Cash Savings, Dogs, Relocating, Retirement Journey

Have we found a new retirement destination?

As we inch closer to a retirement date, we thought it prudent to start searching for a retirement location.


We first listed our wants:

  • Driveable distance to family (Most important!)
  • Lower taxes
  • Excellent Health Care
  • Lower real estate pricing
  • Low maintenance, one-level living
  • An active community with hiking trails, salt-water pools, and entertainment
  • All four seasons, but a temperate climate in the winter (i.e. very little snow, if any)
  • If possible, a coastal beach
  • Dog friendly.

It all started with an income tax rate search for the following states: VA – NC – SC – GA. (Although we were once smitten with Florida (which has NO income tax), that wained when I got totally triggered on my last flight from Florida — long story — but suffice it to say I will only fly when traveling for a vacation destination or when absolutely necessary.)

Out of the four southern states that we were considering, North Carolina had the lowest income taxes (and thankfully was the closest to Virginia!)

Once we picked the state, we started searching the coastal cities. Wilmington, NC popped up in the search and we decided to take a closer look into this beautiful coastal city.

We found that it literally checked off all the boxes we listed above.

  1. Drivable Distance to Family: Wilmington, NC is approximately 360 miles from where I am now, which would be about a 5.5 hour drive. This is about the time it takes me to get to New York to see my parents, so we know this is a very doable road trip.
  2. Lower taxes. This is amazing. Not only is there a lower income tax, the property tax is 50% LOWER in North Carolina than where we are in Northern Virginia.
  3. Excellent Health Care: Although I couldn’t find a lot of information about healthcare in Wilmington, there are plenty of hospitals and medical centers in the area. I’ll have to look further into this one.
  4. Lower Real Estate Pricing: Based on what we are looking for (and we are picky!), a home would cost us approximately $450,000 – $500,000. This would be a fairly NEW home with all the amenities. Our home in Northern Virginia has been valued at $900,000 (which is crazy, if you ask me). We have a very small mortgage, so we could literally walk away with no mortgage and at least $300,000 in cash. That is certainly not chump change. 😉
  5. Low Maintenance/One Level Living: Retiring in Wilmington is a thing, and there are many one-level homes as well as first-level master bedrooms. There are many communities to choose from!
  6. An Active Community/Entertainment: Most of the planned communities in Wilmington offer pools, recreation, hiking trails, and entertainment. There is also Historical Wilmington (the actual city) that offers a beautiful Riverwalk with many restaurants and pubs.
  7. All four seasons, but a temperate climate in winter. Although the summers get hot (they do here as well), their winters are very mild, with little or no snow. Yes. Please.
  8. Coastal Beach. There are three in the immediate area, all offering different experiences. Kure, Wrightsville and Carolina. A nice grandchildren draw….
  9. Dog Friendly: After doing a bit of research, I found this article about dog friendly places in Wilmington. It would appear that Wilmington is VERY dog friendly. I also found The Dog Play Spot for when we would vacation, or just need a weekend away. I was impressed.

We’ve already spoken to a realtor and planned a visit. I have a good feeling about this one. 😉

Cash Savings, Florida, Positivity, Retirement, Retirement Journey

Plans are changing. A retirement update.

Photo by Anna Nekrashevich on

In a past blog post, I listed how we planned on retiring in 2023, even with inflation looming. If you missed it and want to know how we thought we were going to do it, you can read it here.

Fast forward 2 short months. A lot has changed, and most of the changes have been out of our control.

  1. Our retirement nest egg: i.e. the stock market.

Since January 1st, we have lost 15% of our retirement portfolio. The stock market has gone up and down so much it rivals the Yukon Striker! For all intents and purposes, that loss equates to three years of living expenses. Because my husband is so ‘young’, we wouldn’t be able to access social security for at least seven years, so our portfolio and personal savings is what we had hoped to draw from when we retired.

2. Selling our home and moving. Our original plan was to sell our home and buy another, smaller home without a mortgage. Since we still have a small mortgage on our current home, this would allow us to be not only mortgage-free but give us some extra cash. Our home’s value has gone up 17%, but we believe finding another home would be difficult. Real estate values have exploded, and homes are going very fast BUT for way more money than they are worth. I refuse to play that game. 2006 – 2009 was not that long ago. 😉 Florida was once on our possible relocation list, but the overpriced real estate and the problems with homeowner’s insurance are making us rethink this possibility. At least for now.

