Friday, November 17, 2017

Six (Mainly) Frugal Things!

I want to thank everyone who responded to my "honey and dear" thread. Obviously we all have different perspectives on this issue and I appreciate them all (although not being told to "move on"). My personal perspective on this is that each year it gets worse (the older I get the more honeys I get). So right now, my goal is to find  a way to dissuade this without become terminally rude or offensive myself, as I prefer to be kind. Onward and forward!

Meanwhile, it's been sunny and mid sixties here today in Denver. I got up much earlier than usual to accompany adult son to his pre-op appointment today (more below), so am experiencing my mid-afternoon I want to take a nap moment! As far as frugal and other things this week:

1.  Yesterday was a huge score on the passive earnings front. I made ten bucks in a quick half an hour while sitting down and watching TV, and then I purchased a one month trial of Barkbox for five dollars-and earned thirty dollars from Swagbucks in about five minutes. This was on top of my normal passive earnings routine so I am a very happy camper. I might end up keeping Barkbox for a while, but we will see. It depends on the ratio of toys to treats, I expect. We would prefer more of the former and less of the latter to keep Wilson's girlish figure. I'll talk about free trials in the future, but unless I love the box, I'll be cancelling after the first month. I also earned a $10 Amazon and $15 Target Card, $15 in Walmart credit and transferred $25 to my checking account this week.

2. I was overdue for an oil change and just happened to receive a $25 coupon yesterday from my local Nissan dealer-which expired today. I am now good to go for a much lower amount than my usual (I use synthetic oil). Less frugal and happy was the discovery that since my car is at 100 thousand miles and I hope to drive as close to another hundred as possible, I need to get my transmission flushed in the next month. For $250. But you know what? My car has been very, very reliable, and I knew as I hit that mileage mark that there would be things to be done. It's time to give car upkeep it's own monthly line item methinks.

3. I was pleasantly surprised to find that my son's torn labrum/separated bicep surgery will be much less intensive and have much less recovery than we first thought. Three arthroscopic incisions, an outpatient procedure, and a sling for two days. While I still suspect I'll be driving throughout our family trip down south, and he'll have the good stuff when it comes to drugs, he should be mainly fully functional again in less than a month.

4. While I haven't actually lessened my volunteer efforts as such, last night showed me that stepping back from Thursday night dinners was a good thing. It's an hour drive to the church in rush hour, for one thing.. While I am something of a night owl, I don't love to be out in the evening a great deal as such unless for a special event. My future volunteer gigs will be closer to home and much more advocating and fund raising oriented (except for my one morning with my homeless senior women). More frugal and flexible, both in terms of money and time. And equally needed.

5.  I spent the week comparing the Amtrak version of a rail pass to simply booking the route on my own, and actually think I come out ahead with the pass version. The question remains of course, once I get to San Francisco, do I go north to Seattle and Montana or south to California and Arizona and Texas and such!  Considering I'm talking March or April and I think I have more friends and bloggers on the southern route, that's my tendency at the morning.

6. Some DIY things are, of course more frugal than others, and cheaper than store bought does not in and of itself mean cheap. My many two inch square quilt requires alot of good quality fabric (which is why one quilted gift a year is my general limit). And while a handmade alpaca shawl is more unique and less expensive than one purchased from Etsy or a store or elsewhere at twelve dollars for a skein of yarn it may not necessarily be frugal. So I will thrilled to find out that I the gift I planned for all the distaff members of my family as well as my various groups, was both unique and cost effective-because I am one of those natural product girls who keeps large amounts of things like Shea Butter and Dead Sea salts on hand. Lavender salt and sugar scrubs and lotion bars?  Coming right up!

This weekend, I'm going to get my exercise walking the pathway that winds through Ikea, as we look to replace a few things. Other than that, a chili cook-off and church are the height of my social life this weekend. And so it goes!

Anything exciting or frugal in your neck of the woods?

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

My Name Is Not Honey (or dear, or sweetie)!

Not too long ago, I read this article on Next Avenue, about the angst some over fifty types experience when someone calls them ma'am (or even gives up their subway seat, apparently).  And I get it, really I do. During my working years, my line used to be "Mrs. Bomberger is my mother-in-law, please do call me Barbara".  And while as I've aged a bit I'm not quite so opposed to the ma'am/age respect factor, I do appreciate the automatic cringe factor that some folks feel.

