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Learning to Adjust to Retirement Income

It's been almost nine months since Dan's accident and about six months since Social Security retirement kicked in. I have to say that even though he no longer goes to work, he's busier now and works harder than he ever has. And he couldn't be happier.

There have been several aspects of learning to adjust to our new income. We always knew it would be quite a bit less than what were were used to, but that's part of why we took up homesteading in the first place. By meeting more of our own needs we don't have to be as dependent on money. "Retirement" came earlier than we expected, but since a financial scaling down has always been a goal, it wasn't that difficult to adapt. The more challenging adjustment has been in the pay schedule.

As a truck driver Dan got paid once a week. We calculated our budget monthly and put weekly amounts into our budget categories: bills, tithe, groceries, fuel, household expenses, etc. Most months have four weeks, which was how our budget cycle was set. An occasional fifth Friday in the month was like a bonus, with an extra paycheck for the month.

Social Security pays out monthly. We still work off of a monthly budget with weekly spending categories, but some months are longer than others. Out of habit I still start our budget week on Friday, and if there are four Fridays in the month, all is well. But the occasional fifth Friday is no longer a bonus. It's an extra week we have to wait before we get paid again, so we had to figure out something. 

We discussed a number of ways to deal with it. Choosing another day to start our budget week wouldn't change anything, because those extra days can hit anyplace. We could do monthly spending adjustments to compensate for a 5th week, but that seems like too much trouble. We finally decided to make all 5th Fridays no-spend weeks.

As it turns out, occasional no-spend weeks really aren't that difficult. A large part of our diet is homegrown and I'm a stock-up shopper anyway. So it only takes a little planning beforehand, and really, no extra spending. The best part is that I get an occasional week off from shopping and running errands. I like that part a lot!


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