Nov 30, 2011

Simple Graphs: Not Ready for Retirement? Inforgraphic from Mercer Insights


While I talk a lot about how a happy retirement happens in the 6 inches between your ears, I do know that a financial reality check is in order before you retire.  Being satisfied with what you have is one thing but making foolish decisions based on cluelessness is another.  People are paying closer attention these days it appears and the financial outlook has them worried.

When future retirees were surveyed about their retirement savings by a consulting firm called Mercer, their answers were very telling. The graph below was created as a result of a survey called What's Working.  The results of the survey painted a picture of uncertainty for retirement possibilities.  Why the uncertainty?   I think Arthur Noonan, partner in Mercer put it perfectly:
“We have seen defined benefit plan freezes and terminations in recent years, combined with the worst decade of S&P performance,” he says. “Add to this the large bubble of workers – the boomers – reaching retirement age, increased media attention on retirement issues and talk of possible Social Security cuts. People’s sense of security has been shaken.”  Arthur Noonan, a partner in Mercer’s Retirement, Risk & Finance from Mercer 
Here is the information we were invited to use by the Mercer group.


Not ready for retirement
It seems that while employees rate retirement benefits at the top of their list of desired perks, the type of plan influences their confidence.  A 401(k) is is the most desirable.  It could be that workers need to be  looking a little harder at types of retirement plans when they change employers. A 401(k) allows employees to transfer the money to another qualified plan.  If that new employer does not have a qualified plan, the employees could be looking at a large tax fee for withdrawing funds.  Remember, 401(k) is from pre-taxed money.

The survey tells us that if you are a woman, you don't think you are doing enough to insure your retirement.  Less that 45% of all employees feel that they are saving enough to insure retirement.  But if you are a woman, that number drops to less that 39%.

Younger employees are feeling more positive.  In the 25-34 age bracket, 50% or more feel they and their current employer are doing a good job with their retirement plan.  But in the aging population the confidence levels fall significantly.

Retiring in style is not easy these days but picking the right retirement plan (one that can be moved from one employer to another or one that is not taken from pre-taxed income?) may be the key if you are young.  If you are over 50 it becomes more difficult.  Living on less NOW may save your retirement from disappearing all together.  Remember, even though you are living as though tomorrow will never come, it probably will anyway!

It is just a thought.

Nov 28, 2011

10 Links to Gifts for Grandchildren...Cyber Christmas!!

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We are doing all our shopping online this year.  When you are not at home with your family, it takes some creative thinking.  Here are some good websites to help you on this Cyber Christmas gift hunt!  Have fun.
If you have a list of your own or an Etsy Store where you are selling,  just leave a comment with a link to your stuff.  

b
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Nov 26, 2011

Do Grandmothers Brag? Vote here!

I am taking a count.  Leave a message with a link to a story you have written about a grandchild.  You can even post it if you are only telling the truth and not bragging.  We will understand.

Oh, by the way, I for 1 (one) do, brag that is.  Here is granddaughter Amelia, age 4 ( 4th in from the right).

Have a wonderful weekend.

b


Nov 24, 2011

Tucson Recommended Restaurants: Mexican & Italian (gluten free)

Taco Giro Logo
I love ethnic food.  In Tucson the trick is finding someplace that has excellent food for Italian, Sonoran Mexican or Japanese sushi.  Today I have 2 for 3...not bad if I do say so.  So here are my choices for Sonora and Italian choice.

Sonoran
When you have friends that not only love Sonoran food but are actually from Sonora MEX, you really do get the best recommendations of all.  Our friend, Lupe and Victor, are neighbors here in our park.  We were sitting with them at happy hour last night when we began talking about the best Mexican food in Tucson.  Because they are both from Sonora, their tastes differ from what we here in America have been accustomed to.  I mention Tucson's landmark restaurant El Charro in the Presidio area in downtown Tucson.  El Charros is noted for its Sonoran food and is a great tourist attraction.  Lupe said, yes, it is OK.  But had we tried Taco Giro on 22nd?  Well the answer was no but we will be trying it soon.

