Heat Stroke

The temperatures are high right now in central Florida. But what was unbeknownst to me was the humidity levels. When you combine the high temps of 89F with 90% humidity, you get a heat index here of around 107F degrees. That is NOT a good combination to do things outdoors. Even though I thought I was drinking enough water, I was sweating but the sweat was quickly being evaporated into the atmosphere. My sweat wasn’t doing what it was supposed to do, which is, keep me cool.

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outdoor C&W band

Last night, Nick and I went out to a concert. During the day we did our normal routine of doing some errands and getting in at least 45 minutes of swimming. We knew it was hot but in retrospect we were acting very foolishly. We needed to be taking better care of ourselves in the high humidity. Live and learn, I suppose. Anyway, during the concert, Nick looked at me and told me I did not look well at all. He thought I was going to pass out of my seat and stumble to the ground any minute. I told him I felt fine and I thought I did. Yes, it was hot and humid but I was drinking a diet ginger ale (first mistake) after drinking a light beer (second mistake). I thought my liquid intake was good enough.

 

We left the concert early because technically, yes, I didn’t feel right. Fast forward to 2AM when I woke up drenched in sweat. Despite our excellent air conditioning and our adequate cooling set temperature of 77F, I was hot, flushed, thirsty and covered in sweat. I got up to go to the kitchen to get myself a glass of ice water when all hell broke loose. I was dizzy, felt nauseous, had the urge to vomit and go to the bathroom all at the same time. My eyes were spinning, fluctuating back and forth. I couldn’t get my eyes to focus. The room was spinning around. I had to hold onto the walls in order to straighten out my step. I kept tripping and stumbling. I was in a panic. My head was killing me. Thoughts were going through my head so fast I thought my brain was going to explode.

My first impulse was to wake Nick up and have him drive me to either the ER or Urgent Care which was right down the road. But I held off on that. I poured myself a glass of ice water and started taking small sips. I did make it to the bathroom where I proceeded to urinate and move my bowels. I kept trying to calm myself down and NOT panic. My heart was beating loudly. I really didn’t know what was happening to me. I could NOT get my eyes to stop fluctuating. I couldn’t get the room to stop spinning. After drinking at least a whole glass of water, I vomited the whole kit and caboodle up. I made it back to my bed and held onto the mattress for dear life. Everything was spinning. I started repeating my yoga mantra, which I thought would be a surefire way to calm my mind down. It did. I knew what year it was and who was president, so I know I was still lucid. I kept repeating my mantra till I fell back asleep.

When I woke up at 9:30 AM, Nick was up and about. I told him what had happened and asked him to go get me some Gatorade at Wal Mart. I was still feeling strange and Nick told me I must have gotten heat exhaustion and was dehydrated. Within a few minutes he was back with the gatorade and immediately, upon my first sip, I felt the difference. I still was wobbly. I still couldn’t catch my balance but at least the eyeball spinning had lessened a bit. I still couldn’t get my eyes to focus. I was hungry. I needed to eat something but was wary of any heavy-type of food. I made myself a very light dish of creme of wheat. And with that, went back to bed and slept the rest of the morning away.

By late afternoon, and after many, many sips of Gatorade, I was feeling better. I googled dehydration on Nick’s iPad and figured out some things to do. My symptoms were subsiding and there was no cause for alarm or a visit to the ER. One of the medical reccommendations was to have broth, so I fixed myself a bowl of chicken broth. By this time (around 4PM) I was feeling so much better and almost like myself again. This was a good lesson learned, however. I had never been so scared in my life! What a harrowing experience. Nick and I were NOT as prepared for this as we should have been.

The reason why the humidity is so high right now in Florida is because another hurricane is on its way. Hurricane Nate is heading up the Gulf Of Mexico (which is the side of Flrorida we are on) and should be hitting New Orleans tonight. In the interim, humidity levels are sky high and neither Nick and I were prepared for them. Nick is fine but that’s because he didn’t have any beer nor does he drink diet sodas. Neither do I BUT my sister had joined us at the concert and she was packing diet ginger ales (which are delicious BUT not good for you!)

