Saturday, October 15, 2016

Managing the Paper Onslaught

Almost every day, I find 3-8 solicitations in the mail, that are tied to my age/approaching retirement.  Every one of them is designed to separate me from my money.

  • Medicare ads
  • Hearing aid offers
  • Insurance ads
  • Financial planning ads
  • Mortgage refi offers
  • Retirement property/retirement community flyers
I generally junk most.  A few I put into a folder, to be looked at when the need arises.  I wonder what percentage of the senior population acts on these offers.

I've divided my mail into groups:
  • Current bills - they go into the slotted dividers, to be acted on/paid when due
  • Information - two types
    • Tax info - in the box to be taken to the accountant after the first of the year
    • Long-term information - put into folders, and file away until needed
  • Junk - toss/shred and toss
  • Personal - my choice
By far the biggest group is junk.  I resist the temptation to load up on debt by immediately tearing the credit offers into pieces.

The same with receipts.  They are either important, and can be filed/put into the Tax box, or unimportant, and can be tossed.  By handling them immediately, I eliminate a source of clutter.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Still On the Fence

I would love to announce that my retirement date is set in stone.  But I can't.

We still have our Cleveland house, and, until that is sold, we will not be able to confidently state that we can afford to retire.  We should know more in a few months.

Other than that, life has been more stable.  We're S-L-O-W-L-Y clearing out the SC house - every time I start to see real progress, something happens to set us back.  However, the trend is still generally positive.

One major factor in the organizational improvement is the ability to scan documents.  Once a document is digitized, I can toss it into a box/file, and not have to look at it again.  Even better, as the marked box/file reaches a certain age, I can toss it, confident that I will be able to retrieve it, if necessary.

Only a relatively few documents need to be kept longer - licenses, certificates, etc.

We had a minor setback with the car situation - Den's car was totaled, and we ended up buying a new car - a hybrid.  Hopefully, the savings in gas will offset the pinch of a monthly payment.

I've been focusing on mini-changes - forcing myself to break big jobs into manageable small jobs, and interrupting other things - reading, watching TV, grading - with a quick mini-job that can be completed in that short stretch of time.  So far, it seems to be working.

As far as our retirement date, two possibilities are likeliest:

  • Retire at the end of next year, or
  • Den retire this year, me the next - in some ways, I favor the second option
The second choice would allow us to better manage the process, without forcing too large a financial change at once.  On the other hand, DJ and the other grandkids are fast growing, and we will never be able to get that time with them again.  I expect that we could manage, if we could sell the house by the end of the year.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Some Random Thoughts About Work

I'm on Lunch Duty (I spend my lunch period supervising students in the cafeteria) this week.  It's not that bad - there are other adults who do this, about 4 times a semester.

What it is, is NOISY!!!!

Kids in groups make a LOT of noise.  They talk loudly.  They laugh loudly.  They pound on the table, move around furniture, and talk - BOY, can they talk - always LOUDLY.

I forget, sometimes, just how loud kids can be.

Then, at the end of the day, I go home to my quiet, senior life.

And take a stiff drink.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Beyond COOL!

I've been playing around with Ham Radio for the last 2 years, mostly listening.  The times that I COULD make contacts, I'm usually tied up at work.  Too often, I settle in, expecting to have time to chat, but Den has other plans.  So, mostly, I've not been that active.

Today, I decided to try Echolink.  It uses the Internet to link up to other hams, which gives me the opportunity to connect throughout the world.  I was able to talk to another ham in the Raleigh, NC area today.

The process is VERY easy.  If you have a General license, the world is your oyster (so to speak).  Honestly, if I'd realized that it was so simple, I've have done it much earlier.

This should make communications much easier.  I'm going to try to find English-speaking hams in other countries over the next few months.

Life As an Imposter

One thing that makes the idea of retirement so scary is this:

We are trying something new.  We have no idea how to do it.  Each morning, we wake up to face the fact that our day will be totally up to us.

That's frightening for many of us, whose days were dictated by the demands of work, family, and routine.  Once we retire, it's up to us.

I've been testing out the waters of retirement.  As a teacher, I have summers off.  It's like a mini-retirement, a time that allows me the luxury of little structure, and where the day is designed by me.

I tried leaving my summer relatively open this year.  When June 1 arrived, I felt hopeful and excited.  At last, I would have the time to:

  • Organize and clean my house
  • Exercise and eat right
  • Spend time with my radio hobby
  • And, most importantly, write
I don't suppose that it would surprise anyone that NONE of that was accomplished very well.  Instead, I watched a lot of TV, read OTHER people's books, and spent entirely too much time on the Internet.

What went wrong?

I had plans, but little discipline.  When I woke, it was too easy to avoid showering and dressing until later in the day.  My computer acted like a Hoover, sucking me into a chair for long periods of aimless surfing.  With all that time, I began to procrastinate in a major way.

As a result, other than short blitzes of productivity, I did very little with that precious gift of time.

Part of the problem was that I felt, and acted, like a Wanna-Be, rather than an Already-Was.  I fell victim to the Imposter Syndrome.  I didn't believe that I was adequate, therefore, I began looking for more information to help me manage.  Hence, the descent into computers and books.

There is a TEDTalk that addresses how to improve your performance in many ways. See it here. 


