Welcome to Renew’s Retiree Diaries, a new series in which we go behind the scenes with retirees from across the nation to see how they are spending their time and money throughout the course of a typical week.
This month, we’re spending a week with Barry C. of North Augusta, South Carolina.
What industry did you work in prior to retiring?
I worked for the U.S. Military.
How much do you pay each month in housing costs/rent?
What other regular monthly payments or expenditures do you have?
$500 – Groceries
$300 – Insurance
$150 – Cable
$20 – Gym membership
Total monthly costs: $970
I began the morning with a short, 2-mile jog. Then, I got dressed and went to my part-time work at the local university.
In total, I worked just over three hours. Around noon, I went to the gym on campus where I spent just over an hour and a half. I was not in a hurry, so I took my time. In fact, I even checked a few emails on my phone which I am not generally inclined to do.
Later, I had a meeting at the Red Cross headquarters at 2pm to discuss an upcoming exercise which took about an hour.
Around 3:30pm, I arrived home and changed into my yard work clothes and spent the next two hours cutting the grass and trimming the hedges.
I ate breakfast at home on Monday, and I took a wrap with me for dinner. I also made coffee at home and took it in my mug and drank water from my metal bottle for the rest of the day. Before my wife arrived home from her job, I grilled steaks from the freezer for supper.
While I didn’t make any purchases on Monday, I would estimate that it likely cost me approximately $6 in fuel to travel from home to the university and then to the Red Cross. The cost of my coffee, breakfast, dinner and supper were already accounted for in my monthly grocery bill.
Later that evening, my wife and I had supper on the back porch and talked. It was nice to decompress from an eventful Monday.
Total spent: $0
I didn’t schedule any outside activities for Tuesday. Instead, I spent the day at home in my office working on my family history book/project. I began the day around 7:30am with 15 minutes on the Nordic Trac and then had breakfast with my wife.
Even if I do not have anything pressing on my schedule, I always have breakfast with my wife before she leaves for work.
I spent almost four hours locked away in my office; I actually lost track of time. Just after noon, I took my dog on a walk around the block to get some sunshine and stretch our legs.
For lunch, I ate a leftover piece of steak and went back to my office to work for two more hours. Then, I ordered a book from Amazon in the afternoon; it cost just over $15.
Around 3:30pm, I went to my building to tinker with my generator, which I have been unable to get started. I had no success. However, an internet search provided me a list of items that might correct the situation. The next time I am out and about, I will pick these up.
Later in the evening, I cooked pork chops from the freezer for supper before my wife arrived.
Total spent: $15
On Wednesday morning, my wife had an early morning appointment at the doctor on the nearby military post, and I had an errand I needed to complete there, so we rode together. Then, we had breakfast and coffee at home as usual.
Once she completed her appointment, we purchased coffee at Starbucks. Our Starbucks coffee cost about $10. It’s not something I generally like to purchase, but my wife enjoys it.
I worked at the university for approximately 3 hours that morning. Then, I went to the gym on campus for an hour or so. At lunch time, I ate a Quest bar.
On the way home, I stopped by Lowes and purchased items I need to repair my generator and arrived home about 2pm.
The generator items cost me approximately $12. I spent the remainder of the afternoon preparing my trailer for a trip to my mother’s home at the end of the week and fixing the generator.
Once my wife arrived home from her job, we went to the local Mexican restaurant for supper. With drinks and appetizers, we spent about $30 on supper.
Total spent: $42
I drove to my mother’s home on Thursday. It is about a three-hour trip one-way and requires a full tank of fuel roundtrip. My vehicle was nearly empty at the start and to fill-up cost just over $60. On the way up, I purchased a soda and peanuts at a gas station, which cost just under $5.
I spent the afternoon interviewing lawn care companies for my mother. In total, four companies provided a bid, all much more expensive than I would like.
I convinced her it is more economical to purchase a small tractor. She has several acres, and for me, my son and nephew to divide the duty of cutting the grass. I anticipated this would be the solution, which is why I brought along my trailer.
I took her to supper that evening, and it cost no more than $25. We spent the rest of the evening back at her home with no additional expenses.
Total spent: $90
I began Friday by meeting my daughter for breakfast at a pancake house. We ate, drank coffee, and talked for nearly two hours. My bill was just under $25.
Afterwards, my mother and I went into town to look at tractors. We shopped at two locations before I convinced her of the model we were going to buy her. We purchased–I should say she purchased–her new tractor and we loaded it up in my trailer.
While she was completing the tractor purchase, I bought a few “impulse” items, including a sun hat, some gloves, and an extra fuel can, which are all items I have at home but not at her house.
I figured if I have committed to coming up every month to cut grass I need a few items. I spent about $20 on these items.
We met my son for dinner at a hot dog establishment and the three of us spent about an hour eating and socializing. At the end of our meal, I paid the bill, which was just under $15.
Afterwards, my mother and I returned to her house, and I spent the afternoon playing with the new tractor and cutting one of her fields.
She cooked supper that evening, and my nephew and his fiancée joined us. We spent the night in.
Total spent: $60
On Saturday morning I had breakfast with my mother at her home before departing to return to my home. I had already purchased fuel for the trip so that expense was accounted for on Thursday. I stopped twice on my way back, once for a soda and once for a hot dog. In total, I spent less than $10 on the return trip.
My wife had purchased concert tickets for that evening, which cost her $40 total. I arrived home about 1pm and spent the afternoon resting before it was time to clean up and go to the concert.
We decided to grab sushi before the show. There is a reasonably priced and good spot near-by. Our total bill for supper was less than $25. At the concert, I had one soda and my wife had three glasses of wine. The total bill was about $18.
The show ended about midnight, and we returned home with no further expenses.
Total spent: $93
On Sunday, I woke up first and cooked breakfast. We were generally lazy until around 10am when we got dressed for church. The 11am service which was complete by noon. After the service, we returned home and ate a salad with chicken that I had grilled earlier in the week.
I spent the rest of the day reading and napping. My wife spent her afternoon in the kitchen making her lunches for the week, and I think sneaking a nap upstairs. At some point, I did wash and iron my clothes for the week – I like to do my own laundry, and she does hers; it works for us.
In the late afternoon, we went to the grocery together. This week was my turn to pay. Contrary to what some marriage counselors may say, my wife and I find it very beneficial to divide household bills.
She still works full time. I have a military pension and work part time, and it just makes everybody happy to feel that they are in charge of portions of their spending. It works very well for us. My bill at the grocery was just over $150.
Later, we returned home, made spaghetti for supper, and spent the evening watching a movie together.
Total spent: $150
Reflecting on the week:
This week is not a typical snapshot of my life. Typically, I would not travel to see my mother or see my children every week as they live about three hours away.
My expenses for fuel and the extra eating out are not normal. Generally, I would also work three hours on Friday, which I did not do this particular week.
My pension from the military pays all of my portion of our household bills with extra remaining. My part-time job is simply extra money.
That being said, this abnormal week was only $50 over my normal budget. Most typical weeks look a lot more like the Mon-Wed plus Sat and Sun depicted here with the extra going into savings.
I suppose the take-away I glean from this is our budget projections are spot on; it works beautifully in normal weeks, allows for anomalies, and lets us save for vacations and big expenses.
Total spent this week: $450
Renew’s Retiree Diaries are written by retirees from across the nation. The views and experiences shared by the individual authors are their own. The diaries do not necessarily represent the views or experiences of Renew, our employees, or our affiliates, or other retirees.
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