Creative Ways to Save Money in this Economy

In today’s economy saving money any way possible has become fashionable, not to mention sometimes very necessary.

If you have outgrown your home office but aren’t yet ready to commit to a long term lease with the added expense of utilities on top of that, you can choose from a range of self storage sizes to suit your need and change that office space as your business grows. If you want a temporary warehouse or have inventory that changes depending on the season, this could be an answer for you as well. Using a storage facility allows you the flexibility you require instead of being tied to a long term financial agreement in between your buying seasons.

On a personal level, perhaps you are a student who wants to travel for a few months during the summer holidays and not have to pay rent for an apartment. Maybe your family has large leisure items like golf clubs, skis, canoes and windsurfing equipment that you would like not taking up the whole garage. Declutter your home! Put some things in safekeeping at a storage facility.

If you are a couple considering job opportunities abroad, having your possessions safely in storage while you check out your options first-hand could release the worry about your cherished belongings. You know that your treasures are secure in a reputable location and only you have the key.

These days it’s a perfect time to offer a room in your home for rent to a tenant. Put your extra goods and furniture into storage and make a bit of money each month to help pay your mortgage. If this proves to be a prolonged situation, or if renting a room out suits you, arrange to receive a discount for the long term.

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Guest post by Laverne H. Bardy whose humorous, often irreverent, slant on life in general, and aging in particular, draws a large readership. She has been syndicated with Senior Wire News Service since 2004.  Her book, How The (Bleep) Did I Get This Old? was released in January, 2012, and is a compilation of the best of her columns.

 My daughter-in-law, Nanci, sent me an e-mail that included a complaint about her husband, my son, Joe. She made reference to photos he was supposed to have sent me, but she wasn’t sure he had, yet.

“Regarding the photos,” she wrote, “Joe has them and he is in another world these days. He doesn’t hear me when I talk. I told him to mail the pictures to you and I thought he processed my words, but I’m not sure. He doesn’t hear anything I say anymore. In fact, come to think of it, I’m not sure he ever has. If my words don’t involve dentistry or sports, he’s stone deaf…lol.”

Loosen your grip on routine. Click here

The poor girl sounded despondent, so I responded immediately:

I understand, Nanci. The problem you have described is rampant among couples married more than two minutes. Even my loving husband, Mighty Marc, often displays the exact symptoms you have described, and this concerns me, because until recently I actually believed he was different from other men. How’s that for naivety?

I’ve done some research, and what you describe is a malady called Selective Hearing Syndrome. It is not deadly and, remarkably, side effects only affect wives, whose symptoms include loud, frustrated screams, and an uncontrollable urge to ram Q-Tips in their husband’s ears.

From all I have read, it seems the only cure, albeit temporary, is for the wife to leave home for several days. Of course she will inform her husband that she is leaving, but since he won’t be listening, it will come as a surprise when, several days later, he finds himself sitting alone at the dinner table, waiting to be served, but no one is there to do that. He will have a gnawing suspicion that something isn’t right when he trips over a growing pyramid of wet towels on the bathroom floor, or rolls over in bed and falls out, because you are not there to block his fall.


When you return home, Joe will notice your presence, be receptive to your words, and give you his full attention. It will be an ideal time to repeat everything he hasn’t heard you say to him over the past years……..before he zones out again. And he will.

Good luck,


I had been harping on Mighty Marc about this exact issue. At his age I’m sure he has some hearing loss but he refuses to admit it. On this particular day, I was in the bedroom and he was in the kitchen. I shouted, “What time is your doctor appointment?”

He didn’t respond so I shouted a little louder. “What time is your doctor appointment?”

After a moment he yelled back, “Wow! That’s great.”

I stood there baffled. “What’s great?” I shouted back. “I asked what time is your doctor appointment.”

He left the kitchen and came up to me looking somewhat sheepish. Then he giggled. I had never heard him giggle.

“Well….I never actually heard what you were saying,” he confessed, “but I thought ‘Wow! That’s great,’ was a safe generic response that would cover whatever it was you had said. I guess I was wrong.”

“Ya’ think?”

He continued having hearing problems, and the fact that we work on different levels of the house didn’t make it easier. He works in his basement studio, where he designs and hand crafts magnificent violins. I work at my desk on the main level of the house. Shouting is not an option, so we went to Radio Shack and bought a number of small plug-in intercoms.

Last week I sat at my desk working while the cleaning girl vacuumed all around me. I share my office with Molly, our parrot, who hates the vacuum. Mighty Marc was thoughtful enough to take Molly downstairs with him because she had become obnoxiously loud, and I was unable to concentrate on my work.


