Apr 30, 2014

Counting: 25 questions ask "What do you WANT to do in retirement? "

There are so many choices for that second adulthood that follows retirement.  Should we travel the world, buy a second home in a warmer climate, move permanently to a warmer climate, move closer to our children, stay at home and pursue hobbies, go back to school, work part time, become a snow bird, take up Rv travel? Making a rational and financially sound choice requires that we sift through the choices carefully.

Arizona Friends...a wonderful surprise in our retirement life!
I woke up in the night thinking about how my husband and I could have fulfilled our retirement dreams more responsibly. I am not a retirement counselor...I am a retiree leading the snowbird life. We went blundering through the early years of our retirement without a clue as to where the path would take us. Yes, it has been an adventure but I am coming to realize the time (and money?) we could have saved if we had been clearer about what we wanted out of our retirement life. It was not until we actually knew what we wanted that we made good choices. Here are 25 question I think will help you and, if you have a partner or spouse, the other person in your life gain an image in your minds of what your retirement lifestyle might look like.

  1. When were we the happiest in our life?
  2. Could we do some of the things we miss out on doing when we were young? 
  3. How much money will we have after the dust has settled?
  4. Would we prefer a 55+ community or do we need to be near a community that includes children?
  5. What are our hobbies both physically active (golf, tennis, hiking) and relaxing (cards?)
    1. Can we make friends easily or do we even need friends to have fun?
    2. Would we want to move to a new location permanently? How would we afford that?"what
    3. Do we prefer to be outdoors or indoors?
    4. How long can we endure being away from our family?
    5. Is it possible that what we dreamed about is not what we will want for an extended period of time?
    6. If we decide to follow a dream and then don't like it, will we be ruined financially or otherwise?
    7. How much time do we want to spend together/apart?
    8. Is living in a small space going to work if you decide to become a snowbird on a small amount of money?
    9. Do we still want to work part of the time?
    10. Can we find a way to finance our snowbird lifestyle by working at a resort?
    11. Can we stand hot or cold weather?
    12. What are the health issues we need to keep in mind?
    13. Are we willing to live in a community that is not like home?
    14. How far away do we want to go?  List a few possibilities.
    15. If we leave the country, (USA or Canada) will there be problems with visas and laws?
    16. How old will we be when we cannot travel anymore?  
    17. How will my insurance coverage affect where I decide to spend my winters?
    18. Is the family in agreement over what we decide to do?
    19. If one refuses to take a step toward what the other wants will that one regret it later?
    20. How flexible and adventurous are we?
    I suggest that you print this list and both partners fill in the answers separately.  It will start a conversation that will help you get a clearer picture about what life after work can look like.

    Dream the dream but hold onto the reality...oh, AND always spend money less than you have.

    b+

    Links to retirement/snowbird information:

    Technorati Tags:  Travel

    Enhanced by Zemanta

    Apr 28, 2014

    Counting: 10 How to be a Snowbird - Nuts and Bolts Ideas

    My husband and I have been traveling in the winter for so many years it is old hat for us now. I forget that there are always beginners that need to learn the ropes. I suppose I should share a few ideas with you that are buzzing around in my brain.

