Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Frugality for The Rest Of Us-and Other Wednesday Thoughts in Retirement

As I write this missive, I am sitting in my favorite blue chair, by the window. It is almost ten am and I have yet to fully dress or have a real breakfast. This to me is the very best part of retirement.  While many of my days are more motivated than this, I am not a morning person and as such never do what others would consider constructive things before about ten (any earlier time is spent relaxing with breakfast, reading, doing the basic pick ups, plant watering and like that are part of morning home ownership).  While I still use the large, notebook planner mentioned here, it has only monthly pages, notes and dividers. That's as far in the process as I need to go into in retirement.  And as always, I never, ever schedule more than half a day.  This gives me the perfect balance, and allows much spontaneity and downtime daily-very, very important in my life!

Today, I have nothing scheduled until one, when I have a book/knitting group until about four (today I'll be missing the happy hour afterwards). My morning is being spent looking out that window and writing, doing a morning meditation, choosing fabrics and paints for next projects, and finding contact information for all the folks coming to my house for dinner on the 29th. All (except the fabric choices) done while sitting in my chair with nothing more than a journal and address book in hand-and lots of distractions from people walking by and my dogs chilling in the sun. tomorrow is just the opposite. Tomorrow my main project is planning a class on organization for the women in the shelter, and making a list of Denver day trips.

As I briefly mentioned also in that previous post, I've been doing some work in retirement of a different nature-and I am loving it! While I mentioned that I have decided to keep my quilting passion for me, charity and family I was not specific on what that change was.  Put simply, I hung out my virtual shingle in terms of being a virtual assistant-taking hourly work on an on call basis as I have time and energy.  Much of my work has been web research and almost all of it has been on interesting topics, sometimes for people half way around the globe. Educational, challenging, and generally done while watching "The Following" or "True Detective". Today, I am researching of all things American companies that make jerky. Specifically, non beef jerky such as ostrich, deer, and buffalo.  Who knew!!

Speaking of "True Detective", I don't care if you watch TV or not. Even if you only watch public television and the news, find a way to get this. Trust me on this one folks. Go to on demand, stream it, get it the day it's available.  The finale crashed the HBO system, and with good reason.  Woody and Matthew-gotta watch em. Again, who knew?  And the music is written by T-bone Burnett.  Need I say more? 

I've gone more deeply into the researching of my Jackson Hole trip, with a heavy emphasis on Glamping. After some thought, camping in luxury while hearing the sounds of nature and seeing the stars sounds like a darned good idea.  So instead of a five star resort, this will be my luxury trip.

I am an avid reader of my Mister Money Mustache site. I read it regularly, and while I disagree with some of his premises and absolutes (as an injured sixty year old woman I am not giving up my car to bike), overall his blog is truly inspiring even for those who don't want tor each for early retirement and independence. For that reason, I was both shocked and sorry to see that he is apparently being sued for a comment  made not by him, but by a reader in a forum.  He's received cease and desist letters delivered to his home (not public blog information, with good reason), and other threats against he and his wife. It sounds to me like this is a bunch of sabre rattling, but I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV.  I can only hope he gets the support he needs and that this is resolved.  Do not companies take into account the negative publicity in cases like these? 

My friend Bob over at Satisfying Retirement has a blog post up about reasons that retirement may be less than satisfactory that you may want to read. Personally, most of the people I know who are unsatisfied fall into number one or two on his list. Folks that are passionate about, or seriously involved in their work, often to the exclusion of anything else have the hardest time adjusting to retirement.  Many expect to have something else at the level again, and it rarely happens in retirement. My own perspective is that while it's a difficult journey, that may be for the best. Life is, after all, supposed to be about lots of different things at the same time-at least for most of us.

Finally, (and just a bit of a rant on my part here) part of my web research has been looking for frugal tips for a client to write and article. As I do so, I'm amazed at how unrealistic and glib some of the mainstream "frugal media" seem. I'm talking about the "latte, eating out, buying books, having cable, adjusting the temperature" factor.  First, because these are easy targets. While there are those who overspend by doing all those things in excess, there are also people who do none of those things, or who do some of them (eating out at lunch, say) on rare occasions and when common sense dictates. Frugality, expense cutting, whatever you want to call it, is a serious of judgements and decisions-and frankly requires an evaluation of little expenses like the ones above as well as larger lifestyle choices.

My second objection is because there is a group of people out there, who have done all those things and would still like to look for ways to adjust expenses-and find no help in these kind of articles. Sometimes they are looking for short term lifestyle cuts (taking that cruise without increasing this years withdrawal amount for example). Sometimes it's a longer thing. Either way, at this level that can require more creativity.

I've mentioned before that when I first entered retirement I read piles of so called frugality and retirement books.  The retirement books were mainly about investing. The frugality books mainly had the advice mentioned above-cook from scratch, use the library, no lattes.  Those books were also heavy on children related frugality.  There is one book that remains on my shelf and that is the Tightwad Gazette. Is it dated on occasion? You bet.  Is it heavy on articles related to raising kids? Sometimes-although many of those articles relate to  subjects at lartge.  Most importantly though, it presents creative out of the box solutions for daily living that allow a person to have a rich life-an any stage.  In my opinion, it's that kind of thinking (and attitude) that makes life more rich and rewarding.

