Blog Entries, retirement

Did You Talk to My Mother?

My elderly mother is in an assisted living facility in Florida. She has a staff of people who do her laundry, clean her room, help her in and out of bed, help her get dressed, help her shower, take her in a wheel-chair to the dining room 3 times a day for meals, bring her any snack she wants any time she wants it, a full time nursing staff and a doctor on call 24/7. Still she calls me daily to ask, when are you moving to Florida?

She wants me to take over all of the duties of her staff. And she will not pay me for my services. Taking care of woman in her nineties would put me in the grave long before her.

I have told her repeatedly that I am NOT moving to Florida. (I live in Virginia where the weather is infinitely better and never as hot for as long as it is in the Sunshine State). I have explained that I will NOT sell my house, after evicting my two roommates. I will NOT evict my roommates. I will not let them live in my house and move to Florida, anyway. I don’t know how to make my stand any clearer. I will visit her in Florida a couple times a year, but I will NOT move there permanently. Stop asking me, when?

So, why my current rant?

I get regular calls and texts from people requesting I sell my house and they would love to represent me in the process (thereby getting a huge commission.) When I answered my phone this morning and John asked me if I wanted to sell my house to him, I asked him if he had talked to my mother. From his stunned reaction and loud “NO!!!!” I can’t tell if he talked to her or not. “No, of course I didn’t talk to her. I don’t even know your mother. Why would I talk to her?” I think the man protests too much (to paraphrase Shakespeare.)

Never mind. My answer is still NO!!!!!!

Photo by Tierra Mallorca on Unsplash
Blog Entries, retirement, Writing

Distracted Blogging

I get distracted very easily. Every shiny thing that comes my way captures my attention. For example, a pop-up on my PC, a notification on my watch, a text message from an advertiser.

I have a ton of distracting things on my desk like a calendar with pretty pictures, a wooden doll, a cobalt glass elephant, an iron wood duck, a magnifying glass, ever changing pictures on my PC background, journals for various reasons.

The journals are each specific to a task:

  • One for random thoughts
  • One for Bible Verses that catch my eye
  • One for Korean words and phrases to increase my knowledge of the language that I currently learning to speak
  • An old Journal that is filled with random lists

Getting distracted by a journal is never a problem, however. I sometimes find myself writing pages and pages of interesting thoughts.

But, because I am retired, what am I distracting myself from? Boredom? Vacuuming the carpets? Folding the clean laundry? Unloading the dishwasher? Are these tasks really so relevant that they must be completed on a particular timetable?

You would think that with all of these fascinating task to complete that I would never be bored and always have something to blog about. Today, the air is cool and fresh, the flowers of spring are just starting to bloom, the sky is dotted with fluffy clouds. Maybe I need to forget everything and just go outside and let the wind play with my hair.

Photo by Johnny McClung on Unsplash
retirement, Writing

Turning Back the Hands of Time

Today, I am going to an in-person meeting with some close friends. IN-PERSON. With people.

I have been essentially a recluse, a shut-in, a hermit for the past two years. Covid 19 gave me permission to stay home and hide from the world and from this deadly disease.

I ventured out long enough to get vaccinated and get a vaccination booster shot. Covid still lingers in our midst, so the in-person meeting will be held with everyone wearing masks. Inside

Our group and our leadership wants to ensure that everyone is safe and no one inadvertently gets infected with this disease. Handwashing. Distancing. No shaking hands. Careful planning to ensure everyone’s safety.

I will follow the rules simply because I believe in them. I hid from the disease for 2 years and it is time to go out and see if the world has changed significantly. If it has changed radically, I may be like the ground-hog and go back into hiding.

Blog List, retirement, Writing

Drunk Call

I admit that I am getting older and am beyond retirement age. Further, most of my friends are also getting older and beyond retirement age.

It has been a very long time since I was drunk called by anyone in the middle of the night. At 8:00 PM last evening my phone rang. Just as a side note, when you are my age, 8:00 PM is the middle of the night. My neighbor who is a 76 year old spinster called me, drunk as a lord, and the conversation went something like this…

Neighbor: I haven’t heard from you in a while. Are you still above the dirt?