But I have to tell you. I personally would much, much rather be called, ma'am, or even "hey you" than the phrases people (especially those in the service industry and medical field) use when they come in contact with women (and I suppose some men) of a certain age. And the younger they are, the more they seem to feel the need to use the terms dear, honey, or sweetie, in my direction.  This tendency by the youthful to call their elders "dear" seems to increase in direct proportion with age. I've sen the same phraseology used towards my (admittedly twenty plus years older) father in law in his assisted living program. And his mind is fully intact.

Now inevitably, someone from seriously southern climes is going to say something about it being the norm, polite behavior or signs of affection.  To you I say, to put it simply, no. It's not particularly polite, it's certainly not respectful from my perspective. And frankly, why a sales person, restaurant worker or the nurse in the ER/Urgent care feels that he or she should share affection as such, I'm not sure I understand. Kindness, sympathy, all those other things, yes. But the affection of honey and sweetie? Those should be reserved for family members or extremely close friends, at least in my perspective. And for those who consider those words "nurturing"?. Please think again.

For what it's worth (since I know not only boomers and retirees read this blog), if you are one of those people I'm sure you don't MEAN to be condescending. And you probably don't mean to be patronizing. In fact, you figure you're being nice. And kind. And probably nurturing.  But I'm old enough to be your mom, or your mom's good friend, or your aunt, or your boss. Would you call any of them honey in public? At least on a regular basis?

And what's most offensive, is that (at least in my experience) this is much more a female than a male thing. And women should, frankly, know better. My thirty something daughter recently had a new guy at her place of work, who came up to her and said. "Hello, darlin, I'm Mike". At which point she smiled at him and said "Elizabeth" (not her real name). This continued for a few days in the workplace. He finally looked at her and said something along the lines of which were that he didn't mean to offend her, he was just being "southern and friendly". She smiled and answered "I understand that, but the only person who gets to call me darlin is my husband". Enough said.

So my question is, if you would become upset if a coworker, stranger, or boss used such phraseology with you, why is it okay for you to do the same to someone else? And why do you get offended when "called" on it. I for one make every effort not to call young people sweetie or dear and between college classes and my neighborhood or the like, I come in contact with more than a few. Because i feel it would be beyond condescending. I only wish that feeling went both ways.

Because honestly, I struggle with a way to deal with this without sounding completely snarky or the proverbial bitch from hell. I mean, if I actually say "I'm not your sweetie" or "Sweetie isn't my name", the look on injury on the party spoken to is beyond words. I could call you sweetie every time you called me dear. I could, in some circumstances (and have), say "I'm Mrs. Bomberger, but you can call me Barbara".

Or better yet, you could ask me what I'd like to be called. Or call me the name you see on my medical sheet or reservation or identification. Or simply avoid the "title" completely, because after all, using a title or name in every conversation is not an absolute requirement in polite society.

Or, let's face it, you could just call me ma'am. And honestly, that would be just fine.

Readers and fellow bloggers, what do you think. Am I overreacting? Being unrealistic? Taking offense to easily?  Where do you stand on the "Honey, sweetie, dear" method of communication?  And if you object, how do you deal with this issue?

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Five Frugal Things-And A Couple Unfrugal Things

Today is Veterans Day. While I as a widow, deliberately concentrate on those more positive days such as Father's Day and my husband's birthday, today is a difficult day to ignore. Because my husband passed away on Veterans day 11 years ago. So while this is not my official day of remembrance for him as such, it's generally a quiet and at home day. Today is the day we thank and remember living veterans (As opposed to Memorial Day which is designed to remember the fallen)So if you are reading this, I encourage you to actively do something this weekend to thank and or help a veteran you know or have heard of rather than simply looking at it as a holiday, or three day weekend. Thoughts into actual action, and all that good stuff.

If there was ever proof that I am not a shopper, or at least not an in-store shopper as such, yesterday was such a day. Friday tends to be the day that I do errands, that is if I have errands to do. Yesterday was an errand day. I needed a new blade for my rotary cutter and perhaps a few more strips of fabric for my teeny tiny two and a half inch square quilt. I also wanted to get a very few groceries-mainly for baking. Also, I wanted to look for sweaters. It seems that a group of good sweaters all died at the same time last season and I need to replace some.