Nick and I arrived at the conclusion that we came to Florida too early in the season. We should have stayed in New York till after Columbus Day (October 9th) when hurricane season is well over, temps in NY drop substantially and ditto for Florida. Getting here mid-September was too early. We should have camped out more and traveled to more places. We should have stayed in the Smoky Mountains a bit longer also. All of this is hindsight and will help us in our planning for next year.  In the interim, our RV goes in for some warranty work next week and Nick and I are seriously thinking about heading out of Florida for a while and traveling up to the coast of Georgia. Temps there are in the 70’s and we might find that a bit more condusive to our liking. For now.

Live and learn. Even if it is the hard way.

I’m feeling much better now and realistically, that’s all that really matters.

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Debt & Retirement. The Two Just Don’t Mix Well.

to-all-the-people-who-claim-its-the-credit-card-companies-fault-that-theyre-in-debt-106336I think it is common knowledge, at least for most retirees, that it is better to retire with no debt or as little debt as possible. I always knew I did NOT want to retire with a mortgage. That’s why I always advised that you should buy a home by at least age 35, take out a 30 year mortgage and by the time you are 65 you should have a rent-free roof over your head! Granted yes, you could buy a home older, take out a 15 or 20 year mortgage, but you get the idea. I also vehemently advised NOT to ever take out an equity line of credit or refinance and suck the equity lifeblood out of your home. Why? Because that equity is your retirement lifeline. Heaven forbid, you couldn’t retire in your paid-off home at 65, for whatever reason, you would have at least built up a substantial passive retirement savings account. Probably enough money to sustain you for the rest of your lifetime. But hey! That’s just me.

Market Watch just released this article the past week (click here) about retirees and debt entitled: “This Is Something Retirees Should Be Worried About“. Here’s an excerpt:

Many Americans are bringing more than just their bucket lists with them into retirement. According to a recent analysis by MagnifyMoney of data from the University of Michigan Retirement Research Center (MRRC) Health and Retirement Study, more Americans are carrying burdensome debt into their 50s and beyond. Both the percentage of older Americans carrying debt and the amount of debt they’re carrying are on the rise. As recently as 1998, roughly 37% of Americans age 56 to 61 carried debt, with an average debt load of $3,634 in 2012 dollars, according to MRRC research. By comparison, today, 42% of Americans that age carry debt, and with an average debt load of $17, 623.

Although I have been an avid advocate of living a debt-free lifestyle (and I have since 1987) I have come to change my mind about debt in retirement. More specifically, my opinion on credit card debt has changed immensely. I no longer see debt as an albatross around my neck. I now see credit card debt, especially in retirement, as a tool. A tool to get me the things that I have missed out my whole entire life just because I wanted to live a debt free lifestyle. Now, at the end of my life, I am no longer patting myself on my back and congratulating myself for my lifelong sacrifices. I’m asking myself: do I want to die without experiencing all the things I had to give up for the last fifty or so years in order to remain solvent and debt free?

I’m not going to be on my deathbed telling myself I’m glad I paid all my bills on time. No, instead I’ll probably be on my deathbed lamenting and mumbling silently to myself: why didn’t I go to the Grand Canyon? Why didn’t I take that Alaskan Cruise? Why didn’t I buy that red Mustang convertible? Why did I eat day-old bread just so my kids could take piano lessons (of which they no longer play!)? Why did I ever go without anything I wanted so much for? Why? To save my money to do it in retirement? Are you aware that many people don’t live long enough to be retired? And when they do retire they are usually a bit sicker, weaker, dumber than they were before?

I’ve come to the realization, now at 66, that life is to be enjoyed. If for whatever reason, you just couldn’t afford the luxuries and experiences you craved, credit/debt if used correctly AND as a valuable tool, could have gotten you the life changing experiences you had longed for.  Within reason (and your income) of course.

