Monday, July 27, 2015

A Few Things I (Slightly) Miss About Texas-and A Couple I Don't Miss at All

There is no perfect place to live, at least for most of us. In my case, moving further north and adjusting my lifestyle was so very much the right thing to do, on so very many levels. And even though it has winter, most of the time I am thrilled with Denver. It has more sunny days than almost any major city, including those that are hotter. You get to see the mountains virtually every day, even when you don't live in the hills, and the lifestyle is overall healthy and a great place for retirees to live. Colorado remains one of the top states to retire in, for more reasons than I can count.

Still, most places have things, people and experiences you miss, and Texas is no exception.  After just a couple days with my daughter, I am reminded that among other things, I really really missed the triple digit heat-at least in short spurts. I can promise you that after a week I'll be more than ready to return to what is simply eighty or ninety degree weather. But for a week or so, embracing the heat beyond heat of a humid Texas summer is just what the doctor ordered.

Other things I miss on occasion?

Market Street.  Yes, it's a store and yes I miss it. We don't have it in Colorado.  For those unaware, Market Street is rather like a Whole Foods with all the regular grocery food added. I'm not sure how else to say it. It has a sushi bar, all kinds of deli and take out and prepared foods, a great bakery, and you can still buy Campbell's soup. Today I had a chicken salad sandwich on sunflower grain bread while doing basic grocery shopping.


Stores, stores and more stores. Now, I am not a shopper, however, on occasion I miss some of the opportunities of the suburbs of a huge city. In Denver, for example, there are really only one and a half quilting stores near me. While visiting my daughter, I can find up to ten in easy driving distance.  The old saying is that in Dallas at least, people shop and eat out-and that generalization is not inaccurate-economy or no economy.  On any given day you can see ten restaurants from any car vantage point. Again, this is not what I would want as a permanent lifestyle (which is why I changed it) but it sure is great for a few days. 

The German Deli.  What can I say, you can only appreciate it if you can appreciate it. While this is a large online store, their home base is here in the Dallas area, and it has things that may not be available elsewhere.  While here, we will purchase brotchen, uniquely German mixes, and liquor filled chocolates. We'll also purchase curry ketchup and mustard and mayo and foods for traveling. The best parts for me though are the non food items including my German home and food magazines, and the Christmas specialties.   I can and do order year around, but my annual in person visit is a highlight and a taste of home. 

The Dallas Botanical Gardens, which are on of the top ten botanical gardens in the US on some lists.  While I won't make it this trip, I'll come back for the fall and plan to experience this in full as I try to every year. 

A few of my old social groups and my former church.  While I've made a new church home and am very happy there (actually I have two church homes in Denver), my Dallas church was unique in many ways.  As a very large, extremely progressive church whose primary purpose was outreach, it was unusual for north Texas, and on some level I miss a large church and all the social opportunities it offered. 

I also miss, on occasion, my small quilting group.  Dallas was so big that every town had it's own quilting group, while Denver is just small enough that it has one really really large group, without the opportunity for small group socialization. I've been fortunate to find other small groups in Denver that more than meet my needs, but I do occasionally miss the old bunch. 

Now, as to what I do not miss, let's begin with sweet tea. I just don't understand. Somewhere in Texas I decided I would not make it until dinner at my daughter's and pulled off to get a McDonald's apple pie and an iced tea. After three misunderstandings between the person on the other side of the intercom and I, I finally ended up with iced tea. Plain iced tea. This of course is not just a Texas issue, but a southern one-and as I have learned (but have yet to understand), iced tea with sugar is, well, not sweet tea.  Let's just say not only do I not miss sweet tea, I don't miss the effort I have to make to get the alternative!

Other things I don't miss include those stores-after about a week, Dallas traffic and toll roads, Texas conservatism and rattlesnakes and armadillos.  But life is short, and I'll live with them all, because after all, I am here to visit family-the most important thing.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Women Driving Cars-Loading Up For My Road Trip Vacation

Tomorrow I take the circuitous trip to Texas. It's time to see my daughter and partner and their new house. While I'vebeen waiting until the move was finished and new furniture installed, my daughter informed me that there will still be piles of "organizing" for me to do. Maybe this should not be called a vacation at all.  Then again, I'll sit on the patio, enjoy other people cooking for me and treating me to dinner, visiting with my father in law and old church friends. I'll also be doing some exploring and hitting some side roads as I drive and I return.  So yea, road trip it is!


