Horrendous and Frightening Healthcare Costs in NYC

Hi Akaisha and Billy,

I think I may have already written to you before when I found out last year that the cost of my mother’s supposedly intensive care stay in hospital here in NYC was $170,000.00.  Added to that was approximately $30,000 for her pacemaker and insertion fees.  I’ve taken her back three times for a checkup and they have the nerve to charge her $35 each time which I don’t pay.  I think $30,000 is enough.

Her charges for the hospitalization came to a couple of thousand dollars, but I’m still working on getting that figured out over a year later.

I could go on and on about my mother’s medical bills, but I’ll tell you about something I just got in the mail yesterday from my new insurance company.  I didn’t have insurance for three years due to the high cost.  I got it this year and finally found a new internist for a check-up.  It wasn’t as easy as I though it would be, especially here in NYC.

How much money do you need to retire?

I went to the internist last month and he kept me waiting for almost three hours before seeing me for my first visit. He took my blood pressure and listened to my heart.  He was very nice, but there was little medical interaction between us.  A technician drew a couple of vials of blood and someone else used a scanning device on my heart and pelvic region. I still have no idea what that was for.

Yesterday I got two notices from my insurance company for the blood tests performed.  The total submitted to them by the lab was just a few dollars short of US $10,000.00.  Yes, you read that right.  $10,000.00 for blood tests.

The insurance company denied a lot of it, but there was a note to me that I owed around $600.00.  I wasn’t asked by anyone if I wanted to spend that money or if I could pay for it. 

I am not feeling well.  The stress of living here, the rising cost of everything and our inability to save enough money to move is causing me so much stress.  I feel awful and I’m terrified to stay here to participate in any way in this medical care system.

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I had to take mom to the ER last week and I saw first hand yet again how much it’s deteriorated. My mother seems to be stable, but I am worried about myself.  I’m hoping I have nothing seriously wrong so I can put all of my attention to moving.

Because of you we’ve now got Guatemala on our radar.  I never even thought of it before reading your ezine.

Thanks for your ezine.  I look forward to spending some time there in Guatemala soon.  How long can we stay there with a US passport?  Have you covered that before?

Warm regards,

Ellen

Related articles to help you find your answers

Our Medical Tourism Page

An Interview with Lori Shea, Owner, Medical Travel Guatemala

Factors Stimulating Medical Tourism

Billy Personally Tests Medical Tourism in Guatemala

Billy’s Medical Tourism Followup

Side-by-Side Medical Comparison

Cancer Treatment in Guatemala

Stem Cell Therapy – The Future of Curing Disease and Restoring Youth

Americans Too Busy to Notice a Medical Solution?

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

Retirement: A Time to Engage or Disengage from Life?

Occasionally we hear from people who say they could never retire because they enjoy their work so much and couldn’t sit around doing nothing all day. They hold a mental picture of boredom and uselessness. Others have the idea that once you retire, that’s it. No more opportunities to make money, to utilize your talents or to be productive. If you do that, well, then you aren’t “retired.”

We’d like to share an email below which we received from someone very engaged in his life, and financial freedom has given him more options to explore his talents.

We couldn’t have said it better.

Not sure you can retire? Get answers here

Hello, Akaisha.

I am twice retired (Air Force and State of California) and am now actively involved in volunteer work as well as writing/promoting my children’s books. I am also a Massage Therapist after completing my certification in 1997, partly in preparation for post-retirement work.

If I were to share pointers with anyone considering retirement, I would say to find something you really like to do and that you feel you can’t wait to get started at, then jump in with both feet. If you want or need to go back to school, do it. If you are a good organizer, find a group or organization and get to work. If you like running or backpacking or knitting or art or music and haven’t had as much time for fun as you have wanted all these years, now’s the time.

A retiree’s pursuits can be localized and modest or global and massive. It just depends on how you wish to spend your time.

Personally, I worked for 40 years doing things I felt were meaningful. But now I have a blank slate with no real concern for where the next meal is coming from and I can be as creative and engaged as I want to be.