Barely three minutes had passed when I heard the intercom’s beep, followed by “Blah, blah, gurgle, gurgle,” mingled with what sounded like Molly’s squawks.

I responded by pushing my intercom button and shouting, “I CAN’T UNDERSTAND YOU. NIKKI IS STILL VACUUMING MY OFFICE.”

His response was more of the same. “Gurgle, blah, blah, gurgle, gurgle.”



Nikki laughed and said, “I should be paying you every week. You two are better than watching a reality show.”

Why don’t I find that humorous?

Other posts by this author:

How the Home Shopping Network Turned Me into a Zebra

Open at Your Own Risk

Up, Up and Away – Or Not

An Apple a Day Doesn’t Work

Vacationing with a Stranger

Help! I’m Drowning in Minutiae

Posted in Guest Blog Posts, Life Between the Tweets, Women's Work | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Thinking of Volunteering on Your Trip to Thailand? Start Here!

Guest blog post by Katie Boyer, Director of Volunteer Abroad, Go Overseas. Her dream volunteer trip includes backpacking around Southeast Asia with a special stop in Thailand to get up close and personal with the elephants! 

Thailand is truly a country of wonder and awe.

If you are planning a long-term trip to Thailand, consider volunteering abroad. Volunteering in a new place is a great way to get a first-hand look at a different culture, allows you to be involved in the local community and it lets you see their needs in a whole new way. Instead of passing through as a tourist, volunteering gives you the chance to learn about the local people and their daily lives while learning about yourself as well.

Donating your services overseas is easier than you may think. As this segment of tourism grows, it’s becoming easier to find organizations which run volunteer projects overseas. That being said, sometimes there are too many options. (Thailand is actually one of the most popular volunteer destinations out there!

Here are several ways to start narrowing down your volunteer options.

Don’t be pushed by your problems. Be led by your dreams.

Where do you want to go?

Is there a certain city or area of Thailand where you want to spend your time? Start your quest by taking a look at projects that take place there. Ask yourself this important question: Do you want to be somewhere more secluded, traditional and rural as opposed to volunteering in a big city like Bangkok or Chiang Mai?

Volunteering is a transformational experience

There are tons of options in these urban metropolises. Big cities around the world see similar problems when it comes to poverty, disease, and crime. Bangkok and Chiang Mai are great cities in which to find social volunteer work.

For a more unique volunteer experience, consider venturing to more rural villages of Thailand. What about a coastal or island destination? Rural doesn’t mean you have to go without hot water, a nice bed, and other comforts of home though. Many bed and breakfast type accommodations can be found anywhere in this amazing country.

Once you’ve narrowed it down to a location, it’s time to figure out how to give back once you’re there.

What do you want to do?

Volunteer projects are available in virtually any industry. It’s best to choose an undertaking that caters to your skills and expertise. This will ensure that your work is just as helpful for the local community as it is for yourself. If you’re still not sure what kind of project would be best for you, consider some of the more popular options:

Teaching English is a very popular choice

Teaching English – There is a high demand for native English speakers in all of Asia and Thailand is no exception. Even volunteers with no teaching experience can be of help in a local Thai classroom. Teach students conversational English basics through games and activities while also sharing your own culture with them. You will be surprised to find how much you have to teach!

Conservation– Thailand’s diverse nature and animals make it a great place to volunteer in wildlife, marine, and environmental conservation. Elephant tourism is especially popular but conservation projects take a step further. Don’t just ride an elephant; learn to care for these gentle giants and save their habitats.

Thailand offers exotic experiences

Migrant Workers’ Rights – Yes, this can be a complicated field but there’s no reason that a passionate volunteer can’t help get the word out. Supporting migrants from neighboring countries like Laos and Myanmar can make a difference for those that are abused, underpaid, and discriminated against on a regular basis.

Choosing a provider

When giving your time and money to any type of organization, do research on them first to see if they are trustworthy. The easiest way to investigate volunteer project providers is to read reviews from past volunteers in Thailand. If the organization’s alumni have mediocre things to say, you should probably dig a little deeper. Important questions to ask are: Is the organization involved and communicating with the local community about their needs? Where does the money for the volunteer program go?

Once you’ve chosen where to go, what organization to work with, and what project to work on, most of the heavy lifting is out of the way. It’s time to sit back, relax, and enjoy the rest of the planning.

Successful preparation for a volunteer trip to Thailand includes getting up-to-date on your vaccinations or shots like tetanus and exploring the social/political issues and etiquette of where you are going.

Using these tips to prepare to volunteer in Thailand will ensure that you make the most out of your time in Thailand while having an amazing, life-changing experience.