As I prepare to load up the car, I'm reminded of a couple of the many reasons I prefer car travel/vacations to flying or mother modes of travel most of the time.  The first one, obviously, is that I can leave when I want, change my mind, or leave another day. Usually when no repercussions. Oh sure, if I have made a motel reservation I may have to change it. But there is no cancelling of flights, and no major effort.

 Earlier this week (while babying that knee with the THC patch on it), I stepped wrong and the knee gave out, with me doing a spirally kind of twist making the whole knee area (especially the back) extremely painful. After doing literally nothing except sitting on the bed with the thing elevated, taking pain meds and massaging stuff into it, I decided discretion was the better part of valor and that I would move the drive back.  A simple text massage and all was well (my daughter is not taking two weeks vacation while I am there, so she had no changes to make). Depending on my mood I could take three days to get to Texas or one-and I can decide on the road.

The second major advantage really hits me at certain times of the year, that being that I can take, almost anything I want to take with me in the car. This trip, that includes another person, a canine, a flattened crate, and two large bins that contain pictures, mementos and other things that my children want to go through together. 

 I'm also taking a set of golf clubs for the other person, two suitcases with enough clothing that we may not need to do laundry, and a college backpacked stuffed full. I'm wondering if my sewing machine will fit. Now I have an SUV, so what fits for me may not fit for someone else. Still though, car travel affords certain things in terms of space and convenience. Every so often I even look and see folks with the clothing rods across the backs of their cars-but then I realize that control freak that I am when it comes to driving, I'm not willing to lose the visual advantage. Oh-and let's not forget that big cooler, the staple of any frugal road trip.

Which reminds me-this time, for the first time in memory of me driving, I am going to explore cruise control. Yes, people, when I drive cross country it is normally, always, with my foot on the accelerator the entire time.  It's time to look at different options-again, if I can get past the control issue- and with my still slightly sore knee (and the option of driving on a four lane, not crowded good condition road in New Mexico) this is the time to find out if I can live with it. 

Finally, as I ready to hit the road, I am glad that I have for the most part managed to have a busy yet flexible retirement.  I work by choice, I volunteer many hours, and I have a variety of commitments. While leaving some of these for six months, snow bird style would be difficult (for me more than for others), it's very simple to go for a week or so or even am month.  There are other peer navigators who can fill in easily, with me returning the favor. My income streams are all portable. I can plan and even execute the Friday night dinners and activities for the homeless while on the road, allowing others to cook and me to return the favor when I return. Even my college class (not done in the summer) and my knitting and card playing and book groups are made of retirees who occasionally travel, so leaving and returning tends to happen mainly seamlessly.

And now, I should probably finish that packing. Since the weather shows triple digits for the next week in the greater Dallas area, I'll be going sleeveless, sleeveless, sleeveless-with a sweater for Texas air conditioning!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Taking The Next Step in Pain Management for Arthritis/Fibromyalgia-Medical Marijuana

 Hello everyone, I've started the Living Richly In Retirement Facebook page!  I'm still adding photo and content but please do stop by and "like me" as I will have other notes and comment besides things that are on this page!!

By now, most regular readers know that I have pretty bad arthritis in my knees.  Six years of old style army physical fitness (running in combat boots on the tarmac) will do that to ya.  Add the sports of my younger years, and a severe post widow hood weight gain, and there you have it.  I also have external nerve damage from a severe fall (down stairs onto cobblestones) years ago, and fibromyalgia symptoms brought on by taking my cholesterol drugs (there seems to be no such thing as a side effect free drug).

I've written about this previously, of course. I explained why I was not getting a knee replacement anytime soon,  as well as about my exploration of natural treatments for the knee.  I also briefly, previously talked at one time about marijuana use in mid life, and here in the Mile High City.

Recently, my knee has become more painful. One knee especially. This is in spite of increased exercise (walking, using the pool to exercise and even taking advantage of the hot tub spa).  I have made a new orthopedic appointment, and will consider treatment such as injections as a last resort. I have also asked for an physical therapy referral.

Meanwhile, I need to get the pain under control. For those who are wondering, this is NOT a work through the soreness when you exercise phenomenon. This my friends is pain-pain that 600 milligrams of Arthritis strength Tylenol does not necessarily eliminate.  Being my experimental self, I decided a little self experimenting was in order.

