Livin' & Learnin'

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Together Again

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I can’t tell you I’ve been on an extended vacation. I wasn’t.

I can’t tell you that I’ve been unable to contribute to this blog. I was able, but didn’t.

I can’t tell you that any other external reason kept me from posting. What I can say is that I didn’t know where I was going with this blog, or with life. There are too many choices and, with more years behind me than ahead, some tough choices had to be made.

Living frugally my entire life has helped us get to this point. We always lived within our means. We avoided debt. We have been happy with older cars. It all adds up to being financially secure in retirement.

It took some time for our income to stabilize now that the regular paychecks are gone. Being frugal eased our way through that time and I focused on those topics here. While I will always practice frugality, I don’t want to make it the centerpiece.

My goal from this point is to chronicle my journey to the best retirement years I can imagine. I have to learn some new skills. I have to leave my comfort zone. I have to be bold and grab what I want or the years will simply pass by and I’ll be in the same place as I am now. Nothing would be more disappointing.

This blog will continue to be my outlet for things learned, for celebrating successes, and for the teachable moments that only come from failure

Where Did I Put That List?

Not interested in lists? I understand. I really do.

I like lists. I use lists. They keep me on track.

to-do-list-749304_1280

One list I make every year is my holiday gift list. I have everyone that I plan on giving a gift listed and then I list what the gift will be. It’s not written in stone but, when I think of something good for someone, I jot it down on my list. I’m never stuck at the last-minute with the “What do I get so-and-so?” question. It also prevents good ideas from slipping away. They do that more often now.

I make many of the gifts I give and I’ve done that for decades. This takes time and I start early. My list helps me shop for supplies that I will need to complete projects efficiently and economically. I know what I’ll need so I wait for sales, I use discount coupons, and I shop carefully. Using my list faithfully helps me gather everything together so, when I start to make the item, I don’t have to stop because I’m short on one supply or another. I keep projects in zip storage bags. Everything I need is in the bag including any patterns or instructions, notions, fabrics, etc. As I acquire a needed component, I add it to the bag.

Because of my list, I’m nearly done with shopping for this year. I’ll pick up a few things along the way, but the big purchases are mostly done.

Making my list and getting started on holiday shopping early is key to a smooth season. Having my list saves my money and my sanity.

Cleaning Up for Fall

I hope I’m not alone in this, but I don’t like housework. The only good chore is one that is done.

Getting things done isn’t that simple for me. It’s entirely too easy to be distracted from household tasks. I can start something and stop before I’m finished because something else is more interesting. Watching the grass grow or the paint dry is particularly alluring.

We associate Spring with cleaning. Why? My house needs cleaning more than once a year so I like to do a fall cleaning, too. It’s too warm in the house over the summer to do any heavy work, even with the AC on. I don’t turn the temp down enough to allow for deep cleaning because I don’t want a power bill the size of the mortgage. In the fall, it’s naturally a good temperature in the house for heavy work.

fall

So, let’s get started on a good Fall cleaning.

This site has a list of chores and blank check-lists to download

We Are In Good Company

I think frugality drives innovation, just like other constraints do. One of the only ways to get out of a tight box is to invent your way out
–Jeff Bezo–

Frugality is founded on the principal that all riches have limits.
–Edmund Burke–

Without frugality none can be rich, and with it very few would be poor.
–Samuel Johnson–

“There is no dignity quite so impressive, and no independence quite so important, as living within your means.”
—Calvin Coolidge–

“The way to wealth is as plain as the way to market. It depends chiefly on two words, industry and frugality: that is, waste neither time nor money, but make the best use of both. Without industry and frugality nothing will do, and with them everything.”
― Benjamin Franklin —

“He who will not economize will have to agonize”
―Confucius–

Ridiculousness

Sometimes I engage in sarcasm. It may not be my best trait but, in all honesty, I just can’t help it.

Geese

I found a blog with a long list of tips to help live a frugal life. There’s nothing new under the sun, so there really wasn’t anything that most of us aren’t doing already. What struck me about the list was the inclusion of things that made me say: “Well, duh.” For example, one of the tips was to shop for things when they are on sale. Do we really have to be told that?