Here is more about the Imposter Syndrome.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Medicare Information You Need to Have

I'll admit, I'm a rookie at Medicare.  I've been getting information since I started approaching 65, and, since I'm still working, aside from Part A, I've ignored it.

I found this information about Parts F & G, and I must admit, I'm going to start looking at it more carefully.  The difference in coverage is slight, and Part G does seem to be a better deal.

Here's the link:

https://www.medicaresupplement.com/get-quotes/planf-vs-plang/?src=tz_msup_facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook&utm_campaign=facebook&q_criteria=planf_appLAL4&afid=313758

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Getting Ready to Return

Had a very good time at the reunion. Getting ready to return to SC. This is a time when I would like to be retired - much better to take our time, but what can you do - we need to be back at school on Tuesday

Saturday, September 24, 2016

At a 50-year High School Reunion

Not mine - my husband's.

It's been interesting, so far.  His class (1966) is a very good-looking, accomplished group.  They are generally healthy, active, and in different stages of retirement.

Some have continued to work, others are employed part-time.  The rest are cheerfully enjoying their free time.  The majority have at least some connection to a job, even if only sporadically.

They are active - one of my husband's classmate, Stu Ellison, showed up in a to-the-knee Velcro brace.  He broke his leg MOUNTAIN-CLIMBING!  At 68!

Now, remember, these are generally the more successful members of the class.  Some died early.  Others had hard lives and did not attend.  However, the class is a testament to how to age with grace.

Both my sister and I are in the throws of handling paperwork related to retirement.   She is wrestling with the health plans, and I am working to move my NC money to the SC teachers system, so I can retire in the next few years (PROBABLY 2018 - possibly sooner).

I have just one piece of advice - organize the paper!  For each issue, create a folder, put all paper in it, and make sure you document ALL conversations.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

As of Today, It's June 2018

After a LOT of discussion with my husband, that's the date when we will plan to be retired from our full-time jobs.

As my husband would say, God only knows when we will no longer be working part-time at SOMETHING.

This planning process is all about testing out the waters, making adjustments, and setting sail.

And, then, making even more adjustments.

Retirement is no longer about working until 65 or so, and quitting work entirely with a generous pension, Social Security, and all those senior discounts.  Since the 1970's inflation days, it's gotten harder to predict money needs far in the future.  Selling a house no longer generates a fat check, and, after all, you have to live somewhere after that.

I'm trying to be patient, and roll with the waves, but it's not easy for me.  I generally like more control over my circumstances.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Digital Native? Or Not?

I've long been bothered by the phrase "Digital Native", as it implies that older people will never be able to master the newer technologies.  I have NOT found it to be a problem for me.

I was using digital before digital was cool.  I took Computer Science courses back when they still had the Hollerith card (see below):
The idea that those who grew up with technology all around them are somehow BETTER at it is ridiculous.  By that standard, those who learned to drive on an automatic shift are more knowledgeable than those that can handle a stick shift.

Seniors can handle using technology, and many do.  One of the most useful technology are the e-book readers.  They are lightweight, easy to carry or tuck into a pocket or purse, and, best of all, the font can be enlarged sufficiently that those with poor vision can still enjoy reading.

I even find that I can read in bed without glasses (which means that I don't bend the metal in the frames when I fall asleep reading).

What are you waiting for?  The prices range from $25 or so used, all the way up to around $300 for the high-end, touch-sensitive ones, all-the-bells-and-whistles gadgets.  Check out my link in the sidebar at right.


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Already Seeing the Difference

Last night, we watched TV in a newly cleaned bedroom.  It was nice to enjoy a less dusty, less cluttered environment.

This morning, I got up early, cleared off the table (it's a landing zone for junk), and got the dishes done.

I'm watching (allegedly) the videos that I have to for that Reading course I have to take (well, they aren't getting my FULL attention, but they aren't worth THAT much of my attention.  I'm so near finishing (more than 87% done) that I want to blitz it this weekend, and check it off my list.

This is going to be a busy month, focusing on the kinds of things I will be doing once retired.  In addition to organizing and cleaning (and a LOT of throwing out), I will be writing - not just blog posts, but my books - the Chem one and another one, a novel that I've had in progress for ages.  If I can move those projects ahead (hopefully, within a few months, completing one of them), I will believe that this summer was successful.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Moved Back to Blogger

I toyed with this for some time, finally decided that I wanted to put my money into pre-retirement needs.  I've been blogging consistently since about 2003, in a variety of places, but I haven't pursued the monetization of any blog in a while.

It certainly is possible to make money from blogs, but it requires the full-time effort I don't choose to make.  The topics that excite my passion are politics, culture, teaching, Catholicism (NOT theology), and science.  None of which get the advertisers salivating.

So, I'll be posting on here for now.  In a few days, I'm going to see if I can port the old posts from 3littlefoxes.com over here - if not, no biggie.

My focus here will be:

  • Weeding through all of the paperwork associated with preparing to retire.
  • Medicare - I'm signed up, but only for Part A.  I'll be looking at my options for next year.
  • Improving health/cognition - any improvement not only increases quality of life, but also options with medical issues/finances.
  • Homes - what are the pros and cons of: owning, renting, selling, moving, tiny houses, condos, retirement communities, etc.
  • What will we do with that free time?
  • Second careers, hobbies, volunteering.
And, any other topic that hits my eye.

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...