By now I think most of my readers know that I live in Colorado, a state which had both legalized medical marijuana for quite some time, and now has legalized the stuff for recreational use. I decided to see about taking advantage of one (or the other) of these legal situations. For those who are wondering, most medical marijuana is now legal to sell with out a prescription-a prescription can simply make it cheaper or allow a larger purchase at a single time.  Without a prescription, one can still purchase many so called medical options.

Since I recently had my general physical I discussed this with my doctors.  While they don't necessarily disapprove of either edibles or topical treatments, they are licensed to prescribe drugs by the federal government, not the state and in the current climate are unwilling to step into that arena.  However, they actively discouraged me from going to a specifically medical marijuana doctor at this point, for my needs, and said I would be much better off gently experimenting on my own.

And so my friends, that is exactly what I did. Today I took myself to a local dispensary that also sold recreational marijuana.  After a long discussion with the young lady behind the counter, I left with a few purchases, and with the knowledge of the other options available to me. In the end I purchased large medicated pad that can be cut and put on the leg, a massage lotion with THC and three edibles which have been scored and can be scored further.

My research tells me that the pads and lotion can be used on my knee, and then I can drive, because the amount of TCH is small and topical (obviously I will research that and try it times when I am at home). The edibles are only for at home use, and will be used in the evening (I suppose I have to try and figure out the numbers of sugar and carbs).

For those who may be curious, this particular location had a waiting room like any office or doctor's waiting room, with two consultant areas, one for medical treatment with a script and another for non prescription (recreational, even though these were medicinal items) buying. There was no front room with bottles of different leaves, and this was not like the head shops of my (our) youth. Since I had do idea what to expect, I did take my twenty something son with me, much to his chagrin. I will however, not do that again. After this experience, I expect I will have no problem going into this or any other store alone.

I've just gotten home, and plan to begin experimenting at bedtime, or in front of the TV after dinner.  I expect that for awhile at least, dealing with my pain will be a moving target, if you will. There are lots of options out there, from infused olive oil salves to marijuana candy.

I may post an update here or there above other blog posts as to my successes and (possible I suppose) failures. I promise to do an update this week, along with my medical treatment costs.

 I realize that this is not a choice everyone can make, or would make, or even needs to make. But for me, at this point in my life, frankly, it would be crazy not to take advantage of what is a low risk, basically non-narcotic, legal option for comfort.

And so it goes!  Coming later in the week, pictures of my refurbished car and review of the entire accident, insurance and repair experience!

Meanwhile, what about you. Do you experience pain, mild or sever?  General discomfort?  How do you deal with it. Would you use pot if you could?

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Me And the Dog (s) - On The Road

This morning, I had a sudden revelation. From 1996 until now I have always had dogs, and almost all the time I have had two dogs.  I had a break between the death of my beagle and lab for about a year, and then since January I have again only had one pet. The last few months I have slowly gotten used to having just one dog. My sister has a Chihuahua, but he's hers and not really a dog (sorry, sorry). In fact the title of this one was "traveling with the canines" until I reminded myself that these days I have just - one! One who admittedly is in many pictures on this blog, and is recognizable to readers by now-just look at the post below!
 As many readers know, my first two dogs, Elvis the beagle and Magic the Labrador, died within less than a year of each other-and lived to be sixteen and seventeen respectively. Then I almost immediately got two dogs, one with cancer and who is no longer here and who remains with me.

My poor sick Trevor amongst the greenery on the patio!

I have always traveled. and the truth is more often than not until recently, not with the dogs. Fitting two dogs a Subaru Forrester while traveling the back roads of here or there was a logistical nightmare. Add to that the fact that Europe being Europe almost all of our travels were of the train or ship variety and you end up with the need to board a dog.

Traveling when you have canines (or other pets) can be a conundrum. Some are unwilling to leave their dogs in a boarding situation. Some cannot afford to do so. My first two dogs, Magic and Elvis, loved being boarded.  I'm not sure how that happened. For one thing those two dogs were joined at the proverbial hip. For another they had wonderful doggy hotels both in the US and in Europe. In fact they were always excited to go, and rarely looked back as they were led away.  They also had the perfect environment, with a large yard where all the dogs ran and played together (sometimes roughly but always happily). I was not a micromanaging pet mama, and if they came home with a scrape, as long as they had fun I was happy! They did doggie day care together, as well.  Admittedly these trips were rarely over two weeks, as we were still in the "working world".

