Friday, March 11, 2016

Things Starting to Return to a Point of Normalcy

Well, after two solid months of concentrating on getting myself organized and my apartment back in shape, I have gotten to the point where at least 3 of the 4 rooms are at a minimum of being at least presentable.

The one room that remains is my bedroom, but I can for the time being keep the door closed should I suddenly find myself with company.  There are also a number of large pieces (manual treadmill, hydraulic rowing machine, 2-3 computers, one record player, one old non-working tv) that I also need to have taken away, but these will have to wait until the traditional tube TV I use in my living room no longer works.

I also managed to get most of the paper I wanted to shred, shredded and out in the garbage and have set up my paperless record system.  And I've also taken a number of small, non-working items over to our bulk "garbage storage" area. 

I can now start cleaning out one closet at a time, one shelf at a time.

What I want to do is to create a schedule whereby I can include all those items that I need to get done as well as all the fun things I like to do. I will be working on this through the next couple of months because I want to include so many things to my list.  The one thing I wonder about since I retired is how I had managed to do all that I did while holding down a full-time job.

Well I'm going to close for now so I can start working on the things I need to accomplish today. Have a great day all.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Blog Change

I've had my blog for a couple of years now and have focused on issues that many of us find ourselves in.  Now that I'm retired, I now have some additional time to turn it into the blog I originally intended it to be.

I originally thought that I would just go about and make the changes to "Life's Little Challenges", however, I decided to keep this one as is and instead create a new blog: The Road to Frugality.

I've lived frugally most of my life and am very proud of it.  Being frugal doesn't mean being cheap which you will learn when you start making the journey.  Many of you will wonder what I gave up
 . . . not much (outside of marriage and children; unfortunately not meant to be for me).

During my journey I was careful with my income, yet I had my fair share of new cars, extensive travel and more as well as having built a decent retirement nest egg.  I've also helped many people financially and continue to do so the best way I can.  I've always wanted the opportunity to share what I've learned so coming soon is the new blog. I'm also developing a couple of my own product lines so please stay tuned.

Happy day all!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Internet/A Love Hate Relationship

In 1997 I discovered the internet. I loved searching the websites: online museums, holidays sites, etc.  I learned how to create a web page and loved it. And I learned to love internet shopping.

My dislike, however, is the number of sites that preach that "yes, you too can become a successful blogger" and give you just enough information to get you to buy THEIR packages. While they do provide information you can typically use, they glamourize website creation and blogging as a way to make money.  They even go out of their way to publish what their monthly income was.  Who wouldn't fall prey to a comment like "my blog produced $9000 this month".  They may also casually tell you that it took them years to build but the headline was so "eye-catching" that the general reader did not pick up on it took years to build. They also don't tell you ALL that you need to be successful . . . for that information you have to pay and in some cases, the cost is significant.  And it's usually those who cannot afford to spend the money who get suckered into doing just that.

What they don't tell you is that there are approximately 180 million blogs in existence.  What they don't tell you is that only a few actually end up producing the amount of income they boast.  What they don't tell you is that you make your money through hit conversion, the number of hits per page that actually turn into sales.  They don't tell you how to build traffic, they don't tell you to be careful of copyright infringement, they don't tell you how to price your products or how often to create one. They also don't teach you how to build a mailing list.  They don't discuss search engine optimization (there are over 1 billion websites on the internet), they don't discuss the methods and the time it takes to build up traffic to your page if you're lucky.  They don't tell you the differences in what needs to be done for a blog as a hobby, to develop a supplemental income or turn it into an actual living. 

What they don't tell you is that only 14% of bloggers actually earn an income from them.  What they don't tell you is that the average income is $24,086 annually, $33,577 for a corporate blogger and that half of all bloggers earn only about $1,000 annually.

There is much, much more than just creating a page and publishing it to the internet.

Time after time, their readers so desperately in need of additional income fall prey to their sales pitch, only to find out that the only one that benefited is the blogger who won them over.

So to those of you who come across these sites and think that you too are going to develop a $100-$200K income from blogging, realize that this happens only to a rare few. If you feel that you have the time and the money to spend on attempting to get a livable blogging income, please give it a shot, but don't forget that not everyone who tries it will come out a winner.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Financially Strapped Don't Get a Break

The majority of families that are financially strapped will always be financially strapped and through no fault of their own, but rather because society will not let them heal and rebuild.  Why, because most institutions, including our government believe it is because they are ALL trying to live like the Joneses which couldn't be further from the truth. Many find themselves in this position because American companies have abandoned the American worker for countries like China and Mexico or due to catastrophic illness.  And the sad part is that many of us know at least one or more of these families and have tried to help them, but can only do so much.

I know one of these families, intimately, because this family is related to me (ages 67 and 77).  For a good part of his life, her husband even worked 7 days a week for pennies. They don't own a house or drive a Lexus, they don't buy and wear designer clothes and most of their grocery shopping (they haven't gone out in many years) is done at the dollar store.  They've never travelled and their leisure time is sitting by the water or playing Yatzee. The only reason they have cable tv is because the basic plan is included in their rent.  Yes, they do have a cell phone, but they use one of the least expensive plans there is.  They have been trying for 15 to 20 years to cut back on expenses and attempt lowering their living costs. No matter what they do it just doesn't quite make it. 

They can't get government help because they are only slightly over the so-called poverty level computed as "gross income" as set by the Federal Government and based on todays costs truly is a joke.  The so called poverty level after taxes doesn't even allow for the payment of rent in this country, much less anything else.