Me: Obviously, since I answered the phone. I waved at you two days ago when you were dragging dog food out of your car plus, a rescue vehicle hasn’t shown up at my front door recently. Figure it out.

Neighbor: That was you? I couldn’t figure out who was waving at me from your front porch.

Me: Who else would it have been? Are you drunk?

Neighbor: Well, this is only my second bottle of wine.

Me: That’s what I thought, although I mentally underestimated the amount of wine you have actually consumed. What’s on your mind?

Neighbor: I just called to tell you I am going out of town for a few days.

Me: I’m not watching your dogs!

Neighbor: That’s harsh.

Me: I have told you before, I am not watching your dogs. Its not that I think your dogs are bad or anything, but they smell like dogs. I don’t like dogs. Anybody’s dogs. Not just yours.

Neighbor: I found someone to watch my dogs. If you see a thirty year old blond woman going in and out of my house, she is the one who is watching the dogs. Oh, I am selling my house.

Me: Really?

Neighbor: Yeah. Our neighbor just sold hers and got nearly $300,000 for her tiny place. I figure I can get at least that much for mine. I have the best looking yard in the neighborhood.

Me: You have been saying you are going sell and move for the past 8 years that I know of.

Neighbor: I mean it, this time. I’ll miss talking to you.

Me: I am still not watching your dogs.

Neighbor: Dammit.

Photo by Akshar Dave ūü™Ā on Unsplash

Blog Entries, retirement, Writing

A Day in The Life of a COVID Stay-At-Home Female

Photo by Christian Lambert on Unsplash
  • 8:05 Up and at-em. Slowly. My body is stuck and I feel like I am moving through glue. Arthritis is to blame.
  • 8:20 Finally made it to the bathroom.
  • 8:45 Finished repairing the damage sleep caused. Stepped on the scales and gained a pound over the weekend. I am either eating too many chips or I am pregnant.
  • 9:00 Dressed and made bed. See Mom? I didn’t get on the internet just to make you cry.
  • 9:10 Breakfast gathered and brought into the office. No coffee today, because I drink decaf when I do drink coffee and not drinking coffee at all seems to be no problem. Besides, I don’t have irritating co-workers to deal with and no meetings in the breakroom that turn into marathon gab-fests.
  • 10:30 Read the daily Bible text, Breakfast completed, perused Facebook, wrote a blog entry, checked email, checked to-do list, looked online for baby girl names.
  • 10:35 Started working. The thing is, I work at home, doing a job that is sometimes boring and definitely tedious. But, I am saving my house. I call apartments all across the US, checking on apartment availability and pricing and then that info gets sent to the guys who hired me so they can set rates for the “daily pricing” system. Basically, apartments now charge as much as the market will bear, so no breaks on apartment rent.
  • 12:30 Lunch break. Left-over fish fillet made into a sandwich with cheese and tartar sauce. Better than a McDonald’s fillet of fish.
  • 1:30 Watched a guy on YouTube walking around Yokohama, Japan while I ate my lunch.
  • 4:05 Finished working for the day. Highlights from working: Lady: I need your home address and your birthdate before I can provide any information. Me: I am simply looking for pricing and availability. I am not filling out a lease at this time. Why do you need my home address and my birthday? Lady: We need it to make sure you are honest. Me: I will look elsewhere.
  • 4:08 Thinking about the lady I encountered. How will knowing my address and birthdate prove I am honest? I am baffled.
  • 4:09 Turned on the TV.
  • 5:45 Put my trash can out be the street for pick-up tomorrow. Watched an episode of Meet the Meerkats on Discovery+. And another. And another.
  • 6:00 Ate cereal for dinner because I didn’t want my leftovers and was too lazy to cook.
  • 6:45 Napped in my chair after dinner.
  • 8:15 1 hour and 15 minutes of meeting with Friends on Zoom. One of my favorite things to do during the week.
  • 9:15 Watched an episode of The Zoo. Animal shows are safe to watch. I am not old enough to watch anything that is rated “R.”
  • 9:30 Got ready for bed. I used to just get into the bed, now I have to get ready for bed. I am older, now.
  • 10:00 Read a book until I fell asleep.
  • 10:01 Rudely awakened when I dropped the book on my face.
  • 11:30 Read some more until I felt sleepy, again.
  • 11:31 Put the book on the nightstand so I wouldn’t drop it on my face, again.