For more information on Volunteering Opportunities around the world, click here

Posted in Guest Blog Posts, Heart Song, Indigenous Life, Is It Work or Is It Passion?, Volunteering, Women's Work | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Buying Medical Care vs. Buying Medical Insurance

 Guest post by Lori Shea, Owner, Guatemala Medical Travel.  Lori first arrived in Rio Dulce, Guatemala aboard a sailboat in 2005 and had a home and business there for two years.

Maintaining healthy bodies and minds is a serious responsibility that requires careful consideration in both our daily lifestyle choices and our long-term financial decisions.  We exercise and eat well, drive safely and pay for our health insurance every month.  But, medical expenses are increasing at 8-20% per year while our incomes are not, and the rules are changing.  For the benefit of ourselves and our families, we must learn about all the options in order to determine the best possible plan.

The real cost of your health insurance

Many people would never dream of giving up their medical insurance, for fear of financial ruin due to catastrophic medical expenses.  They live in the comfort of knowing their medical coverage is “free” from their employer, or the Veterans Administration, or Medicare.   When your knee replacement is $75,000 and a cancer treatment program is $150,000, while insurance companies rack up billions of dollars in quarterly profits, and fraud is estimated $60 billion, there is nothing “free” about it at all.

You, the patient or consumer, had your annual salary reduced by about $12,000 so that your employer could offer group health coverage benefits to you.  The Medicare check that pays your doctor bills this year was funded by YOU, in the form of paycheck deductions, every week, for the past 40 or 50 years. And the veterans, well, we all know the price they paid.

Reduce your cost of living. Pay less for medical care. Find better weather. Create a healthier way of life.

Become informed of your options

Private insurance is expensive and many people opt out, hoping that they have enough in savings to cover unexpected medical bills.  To save money, they might buy the fear-inducing, Armageddon-anticipating “catastrophic illness” coverage, with a deductible so high, and limitations so lengthy, that you might as well just pay for the bills yourself.   We need to make the move to being informed consumers, purchasing quality medical services and products at a fair and reasonable price, instead of policyholders asking permission to get a good value from our health care expenses.

Examples of medical pricing in Guatemala

Maybe cancer is your “worst-case scenario.” Here in Guatemala, in June of 2012, Peter paid $6500 for the delicate neck surgery to remove the cancerous tumor that invaded the lymph nodes in his neck.  Only four months earlier, he paid over $20,000 for cancer surgery with a well-respected surgeon in Florida to do the same job, but that doctor obviously did not.  After a few weeks of healing, Peter was able to start six weeks of daily radiotherapy treatment to totally eradicate his cancer, for $12,000.  Now, how do those prices compare with your kitchen renovation or your son’s wedding?  Maybe it’s not so catastrophic after all.

Some procedures offered by Guatemala Medical Travel

Do you keep that insurance to cover a one-in-a-million rare, drug-resistant bone infection that requires an astronomically-priced, month-long hospital stay and dozens of doctor visits?  That happened to our GMT client in May of this year, and he paid about $125 per night for the hospital room, and $70 each for visits with specialists in laparoscopic microsurgery and infectious diseases, for example.  After receiving three surgical procedures, daily IV antibiotic drip for a month, and numerous therapies and medications, he paid only $10,200 in medical expenses until he was 100% healed and ready to return home. For some people, that’s less than one year of insurance premiums.

Kenny felt fortunate that his insurance company covered 80% of his hip replacement. But, at $65,000, that still left him paying $13,000 out of pocket. Total hip replacements are routinely performed in Guatemala’s high-tech hospitals, with state of the art prosthetic implants and globally experienced surgeons, for around $11,000. Sure, it’s a big dent on the credit card, but a far cry from bankruptcy or losing your house.

The best health insurance

So what is the best health insurance of all?  Get serious about treating your body like the most precious, fragile personal possession you own, striving to maintain all of your systems in the best possible working order. Keep yourself nourished and lubricated; active and challenged; calm and happy.  See your doctor to find out exactly where you stand, and keep enough cash on hand to self-insure in case of serious illness.  You can tell those “billions in profits” and “catastrophic expense” guys that you won’t be buying their products any more.  You have a better plan.

Other articles by this author:

Cancer Treatment in Guatemala

Stem Cell Therapy – The Future

To watch an insightful and instructive video on Guatemala Medical Travel with interviews of both Doctors and Patients, Click Here 

Interview with Lori Shea, Owner, Guatemala Medical Travel

Posted in All Things Financial, Guest Blog Posts, Health, Women's Work | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

How the Home Shopping Network Turned Me into a Zebra

Guest post by Laverne H. Bardy whose humorous, often irreverent, slant on life in general, and aging in particular, draws a large readership. She has been syndicated with Senior Wire News Service since 2004.  Her book, How The (Bleep) Did I Get This Old? was released in January, 2012, and is a compilation of the best of her columns.