The thing that caught my interest was the fact that I was talking to someone that actually cooked this regional style Mexican food. Even better yet Taco Giro is featured on Restaurant.com. Get a coupon too.

Italian
Tucson has a regional food all it's own.  Finding that Italian or even Japanese sushi can be very hard.  Lucky for us an Italian food restaurant called Zona 78 has been around for a number of years.  Better yet (at least for me) they have some very tasty gluten free items on their menu.  On top of that the restaurant attracts a young crowd...that is wonderful for those of us that live in 55+ communities.

Last night we had our anniversary dinner there.  We were treated to free dessert, lots of attention and a beautifully served dinner.  We will be going back.

The restaurant has locations on River Road and Tanque Verde.  The River Road location has more outdoor seating but I think both has the same wonderful menu.

That all for today.

b

Nov 23, 2011

$15 Credit At Top Online Sale Website...just for the asking!

I'd like to invite you to join One Kings Lane, my favorite destination for top-brand & designer furniture, decor, art, gifts & vintage items up to 70% off. And there's a $15 credit waiting for you! Sign up here:  One Kings Lane Sign-up Page

Is it the color or the design...no matter.  We can all dream!
One Kings Lane is a sale site online that can inspire you.  From the $18.00 sale clock below to the beautiful sofa, you are going to find yourself thinking about what you can do to make  someone's life just a little brighter...maybe that someone will be you!

Creative Co-Op Table Clock (One Kings Lane)

$18.00
I am on a roll. I have the need to shop...but you know how it is. Online "window shopping" has to work for me today.  On Friday I will venture out into the world just to get a feel for what people are buying.  In the mean time here is a darling tabletop clock that any woman would love to receive..and look at that price.

Since I have a $15 credit from One Kings Lane just for signing up I think I will use it for an item priced $30 or more.  Here is a link so you can do the same!

Wow-wee (This is a reproduction of vintage flash cards used to teach children to read.

 They are printed on archival paper and framed 

in handsome black wood and protected under glass.)

$45.00
$90.00 Retail

Have a wonderful day!

b

Nov 21, 2011

How to Dress for a Saturday Night Dance Date...55+ Style

3/4 length sleaves...perfect for 55+
Notice the detail at the neck.
$16.99 at Targets

Chico's on sale...less than $17




It seems to me that women of a certain age need to re-evaluate how to dress for a date that includes dinner and dancing. Even if you and your husband are going out for a Saturday night at the local Elks, it might not hurt to update your wardrobe just a little.  You can do it for just a little money and your husband will appreciate the effort that goes into the look.  The trick, I think, is to find someplace in the middle.


It is hard to know how dressy or casual to go.  Remember, I am not talking about prom here.  Just a dance with rock and roll band for the price of a drink.  So here are a few ideas for what to wear on a Saturday night of dancing.


Target and Chico's are my go-to stores. They have some beautiful and inexpensive things that go from day to evening without losing a beat.  When you pair the gorgeous artist top from Target with black jeans from Chico's (sale for a steal) you have just the right combination.  Add some earrings and a bracelet and you will look like a million.   The black jeans look very dressy and are beautiful with boots style shoes.  They also look good with high heels or a pair of sparkly sandals.  The short length hits me right at the ankle and I am 5'4.5" inches.


Little Black Dress...$27.99


For a very special holiday dance, Target also has some darling choices.  I like this little black dress.

If you are shopping the Target catalogue, the sweaters and tops with ruffles or rhinestone studded flowers are called "artist sweaters/tops/dresses".  The Chico's Company stores at the outlet malls also carry the jeans with another label.

Just for your information!

b

Nov 19, 2011

Euro Beads (Pugster.com) -- an Inexpensive "Pandora" Look for Christmas!!