Only, being as unaware as I am about "those" shopping days, it was not until I entered Joanne crafts that I realized that this was probably not the day to be out and about. It may not have been the day after Thanksgiving, but  a quick look at what was probably a twenty minute line for a single blade and a bottle of decorating sugar for Christmas cookies had me turning around and heading back out to my car. I did however, manage to get a couple needed things along the line, some of which contributed to my frugality for the week.

  1. Crowds or no crowds, I wandered into Kohl's, where I made a tiny score. I found this sweater and matching earrings, for a total of $31 on sale. I seem to be moving more to pastels this year, as evidenced by the fact that my previous sweater purchase was pink. I had twelve dollars left on a birthday gift card from September, and a ten dollars off twenty five dollar coupon in my purse. Making the earrings and sweater eleven dollars in total.  I'll take it-but next time I may take it via delivery-to my door!  
  2. This was a good week for those rebate apps that I have mentioned before briefly. I received a dollar back on Ponds dry skin cream (I'm experimenting with a variety of not $35 face creams to see if I can find reasonable alternatives). My Ibotta app had rebates for coke mini cans (my version of morning coffee), Jimmy Dean fully cooked sausage (I have with eggs and fruit in the the morning) and a rebate to try a new product-Johnsonville's Red Wine and Cheese Italian Sausage (am I the only one who thinks that sounds divine?). I also had rebates for a gallon of milk, and some other produce and dairy items.
  3. While $3 is truly a small price to pay for healthy living, I'm finding as the weather changes a bit and I don't need to get up to avoid the heat of the day that I am simply not getting motivated in time to get to my 11 am exercise classes. My alternative these days is to use that hour in between when I feed the dogs and do something about dinner and such (around four or so) to do a forty five minute silver sneakers kind of workout to Utube. I will probably want to get into the pool at least one day a week, but that should spread those punches out quite a bit.
  4. I made way too many ham and cheese Hawaiian sliders on Thursday for the church group and no one else at church wanted to take them home, so I did. Frugal because we now have dinner for tonight, and time saving because I am baking for the church fundraiser tomorrow (pumpkin chocolate chip bars, Italian herb muffins, and two taco bean casseroles). I won't feel like cooking again after that, and this saves us from going out. Often when (or if ) we have leftovers someone else takes them or they go to the homeless, but this time I left the dessert and took the sandwiches.
  5. I made $25 this past week on Amazon Turk, and fifteen dollars from instaGC which I transferred to Amazon. I also made all of my Swagbuck goals except for last nite, because the site was down and I had waited until the evening. To compensate for that one though, I got 168 points for ordering a cardigan on sale from Christoper and Banks. I've also started running Perk TV for a couple dollar a day.
And on the less than frugal front:

  1. I broke down and for the first time in many months purchased a $14 book on Amazon via Kindle (the new Lee Child Jack Reacher book). Usually I use the library or take books from Amazon free via Kindle unlimited (yes, it works for me, should I talk about it?)  Occasionally you just gotta do it, and the library wait for this one was months. For fellow Reacher readers I'll only say that this book makes it clear as punch that the man DOES NOT LIKE Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher. The descriptive opening chapter makes that one obvious!
  2. I got my hair cut yesterday-and realized that because of my short and slightly longer on the top hair style, said top was still colored, and the rest was white. I can live with the whole white thing, but this growing out part may be harder than I thought. So I'm thinking today I'll buy a box of color and post holiday I will get a true buzz cut and live with the growing out misery for awhile!
And so it goes this holiday weekend. This is a stay at home bake, sew and football weekend. Next week, the fairs, Christmas markets and such begin in earnest-and am I ready! How has your week been, frugality and otherwise?f

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Using Swagbucks (And Other Point Programs) To Earn Gift Cards

Today is one of those mainly lazy at home days. I'll go out this evening and make ham and cheese sliders for church (pictures and instructions later). And at some point I'll go ride the bike for at least a half an hour. Other than that, I'm doing a little reading, a little sewing, a little writing-and planning my next two days of cooking for the large bake sale this weekend. Let's just say that more than one pumpkin recipe will be included. And  yea, my camera will be with me through all of the process.

There are more than a few ways to make a little casual money in retirement (without getting a real job or starting a real business). Mystery shopping via app or phone calls, running videos, taking surveys, the list is, while not endless, pretty long. The best way to get started on this journey though, is with a large point program like Swagbucks, or InstagGC  So in this missive I'm going to share some of the ways to do that. 

