December In A Sentence A Day

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  1. First Friday of the month means free concert and lots of free activities on Main Street!
  2. Attended local craft fair at our Community Center.
  3. Shopping trip to WalMart to buy Christmas tree and decorations.
  4. Yoga Class
  5. Put up Christmas tree. Theme: blue & whitedecember13 my tree.jpg - 1
  6. New Farmer Market opens at Polo Grounds december12 polo grounds.jpg - 1december11 farmers mart.jpg - 1
  7. Go to salon for haircut. I request a Katy Perry cut. I get Perry Como instead. 😦
  8. Live singing tree show with hubby, sister, BIL, brother and SIL. Dinner afterwards.

9. Sarasota Holiday Boat Parade. Cancelled due to high winds. Bummer 😦

10. Sunday. Day off.

11. Shopping at Aldi in the morning to start getting holiday foods in order. Yoga class @4

12. Hubby leaves for work project in Texas.

13. Farmer’s Market (see above. I go every Wednesday!)

14. Day off.

15. Star Wars, The Last Jedi opens. Guess who’s first on line?

16. Go to Home Depot to pick out and pick up new bedroom wall paint.

17. Bake cookies all day with my sister. Blue & white theme!

18. Painter arrives to paint accent wall in my master bedroom($40 paint, $75 painter fee)my new blue bedroom

19. Day off. Always, however, take daily sunset walks around 5:15 PM.my daily sunset

20. Set alarm clock to get to Aldi to buy best lamb deal on planet. Alas, no lamb!

21. Hubby back home for holiday.

22. Bring Durango in for service to prepare for road trip back to NY for holidays.

23. Cooking Day. I make two lasagnas (one vegan, one chicken)2 lasagnas

24. Christmas Eve fish dinner at The Shore restaurant. Attend Christmas Eve mass.mass

25. Christmas Day with family and friends.

26. I collapse and spend the whole day in bed! I’m exhausted!

27. We were supposed to leave and drive up to New York to see my kids and grandkids but due to the weather, the trip was rescheduled. til xmas pic

28. I think I may have caught the flu. Stay tuned.

29. Flu?

30. Flu?

31. Early dinner at The Club (our fave: Salmon over faro). Back home to watch Dick Clark Rocking Xmas Eve. Opened a bottle of prosecco to welcome in New Year. Next morning I go to Urgent Care. Guess what? I have the flu!

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The Road Back From The Great Recession

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Joan and Pete Young were “knocked flat” by the recession, They’re now slowly getting back on their feet.

CNN Money is doing a retro-fact article highlighting several people who have weathered The Great Recession Of 2008 and where they are today, ten years later. It’s an interesting piece (click here) that chronicles the many, many difficulties most of us all had to face: declining property values and net worth, job loss, foreclosures etc. Truthfully, once you go through a financial upheaval, such as The Great Recession or the 1929 Great Depression, it’s hard to eradicate the lessons you have learned along the way.

 

Nick and I learned our financial lessons from the 1987 Stock Market Crash and the 2001 Dot Com Disaster when we lost ALL of our money. TWICE. We learned never to be in debt and by the time 2008 came around we were mortgage free, car loan free, credit card free and had absolutely no debt whatsoever. You would think we were in great financial standing, which technically we were, BUT we still felt the pangs of The Great Recession nonetheless.

In 2007 Nick and I earned $50K a year. By 2008 we barely earned $39K. Nick took a big hit in salary, going from $35 an hour down to $20. By 2010, Nick was lucky to be earning $11 an hour. Nick went through a series of job losses, as did I. We each kept losing jobs, never could qualify for Unemployment Insurance. At one time, I applied for Food Stamps but refused to follow-up on the state’s offer. It got to the point that Nick was earning $332 a week. I was earning $200 a month. By March 30, 2009,  we were living on $2,500 a month, down from $4,500. It was NOT a pleasant downward journey.