Magic the Labrador, gray and on his favorite pillow

My second two dogs were never boarded. My son was available when I was traveling, or other family members or friends stopped by the house multiple times a day. The situation was different and I was taking a break from traveling while I relocated. Since these dogs bonded with my son as an adult, a different relationship was born. My first two dogs played with the kids, but come bed time, they were in that king sized bed, wondering where we were!

As I travel now, more and more often I am taking my canine child with me.  This is true event though I travel in a car rather than an RV and use hotels and on occasion restaurants. Obviously I would not take the dog to New York, or on my train trip to San Francisco.  However, he'll take a week and a half trip to Texas via Route 66, go on a four day trip to Mount Rushmore and go with me on my late fall road trip down south for a week or so. 

Elvis the beagle, late in years

From a financial aspect, having dogs and boarding or traveling with them them can present challenges. Boarding dogs is rarely cheap, although we were fortunate to have good providers. Once you've budgeted for the hotels, food, train, boat, car or plane and so on, you have to add in the cost of the dog care.  For most of our working and traveling lives (both in the US and Europe) this was just a matter of fact. They were our children and this of course was what we did. Nothing else ever occurred to us.

I cannot say that traveling with dogs is free, or even that is necessarily cheaper than boarding. I can say that I prefer my dog to be with me when possible, and I consider either cost (boarding or taking the dog) to be an acceptable part of travel-even frugal travel. There are of course some financial challenges to traveling with a pet. The costs are much less than they could be, in my opinion.  When I road trip, I stay in good mid quality hotel (Good rated Best Westerns, for example). Since I need the first floor myself, walking the dog is rarely a problem-and before leaving I check out hotels by satellite to make sure they actually do have some kind of grass or a park nearby.

The canine child does increase my travel costs, and how much that cost is varies. Most hotels have a $20 fee, usually it is refundable and sometimes not. While Wilson is very well behaved (I do crate him on those occasions when I go out and leave him alone), I am appreciative of other folks' allergies and issues. I also remember when I had chronically ill dog who was not perfectly behaved in a hotel. So while I am happy to get the refund, I understand if on occasion I do not.

Other than the moderate cost of hotels, the cost of traveling with my dog is pretty much the same. Throwing his old blanket, his own foods, and toys and leash in the car are easy.

From a non financial standpoint, traveling with the dog places that are not major cities is also very easy, and the only reason I don't take him to large cities is I am not always driving there.  Take our trip to South Dakota. Badlands National Park is pet friendly. He'll be happy to walk with me and explore Deadwood, and will readily adjust to a few hours in the hotel room during our afternoon at Mount Rushmore, or a restaurant dinner. We plan to picnic at least one evening which will put him in hog heaven. (note: I have considered making my pet a service dog, with my knee balance issues. However, with his personality and my patience for training I see that happening-never!). I do admit that while he may bark on occasion if he hears another dog in the hall, he is not a terrible barker. I appreciate that those who have yappy dogs may have another issue. 

Trevor, beagle number two, showing Wilson the coon dog who the Alpha is in better days

There are other advantages to traveling with a dog, by car or RV, depending on where you wish to go, and your perspective. Traveling with my pup requires me to make regular stops on the road as well as walk him in the morning and the evening. This forces me to exercise and stretch regularly. People almost always want to strike up a conversation of some kind with dog owners, and you get to meet plenty of people you might never have spoken to.  Finally, most dogs add a layer of security, especially for those of us who are unafraid to jump off onto an unknown back road, or drive into a Louisiana swamp town unexpectedly. This is true of singles and marrieds, I expect.  And of course, he makes a great pillow or leg rest in the hotel!!

As a frugal retiree I watch my money carefully, and in truth that I may never get another dog after this. Meanwhile, this one I'll keep and consider the small costs involved in travel (be it boarding or taking the dog) to be a "childcare expense" worth paying for!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Lazy Days of Summer - (And what should I not miss in South Dakota-asking the readers!)