Since I know that other readers and bloggers know at least as much about this as I do, feel free to jump in, correct me, or add additional information at will. In order to not make this so long that you feel you need to run from the room, after the info, I'll share what I personally do on Swagbucks and how and why. Then I'll give a very short summary of things that others do successfully but I do not, as well as those things I am not sure are worth it. Got that? I'll follow up later with a more intensive post as needed and am happy to answer email questions and lengthy comments if required.

First though, because I'm me, I need to share what I mean when I talk about various types of earnings. Passive earnings are those things I can mainly walk away from-videos that may need to be checked occasionally while I am doing my around the house stuff to see if they are still running, a phone running while a TV program is on, or that kind of thing. Partially Passive earnings for me are those things I can do while I am doing something else. I can do surveys while I'm watching Mindhunter or a football show. I compare these to taking my knitting to a meeting and church. Active earnings are those times when I sit down for no more than an hour to do nothing but work on the computer. And finally there is that large group of things that I do because I am doing something else. This group includes scanning receipts and getting rewards for normal shopping, being paid to do a mystery shop/audit while in a store (an offer recently to photograph a display while I was in Walmart comes to mind) and a host of other things that probably need to be divided into different categories.

Many of these (not all) can be done through a site like Swagbucks. Put simply, Swagbucks is a website that is also a point program. You earn points for doing a large variety of things-from watching videos to searching online to doing surveys to even playing games. These points are then redeemed to gift cards, with a point being a penny, and five hundred points being worth five dollars.

Now, gift cards versus cash: I'll say here that I personally prefer the gift card option to the cash option, however, almost all websites give you the option of Paypal cards and at least one (Amazon Mturk) will transfer to your checking account .  Within that gift card option I choose almost exclusively to go Amazon first, and Walmart second. The Amazon is, I suspect, obvious. I live in one of those rare locations where the local Walmart is the equivalent of an updated Target Superstore and travel to places where Walmart has gas stations, hence the Walmart option.

Signing up for Swagbucks is fairly simple-you need a valid email, and that can be your "family" email or a different one. Whatever you use to sign up, use that specific one for the things you do through the Swagbucks portal. They do have a rule of one account per household, as far as I know. For those who wonder about safety, I have never had an issue. I do have a separate Yahoo address, but that's more about keeping my Comcast email for friends and family than anything else. And frankly, I don't get the spam you might think even though I also do that particular email address for some freebie and reward sites.

Since this is my personal SB page you'll see my daily goal, my inbox, and my current earnings (after I cashed in for a gift card-I usually cash in as soon as I have earned 1000 points or ten dollars).You'll also see the "search bar" in the left hand corner.

On the sidebar, at the bottom of the website, you'll see both a tour and a basic "how it works" tutorial. It's worth checking that out. Above that, you will see the various options for earning points which include shopping, surveys, games, watching videos, searching and the like.

 Once you've created an account, up on the top of the page you will see the following things:  The daily goal of points that Swagbucks has suggested for you (along with the extra points you will earn if you make said goal), a place to enter Swagbuck codes, and an email portal where you may find offers specific to your interests (or not). It's important to know here that if you meet your goals for a week, 14 days or a month, you can also earn additional points. Also, once you reach said daily goal, there is a secondary goal, should you wish to aim for it. My basic goal for today is 50 points with a five point bonus and my secondary goal is 99 with a ten point bonus. That's without the added points for making a weekly goal (25), 14 days goals (100) 21 days of goals (200) and every day of the month (300).  So you see how those goals really add up.