I was obsessed with buying food. There were too many times Nick and I had to go without food. People don’t forget experiences like that. Since I keep a diary of my life (as I have since age 14) I have well documented the many, many struggles Nick and I went through since The Great Recession took hold, till even today. I remember back in April, 2009, layoffs were about 650,000 per month! Wal Mart was laying off 11,500 people. GM was facing bankruptcy. Florida had become the foreclosure capital of the world! My freezer and pantry today are overstocked with food. I just can’t help it. I purposely overspend when it comes to the food department.

In 2005 I had inherited money from my father’s death. I wish I had known then what was to be in store for us because in retrospect, I didn’t manage my inheritance well at all. Right off the bat, I was hit with a $187,000 tax bill and I owed my attorney $30,000 for his year-long fee (the executor of my dad’s will wouldn’t release any of my inheritance money for three years, so I had to threaten to sue the estate) I bought cars for cash, RV’s for cash and rather than invest in the stock market (because I lost in 1987 and 2001) I bought an investment property. After 10 years of ownership, I lost $100,000 in its sale.

Thankfully, I did invest much cash in laddered CD’s (paying 2%) in ROTH IRA’s. In order to fully benefit from the tax breaks, I split my inheritance in two and deposited half in my name and the other half in my husband’s name. In 2010, the only job Nick could get at that time (after a career in engineering) was as a manager of a local deli. The pay was $700 a week. I was barely making any money myself. To put the final straw that broke the camels back, my husband had a fucking affair with one of the female deli workers and all hell broke out in our marriage. I immediately filed for divorce, left the marital home and went to live in Newport, RI (in the investment property I had purchased, for cash) I got a job working as a journalist for a local newspaper. I was paid $65 an article and I begged my editor for at least a minimum of two articles per week (so I could afford food and gas).

This is when my husband went off the rails. He actually withdrew ALL his money out of the ROTH IRA’s I had set up for him and proceeded to blow ALL the money. He spent it on his girlfriend, his buddy friends (buying them cases of wine, buying himself fancy clothes and jewelry, restaurant meals for everybody) I made a distinct entry in my diary on July 7, 2010. The notation stated that something clicked inside my brain that day. I no longer saw my marriage as a romantic one anymore. That has never since changed, despite our getting back together again (when Nick’s money ran out, the girlfriend split and Nick was served with divorce papers). Nick and I are just very good friends now who have come to realize that financially we are good together. Apart, we are paupers.

On May 30, 2011 our savings was down to $45K. Gas was $4.00 a gallon.

On June 16, 2011, according to my diary, we were officially ‘poor’.

Nick has the ability and capability to earn big money. I am a genius (now) at good, sound financial management. We both buckled down, ceased our foolish ways and mutually decided to make a come back. Which we did. We had gone bankrupt twice in our relationship (1987 and 2001) before. We were not going to go down a third time. We still lived mortgage free, car loan free, credit card free, debt free…….we just had to build up our cash reserves. I sold the beach house in 2014 (at a $100,000 loss) and re-invested the money back into laddered ROTH IRA’s, index funds based on the S&P 500, bought another investment property in Florida (for cash) and we somehow both got ourselves back up to where we left off before The Great Recession madness started.

Then in May 2015, Nick suffered a heart event. He was unable to work for 1.5 years.

Nick and I used to have a net worth of $1.2 million dollars. Today we’re worth around $615K, half of what we used to be. We still live on $2,500 a month. I still earn about $200 a month. Nick must work so that we do not dip into our dwindling savings/retirement accounts. I consider that his punishment for the financial and marital upheaval he put me and our two daughters through. We have re-established our good credit but we are extremely cautious about it and use it judiciously. To be further truthful, my relationship with Nick will never be the same. We’ve been together for 36 years to date but any hint of romance has long since dwindled. We’re together due to survival plus we enjoy each other’s company AND the lifestyle we have etched out for ourselves. Is it love? I dunno. I make sure, however, that no matter what happens, I have the power and the resources to continue living on my own.