    I would like to say that we "normally" leave at a specific time but there is no such thing as normal. We are just like the hummingbird that is still hanging around using my feeder. We do what we want when we are free to do what we want.
    Mt. Shasta, California in the Winter
    Park Model Interior
    Snowbird Lessons: (more here):
    1. Travel plan: We always travel so we will avoid bad weather. The snowbirds I know that come in January are generally flying in.  The have bought an inexpensive car to use while they are in the resort. If they come early in the fall and leave in April they can generally drive without bad weather worries
    2. Two of everything: Since we own a park model in an RV resort, we usually leave all our spices and staples in two places. But after the trip to Mexico where we had a small kitchen, I think I am going to come up with a portable spice stash that I can carry with me. Spices are very very expensive but it is not easy to cook without them.
    3. Clothes: When I came home last Spring I did not bring my winter things with me thinking I would be back in Arizona in October. It was not a smart move. I have sorted, classified and give away a lot of things. By condensing my wardrobe down to a "movable closet size" I have saved money and time.
    4. Storage:  You have to know that living in a very small space requires us to be creative with our storage. It is a bit like living on a boat. Every nook and cranny is used. For example, we need new suit cases. When I buy new, I am going to get the duffel bag type, maybe at REI. They will have rollers and a ridged back. I think that this type of suitcase will solve storage problems because they lay flat and can go under our bed. 
    5. Gas: Gas is a real consideration when we are traveling right now...the cost is outrageous. If we were to travel across country, we would take that into consideration when we planned our route. California, for example, has added so much tax and environmental requirement to their gas it has become very expensive. I admire their efforts but we will try to avoid buying as much as we can in that state. We fill the tank as close to the border as possible before entering the state.
    6. Save on Utilities: This one way we can afford to travel. The expenses are reduced dramatically. We always put everything on vacation at home. Gas company, water/sewer, garbage, tv service, internet service and electricity. If we don't turn off the electricity but decide to turn off the water (floods inside the house are a very bad thing) we always turn off the water heater. It will burn up without water.
    7. Security system: We have allowed a friend to store their car in our garage in the winter in the past. They paid us a little rent but better yet they came to give the house a check. That is very good. Our rain gutters clogged last winter and I think there would have been damage if they hadn't been checking on things. But when we have no one to check we turn on our security system. All the signs are in the windows and the system is visible from the front and back windows. We also make sure the rain gutters are cleaned thoroughly.
    8. Yard Work: A friend asked us about our yard. In the northwest, our yards go to sleep in November and wake back up in May. It sleeps while we are gone. If we leave before November, we clean the yard up, pull flowers and vegetable so no mess is created when it frosts. No worries there.
    9. Arrival Schedule: We always time our arrival in our RV resort for morning. We can open it up our park model, shop for groceries and heat it or cool it before bedtime. Most snowbirds in our resort do this. It does not even seem possible to arrive late in the day. We will have been gone for 6-8 months. Things will need to be done inside the park model. If we were still in our RV we did very much the same thing. Hooking up in the dark is not any fun and you can actually do some damage to your RV.
    10. How long to stay:  I need for you to know that snow birds do go home in the spring. It gets very hot. By the middle of April the park will be empty as will resorts all around. My advice is don't pay to stay beyond that time. You will not like it. We had friends that paid rent in advance and were committed for May. They regretted spending the money for something it turned out they didn't want. It was very hot and empty for the last month. I'm just saying!
    So there you have it.

    b+
    Enhanced by Zemanta

    Apr 27, 2014

    Counting: 2 Books to Help Children Learn by Doing

    I think that we grandparents have a wonderful opportunity to give our grandchildren some unique experiences. Because our home is different from the one that the children are being raised in, we can offer them a chance to change their routine and learn while they are at it.

    But first I want to visit the concept of "learning by doing versus learning by learning". Text books and books in general do offer some wonderful learning experiences for children.  However, doing what the book is talking about offers a totally different look at the world.

    Dr. Seuss's Beginner Book Collection

     (Cat in the Hat, One Fish Two Fish, 
    Green Eggs and Ham,
     Hop on Pop, Fox in Socks)

    I remember back when I was teaching kindergartners we would celebrate Dr. Seuse's birthday each year. I think that more often than not we would start with Green Eggs and Ham. The book always symbolized for me the idea that trying new things can be a little bit scary but if we can find the courage, scary things can turn out to be a lot of fun.

    Eggs are eggs but GREEN EGGS just don't look like something you would want to put in your mouth. But when the child cracked the egg, stirred the egg and then added a drop of green food coloring they were very tempted to take a taste. The taste showed them that eggs, even green eggs can taste very good.

    Now I am retired and I get to spend time with my three smallest grandchildren ages 2-6. We do all those things that they DON'T DO AT HOME. We don't talk or read about doing things like cleaning a park. We actually go to the park and pick up litter. We take a few of the beans we are going to have to dinner outside and plant them. We take a sack on our walks and see how many different things we can find...a treasure hunt of sorts. Puddles are splashed in and ants are stared at. My grandchild learn by doing.
    Little Blue and Little Yellow


    Even the idea of recreating the art work used in books can be fun.  Leo Lionni books like Little Blue and Little Yellow can bring alive the concept of color and how they can be put together to make an absolutely new color. A little tissue paper or water colors can become an afternoon of fun. The idea of tying a book to a learning activity as simple as that and it brings learning by doing alive.

    I don't know why I wanted to talk about this today. I read something recently I suppose and thought I could learn by writing about my thoughts. Learning by doing works no matter your age.

    Have a wonderful day.

    b+
    Enhanced by Zemanta

    Apr 24, 2014

    Counting: 8 Ways to Keep Your Blogging Life Simple

    It occurred to me yesterday that I needed to simplify my blogging life...a lot!  Passwords, social media and time spent maintaining might be sucking the life out of me and the payback is not worth it.