One suggestion was to turn your car off while waiting at a stop light. What could go wrong there? According to an article at Car and Driver, you will only save if it is a long stop and not the typical short period at a stop light. Also, the wear and tear may outweigh any of the savings of this practice. Let’s not even contemplate the scenario if the car doesn’t start again. Let the honking begin.

Another tip had me shaking my head and that was to use candles to warm up a room. Really? How many would you need in a room to actually change the temperature? Let’s not even consider the hazards that are associated with open flames. Don’t get me wrong. I like candles, but I think that their main purpose is ambiance. If this interests you, there is a way. Over at Lifehacker there is a tutorial that shows how to use candles and terra cotta pots to create a mini space heater. These tiny details were left out of the original frugal hint. I guess it wasn’t deemed important.

Other ideas offended different sensibilities. I bristle at the suggestions that border on unethical, such as replacing a meal with the free samples at the warehouse or grocery store. How many samples would you be comfortable in taking? Do you take the kids? If there is a large variety of samples that day, maybe you could call it lunch.I usually pass them by but, if I decide to try something, one is the limit. I just know that if I take more than one, a booming voice will come over the loud speaker, “LIMIT ONE ON FREE SAMPLES.”

 

Write! Write! Write Some More!

Writer’s Cafe, part of the Kindle boards sponsored by Amazon, is an inspiring place. It’s populated by all sorts of writers who share their experiences in the self-publishing world. What is amazing is that so many people, who may have never had the opportunity to get their books published, are now earning from their work.

I’ve spent most of my working life in the business world. I’ve managed businesses and run one of our own. What we learned from having our own service business is that you are most certainly married to your business. It is your life. What I don’t want in retirement is that commitment. The way we earn now has to be much more flexible. I’m a little jaded, perhaps.

What I want now is to be free to associate only with the people I choose. For the most part, that doesn’t include anyone who might be a customer of a traditional business. Don’t get me wrong; most people are OK. It only takes one idiot to ruin the whole day.

I don’t know how many times I expressed my hatred for our business. It usually wasn’t about our regular customers.  It was more often  the occasional person who needed our help and then was critical of what we did. It seemed the more we jumped through hoops, the more dissatisfied they were. There’s just no pleasing some people. I no longer think that the customer is always right. I think modern businesses coddle customers and that policy is a disservice to us all.

books

To get back to Writer’s Cafe. If you browse through the posts, you’ll find authors of all kinds there. Of particular interest are the threads about earnings. While most people there don’t tell exactly what their income is, they do leave hints.

The authors who admit that they are living off their sales are worth reading. What they will tell you is to write, write well, and promote what you’ve written. Rinse and repeat. No secrets. This is likely true in any endeavor.

There are nuances, of course. What you write has an effect because certain genres are more popular than others. That’s not surprising. A scan of the shelves in the nearest bookstore will tell that story. Overall, though, it’s a viable way to earn a full or part-time living. It also provides a source of passive income. Write a book and sell it forever. Sweet.

Does everyone have a book in them? Maybe. It costs nearly nothing to try. Once the book is finished, then there might be some costs for editing, cover design or advertising, but not in the beginning. There’s little to stop you from starting that book that is begging to be born.

Orchids and Other Stuff

When you no longer have a job, it is tough to find a reason to get up every morning. What is it about work that defines us and why is it so difficult to replace that purpose? Enter the hobby.

Orchids

I bought Orchids for Dummies nearly 10 years ago with the thought of giving orchids a try. A couple of years ago, we bought our first orchid. We now have several and we would buy more if space allowed. Contrary to common belief, they aren’t difficult to grow. Like all plants, they have their preferences for water and light and, if you get those right, they do very well.

orchids2

Growing orchids, or any other type of plant, is a hobby worth pursuing. So is woodworking, crocheting, building model airplanes or dozens of other pursuits. I truly believe that the quality of your life is improved by having hobbies.

Orchid

Now in retirement, our hobbies are particularly important. It provides a bit of incentive to get out of bed each day.

Check these links for some really good hobby ideas:
A Huge list of Hobbies
A Massive List of Hobbies

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