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.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Attention Issues in Later Life

ADD and ADHD have been studied in schoolchildren, and adults in the working years, as well. There are medications for those individuals whose disability is manifesting at a level that hinders their coping skills. Meds have their place, but use over a lifetime is still a question mark. Long-term studies indicate that there are many side effects, and the effect on brain and body health over time is still unknown.

Seniors are in a unique place. Few of those with attention issues were diagnosed or treated. Most developed some coping skills. Sadly, some fell by the wayside. Those people with supportive spouses, who fill in with assistance, may not even be aware of the extent of their disability.

Things change as we age. For some, that helpful spouse may no longer be with them, either through death or divorce. That spouse may be suffering memory issues, and not be able to assist.

Life in retirement is different - the things that helped keep many of us on track - schedules, secretaries, colleagues - are no longer there.

Here is a link to a CEO who has some very valuable suggestions for those with ADD/ADHD. I found many of them to be useful for me, as well.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Lessons From Maria

Number One - don't be in a hurry to dump your landline.

On Puerto Rico, the cell towers are GONE. If the island were still using landlines, part of the service would still be available, even if some of the lines had gone down.

Some other things that have come out of that nearly complete disaster:

So, how does this relate to retirement?

One solution for stretching your retirement income is to move to a place where the cost of living is cheaper.

Some do that within the US; small towns and rural areas are often the choice of those leaving the cities after reaching the end of their working life. This can be a good choice, provided you consider these things:
  • Do you have a social network in that area? Or, will you be able to connect once you move? Without that social network, if a spouse dies or becomes ill or disabled, your life can be lonely, if not insupportable.
  • Do you have good access (within 1/2 hour or less) to good medical care? Are the hospitals known for cardiac care, cancer care, or other conditions that affect the elderly more than younger people?
  • Is the climate temperate? Will you be housebound in in the winter? is the heat too high in the summer to make outdoor activities enjoyable? Could you experience floods, hurricanes, mudslides, or other disasters on a regular basis?
  • Can you travel easily back to visit family? Will you miss out on seeing your grandchildren grow up?
  • Will you fit in, socially, culturally, religiously?
    • As a non-Mormon in Utah.
    • As a vegan in TX and other meat-eating, hunting locales.
    • As a proud, out cross-dresser or swinger or non-conforming person, who is determined to make sure everyone knows about your lifestyle. In many locations, they might not run you out of town, but they probably won't make you their best friend, either.
    • As an atheist in a small town. IF you can avoid proselytizing, you'll probably have few issues, but - if you insist on scouring the town of all traces of public display of Christianity, you might not fit in.
Am I saying that discrimination and social shunning are OK? No. But I am saying that if you're the one that's moving, you're the one that probably should plan on making the adjustments, just as you wouldn't plan on moving to France, and complaining that everyone doesn't speak English or stop smoking. That's not realistic.

All of the above apply to foreign countries, even those tied to the US, such as Puerto Rico. Additionally, you may find:

  • Hostility to US citizens, the possibility of being stranded in a country that has become involved in a war (not necessarily with the US).
  • Inability to buy a home - in some countries, you have to be a citizen
  • Inability to become a citizen - unlike the US, it can be difficult, if not impossible.
  • Laws/Rules/Cultural Expectations regarding women's role in society might provide a challenge for a woman who doesn't have a man to speak for her.
  • Language difficulties - yes, English is the most common 2nd language spoken. But, that means the basic communication, not necessarily the ability to hold forth on politics, culture, and other things. Not to mention medical terminology. The good news is MANY people in other countries welcome the opportunity to practice speaking English with Americans.


Thursday, October 5, 2017

Unsolicited Testimonial

Finder for Fitbit - available for IPhone, and for Androids.

I've used it twice in the last week - it's absolutely AMAZING! I've bought 3 Fitbits (one got washed and died, another was lost somewhere at school before I found this app). It's one of the few products that does EXACTLY what it's supposed to do. It works like You're Hot - You're Cold, with a meter to indicated how close you are to the device.

FREE! for the Lite version.

This is an absolutely indispensable product for owners of the devices.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Tricks for Travelers

I've done a lot of business (and, some family-related) travel over the last 15 years. I've learned a lot about streamlining the process. Below are a few of the things that can make the experience better.

Air Travel:
  1. If you have a bag that is on the cusp of being too big to be a carry-on, DON'T check in at the gate. Instead, go through using your home-printed passes or phone app, and just get in line. IF it's too big, they will tell you to check it - but, generally, WON'T charge you for it. I didn't do this on a recent trip, and found a half dozen people with bags that were bigger than mine either being permitted to put it in the overhead, or just having it taken on the boarding ramp (again, no charge). The closer you are to your plane, the less likely they are to charge you.
  2. Ziplock bags are your friend. Use the Freezer type - they can make it through multiple trips without damage. Use for unmentionables, small electronics parts/cables, shampoo/conditioner/lotion, etc.
  3. Make copies of all ID and credit cards you will be carrying - if they are lost, it makes the job of notifying companies easier. Put those copies/list in a safe place.
  4. Even easier, use your cell phone to take pictures of those IDs and credit cards, store them online. Access to any computer will allow you to bring up the pictures. Don't forget to delete them from your phone.
  5. Keep a small amount of medication, hearing aid batteries, extra glasses, a change of clothes/underwear, a credit card, and ID in your carryon, just in case your luggage gets lost.
  6. If you sometimes need a cane or walker, take it. Invariably, if you don't, some body part will act up.
  7. Bring eye drops - pressurized cabins will dry you out.
Over the Road Travel:
  1. Spend time PLANNING your trip. What do/might you need? What can you either do without/buy along the way? Make a list and use it to pack containers - whether tubs or suitcases. If you add in something, add it to the list.
  2. Never forget to pack a swimsuit or shorts - really - even in the middle of winter. If you have to buy them, they will often be unavailable or at break-the-bank prices. Preparing for access to a pool/hot tub will allow you to take advantage of circumstances. There have been trips that were murder on these aging bodies, that were made bearable by our ability to benefit from soaking/swimming at the end of the day.
  3. Pack meds for twice the time you will be gone. Things happen, and you don't want to miss your meds - or, worse, have to pay full-price because it wasn't time for a refill at a discount.
  4. If you have asthma, pack your emergency meds or a Nebulizer - or both. It could save you having to make a trip to the emergency room.
  5. If you have ever been prescribed an Epi-Pen, get a fresh one, and make sure it's accessible.
  6. In fact, put all meds in a clearly labeled first aid container - except for 3 doses of daily meds (just in case your car is stolen/wrecked). Make sure that container is on top of all other luggage, in plain sight.
  7. Sunglasses, extra pair of eyeglasses, hat/visor, sunscreen, lotion. Muscle rub.
  8. Take breaks. Every time you stop, get out a cold drink - preferably water. Stretch. Stand. Walk around.
  9. Enjoy the journey - don't be hesitant to take side trips, extra stops for tourist attractions, festivals, or local celebrations. Have fun, take lots of pictures.
  10. When you do take pictures, make a note of the day/place/people in the picture - carry a small notebook for this, and write it down right away. Otherwise, you'll forget.
  11. Or, if you're the kind of person that Instagrams/Facebooks everything, just add a quick tag to the picture before you post.
  12. At the border of every state, stop at the Tourist Information Center, and pick up:
    1. Physical maps
    2. Information about events
    3. Coupons
    4. Park information
  13. If you already bought your Senior Lifetime Pass to our National Parks, congratulations! The price just went up - it's now $80/person. Still might be a good idea - check the places you can use it, and decide for yourself if you're likely to visit.