So. What do I personally do on Swagbucks? Remember these are not all the options, and not even all the good options. This is what I choose to do on SB every day (mainly) with the time I have available. I also belong to other websites and in fact do my evening survey time over at InstaGC (more on that later).
  • I use the toolbar (or the screen in the window above), to do all my searches. SB search is enabled by Yahoo. This CAN earn me as much as 600 points a month-but I do a great many searches on a couple specific creative and travel topics. Your reward may be less.
  • I buy gift cards I would normally use through and earn Swagbucks. Again, only for things I would use. I look at this as being akin to those of us who buy gift cards for gas at Kroger to get 4x fuel points. In my personal case, I have two that I use regularly and others that I use semi regularly. My book group meets at Panera and I usually hit it for breakfast additionally once a month so I buy Panera gift cards (and load them onto the Panera app so I can also get rewards and freebies). My local movie theater is AMC and since all my readers know by now that I am a movie goer, I purchase those and do the same re the app and rewards). I recently also got a Bed, Bath and Beyond GC to purchase that immersion blender we talked about. And my family is more than happy with printable or digital gift cards, so the holidays will increase my earnings. 
  • I do the little checklist at the side of the page. This includes answering a poll, watching a single video, using the tool bar and attempting a survey. This is not passive but takes a few minutes a day.
  • I do any online shopping through the Swagbucks portal and earn points. Obviously this depends on your comfort level with online shopping. I only shop at places that have brick and mortar stores and in store return except for Amazon. (I am blessed to be able to order clothing from two places and know that they will fit).  To give you a couple examples: One of my very few expensive habits other than good shoes is really good face cream (yea, I'm one of those with really dry, really sensitive skin for whom Olay or Ponds do not work).  I order online via Macy's get the rewards and pick it up in the store at my convenience. I have also been known to order my monthly shopping needs (face wipes, chapstick, socks, whatever) online at Walmart and pick up in the store-again earning rewards.
  • I do daily deals and daily offers. Again, this one depends on your comfort level. I have purchased something off for free shipping and gotten points. I have tried a one month free trial of Blue Apron and gotten points. I have tried out Hulu free for a month so I could watch The Handmaid's Tale and gotten points. The trick here  obviously is to write down on your calendar when these free trials expire, and only do things that are not free for things you would like. I have also gotten one month paid subscriptions as gifts this way, for example, from Barkbox. This would fall under active earning times. My most recent endeavour was a free trial of Stitch Fix (not impressed, more later) for which I earned a thousand points or ten dollars.
  • Because I have a smart phone, I have downloaded the seven mobile apps that play mobile videos and earn at least a minimum of 70 SB each day while they run. I do this almost every single day,and often earn bonus points for doing this one. Once in awhile I may get an "are you watching" hint, or have to x out an ad. But yesterday it remained next to me during my three hours of sewing, just as an example, and kept earning, earning, earning.
And there you have it. The basic things I do every day to earn buckaroonies on Swagbucks. Most of them are done casually and passively, either while I am doing something else or when I am needing to do something I would already do normally. For those who are wondering about the fifty thousand dollar question, my daily minimum goal that I set for myself is to get 100 SB per day. Most days I do that and more. On a really sick or busy day? I settle for the first goal. Does this sound like much? Perhaps not. But this is not the only thing I do, and all of these things are completely passive and not time consuming. My little dollar a day is $30 monthly, and with those bonuses can easily be $50 a month-or more! Obviously some months are better than others, for example I'm doing much more shopping and gift card buying now than I might be doing, say, in April.

Now to be clear, this is not the only list of things you can do on SB, not even the only passive things. You can also:
  • Do surveys, as many of my blogging friends do. Again, I simply do them elsewhere. Mainly because surveys are done through portals and I don't want to be kicked off a portal for entering it from a different website. Surveys can be the ways to earn the biggest rewards in the shortest time, so I don't want anyone to think that because I don't do them they aren't worthwhile. Because believe me, they are. Semi passive if you do them while watching TV, visiting or whatever. Surveys can range from 30 points to 150 points and from five minutes to 20 minutes. 
  • Watch TV on your laptop, or do "encraves" (also a type of video) on your laptop. Mainly passive, with occasional check ins. You could earn up to 150 Swagbucks a day in a mainly passive fashion by doing this.
  • You can play games, most of which are free and some of which are not in order to earn points.
  • You can search for points on social media if you subscribe to their posts on FB, Twitter and the like-and many of these codes can be decent sized
  • You can enter sweepstakes if you are very very brave.
And there you have it. My very quick, down and dirty tutorial about how I earn money via Swagbucks. Since I've mentioned InstaGC as well, we'll talk about that at a later date. For now let's just say it's a fairl similar program without all the shopping options and buying options for earning points-and where you set your own goal!

Did I answer questions? Do we need to go deeper by types of earnings? Do we need more information?  And if so in what general area. Feel free to ask questions as much as you need to, as often as you need to. And share opinions, as often as you need to or want to.

Monday, November 6, 2017

A Question For Readers-And Earning Money in Retirement Because You Want To (not because you have to)

This is the second post in a row about financial changes in retirement, and to some it may seem like overkill. But since I have upcoming posts on retirement travel, lifestyle changes, money earning and frugal holidays, among others, I figured this one was appropriate as well. Because if nothing else, I don't want any of my readers thinking that posts about making a bit of money here and a bit of money there are meant to take the place of basic rightsizing. The things I write about have more to do with earning money for travel, or for one hundred and fifty dollar shoes, than they do "working in retirement".