Ten years ago, this is what everyone’s financial world looked like. Never forget:

 

New Year’s Resolutions

One of the top items I’ve accomplished this year (2017) is the fact that I no longer worry about money. For me, this is a milestone. From the moment I wake up in the morning, till the moment I fall asleep at night, my cost-cutting techniques are so ingrained inside my very soul that I hardly think about money at all. Ditto for my husband. We know we are living within our means. We know we have enough saved/earned for our future and our current expenses. It has also helped for us to distance ourselves away from other people who fret about money. Misery does NOT love company. We have consciously decided to associate ourselves with financially successful people only and the results of that decision has been phenomenal!

Show me your friends and I’ll tell you who you are. (this applies to online associations also) If you are someone who continuously worries about money, you’re not the people for us. Period.

The other big item I’ve accomplished this year (2017) has been the reconciliation between my two adult daughters and myself. After the 2016 election, I had some harsh, seriously blunt words for my two daughters and they didn’t respond well to my scathing honesty. They stopped talking to me and denied me any access to my two grandchildren. At first I tried everything, including hiring an attorney, a therapist and a mediator to rectify our estrangement. I finally realized our separateness had nothing to do with neither Trump nor Clinton. Children of divorce and blended families have lots of issues. The only way I could help my adult daughters was to stay away and just let them be. That meant ‘No Contact!’  Needless to say, this was very painful for me. I wound up suffering a heart event from all the turmoil and associated pain, but I did it, nonetheless.

In the end, a parent gets that fateful phone call. The one where the adult child says it was all a misunderstanding. They didn’t mean what they said and in retrospect they have come to realize that their mother (me) was right all along. And just like that, all is forgiven and forgotten. Yup, except that I still have a heart condition. Oh well.

2017 also meant the realization of Hurricane Irma. The new condo hubby and I bought in Florida in 2016 was unfortunately located right in Irma’s path. The visions of all the destruction and loss of assets and possessions certainly put my financial priorities in order. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Easy come. Easy go. Hubby and I anticipated a 100% loss. But in the last few hours before Hurricane Irma was scheduled to demolish our neighborhood, the hurricane shifted to the right and avoided our area all together. We suffered not one iota of any damage. We never lost electrical power. We never lost running water. God taught us a valuable lesson (money and possessions have NO value) AND He spared us from total financial ruin (Praise God!)

Hurricane Irma put a damper on all our vacations plans. Everything had to be cancelled and Nick and I put our newly purchased RV in storage. Now, I am happy to say that 2018 will be a new beginning for us and with that comes making new plans for the upcoming year and getting our RV back on the road!

We’re back on track to see The Grand Canyon! We already made reservations for early April (apparently a very busy time to see The Grand Canyon. Who knew?) I was able to score the last RV spot (with full hookup) for the month. We also booked two late August weeks on our favorite beach in Newport RI with a one week follow-up at Arcadia National Park in Maine come September (after Labor Day when the prices drop).

My daughters now realize that talking is the best medicine. When you sit down and actually have a conversation fully with someone else (no hanging up the phone, disconnects or slamming of bedroom doors) you can actually overcome any hint of a mis-communication. Imagine that?

DH will continue to take on project work in 2018 (because a retiree can never have too much money in a savings account) but he will insist on a retainer first. Once the retainer money has dwindled either a new retainer is secured or DH will no longer work for the contractor. Period. DH got off easy the last time, as the contrator eventually paid him in full.  Next time he may not be so lucky.

You’re never too old to learn new tricks.

My favorite moments from 2017:

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daily sunsets outside my condo. taken with my iPhone
my new blue bedroom
my gorgeous blue bedroom! taken with my Canon camera
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our daily walk around the lake (1.54 miles) taken with my iPhone

I Learned To Spend My Money Wisely In 2017. Finally.

2018I can finally say, despite being in my mid-sixties, that after a lifetime of misuse and mistakes, I have learned how to spend my money wisely. It’s been decades since I have bounced a check, had insufficient or uncollected funds, have been overdrawn or incurred any bank fees. I’ve enjoyed and benefited now from free checking for more than twenty years. I pay ALL my bills on time and with never a late fee. In fact, these last few years I’ve been able to eliminate costly time payments from my auto/insurance/tax expenses by paying all these bills in full!

