Saving and Investing for Old Age

Saving and investing are fairly ancient concepts that have more modern implications for us today.  The idea of saving for the future has been around, at least since Biblical times.  It was perhaps not the saving of money, but the saving of food that people focused on for millennia.  They were saving so that the next year they knew that they’d have seed to plant more land and have food for the following year.  It was for the purpose of being sure that they’d be prepared and be able to eat in the coming year.

These days, most people do not live in that manner.  They tend to live from one check to another without thought of the future.  There are still some rural citizens that practice seed saving and plant crops to ensure that they’ll have food for the following year, but most citizens in modern times tend to work to earn money, then trade money for food.  Much can be said about the stability or instability of each system, but suffice it to say, it is wise to save money for the future.  It may be difficult to practice, but if you do not practice it, your future could be much more difficult.

Saving is difficult for many.  Saving with the purpose of investing is a little more exciting.  If you save money and have the vision for investing, you have hope that it will grow over time.  When I speak about investing I’m talking about decisions that will directly increase your income.  In modern America, many people use the term “investing” to talk about buying a home that you plan to live in or purchasing a newer vehicle.  They say that it would be a good “investment”.  But the term investing should be saved for things that you put your money toward which will make money for you, particularly if you do not have to be spending lots of your time managing it.  An example would be investing in a home that does not need loads of work, renting it out and allowing a reputable management company to take care of the daily maintenance needs and renters communication.

Finding money to save and then invest can be difficult, and if you’re already very strapped financially, saving money might not be an option, you may have to increase your income first.  But, if you’re like many Americans, there is normally a little bit of discretionary money available work with.  If you re-prioritize the money you have, you may be able to find extra dollars that you can save, and in turn, invest so that you’ll have more to put into a retirement account.

Evaluate entertainment first.  Most of us have a bit of entertainment money set aside.  Sometimes we get talked into deals that are above what we’d like to spend if we had time to really think through the decision.  Take the time to make some calls and find out how you can reduce your spending on entertainment.  If you have an internet connection, there are many free or cheap options for watching TV or movies without spending a fortune through a network company.

Think about insurance.  Most Americans are over-insured.  Over the years they may add insurances without evaluating whether its’ the best deal for them.  Take time to go through what it is you want and need and then call around to ask for quotes.  Getting the best rates and being sure that you’re not doubled up on coverage might take a few hours, but could save you big money in the end.

Use all your food.  There are quotes out there that accuse Americans of throwing out 40-60% of the food that they buy and take home.  Either they throw out leftovers or they don’t get around to cooking the food in the first place.  This is obviously not the case for everyone, but each of us has room for improvement.  Would you walk out of the market and throw half of the grocery bags that you just bought into the trash can?  If not, then spend some time researching how you can reduce your grocery bills.  Take that money and put it into a savings account that you’ll eventually invest.

Consolidate trips.  Gasoline prices fluctuate, and while they’re not terrible at the moment, it is good practice to consider which errands you can run with others in order to save time and money!

These are just a few ideas to jump start the brainstorming process.  Saving have never been, nor will it ever be easy.  You’ll have to find unique solutions that fit your own situation.  If you’re serious about it, however, you can do it.  As you save think about how you can grow the money and invest it so that your golden years will be spent on things that you’d like to do!

Save Money While Living on Social Security

  Many people wonder how they will make it living on Social Security benefits that they’ve earned while working throughout their lifetime.  While the little bit of extra is nice, it is not usually sufficient to support you at the same lifestyle level you were used to before retirement.   It requires a great deal of ingenuity to live on this income, especially if you do not have pension benefits or a large retirement savings in place.  Both pensions and retirement savings are becoming increasingly rare in our new gig economy, so this particular problem will likely get worse over time.  If you find yourself in this boat, of having to rely on Social Security for most of your income, read on for a few helpful tips on survival.

 