Pugster Winter Jewelry
Pre-made Euro Bead bracelet.
Pugster (I found one of these
locally.)
If you gift list included women of all ages, I think I have found the perfect gifts for you.  This is the years of the "Pandora Charm Bracelets and Necklaces".  Every jewelry store worth it's salt has a beautiful "Pandora" jewelry display.

I love this style of jewelry but I don't like the price.  Chains for charm necklaces or bracelets can go for around $40 up to $1400.  It all depends on what precious metal you select.  After that purchase you will need to select charms.  The birthstone charm will run you anything from $45 up to $85...each.

So this morning I went on a search for a website for "Euro Beads".  On a website called Pugster.com you will find a very large selection of beads and chains.  These beads are advertised as "Pandora" compatible.  The only difference is the price.  They look very expensive but they are not!

They have a page of beads that go for around $1.99.  I am satisfied with the variety on this page but if you want to go to the best sellers you will find them priced at around $13.00.

The euro bead accessory chains begin at $5.99.  The selection included silver chains and silicone lanyards.  I gave my granddaughter the lanyard and beads for a necklace for her birthday and she wears it daily.

I even love the idea of a charm bracelet.  These make a nice statement, are reasonably price and every woman on your Christmas list needs one.

b

Nov 17, 2011

Stylish Winter Living on a Budget & in a Small Space


Note: When I contacted Jocelyn about the possibility of writing something about small spaces and keeping toasty warm in the winter I expected something great. Of course she came through. I think you will find what she has to say very interesting:
Source: furnituredecoration2011.blogspot.com
 via Shawna on Pinterest

Stylish Winter Living     When Barbara first mentioned the topic of writing about small space affordable stylish living, I wasn’t quite sure what direction to take that in – there are so many! But, since I work with heaters on a daily basis and in light of the winter season descending upon us, I thought I’d look at some of the dilemmas we can face living in a small space during the cold months. One of the biggest things we deal with on a daily basis, of course, is maintaining a source of heat in our homes. Whether this is a fireplace, baseboard heaters, central heating or even small portable heaters for rooms that need an extra “punch” of heat, quite often our sources of heat just aren’t that attractive… especially the more affordable ones. So, I thought it would be fun/helpful to look at some creative ways to make our heaters stylish and cozy for this winter season, and all on a budget.

The Dreaded Baseboard Heater     Many people cringe at the thought of a baseboard heater simple because more often than not, they aren’t very attractive. The easiest and probably most affordable way to amp up the style level of a baseboard heater is simply to paint it the same color as your wall (super affordable, just use your leftover wall paint). This produces an elegant, blended look that will tend to make the heater almost disappear. You can also purchase baseboard heater covers, but these can be rather costly. 
      My favorite option is to build some type of low shelf over the heater. I particularly love this idea in an entryway. You can build a shelf over the top of the heater that’s also perfect for storing your shoes on.  It gets shoes off the floor, saving even more space, and is very affordable. Use the same color/style wood in the rest of your home, and it’ll look like it was made to be there! All you should need is one board and two L-shaped brackets. You could also skip the shoes and place pine boughs on top for extra holiday flair. You’ll never even notice the heater.

Also Dreaded: Radiator Heaters     Since radiators are a bit higher and take up a bit more room, my very favorite way to stylize these and utilize every particle of space in a small home, is to build a window seat over the top. You’ll gain seating/and or storage space and get rid of the look of the heater altogether. If you don’t have the budget or know-how to craft up a wood box seat from nothing, see if you can track down some old wood milk crates and build a box around (make sure your heater has ample room to propel hot air out.
     You can also go back to the painting method with a radiator heater. And, since these are bigger than baseboard heaters, I’ve even seen really fun results by painting the entire radiator heater the accent color in your house. It’ll be a bright pop of color, but it can be very fun and draw your eye in. If you’re aiming for the blend in idea, place a row of hanging pictures a few feet above in a straight line to draw the eye directly up. Also consider a table next to the heater that’s the same height with a tall green plant on top. A little mini fake pine tree with just white lights on top is the perfect décor for the winter months or a stack of warm fleece blankets ready to grab and cozy up with at a moment’s notice.