I’ve learned my lessons well.

I faithfully keep a daily running tab on my variable spending (food, gas, restaurants, maintenance & repairs, household) and when I see I am nearing my monthly limit, I stop spending. Plain and simple BUT it works. Every six months I re-calculate my spending average and adjust my written budget accordingly. I have finally learned how to say ‘no‘ to myself.

Better late than never.

Every January I receive my regular annual budget expenditure amounts. This year, these stationary expenses (electric, internet, insurance, medical, HOA fees, taxes etc.) have gone up on average, about 5%. My variable spending (food, gas, restaurants, maintenance & repairs, household) have gone up around 12%. Ouch! Our income, however, has not kept pace with these increases so that means either cuts need to be made to our spending or a less expensive alternative must be utilized in order to make our budget balance.

I don’t mind making cuts to our budget. It’s almost fun to find cheaper alternatives. It helps me prioritize what’s important to us. What do we keep? What do we eliminate? The answers are the path (for us) to successful financial management.

So, armed with all this experience and knowledge, I’m looking forward to 2018. I plan on saving more money by continuing to spend as wisely as I possibly can. Living on a fixed income is a challenge, but one that can be coordinated and managed successfully when you put your mind and effort to it.

HAPPY NEW YEAR, READERS!

LIVE WELL AND PROSPER.

2017. The Year I Stopped Caring. About Anything.

I’m not going to go through a litany of causes, effects and excuses. 2017 was the year I finally said ‘Enough’ and I have never looked back. I no longer wanted to argue with my adult children nor was I going to beg to see my grandchildren anymore. I didn’t like how I was treated under Medicare, so I stopped going to my doctors. There’s no reason for me to worry about money anymore because I have enough. For myself. I don’t care anymore about the needs of my Significant Other. He’s on his own.

I don’t know if this has anything to do with the aging process or is it just a defense mechanism to keep my own self functioning. Self preservation is what I call it. I don’t care where my DH wants to live, what he wants to do or where he wants to go. I only care about my own needs. I don’t care what other people say or how they feel. If they’re morons, I tell them to their face. I also tell them to stay out of my way.

I’m tired of the lies, deceit and falsehoods. I’m tired of the bullshit. I’ve had enough of this crap and I will say no more about it. 2017 was the year I told everyone to go fuck themselves. 2017 was the year I could join other women and share my #metoo story without feeling any guilt, shame or remorse. It was the year I could be honest with myself and tell all who would listen what happened to me. How did I become me. How I was going to once and for all change me. And be me. 2017 was the year I could finally tell all those people I didn’t want to see anymore, I didn’t want to see them anymore.

2017 was the year I didn’t have to go anywhere. I didn’t have to compete with anyone. I didn’t have to prove anything to anyone. I didn’t have an agenda to fulfill.  And most importantly, I didn’t have to listen to anyone’s justification stories.

2017 was the year I didn’t have to return phone calls or answer emails or texts. I could just let them suspend in cyberspace.

2017 was the year I didn’t have to do anything.

2018 will be the year I do whatever it is I want to do.

 

The Tale Of The Two Lasagnas

My cooking responsibility this year for Christmas dinner was to prepare two lasagnas. I made one vegan (spinach) and the other one is low-fat (chicken sausage and part skim cheeses). No one ever gained weight from eating my food!

Nick and I work as a team on this project. He prepares the sauce. I assemble the lasagnas.  Bon appetite.

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Six cans of pure Italian bliss
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fresh basil from my garden, four pounds of chicken sausage
2 lasagnas
chicken lasagna on your left. spinach lasagna on your right.

 

Why I’m So Glad I Don’t Need More Money Anymore

I’m at a great point in my life right now. I’m free from the burden of needing more money. Thankfully, I have enough to pleasantly live my life each and every day. Does that mean I can jet off to Paris or Milan at a drop of a hat? No. It means that I must continue to be frugal and live within the means that I have ascertained at this point in my life.