For information on Volunteering Opportunities around the world, click here

Since retiring, I have hiked Half Dome, was an Assistant Scoutmaster at the 2010 Centennial National Scout Jamboree, completed a six-day/66-mile trek in the High Sierras and have eight children’s picture books published with another six in the publication pipeline. I fully believe I have another 30-40 healthy years in me, which gives me plenty of time to play and to contribute.

Best Regards,

Bill Kirk

Posted in All Things Financial, Heart Song, Is It Work or Is It Passion?, Volunteering | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Single Woman Going to Chiang Mai, Thailand

Hi Akaisha,

I was doing a tour to Thailand in November, but my friend backed out and now–seeing that I have over 250,000 FREE miles with American–am debating whether just to cancel it and do Chiang Mai on my own which is why I wrote you hoping you would be there this year.  Not sure what I want to do yet…debating.

Any advice/suggestions welcome.

As I understand it, I should not have too much trouble finding English speakers there?

Best,

Ann

Wats are everywhere in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Hi Ann,

Thanks for writing, we appreciate it.

We aren’t sure when we will be returning to Chiangmai, but please don’t let us not being there stop you from going.

You might consider taking a look at our Traveling Singles Page. There are all sorts of singles, groups of singles, women’s groups, women’s adventure travel groups and even women hosting sites for you to find lodging when you travel.

If you still want to go to this amazing place, why not contact one of these organizations and see if you find a good fit for you? At least you wouldn’t have to make all the decisions yourself, and you might just find some solid contacts or make a good friend.

The morning sun glistens off the gold on this Wat

If you do decide to go, I can make an email introduction to a couple of good friends who live there, and some friends who will be visiting there soon.

As far as finding English speakers in Chiangmai, many hotels have employees who speak English, there are expat organizations, (see our Thailand Travel Information Page) and you can always go to the AUA Library where it’s air conditioned and many English speakers hang out there.

Don’t forget to memorize a couple of Survival Phrases (at the bottom of our Thailand Travel Page) or download one of World Nomads language apps on your iPhone. They are free! Speaking even a little bit of Thai can make your experience 100% more engaging.

I hope this information helps!

Please feel free to write any time, and let us know how your trip is going.

Best, Akaisha

Compare international retirement destinations, click here

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Get Out of Debt Using “Loan Forgiveness” Programs

Dear Billy and Akaisha –

Re: Your reader Chris’ comments about your overseas lifestyle, and questions about getting out of debt, particularly student loans, I’d like to offer a suggestion – or maybe a couple – in additon to your very valid suggestion of  working a second job:

There are any number of “loan forgiveness” programs, some in the U.S. and some with overseas opportunities.

Here are a few:

  • Americorps. If you’re willing to devote a year of your life to volunteering for Americorps, you’ll be rewarded with $4,725 to spend on your college debts, and a stipend of up to $7,400. That doesn’t sound much like volunteering to us, but hey, we didn’t write the dictionary. For more information, visit the Americorps website or call them at (800) 942-2677.
  • Peace Corps. Go traveling with the Peace Corps and you’ll get to defer most of your student loans until after you leave the program. Not only that, but you may even get some of your loans reduced (maybe as much as 70%, if you’re lucky!). Call (800) 424-8580 for more details.
  • VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America). VISTA, which is all about community development and ending poverty, homelessness, and illiteracy in the United States, will pay off $4,725 of your loans if you join in on their cause for at least 1,700 hours. Call (800) 942-2677.

There are programs for Law school loan  forgiveness, Med School loan forgiveness, Occupational or physical therapy education loan forgiveness…  Lots of opportunities, if one is willing to WORK! and do a little research!

We’ve been living and working overseas, on and off, for years (Tim’s been in 60+ countries, I’ve been in about 20. We are currently in Armenia for another 3 or 4 moths, and spent 3 years in Odessa, Ukraine. We keep trying to “retire” but getting paid to live and do work we love in an “exotic” and different locations is hard to pass up. We may be in Moldova or perhaps the Far East next!)