If you were only making $50K a year, a safari trip to Africa for $17,000 might not have been appropriate. But if you and your spouse longed for a 4 day weekend in Cancun at around $1,500 or $2.000, you should have gone. It was an experience, I can guarantee, you would have appreciated and remembered all the rest of your life. Ditto for a car. If you’re still making $50K a year and you need a car, you could have borrowed to buy a recent model used car, like a Honda Civic or Kia…….NOT a BMW or a Mercedes. You get the idea. It’s still all within your realistic lifestyle but that little bump up would have made your life all the bit more tolerable.

I’m all for that. I’m NOT for constantly going out to eat, buying nonsensical clothes, taking worthless vacations, buying stupid junk, toys or a new smart phone every year. I’m for using credit/debt as a tool rather than a crutch and for educating yourself onto knowing the difference.

So, after almost thirty years of living an intolerable debt-free lifestyle (it’s NOT easy constantly saying no to yourself and going without) Nick and I have consciously made the decision to responsibly take on debt and finally get to do all of the things we have denied ourselves from over the last 3 decades. Despite buying ourselves the Florida dream vacation condo we have always wanted, and paying cash for it, we purchased ALL the furniture on credit. And why not? We have 5 years to pay it off at zero interest. The monthly bill comes to around $75 a month and our 2 bedroom, 2 bath condo is luxuriously furnished with beautiful furniture Nick and I had only dreamed about and lusted over in decorating magazines.

Nick and I still have a Bucket List of traveling ideas (click here) that realistically, we can’t afford. We’re NOT going to take any money out of our savings account just to travel. BUT we are going to borrow in order to make our dreams come true! We bought a smallish, very affordable RV, at a very low-interest rate and for $140 a month, we can travel and go where ever we want in America and Canada. What were we waiting for? Our goal is to see as many National Parks as possible. Overnight fees at national and state parks are about $22. We can afford all of this inside our passive retirement income. We’re staying within our means BUT we needed a bit of help from taking out an RV loan.

Lastly, our passive retirement budget, after taking in account the furniture payments and the RV payments, still won’t get us the little extras in retirement that we feel, at our age, entitled to. We want to go to plays and concerts and musicals and top-notch restaurants. We want to buy better quality food. We want little extravagances. I like a massage every now and then, Nick wants to rent sailboats. He just bought himself a brand new bicycle (his regular one was over 30 years old). We want to entertain more, have cocktail parties, do more with friends, see more with family.

I want the latest technological inventions with my computer, smart phone and photography hobby. The only way we can achieve this is by whipping out our credit cards (while earning airline points because we want to return to Italy one more time to see my family, before I die) or purchasing these items on zero-interest revolving accounts. I do have a limit however! I’m not that stupid. We can charge no more than $500 each card, which means we are carrying $1,000 worth of credit card debt. I can live with that.

I try to pay off the credit cards in full most months. We do sometimes get hit with interest but the rate is so low (like $7.22 a month) that I just shake it off and call it ‘the price of doing business’. In other words, it’s NOT a game changer. Carrying lots of credit card or loan debt at 22% and up is a game changer and something I would NEVER consider.

If you are retired or nearing retirement, I do not advise you to be in any sort of debt till you can refigure out your retirement lifestyle. Our retirement income can handle a bit of debt without jeopardizing us. If all else fails, we can always sell one of our paid-for houses and be done with it! But that’s not in the immediate forecast. We still have our retirement savings account intact and until we absolutely need that money, we’re not withdrawing from it any time soon.

If you’re approaching retirement, there’s still time to turn your debt picture around. Here are five steps to consider taking:

1. Pay down debt first. Prioritize paying off your high-interest credit card debt before further funding your retirement accounts, unless it’s a 401(k) contribution on which you’re getting a company match.

2. Stop (financially) supporting your adult children. According to a 2015 Pew Research Center poll, nearly two-thirds (61%) of American parents had provided financial support to an adult child in the prior 12 months. If your adult children need financial support, let them be the ones to take on debt. They have the rest of their working lives to earn income and pay it down. You do not.