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Tuesday's Money Savers for Seniors

I've been working improving our financial situation, and have been looking at two major ways to do it:
  • Spend less
  • Save more
I've been doing a combination of the above. It's meant that I have been working to get the spread in what I bring in closer to what I take out. I'm not there yet, so have been dipping (lightly) into savings. I planned on using those savings over the next to keep us going until my writing income picks up, or until I get a part-time job that bridges the gap.


And, the Net is what is left over to PLAY with. I want a LOT of Net to play with.

So, on Tuesdays, I'll be passing along information that I've tracked down for spending/saving. Below are some of the first suggestions I've found:
More next Tuesday.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Something for the Kids/Grandkids

Many of us have kids or grandkids in the post-school ages. Very few of them are self-sufficient, and many of them are shell-shocked about it.

Here is a guide for how to get out of that rut they've found themselves in.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Putting the Love Back In


Long-term relationships sometimes can stall out, for lack of emotional warmth. It's not that the partners DIS-like each other, they just feel lukewarm towards their mate. Or, so says Dr. Finkel, author of the "All or Nothing Marriage".
Many people are looking to their partners to replace the companionship and emotional support once provided by extended families and local institutions like churches, bowling leagues, bridge groups, fraternal lodges and garden clubs. Meanwhile, though, many couples are so busy with their jobs and parenting that they’re actually spending less time together by themselves.
The post at the link above has some suggestions about how to turn up the fires - the ideas are called "Love Hacks". They seem to be based on some degree of evidence (although recent investigation of many social science research suggests that throwing darts at a target would produce similar results). They couldn't hurt, however, and might be useful.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

White Space - NO, It's NOT About Race

It's about using a portion of the broadband that is not currently in use, for the purposes of accessing faster speeds for Internet. It's probably most useful in rural communities, but, inner-city communities might find it useful, as well.

Why should seniors care? Many of us are located in relatively isolated parts of the country - rural areas, temporary housing, senior housing, etc. Having low-cost access to fast Internet could go a long way towards keeping us mentally active, connected to family/friends, and allowing us to receive information that could extend or enhance our lives.

Read about it, here.


Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Frugal Mindset

I've been putting off needed purchases for days, even weeks, since I retired. In some ways, that might be a good thing - many purchases are unnecessary, and delaying a purchase might result in deciding not to buy.

But, that's not what's happening here - these are purchases I've already thought about, decided were worth the cost, and had put on an order.

Only to hang there, in that online cart, for weeks. I'm finding infinite reasons to NOT make a decision to buy.

This type of behavior is new to me, since I've been retired. When I could count on an income twice a month coming from work, I didn't do this. I didn't hesitate to make immediate purchases. There was always a surplus in the account, and I felt free to dip into it.

What are other seniors doing? Put your best tips for managing money in the comments.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

3 Months into Retirement - How is it Going?

Great!


That's not me, but it expresses how I feel.

I've spent a lot of the past 3 months clearing up old tasks, unloading accumulated junk from my house, and enjoying NOT having to put off needed medical appointments because the time off wasn't convenient to my employer.

I've developed some good habits, like:

  • Making my bed every day. Of course, it helped that my husband leaves so early, but, he has also jumped on board with this during his summer break.
  • Keeping the kitchen spiffed up (Is that a phrase? My mother used it). I've been deep-cleaning and organizing (which, of course, makes it easier to keep it clean).
  • Walking - not every day, but most. Outside, if possible, otherwise, in the house. My FitBit is registering meeting goals every week.
  • Laundry - no longer with piles in front of the washer.
  • Writing - every day, something. The novel is not progressing as fast as I would like, but I am making progress. I'm starting to reach out to various markets with queries, and hope to get an assignment soon.
I'm not perfect - I find it easy to slide into endless meandering around on the web. It's hard to discipline myself to clean the bathroom, pick up Den's detritus, and perform all the other tasks that need to be done.

However - baby steps. Forward progress. Building habits.

I wanted to take a moment to write about something dear to my heart - our right to our own perceptions, and to express them, without penalty. Too many people want to limit our thoughts - to hem them in, lest we offend others.

Hogwash!

We have the right to own our beliefs, thoughts, perceptions, and associations. One of the ways that people try to trick us into disowning our very selves is to use rhetorical tricks, like the KafkaTrap.

Keeping intact our essential self is needed, as - in some cases - there are people around us (family members, medical personnel, government, social workers) who would use their influence to persuade us to act in ways that are not in our own self-interest. That might involve:

  • Moving, if we are capable of managing our own living arrangements.
  • Giving up our control of health decisions, legal decisions, finances, or ability to live our lives as WE choose.
  • Relationships that others disapprove of.
  • Voting rights - if you are capable of using your right to the franchise, DON'T let others mark your ballot! Send in absentee ballots yourself - don't entrust them to others.
I'm assuming that you have not reached the point of senility that makes it necessary to give up some personal control. But, absent a diagnosis, too many people surrounding the elderly work to nudge them into decisions that are more for others than self.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Co-Posting

Due to the holiday weekend, I'm not posting my usual Sunday stuff. Instead, I'm co-posting a Sunday reflection I had written for Right As Usual.

Link here. It won't be available until 9 am, so I'll likewise schedule this post for then.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Shoring Up the House

Recently, we've been working on getting our house in shape. And, no, that is NOT a metaphor.

We called in RamJet to drive pilings into the ground, so the foundation could be shored up. Cost: $4200. Not cheap, but necessary. We may bring them back again to do the other sides of the house (which are not in bad shape). We'll see.

We are also going to be bringing in people to repair/improve some windows. After the tornado ripped through Rock Hill, we had several windows broken. There is a deal going on now, and we want to take advantage of it - Buy 1, get 1 free. Plus 36 months to pay, same as cash.