Most mornings, I move slowly in retirement. I pray and meditate and do stretches in bed and such before I even get out of the bed. Eventually I take my laptop, phone and notebook to my comfy chair. Where I also have my breakfast, as it is. This time of year it's often a homemade breakfast drink that I make with about an inch of eggnog in a glass of milk. During my time in that comfy chair, after I have checked the morning news and email and written in my journal and such, I spend no more than an hour doing money earning activities.

Once the rest of my day begins, I do passive actions on my phone or laptop as I go through said day. If I'm out and about I may get a  rebate or reward for shopping or have a chance to do a quick audit while I am in a store (a recent chance to photograph a display while in Target comes to mind). In the evening, IF I am at home and IF I am watching TV or just visiting, I usually spend some additional time doing the things I'll be talking about in a future post or two...or three (lol).

Before I begin those promised articles though, I would be remiss if I did not say this first. I do these money/gift card things because I choose to, not because I have to.I also try and make sure they don't interfere with the rest of life. If I have a chance to take a day trip and NOT do any of the above, that's peachy. And if that's not true for you, then you should probably do whatever you have to do to make sure that the same IS true for you.

I spend a lot of time on this blog talking about every day economies, and ways to live "richly in retirement".  And I know that people appreciate that. But it occurs to me that perhaps the thing people should be paying attention to the most are not those day to day things but those big changes I made (some of which were mentioned in the previous article). I drastically downsized my life in terms of space, physical energy, and monthly costs, to put it simply. Because I did not want my life to be just about my house, car those other things-from an energy/labor standpoint as much as a financial one.

All the little money saving or money making techniques I share, and readers share with me are valuable. Valuable however, ONLY if you've done whatever you needed to do to lower those overhead costs to as far beneath your income as you are able. If you aren't willing (or in some case aren't able) to do that, the truth is that the passive earning things are a mere drop in the bucket. The same may even be true of part time earnings.

Admittedly , those kinds of changes are painful on occasion. Sometimes they require physical moves and labor. Sometimes they require giving up the kinds of thing we feel we "deserve" or are "used to". Sometimes it means giving up the family home (kids or no). Sometimes it means giving up one of two houses. Or downsizing to something that is half the size. Or moving from a house to an apartment. Or sharing space. It may mean keeping our car an added few years and/or moving down to one car for a couple. It probably means paying cash for cars in the future. While medical care and costs are unpredictable, it also means looking at what those costs will be and doing the best we can.

I would suggest that as painful as these kinds of changes can be, that pain is generally temporary.  My downsizing was not particularly painful, admittedly. Most of the pain involved the physical act of selling, moving, and finding a new place to live-along with letting go of the idea of home ownership, at least temporarily. But I have lived in many places, in many states and countries and under many circumstances. So I understand that for some, the letting go of the living situation they may have imagined is difficult.

Invariably (and probably predictably) his is where someone reminds me that I live with my sister and my brother is my landlord. Or they'll say that as a federal government retiree (or the wife of one) my health insurance is on a different level. The first two are absolutely true-but if they had not been, I would have found another way. Long time readers may recall, my original intent was to move into a small apartment in Denver. And as for the second, well, my husband turned down many offers that were much greater over the years, because of said benefits and the desire to be shipped to Europe.

But the bottom line is that retirement should be about the entire experience. If you feel like you can "never do anything". Or "Why do other people get to have fun in retirement" I promise you that in the long run, you'll be much happier making the really big changes so you can take advantage of the really big fun stuff. And this is where I add that if you are living only on Social Security, if you literally cannot make ends meet, if you are making choices between things like food and bills (as more seniors do than I care to admit), this post is not directed at you. $37000 a year is not poverty, and I would never pretend it is. Even in those most expensive areas of the country. I also have articles coming up on poverty and more extreme retirement living.

Because the truth is this: If you have your monthly overhead (housing and related bills, basic food, transportation) as low as you can possibly go and still be "comfortable", you can, to paraphrase a book I read somewhere, "extreme coupon the shit out of"  or occasionally financially supplement the rest of your life. 