3. Downsize. Your home, your car, your lifestyle. With age comes the opportunity to downsize and save. Take advantage when, and where, you can.

4. Delay retirement. Sure, this is not what you wanted to hear. A few more years in the workforce, however, can make a big difference. You’ll not only give yourself more time to pay off debt before retirement, you’ll also delay the age at which you may be able to begin taking Social Security benefits.

According to the Social Security Administration, workers who begin collecting benefits at 67 receive an average of $1,372 a month, compared with the $1,077 a month, on average, for those who start at 62.

5. Get help if you need it. Figuring out how to manage your finances as you approach, and eventually enter, retirement doesn’t have to be a do-it-yourself job. A financial adviser, elder law attorney, or credit counselor from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, can provide good advice if you need it.

 

Fall Theme Q&A

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  1. Fave fall treat? Has to be caramel apples, rolled in crushed almonds!
  2. Fave color apple? Has to be red! The read red. Not the dyed, fake reds!
  3. Fave fall sport to play? Tossing frisbee to my dog.
  4. Best drink? Pumpkin Spice latte that I make myself. Yum!
  5. Fave fall activity? Hiking in the mountains. Breathing in that fresh air!
  6. Must have purchase? Mums. Have to have them on my deck & front entrance.
  7. Pumpkins purchase? Store bought. Le sigh.
  8. Real or fake?  MUST be real!
  9. Fave costume? A princess, of course.
  10. Football? I only watch one game per year & that’s the Super Bowl.
  11. Fall decor? Other than the mums and a pumpkin, no.
  12. Rake leaves? Never. They make a great mulch for next years growth.
  13. Fave soup? Tuscan bean with lots of sausage.
  14. Fave candle scent? Don’t like candles. Sorry.
  15. Love/Hate pumpkin spice? See #4 above. Love it!
  16. Booties? short & tall, depending on the weather.
  17. Fave Halloween candy? Candy Corn!
  18. PSL? See #4 above. Again!
  19. Hayride or Corn Maze?  I love me a good hayride. So fun!
  20. Fave Fall TV show? Any new, romantic series on PBS. yes, please.

Attending The Rowing Competition

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Nick at the bridge entrance into the event

The heat was unbearable. Last we checked it was almost 94F degrees. Nick and I managed to walk around but when we got back to our car, we could tell we had heat exhaustion. Thank goodness we packed water and the venue was giving out free apples (which helped with our stability).

Nonetheless, Nick and I ventured onward. I had purchased two tickets (standing room only) to attend the 2017 World Rowing Competition in Sarasota, Florida ($10 each) for the last day of the event. The schedule stated the first race started at 9AM. Unfortunately, Nick and I didn’t get there till noon time and guess what? The event had come to its week-long close. In other words, we missed everything. As we were walking in to the event, mobs of people were walking out.

Oh well.

The main reason why I wanted to attend the function was strictly for a photo-op. The event didn’t fail me BUT I wasn’t able to get one photo of any rower. Now that it’s over and we are both back in our comfortably air-conditioned condo, we had a great time. We clocked in over 2.5 miles walking. So, the day wasn’t a total waste!

Nonetheless, you can see my photos by clicking here.  Or you can see my photos now as a YouTube video. Don’t forget to click ‘like’ and subscribe!

Every Retiree’s Dream Date: The $2 Movie Theater

This afternoon, Nick and I went out on our regular monthly movie date. Our local town has an 8 Plus Cinema Complex that shows top, recently released movies for only two bucks (before 6PM, after which the movies are $2.50. Still a great deal!) We bring our own bag of candy ($1 to $2 dollars) and for a total of five bucks we have a fantastic date-night out!  It’s every retiree’s dream!