If we had planned better, we would have done this before I retired. But, we put off the decision, and have to manage it now.

If you are in the pre-retirement phase, walk around your house (inside and out), and make notes on things you'd like to change/update. Consider:

  • Gutters/roof
  • Taking down aging trees (unbelievably expensive!)
  • Foundations
  • Driveways/sidewalks
  • Insulation
  • Windows
  • Major appliances - are they reaching the end of their life cycle?
  • Electrical
  • Plumbing
Better to spend the money BEFORE you retire. It's also easier to get those short-term credit deals while employed.

Most major jobs will have a X number of months same as cash option. Figure out what you can afford each month, and set up automatic payments. The savings can be considerable.

It really doesn't matter whether you plan to age in place, or sell and move elsewhere - these repairs/improvements need to be done. Decide which that will be - stay or go - because you'll want to consider which improvements would pay off in increased sale price, if you do chose to sell.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Clearing Out the Junk

I've been REALLY busy this morning (Thursday 8/24/17). The RamJet people are here to shore up our foundation. I've been working to get the bedroom cleaned up and cleared out.

I started by tackling Den's stuff - he does have the tendency to drop what's in his pockets anywhere. Over time, the junk has built up - pens, receipts (mostly not necessary to keep), cough drops, change, etc.

He also tends to use meds/lotions/razors/etc. in the bedroom, but not removing them again. Together, with the habit we have acquired of eating while watching TV, that has made a huge mess.

I started at one end of the room and methodically moved through it. I put some of the 'probably important' stuff in a lidded container, for him to sort out later. I dusted, wiped, and swept as I went.

A funny thing happened when I got near my chair. Suddenly, the junk started to be MINE. I was amazed at the sloppy habits I'd gotten into, as I had to confront them for the first time in weeks - OK, months.

I stopped near completion. My back was starting to ache. I stopped before I did actual damage - I can go back to it later today. I have errands to run, and needed to stop, anyway.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Deal for Today, Only

The cost of a National Parks Senior Lifetime Pass goes up to $80 on Monday, meaning this is the last day to purchase one for TEN DOLLARS. The catch - you have to go, in person, to one of the many National Parks to buy it. Bring ID, including proof of age.

However, the pass will cover entrance fees for up to 3 adults in the same car (kids under 16 are free). So, if you travel together, no problem.  Keep in mind that the pass covers entrance fees - certain Expanded Amenity Fees, such as camping, swimming, or boat launch will not cover guests, although they will provide discounts for the pass-holders.

Many of these parks are within driving distance (1-3 hours) from major cities. I'm going to head out in a few hours, and snag one for myself.

Anyone from the Cleveland area that is reading this, the Cuyahoga Valley National Park is one of those sites.

Can't manage to travel just now? You can also mail in or sign up online - there is an extra $10 fee for either of those methods, though. Just sign up online and print out your confirmation, or mail it by midnight, 8/27/17.

Thanks to iSteve, who provided the information and the link.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Not Much Useful to Say

I've been preparing for the Solar Eclipse, trying NOT to get too caught up in the They-Said, They-Said News, and working on getting life back on keel.

Also trying to finish the book for my Catholic Book Club meeting this Thursday. It's interesting, but, by the time I get to it late at night, my eyes are gritty and starting to cross.

For those weary of serious, and somewhat depressing, everyday life, here is the lighter side:

No, there is not such ban - YET.


 Can we just agree that voter's registration should be validated?

I'm HOPING - HOPING - that this is a joke. If not, we're all in trouble.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Busy, Busy

As promised, I got back on track this week. I cleared up a lot of paperwork early in the week, and, today, I am working on planning, financial stuff, and getting my radio receiver ready for the Eclipse.

I had a good visit with the Chiropractor yesterday, about my shoulder problem. I've had increasingly more difficulty moving my left arm, and a lot of pain. It's also affected my sleep, as anytime I turn over, I wake up in pain. I got a new treatment - based on Sonic Waves - that breaks up scar tissue and brings in increased blood flow to old injuries. I can't say that I immediately felt better, but I felt no worse. I'm planning on 6-12 visits, at $39 a visit. Not a bad cost, considering, and - if it helps - will have been worth it.

I've been working on getting in better shape, but I probably overdid it when I injured my shoulder. Serves me right - I'll definitely take it slower next time.

I'm slowly making headway in the house. I'm limited in the amount of things I can do, as I've been told not to stress the shoulder (and, it's my dominant side). I'm chipping off a little at a time, and I'm hoping to be able to see some progress by the end of next week.

I signed up for a book club at my church; we'll be meeting next Thursday at noon, so I need to finish it soon. I'm trying to keep to a schedule of a chapter a day, which should bring me to the end in good time.


Thursday, August 10, 2017

Getting Back on Track

I started off strong - really, I did. When I first retired, I had the strength of 10. But, as the summer passed, I lost my Mojo.

The first thing to go was my dedication to daily upkeep of the house. I found myself weakly saying, maƱana.


Then, I began raiding the fridge. I packed on a lot of the weight I had lost in the last semester I worked.


Lastly, I began skipping my revision schedule. I read aimlessly, both on- and offline.

I started taking naps. Like a 3-year old.

So, unless I want to become this:


I need to re-boot my life plans.

I started Tuesday morning by getting cleaned up and dressed. I got to work with revising my Chem book, planning my week, and cleaning up the kitchen.

Together, Den and I planned a healthy breakfast, conferred about our schedules, and made the bed (that last is not easy to get done early, if you have a partner - like mine - who likes to sleep in).

I didn't manage to check-in with the Ham Radio NET today, but I did re-set my radio for the local repeaters (I had used the local ones in Cincinnati while traveling). I'm going to use my unassigned time for the EclipseMob receiver setup and testing. I need to get another capacitor for that.

Today (Wednesday, August 9), I have completed several future blog posts, started with a healthier breakfast, and made some plans for today.


If you do it right, one day is enough.

How do you eat an elephant?

One Bite at a Time.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Changes to Medicare - How They Will Affect You

Obamacare has a wider impact than the people who are forced to comply with its many provisions. It will have an effect on Medicare, as well.
Despite the constant political rhetoric that Medicare payment reductions affect only providers and not beneficiaries, funding cuts for Medicare services will directly affect those who depend on those services. If Obamacare’s major reductions are implemented by Congress over the coming decade, seniors’ ability to access Medicare services will surely diminish.
Obamacare can be considered a success, judging from the OMB's reports.

Unfortunately, those reports can only work from data/constraints they are given. Such limits mean that, depending on the questions/framework/data comprising their analysis, ACA looks like a raging success.