  1. Be sure your health is covered first.  Whether this means that you need to go on Medicare or another type of insurance, be sure that you have a plan to meet your health care needs.  It is impossible to predict what types of things might ail you in the next 20-40 years, and it is very harmful to not have a plan in place.  Figure something out, even if it’s not as good as the insurance that you had while working, something is better than nothing.  If you are struggling with this, talk with Medicare advisors, insurance agents & your friends and family for ideas.  Figure something out BEFORE you need it so that your anxiety levels are not high.
  2. Speaking of health, look into all prevention measures you can take to stay healthy.  Handwashing, exercise, nutrition & sunlight are a few basic preventative measures to start with.  Once you have those in place, add things like humidity if you live in a dry area, immune boosting activities and/or supplements like echinacea, elderberry syrup, etc.  Increase your intake of antioxidants like Vitamin C.  Take a probiotic.  Laugh as often as possible.  Prevention will likely save you a ton in health care costs.  A bag of salt for your sidewalk when it’s icy is far cheaper than hip surgery, for instance!
  3. Your home. If you spend quite a bit on heating or cooling your home, look into ways that you could reduce that expense.  Add draft stoppers under doors and windowsills, have someone check outlets to see if they are insulated against cold/hot air entry.  Consider closing off certain rooms or areas of the house when it is frigid or sweltering outside.  Practice heating or cooling yourself first.  Add a layer or two of clothing if you’re a bit chilly, or use a heating pad.  Put a cool towel on the back of your neck if you feel hot.  It’s far easier to heat and cool ourselves than to heat & cool an entire home, and more cost efficient!
  4. Your vehicle. Be sure your vehicle has updated oil changes.  Also make sure that the tires are inflated to the recommended PSI.  Both of these are incredibly easy, but can greatly decrease your gas mileage.  Also, consider consolidating trips or carpooling with several people in order to stretch your vehicle expenses.  Perhaps this seems extreme, especially if you are not used to coordinating with others for these types of things, but it is incredibly helpful & environmentally conscious to boot!
  5. You may have to re-think your recreational activities.  If you are used to going out to eat or a movie in your free time, you might start to consider getting together with friends for a potluck instead.  There are plenty of things that you can do that are helpful to others while also being a time of socializing.  Volunteer at a food shelf or charity shoppe alongside other friends.  You’ll have loads of time to talk while helping others.

There are tons of other ideas out there on frugal websites and in books.  Evaluate your food intake and how you cook.  Evaluate what you spend on clothing.  Evaluate every cent you spend.  You will come up with creative ideas to combat the smaller income you are receiving.  Most of all, reduce your expectations of what your life will look like.  A good life is still possible with a smaller income!

Low Energy and Passive Income Ideas for the Elderly

 

Everyone thinks that by the time Americans are retired, they should have plenty of money to live on from day to day & have living expenses all figured out.  This is becoming increasingly untrue as we watch Social Security ages rising.  Many people wonder how they will make ends meet, even with Social Security payments coming to them.  So, if you find yourself among those who are wondering what you can do to fix this problem without maintaining a 9-5 that you can no longer physically handle, read on!  Find ways that do not require long hours of physical labor, & in some cases, once you've set up a system you may not have to work on that project anymore, you'll just get paid for it!

 

  1. If you have a nice camera (or even a phone that takes nice photos) you can sign up to contribute to stock photo companies and get paid for your work. Continue to upload to your portfolio.  When people are buying your photos, you are getting paid!
  2. Storage Units. If you have a bit of capital up front, you can buy these units, then rent them out & rake in the dough.  Of course, it will require a little work...you'll have to take some calls & probably go and open up the unit for the customer initially, as well as checking on things from time to time.  Another potential income from the storage units would come from the unit owners who can not pay their bills, then you can hold an auction for the items inside.
  3. Rental Property. This also requires capital up front.  You'll need to hire someone to get everything up to code & you'll want to do a thorough check on anyone moving in to be sure that they will not destroy the place, but once you have a renter inside, you can put your feet up & accept the monthly payments that will benefit your bank account!
  4. Vending machines. There are some that require more maintenance than others. Some of the smallest, with the least amount of maintenance are spirit machines which go into high schools and sell sticker & other items with school mascots and colors.  Usually the schools that you place them into get a bit of a percentage of sales as an incentive for having them in the school.
  5. Check with a local florist to see if they have openings for those who are good at floral arrangements.  Sometimes they have need of extra help during holidays & wedding seasons.
  6. Tour guide. Sign up as a tour guide for a museum, park or national monument. Generally these jobs are seasonal & not physically demanding.
  7. If you have special skills that you've developed over time, consider offering your knowledge on subjects to those who are just starting off.  Everything from accounting, sewing, small engine repair to advertising can be marketed for consultation without you having to go back to full time, daily grind work!

Be creative!  Think outside the box.  If you've taken an interest in watercolor, see if you can sell it online or in a local gallery.  Do things that you enjoy & see where it leads you.  For possibly the first time in your life, you have time to sit and observe & think about what might work.  Take advantage of that time & make the most of your golden years to have fun while making money!

Age & Sleeplessness

Have you noticed that as you age, genuine, deep sleep is more & more difficult to attain?  Many people blame this sleeplessness on the aging process, but is it right to do so?  There are also, certainly, many older persons who can sleep well through the night.  So what steps can we take to try to have a good night's rest?

First, ensure that you have been active enough during the day.  As we age and go into retirement or stop working a regular job, it oftentimes gets harder to sleep at night, but not because of any health concerns.  Rather it is because enough energy has not be expended during the day to make us sufficiently tired at night.  Though our minds may refute this argument, the truth is, our bodies NEED certain levels of work or activity throughout the day in order to rest properly at night.  If they do not have that level of activity, they also do not recognize the need for rest.  Try your best to raise your activity level during the day, finding work that's appropriate for you and your abilities at this stage of your life.  Work at it with joy & later enjoy a more restful night's sleep.

