Side note, nobody should have a land-line anymore…

    • You clearly did not read my last to do post about why we are considering keeping the land line. When you live in wildfire country, that might be the only way you hear about an evacuation order, as the tragic fires in Sonoma showed us all this summer.

  31. Wow that’s a very detailed list. I had no idea there was so much prep going into early retirement.

    I thought we could just hand in our 2-week notice and wake up with no alarm clock on a week day. Hubby and I won’t be able to retire any time soon, but it’s great to have such great guidelines from you! ^.^

    • Yeah, turns out early retirement isn’t just something you stroll into! ;-) I don’t think it’s inherent in early retirement, actually. It’s more about leaving employment. We’d probably be doing all the same stuff if we were quitting to work for ourselves or something.

  32. One idea for health insurance. Maybe contact a local insurance agent and see if you can set up a group plan for your LLC. My husband and I (both 35) just got a group health plan for our business (we are the only two on the plan) for about $680 a month (high deductible HSA). This was at least $100 cheaper than on the exchange.

  33. If you want to get a landline for FREE, you could sign up for a Google Voice # and buy an Obi (on Amazon). Was really easy to set up. Sometimes its the only way to get a hold of my child because her cell phone is dead most of the time.

  34. A colonoscopy while you still have the Cadillac health plan. Although, you’re still very young. Doesn’t hurt to make sure.. (heh heh heh…)

  35. The two things that came to mind while reading were major car maintenance and any home/appliance repairs. Even though I try to insource the home/appliance repairs, some can still be more expensive than one thinks they should be :)

  36. Re: Quality flats. I love M. Gemi. They are on the pricey side, but the company is ethical. I have a pair of flats that make it on every international trip with me, most recently to Japan where I averaged 7 miles of walking per day for eight days. The shoes are almost two years old but look and feel as great as the day they arrived.

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