I was channel surfing and landed on the Home Shopping Network. I had assumed that people who buy from HSN are either housebound, lonely, or certifiable. Why would anyone purchase items they can’t first touch, smell, taste, or try on?

What was I doing watching Home Shopping Network?

Two women, each with perfect hair, Chicklet smiles, and saccharin voices, were promoting stretch jeans. They waved their hands, ala Vanna White, and described the color, texture, pockets, stitching, and thrill of being able to remove them at the end of the day, and not find a red ring around their waist.

Red ring? How was it that I’d never had one of those? I felt cheated.

I never knew so much detail could be ascribed to a pair of pants, other than they come with a waist band, zipper, and two openings for legs, which I don’t recall them mentioning at all.

Callers phoned in, swooned, and agreed that since they had been wearing those jeans they, too, were without red waistband rings. It became my mission to find someone with a red waistband ring and make them show me what I’d been missing.

All this fuss over jeans!

Celia, from Atlanta, called and admitted to already having seven pairs of those incredible jeans but decided to make it a nice round number by ordering five more.

“They’re absolutely wonderful,” she oozed. “I wear them for just about everything: digging in the garden, working at the office and, with the right accessories, I’ve even worn them to weddings and bar mitzvahs.”

As they listened to Celia’s review, the two saleswomen began salivating; barely able to contain their excitement. They reminded viewers to not wait another moment. “Get to your phones or computers and order immediately. We’ve been advised that there are only eight hundred sixty three pairs of these unique jeans remaining, and you do not want to miss out on this stupendous offer.”

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I was prepared to switch channels when those two honey-tongued sweeties brought out a product that clutched at my heart: “Tan Towels” – self-tanning towelettes.

I live in New Jersey. I hadn’t seen or felt sun on my body in over five months. I looked like I’d been dredged in flour. A few hours earlier I remarked to Mighty Marc that it was time to head south, because I had begun to blend in with the walls.

The camera zoomed in on a model’s arms. One was pasty white, like mine. The other was a golden tan. She slid a moist Tan Towel over her untanned arm, and we were assured that within minutes she would look like she just returned from two weeks in Hawaii.

Before I could think it through, I reached for my credit card and phoned the number on the screen. I knew I had to do it immediately because there were only six thousand and three Tan Towels left, and their phone lines were lighting up.

I made the fateful call and returned to the television, afraid I might miss something.

This time Margaret was on the phone. Margaret was extolling the magical wonders of “Tan Towels”– self-tanning towelettes, which she had purchased at an earlier date.

“I’ve been using them for several months, now,” she said. “They make me look and feel so good.”

Sugar dripped from her lips as one of the beauties asked, “Margaret, would you mind telling our audience your age?

“Not at all,” she said. “I’m eighty four, and my boyfriend says I’ve never looked better.”

“I feel pretty, oh so pretty…”

The saleswomen could hardly catch their breath.

“Did you hear that?” one of them gasped. “Margaret is eighty four and still cares about how she looks. How absolutely adorable.”

I froze in my tracks. Was there a cutoff date for caring how I look? I’m seventy four. Margaret was eighty four, which meant, if I was lucky, I still had at least ten years of caring ahead of me. I made a note to go to Google and find out how much time I had before I no longer gave a damn.

My Tan Towels arrived and I couldn’t wait to start smearing them over my body. The HSN ladies assured me that my color would never turn orange or streak.

I hadn’t realized that since the moisture was clear, there was no way of knowing whether I was overlapping areas. Also, I couldn’t reach my back.

I now look like a member of the animal kingdom; leathery brown knees and elbows, and zebra striped body. Somehow I managed to totally miss my hairline so I look like I’m wearing a white headband.

I wonder where I can buy a lightweight, summery, burka.

After my self-tanning towelettes

Other posts by this author:

Open at Your Own Risk

Up, Up and Away – Or Not

An Apple a Day Doesn’t Work

Vacationing with a Stranger

Help! I’m Drowning in Minutiae

Posted in Guest Blog Posts, Humor, Women's Work | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Retire to Chile, South America, Part II

In 2010, Mark and John decided to retire to Chile to live simply but without compromising on quality. One of their values was to retain the freedom to travel while having a home base. To read Part I of Retire to Chile, click here


In general, we enjoy a similar quality of life in Chile as we did in Vancouver.  We have potable water in the taps, regular garbage pickup at the curb, high-speed internet to the house, and a large number of TV stations – including many English language stations – through a small satellite dish. There are several shopping locations within walking distance or a short drive from our home, and in major cities like Santiago or Vina del Mar, one can find all sorts of imported/exotic foods.  Because there is a large expat community living in Chile, it is easy to meet others living here, and to share information about where to buy specific items. Not to mention all the online forums!