We usually go on a rainy afternoon. Or if a movie we’ve been longing to see is playing. Today we saw the five-star rated flick ‘The Big Sick‘.  It’s a true life story of a Pakistan comedienne, Kumail Nanjiani, who came to America with his family to live a better life. Unfortunately, his family wanted to continue living their Pakistan lifestyle in America and Kumail did not. He falls in love with a ‘white’ woman, Emily an American, played by Zoe Kazan, (much to the angst of his entire family) who gets deathly sick after they break up.  I won’t tell you any more of the story but it is a delightful comedy that addresses the concept of death.

When you are facing death, it really doesn’t matter anymore what people think of you. Whether you are white or brown, rich or poor is immaterial.  All that matters is your ability just to be a human being.

If you get a chance to see this movie, I highly recommend it. All the actors are fantastic and well placed. You will not be disappointed.

Here’s the official trailer:

How Much Money Do Libraries Really Save You?

library hoursI just joined a new library down here in my new neighborhood. Usually before I move to a new neighborhood, I check out the library first. You can tell if the neighborhood is good or not by its library. That’s just my own opinion from my own experience. If the building is clean and neat, in good repair with all working facilities and if the shelves are well stocked, have a plethora of new editions, magazines, CD’s, DVD’s, computers and most importantly, if the library has a great, helpful, accommodating staff, odds are very, very good you’re in a great neighborhood. BUY!

Since I joined a book club and I already know which book will be coming up at our next meeting, I went to the library to place the item on hold. Normally, I can do this at home from my own computer BUT since this is a new library for me and it’s my first experience there, I wanted to do it in person. The library is conveniently located right next door to my favorite grocery store, Aldi, where I shop almost every week. So, dropping off and picking up library books will be an easy thing for me to do.

I checked out three books this morning and placed two books on hold requests. One item has 25 people in front of me. The other one is an audio book and since I will be the first one for that, the library will be ordering it for me. When I got my book rental receipt, I noticed a special section on the print-out that I have never seen before. This new library actually puts down the retail value of each book you take out! Look at this receipt:

Total items: 3

You just saved $69.99 by using your library. You have saved $69.99 this past year and $69.99 since you began using the library!

Account summary
        Items out: 3
        Hold requests: 2
        Items held: 0
        Charges: $0.00

I couldn’t believe it! And up until now, I hadn’t realized the actual retail savings value I have been enjoying for decades since I got my first library card back in grade school. On average I have been renting out a minimum of one book per week since like forever. The value of all those free rentals must be in the tens of thousands of dollars by now! I always knew I was saving money by going to my library but up until now, I had never put a value on it! What an ingenious thing this new library has done. I’m impressed.

I’ve always done well in English class and my writing courses. I have always excelled at financial management. I’m going to add the money I now will be saving, from utilizing my local library, down on my frugal list. This is one government funded perk I never did mind my tax dollars being funneled to.

Well done!

Last Data Breach

With the massive data breach from Equifax, that has now affected over 143 million Americans (which means almost every single person!), it is apparently clear to me that credit sucks! I’m more certain now that Dave Ramsey was probably right. While it’s true that having a high, decent FICO score will benefit your bottom line (on insurance and employment) my question today is: does it really matter anymore?

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Not us BUT I certainly have a debt headache!

I’m done with credit. I had sworn it off in 2001 (and also 1987) but after a few years of no debt, I got sucked into the abyss yet once again. Truth is, if you want things done, if you need things purchased, you’re going to use credit whenever you don’t want to use your cash. Guilty as charged. And why not? With so many offers of zero-interest, isn’t it better to use THEIR money rather than your own? Technically, yes! But after this last data breach, I’m not so sure anymore. Why should I jeopardize my entire life system over a purchase?

In any event, I’ve locked both our credit accounts which means no one, including ourselves can easily buy anything anymore on credit. It’s going to be a hassle to undo this action and for that, I am very happy! I’m done with credit. I’m done with credit cards. Over this past summer Nick and I paid off almost $9,000 (approx) of consumer debt. How we ever let it get that high is beyond me. It was so easy. Too easy.