If I didn't do passive income or surveys or the things I do, I would still eat. I would still have a  beautiful roof over my head. I would still have a car, pay for my prescriptions and medical care, have a social life, be able to buy gifts and clothes and even take the occasional road trip. Because I was willing to downsize, rightsize, small up, whatever your phrase of this week might be.

So yea, I earn passive income and do other things that bring me in "extra money". My average goal is around $150 a month, but I've upped that for the holidays and in preparation of my six week train trip to some really fun (albeit expensive) US locations in the spring of the coming year.

And yes, I'm going to tell you all about that-about how to run videos on your phone and computer, get paid for doing things you normally do (including travel on occasion) mystery shop with your phone, and get freebies and rewards at the places you shop and eat-in person or online. You may be interested, you may be bored, or you may already know everything I'm going to share in this series of articles.  

Whatever your response, hopefully you've cared for the "big stuff", so we can now have fun with the "smaller stuff".

And on that note, I'll leave you all with one question for Wednesday. Should I do this by type of device, type of earnings, apps versus computer? At this point my intent is to first talk "terms" and then share those big 3 point earning websites where you can do many things. Does that work for you?  Let me know.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Unhappy in Retirement? Fix it!

Four years ago, I sold my house and moved many states away to Colorado-where I knew no one but my siblings. This was not  an easy decision, and one that I had to take under consideration for many months. As of August, I have lived in my current home for four years. And no matter the ups and down, the long term results have shown me that decision was a right one to make

Why am I sharing this decision again?  Because I have learned that if we are unhappy, if we are feeling stagnated, if we are lonely, if we feel that something is missing, and in some cases if we feel the financial belt getting tight,  we are the only ones who can change that. Most changes will not require selling houses or moving. But the bottom line is that if we want a different retirement, it is (mainly) up to us. We may even need to do that more than once in our retirement, as our needs and wants and lifestyle change. I say that as a woman who is about to make some other changes in her retirement.

I lived in a beautiful almost 3 thousand square foot home in the Dallas area. It was a beautiful house, but it was entrapping-for a variety of reasons. I probably should have never purchased a  home, instead of a condo, but it was kind of late. While I could afford said home, as a single gal, I was "house poor". And I don't mean just in the financial sense. I was cleaning a large house, doing yard work and maintenance and in general finding out that I had absolutely no interest for, nor the energy for traditional home responsibilities. I also discovered that while I loved my husband's family, I felt the need to be near my own. And while one kid was interested in moving with me, another was settled in her life-and I would see her much less.

Four years later, I now share a home. A beautiful home that I rent. While I do the traditional cleaning and inside housework, never do I do landscaping, nor home improvements, nor home repair. I live near two of my three siblings (our parents are no longer living). I found a church that may even be a better match than my church in Dallas. I have grown to love the greater Denver area, and in fact, while I traveled as much as I could in Dallas, have spent much of my Denver time exploring the local and taking short trips. I have found a quilt group, a knitting group, book groups and more. Put simply, while this change was difficult, especially for someone who does not easily put herself out there, it was the right decision for me.

However, we are also allowed to change our minds and adjust in retirement and so it is with me. This time, my changes are not so great. After years of basically no travel, I have found it calling to me. I want to spend more than two weeks three times a year with my daughter. I've found what I think is my "mission" in supporting refugees and advocating for their increased numbers. Welcoming the stranger if you will.

I share this with you all because I know there are readers who wish there was more social life, feel like they should be moving in a different direction or just know that something is missing. To those readers I say again, you (and I) are the only person who can change those things. I would also say that there is no limit (within reason) as to how often we can change, re-invent or adjust our lives.  While I would never recommend doing what I did  more than once in a retirement, there are many other ways to do that. Sometimes our interests change, sometimes our energies change. Sometimes, we just need a little kick in the you know what to energize our lifestyle. Whatever it is, we are the only person who can give that to ourselves (or ourselves and our partners, depending).

In my case, I've decided that this spring, I'll take a one month train trip that ends in Texas where I will spend some quality time with my daughter. Along the way, I'll be exploring areas that may work for a one or two month semi-snowbird type break in future years (it hurts my heart, but my beloved Corpus Christi and Rockport may not serve that need for some time). I'll also be visiting some fellow bloggers, hopefully. While increased volunteering would seem to contradict this new travel choice, my direction now is active and vocal advocacy for refugees (and it's a topic you can expect to hear about in the blog on occasion.) My active, "service" type volunteering will be rare, and depend on my schedule, and the same for senior college type activity.  And finally, I'm  looking for a social group that "thinks like me". Because while I love love love my book group, knitting group and sewing groups, I am in the minority, viewpoint wise-and I need at least one social outlet where I can say exactly what I think, you know? 