They recently tried moving to a more affordable apartment and were denied because there was a car eviction situation which had been taken care of immediately for them by me 2 years ago and payments have been made in a timely manner since then. The apartment complex didn't even want to listen to what had happened and said once you're denied, it's over. This family never missed a rent payment and even paid ahead of time, but this didn't matter either.  She also had a co-signer who would have guaranteed that the rent would be paid - - me - - but they wouldn't accept that either and I have a superior credit rating. 

The fact that she had lost her job through no fault of her own when her entire company shut down didn't matter . . . the car company refused to work with them which is why she fell behind.  And because they had a poor credit rating the interest rate on the car loan because she had to go through a pool is 29%; completely outrageous compared to the 3% I'm paying.  It's hard to get a job when you have no way to get to work.  And don't believe that age discrimination doesn't exist even in Florida. It does, especially in Florida.  No wonder people like them fall behind . . . they have about as much chance as a snowball in hell.

There was also a false eviction claim on the part of a former landlord for which they had a letter from the courts saying the case was dismissed due to false accusations on the part of the landlord.  This family NEEDED this lower rent apartment because her husband (age 77 who had been working 30 hours a week to make the ends meet) had been recently diagnosed with congestive heart failure (prescription co-pays have jumped up to $150 a month) and can't right now if he will ever be able to again, as well as the fact that her daughter got married and moved out. She had been looking for almost 2 years for a job to no avail and had finally found one part-time, but this isn't enough to cover their living expenses now that her husband is unable to work which are meager at best.  I, in fact, have taken over her car payments for her and send her a Save A Lot grocery card once in a while (the best I can do because I lost my job last April and was forced into retirement myself).

And the laws in Florida give NO relief to seniors for legitimately breaking a lease for financial reasons or assisting them with rent due to catastrophic reasons so these people are trapped or end up homeless.  This is positively tragic in this great country.

I'm not saying that these people didn't make poor choices at times when it came to money . . . we all do or have, including myself.  But unless society gives them the chance to fix themselves, they will continue to remain tragic victims.

Please, I ask that you forward the link to this page to everyone you know.  Let's see if we collectively can start changing things for families like this.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Good Bye 2015 . . . and Good Riddens

I have never been a big fan of celebrating new years.  I've always looked at it as a "couples" thing.  If you weren't part of a couple, it was just another lonely night.  I can count on one hand the number of times I have actually done anything for new year's eve or stayed up past midnight and they were a new year's eve party with my late husband's family back in 1969 and spending time at a resort in the Poconos back in the mid-80s.

This year, however, I am celebrating the end of 2015 because it was the worst year for my family that I know of.  We had the second of the worst winters in the past two years; I slipped on ice and lost two tendons in my left shoulder; I was let go from my job yet again; the third time in approximately 10 years and I had the most difficult choice of placing my mother in a nursing home.  It has also seen my sister's husband diagnosed with congestive heart failure.

Yes, 2015 was truly the pits.

Hello 2016.  All I can say is that after 2015, the only way my family can go is up from there, so here's to you and yours . . . wishing all of you the very, very best for 2016.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Six Months Into My Forced Retirement

I have to admit that just like everyone else, I had never expected that my life would turn out the way it did, especially as it relates to what my retirement was going to be like. I never thought that I would lose my job and  I never expected that during the first couple of months that I would have to place my mother in a nursing home and visit her on a daily basis to help her get through the day.

Family circumstances led to my having to work until at least 66, my full retirement age, but then the prospect of a higher monthly check and looking after my mother, my plan was to continue working full time until age 70 and then ease my way into retirement by working part-time at half my salary for two additional years. I had also learned this year that I was entitled to my husband's Survivor Benefits and despite the fact that I had lost about 2-1/2 years in benefits, I was still entitled to another year and a half and that was going to be "gravy" on top of my salary or so I thought. But life had other plans in store for me

On that fateful day in March, my boss called me into the conference room and told me that he had to let me go because my position was being eliminated.  I can't say that I was happy about it, but being 68 I wasn't in the same financial position when I lost my job two times previously. I also didn't know that the months following my being let go that I would have my mother in the hospital three times and then placed in a nursing home as well as experience a financial loss approximating $80,000.

I decided that I needed a change today so I will soon be making a lunch for my mother and then heading out to Walmart for a distraction.

What I still need to do is put together some kind of plan to better utilize my time. Yes, I do have to work on decluttering my home and I have 3 e-books in various stages of progress.  I also have my websites to work on and my digital graphics and painting in addition to TV, movies, and puzzles. I will attempt to start re-planning my life both financially and time-wise in the next several weeks and hopefully by Jan 1, I will find more solitude to being where I am at this point in time.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

My Apartment is Looking Like I Belong on "Hoarders"

This year, not only did I lose my job, but I found myself having to pull back into my apartment all the things I had previously stored in an outside storage company as they were putting in an elevator in the building right where they had the lockers.  I also found myself having to take in half of the stuff from my mom's apartment in the last two weeks after placing her in a nursing home.

I have to admit that I've never been noted for my clutter-free home, but the above objects have made it almost impossible to live in and feel good about myself.

FreeCycle hasn't been much help.  I tried to give most of it a new home, but those who responded were just out and out fussy so I had to pay to have it hauled away, including a 32" RCA traditional tube tv that was in excellent working condition.  Shame on you people.  If I had needed it myself I would have kept it as I never buy something new to replace something that is still working.

Anyway, I came across this article on Houzz and thought it might help some of you who are in a similar position as myself.  I've already started cleaning my place out but thought this might provide a little bit more of an initiative or motivation to keep going.