3. Cash Savings. This is one thing that is in our control. My husband is still working, and will continue to do so if the market continues to be a bear. In the meantime, we are on schedule to put a year’s worth of expenses away by the end of the year. If we decide another year of work is necessary, we will continue to put cash away as well as pay off our mortgage in full.

Sometimes unforeseen circumstances require a change of plans. We are adapting to these changes – even though they may require a change in our retirement date. However, we still believe our retirement is right around the corner, and are looking forward to a new adventure.

If you are retired, or are planning on being retired in the near future, how has the present financial environment changed your plans?

Cash Savings, Cruising, No Buy/Low Buy, saving money

How we are saving over $1,500 on our upcoming cruise.


Cruising is our preferable way to vacation. We love the convenience of unpacking once, having multiple venues to eat, free entertainment, and many ports to visit. But we’ve learned there are more costs to cruising than just the cruise/airfare. Even the “all-inclusive” lines sneak in extras. Since we have taken quite a few cruises since 2016, we have figured out what is worth the extra cost and what is not.

And, in the spirit of my 2022 No/Low Spend Year, we have decided to cut out some most of the ‘extras’ and save a bunch of money.

Pre-Cruise (at home):

  • Manicure/Pedicure/Waxing: Usually I would treat myself to a gel manicure and a spa pedicure before the trip, as well as a brow/lip wax. Instead, I’ve decided to give myself a spa day at home and save the time and money at a salon. I have all of the tools to do so. I will bring touch up nail polish on my trip. Savings: $150.00$200.00
  • Dog sitting: Original plan was to hire a dog sitter. Instead my daughter graciously offered to take care of him (which hopefully will always be the plan!) Savings: $400.00


We chose a less expensive hotel this time that included a few extra perks: Free shuttles, free happy hour, free breakfast. (You would be shocked to see how much two eggs over easy and toast cost at hotels in Ft. Lauderdale!) Savings: $100.00

On Ship:

Photo by Live on Shot on
  • No alcoholic drinks. For this cruise, all drinks are included. One might argue that we already paid for the drinks. However, we booked this cruise over a year ago, and prices were a lot lower. We are figuring we have saved at least $150 – $200 on drink costs.
  • No specialty dining. Most cruise ships have specialty restaurants that offer different food fare – Hibachi, Italian, and steak houses to name a few. We have always taken advantage of trying one or two out on a trip. This time we will not. There are more than enough food venues already included, so we will not be paying extra for dining out. Savings: $200.00$300.00
  • No shopping. Even though the $10 sale will entice us me, we will not buy a thing. Savings: $10 – $100.00
  • No gambling. Ah, the excitement of the casino. We often played the slots ‘in our downtime’ between dinner and a show. However, we won’t be contributing to the cruiseship’s bottomline by participating this time. Savings: $100.00

At Ports:

  • No Excursions. We’ve been to all of the Caribbean islands on this itinerary so we won’t be taking any excursions. We do plan on getting off the ship and enjoying the public beaches for a couple of hours. At most, we will pay for chairs and an umbrella. Savings: $250.00 – $500.00
  • No Port Shopping. With the exception of a possible t-shirt for my husband, we will not be purchasing anything on the islands. Savings: $100.00

Total savings: $1,460 $2,000! Wow!

We will still have extra expenses — Uber rides, meals outside the cruise, and tipping. But saving almost $2,000 on stuff that won’t make or break our trip? Ahhmazing.

Cash Savings, Florida, Inflation, Retirement Journey

Think inflation is 7%? Think again.


Just as this cartoon portrays, I was able to save money during the pandemic. My husband was fortunate to keep his job (although they lowered his pay for a short period), and we didn’t do anything for almost 12 months. No travel, no eating out, no clothes shopping, no ‘extra’ shopping in general. Instead, we were able to pay down a significant portion of our mortgage.

In 2021, we spent money. Our bills remained the same (i.e. insurance, utilities, etc.), but we did some home improvements, traveled, and went out to eat. We took advantage of exceptionally low interest rates and refinanced our mortgage one last time (2.25%). It lowered our mortgage payment by $1,000 a month. We were in a great situation.