Does my husband feel the same way as I? The answer to that is ‘no’.  He still wants more. He’s not happy with the status quo. He’s still in to wealth and stature. I couldn’t give a rats ass about any of that.

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Nick’s brand new, unused $225 bike

So, this is a problem for both of us. It’s not good when two retirees don’t see eye to eye with their position in life. Over the summer I bought an RV because I had visions of hubby and I traveling across America. After the first trip to one National Park, the RV has been secluded and stored away never to be used again. That’s a problem. Next, hubby bought himself a brand new, very expensive (to me) bicycle because we had visions of bike riding across several new bike trails where we reside. After a quick ride in our parking lot, that bike has remained in our storage shed never to be used again.

Why? Because my husband can’t deal with the fact that we are retired. So, he likes to run away, take on projects and work himself into total annihilation. He feels young (so he states) when he is ‘on a job’. He’s up at 3AM to catch a flight at 5:30AM to take himself to some remote region of the country so he can make money. He likes to make BIG money and he likes to spend BIG money.

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Nick, last summer, completely exhausted

When we bought our current condo (for cash) here in Florida we had just sold our beach house (at a loss, I might add) in Newport RI. Rather than transport our existing 11-year-old furniture, Nick wanted all ‘new’ furniture for the new condo. We either sold off, donated or gave away all our older furniture and went into debt to buy ‘new’ Florida furniture. Nick worked all last summer to come up with the nearly $14,000 to pay off all that (useless, to me) newish furniture. Hey! His life. His working. As I said, I couldn’t give a rat’s ass.

Nick can’t be happy here on the Gulf Coast in Florida because he says his happiness can only be on the ocean side. Also, he states he can not be happy without a 25 foot sailboat. Similar to the one he had in Newport Rhode Island that sat for 5 years on the front lawn because he didn’t have the funds to properly launch it. Sailing is friggin’ expensive when you have a sailboat that size! Rather than have a more manageable 16-17 foot sailboat, he demands a 25-30 foot and as I said, the boat makes a nice lawn ornament.

So, off Nick goes again, taking on a strenuous workload, just so he can hoard enough money to buy himself more crap because he thinks that’s the way he will find happiness. Never mind that he has a very serious heart condition and only through the marvels of modern science and a series of pills and medication is he being kept alive. Personally, I don’t think that Nick has the mental capacity to decide anything when it pertains to his own life. As for me, after 36 years of living with him, I’m done. I have to worry about myself now. I’m six years older than Nick and MY time is limited. Truthfully, if I could end our relationship, I would. Since I can’t, I just ignore him and have proceeded to just make my own way, live my own life and do the things that make ME happy.

In case you haven’t noticed, most of the past activities I have been enjoying, have been only me. You will NOT find Nick in any of my photos. He’s been away now for 10 to 12 days at a time. When he does come home, he is weak, tired, disheveled and thin. He sleeps, eats, rests and recoups while he is home. Once he (thinks) he has recovered, he is back on the road, eating in restaurants or diners, sleeping in motels, catching early morning and late night flights all in his quest ‘to earn more money‘ (of which I have constantly told him ‘we do NOT need!’)

Well, anyway, I will get to the ending of this story.

I’ve been taking Nick’s recently earned money and depositing it in our savings account. I have refused to change/upgrade our lifestyle one iota. We live on $1,500 a month (expenses) and I withdraw $1,000 a month out of our retirement savings to cover taxes and HOA fees. Once Nick takes Social Security (in another 15 months) I will no longer need to withdraw any money out of our retirement accounts. Also, once Nick is eligible for Medicare (4 years) we will no longer need to retain our New York residence (health insurance reasons) and we’ll probably make around a half-million dollars ($500,000) from the sale of our marital abode.