Which, it isn't.

In too many Americans' minds, debt of a government should just be paid by all those high-earners who greedily grab all the available money in an economy.

Funnily enough, a substantial number of those high earners - celebrities(nearly ALL of Hollywood, the music industry, and the extremely well-paid MSM), Internet billionaires (Zuckerberg, Gates, Musk), Capitalists (Soros, Buffet), long-wealthy families (DuPonts, Kennedys, John Kerry's wife, etc.), support the party that wants to 'tax the rich'.

Which, they are. Hmmm. That seems odd - to voluntarily put their wealth in the hands of the government.

Is it really likely that they will risk their net worth by that support? No. What they WILL do is to structure those 'cash-grabs' in such a way as to leave THEIR wealth virtually untouched. While reaching WAY down into the middle-class to get that filthy lucre.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Bouncing Back From Setbacks

I was reading (nothing much, just noodling around), and found this link to Bouncing Back After Setbacks, and the resilience needed to do so.

Resilience is the (according to Dictionary.com):
ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like;  
buoyancy
One factor that is not fully appreciated by many parents is the importance of experiencing Failure - AND recovering from it.

Some lessons from a school that has studied the successes - and failures.

I'm going to start a regular post on At Last - Retiring for Good, that focuses on Things Kids Need to Learn From Grandma. If you'd like to be added to the list, go here and put your information into the link form.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

UPDATE: Beware Those 'Helping' You

I previously posted on the UN-helpfulness of the AARP brand, which purports to work for seniors, but seems more inclined to exploit them. Today's Forbes has an article that explains more about this.

One facet of their conflict of interest with seniors:
The AARP is also one of the largest private health insurers in America. In 2011, the AARP generated $458 million in royalty fees from so-called “Medigap” plans, nearly twice the $266 million the lobby receives in membership dues.
There's more, and it's worse:
AARP Medigap plans are exempted from most of Obamacare’s best-known insurance mandates. AARP Medigap plans are exempted from the ban that requires insurers to take all comers, regardless of pre-existing conditions.  

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Beware Those 'Helping' You

I've never belonged to AARP. My husband joined, just for the discounts (probably MOST peoples' motivation).

I've heard about the immense profit AARP makes selling companies access to seniors (you do know that they are a large driver of all that junk mail you receive, don't you?). This gives more evidence for the charge that they are not so much a lobbying group, as a predator.
...most of AARP’s revenues do not come from the “members” it purports to represent. The group’s primary source of income is from royalties it receives from its AARP branded health insurance plans, which enjoy exemptions from some of Obamacare’s more onerous taxes and fees.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Untangling the Mess That is Roadside Service

We're heading out next week to a Physics conference, and, as we are traveling via car, my husband asked me to check out Roadside Assistance.

Specifically, did we still have it, or could we get it, on our cell phone plan?

The short answer is no. It was discontinued in 2012.

The long answer:

  • Sprint - they don't have it
  • AARP - I keep getting information about the WONDERFUL, heavily DISCOUNTED perks you can get for membership in AARP.
    • I never really did join, but they keep sending their magazine each month, along with a card that says I'm a member. Most places accept it for discounts without actually checking to see if I AM a member.
    • I checked their website. They do have a Roadside Assistance plan listed. I click on the link, which pops up a box warning me that YOU ARE LEAVING AARP FOR ANOTHER SITE! I click OK and end up on the site - Allstate. Yes, I think it is somehow affiliated with the insurance company.
    • I check out the rates. Not that cheap, unless you are a single person only desiring to be towed 5 miles or less. Since I travel in remote parts of the country, this won't do. I discover that the discount is only for the current year, which means that if I select it, I'll be charged automatically for renewal - at over $90/year. Fortunately, they don't like my AARP # (perhaps because I never paid for it?), and I'm bounced out.
    • I do some searching, and find some consumers of those plans complaining about the service - only 4 tows a year, or you are canceled (well, that does seem reasonable). However, the same person complains that he had no notice of the cancellation.
    • Another person complains that using the tow service jacks up your insurance rates, as the company is allied to the auto insurance giant.
    • I try enrolling directly - the rates are even cheaper! - so much for the AARP advantage. Before I click acceptance, my own insurance company calls me back, and I find out that I can have the same essential service for about $20/year for both of us. I agree to add it to the policy.
What is the moral of the story?

Don't blindly trust discounts - they can be higher than the non-discounted rate.

Check out options - prepare to spend a lot of time on the phone/Internet.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Part B - Here At Last!

It was a long time coming. I had to make a second trip to Social Security offices to make sure that I received it.

I really don't know how it happened that the application slipped through the cracks. I do credit the time and attention that the employee of that office dedicated to un-earthing the problem, and correcting it.

The Moral of the Story?

Follow-up on EVERYTHING. Don't assume that the paperwork will go through.

It also took considerable time for my SC retirement purchase of time to get moving forward. Full Disclosure: a good portion of that was MY fault. The process is so time-consuming, and filled with paper going back and forth, that I threw up my hands several times, and resolved to deal with it at a later time.

That delay cost me money. I'm going to be MUCH more diligent in the future on follow-up.

Part of my time this summer, and into the fall, will be to automate paperwork, organize our stuff and get rid of clutter, and take care of business that had become an ignored mess.

It will take time - about 2-4 hours a day, I estimate. I'm trying to schedule the work, and space it out, lest I become burned out, and give up.

At the same time, I'm pushing ahead with my writing. One big barrier to my novel's revision is just what I'm doing now - working on blogging, instead.

In this blog, there is a purpose - I'm working to monetize it, so I can generate some ongoing income from it.

The other blog is strictly for my own personal gratification. Well, and to keep myself from driving everyone else crazy with my rants.

Other time-wasters?

  • Spider Solitaire - surprisingly addictive
  • Reading - mostly murder mysteries and suspense
  • Getting caught up in Internet reading - nothing with a purpose, generally, just following interesting links
  • Watching re-runs
  • Day-dreaming
What's YOUR favorite time-killer?

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Have You Prepared Well Enough?

This is a hot-button issue. All of the literature regarding saving for retirement suggests that there soon may be a glut of aging bums on the streets.

But, is that a realistic outcome?

Statistics suggest "Yes".