Fast forward to 2022. All of our regular bills (except the mortgage) have increased by between 20 and 50%. The economic pundits have you believing it’s only 7%. That is simply not true. Every company has jumped on the ‘inflation’ bandwagon and raised prices an astronomical amount. 7% would almost have been okay. But it is just not so. We have personally been experiencing numbers much higher than 7%.

Here are a few examples: Subscription services were raised by $1 a month. On $7.99, that is a 12.52% increase. A recent gas utility bill went from $192 (2021) – to $272 (2022) which is 41.67%. (I highly doubt this past January was that much colder than last January.) I just received a notice that our property tax is going up to more than $9,000, which is a 20% increase. Our sewer line insurance and water line insurance increased by 56.18%. I have yet to get our new car and homeowner’s insurance policies, but based on this article, I should expect a significant increase.

My husband’s pay raise for 2021 was 0%. Houston, we have a problem.

Even with these increases, we are fortunate. We make enough income to cover our increasing bills, but we have less disposable income. If we were in retirement, on a fixed income, this would be frightening. A 40-50% increase on the essentials such as utilities and insurance is insane and non-sustainable. What can we do?

We can only control our own situation, and we are taking action to do so.

We are going to continue with our plan to retire in 1 year, however, we are tweaking our plan slightly. (The bullets in bold are new!)

  • Saving as much cash as we can (the no/low buy year!).
  • Selling our home and buying a smaller home. (Lower taxes, insurance, utilities)
  • Selling one of our cars. (Lower insurance/maintenance/gas).
  • Moving to a state with no income tax and more sun!
  • Utilize retirement savings to purchase real estate for rental income.
  • Establishing part time work for another source of income and mental stimulation.

I have yet to discuss the last two bullet points with my husband, but I’m sure he’ll be receptive to it. 😉

I believe diversification is going to be key in retirement and getting income from different sources may be the ideal solution to this crazy economic climate we are in.

How are you handling this wild inflation? What are you doing to take control?

Cash Savings, No/Low Buy Update, Spending

No/Low Buy Update: Week 2

If you are new here, every Monday during 2022, I am posting an update on what I spent for the week as a way of keeping myself accountable for my No/Low Buy Year. Also, in order to see my true savings, I am also tracking items I was tempted to buy but didn’t. This is proving to be very eye-opening, for sure!

Week 2 was interesting. I was actually able to grocery shop! Since breaking my foot, I had been doing a combination of Walmart pickups, Instacart, and/or sending my husband out with a list. I was so excited to be out and about that I went a wee bit overboard. I was curious if I would see empty shelves, as I had been reading about food shortages, but I didn’t experience it. I got everything on my list and more. 😉

What I spent (not counting regular bills) January 10 – January 16:

  • Lint brush $18.96 (the dog hair is out of control!)
  • Take Out for 3 from a nice restaurant: $73.84
  • Groceries (two weeks worth): $267.00
  • Household: $20.00
  • Dog bed: $18.99

Total: $398.79

I’m pleased with this week’s spending. The amount for groceries is for two weeks, so it averages to about $135/week. We decided to use our ‘once a month’ dining out for a nicer restaurant in our area this week. We did takeout and ended up watching a movie on Netflix while we enjoyed our meal. Auggie is no longer sleeping in his crate and needed a place (other than our bed) to sleep, so I found a great deal on a dog bed at Aldi. Thankfully he likes it, and manages to sleep most of the night on it.

It could have been a much spendier week if I succumbed to my temptations, however.

Items I was tempted to buy:

  • Cordless Vacuum. $400 (dog hair!!)
  • Lunch out: $20.00
  • New budget book: $18.00
  • DaySpring bible: $55.00
  • Snowman mug: $15.00
  • Rent Punchline (a movie): $3.99 (This was only on Amazon, and I’m not doing Amazon anymore.)

Total: $511.99

Truth be told, I almost caved for the cordless vacuum. The dog hair is really getting to me. Instead, I settled on the ChomChom lint brush. It works. I also was quite smitten with Candace Bure’s DaySpring website. But, I remained strong and stuck to my No/Low buy and ‘saved’ $512!

How did you do this week?

If you missed it, here are my No/Low Buy Challenge Updates:

Week 1