I am an Immigrant.

Lots of things to process lately. I had promised to stay off FaceBook and all US tv news. Have done extremely well with the news. I’m not even reading many articles in the New York Times to do with the election. But, I have spent time on FaceBook, and I have found some comfort in seeing how so many like-minded people are feeling. And, I see people  on FaceBook who are feeling the same things I’m feeling. But, the thing I see that I am not feeling is physical fear. From my friends who are not straight, white men, I sense a great deal of fear, all the way from a general uneasiness, which we are all feeling, to a serious fear for their physical safety. I think the fears are very real, and not without cause. I see reports also on FaceBook and NY Times, of protests all over the country. I see large groups of white people trying to communicate to the world, “Hey, we aren’t all assholes.”

I don’t know what I would do if I were there. We did not leave the USA for any political reason. We simply did it because we both realized, at just about the same time, that we wanted to live in Mexico…that we desperately needed a change (and, boy! did we get one!), and that while the “New Nashville” was coming on groovy, it really wasn’t the place where we wanted to spend our “golden years.” I am very thankful that Mexico has welcomed us. I do not really see myself as an expat…that seems to imply that i am no longer something that I used to be. I don’t think that is the case. I haven’t changed as much as I have simply moved on. I’m an ex lots of things, but patriot is not one of them.

We started coming to Mexico about 25 years ago, and I was never ready to leave. It finally reached a point, towards the end of my work career, that I realized I was basically waiting all year for 3 weeks in this country. I can’t say what it is that I love so much about this place. What ever it is, that feeling hasn’t changed after living here for a year.  I was seriously wanting to spend more time in Mexico, and had inserted a two week summer trip into our work calendar, along with the 3 weeks in the winters on the beach. The summer trips were to take us to the interior of Mexico, and we saw a style of life there that felt very manageable.

Retirement was not easy for me. I knew without doubt that I had done enough, but it was still the thing that I was identified by in Nashville. I felt that once I stopped doing what I did, people just didn’t know what to do with me. It was a very uncomfortable time for me. I was ambivalent about so many things. One of the beautiful things about just hauling off to another country is that nobody really cares what you “used to do.” Your identity is totally based on how they perceive you. Anyone who is looking for a location for the next act of their life should really consider a move.

We continued to travel to Latin America after we retired. We had a 6 week twirl in Costa Rica and Panama; not for us. We felt we needed to check out a little something other than Mexico, but after that trip we developed an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude. So, our next big adventure was a 6 month drive, the entire length of the country. We spent 3 1/2 of those months in San Miguel, because we were already very attracted to it.We could see ourselves living in San Miguel.The underlying purpose of this trip was to decide for sure where we wanted to spend 6 months a year. We wanted to check out Oaxaca City and San Cristobal de las Casas, too.

Our plan at that time was to spend 6 month a year in Nashville and 6 month a year in Mexico. By the time we drove the length of Texas, heading back to Nashville, we were both realizing that would be kind of a hard job. Plus, finding rentals that take dogs is a bit harder than a regular rental. And, not to mention, the bright idea we had about renting out our house while we traveled turned really dismal. We both agreed it was a  “never again” on that plan. We were very fortunate to have our Nashville house sell, and sell fast. (Thanks Keith and Jonny). And, of course, it was a much more valuable place than it had been in 1977, when Fred bought it.

We could see from all angles that the 6 month here, 6 months there thing was not going to work. We could sell our Nashville house and budget enough to get a nice house in San Miguel, or we could split the money from the sale and buy a place in Nashville that we wouldn’t like and a house in San Miguel that wouldn’t suit us either. Or, we could go for the whole enchilada and just move to Mexico and live here year round. We were totally unified in our decision, and that made it all much easier. So, we sold our house, much of our belongings, gave many things away, and by some feat of magic cleaned out the attic and basement. Then all the work of packing what we intended to take, and setting up all the details of the move was combined with getting the house ready to go on the market. This was a huge deal, and a real Murphy’s Law situation. By the time we actually got out of the house and handed over the keys my brain was fried. Things were getting extremely real.

Again, we didn’t come here because of trump. Or, because we don’t like the USA, or any of those reasons. We came because we simply love the simple life in Mexico. It feels good here to us. I love walking out the door and being in another country. I love walking down the street and not having everyone I see look just like me. I love hearing a new language, and I even love trying to speak it. I know Mexico has problems. I have no interest in Mexican politics, which is good since I am not a citizen of Mexico. For my own well-being I am very glad to have already moved to Mexico. I support all of you who are tin the US right now and feeling this election on a deep, personal level. Each one of us will have to deal with this chapter however we deal. I trust all my friends in USA to know what is right for them to do. Follow your own inner guidance.  Stay alert, and walk towards the light.

[Note: the photos I use with this series of posts may or may not actually relate to the post.]