Making these changes will both require some serious facilitation and adjustment on some lifestyle fronts, as well as stepping further out of my box on the social front. Some of these changes and preparation I'll share, some not so much. We'll see. I can tell you that some journaling, making a little extra room for passive and semi passive earnings, and ruthless decluttering will all be a part of the process. 

Either way, this retirement will be a little bit the same, and a little bit not the same, going forward. And that works for me!

Fair warning to all. The history geek has been asked multiple times her opinion on the "State's Rights" perspective of the Civil War, along with thoughts on memorials and "changing history". While I had put this aside, after our Vice President's comments last week, my inner "teacher" has come out in full force. You may or may not be surprised to hear what I think on Monday.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

On Coloring My Hair-Or Not

In case you didn't know, my hair is not naturally the warm brown that shows in the side photo, or that you may have seen in the rare photos I post of myself online. My hair, friends, is white. Completely white. And it's been like that for some time. Pictures taken at the Christmas gathering in 2000, before my family moved overseas shows my hair as completely white. And it had been that way for quite awhile.

At some point in Germany, I began coloring my hair (as I can see in my son's graduation and family photos in 2007). I then stopped for a fairly long period again. In fact, it has only been since I about a year after I moved to Denver that I seriously began coloring my hair again. Yet here I am, seriously considering letting that color go-permanently this time.

I have friends (and probably readers), who come from the "Dye till I die" school of thought, and I appreciate that.  But that is never where I was, or planned to be. And I have never been one of those people who was determined to "look younger than I am" or "hide my age". I'm more interested in looking the best I can, you know? And for me that mainly means being healthy and taking care of my self.

Now I need to be honest here as I consider this step. I am admittedly not one of those folks whose hair is multiple shades of gray, nor am I the kind whose hair is a yellowish-grayish mix. But I am not sure this would stop me. Because in my heart of hearts suppose. we can all look our best by (mainly) being who we are.

Through the years, my hair has gotten shorter, and shorter and shorter. I once had shoulder length or longer hair, and I've continually moved to having shorter each time. I'm now at the point of three week haircuts. Part of this is convenience-year around I shower and get out and simply fluff or brush my hair. Part of this is somewhere along the line a few years ago I realized I simply cannot stand to have hair covering my glasses sides so in addition to short hair I have that area around my ears trimmed.  By having short hair, I'm ending up coloring it every three weeks as well-and each time using less than half of a store bought container of hair color. So coloring my hair is wasteful, albeit not horribly expensive (nine dollars every three weeks) as well as a pain and time consuming.

But mainly I just think, "Hey, I'm sixty five, and why am I still doing this?".  I mean, if my husband were still living, people would most like think his gray hair made him handsome, or at least distinguished.  What is it about women that we have this need, on occasion, to hide every vestige of natural age progression? I like to think I look younger than sixty five, but hey, it's not like I look fifty!

This is not about not caring about appearance. As I've said before, while I may not dress like some fashion blogger pals, I enjoy looking good. I have a certain style that is recognizable and my own. I'm obsessive about skin care and the like (I'm one of those folks for whom something less than Lancome night cream simply does not do the job). I work to keep myself healthy and exercise within my personal limitations.

 So It's not like by letting my hair go gray again, I'm letting myself "go". I already naturally wear either fairly soft or bright colors (never will you see true red, black, purple or the like anywhere close to me). I wear soft blusher almost all the time because while that 1/64th of native blood running through my veins means my skin never turns pasty white, it also means that no matter how excited or hot I get, my cheeks don't naturally "blush). So even on sweats days, I may have on blusher and chapstick (along with that perfume and those earrings).

Life in retirement (at least for me) is being about who I am, and enjoying life in every sense. While I have not taken that final step back to natural hair as of yet, I'm pretty sure it's coming. And sooner rather than later. Because for me, that's who I am. And with hair as short as mine, it's not like I'll have growing out roots for six months-if you know what I mean!

What about you, ladies (and guys too). If you're not natural, have you ever thought about it? And if your hair hasn't starting turning yet, what will you do when that time comes?

Six (Mainly) Frugal Things!

I want to thank everyone who responded to my "honey and dear" thread. Obviously we all have different perspectives on this issue a...