It doesn’t mean we are out of the woods. We bought a lot of furniture for our new condo on zero interest cards. We still have $5,000 of that to pay off, interest free by the year 2020. Being in debt while retired is NOT a good thing. First off, we’re on a fixed income and those debt repayments tap a little bit too much into our monthly income streams. I don’t like it. As Dave Ramsey stated: debt payments subtract from your wealth making abilities and he is right! Granted yes, we have newer, beautiful furniture BUT is it really worth the trouble? And the stress repayments?

I’m going to have to answer negatively on that question.

Yes, credit can be a valuable tool when handled correctly. But with this new Equifax disaster, I have to say that I am glad I put a hold on all our credit accounts. I never want to borrow a penny ever again. I’m done with all that! The risk to our financial lives is just NOT worth it anymore.

At this stage in our lives, I think we have everything we could ever need. If not, if we don’t have the cash to pay for it, we’re not buying another thing utilizing credit. If we don’t have the cash to pay for it, we’re not getting it.

We’re done with all that.

Unsustainable Hatred

It’s very difficult for me to be mad at people for any length of time. Holding on to hatred, revenge and discord just is unsustainable. It takes way too much effort to constantly remind myself why I am mad at someone. That’s because hatred and discord get in the way of my constant desire to remain in my own self-created ‘happy zone’. I lead a good life. I’ve got a lot of things going well for myself. Why should I allow outside distractions to knock me off my throne?

I know my ‘happy zone’ creation is all made up in my head. Sort of reminds me of the statement: Fake it till you make it. If I pretend that all is well with my world, then usually it is. Or will be. I just have to wait it out. And I do.

So, yesterday, I decided I was done with all the family angst my two brooding daughters had brought upon me. From here on in I am going to pretend that all is right in my world. I unblocked them out of my social network. If they contact me, all well and good. But I am done with constantly reminding myself of why we had come to any disagreement to begin with. It was almost over a year ago and the statute of unhappy limitations has expired. I’m done with unsustainable hatred!

I have no intention of contacting them. Heavens no! That would pop my ‘happy zone’ bubble. I’m just going to pretend that peace has been restored and get on with my life. Once I made this decision, I have to tell you, a great big sigh of relief came over my body! Holding grudges is a pain and a drag on our human psyche. Get those albatrosses off your back once and for all.  Take a step back and really look at your so-called problems. If no one died or is permanently maimed, you’re having a very good day! LOL.

happiness
Here’s where you will find me:  mountaintop backpacking

I no longer look at my age as ‘how many years have I lived’? Instead, I look at my age as ‘how many more years do I have left’? Once you realize how little more time you have left on this planet, your whole perspective changes. I am certainly NOT going to live my remaining lifespan in angst, regret and discourse. I was always a fun-loving, joke-telling girl AND I intend to remain that happy-go-lucky person till the day I die.

No one is going to take that gift away from me. No one.

 

Autumn Bucket List

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You won’t find images like this in Florida.

My list started off small, but as soon as I began listing the things I wanted to do this fall, my list got longer and longer. Hope fall lasts until the end of winter because that’s how long it will take me to complete my Autumn Bucket List. LOL!

Here’s my list, in no special order:

1. Attend an Octoberfest. Have a few beers and a bratwurst.

2. Go on a photo shoot

3. Read a book (I’ve got my eye on ‘A Man Called Ove’

4. Finish my art project: repainting two floral portraits

5. Get my physical & mental act together: weight, looks, style

6. Join a yoga group. Classes start in October

7. Place tropical plants on my lanai

8. Make three healthy, low-cost meals every day

9. Attend a free play/concert

10. Have friends over for evening cake & coffee

11. Make a new friend this season

12. Find lower cost RV storage

13. Bike more, walk more, swim more now that the temps have lowered

14. Prepare pumpkin spice lattes at home. Enjoy!

15. Go on a day trip. Weeki Wachee Springs State Park is one of my goals.

 

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