First, I have to point out that retirees are divided into two major groups:

  • Those with pension plans that will provide a specific amount of money each month (called Defined Benefit plans). Those with these plans include:
    • Police, Firemen, and other government workers
    • Teachers and full-time workers in schools
    • Military - it may not be a BIG benefit, but it is a stable one
    • SOME workers in larger corporations
  • Those with pension plans that do not guarantee a certain benefit (called Defined Contribution plans). Most people have these.
    • These include 401(k)s and other tax-free contribution plans
    • Many employers will match or even double the contributions made by their workers. Too many people don't even make minimal contributions in their early years, if at all.
    • If people leave their job, too often, they cash out the plans (well, to be fair, many of them desperately need the money to pay their bills)
The stories that talk about the HUGE amounts of money you will need to retire are primarily talking about the second type of plan. Even with that pile of money, you can be at risk of losing everything if a health crisis hits.
The Defined Benefit plan is less vulnerable to being lost in a financial crunch. It's not, generally, a large income, but it is steady. And, it cannot be touched by bankruptcy, nursing homes (if you are a spouse), or other things that threaten Defined Contribution plans. If you are divorced by someone with a Defined Benefit plan, you can't even lose your spousal share against your will (you CAN negotiate it away, but you can't be forced to give it up).

Sunday, July 16, 2017

What's YOUR Reason?

Your reason to get out of bed in the morning.

Other than having to go to the bathroom, I mean.

The Z-Man brings up the question of how society will handle all of the unemployed people in the future. He sees this situation as potentially disorienting for the society, as well as disturbing and depressing for the individuals.

I haven't thought of myself as unemployed. I've thought of myself as commencing the next chapter of my life. For me, the idea of having the time to write was exciting. It didn't concern me with thoughts of - However will I fill that time?

Others have different perspectives on retirement. My husband has made, and postponed, retirement plans for several years. Recently, he acknowledged that he thinks of working at an outside as something he will always do, at least on a part-time basis.

Recently, he has been urging me to think about moving closer to family back in OH or PA. I'm not totally against the idea, but would hate to leave a more agreeable climate for snow and ice. In general, I really have no major objections to the idea, but want to establish a home base - NOT a motor home - once I do commit (if I do).

My plans for my future require a steady source of internet access. I'd also like to be able to take my working tools - computers, books, printer, etc. - so I can continue my working life. I really don't want to waste long hours traveling from place to place, nor do I want to fritter away hours in shopping and meandering around town.

What we end up doing is going to require a lot of conversation. We will need to negotiate to come up with a plan that meets BOTH our needs.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Roundup of Old Posts

I was browsing around the backend of this blog, and I noticed that some of my earlier posts had not received the traffic that I anticipated. Part of this is that I have become better at promoting my work, and part of this is that the topics have built interest over time.

In no particular order, here are a few that I think worthy of posting again:

Digital Natives?

50 Years Since High School

My First Experience with Medicare

Dipping My Toes into Uncharted Waters

Retirement Prep

Handling Chronic Pain (NOT at the level of end-stage cancer pain)

A SERIOUS Hot-Button for Women


Sunday, July 9, 2017

WEP, Explained (Sort of)

The idea behind WEP - the Windfall Elimination Provision - is that a FEW people were taking advantage of the ability to get a government pension, then take a non-government job, and get Social Security benefits, as well. According to Wikipedia:
"The Windfall Elimination Provision (abbreviated WEP[1]) is a statutory provision in United States law[2] which affects benefits paid by the Social Security Administration under Title II of the Social Security Act. It reduces the Primary Insurance Amount (PIA) of a person's Retirement Insurance Benefits(RIB) or Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) when that person is eligible or entitled to a pension based on a job which did not contribute to the Social Security Trust Fund. While in effect, it also affects the benefits of others claiming on the same social security record."
How it affects me: both my husband and myself worked primarily in teaching jobs over the last 25+ years. My husband is less affected, as he had more of a history with SS-connected jobs previously. He was 'dinged' by the fact that many of those jobs were in the food industry, which had wages not part of the tax system.

KIDS: if you do work as a waitress/bus boy/bartender, DON'T work 'under the table' - you will regret it when you are old, and living on minimal SS.

One provision that might help is for widowers/widows.
"the WEP does not apply once the primary beneficiary has died, and survivor benefits are unaffected. Whereas Widow's and Widower's Benefits take into account the amount of benefits the primary beneficiary may have received while they were living, a fictitious amount is created as if WEP did not apply for this purpose."
 So - it is POSSIBLE that when/if my husband dies, I might get the larger amount (what he gets now + the 40% that is taken by SS for WEP).

This was intended to stop those high-earners in government from 'getting' more than they would by working in a single type of job. It was enacted under Reagan's term of office, and appears to have been one of those "Get those Rich Men!" type of deals - many coming into government at that point were relatively high earners, and would have qualified for that 2nd pension. Who it did affect most were:

  • Police
  • Firemen
  • Military
  • Railroad workers
  • Teachers (my group)
Understand, my biggest complaint is that you can have an income of 1 million dollars a year, but still qualify for SS. You can't have $100 a month coming in from a public pension without losing money from SS benefits.

There is a - kind of - way around this. IF you work 30 covered SS years (has to be above a certain income - so, PT work MIGHT qualify, if you make enough), you don't fall under this provision. I worked about 1/2 and 1/2, so get nailed.

I'd need another 13 years of working - unlikely that I would work until almost 80 years old. So, I'm going to see if any money I bring in quarterly will up this enough to qualify. Each quarter I add in will reduce the offset.

You better bet that I will declare any money I receive, even if I have to pay the extra for self-employed people.

A fuller explanation of WEP is here.

A calculator - you will need a printout of your SS history for this - is here.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Budgeting for Retirement

My Father's decision to retire early

My father had received a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer from his doctor, when he was 60. He was naturally quite flummoxed, and wondered what to do.
He returned to work after the news, and made a list of his expenses, his current income, and his income as it would be if he retired. He also noted which expenses would drop if he did retire early, such as commuting expenses, lunches out, and clothing purchases/dry cleaning.
He found that he would LOSE money if he continued working.
He turned in his forms that day.
Was it a good choice? Well, he lived another 16 years, and was able to pursue his hobbies, spend time with his family, and enjoy the freedom of not having to answer to others.
I'm not that lucky. I've generally earned more in the last 10 years, and will stand to lose some income as a result of my decision to retire. That's even after factoring in reduced expenses.
For me, it's worth it, for the freedom it gives me to pursue a lifelong dream - writing.

Do I have enough money?