Source: bhg.com via Allison on Pinteres

Fireplaces     The fireplace, in almost any home but especially a small home, naturally tends to become to central focal point. One of the biggest upsides to this is that a fireplace can make it very easy to get away with minimal expense and décor anywhere else in the room if the fireplace can carry the weight of the room itself. Some of my favorite inexpensive and stylish ways to decorate for winter include homemade artwork (especially by the grandkids – just give them paint in your color scheme!), a display of homemade Christmas cards, winter-themed family pictures in a large collage with a stunning frame (check your local thrift stores for these – you can find showstoppers at extremely thrifty prices), a winter-scape quilt hung on the wall or a home crafted shelf laden with family favorite books.
     A nature inspired fireplace is also one of my favorites and, I think, likely the most affordable. You can carry this idea on well after fall and winter, but since we’re talking winter in this piece, think of what you can find in nature and at no extra cost to you. Depending upon where you live, this might be pine branches and pinecones (a few red berries and glowing white candles, and you’re set!), or a bouquet of grasses spray painted silver. Even if you live in a rather “summer-like” locale, you can still take outdoor plants that you have local and affordable and transform them with spray paint to holiday colors. Another fun/southern idea is to combine fruits with some ornaments in large, bright white tray as the focal point. You can also find holiday wreaths very cheap and dismantle them to rearrange on your mantel in a very stylish, wintry fashion.

The Portable Heater     The portable space heater… if you live anywhere where the temps dip below zero on a very regular basis, chances are you’ve got one of these on hand to pull out when you just can’t keep the house warm enough. It’s perfect for keeping legs and toes warm while you’re curled up with a book. The problem is, these really aren’t very attractive (understatement) and since they’re not permanent, there’s little you can craft around them. Guidelines also recommend keeping all objects at least 3 feet away from the space heater for ultimate safety. So, how do we stylize our space heaters in a small home without a lot of cost? In my experience, the easiest way is simply to draw the eyes away from the heater. I am particularly fond of an extra tall vase with a tall wintry bouquet. With the right proportions, this can become a beautiful addition to the corner of your room and nearly take away the fact there’s a small electric space heater hiding down there. Even a tall lamp with a stunning lamp can do the trick. You can look up fun, stylish lamp shades that are DIY and super affordable. And of course, the more of nature you can use, the less expensive it will all be!

Stylish & Affordable Inspiration     No matter what your heating source is, you can find always find way to make it a “part” of your environment that fits your style and doesn’t break the bank. Remember to use things you can find free and local (pieces from nature are always good!), peruse home stores and magazines and see if you can imitate what they pulled off without the name brand cost. And if all else fails for working an item into the overall theme and style of you room, simply try to draw attention away from it. Anything tall at the side, above at eye level or simply extra bold nearby will pull attention from a ceramic space heater that does lots for your comfort but little for your style!

Freelancer Jocelyn writes for Heater Home and writes all their content related to home heating.

Technorati Tags: style, small space living, winter
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Nov 16, 2011

DID YOU KNOW INSURANCE COMPANIES GET INFORMATION FROM THE USPS?

A United States Postal Service contractor-driv...Image via Wikipedia
We are not naive when it comes to the USPS.  We have traveled, moved and tried to understand their process.  But I continue to be surprised.

Several years ago I sent a Christmas card to a friend that was not delivered. We were wondering why our friend had never received it.  After a period of time the letter came back and it had a stamp on the front that said "Stuck in Machine".  The address was on it but it was mangled.  I guess they made an executive decision not to send it on.  Maybe their thought that the Christmas season was over. I don't know about you but that sort of thing puzzles me.  Do they actually have a rubber stamp for that sort of thing?   Do they have someone that decides where the stuck letter should go or is there a regulation in law that tells them what to do?