If you read all of that, I congratulate you. You have a great deal of perseverance and stamina.

Budgeting, retirement

Very Basic Budgeting for Beginners

Stay tuned for a series of articles on BUDGETING over the next few days.

Have you been talking about a family budget, but aren’t sure where to start? Sometimes it’s good to start with the basics, such as the basic outline for a budget and the categories you want to include. Here are some tips to help you formulate a simple family budget. ¬†This can be used for an individual budget, too.

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Photo by Aidan Bartos on Unsplash

Income

The first place to start in the outline of your budget is with your income. There will be some estimating here, no doubt; but make sure it’s estimation, not dreaming, say experts. The income area of your budget is not the place to write down ideals. Simply take a look at your net income over the last three months and estimate an average monthly income. Or you might have income that changes very little month-to-month; it should therefore be pretty easy to figure out your monthly income.

Expenses

Your next category should be expenses. It’s good to include enough detail that you have a grasp on things, but splitting your expenses into dozens of little categories will probably only frustrate you. Try to make your categories fairy general – “entertainment,” for example, is a more general category than “computer games, movies, cable, and DVDs” listed as separate categories. There will probably be more estimation here than in the income category.

As you break down your expenses into understandable categories and numbers, remember that charitable giving or any giving away of money should be also listed as an expenditure.

Actual Expenses

Estimation gives way to “real” numbers when you write down your actual expenses during the month. This is the last section of your budget plan. Keep a running tally of your expenses for several months, and then look at where you are.

Some Basic Principles

In budgeting, there are some principles that are considered basic. Here are some of them.

* Distinguish between wants and needs. This can be a hard one, but it’s vital for a budget to function properly. Beware of convincing yourself that a want is a need when it isn’t – you may just be trying to find an excuse to buy the item. Real needs are things like clothes, food, and shelter; but designer clothes, gourmet food, and a palatial dwelling are more like wants!

* Expenses should not exceed income. You may find yourself surprised the first time you do a budget and discover that you actually don’t make enough money to cover your expenses. If you discover this, you need to look carefully at your income section and see where you can increase it, and look just as carefully at the expenses and see where you can make cuts.

retirement

6 Convenient (and Unnecessary) Things Many People Can Live Without

It is scary to have to give up something you are used to, but in a successful retirement, it may happen.  In my case, there are a number of things that have to go just so I can make ends meet.  Here are some ideas you may not have thought about .

  • Cable TV: ¬†Cable is something that is pernicious and ever-present in our lives. ¬†The eyes pop open in the morning, the TV goes on. ¬†And we watch whatever is there, almost mindlessly. ¬†But, what if it doesn’t have to be that way?
    • Can you bite the bullet and cancel your cable subscription? ¬†You can buy and inexpensive HD Antenna to receive all the local channels–a one time expense and you still have access to many network channels and your local news.
  • Smart Phone Data Service: ¬†I know this one is a real toughie for many people. ¬†But, can you cut down on the amount of data you are paying for? ¬†If you are now retired, you are probably spending more time at home and you can use WiFi instead of cellular data on your phone. ¬†Or, can you switch to a cheaper cell phone plan?
    • An Internet search will reveal many inexpensive cell phone plans, so do your research and find out which one will work best for you. ¬†You don’t have to spend big buck for Verizon or Sprint when you can get identical service for much less every month.
  • Land Line Phone: ¬†If you have a cell phone, do you really need a land line, too? ¬†Eliminating one or the other will be a savings.
  • Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu: ¬†Are you paying for a streaming service? ¬†Maybe eliminating one or two of them will save you a few dollars each month. ¬†Try it. ¬†Pick one to keep and cancel the rest for a month. ¬†If you really can’t live without them all, then simply turn them back on.
    • I know you just got rid of your cable, so you may be reluctant to give up a streaming service. ¬†Ask yourself how much you actually have to save each month and maybe $10 or $20 will make a huge difference.
  • Magazine Subscriptions: ¬†Is there anything you can read in a magazine that you can’t find on the Internet? ¬†Don’t renew any of your current subscriptions.
  • Books, Movies, Music on line: ¬†You can get books from a library. ¬†You can watch movies on Netflix without buying the latest DVDs. ¬†You can listen to music on streaming services, like Pandora, without having to buy all the latest tunes.
    • I love my local library because I can get books sent directly to my Kindle with my library card. ¬†Not every book is available in ePub format, but you can request them from your library and perhaps within a few months, your book will be downloadable.

Having to find a couple of hundred dollars extra each month has been a challenge, but there are cheaper ways of doing just about everything I do.  It just takes courage.  It takes willingness to change and to make a difference in my own life.

Photo by Didier Weemaels on Unsplash

retirement

3 Ways to Live Happily on Social Security

Fixed income!  Fixed Income.  fixed income. Fixed Income.  No matter how you write it, the concept is very daunting.

No one can live on just Social Security Income unless they don’t object to living in a tiny rented room and eating nothing but rice and beans. ¬† Also, no one wants to end up as a door greeter at (Something)Mart as a way to supplement their fixed retirement income.

So what can you do about it?

Get a roommate. ¬†There are plenty of people who are on fixed incomes who would love to share an apartment or house. ¬†In my case, I have my older brother who is also on Social Security sharing my house. ¬†Between the two of us, we can cover the mortgage payments, utilities and food. ¬†But, what about those extras in life, like getting a pedicure, or buying a new blouse? ¬†What if you don’t like the idea of having someone sharing your space? ¬†What if you don’t know anyone who would be willing to move in?

A roommate doesn’t have to be someone you have a romantic relationship with. If you are single or even if you are part of a couple, finding another retiree (or two if you have the space) is actually a pretty easy process if you advertise on Craigslist or other website that caters to finding roomies. ¬†You new roommate doesn’t even have to be a retiree. ¬†Maybe someone younger would work out. ¬†Just give it some thought before plunging in.

Simply decide ahead of time what you will and will not tolerate and put that in your ad.  People you interview for the position of roommate will not have unrealistic expectations if you let them know in advance what is required.

For my part, I told my brother this was a 100% no smoking house and any smoking had to be done outside. ¬†This is a pet free home, which cuts down on additional cleaning that must be done. ¬†He takes out the trash and keeps up with the yard work. ¬†He cooks and I clean up the kitchen. ¬†The rest of the cleaning we share and my house stays pretty clean most of the time. ¬†We both agreed that we would have any overnight “romantic” guests.

If a roommate is not to your liking there are other options.

Find a work at home job.  If you want extra cash and are a little tech-savvy, then work at home jobs may be the answer.  You can work in comfort and have your own kitchen and bathroom available as needed.  It may take a few weeks to find exactly the right work at home position, but be diligent and look everyday for work at home positions.

The advantage of working at home is that you don’t have to commute to work, you won’t spend money buying a lunch, you can many times make your own schedule. ¬†The disadvantage is that it is easy to get distracted while at home. ¬†People come to visit, the TV is tempting, working on a hobby may interfere. ¬†Make sure you have the discipline to stick with a job before committing to working at home.

A note of caution. ¬†Do not pay anyone to get hired. ¬†If they are a legitimate company, they will pay YOU. ¬†Use a reputable hiring web engine such as Indeed or Monster. ¬†If you are worried about using sites such as that, go directly to the company’s website that you are familiar with, such as QVC or Amazon.

Sell. Sell. Sell. ¬†If you are “crafty” you can sell your craft items online at Etsy, eBay or Craigslist. ¬†You can sell household items at yard sales. ¬†You can go to yard sales, thrift stores, auctions, and estate sales to find items to sell at your own yard sale.

It may be a cliche, but think outside the box.  Invent ways to supplement your income.  Above all, be happy with life.

Photo by Lotte Meijer on Unsplash