That's something you'll have to discuss with your financial advisors and family. Keep in mind that those terrifying articles that warn you of the need for more than a million dollars in investments to keep out of the poorhouse, never take into account things that will affect your comfort, such as:

  • Will you keep your home or sell and down-size? For some people, their home's equity represents a large chunk of their wealth. You can make a choice to cash out, use that money for investments/savings/paying down debt. All of those choices might make more sense than an over-sized house that is a financial drain.
  • What will your Social Security check come to at different ages? I worked out the numbers, and, even if I took my check now, I would collect $40K+ in the years before 70, when I would max out. I decided to play it conservatively, and just take my spousal portion (it's not that much, I lose due to WEP - total each month is - don't laugh - $8.00). I MAY decide to switch to my own check on my next birthday - it's still in discussion. But, the fact that we have other income allows me that choice.
  • How's your health? If you, like my dad, are facing an uncertain future, you might decide that it's more important to enjoy life now. Or, you might need the health care in your job.
  • Do/Will you get a pension? I do, and my husband does. It does make the choice easier.

Differences in the pre-retirement and post-retirement budgets

You might save a little, but, for most people, the post-retirement budget looks a lot like the pre-retirement budget. There are some savings, and you will have more time to scout out those coupons, deals, and senior discounts. But, for most of us, the difference isn't that huge, unless your commute is long.

CAVEAT: Health insurance is one of the biggest budget-busters in many seniors' money management. So many people, who get their health insurance at work, fail to realize the tremendous subsidy that their employer picks up. When they retire, they exclaim, "Why is this insurance so expensive?"

It always was expensive - you just didn't pay most of it directly. My insurance costs doubled; and, I have a reasonably high deductible. Others, wanting the generous health plan they enjoyed before retirement, find that the full cost - which they must pay without a subsidy - is out of their reach.

Shop around. Decide what you absolutely need, can do without, and are willing to compromise on.

For example, many had previously had eyeglass coverage. With the rise in discount eyeglasses, some on the web, others in-store, this might be one to dump. I use America's Best glasses, and am quite satisfied with both the exams, and the glasses. For someone like me, whose prescription has changed nearly every year in the last 5, cheap is better.

For my husband, who can still use over-the-counter reading glasses, and whose distance vision has been stable, quality and durability might be more important.

Bringing in income

Some suggestions:

  • For those with degrees in anything, subbing in schools (assuming you like kids). It is sporadic, but not too taxing for those who can't handle heavy work.
  • Use your expertise: bookkeeping, cleaning, yard work, babysitting, clerical - all of these can be done on a temp basis. For those with Master's degrees and above, colleges are looking for those who only want to teach one or two classes.
  • H & R Block and other tax services: there are classes you can take to prepare to help individuals during the January-April rush. My sister-in-law does this, and makes big bucks in a short time. She's been doing this for more than 5 years, so she makes the top rate. I don't see them going to a flat tax anytime soon.

Reducing the outflow

This is a good place to get your budget in order:

  • Look for 'leaky' parts of the expense. Subscriptions you don't use, food that can be bought cheaper/made at home, convenience foods/services you no longer use, etc.
  • Check out the unclaimed funds for your state - amazing how many times you find something you forgot about (old savings account, utility refund, etc.). A Google search will turn up those sites.
  • This is hard: consider what your car costs. I love my Tiburon, but - in another couple of years, when Den is not working (if that ever happens), we may not need 2 cars. Particularly with the popularity of Uber and Lyft, a 2nd car might be a luxury. And, without it, you will not only get money for selling it, but also for reducing the insurance for a 2nd car.
  • This is even harder: Internet. With so many businesses having access points, does it really pay for you to have a home network? For me - YES! But, it is a large expense, and one that some people will chose to relinquish.
  • Use the various sell-it-yourself apps to get rid of stuff. For a few things, you may realize a significant cash reward. For others, it de-clutters the house, and that is its own reward.
  • Regardless of other savings, take advantage of every savings you can. Plan your purchases around senior discounts (groceries), double couponing, and ads. Ask: do I really need this, or can I substitute/borrow/rent/do without?

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Is This Blog Hard to Read?

I made another change - what can I say? I get bored with the same look.

I do need feedback - is the white on a dark background a bad idea? Answer in the comments.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Moving Forward with the Paperwork

It's a slow process - a VERY slow process.
  • The NC check came yesterday - MONTHS after I sent in the paperwork. However, it did come, and is currently in the hands of the SC Retirement people. I made a physical trip down there this morning, to make sure that the money would be in their hands today.
  • It looks I've started getting the SC retirement money - my bank is showing the first check (e-deposit) is pending. Don't know how the NC money will affect that. It may mean I have to refund the June money, and take the first month as of July. We'll see.
  • I'm getting the piddling SS money ($8/month). However, I won't be taking my SS as a worker until at least January of 2018. Maybe longer, it depends on how long Den is working, and if I can scrounge extra money up - either teaching a college class, or writing for magazines, or something.
  • I'm still waiting on the new Medicare card. The old one only shows Part A. However, on the web, it does show that Part B is there, as well as all of the rest of the alphabet that I have to have.
  • Have not been able to look over the taxes yet, since I left school. I've put it on my list, but other situations took precedence (including a bad back). Hopefully, over the next 2 weeks, I'll manage to get that taken care of.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Roadblock to Progress

My back is hurting - I think it's just a mild strain, not major organic damage, but I'm taking it easier this weekend. I wasn't able to show up at the 2017 ARRL Field Day for my radio club, but I couldn't take a chance on making it worse.

I didn't even go to church this morning. Like I said, taking it REALLY easy.

Our cable is out - the lawn guy accidentally cut the cable, so, until around 4 pm today, we're off the grid - at least for Dish.

I'm using the Roku, which works off our OTHER cable, for Internet. I've found an interesting program, The Man in the High Castle. It's a sci-fi look at what America would have looked like, had Hitler won. It's based on a story by Phillip Dick.

It's another one of the Amazon Prime offerings - no charge for Prime customers (which, about 6 out of 10 people in the US are).

I was blown away by the first of the Prime shows I found - Z - The Beginning of Everything. I'm just waiting impatiently for Season 2.

Success! Finally Got Part B in Process!

I really don't know what happened, or why my personal visit to the offices to get my Part B signup did not work.

All I knew is that my Part B coverage wasn't showing up on the website.

I tried calling - not a good idea - I spent HOURS on the phone, without success.

So, this week, I got into the car, drove about 2 miles down the road, checked in and waited for almost 45 minutes (I didn't have an appointment), and saw a representative.

Who was immediately helpful.

I now have Part B coverage.

Now, I will need to set up the arrangements for paying for it, but - I'm in, without a penalty.

Penalty?

Yeah. It turns out that if you don't sign up at 65, for BOTH Parts A and B, you will have to pay a penalty for the rest of your life in the form of higher premiums.

The exception - which I qualified for - is for those over 65 who are still working (which, until 6/1/17, I was). I just needed to show them the form CMS-L564, signed by my former employer, which verified that I had acceptable health coverage during that post-65 time.