USPS form with temporary box marked!
Today our insurance company sent a postcard to us here in Arizona that topped anything we have seen before.  My husband had submitted a temporary forwarding address form to the post office so that we could get our Oregon mail sent to us here.  The form had a time limit for sending the mail to our temporary address.  Our permanent location is in Oregon and that is where we want it to stay even for the time we are here. This is just our vacation home. The USPS took it upon themselves to notify our insurance company we were not where we should be.   For some reason the insurance company thought we had moved to Mars!  This is what the postcard said:
The U.S. Poster Service (U.S.P.S.) has recently informed us that you submitted a change of address form with the U.S.P.S. and that you have moved to the address shown on the front of this postcard.  This address differs from the address that we currently have on file for you.... (Do their computers talk to each other?)
And what's more, depending on your policy, an outdated address can affect your premiums and your insurance coverage.  (Was that a threat?)
Did you know that when you have a vacation home and want to have your mail forwarded, the post office tells everyone you are gone?  Well not everyone but at least the insurance company.  I didn't.  I just thought you would want to know.

b

Nov 15, 2011

Simple Explanation of Critical Retirement Plan Mistakes to Avoid


Okay boomers...in these last years before you retire, you need to pay attention to your money.  I don't know about that sort of thing but I know people that do.  Here is a guest post from a man that is obviously paying attention.  I think you should read this simple, layman's explanation of some big mistakes people make when it comes to their retirement investments.  This made such good sense to me. By guest author Richard Jacobs.

Nov 13, 2011

TEDx does it again...blue shirt with khaki pants at Best Buy not unlawful!

video
TEDx teaches again while in Bloominton, Ill.    This time we find out that it is not against the law to dress in a blue shirt with khaki pants at Best Buy!  Take a look.

b

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Nov 11, 2011

Headline (paraphrase): "OLD PEOPLE STILL ABLE TO LEARN!" Successful Aging Survey.

Grandmother and Grandson...both still learning and growing!


They said "You are not old...you are just very, very wise!"

I am all about aging successfully. When I talk about "success" in this context, I am not talking about the absence of health problems or financial success. Successful aging, in my world, happens in the 6 inches between you ears. So when I came across an article telling us that indeed, old people are aging successfully, I thought it was wonderful. The story, Researchers: Seniors can Learn New Skills Despite Growing Age in Top News out of the UK was a review of a talk given by Dilip Jeste, MD.

Nov 10, 2011

Quick Guide to Online Shopping

I asked one of my guest bloggers about shopping online.  She does a lot of marketing and shopping using the internet's may advantages.  I thought you might be interested.  Here is an article by Maggie Thistleton.

Nov 5, 2011

Tips to help your Aging Parents Manage their Money!


Note:  I have heard a great many people very near my age talking about managing their parents money during a very difficult time in their life.  I thought you might be interested in this article submitted to me by Richard Jacobs.  He makes some very good points.  I also thought it would be good for those of us approaching a time when our children will need to help us to see how younger people feel about our problems. Read and let me know what you think.  b

Nov 3, 2011

How to Say No to Babysitting!

My son called me just a few minutes ago to ask if we could take care of our grandsons tomorrow morning.  They are having the carpets cleaned throughout the house!  Yikes! I think he really needed us.  But we are getting ready to leave for Arizona on Monday and are having the whole family here for dinner tomorrow night.  Hard as it was I had to say no.

My son did not think a thing of it.  A short explanation and how I felt told him that I was not doing this because I was selfish.  I just couldn't.  How have we come to this place?  I know some children and their parents have real problems in this area.  This is the strategy we have used:

Nov 1, 2011

Grandma's Delight...Halloween


Brayden
When my children were growing up, I did not like Halloween.  But since I am a Grandma, I have learned to love it.  Here are my two youngest grandchildren.
Brycen

Have a wonderful day.

b


















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