Two pots sitting side-by-side on a stove.

Retiree Diaries: A week with Vicki from Princeton, Texas

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 Vicki H. of Princeton, Texas.

What industry did you work in prior to retiring?
I worked in financial services. I’ve been retired for 5 years now.

How much do you pay each month in housing costs (rent/mortgage)?

What other regular monthly payments or expenditures do you have?
$129 – Medicare
$100 – Groceries
$80 – Water and utilities
$125 – Electricity
$60 – Lawn mowing (April – September)
$11 – Website costs
$113 – AT&T wireless and internet service
$20 – HOA fees
$60- Gasoline
$200 – Regular donation to fund mission trips in Costa Rica

Total monthly costs: $838 – $898


6:00 a.m. – I wake up at this time every day with a little help from my two little dogs. I let the dogs out and get their food bowls ready. Next, I brush my teeth and take a shower. Every morning I have a cup of French Roast coffee. I usually spend at least an hour of quiet time reading the Bible and enjoying the company of my dogs. My dogs know that I will be sitting for awhile and not be on the move like the rest of the day.

8:00 a.m. – I fixed my customary breakfast of peach flavored Greek yogurt. Then I made a list of what I need to accomplish during the day. I’m expecting company from Costa Rica next Thursday, so cleaning is definitely a priority. Also, I need to trim the bushes front and back, and it is better to do this before the heat of the day commences.

10:00 a.m. – I made a run to the bank to deposit a couple of checks. Also, dropped by the Water Dept. to pay my water bill.

12:00 p.m. – I had a light lunch of a tossed salad and some leftover roast beef.

5:00 p.m. – I spent most of the afternoon cleaning. I got the guest room ready with fresh sheets and towels. Because I wasn’t that hungry, I decided a light dinner would be enough. I made a tumbler of mango juice with apple cider vinegar. I’ve lost 25 pounds this past year drinking this.

7:00 p.m. – We had a prayer meeting at the church and afterward I enjoyed visiting with friends.

9:00 p.m. – Listened to my favorite podcast until around 10:00.

Total spent: $79.65


6:00 a.m. – I woke up and completed my usual morning routine.

8:00 a.m. – After a cup of coffee and yogurt I decided to continue trimming the bushes outside.

10:00 a.m. – I went to Dollar Tree to pick up a few items for guest baskets for my company. I always feel like I’ve saved a lot by purchasing things at Dollar Tree that would cost more somewhere else.

12:00 p.m. – I stopped off at Walmart to pick up ingredients for homemade ice cream. My church is having an ice cream event tonight, and there will be a contest for who makes the best ice cream. At first, I didn’t think I would participate as I didn’t have an ice cream maker, and I didn’t want to buy one. Then I found a recipe on YouTube for an ice cream that would only require a beater.

1:00 p.m. – I fixed a light lunch of pasta and a tossed salad. Then I made the ice cream. It is delicious and not even frozen yet. We’ll see tonight.

3:00 p.m. – I felt a little sleepy and took a nap. One of the things I enjoy most about retirement is that I have the luxury of being able to take a nap when I want to.

5:30 p.m. – I know I will be tasting a lot of different ice creams tonight, so decided to have a bowl of lentil soup and crackers for dinner.

7:00 p.m. – The ice cream event was spectacular. There were twelve entries. I came in fourth place, and I think if I had made more I might have gotten second place. The strawberry cheesecake won first place and deserved it.

9:30 p.m. – I spent some time with the dogs before retiring. Read a few chapters from a new book and quickly fell asleep.

Total spent: $19.25


6:00 a.m. – Today will be a busy day, so I had to cut short my customary morning routine.

7:30 a.m. – I needed to get ready to drive 45 minutes to a residence I clean. People say I should stop cleaning now that I am older, but I enjoy the exercise. As long as I have good health, I plan to stay active.

1:00 p.m. – I arrived home and had lunch. My friend Jeff called and wanted to stop by to visit. He has started an Airbnb on his farm, and he wanted to know if I would like to clean the area he rents out each week. I said I would be happy to, as it is not difficult to clean. Also, it is very peaceful on his farm. I will make an extra $200.00 which will be a blessing on my limited budget.

4:00 p.m. – After doing laundry, I spent some time relaxing and reading my book.

6:00 p.m. – I made a rice dish with a side of broccoli for dinner.

7:00 p.m. – Went out to water the flowers. I cut some fresh mint to add to iced tea I will make tomorrow. The grapevine didn’t produce as well this year because of the heat. I will need to prune back the vine, and next year I plan to water them more often.

8:00 p.m. – Spent time on the computer writing letters. I have procrastinated on this and needed to get some much-needed correspondence completed.

9:30 p.m. – Ready to read a little more of the new book before retiring. I am very thankful for a good and productive day.

Total spent: $0


6:00 a.m. – I began my day as usual.

8:00 a.m. – Enjoyed my breakfast of yogurt and a cup of coffee! I knew I had a busy day ahead of me, so made out a list of all that I needed to accomplish. I got out my recipe book to plan the meals for next week’s company.