Another helpful step that one should take is to establish a regular routine of waking and sleeping.  Sometimes, as we age, our schedules can be thwarted out of boredom.  We find ourselves dozing at various times during the day & not being able to sleep later, or staying up later watching television and sleeping in later in the morning.  Whatever schedule you decide makes you feel best, you should stick with it on a daily basis in order to obtain the most restful night's sleep possible for yourself.  Our sleep patterns are rhythmic & throwing off the rhythm can have adverse effects of our rest at night.

Also, cutting off any screen time in the evenings a couple of hours before sleeping should help to notify your body that it's time to begin winding down to rest.  Choose quieter activities that are not as stimulating, such as crossword puzzles, restful music, reading books, playing solitaire, etc.  Help your body to be able to identify the cut off time from evening activities to sleeping time by establishing a nightly routine.  Soon enough, you will find yourself longing for that time of day & looking forward to the rest that comes with it!

Finally, if you are still having problems sleeping after all of these steps, talk with your doctor about it & see if he/she can suggest any other steps you could take. Melatonin is an option for some people, others need something a little stronger in order to help them set the rhythm of sleep again.  Before you head to the doctor, however, be sure that you've tried everything in your power to re-gain sleep in a natural way.  Your body & mind will thank you for it!

Moving to Assisted Living? How to Downsize

 

  Downsizing is one of the most popular trends around the nation right now.  There are as many motivations to downsize our lives as there are lives.  Some downsize in order to move into tiny houses, some downsize in order to simplify their lives, or to allow them more time to travel.  Today we're going to talk about downsizing our possessions in preparation for a move into an assisted living situation.

How many of us are living with entirely too many items in our possession?  If we're honest, probably nearly every person in our country could stand to shed some excess in this area.  We've all got excess.  If you raised a larger family, especially on a homestead or farm, you most definitely have excess.  We're not here to examine how we find ourselves in such a situation, however, but rather how to deal with getting rid of some of the excess so that we can move forward into a healthier atmosphere for us!

The house.  What to do with the house?  It's a hugely daunting question if you've never considered how to make a transition from owning your own home to living somewhere else.  There is a proverb that says, “How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.”  This is precisely how you'll need to deal with getting rid of your house & possessions, one small step at a time.  First, know that you will not be able to do this alone, or quickly.  It will take time.  The first step would be to get an assessment on the value of your home/property.  Check with a local realtor with whom you can list it if you will be needing the income in order to fund your move into an #assistedlivingfacility.  If you do not need that extra income, consider giving it as an inheritance to someone you love, or preparing to sell it in order to gift the profit for those you love.  When you begin discussing the process with your family, be prepared for all kinds of emotional responses.  People have a number of emotions that are connected with places and memories & it is natural to see a full spectrum.  If there is a smooth way to pass it on or sell it to a family member without causing resentment, do so, otherwise you should feel no guilt at selling it on the market to avoid resentment between family members.

Once you've answered the largest question, you'll more than likely have an easier time with the smaller things you need to deal with.  It will also help you in other areas.  If you're selling or gifting the house, you'll have a time frame within which to work in order to have your things taken care of.  You can decide whether your large appliances or farm tools will convey with the house or property.  The smaller items will become much easier to handle.

Beginning with the more valuable furniture and possessions, decide which things give you joy & those that you'd like to have around you for the remainder of your life. Do not feel guilt about having them moved.  Do you enjoy playing an instrument?  Will you have room in the place you're moving to? Bring it along & you'll find that after you've downsized, you'll have more time to practice.  Do you have a favorite hobby?  Bring the items along that will enable you to participate in the hobby as long as possible.  Downsizing does not mean getting rid of everything you enjoy, but rather narrowing your scope to keep only those things that you DO enjoy and ridding yourself of the rest.

If you can, try to go through your home in categories & move as quickly as you can from one category to the next.  Discard those things that have no value to you or others.  Donate those items that have use to a charity.  Goodwill is working together with USPS to accept items that you ship free of charge.

You'll have obvious needs where you're going.   If you need kitchen items, consider which ones are the most pertinent to your situation.  Now is a good time to get rid of the excessive kitchen gadgets, pan collections, tea sets, silver service, etc.  If you're moving to a smaller location, you'll more than likely not be the one hosting large family gatherings & will, therefore, need fewer kitchen items.  Keep basic linens & clothing items.  Keep photos that are meaningful to you, distribute the rest that may hold more meaning for others in your family.

Above all, keep the lines of communication open with all of the people who will be affected by the decisions you're making.  You want this move to be a positive one for you and for your family, so don't allow petty miscommunications and misunderstanding to ruin the good things that can come from this time of transition.  Moving is always stressful, but taking it one step at a time, one day at a time, you'll be able to accomplish the huge task of downs

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