 Recently I've stepped out of the box more in a couple areas-for fun more than money, and I'll be sharing things soon. And now, I'm off to have my version of a Latte (not chocolate) while knitting and discussing books.  A rewarding afternoon if I do say so!


  1. Amy's bible on frugality, Your Money or Your Life, stopped my urge to overspend almost overnight back in the 80's. I still apply the principals I learned in that book today, though mainly to keep the little things in check within our budget in order to allow the things that really give us pleasure (travel, entertainment, hobbies) to continue unheeded.

    After reading your post, I went over to the MMM post to catch up on what was going on. It appears he has it fairly well in hand, and it may end up getting him increased notice by the public at large, which would be terrific . . . and ironic!

    Just as with anything, there is generally something to take away even if we choose not to take it all. MMM's website is like that for me. I can appreciate and learn without necessarily looking to emulate his lifestyle in its entirety.

    I find your blogs, and the others I follow to be of same. I can appreciate your unique lifestyle, and enjoy reading of the joy it obviously gives you, without needed to copy it 100%. Hopefully others feel the same about my blog as well - they take what resonates and leave behind what doesn't.

    As they say, "haters gonna' hate" and the best revenge is simply living happy, well and content. :-)

  2. I agree. The only reason I mention the bike issue is that is one of his absolutes. EVERYONE should get rid of their car, lol.

  3. I learn a lot from ALL the retirement blogs I've been reading this past 2 years..and now that we've finally DONE THE DEED and turned over the business to a nice young family.. we're putting into play our own unique ideas and dreams along with inspiration from all the bloggers.

    I've gotten inspiration to be MORE physically active from Tamara, Linda showed me a way to access a BUNCH of online courses ,Bob has provided a curriculum of posts which I re-read often,many tips on many topics.. Barb, in this blog, reminds me that time spent relaxing and gazing out the window to watch the birds at the bird feeder is not being lazy. MMM is a bit much for me, we are not savvy investors and we do enjoy having a car also! But I still get a lot of encouragement and enthusiasm for being more frugal,from his site. Barb ,Tamara, Bob, all have me dreaming of road trips and mountain climbing! It's a wonderful community and I appreciate all of you!

  4. I sooo enjoyed this post ( and blog) ! I am tired of these "experts,do gooders whatever" assuming and talking down to people.Of course there are still people running out of money before month BUT there are an awful lot of people doing everything they know how and still very close to the edge.It's nice to read practical simple ideas maybe that we haven't thought of or a creative way of handling life's little lemons.What has become common place like lay offs, downsizing,pensions evaporating,health care skyrocketing etc can be new to someone along life's path.Yes we should plan yes we should be prepared BUT sometimes dispite people's best efforts Bad things happen to good people.Everytime someone shares a trick they have learned or a way to handle something in just a manner of fact way we ALL benefit.Thank you bloggers for your generosity! keep up the good work and unique perspectives.

  5. Barb, I'm with you on the slow mornings. People used to ask what I would do in retirement? My response was those things I used to do before 8am & after 5pm, I would do between 8am & 5pm. Truth be told, I find I'm doing them between 10 & 5 unless there's something scheduled. It works for me. I concur with the other readers - there's something to be learned from all the bloggers out there. Time and money management is necessary whether employed or not. And just like the budget for building a new house, there's so much money to spend and more will be spent in some areas than others, depending upon priorities.

  6. While I am loving my position at the church and thanking God it is only part time/temporary, I will be glad when it is over. I miss my morning walks, getting all my household tasks done in the morning, and doing crafts in the afternoon. Who says retirement is tough on a budget..... Not me.

    We have one more big trip planned and then I think we will be back to shorter weekend/week trips. Harvey is even talking about buying a new camper, he misses the one we sold.

    God bless.

  7. I'm with you. Mornings are for writing and reflecting. Afternoons are for activity -- errands, volunteering, socializing. Evenings are for entertainment. Hmm, haven't seen True Detective. Have to check it out. Thanks!

  8. I love your blog. This is a cool site and I wanted to post a little note to tell you, good job! Best wishes!!!

  9. Barb, you lead such a nicely balanced life. You do what you want when you want. isn't that the goal we all have for a satisfying retirement?

    I couldn't agree more about the overly generic tips for cutting expenses. Usually they are banal and too obvious and clichéd to be of much help. I am beginning to think that there is only an individual path to better management of our financial resources, and that it must come from each of us after a thoughtful analysis of our own life. No one else can really tell us where to cut and economize because they don't know what is important to us or how we choose to live.

    Thanks so much for the post mention. Many folks probably stumble over the same #1 and #2 issues. The good news? They are fixable!


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