9:00 a.m. – My first stop was to get my car inspected. It passed inspection which is amazing for a 2005 Prius with 149,000 miles. Then I went to Kroger to get the sticker. Inspection plus sticker cost $128.54. Glad this only comes around once a year.

10:00 a.m. – My next stop was to the grocery store. They had a special sale on bing cherries for only .49 cents, so I bought four pounds. I knew they would be a real treat for my company. I also thought of a neighbor who recently lost his wife and decided to take some over to him on Friday. The total cost for groceries was $52.29. Jeff had brought me some Angus beef from his farm so I didn’t have that expense.

12:00 p.m. – Had some crab salad which I had picked up at the grocery store. Delicious!

3:00 p.m. – I remembered I needed to fill the water jug, I don’t mind running errands. When I was working full-time errands were a nuisance, but now they are an opportunity to get out of the house and stay active. I am enjoying the “Golden Years” because I worked hard to become debt free. With a lower overhead, I can manage on less. Even with a limited income, I feel I live a rich and full life.

9:00 p.m. – I spent a quiet evening reading.

Total spent: $126.25


6:00 a.m. – Woke up to a beautiful sunrise!

8:00 a.m. – After breakfast, I planned the potluck supper I am having at my house after church on the 22nd. There should be about 28 people, but with everyone bringing something it shouldn’t be too hard.

10:00 a.m. – Went to Walmart and bought an area rug. It was only $19.98 and a bargain. They had copy paper on sale for $2.00, so I bought a couple of reams.

12:00 p.m. – Miguel came by and mowed the lawn. He has only charged me $30.00 for the past ten years.

1:00 p.m. – I went to visit my neighbor Rudy for the first time since his wife passed a few weeks ago. He was glad for the company, and I know he will enjoy the cherries.

3:00 p.m. – Did some more cleaning. I forgot to water this morning so watered my plants even though the sun was up.

5:00 p.m. – Had a salad and a hamburger patty for dinner.

7:00 p.m. – We had a service at church tonight which I enjoyed immensely.

8:00 p.m. – I need to go to bed early. Once a month I go with some friends to teach Bible studies and counsel at the Dallas jail. I’ve been doing this for ten years and always look forward to it. Volunteer work is so rewarding and makes me feel productive in my retirement years.

Total spent: $24.77


4:30 a.m. – Chowie, my Chihuahua, woke me up wanting to go outside. I couldn’t get back to sleep so decided to get up early, have a cup of coffee, and get ready for my trip to Dallas.

8:00 a.m. – I met with four of the other jail team members. We had ten men come for the service. We had the men until 10:30. They were very attentive. In ten years we’ve never had a disruptive class. They all had smiles on their faces when they left the room. People need hope.

11:30 a.m. – Stopped by another Dollar Tree to pick up some solar lights and olives. The store closest to my home didn’t have either of these items.

12:00 p.m. – Arrived home and Jeff had sent a text asking if I wanted to work at his place. I told him I would be at the farm by 2:00 p.m., so I could take a nap.

2:00-4:30 p.m. – I did light cleaning, folding sheets and sweeping. Jeff paid me $25.00, and I was grateful for the work. We had some tamales and chips and salsa. With guests arriving this week, it will be a relief to have extra money for expenses.

6:00 p.m. – I’ve been saving glass containers to make solar lanterns. I saw someone make these on YouTube and have wanted to do it for some time. It didn’t take long to make them, and they will add a lot to my patio.

8:00 p.m. – I had a busy day and am a little tired so have decided to retire early and enjoy reading my book. It was a very productive day despite being tired, and I feel very content.

Total spent: $5.40


6:30 a.m. – I slept a little longer this morning because the dogs didn’t wake me up.

8:00 a.m. – I washed my hair and got ready for church.

10;00 a.m. – Brian came to church. He has a tumor on his bladder, but he always has such a good attitude. Jeff also showed up which was unusual. The highlight of the morning was a man named Clint who wandered into the church for the first time in many years. Hope he comes back.

12:30 p.m. – Filled the car with gas.

1:00 p.m. – I made a shrimp linguini dish for lunch. It was delicious.

2:00 p.m. – I usually take a nap on Sunday afternoons and today was no exception.

3:30 p.m. – I ironed some clothes and vacuumed the guest room.

4:00 p.m. – Worked for awhile on the computer. Also, sent cards to the men who came to the jail service yesterday.

6:00 p.m. – Sent out a group text to the ladies at church to help with the potluck supper next Sunday. I will cook the beef in the crockpot, and everyone else will bring potatoes, green beans, salads, and desserts.

9:30 p.m. – Listened to a podcast before retiring.

Total spent: $12.58

Reflecting on the week:

I enjoyed keeping this diary, as it gave me an insight into my daily routine I’m not usually aware of. To some, who might have preconceived ideas about retirement, it might seem that I am still working. However, I could see that my activity was purposeful. When I was working full time I didn’t have any control over my time as I was working for someone else. Now I am my own CEO and can choose how my time is spent. A big difference! I realize that expecting guests probably gave me a busier than normal week. It is obvious from reading my journal that I really like planning ahead.

Total spent this week: $267.90

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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