Elizabeth and Tim K. (U.S.A.)

Your Retirement Dream IS Possible, Click here

Posted in All Things Financial, Heart Song, Is It Work or Is It Passion?, Q & A From our Readers, Volunteering | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Open at Your Own Risk

 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 am annoyed with an industry that, in an effort to keep us safe, leaped from reasonable to ridiculous. It started with the manufacturing of difficult-to-open, hermetically sealed medicine bottles and lead to me devoting huge portions of my life assaulting pill bottles.

I found my pill bottles had a personality I couldn’t crack

Worse than pill bottles are pill cards. Twenty-five pills are placed, individually, into twenty-five little divots on a sheet of clear, hard, plastic. Tinfoil is laid over the pills, followed by a sheet of cardboard. Both foil and cardboard are then Gorilla glued to the hard plastic. To get to a pill you must attempt to pull back a corner of cardboard and latch on to an exposed fleck of foil the size of a dust particle. I have never been successful. The only thing I’ve found that works is thrusting an ice pick through the cardboard and foil, then gathering up the shattered particles of pill.

While there may be a modicum of logic in attempting to safeguard our medication, I see no reason to protect CD’s, batteries, or toys. I had to remove a child’s set of 19 individually sealed miniature toys from its packaging. It included several one inch dolls, their teensy-weensy wardrobe, itsy-bitsy shoes, and Lilliputian tables, chairs and beds. Each piece was behind hard, sharp, plastic, anchored to another hard piece of plastic with heavy duty wire the strength and girth of what you see hanging between telephone poles. I used my teeth and my nails but couldn’t break in until I used heavy duty ten inch shears. By the time I removed each National Treasure, I needed a shower, a dental appointment and a tourniquet around my left palm.

For humorous books, travel books and guides or motivational reading, click here

The worst experience I ever had was trying to get into medication when I was sick with a virus that required antibiotics for infection and suppositories for nausea.

There I was with a raging fever, a spinning head, and a churning stomach. The clock indicated I could, at last, take a suppository. Each one was individually wrapped in aluminum foil. Not the kind of aluminum we used to peel from Juicy Fruit gum wrappers back in the fifties. Not the kind we line our baking pans with, but the kind used to build Boeing 707’s.

With weak hands I searched for a seam in the foil so I could remove the one inch wax bullet to perform a degrading act on myself. Neither fingernails nor scissors worked this time so I called my husband, Mighty Marc, who continues to be a fine example of virile manhood. At 73, he still cuts his own meat and chews with his own teeth. If anyone could do it, he could.

Beads of sweat formed on his forehead. Arthritic hands trembled. Blood droplets fell from his lower lip from biting down so hard. It was like trying to pry open the seam on a heavy duty metal trash can. To open it, without squashing the suppository, required iron hands, a velvet touch and an act of Congress.

Thank God for my Mighty Marc!

Finally, one foot on a chair, elbow on his thigh for leverage, body quaking, and a stream of obscenities flowing from his mouth, he squeezed out a lump of what looked like mashed potato. Then he handed it to me and headed for the Vodka.

Not long afterward, we were on a cruise, out of Manhattan, during a February snow storm. Seasickness sent me to the infirmary where I was handed a suppository for nausea and told, “This is not to be taken orally.”

“I can’t believe you thought you had to tell me that,” I laughed.

“You’d be surprised how many people don’t know the correct way to use these,” the nurse answered.

I, of course, knew the truth. After twenty minutes of trying to open a suppository, only to have it liquefy in your hands, most people would agree it’s much easier to swallow than to insert.

Other posts by this author:

Up, Up and Away – Or Not

An Apple a Day Doesn’t Work

Vacationing with a Stranger

Find answers to all your retirement questions, click here

Posted in Guest Blog Posts, Health, Women's Work | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

What to Do with Mail on Long-term Travel?

Hi,

I’ve enjoyed your regular emails for a couple of years now.

And now I have a question (more of a dilemma) for you two.

My dilemma:

Each winter I leave the cold weather of NE Washington for portions of the winter months.  But it ends up being for less than 30 days or no more than 57 days because mail and paying bills is my major challenge.

The US Post office will only hold mail for 30 days.

The US Post Office will only forward mail for six months.

I have begun the process of paying my monthly bills through automated banking, including; cell phone, TV, and mortgage.  But still I have some that need to be sent by check, like credit card bills.

Snail mail can pile up in no time at all

But I would like to be gone for more than 30 days, more like 90-120 days (oh yeah).  And I can’t have my mail forwarded to an address in Mexico or any other south of the border country.

I would assume there is probably a trustworthy book keeper or accountant that would handle my mail and process (pay) my bills while I am out of the country.

I am curious what do other folks do who leave for an extended period of time?

Thanks,

Tim

Don’t let something simple like your mail hold you back from travel. Click here

Hi Tim

Thanks for taking the time to write. We enjoy hearing from our Readers.

To answer your question, there are a couple of ways to handle your mail when you plan to be out of the country.

The first thing to do, of course, is to minimize any kind of mail that you receive. This means that instead of receiving paper copies of anything (your charge card statement, your brokerage house statement, your health insurance billings, and anything else) — just go paperless whenever possible. And it’s almost always possible. Reduce your junkmail at every opportunity.

The second thing to do is to get signed up for automatic bill pay for anything you have come in on a regular basis. Fidelity is our brokerage house and we have our charge cards automatically paid out of this account. Fidelity also offers a check writing service which will allow you to write a physical check and manage it online. That means that you “write” the check online and Fidelity sends a physical check to your Biller.

Go paperless whenever possible

The third thing is you could look into Traveling Mailbox. This company will scan your postal mail, forward to any address you tell them, deposit checks for you and will provide you with a physical address while you are on the road. You can check your mail from anywhere in the world so long as you have an internet connection. They are some of the best mailbox services in the business.

Of course it goes without saying that your taxes can also be done online and that you can deal with your accountant online and do electronic filing of your taxes.

Also, if you have a relative, neighbor or close friend, you could have them take care of your mail if you plan to be gone for any length of time.

This is a process, but eventually, you will have very little snail mail at all. Between your automatic payments and your online check writing ability, you can manage just about anything. There are plenty of options, and once you get started on this category of your life, you will most likely enjoy the simplification it brings.

Good luck to you and again, we thank you for writing!

Best,
Akaisha

Simplify, simplify, simplify

Posted in All Things Financial, Q & A From our Readers, Travel Tips and Insight | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

I’m Not Yet 30 and Working on Retirement

Hi Billy and Akaisha,

I realized it has been a while since I have written in to you. I was just reading some of your older newsletters that I did not have a chance to get around to, but I truly love whenever I see them pop into my email account.

Things have been going well in the music world. I survived my whole first year without a full-time job without going bankrupt, starving, or any of the bad things people thought were going to happen to me. I have been teaching guitar and voice part-time and I am in the middle of recording my second album. I would love to be able to send you a copy when it is done this spring.

A life of music and travel

My sister recently had her first child and I am so happy to have the free time to babysit her two times a week. Something I would never be able to do with a full-time job.

Although I am not traveling extensively like the both of you…yet, it is a goal of mine for when I get into my 30s. My goal was to take a 1 month trip to New Zealand when I turned 30. I have 1- 1/2 years to go. I believe you went there a while back and wrote a newsletter on it. I’ll have to search through.

Other than that, things are going well. Very happy that I found you when I was 25 and when I was not very happy about my job or my life. My life still is not the perfect dream I want it to be, but it is so much better. There is a lot less stress, I have time to relax if I’m feeling tired and I can go for walks in the afternoon or take a drive wherever. I’m also able to go away on a vacation whenever I want and have been able to travel to Chicago, New York, Vermont and Pennsylvania on the drop of a hat.

Thank you once again for the great inspiration you are to me and so many people who read your newsletter and updates.