A few minutes ago, I headed out for awhile to sit under my gazebo and enjoy the summer sun.  As I got to the screen I saw two dogs-both spread out in the summer sunshine on the grass. One lying on her back, and the other on his stomach, keeping an eye of course on the squirrels in the tree. Naturally, by the time I opened the screen they had moved and a good picture was gone.  Still it truly is a dog's life, you know?  

My favorite place to read, now if could just figure how to enclose it for winter!

It's a dog's life as always-I can never get him to look at me!

Meanwhile, I have spent a fair amount of time being just a lazy as the canines it seems.  Summer always makes me want to do less and relax more-and since many of the things I do are curtailed or cancelled during the summer in terms of regular commitments it makes it much easier for me to justify my sluggishness during this time. Except for a weekend trip to the north or so (see my request for help below) and a week long visit to my daughter in Texas, I tend to curtail my travel until cooler climes, as this year all planned trips seem to head south.

This means that my days have (mainly) settled into a summer routine, with a day trip, festival or other event factored in here and there.  My mornings are spent piddling (there is no better word) on the computer, in my studio or around the house, and then outside reading on the swing.  After lunch, I'm heading to the therapy pool to walk and swim for an hour. Now that I've started exercising mid day I much prefer it-as long as I don't have commitments. It divides up the day much better and I seem to need the moving around at that time of day.  Afterwards I come home and shower, and then nap, or sew, or go to a movie, or read some more-you get the idea. One day a week I volunteer for half a day, and one day a week I knit and hit happy hour. Those two appointments and church are the end of my scheduled days until September. I guess I really am on summer break. 

Downtown dinners, now one of my favorite places

For dinner we are continuing the laziness. Most days we are either grilling, using the slow cooker to make something that will be a few meals, or cheating with the food budget and hitting Downtown dinners once a week. So far we have been very impressed this month with the pork chops (even so far as buying another meal for the freezer) and thought the chicken pot pie with biscuits was a bit heavy on the sage, if you will.  At fifteen dollars for a prepared meal for three people, we figure it to be a good deal once a week. Last night we had our own grilled thick pork chops, pasta salad from the store, along with fruit and carrots and celery. Tonight, seafood ravioli from the deli with a butter sauce. 

A fall quilt for me, a donation for the shelter, a gift, and one I just made for the fun of it, even though the colors are not mine.

Still in progress, as shown by the threads and lint.

Because I have more free time in the summer (no classes, no weekly lunch or dinner group, no book groups..) I I have been VERY leisurely allowing myself to do a few other things-only when, of course, I am in the mood.  I have a rack full of quilts that are tops and need to be finished, as well as this team quilt. So far I've quilted (sewn the design) and bound one this summer.  By the way, I will be giving away a quilt at the end of August-any team or theme in a throw size, so keep your eyes out. I've been meaning to do a couple giveaways for awhile and now that I am back on track.....I'm ready I've also spent a couple days here and there working on serious free stuff-not sample size and have gotten all three of the things shown below for a dollar each, as well as the travel book for my son which was free except for shipping and was an experiment. The cookbook and cupcake holders will be a stocking stuffer for my daughter and I have yet to decide about the scarf and earrings.

A baking book and bright silicone shells, for a dollar shipping

A bird covered infinity scarf and earrings, again for a dollar shipping.

A free Shutterfly book for five dollars in shipping-my first digital book attempt using pictures from the trip my son and I took to Normandy beaches-in 2004, actually!!

I say experiment because I've been considering making a Christmas book for each of my offspring as well as a cookbook.  The Normandy book was an experiment, one that I could afford since the book was free. I do have a lot to learn before my next book.  The coming book would have family recipes, various notes and pictures and as much information as I remember about the various tree ornaments that I've collected for each child when they were young! So I have been doing a few constructive things here in July.

A map of every where we went-yes, everywhere, trust me!

Meanwhile, as to the frugal road trip, I'm looking at a three and a half day trip to South Dakota in August. If any readers have opinions as to what my priorities are to see during that time, I would love the input.  Since the person I'm traveling with is still in the working world we will leave early Friday and arrive at the Mount Rushmore area shortly after lunch. We would then have the rest of Friday, Saturday and Sunday until at least  three or so to explore (unless we decide to spend a third night and head out at dawn on Monday). Never having been in SD my tentative thoughts were to spend Friday afternoon at Mount Rushmore, Saturday at Badlands National Park, and Sunday in Deadwood (driving through Sturgis and Wall at some point as part of these expeditions).  What do you think?  Am I realistic? Overreaching?  I'd like to see Devil's Tower as well, but I think that and the Little Big Horn Battlefield will need to be a separate trip.  Tell me everything, but do remember that while I can walk, I cannot climb, as such. 