Million dollar view from our deck

Airline connections in Chile

Chile’s national airline is LAN Chile, which is part of the ‘One World’ network of airlines.  They are excellent, and compare favorably to the other major airlines in the network – indeed I would say they are better than many.  The planes are new and well-appointed, the staff are friendly, and LAN Chile has a good safety record.

Santiago is also served by American Airlines, Air Canada, Iberia, TAM, Delta, AeroMexico, Qantas and Copa to name but a few.  Connections from North America include regular non-stop flights from Toronto, Miami and Dallas, with one-stop connections through many major cities, such as through Lima, Mexico City and Sao Paolo.  Connections to Europe include non-stop daily flights to Madrid and Paris.  There are also direct flights to Auckland and Sydney.

Basically – it is easy to use Chile as a travel hub, and it isn’t difficult to get here.

The airport is quite modern and Immigration is easy as most major countries get a Visa upon arrival (fees may apply – although if you take a Visitor Visa, the fee is payable once and is valid for the life of your passport).  Customs processes are simple and are focused primarily on keeping unauthorized food and insects out of the country, much like traveling to Australia.

Reduce your cost of living. Pay less for medical care. Find better weather. Create a healthier way of life.

Transport in Chile

Chile has an excellent public and private network of transit, based mostly on buses.  There are several large coach operators which provide very high quality and comfortable bus connections throughout Chile’s large and medium-sized cities.

For example, where we live (near Algorrobo) there are buses from Santiago arriving hourly 7 days a week, 18 hours a day.  The cost is about $7 per person (around 3500 Pesos) each way for the 90 minute bus ride from the city.  You can even book these trips online.  The coaches are superb quality with comfortable, clean seats, restrooms on board, and they provide on-board entertainment.  For longer rides, say from Santiago to Puerto Varas for example, coach companies will sometimes include airline style service of snacks, drinks and fully reclinable ‘Lazy Boy’ type seats, sometimes with individual TV screens.

Even if you don’t like riding city buses in North America, you will likely be pleasantly surprised how easy and comfortable it is to travel short-to-medium distances in Chile.  Santiago and other large cities also have excellent Metro/Subway systems, as well as city bus networks which serve to connect people in the city.

Canellilo Beach

Most cities and medium-sized towns have a network of collectivos – which are informal taxis that run on set routes.  These cost just a dollar or two, and can be both a fun and affordable way to move smaller distances in town.  Basically one stands on the side of the road and flags down the next collectivo – you may be sharing the car with others.  They won’t take you door-to-door like a taxi, but you can ask the driver to stop anywhere along his route.  You need a little Spanish to use collectivos appropriately, but they are a cheap and efficient mode of getting around.  It is very possible to live without a vehicle in Chile, if this is your preference.

Postal Services in Chile

The Postal Service is quite reliable, and we haven’t experienced any problems using it.  It can be slower than expected to receive items from North America, but we haven’t had any major mishaps.

Sending and Receiving hasn’t been problematic for us, but we have been told to use ‘Registered’ mail to ensure nothing goes missing.  The only issue we have experienced is a significant and annoying delay when an Ebay purchase got stopped by Customs for some import duty.  Out of dozens of packages, this was the first time anything was stopped to collect taxes.  The process was a bit bothersome and time consuming, but everything worked out in the end.

In our small town, our ‘Post Office’ is actually a small shop which offers a mail counter and we are charged 100 pesos (about 20 cents) for each letter or parcel we receive.  If you live in a major city, you will receive mail delivery to your door.  Major courier companies such as FedEx and DHL operate in Chile as well.

The beach by our home

General observations


When we established ourselves and bought our house in Chile, we found that Immigration was very easy to navigate, once we engaged the services of a company who specialized in working with expats.  We applied as retirees, and demonstrated that we had sufficient finances to look after ourselves.  Our ‘Temporary Residency’ Visa allowed us to get a Chilean ‘Carnet’ – which is the photo ID card that every Chilean resident uses and carries with them.

