Sunday, January 1, 2017

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

Happy New Year to all. I hope that your New Year's eve was lovely, even if you spent it as I did watching football (not a lot of drama this year), having appetizers for dinner, and going to bed before midnight. All after driving college student's truck home from Dallas. Today I expect to be an equally lazy day.

As everyone knows, nearly every blogger in sight will have lists of goals and plans for the coming year in the next week-and I am no exception.  Because I am a frugal blogger who does many things on not much money, things like annual financial planning are important, even though I am not a "budget" type of gal.

This year however, things are going to be a little different. Rather than list every single thing I want to do or accominplish this year, I've decided to set a few general goals and take life from there. During my two weeks in the Red state, I did some planning and some numbers crunching, as well as some goal setting in between TV, holidays, dinner and the movies. My daughter and son and law allowed me to do almost nothing while I was there, so I had copious amounts of "down time".

After some thought, and of course, not knowing what the coming year will bring exactly (do we ever?), I have decided that the areas I will concentrate on in retirement for this year are family/home, Outreach and community, personal enrichment (an umbrella for travel, taking classes, lord knows what else, this is a big umbrella) and financial issues.  These are broad . I mean, you could come up with twenty smaller categories, but it's not my style.

And since I don't want to have too many goals and we have twelve months, I'm giving myself 12 challenges. While I'm not going to do one goal a month, I figure twelve is a good number. So without further ado this New Year's day:

  1. Make my health a number one priority. Regular readers know that in the last year I have lowered my blood sugar (A1C fasting) down from the six point something range to 5.8 with diet and exercise, and have lost weight. However, this was mainly done casually. By this I mean I might say to myself that I didnt walk today so I need to go out and walk. I am a complete unscheduler in retirement, so the how of this one is still working. I need to make time for daily exercise even on the days I cannot walk, use my trusty fitbit whenever I am not in the water, and seriously track my food. Equally importantly, I need to work on ways to sleep through the pain better and pamper myself with the occasional massage, pedicure and the like.  This, as many of the others is a really broad goal and I'll be breaking it down, sharing, and asking for advice from my readers as always.
  2. Find ways to help my kids including financially, even as a blogger who is on a fixed income. I have two offspring who are pursuing graduate degrees, doing unpaid internships and working when they can.  While I am not in the position to give them large chunks of money, I am in the position to help them other ways. Moral support, making things, sending food and sharing, and (coupon queen and cheapskate as I am), sending them various gift cards for food and other things as I make them. I want to be more agressive with this, since this spring will be the hardest semester for both in every way.
  3. Research and evaluate my living situation and options for the long term. Regular readers also know that since 2006 when I left Germany (after my husband's death) I have lived in Germany and then downsized and moved to Denver. This was absolutely the best decision I could have made, but the agreement was for three years. So I (we) need to decide if and how long to continue the current situation. It could be in the long term I will need another, last option and/or look at snowbirding. One of my kids lives in Texas and the other will leave Colorado post grad. My initial thought is to snowbird from just after the holidays until May beginning next year.  This goal (as many of the others) requires more explanation and I will talk about that more later.
  4. Explore financial options to expand my financial base and possibly invest. I do not have a 401K or IRA. I have a pension and my social security-which are more than sufficient for my needs now. But, I don't have large, long term savings (a pot of money if you will), and want to explore ways to get that.This is not a requirement (I live well on what I have now), but something I've had in the back of my mind for awhile. I'll definitely be calling on my financially savvy blogger friends and subscribers for lots of help as I consider if it even makes sense to begin investing at 65.
  5. Refocus, streamline and elminiate some of my outreach works. Right now I volunteer at a homeless shelter, provide food at my church once a week at our weekly worship and fun activity night, am taking a major four year course in the history and cultural basis of the bible, sew and knit for charity and have just begun an immigration and sanctuary ministry. I do not begrudge any of these. I just feel that I need to streamline my time, concentrate on one or maybe two things and narrow that focus. Again, more to come, but I'll probably be giving up that class that is four hours a week and has six hours of homework weekly to begin with.
  6. Bring the focus of this blog back to frugal retirement and add women's and single issues. Obviously I'll write about other things, but this blog began as a discussion of living richly in retirement on a fixed income. And since so many of my followers are women (many single, some elder orphan types), I do think this is important. I will also be starting a Living Richly in Retirement Facebook group open to all in the next month or so, in addition to much more social media.
  7. Try to write every single day, even if it is only a letter.  Write for the blog, write a memoir, write recipe pages for family, perhaps write a book. Been talking about all of these for at least six months and have not gotten anywhere at all-not because I really don't want to (before someone suggests that as my reason for avoidance), but rather because I just have not sat down. I'm not going to say what I'll write every day, just that I write.
  8. Sew and craft and create just for me-and my family. When I want to and when I feel like it. I've done much sewing and knitting for charity and sewing to sell. I won't say that will stop as such. Rather, I'm just going to sit down and make things when I feel like it, as I feel like it. When I'm finished I may keep it, give it away or sell it-who knows. But the making will be when the mood strikes and what I feel like making as opposed to what I need to make. No deadlines this year folks- for much of anything. None.
  9. Bring frugal retirement travel back to the forefront of my retirement. You all know that I used to travel much, and have done less since arriving in Colorado. It was the right thing to do, since I feel spending intensive time with church and new friends and orienting made my adjustment to a new place so much easier. I'm now ready to go out again, starting with a train trip to the east coast.
  10. Allow myself to say yes. And occasionally no. Most of these goals have to do with lifestyle changes rather than "doing". The goal is to streamline, streamline, streamline in the short term to allow myself to be more spontaneus and say yes in the long term.  I don't want to volunteer less as such, I just want to change how I do it this year (as an example). Rather than committing to so many hours per week. I want to be the girl who says yes when there is a last minute cancellation at the shelter, yes when someone invites me to lunch, and even yes to sitting down and sewing for day and ignoring all else or putting my feet up and reading a book from start to finish. Retirement is, or should be about relaxation and spontaneity (at least for me).
  11. Unplug at least one full day a week, other than phone calls. I add that last because I don't have a land line. I actually don't think this will be on Sunday although I try to honor Sunday, because that is the day my children are both off from school and jobs and we text. This will be hard, but it will need to be  done.
  12. Finally, I am promising myself that I will not be silent in the face of what the future brings. This is not a political statement as such, rather a personal promise. I will be tactful and appreciate that others have different views. But I will not be silent about racism, sexism, the issues of gay and transgendered rights, womens health or reproductive rights, immigration or any of the other issues I expect to come into play even more in the new year, unfortunately. Am I going to stand on the corner screaming?  Heck no.  Will this blog become political?  Of course not as such, but if the new year goes as I expect politically, you will absolutely here me commenting here about racism, hate crimes, the dumbing down of Washington and more.  As always I will be tactful and appreciate other's comments.  However, as I commented to someone today, changes and protest begin at the local level and move up the chain, not the other way around.
And there you have it this new year's day. A few goals to head into January with. For now, I'm off to unpack that car after a two week road trip, put my feet up and watch more football,  and in general do as little as possible today. Happy 2017 to all.

