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Archive for December, 2009

Three Weeks Have Whizzed By

December 30th, 2009 at 02:32 pm


December is almost over and what a busy month it's been. I've enjoyed reading the SA blogs I follow and posting to my travel blog, but I don't have much "financial" news to write about. We did come in under budget on our recent trip, so that's good news. In the near future, I will be reviewing my 2009 goals and developing new ones for 2010.

After our trip through the Panama Canal, we returned to CA for only one day. Then we hit the road for the 12-hour drive to ID with TC. I did not want to leave her alone for another 2-3 weeks after she'd been cared for by our cat sitter for almost two weeks. She did remarkably well in the car and has adjusted beautifully to our ID home.

We are currently in ID... we enjoyed a quiet Christmas dinner with our DDs and SILs. There was some snow on the ground when we arrived, but we have had fairly good weather. Last night a storm came in and left ~3 inches of snow. This morning, dh went out to shovel the walkway (and also the neighbor's), more for the exercise than because it needed to be done.

I am still trying to get over a cold that started on my last day in Acapulco, so I am taking it easy and just enjoying some quiet time reading and relaxing.

Happy New Year!

This Time It's Real!

December 5th, 2009 at 09:18 am


The day after I retired in August 2008, I took a part-time job at a local university supervising student teachers. Then my dh decided to retire in July 2009 from the same university. But he went back to work full-time for the Fall 2009 semester under a program allowing retired faculty to work 50% for up to five years.

My part-time work brought me full-circle... I began my career as a teacher and I ended it as a teacher. In between, I spent more than 15 years as an administrator but teaching has always been my passion. The most enjoyable aspect of my "retirement job" was working with my students, a dedicated and passionate group eager to begin their teaching careers. And while the job helped me transition from intense full-time work to retirement, it also prevented me from doing some things I really want to do.

So, when my dh decided to opt-out after just one year in his post-retirement program, it was my cue to bow out too. Now it's official... as of yesterday, we both are completely work-free and 100% retired. Our goal is to take time for some serious traveling so we can decompress, regroup, and reflect about what we want to do for the next 20 years or more.

So now we are free to travel the world without the encumbrance of jobs, and we have made plans. At various times in the next year we will be somewhere else: Panama, New York, Peru, Mexico, Hawaii, Bryce Canyon, Brazil, the Amazon... and maybe other places not yet dreamed of. So far, 120 days are scheduled. Some trips will be on our own, some will be cruises, and the Peru trip will be with Exploritas, a travel program formerly known as Elderhostel. We are also looking into a volunteer trip to Latin America through Habitat for Humanity, if the dates work around other commitments.

Some people don't like to travel at all, but it's always appealed to us on many levels. We learn about other cultures and people, and in the process we learn more about ourselves. And, although it's the perfect escape for some people, we're not the types to spend all our time sipping margaritas under a palapa on a beautiful beach somewhere. Well, maybe I could handle it for a day or two, but that hedonistic life would eventually get old. We especially want to see places that are UNESCO World Heritage sites.

So how will we pay for all of this, especially now that we're retired? We didn't hit the lottery or inherit money. Travel in retirement is NOT as difficult as one might think... it's about choices, planning, saving, and of course, dreaming. We've gotten into the habit of saving something every month, plus any extra money that comes our way in our travel savings, so our 2010 trips are fully funded and then some. Our frugal lifestyle helps... we live comfortably, but below our means and saving is easier because we are debt free (except for a small mortgage).

To keep in touch with family and friends, I've started a blog that focuses on different aspects of travel, including some money-related topics. I'm encouraging dh to blog along with me, and he seems open to the idea. If you're interested in reading our travel blog or if you'd like to write a guest post about one of your trips, share photos or travel tips, please visit Sage Travelers. My last post was about the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain.

We Were Poor But Didn't Know It

December 3rd, 2009 at 09:39 am


The other day I was visiting my 93-year-old friend who loves to reminisce about her youth. My DF said she didn't realize how poor her family was until she was in about third grade. That's when some classmates started teasing about her threadbare, hand-me-down dresses. A lot of folks were poor back then, but it seems that with a large family, they were very poor. Her simple lunches consisted of rice with a few vegetables and sometimes a hard-cooked egg and a piece of fruit, taken to school in a little tin pail... an actual pail, not an insulated lunchbox.

Her mother prepared nutritious but economical meals that my DF loves to this day. Of course, now she knows the ingredients were more affordable for her family back then: rice, beans, oatmeal, potatoes, fruits and vegetables grown in the backyard garden, and bread baked at home. They ate a lot of soups, stews, and casseroles. Meat was a luxury and they ate very little of it.

My DF shared that her parents taught her to take care of her belongings and appreciate what she had, not covet what others had. And, in the midst of the Great Depression, they had very little. In the evenings, her parents read to their children, played cards, or the family listened to the radio. They seemed to focus on spending time together and enjoying being together as a family. All the kids had chores and if the older ones worked, they contributed most of their earnings to the family coffers.

I admire that my DF's parents raised their children to feel happy and positive about their lives, even though they were poor. While it's good parenting to educate children about money, it should not be done in a way that makes them anxious about "being poor." After all, a child is powerless to impact the family's finances. Kids thrive when they feel loved and safe, and it does not cost to provide these things. My DF is a prime example... not only did she thrive, she is a resilient and remarkable lady.

Great, Easy Christmas Gifts

December 1st, 2009 at 06:44 am

This is probably one of the easiest years for my Christmas shopping. By mutual agreement, adult family that we exchange with wanted an honorary donation to their favorite charity in lieu of a gift. So, early this morning I made donations to:

~ Habitat for Humanity
~ Second Harvest Food Bank
~ Heifer International
~ Susan Koman for the Cure

Not only are we helping others, we can deduct these donations on our taxes. And because I used my CC, it will generate miles. These charges will be paid in full when the bill comes, so we are not creating debt.

The only exceptions are my grandniece (10) and grandnephews (6 and 11 months). I completed their shopping a few weeks ago, but it was easy to buy just for three. I do give gifts to the lady who cleans our house and my pet sitter, but their gifts are easy, too: a large box of Sees candy and money (a nice tip). So, yipee... I am done and it is only December 1!!