It just reinforces my understanding that paperwork is VERY important. Follow up with government, if there seems to be a problem. Verify any benefit online (actually, it's BETTER than over-the-phone), and keep files for paperwork.

And, all of that is just the sign-up process. I haven't submitted any claims yet.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Untangling Medicare, Part II

Part A - Check
Part G - Check
Part D - Check

Ironically, the one that Medicare administers is the one that I've had the hardest time getting verified. I've spent several hours online and on the phone, but can't get an employee to check the system, and tell me whether my coverage is in process.

In contrast, the private sector, responsible for Parts G and D, have been quick - responding to me within hours, carefully making sure that my questions are answered, and generally performing quite well.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Second Week of Retirement

I slowed down on the re-organizing; my husband threw out his back, and I had to chauffeur him to the doctor's, work, and other places. Can't let a man on drugs drive.

I did manage to get my Pi set up (although it appears that my NOOBS SD card may have become corrupted - I'm ordering another one from Amazon - it's cheaper to get one already loaded, than to buy a blank one).

I'm revising the novel, and have started tracking my progress - I'm aiming for 700 words a day - it's slower work, and I'm cutting almost as much as I'm adding. I'm going to start planning for Monday today, and work on getting my plan in place before quitting each day.

Monday will be a heavy paperwork/government contact day. I may need to spend as much as 1-2 days a week on that for a while. I'm getting things done, but the pace is slow.

Field Day is next weekend - that's the 24-hour club activity, where we make as many contacts as possible, and use the event to introduce new people to the hobby. You can check out local events (and get a chance to get on the air) here. When you click on the little marker, note whether it is GOTA: YES. If so, you can Get On The Air, even without a license.

I've been lax on exercising; I'm going to start scheduling my gym times, to maximize the likelihood of actually doing it.




Saturday, June 10, 2017

Retirement, One Week In

It's been good.

My house is on the road to organization. In other words, small pockets of it are cleared out. I have a LONG way to go.

Part of this, I realized after talking to my sister-in-law, whose home I'd always thought perfectly lovely, is that the modern no longer goes through this purge process once a year (Spring Cleaning). I never valued it before, but doing a regular yearly 'turn-out' is something desperately needed in American life. It might be a good plan for a small business, for someone who is mega-organized. Not a professional organizer, but just someone who can come in and nudge that person to:

  • Put away in some organized fashion
  • Give away
  • Sell
  • Throw out
This can be an overwhelming task, needing weeks of planning, moving stuff out of where it's at, cleaning the containers, and putting back ONLY what should be kept. It's not a fast process.

I'm doing it in bite-sized hunks. Much more, and I'd be facing massive back issues, as the task is hard on an aging bone structure. I'm finding some pleasure in relaxing at the end of the day, and seeing the fruits of my labor around me.

Some sites that have helped me, and may help you:

  • UnF**k Your Habitat - expressed inelegantly, but fairly - good use of before and after pictures. That's an idea I've been toying around with, and may start doing.
  • Don't know where to start? This site might give you some ideas.
  • This site really spoke to me. I decided to pare down my life to what it IS, or WILL BE, in ONE area. Not IF I changed ALL of it. I'm still working on that.
    • Just one short part of the above site: "I started to think a lot about the psychological bridge so many of seem to build in our minds over the issue of possessions equaling experience, or as snailspace so aptly phrased it, " ...our acquisitions, come from trying to furnish a fantasy.""

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

First Days of Retirement

AWESOME!

Just AWESOME - that's all I have to say about it.

I made MAJOR progress on cleaning up the house - bathroom - Check! Living Room - In Process. Desk Cleared - Check! Office - In Process.

My goals this month are clearing out paperwork backlog, and general cleaning and organization.

So far, so good.

Friday, June 2, 2017

On the Road Problems

I've been trying to use the Mobile version of Blogger - kept getting kicked out of the app. I didn't bring my usual laptop this week, as I didn't think I'd have that much time to work on things.

I'm going to write, but not post again until Monday. If I can, I'll schedule the post(s) before that time.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Next Step in Medicare Sign-up - Part D

The government does make it RELATIVELY painless to sign up (well, other than that paying for it thing). You can go to the site by Googling:

Medicare part d signup

Or, just go to this site to find plan comparisons.

Once there, your access to plans is partly determined by your location, so the first step is to enter your zip code.

You will be asked a few questions (I Don't Know is an acceptable answer).

This takes you to a page where you can enter your on-going medications (if this isn't something you need, you can skip it, but if you take regular meds, it will make a difference to the cost of the plans).

You will want to enter your standard medications on the list (easy-peasy), then select one of the 3 options (the first one is for buying Part D separately from your Part B, which your person signing you up should have told you if you needed this). Check the first box and compare plans.

NOTE: pay attention not just to the monthly cost, but to the overall yearly cost - that last one will take into account the cost of your meds (which is why I suggest you enter all the meds you regularly take)

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Organizing The Paper Clutter

This is one of the BIG things I have to do over the next 3 months or so. We have a ridiculous amount of loose paper around our house.

This paper onslaught comes from several sources:

  • Work papers
    • Paycheck stubs, communiques from our benefits department, receipts
  • Related to professional activities
    • PD (professional development)
    • Continuing coursework and CEUs
    • Mailing list items, catalogs, random CD/DVDs
    • PTRA - we provide workshops for teachers - this will continue even after retirement
  • Student work - this will be less of a problem, as I will no longer be generating these. But, Den still has responsibilities to maintain records and grade papers
  • Financial
    • Bills
    • Financial investments
    • Banking statements
    • Refunds in process, warranties
    • Taxes
  • Hobby/Church
    • Radio and electronics (me) - I recently built a workbench in the attic, and will be moving most, if not all, of my gear to that space
    • Magazines, mailing offers
    • Church bulletins, Catechist paperwork and materials, reference materials
  • Medical
    • This is getting to be more important over time
    • Medicare, health plans, explanations of bills
    • Medical records
  • Business-related
    • We run two businesses together (one with consumer products, the other providing legal services)
    • Writing (me) - I will be upping my involvement in this area, and need to organize this before it becomes too out of control
Wow! Until now, I hadn't realized just how fragmented and complicated our lives had become. And, that's just the paper.