Every retirment quiz I’ve ever taken states our retirment planning is on target and on-track. So, it is with great pleasure that I can announce that Nick’s last two payments from his current ’employer’ just recently bounced. Nick is out $5,300 and he still has another work week to bill the company for. Let me also state that this loss, to me, is laughable. It will make no negative impact on our lives. I have been enjoying screaming ‘I told you so!‘ to Nick for like two days now. If you think Nick looks stressed in that photo above, you should see what he looks like now. I won’t help him do the collection of this money. He has to get on the phone and wrangle to get paid now. Or hire an attorney. Or call the police and file a complaint. Or hire a collection company to try and get this money. The ’employer’ closed the bank account so Nick can’t even put a lien on the bounced checks against their checking account. Isn’t life grand? Don’t you just love karma?

This experience has been a superb teachable moment for Nick. Maybe perhaps he will feel the peace and quietness that I have become enlightened with which is to be thankful for what you already have. And to make do with the blessings that God has already bestowed upon us. It’s called being ‘grateful‘. We all know about the foolishness of the pursuit of money and it’s evil ways.

Do I think Nick will change and be grateful or thankful? Truthfully, I really don’t care what he feels or believes or does. As I said, I have to worry about myself now at this point of my own life. If I could divorce Nick, I would. But I won’t because I feel sorry for him. Realistically, if I could find another man who wants to live and enjoy everyday life, go camping, bike riding, be content on the Gulf of Mexico beaches, I’d leave.

Until then, I’m quite content to keep LMBFAO.

And to keep living my life, within my means and being extremely grateful for the many blessings God has bestowed on my simple life.

POST UPDATE: DH just got his money (partial) payment today at 3:30EST. Since he will no longer accept checks from them, they wired transferred the money. They paid 2 of the invoices, plus bounced check fees and wire transfer fees. Once DH bills them the final invoice later on this week, they will wire transfer the remaining AND final balance.

Hope there was a lesson learned in here somewhere……………………..

 

 

 

 

My Winter Bucket List

Here’s my winter wonderland bucket list for the upcoming 2017-2018 season:

1. Meeting my daughters, my SILs and my two granddaughters in New York City at Christmas time for a lovely brunch out this holiday season at a fab, new, trendy restaurant (their choice) Maison Pickle. Afterwards, seeing the holiday sights.

2. I’ll be going on a photo shoot at least once per week. In February I renew my membership to the LWR Photography Club (over 300 members, it’s a super club!)

mermaids

3. Day trip to Weeki Wachee State Park to see the Mermaid Show. Also, spend the whole day at the park, pack a lunch for an outdoor picnic, swim in their natural spring waters, take a boat ride and just have a fun filled day!

4. My BFF has just moved here and she’s a great tennis buff. We all signed up for lessons and will start playing against each other ASAP!

5. Tennis lessons means I need to update my tennis outfits. I still have a good racket and tennis shoes. I need new white shorts and a few comfy tops.

Legacy-Trail-8-672px-6. The weather is cooler now and less humid. That’s perfect bike riding weather. We’ve been meaning to bike the Legacy Trail here in Sarasota. And now we can! The trail is 10 miles long and runs over rebuilt, old train tracks from Sarasota to Venice (NOT Italy!) The reviews have been great and Nick and I can’t wait to hit the trail.

7. Star Wars, The Last Jedi and CoCo are on our must see movie list. Yes, Nick and I are kids at heart and love feeling and being like little kids again!

8. While we are on the topic, yes! Nick and I are still kids at heart. I still have 8 free passes to any Disney World resort (as my husband is a long-time ex-Disney executive). We’re sick and tired asking my kids & grandkids to go and being refused. Soooooooo Nick and I have decided we are going to use two of the tickets and go to Disney World ourselves (and of course, have a ball!) I miss the Magic Kingdom so much!

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me! with those eight glorious free Disney passes!!

9. It’s Polo Season at the Club. (Plus I want to do another photo shoot at a polo match, click here to view photos). This year I want to tailgate and do a picnic. Such fun!

10. I’m tired of cooking my own meals. I want to do more ready-made meals. They’re really cost effective and as you can see, I really don’t have time (nor do I want) to cook anymore! My fave is an oven ready grilled salmon dinner from Publix  (salmon, pea pods over brown rice) for $6.99. Really? Can you beat that? Nope!

 

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