After being in country for 183 days out of one calendar year, we were able to apply for ‘Permanent Residency’ which took about 6 months to be granted.  Having this status allows us to live and even work in Chile without restriction – the only thing we cannot do compared to a Chilean citizen is vote.  After 5 years of permanent residency, we are then eligible to apply for citizenship and we don’t have to give up our Canadian citizenship. Having permanent residency will provide us with the right to vote and even to get a Chilean passport if we wish.


Getting a bank account was one of the most frustrating aspects of getting established in Chile.

It is very difficult to get a bank account without having your ‘Carnet’ – which takes a few months of applications.  We were fortunate in that the bank we used in Canada was also operating in Chile, and they were able to assist us to get started.  However, the only North American bank currently operating in Chile is Scotiabank.  (HSBC was operating here, however they were recently bought out by a competitor).

If you are planning on coming to Chile to buy a house/car or are planning on checking the country out as a place to retire, we recommend talking with one of the major banks operating in Chile such as Itau, Santander, or BCI, at one of their head office locations in Santiago.  You will be able to find a representative who speaks English at the large locations, and they will be able to assist you – if not to open an account – at least to manage transfers coming in from your home bank.

Don’t be pushed by your problems. Be led by your dreams.

We have had no issues moving money into or out of Chile, and there are no restrictions that we are aware of in moving money in or out of country once you are established.  At many banks, you can also hold an account in a major foreign currency (such as US Dollars) so you can manage your foreign exchange needs accordingly.

While you may not have considered Chile, South America as a retirement destination before,  from our perspective, we have found this country to be a most satisfying choice.

Posted in All Things Financial, Guest Blog Posts, Housing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Comments on Going Naked; Health Insurance


I read your article about not having a Health Insurance Policy and using the wonderful health care available in other countries at a fraction of the U.S. costs. It sounds like a good idea and paying out of pocket seems reasonable for regular medical expenses.

My question is, what about a catastrophic illness like MS or cancer? I would think that even at the reduced costs overseas something like that would have the potential to wipe out your nest egg, no? I was thinking of perhaps getting a very high deductible catastrophic health plan just in case.




Reduce your cost of living. Pay less for medical care. Find better weather. Create a healthier way of life.

Hi Mark,

Thanks for taking the time to write. We appreciate it.

The delivery of health care and how we choose to pay for it is a challenge and a personal choice.

One thing you might consider is the difference between paying for the health care itself   versus paying for the insurance to pay for health care.

If you pay for insurance month after month, year after year without making a claim, then that money has been spent but has not bought you care. If you put that same amount of money into an account (and after several years it could be tens of thousands of dollars) and actually purchase care when you need it, your money would go far — provided you don’t purchase the delivery of that care in the U.S.

If you have a serious medical condition like cancer (See Cancer Treatment in Guatemala or our Medical Tourism Page) the cost of receiving that treatment is much less in countries such as Thailand, Mexico, or Guatemala for example. In this case you would be paying for actual treatment and care, versus years of paying for an insurance policy for that insurance company to pay for your treatment and care.

Buy care or buy insurance?

That insurance company would also have the option of refusing to pay for your (very expensive) treatment in the States or only paying a portion of your (very expensive) treatment in the States.

Not to mention the enormous paperwork involved with any sort of hospital stay, doctor visits, pharmaceuticals involved and so on. If you are the one receiving cancer treatment, most likely you would need a personal patient advocate to take care of the bureaucracy and your personal calendar for appointments. Unless you have a family member or spouse to do this for you, the labor cost for that assistance would be high.

If you have a condition like MS or ever find that you need live-in help, purchasing the labor for this is much cheaper outside the U.S.

Basically it comes down to where you want to place your money. I fully understand that having a health insurance policy that promises Cadillac treatment, covering all costs imaginable brings a certain peace of mind. That sort of policy is not available to everyone and so most of us must make other decisions for receiving care.

These decisions are personal and complex and everyone must choose for themselves.

Quality care is available outside the U.S.

We had a catastrophic insurance policy for decades, and ultimately it came down to us paying an awful lot of money for a product that we weren’t using.

We wish you clarity of mind in deciding what is best for you.

I hope you found our perspective useful, and please feel free to write any time.



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Posted in About us, All Things Financial, Health, Q & A From our Readers | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Is House Sitting for You?

Q&A with a Reader

Full Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link, so if you click on the link and sign up, we will be compensated.

I am very interested in this housesitting, anywhere.
Is this “club” yours?  Tell me more.


Saying yes requires a sense of adventure, a sense of possibility.

Hi Mila,

House sitting has been around for years. These days it’s been organized into  businesses of putting together homeowners with sitters and is a pretty good deal for both sides.

This isn’t our personal business – we hold memberships and the opportunities available have been astounding.