My planned Mapquest route, so far!

And now, I'm off to have some lunch, hit the pool and yes, fill out a form for the IRS (a separate story)!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Quilting, and Sky Diving, and Golfing and Travel -On a Fixed Income?

 For those who have asked, I do have quick update on my car.  The total damage was $7000, after all is said and done, and includes damage to the frame. Fortunately, I had not planned to ever sell or trade the thing in. I am praying that it will be done by about the 20th, as I do have a mini vacation planned a cannot take the dogs in the rental car. Meanwhile, I continue to drive the Hyundai Sonata. It's probably a lovely family sedan, but I am reminded why I drive an SUV. My knee is dying from the angle it is at in this car (the knee is above my butt), and my leg cannot stretch out properly. Hopefully in another week, all will be well!!

 As a retirement frugality maven (of sorts), I am fairly big on doing things for free.  One one level, I don't think one has to spend pots of money to have fun, and in fact you can be perfectly entertained without spending extra money.  There are piles of free entertainment and free hobbies out there.  There are also, as almost any frugal or retirement blog or article will tell you, plenty of hobbies that are "contributory" in terms of home, expenses and other values.

I certainly take advantage of many of these hobbies. I read a great deal. I write. I used to walk mainly for exercise (a separate story). I'm learning a language for free online. I walk for exercise. I take free online courses. I belong to free meet ups and the community center, where I participate in knitting groups, card playing groups, and the like. At church I belong to a dinner group.  You get the idea.

I also, however, have hobbies that cost money-and I have no plan of giving them up.  Quilting is not a cheap hobby, let's be clear.  The average queen sized quilt takes can take as much as fourteen yards of fabric-at thirteen dollars a yard.  Add that to batting, thread and the like, and for every queen sized quilt I make you are looking at a great deal of cash.  One can purchase not quality fabric at a cheaper price-but even if some of these items become gifts, quilting is not a "free" hobby. It requires a regular infusion of cash and has it's own budget line.  I still quilt, even as a frugal gal living on $33,000 a year.

I also still travel. Less than previously (for non financial reasons), and mainly US road trips instead of international travel.  Still there is a cost, and I do plan to travel internationally again-hopefully to spend a year in my other home country.

The bottom line is that while we all want to watch our money in retirement, there are ways to enjoy almost any hobby on a reasonable budget. One does not have to be elitist, or a wealthy retiree, to enjoy any of the hobbies in the title of this post or many others.  Certainly there are hobbies that are prohibitive and require an income stream just for those interests-flying and boating come to mind (although I would be happy to hear from those folks who do those hobbies as well).

My son (and my late husband) regularly payed golf. My son still does so, even as a partially employed twenty something.  The people they played with were mainly government employees and the parents of my son's friends (who were teachers, school bus drivers and sales people), and my son regularly plays with others in similar circumstances.  While a separate article on affording hobbies is probably worth being written, and I am not an expert in say skydiving (although I did take flying lessons at one time), I do know how affordable golf can be. In both my son's and husband's case, we purchased the best equipment we could afford at the time (with son's being more expensive). Golfing was done on public courses, often at non-prime time, and a couple vacations a year put in the budget (hello, Myrtle Beach).  

My father in law and late mother in law lived on social security and off a small trust. My father in law still raced his Triumph on a private track and spent most of his money (and time), improving the car. He's now getting ready to sell it, at close to ninety.

We all have priorities, and we all have different budgets.  If we really have a passion though, we will generally find a way to enjoy it, and nothing should be inherently off limits in most cases. Obviously, I probably cannot golf regularly, take expensive cruises many times a year, have my expensive hobbies and purchase a sports car.  I can, however, to at least one and maybe two of these-assuming they interest me and that I set my priorities.

So while I plan an upcoming missive or two on how I afford my less than free hobbies, I encourage you not to limit yourself based on preconceived ideas about others who enjoy the same sports or hobby, or finances-until you've done all the research.

