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Archive for September, 2009

My Fitness Challenge

September 28th, 2009 at 04:31 pm

One part of my fitness challenge is that I've finally joined the gym. I did so in mid-August and here I am at the end of September and I have been THREE times... not three times a week as was my original plan, but just three times. The gym seems like a waste money for me at the moment, but I will try it until the end of the year and make a better effort to actually GO. Lucky for me it is only $29 a month and I can quit at any time without a penalty. The usual $100 membership fee cost me only $8 because of an August promotion.

I've also started taking a yoga class on Monday nights through a wellness program offered by my HMO. The classes are held at the HMO's hospital and I pay $85 for 8 sessions (non-members pay $160). The class is small, about 12 students and most of us are novices. The best part of my class is the instructor, Bob. He is my new role model. Why? Well, at age 78, he proves that age is just a number. Yep... 78, limber, kind, funny, and wise. This is Bob. And here I am, ~20 years younger, and I feel like what I used to think a 78 year-old should feel like.

Tonight I'll go to my third session. At the first meeting, I took a towel to use as a mat and found it did not suit the purpose mainly because it did not grip the floor. So I invested in a yoga mat and bag Target... It came to about ~$44 with tax. I haven't been to Target for a while because I was surprised when I paid with a CC, that they didn't have me sign the receipt. When I questioned it, I was told Target does not ask for a signature if the purchase is less than $50. I DO NOT like this because I think it makes it easier for a thief to use a stolen card.

So what is the challenge? I've decided that every time I go to the gym, yoga class, or walk for at least 45 minutes, I will "pay myself" $5. What will I do with this money? I am not sure... but I am leaning toward donating it to the March of Dimes or using it to sponsor my grandniece in her school's annual run-a-thon. So here is what I have so far for September:

Yoga - 3 sessions = $15
Gym - 3 sessions = $15
Walking - 6 times = $30

TOTAL: $60

Meet My New Mother-in-Law

September 26th, 2009 at 07:50 pm

Today I went to the local hardware store to buy a replacement plant for a large rubber plant that suddenly lost all its leaves. I'd had it for almost two years and it was lovely. But I also learned it was TOXIC to cats, so I was not heartbroken when it died. Fortunately, TC did not bother this one so all is well.

The replacement plant is a

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Sansevieria that cost $19.99 plus tax. It is commonly known as "Mother-in-Law's Tongue" and it has large, striking leaves. I hope it will last for years, much like one I used to keep in my office when I worked. They are easy to care for and best of all, safe for pets.

I love to decorate with flowers and plants but now that I have TC, I have to be selective. Unlike my dearly departed MC, TC has been known to chew on some of my plants and get into mischief. Orchids are one of my favorite
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cat-safe plants... the blooms last for months and I can usually purchase a nice large one for ~$20. On the other hand, when I buy fresh flowers, they only last about 5-7 days and a nice bouquet is ~$15. So plants are an economical alternative.

TC on top of the kitchen cabinets.

"I'm the only one who knows how to do it!"

September 21st, 2009 at 10:18 pm

These were the teasing words of my friend, LM, as a group of us rode to the Capitola Wine and Art Festival a few weekends ago. We were discussing retirement, a popular topic with my friends. Of the five of us on this excursion, four of us are retired. Three of the four, myself included, have continued to work part-time in our retirement. My friend, LM, is the exception and he likes to remind us he "knows how to do retirement." LM loves his leisurely lifestyle that includes playing golf three times a week, and he is fortunate to live in a 55+ community that has an 18-hole golf course among its many amenities.

On the other hand, I do not play golf nor does my dh, and although we have hobbies and interests, we also have ample time on our hands. So we chose to take part-time work, not just to keep busy but also to help the university fill a need. We will continue our jobs until mid-December of this year. Then we will begin some serious traveling that will take us far and away for months at a time. This is something we have planned and are looking forward to... new adventures exploring the big wide world.

The reality is that we Boomers are redefining what it means to be retired, and there is no set way to do it. I recently read an article,

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"The End of Retirement?" in the AARP newsletter that discusses the increasing number of seniors who continue to work in their 70s, 80s, and 90s. Many of the folks in this article are working because they must "make ends meet." But for some, working after retirement is a choice. One woman was 101 (not a typo!) and still worked part-time.

For me, a "successful" retirement means having choices and more control over my life. One of the best payoffs of 30+ years of saving and planning for retirement is that I can live comfortably without HAVING to work. But I know I can choose to work if it is a mutually beneficial situation for me and for my employer. In fact, many of the adjunct faculty at my university are retired from administration or teaching and like me, are enjoying the opportunity to keep mentally active.

So, even though dh and I will not be working (for pay) after December, I have a feeling we will be working at something once we get the travel bug out of our system. And when we feel the need to get involved in something again, we know we can find a
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volunteer job that is a good fit for us. And who knows, maybe we will even find jobs that pay.

This brings me back to the importance of planning and saving for retirement. According to the AARP article mentioned above, more than half of the baby boomers are in peril of not being able to maintain their standard of living in retirement. Rising health costs and dwindling Social Security benefits will have a negative impact. We are living longer, so retiring later will become the new reality for many. So, if like me, your goal is to retire early (or even at age 66 or 67) and be able to sustain a comfortable lifestyle, then planning, saving, and becoming debt-free will be key to attaining that goal.

Poster's Block

September 5th, 2009 at 02:09 am

I've been reflecting about my SA blog and think perhaps I don't focus enough on "financial" topics, so I haven't posted for a while. I've always had an interest in personal finance and felt that by blogging here I could learn from others and also share the experiences that led to my "financial freedom." I was able to retire at age 58 (not really "early" but 8 years ahead of full Social Security retirement for my age group).

One of my goals has been to enjoy a comfortable retirement through the careful management of my financial resources. It's hard for me to separate living my life in retirement from the psychological and philosophical role that money plays in our lives.

After years and years of planning for my future retirement, the future is here. But it doesn't mean I can't continue to learn from others or that others can't learn from me. But still, I have to remember the focus of this forum is personal finance. I guess I will continue to post, although it probably will be less frequently. However, I will continue to enjoy the SA blogs.