Dream opportunities are available

First, you join a house sitting organization, deciding whether or not you want to be a sitter, have your house available for sitting or doing both. Then you fill out your “profile” along with personal references, a police report if available and photos of who you are. If you are listing your home, you add photos of your house online.

If you are interested in sitting — you fill out the questionnaire selecting areas in the world where you would like to house sit and how long at a time you are meaning to do this exchange (long weekends? 2 weeks? a month? 6 months? a year?).

You also check off whether or not you are willing to watch pets. Lots of people have more than just dogs and cats, some have mini-farms with horses, ponies, ducks, goats and such. Some want you to garden, some want maintenance, and some don’t need a thing! You pick your parameters all the way.

Homes large and small, with and without pets

That’s pretty much all there is to it!

When you begin to get matched up with home owners (or the other way around, getting matched up with prospective sitters) you correspond back and forth working out the details. This includes dates needing to be covered, what is expected of you (or them), all questions about transport and the availability of a vehicle, how far you are from amenities, shopping, the beach and the necessary particulars of daily life.

Because of our style of travel we are interested in long sits of several months or more, and we have been contacted for places in Mirabella, Spain, country homes in Italy (for a year!), garden “estates” in Costa Rica, even gorgeous places in Sedona, Arizona, homes in San Francisco or apartments/flats in New York City.

We have been promoting this opportunity to our Readers because we think it’s great for everyone involved. Using these services can save a lot of money for those who might want to travel and see more of the world without staying in a hotel. You can have more of a local experience by living in a neighborhood or right in the middle of an international city like Paris.

The ordinary can become extraordinary.

You can read some of the articles we have posted below and of course we will be posting more, so keep a look out.

Memberships usually run about $50 for a year.  What one saves in the cost of housing easily makes the fee worthwhile.

Related articles

Do House Sitters Really Guarantee “Peace of Mind?” – A Home Owner’s Perspective

Moving from Stuck to a World of Yes!

Traveling? Find Someone to Look after Your Home and Pets Cost-Free

House Sitting My Way Around the World

Posted in About us, All Things Financial, Housing, Travel Tips and Insight | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Help! I’m Drowning in Minutiae

Guest post by Laverne H. Bardy whose humorous, often irreverent, slant on life in general, and aging in particular, draws a large readership. She has been syndicated with Senior Wire News Service since 2004.  Her book, How The (Bleep) Did I Get This Old? was released in January, 2012, and is a compilation of the best of her columns. 

Every day I remove a ton of mail from my mailbox, lug it into the house and plop it onto my kitchen counter. I’m counting the days until the weight causes my kitchen to fall through to my basement.

Three pounds are bills, newspapers. Eight pounds are unsolicited address labels, brochures, advertisements, catalogues, coupons, flyers, credit card offers, donation requests, calendars, beautiful cards created by disabled people who paint with their feet, and invitations to seminars promising to lower my mortgage, and my weight, and improve my eyesight, hearing, blood pressure, credit rating, cellulite and erectile dysfunction.

I used to open everything, like those windowed envelopes covering pale green enclosures that look like checks. Once, even though I knew it was a gimmick, I felt compelled to open it, only to find it actually was a check. For $25. Good toward the purchase of a $40,000 car.

I have too much mail!

I was so gullible I regularly signed on to win $1,000,000 from Ed McMahon. Somebody had to win. Why not me? I finally got smart.

Every year I donate money to charities. What infuriates me is when, shortly after I’ve mailed my check, I receive another request from that organization with a note saying, “Since you’ve been so generous in the past we thought you’d enjoy giving again.” What past? Enough time hasn’t elapsed to have a past; I mailed my donation thirty days ago. All their audacity does is assure that my next donation will go elsewhere.

Another must-miss offer was from a bank asking me to open a $1,000 one year CD that would pay me a whooping 1 % interest. Like I’m really going to tie up my money for a year, for a $10 profit.

Simplify, simplify, simplify

Mostly I’m going crazy with coupons, rewards and discount cards. The weight of cards in my wallet and the tiny plastic ones hanging from my key chain, have my arthritis rebelling. I’m considering hiring someone to carry my purse for me.

I approach cashiers the way one might deal with a lunging vampire – with crossed forefingers and a clove of garlic. I know by the glint in their eye that they are preparing to offer me yet another rewards card and the promise of huge savings. My instinct is to flee, or to scream, “My wallet already bulges with so many cards, I can’t close it.” But, their well rehearsed spiel usually reels me in and I leave the store feeling diminished, because of my inability to resist their offer.

Do I need more stuff to put in here?