And now, I'm off to spend a weekend reading a book for my book group, enjoying the hot summer weather on the patio with family and friends, possibly attending a local Irish festival, and yes, going to the quilt store to spend a hundred dollars on whatever beautiful fabric I find.

That's this weekend in retirement.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Loving My Ten Dollar Tops-The Opportunity Advantage of Frugality in Retirement.

Part of my favorite shopping center

 I have a confession.  I do not like malls. It's not that I object to shopping as such. I just find indoor malls-claustrophobic, perhaps?  I say that even as a person who lives in a place with winter. I say that even as I see the local mall where they are preparing to remodel looking to add restaurants, and even a micro brewery and a kids party zone to attract people. 

I did forget to hit Yankee Candle while I was there, sale or no sale

Fortunately, most of the places I have lived have the alternative of the outdoor mall or "shops"  I live in driving distance from the Streets at Southglenn, and in Texas I had Water's Creek and the Streets at Fairview. The closest thing to me is Aspen Grove, a three sided outdoor mall that also has a movie and a beer place and my local one of a kind bookstore. Today I had to return an item to a store, and hit the proverbial mother lode.  One of the stores I shop it was having their deep summer sale (yes, I know it's barely July!).  I ended up walking away with six items,.  All of these tops were between forty and fifty dollars a couple weeks ago, and now were ten dollars. Let's just say that had there been more tops I liked, I would have purchased them all-and in fact I may go back again! These were all clothing I would wear, and included things like a sweater and a cardigan that can be worn year around, not just summer clothing. 

Unfortunately we are having a smokey haze today from Canada, so my natural light was not the best

When I got home and got on the computer to write about my shopping and discount adventures today, I discovered that Clark's shoes have a large sale today, with two pairs of shoes being 99 dollars. Since most of their shoes retail for between $95 and $120, this is a great deal. 

Financially, I did not have to "think" about either purchase. I was able (if I chose) to purchase both of these items. In both cases the purchase was a financial opportunity I could take advantage of, and improved my bottom line and eased my clothing budget. Put simply, it's for moments like this that I don't budget normally, and that I budget for much less than I make each month.

Some time ago, I talked about my grocery budget. That budget, like everything else not within the monthly housing/utility/insurance sphere is simply an average.  Why?  Because the best way to live frugally and yet not be deprived is to be able to take advantage of deep discounts-sometimes in bulk, sometimes not. Traditional budgeting says to budget by category. Traditional budgeting also says  things like "even if it's a good deal, wait 24 hours and think it over".  While I might do that for a car, at this point in my life I know what I need. I also know good prices when I see them and am rarely fooled by false sales (probably why I rarely shop at say, Kohl's).

Because my base spending is very low, I can take advantages of sales where cashmere sweaters sell for the price of Walmart Tshirts.  Because I buy sweaters that are on sale for the price of t-shirts, I can have more clothing for less cost.  Instead of budgeting $60 a month for clothing, I allow myself to pay a couple hundred dollars for clothing on sale, and then may not buy anything for months. Just as my food budget may be $500 in one month and $150 in the next. 

In the long run, by budgeting only for those basic monthly expenses and minimal groceries, I make that pot of disposable income work for me. I end up with more things I need and want at better prices, more fluid cash, more travel and fun money and a rich life in retirement.

This doesn't mean that I don't set financial priorities by the way-for me that's different than budgeting. Those priorities are still home, family, health and travel. But because I budget tight to the bone to make room for "opportunity spending" the bottom line gets better. 

Yep, occasionally I have to add a dog picture-just because!

And it's not just about clothing. Nor, honestly is it only about needs. That fabric that was over sixty percent off I talked  about before? Had that been quilting fabric, I would have probably pulled everything I liked-and then been able to make quilts for six months. In my email today was a message from Joe's Crab Shack about "two fer" Tuesdays. Best Western has a deal where if you buy a $100 gift card, and you get a $50 one free. I have no intent to travel immediately, but when I do, I know of two very classy five star Best Westerns I will be visiting-and because I purchased two gift cards now, I'll have one free night out of three then.

And so it goes.

I suppose I should add a disclaimer here. I know what my priorities are in terms of life and spending and re-evaluate them, and I know what I have and need in terms of possessions. I can see how someone who was not in my place, might prefer to budget monthly or differently.  And I do track all my spending and take a note every few months if I feel that one area is out of whack.

It's what works for me!