    I do earn a little money from my Adsense account linked to me blog and an Amazon account (which I would love you to visit) but it has come time to remind myself why I began blogging back over 8 years ago.

    The blogging idea was so appealing...I could see my words in print, tell stories and even share pictures I had taken of faraway places. Best of all the thrill of having even one reader put me over the moon.

    I loved the process of writing and learning while I was doing it. It never occurred to me that people would want to use my blog to promote their products. When they did, I jumped at the chance. However, when that happened, I then felt the need to promote my blog more. Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter and even following followers took over the computer time that I had been spending just enjoying writing.

    And it turned out Google really doesn't want me to use my blog to make money unless it is through Adsense. Even when I linked to a business for no money but simply to share information, Google asked the business to remove the links! It was getting just too twisted for me to deal with on a daily basis. So my blogging life is changing for the better I think.

    Here is what I have done so far:
    1. I have withdrawn my option to promote any businesses with a link on my blog and will just support those businesses that have used the blog up until now. That was big step for me. It was a relief!
    2. I do not participate in Linkedin. They were contacting people on my email list without my permission and it became embarrassing after a time. Plus I did not see that it helped me at all.
    3. I now use Facebook almost entirely for promoting my blog with friends, contacts and family. I do not post anything personal or an update of my day to day activities there. In fact, I use private pages that different groups have to post questions or special blog titles that those groups may find helpful. That has turned out to be a very positive change.
    4. I have blog articles automatically posted on Facebook and Google. I never think about it at all.
    5. There is a need for a hard heart. Sometimes it is a good idea to be less visible. I block people on my Facebook account...especially if they seem to be lurking. I just don't want anyone following me like a needy dog or even contacting me there instead of using email or calling. I generally tell the person that I am not going to be a visible so they will know what I have done. 
    6. The passwords needed to be dealt with. What a pain in the neck those have turned out to be. I have actually found that doing things the old fashioned way can be less bothersome than trying to do everything online. A simple phone call can suffice in a lot of cases and I don't need a password to do that.
    7. Restraint in my blogging life is all about actually never signing up with anything new that requires a passwords or even more of my attention. Honestly, I don't want to join every website I visit. It drives me nuts! In fact, some websites may be losing business because they require a password to even take a look at their products. I will pass thank-you-very-much.
    8. I am now using that unsubscribe option...a lot. While I don't want to live in a vacuum, I don't feel the need to see a newsletter from anyone more than once a month. If I get them anymore frequently I unsubscribe. TMI is not good for me. 
    Now I am back to simply writing about what interests me on a daily basis. The series on "counting" is one new twist I have added. Numbers appeal to me somehow so I thought why not pursue it FOR AS LONG AS IT INTERESTS ME.

    I will continue to use Adsense advertising so my readers can click on products linked to what I write about.  I love my Amazon affiliate account and would love it if you began to buy your Amazonproducts through me...including Amazon Prime which turns out to be the best deal around if you order online. I will keep my twitter account (barbblogtwits) and Facebook because they are very simple once I got it under control. But that will be it...for now.

    Do you have any ideas about how to make your online life simpler? I would love to hear them.

    b+

    Apr 23, 2014

    Counting: 5 Ways We Travel Like We Are Rich


    The night before we came home we
    ate outdoors at Guadalajara Grill. It was a beautiful
    warm Tucson evening.
    We spent the night in Prescott. We had never come
    home that way. We were pleasantly surprised. (Court House
    Square)
    When my granddaughter wondered how my husband and I got to be rich the other day, I could not figure out where she got that idea. We are not rich in the financial sense.  One of my readers posted a comment suggesting that the granddaughter may think we are rich because we travel. I had not thought of that.

    So I asked our granddaughter. That child just can not figure out how we can afford to do what we do. She knows how much it costs. We travel routinely to places like Santa Fe and Mexico. What she doesn't realize is that we have planned and invested slowly in our travel over time. We knew that we wanted to travel when we retired.

    1- For example, we own a timeshare that does not require us to pay anything until we actually use it. Connected to that timeshare is a membership to an exchange membership that was purchased with the timeshare. It allows us to find condos at rates that are very affordable and in areas that are desirable. We spent a week in a condo in Santa Fe for around $600.