I have a $14.99 refund card for a return I made at Marshall’s. The amount is not printed on it so I wrapped the receipt around it with a rubber band. I have a similar card from Fortunoff’s, and another from Macy’s – all for returned items. Perkins punches a $5 hole in my card each time I eat there. Hallmark punches butterfly shaped holes when I buy greeting cards. I’ve got a Shop Rite discount card plus their coupon for $1.00 toward my next $100 food order. I have a Costco coupon I tried to redeem for an advertized cell phone holder, but discovered it couldn’t be redeemed for another two months. What are the odds I’ll remember that? Staples mails me coupons each time I spend a certain amount. Bed Bath & Beyond offers great savings monthly, with foot long cardboard coupons. I’ve accumulated eleven of them, which adds three pounds to the weight of my purse. Charlie Brown’s credits me with points every time I eat there. If I spend enough money over the year I get a $10 coupon toward a birthday meal, if I bring along someone who will pay full price for their meal.

Everywhere I shop cashiers ask if I have one of their cards. Then I hold up lines of people, breaking nails and a sweat, as I dump everything out of my purse in a frenzied search for the right card to present to them.

Why do I engage in this insanity? Is it worth the few cents I save? I don’t think so.

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Recently, a cashier at CVS offered me one of their little plastic cards for my key chain. I guess she caught me at a bad time because the next thing I knew I was banned from their store after I became unhinged, jumped onto the counter and tried to choke her.

Wait…..I just noticed I have only one remaining un-punched hole on my shoemaker rewards card. I’ve been carrying this card around for nine years. If I can find a pair of shoes that need resoling I’ll get a free pair of shoe laces. Yippee!

Other posts by this author:

Open at Your Own Risk

Up, Up and Away – Or Not

An Apple a Day Doesn’t Work

Vacationing with a Stranger

Posted in Guest Blog Posts, Women's Work | Tagged , | 4 Comments

At Age 28, He Has a Decade of Savings

Dear Billy and Akaisha,

First of all, thank you for the very helpful information that you posted in your webpage about the “20 Questions – We Are Frequently Asked.”

Today, the company that I work for is having a session with Merrill Lynch about retirement. I’m 28 years old. I’ve been saving for retirement since I was around 18. Anyways, I was searching the internet for questions that I can ask Merrill Lynch about retirement and I happened to find your “20 Questions – We are Frequently Asked.” This was very helpful for me. I want to truly thank you for giving us (the readers) truthful and helpful answers about your retirement experience.

I am going to definitely use your responses to the questions that you are frequently asked to help me plan my retirement. I want to retire early and enjoy life. As you mentioned, “Life is a risk.” I want to enjoy life. If there is anything that you can (and would like to) share with me about your experiences and/or retirement, please know that it would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you and best regards,

Jose Jesus

  Want to change your life? Make it possible, click here

Hi Jose Jesus,

Thank you for taking the time to write. We love to hear from our Readers!

We are very pleased that you have discovered our website, and we believe that you will find answers to many of your questions about how to become financially independent. On our website and blog we discuss lifestyle decisions one can make regarding the approach to consumer debt, and the areas of greatest spending in any household: housing, transportation, taxes and food which you can implement right away.

I have subscribed you to our free newsletter for starters, and I would kindly direct you to the following webpages for more information that you will find useful.

Our Retirement Issues Page  has interviews of us as well as articles we have written on lifestyle and approaches to the health care dilemma.

Our Preferred Links Pages  have links to all topics of financial independence, travel, lifestyle choices, housing choices, and there are financial tools, worksheets, recommended reading and more.

Billy at the beach, catching up with the latest news on his netbook

In our Digital Bookstore you will find the books we have written on financial independence – which, if you follow our simple and proven approaches – will change your life. We also have books on travel, specifically to places we have been.

Our blog has Q&A from our Readers, pieces on housing, finance and health care including Medical Tourism.

Jose Jesus, I hope you continue to implement your passion for excellence and financial independence. Many people will tell you it is not possible and that this is an unrealistic pursuit. They will give you every scenario in the book as to why this won’t work, and they might even be well-wishers like family and friends.

Your Retirement Dream IS Possible

The only one who can make this happen is you. You are the one who chooses, on a daily basis, what is important to you and why. Financial independence is a worthy goal as it frees your time up to do very important things like volunteering, or becoming a mentor.

By the way, I hope you found your company’s session with Merrill Lynch to be meaningful and useful.

Please feel free to write any time and we look forward to hearing from you.

Wishing you all the best,

Akaisha and Billy Kaderli

Posted in About us, All Things Financial, Q & A From our Readers | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment