Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Should You Be Freaking Out About Your Investments?

Short answer - probably not.

By retirement age, your investment portfolio should be more conservative, less speculative. Yes, the market is down. NO, it's not that serious a slide. Here is a picture of my Duke investments for the last year. It went up most of the year. It's down, but no more than it was at the beginning of the Trump administration.

In that time, jobs have also grown, manufacturers have brought money home to the USA, and we've gotten an decrease in the tax rate. I would NOT expect a implosion in the investment market.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

How is the Writing Going?

In general, well - I've managed to get a few pieces published at Medium:

Medium is changing their format to a paid membership arrangement - I'm not sure that I'll be adding to my work in the future.

In terms of my book, I've not made much progress since just before Thanksgiving - too busy with holiday plans, a funeral, and illness (first my husband, now me). My cold is better, although I'm still way down in energy, and I'm finally able to function without taking a nap 1/2 way through the day. I even made it to the gym twice in a week.

Most importantly, the brain fog has lifted. For over a month, I've been unable to concentrate on anything substantial. Over the last week, I've started writing in my journal, planned the outline of a short story, and done some background thinking about my next book.

Tomorrow (Tuesday), I'm planning on getting out my notes and diving into the revision full-bore.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Missed a Post

Alas, I was sidelined with a particularly nasty virus. I was horizontal since New Years Eve. This is my first day up for more than an hour at a time. I'm deep into unpacking, cleaning, and catching up on mail, messages, bills, etc. I'll be back tomorrow with an update on how you might be affected by the flu/pneumonia this year.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Back From Vacay

And, it was lovely.

We traveled through Erie, PA, before the snow started coming, which was a good thing, as they are around 70 inches accumulation on the street right now.

70 inches!

Christmas was all that I wanted:

  • Family and friends around
  • Good food, but not too much
  • Fun - we went to see the new Star Wars
  • Time on the trip for DH and I to talk
  • Rest
I'm ready to take up my regular schedule, starting next Tuesday. Until then, I'll be spending time at home, getting back into regular workouts at the gym, and clearing out temptation from the kitchen.

Next week, I'll begin regular posts again.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Some Ideas for Christmas Gifts for Seniors

No one needs handkerchiefs anymore. Many people would love to come up with better gifts, but have trouble thinking of something both appropriate and indulgent. Why indulgent? Because many seniors can afford what they NEED, but hesitate to spend money on something unnecessary.

Here's some ideas:

  • Gift certificate for a plane trip, or transfer your Frequent Flyer miles to their account.
  • Gift cards at nearby restaurants.
  • Gift card for an Uber or Lyft ride. There are times you just can't drive - after visits to the eye doctor (particularly if they have to have drops put into their eyes), when recovering from injury or illness, when roads are unsafe, after dark.
  • 1 year's free fitness club membership.
  • Time and help - make a date to come over to help them wrap Christmas gifts, address cards, bake cookies. Let them set a date for a get-together with friends, and be the caterer and clean-up person.
  • Lawn service. Find a younger person to help them with weeding and gardening.
  • Window cleaning. At the same time, add in curtain or blind cleaning.
  • Gutter cleaning.
  • Snow removal.
  • Leaf clean-up.
  • Several times a year, pay to bring in someone to do the deep cleaning. I've had elderly relatives who missed dirt/grime, due to vision issues, or couldn't reach top cupboards, or had other issues that made a thorough cleaning difficult (for example, asthma or COPD causes problems with dust).
  • Spring for a holiday trip - assist them with their purchases for others, and make sure they get at least one really nice outfit for entertaining.
  • Podiatrist visit, followed by a new pair of shoes and good hosiery.
  • Haircut and styling, along with providing for the ride to and from. For men, a haircut and a barber shave - men tell me this is the ultimate indulgence.
  • Alexa - my daughter tells me this is so helpful in managing other electronics in the house, and it bypasses typing, which many seniors have problems with.
  • Amazon Prime.
  • A Kindle or Ipad to read on - the beauty is that seniors can magnify the type to eliminate the need for glasses in bed.
  • Go through the jewelry box with them. Find items in need of repair - necklaces, earrings, rosary beads. Get them fixed and box them for Christmas. Many of these have sentimental value far beyond the price.
  • Before taking them to the cemetery for a visit, head there yourself, clean up their loved one's grave, and put flowers on it. It will make their visit. See if you can pay someone to do this regularly for a fee, if you're out of town (no, perpetual care will generally not spiff up the headstone/grave that well).
  • Offer to assist with telephone calls to insurers/medical providers. This is unbelievably time-consuming and tedious - your help will be appreciated.
  • Help organize/label old photos - this is one that you will do with your senior. It's a great opportunity to learn who all of those people in the pictures are, before it's too late.
Do you have any more ideas? Put them in the comments.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Back After NaNoWriMo

I did National Novel Writing Month again this year.

I gave up about 1/3 of the way through. Life smacked me in the face a few times, and I gracefully bowed to the inevitable.

I had thought it would be easier this year, without a job. Turns out, the reality is more complex than I expected. Read about it here.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Making, and Keeping, a Household Schedule

I'm not an organized or particularly neat person. As a kid, I cleaned up my room immediately after my mother pitched a massive fit about its disgusting condition.

Well, she was right - I only cleaned up when absolutely necessary. I did the same after marriage.

In my slovenly ways, I was encouraged by my husband, whose unspoken motto is:
If there is a flat surface, that's where I will put my stuff
It wasn't too bad when we were first married. There is only so much clutter that 2 humans can make in a 3-room apartment. A quick pick-up a couple times a week, deep cleaning once a week - we were good to go.

Even after we had kids, the mess was SOMEWHAT controlled by the fact that we moved - a lot. Some of the clutter never got unloaded from move to move, staying in boxes stashed in corners.

It got bad - REALLY bad once we stayed in the same place for more than 10 years. Fortunately, that house had both an attic and a basement, where a lot of the junk ended up.

When I moved to SC in 2005, I found that cleaning up wasn't that big a deal. I was helped by the fact that I didn't have all that much stuff, at first.

Every trip my husband mad down to SC, he brought vanloads of junk with him. Which, he left in the middle of the house when he left. Just about the time I found places for all that cr@p, he'd visit again.

It was beginning to look like a losing battle.

We moved again, and initially, the house looked good.

Then he started bringing stuff home again, from purchasing trips, unloading the other 2 houses, and - occasionally - stopping off at garage sales. When, last June, he had to bring home the entire contents of his classroom, I thought I'd lose my mind. The only thing that kept me together was the idea that I would be free of his stuff in the fall, when he went back to work.

As if.

Right now, as I am typing this, I'm surround by boxes, fileboxes, and stacks of stuff. There is a lot that he can't manage to either sort through or give up.

It's an emotional thing. He both fears that he will throw away something that will finally have a purpose, and that he will give up an essential part of his past. I'm not just asking him to give up possessions, but possibilities for his future, and remembrances of his past.

Should You Be Freaking Out About Your Investments?

Short answer - probably not. By retirement age, your investment portfolio should be more conservative, less speculative. Yes, the market i...