    2-We have a very small park model in Arizona so we take advantage of those places that are close to our second home. The park model space rent costs us $400 a month. We are great day trippers and love a staycation better than most people. In fact, when we were working, we did not take big trips at all. We were more the weekend trip kind of people. Time was very tight for us.

    Our trip from Prescott to Las Vegas let us do one last trip under
     the bridge that spans the Colorado over Hoover Dam. I have
    followed the construction of the bridge from the beginning.
    3-We have some lovely resort areas in Tucson where we spend our winters and we take advantage of all that city has to offer. Restaurants in different part of town are very interesting. Golf courses are affordable. Plus there is wonderful shopping in every direction. We have found that traveling to a destination and staying there gives us an opportunity to travel on a dime.

    We stayed in Las Vegas for $69 a night. The old resort was directly
    across from the Hard Rock Hotel and two block from Planet Hollywood.
    4-In September we will travel to San Miguel Allende in Mexico. We will spend a week in an old hotel and just wander the city. We have been saving for that trip because it is not connected with a timeshare. It is a treat for us and will be our birthday, Christmas and anniversary gift to ourselves.

    5-On our trip home this year we stopped at some of the places we have learned to love or have missed on past trips. We are thinking of leaving a car in Arizona and flying back and forth.  The pictures tell that story.

    Travel is in our blood. We count our blessing because we have figured out a way to do a lot more than we ever imagined. It is not free but we can afford it even though we always spend less than we are making. I think that is the trick now and always has been.

    The Aria is a new resort with shopping,
    gambling and beautiful unique decor.
    We just lean on the railing and people watch. What
    a wonderful parade passes as we look on. Cheap entertainment!
    Food, wine, cheap food and an open window that lets in the warm air...
    what more could I want.

    We always visit the Belagio to see what they have on display in the atrium. This year it was a gorgeous butterfly garden. 


    Home!
    Enhanced by Zemanta

    Apr 22, 2014

    Counting: 3 reasons we are so rich!

    I Just thought you would want to know how much fun our three little grandchildren can turn a Sunday afternoon into...they are three reasons we are so rich!

    Apr 18, 2014

    How did Grandma and Grandpa get to be so rich?

    I really need for you to know that we are rich...but you also need to know that I am NOT talking about money here. It seems that my beautiful 16 year old granddaughter thinks we are rich. I don't know what kind of rich she thinks we are...I will need to ask her soon.

    I was visiting with my daughter the other evening. She was in Portland and I was in Las Vegas.  My husband and I were having dinner at the Culinary Dropout located in the Hard Rock Hotel. It was late and we were eating light...not expensive. We were seated outdoors and the temperature was very near 80 degrees. As I talked with my daughter she laughed because it was, as always, raining in Portland. I admit that I did rub our good fortune in a little bit...she does lots of fun stuff too so she can take it.

    Then she told me that my granddaughter wanted to know how Grandma and Grandpa got to be so rich? I have asked myself that question many times. How did we get to be so lucky?

    My daughter's thought that it was our enthusiasm for little things make what we have or do appear to be valuable. I had to agree because, if being an over-the-top-Pollyanna makes one rich, I am a very wealthy woman.

    We are rich in so many ways. We have been able to do things that we never even dreamed possible during our retirement. We have 12 grandchildren that bring us great joy. They are beautiful, talented and best of all, nurtured and cared for by wonderful parents.
    Our family 6+ years ago...there are now 4 more grandchildren. Three of
    the grandchildren are now in college at Oregon State University.
    One grandson is in the Marines and another granddaughter will marry this fall.
     My curious granddaughter is in the white shirt the very center of the picture. She was 9-10 that year.
    So Elena, if you read this, I hope you understand what is important in our lives...honestly it is not about the money. Not in any way!

    b+

    Apr 12, 2014

    Grandchildren: Little pitchers have big ears!

    Prov. Children like to listen to adult conversations and
    can understand a lot of what they hear. Remember, "Little pitchers have big ears."
    (Used to warn another adult not to talk about
    something because there is a child present.)
    Shay is 2 today. Happy birthday Baby Granddaughter Shay! She doesn't really talk a lot yet but she is listening and watching. Two big brothers do all her talking so everything is good. Who know what her first big sentence will be.

    I am heading home in a few days and we will be spending some time with her. I hope that her first big sentence is not something I have said because it probably would not be good. She is the 9th grandchild I have been around from the time they were born. Everyone of them picked up something from me that was less than perfect. 

    I am often reminded by my children that "little pitchers have big ears". What about you? How is that grandparenting going?

    b+
    Enhanced by Zemanta