How We Figured Out How to Retire…..(it’s all in the planning)

To fully appreciate this post you need to understand that I have always been totally clueless about money. As a child, money was truly a sore spot in our home and the basis of most arguments between my parents. When I went out on my own, I lived from paycheck to paycheck, and my money situation was one day at a time. I never thought ahead, never had any savings, and was usually late paying bills. I couldn’t manage my checking account and more than once I just closed one and opened another because things had gotten so screwed up they seemed hopeless. I don’t know if any of you can relate to this, but I suspect someone out there can.

When I met Fred I was attracted to the fact that he was a responsible adult. By that time (I was 35) I was ready for some sort of order in my life. After a few years of marriage we found ourselves running our small jewelry business together. Fred’s job was running the business, mine was creating the jewelry. It was not an overnight success, and many times we were both overwhelmed by how hard it was to make the whole thing work. But Fred was remarkably supportive and he always encouraged me not to give up. Somehow we always managed to meet payroll, and keep it in the road. One thing Fred did early on was start IRAs for us. We just put in a little, but it was consistent. Of course, we both paid Social Security and I had worked for Metro Schools long enough to have a small pension coming in my future. I remained pretty clueless about money. Money always scared me. I didn’t want to know the dollars and cents part of the business, and left all that up to Fred. Thank goodness for Fred. We had a good life with our business, but we also had some times when things were tight.

We reached a point where Fred knew we needed to sit down with someone who could help us understand our financial picture, and have some sort of vision for the future. A friend had recommended Kay Quinn. Fred insisted that I go to the meeting with him. I protested, as I really had an aversion to talking about money. I think my vision for the future was that I would work until I absolutely couldn’t and then live in a cardboard box. I always expected to hear the worst where money was involved. So, I went metaphorically kicking and screaming to the meeting. And, was I in for a surprise when I met Kay Quinn. For the first time in my life someone was talking about money in a way that held my attention. I listened and I understood. She had us make a general budget of what we needed to spend on a yearly basis. She figured out what was going on with all our sources of retirement income. She asked us how long we expected to live. (We both said to 100). She entered our financial picture into a computer program and showed us how we could make it work. I was completely amazed. I never complained about going to a meeting with Kay again. I also like John Stauffer, who works with Kay for us, and her handsome son, Andrew Quinn, who is the third advisor on the team of three. They are a small business, which means each client gets excellent attention. While I think John and Andrew are great at what they do, I have to admit that dealing one on one with another female was probably the hook for me. At other times of my life when I had had to talk about finances with a man in a suit my eyes would usually just glaze over. Kay always makes me feel like she gets me, and I feel I can express myself to her in the same way I would to a really close friend.

The plan was in place and I was going to work until I was 70. That was fine until I decided a year early that I had had enough. This took some re-doing of the plan, but Kay made it all work. I was really ready to quit, but the quitting process took about a year. It was not an easy year, but we were happy to sell our business and move on. We have been throwing Kay curve balls right and left, and she always makes it work with our plan. Selling the house a few years ahead of our downsizing plan, moving to Mexico—-changes, changes, changes. Not only has Kay been supportive, she has cheered us on to follow our dreams. She has helped us with every stage of every process since we have been her clients. She helped us price our business. She helps us deal with the whats and wheres and whys of each question we have. She even helped us figure out what we could comfortably spend for our next house in Mexico. And she does it with patience and a sense of humor, and with absolutely no judgment.  Just my kind of woman, that’s all I can say. She is incredibly smart, very plugged in, and understands how investments work. But, most of all, she is a voice of plain common sense and she speaks in ways that I can understand. And, if I don’t understand, she helps me out until I do.

Kay and her partners are not stock brokers. They are certified financial planners. They do manage investments, and they carefully assess the risks that clients are willing to take. They keep an eye on the market and make sure that their clients are not exposed when risk outweighs opportunity.

Many of the friends that Fred and I have are quite a bit younger than we are. I suspect that for some of them, the idea of retiring is a bit of the great unknown. In fact, when I was 65, retirement was the last thing on my mind. Then I started to realize that work was becoming more like work and less like fun to me. In a moment of time, I knew that I wanted to quit with the same amount of passion I had had when I wanted to begin. I had no doubt, and honestly it frustrated me when I realized I was going to have to work one more year so that things would end properly. I wanted to spend more time in Mexico, and I was tired of selling, tired of dealing with problems, and tired of meeting payroll. So, I say to my friends who seem unable to wrap their heads around retirement–don’t worry. When you are ready, you’ll know. And, if you are enjoying your work, keep at it. But, my motto about life certainly applies to work, too. Always quit while you’re still having fun.

In the meantime, you are never too young to start your financial plan. I am very thankful that I partnered with a man who has a good head for keeping things together. I am also very thankful that he insisted I go to that first meeting with Kay. She has not only opened my eyes to seeing the big picture, she has assured me that I won’t be living in a cardboard box.

Quinn Financial Partners   (615)297-3434
2726 Larmon Drive | Nashville, TN 37204   http://www.quinnfinancialpartners.com