Being retired gives me the time to read more than I ever did when I was working every day. Sometimes being busy with a job can be a cushion from discovering some really worrisome facts that you may just hear about, but not really see the fine details. That may be the situation you are in when it comes to thinking about healthcare costs for you and your family. Healthcare costs are a reality that just might be the reason why you are just one step from financial disaster!
The Big Fear
It’s a fear that we all have, the fear that we may have to face financial ruin someday. We may not know exactly how or why, but it is something we sometimes do think about. Most often it comes when you lose your job or if you are really unlucky you might have to face some sort of natural disaster like a flood, fire, or weather event that sets you so far into debt you can’t see ever climbing out of that hole. But the number one thing that can send you into financial hell is much more devastating and personal then suffering through a hurricane.
Do you like playing games—like board games, card games, role playing games, pretty much anything like that? Most of us do as kids and many still do even these days a la the computer or phone app as adults, even if they have meandered into their 40’s (no names mentioned here, but I have a few friends and relatives that are waaaay into it!).
I’ve always loved sitting down with friends and playing games together. It’s a great way to spend leisure time unwinding on any given afternoon or evening. It’s always fun even if you don’t actually win, right? Fun, that’s usually how we think of a good game night or afternoon event.
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How many times have you said to yourself, “I just have to find a way to save more money”? Over and over again and again I imagine, but when that happens it’s more often than not that you get started and then suddenly…failure. You just don’t stick with it.
Why? We’re a nation of overachievers and when we decide to do something, we want to do it really BIG. While there’s nothing wrong with setting really big goals, when it comes to saving money, drastic big lifestyle changes often backfire. That big goal becomes such a huge pressure cooker that it eventually can explode and all you have afterwards is an even bigger mess than when you first started.
Researchers will tell you that we are all basically a combination of the beliefs, habits, and opinions of the people we surround ourselves with and spend the most of our time in life with. That starts in your childhood and is the unreal influence that a parent has on a child. Think about it. You probably believed almost everything you believed as a kid because of your parents through at least the first 10 years of your life.
Unless you came of age in the ’60s like me, that probably continued right on through adulthood, because everyone knows that my generation was the dawning of “The Age of Aquarius” and was a totally enlightened generation, a totally innovative and newly ordained very special generation with all the answers to all the questions of the ages…not!!! We just thought we were that at the time.
But seriously, when you really think about it, it does seem true that you probably get most of your opinions just because of how your closest influences (like Mom) think and that gets reinforced constantly by them. At least that’s my “uneducated” opinion here.
You probably own a car. In fact, you may even own more than one car, even if your name isn’t Jay Leno. Owning a car in the U.S. is not only the favorite form of transportation, but it’s a huge and important industry for us. There are about 300 million vehicles currently here in the U.S.A. and that number has been increasing steadily every year since 1960. Only China has a bigger car market than the U.S. and that is simply because there are so many millions and millions more people living there. The penetration of cars per population here though is much, much greater!
Here is something to think about. The cost of a new car today is on average $35,263, according to Kelley Blue Book. That doesn’t include gas, oil, insurance, and maintenance money you spend. Compared to a dependable alternative like a bicycle (about $250 for a pretty good one) or a motorcycle (at about $3,000-$5,000) and you can see the huge differences. Going for a scooter or moped brings you down to an even lower and even better bargain! So, have you ever considered these car alternatives?
Not so newsworthy, in case you failed to notice, is that it’s winter out there. I can tell because I find myself watching TV each night wrapped in a blanket and drinking hot tea while the wind blows incessantly outside and my car sits snow covered in the parking lot of my condo complex. Nothing gets by me.
So it’s winter and it will stay that way for a good while whether I like it or not, despite the fact that South Florida calls my name almost every day and says, “Garrrry, oh Garrrry, its 83 degrees today.”
I’m not heading to Florida, but instead I am using my time to do what you may think is “the impossible”! I’m figuring out new ways that I can earn some extra money so that maybe, just maybe, next winter I can actually go to Florida and sit in the sunshine (or is that “Sing in the Sunshine”…I tend to get that confused).
You may not have given it that much thought while you were socking away your retirement contributions over the years, but in every life, some rain must fall! The rain in your IRA may be that “special” time when you must start withdrawing funds from it. Many retirees taking required minimum distributions (RMDs) from their traditional IRAs may not know all of the ins and outs of exactly the right way to do it and avoid any penalties along the way if they don’t!
Making IRA RMDs: the What, When, and How
When you reach age 70½—and that’s about 3.5 million Americans right now—you need to know the ins and outs of required minimum distributions (RMDs). If your parents or grandparents are the ones moving into RMD-land, do them a favor and give them some really good advice and information about this subject ASAP.
It’s winter time and my thoughts do go astray in winter. It brings to mind taking a vacation. For me that vacation just has to be someplace warm, a lot warmer then central NJ in winter! So with that thought in mind, and a reminder of what a frugal genius I am, I’m planning a vacation in Las Vegas this year and my hotel and entertainment, food, and everything except the airfare is going to be free! Yes, I said it…free!
Having done just about everything one can do in the business world myself, from working as a trainee to managing a huge chain of retail stores and ultimately running my own business, I think I can, with some expertise, tell you that there are ways to do it successfully and there are ways not to be successful. A word of really good advice on how to run your business: do the former and avoid the latter!
Why do I mention it today? Well, for quite some time now, I have been observing the demise of some of the greatest American business institutions and thinking to myself “why did that happen?” Every time it does, from Blockbuster Video to Radio Shack and from Lehman Brothers to the now-on-life-support Sears and Kmart stores, I think about what might have been done differently to help avoid that disaster.
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