Some good things I've already done.
  • Daily organization
    • I use a Franklin Planner, and it is getting a workout lately
    • I organize papers by a daily folder system - M-F. Each day's papers go into a colored plastic folder. Hopefully, each day, paper is either dealt with, or moved to another day's folder.
  • In-sight organization
    • I use wall-mounted plastic pockets to hold paper that is needed regularly or for a long term project.
    • Wall calendar - erasable, located in office for easy reference.
    • Bill sorter (I do have to clear this out and start again this week).
  • Organization of repeating tasks on a weekly basis.
  • Automation of bill-paying when possible. I'll be adding more in the future, such as setting up budget billing for utilities.
My goal is to have this under control by the end of June, at the latest. I'll post progress as I make it. I'll be taking pictures of the before and after (I WON'T be posting the before until I have an after - too depressing to immortalize the mess without being able to bask in the glory of having corrected it).

Monday, May 29, 2017

Untangling Medicare

I've been hip-deep in the morass that is our Government-Issued/Overseen Health Care for Seniors for the last few months. I did NOT put enough time into it to be sure that I am making good choices, but I plan to monitor the situation, and re-assess as I approach the Open Enrollment period, so I can decide whether to keep that assortment of plans, or change them.

I'm in uncharted waters here. I've only had access to work-connected health insurance, and my choices were limited to a few plans. At most companies, the Benefits department does a reasonably good job of explaining the pros and cons of different plans, making decision much easier.

Two parts of Medicaid were easy - Parts A and B. I signed up for A last year when I turned 65, but didn't add B until I retired. No sweat, there was no real choice to make for these. Same for everyone.

I spent some time wrestling with which of the alphabeted plans to select, and decided on Plan G - it has coverage for illnesses/accidents out of state and when traveling, which is important to me. As I said, I will be watching my medical expenses closely, and evaluating the situation yearly.

I've selected a Part D plan, which is relatively affordable. Unfortunately, one of my meds - Spiriva - is WAY out of my price league, on ANY plan, so I'm going to have to talk to my pulmonologist about making an alternative selection. I did load up on a 30-day supply while still covered by my current plan, so I'll have time to make that appointment and change meds.

This is NOT an easy process, if you don't have access to a subsidized health plan or retirees. Even if you do, you have to weigh cost/benefits very carefully. I'm not satisfied that my choices were the best, but, do to time constraints, I'm going to have to roll the dice with what I've got.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Almost Done!

I've moved out the big stuff (metal carts with equipment, for example, and my scanner/printer). I was able - with the assistance of my husband, who really didn't complain too much - to get my room clear of everything except what I can manage in my car on Tuesday.

I need to go in that day, as I still have a few loose ends - inventory, checkout list, Medicare paperwork - to get tidied up.

But, that will be IT!

I was hot and sweaty after all that work - went straight home, and took a quick shower.

I know there are probably more important things to focus on - world peace, adequate food and medicine for kids, no more Kitty videos on Facebook - but, my deepest desire is that hot and cold running water should be a goal for everyone on Earth.

It is SUCH a pleasure to be cool and clean after hard work. So many people in the world do not have access to clean water, let alone running water. For them, I do hope that governments can stop putting less important things ahead of that simple, and profound, pleasure.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

One Week to Go

By this time on May 30, I will be preparing for my last day teaching.

Oh, it's possible that I might work as an adjunct, a substitute (particularly in a long-term job - 1-3 months, typically), or a tutor.

But, full-time employment may be permanently over.

Or, not.

Sometimes, plans change. Usually, there is a financial incentive. Some crisis hits, and the budget takes a hit. One or the other (or both) of the retirees needs to return to paid work, for a time.

Sometimes, there are other factors - boredom sometimes sets in, and paid employment is used to fill empty hours. I don't fault those who do so - I can imagine a time where, in an effort to re-connect after a spouse's death, one of us might choose a part-time job. It certainly beats withering away from loneliness.

I can't guarantee the future. But, as of now, this is the plan.

I'll post more over the next few months, as I adjust to the change in my routines - how I structure my days, ways I change my spending, the really FUN experience of dealing with Social Security, Medicare and other insurances, experiences with financial planners, etc.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Countdown Continues

6 more days with kids (the last two days, I have no students, which should make it easier to organize, clean, and complete all of the end of the year stuff). Right now, I'm exhausted.

The up side is the faculty meeting was canceled, so I'm able to leave in about 10 minutes - which, I plan to. I usually stay late, but not tonight.

Wednesday, 5/17/17 - I did stay later, to finish some activities, but, still left earlier than usual.

I have almost all of my students in 1st Block either taking the Final, or exempting. Only 1 non-senior, who will be taking the Final next week. So, I'll plan on off-loading him in another class on Thursday, to take advantage of that time to get some organizing and inventory done.

Later - 1:20 - I'm waiting for my students to arrive. Really, the Physics students have generally been delightful this year, although a little passive and low-key. They seldom get over-the-top excited about anything.

To be honest, almost all of my students are sweeties. Good, hardworking (OK, a few have taken laziness to a new low), and generally wonderful. I will miss the students when I leave.

I'm clearing the decks this week of paperwork/grading. Next week will be over quickly, and I don't want to leave any paperwork not dealt with.

Summer vacation will have a new poignancy this year - it will be an endless va-cay.





Thursday, May 11, 2017

Off the Fence

It's official. I submitted my retirement letter today. Already heard back from Benefits.

I do feel relieved. Actually making a decision is less stressful than avoiding making one.

I'm going to spend the rest of this week catching up on grades, making notes about what to take and what to pitch, and planning for the transition.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Trudge, Trudge...

...and, I'm nearly there!

I just completed the paperwork (oh, I do hope I did it right!) for transferring my NC Teacher's pension to SC. I'm crossing my fingers, but - in the back of my mind - won't be totally surprised if I have to re-do all, or part, of it.

D-Day is Thursday - that's Decision Day - I have to either sign my contract, or I'm automatically NOT renewed for the next year.

I'm about 80% sure that I won't sign. I don't need to babysit DJ (pity, I was kind of looking forward to it), but my dear SIL is apparently facing another bout with cancer, and my daughter may need me, at least occasionally, in the fall.

I have PLANS!

  1. Writing is # 1 - I have been chomping at the bit to get started. I've upped my blogging regularity, and have been keeping a journal, as well. I figure that it will take me a week or two to get fully in the swing of daily production, but - watch out, World!
  2. Cleaning and Organizing - both a good cleaning of the entire house, as well as a simultaneous Pitching and Organizing. I plan to use the apps/EBay/whatever to squeeze some money out of it all, if I can. Otherwise, donate or pitch.
  3. Ham Radio - I have several projects that have been waiting until I had the attic cleared out enough to set up my Ham Shack. That's likely the first thing on my list for #2. I really cannot wait for this.
  4. Visiting Family & Friends - at last, I will not have to dash madly back and forth, lest I miss that Crucial Work Time! I plan to take a trip about once a month for the next year - with or without Den.
That's the major things on my list. What will be on YOUR list when you retire?

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 appropr...