14 comments:

  1. I love your frugal travel posts. As I too move forward into retirement, frugal traveling becomes all the more important.
    Thanks for sharing your tips and ideas.

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  2. I'd like to see if, when and how you snowbird on a budget, since that's what we're thinking of doing. (For New Year's we went to see Manchester by the Sea, then to bed at 11 p.m.)

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    1. Tom, I was actually still awake, but in my jammies and in bed. right now I am looking at a place in south Texas, and the fees look very reasonable for a park model type place (not ready to do more yet(, but it doesnt share the utility costs and the price shown is from oct to april and I want jan to may. The search continues.

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  5. Hi Barbara,I am looking forward to read your no 11 goal,others as well. I have noticed that I started to read really boring stuff, since I use my mobile phone for the Internet. I am planning to unplug for social media and only keep in touch with my close family members on weekend.Congratulation for doing well with your blood sugar. So far I haven't done my goals for this year. Soon I will start.Happy 2017 to you and your family. Saffron - Australia

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    1. well, no one says you HAVE to make goals. I have many years I have not or done them haphazardly, ya know?

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  6. This is a solid list and indicates much thought. I'm with you on so many of the items and look forward, as always, to your blog posts. Thanks!

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  7. Hi Barbara, I just discovered your blog and find it wonderful. I am semi-retired (55, work part-time) and sometimes thinking of full time retirement scares me; I don't know why exactly. It's like work is a lifeline I cling to in order to provide structure in my life. I'm never bored but sometimes I find myself sort of drifting and not getting things done, just spinning my wheels. I love your resolutions, especially number 1, 4 (you should definitely invest at age 65!), 7, 11, and 12. I want to do something about 12 as well, but I haven't decided on what level yet. I don't see how you describe yourself as low-energy!!

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