Lauren

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Hi Lauren!

Thank you so much for taking the time to write and express all those kind words to us!! We very much appreciate them.

And YES we would love a copy of your album… can it be downloaded in MP3 format? What a thrill for us. I have visited your website several times, have heard your music and am so impressed. What a talent you are!

I know that you have expressed your appreciation and admiration for us, but we also want you to know that we admire you as well. What a strong and clear-headed woman you are to be pursuing your dreams of music and travel. And what a heartfelt life you must be living.

We enjoy your updates and look forward to hearing from you again.

Thank you for contributing good things to this world of ours.

All the best and thanks, too, for keeping in touch.

Akaisha and Billy

Mayan saying: Empty yourself of that which isn’t useful anymore; by doing so you’ll find the tools you need to achieve your dreams.

Posted in All Things Financial, Heart Song, Is It Work or Is It Passion?, Q & A From our Readers, Women's Work | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rising from the Ashes to Newfound Freedom

What’s a man to do?

Before I had gotten divorced I had bought your books and was near positioning myself and my then wife for a retirement like yours by the time I was 50… and then….. yes, drumroll…. my wife of 23 years and companion of 28 years filed for divorce. The first thing that came out of her mouth was, “I am getting our new house (the one we just built) and taking you for everything you’ve got.

WOW. What a blow. Now. You probably are thinking, “Ok, buddy what did you do that caused this wonderful stay-at-home mom of over 20 years to go such drastic measures.” My answer? NOTHING. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

I was an honest, dependable, and faithful husband and a good father. I had always provided and gave everything to my wife and family. The only thing I could determine was that people DO change and the person you may have met 28 years ago, will NOT be the same person 28 years later be that good or bad. In my case, it was for the bad.

Change can take us by surprise. It’s up to us to make the most of it.

Divorce pounded retirement savings

So what happened? I think she saw dollar signs. She got greedy. She knew that as a stay-at-home mom with no more than a high school education she could take me to the bank. And take me to the bank she did.

Over the course of our 23 year marriage, we were never rich because we only had one income but through consistent saving and investing I had a net worth of around $500,000 dollars at 46. About $200,000 in home equity and $300,000 in savings and investments. I was debt free until we built our new house but I was on track to pay that off in 4 more years and by the time I was 50. By that time I estimated we would have more than $500,000 in savings and investments and probably more like $750,000.

Where I find myself now

What happened was this. She filed for divorce and it became final at the bottom of the stock and real estate markets. So there went half the net worth.

Of the remaining, to get out of alimony I had to increase the percentage that she walked away with from 50% to 80%. Two lawyers advised me to do that. So I ended up with 20% of the remaining half that was left. Then I was stuck with any debt that was remaining and since I hate debt I took my 20% and paid off that debt.

So… the end result? At 46 I had an accumulated net worth of a half a million dollars and at 47 I had a net worth of zero and was destined to pay child support for at least the next 4 years.

This situations shattered everything I had been working and planning for for 30 YEARS. THIRTY YEARS!

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Now I am 50 and am coming to the end of the child support but, of course, my ex is fighting that by going to the department of child services to try to milk even more out of me. What does she have to complain about?

She took what she got out of our divorce and bought a 20 acre piece of property with 2 houses on it, one that she and her new husband rent out for extra income and one they live in and paid cash for it. Gee. I wonder where she got that from?

Where do I go from here?

Here’s my point. Or rather my question. I am 50. Just now starting to save for retirement AGAIN and am looking at a shaky social security in my future. Whereas in the past I was planning on NOT expecting social security and as you had mentioned for you that it would be gravy.

For me, now, it is not gravy. It will be my primary means of income. And retire early? Yeah right.

I can’t replace 30 years of work just like that.

Happiness is a choice

But I have been trying to remain positive and hopeful. I have even been looking into things like trying to teach English as a second language in some of these countries so I can start living my life one way or the other…. even if I have to keep working in these countries. Do you know anything about these programs?

Beside this working idea, do you have any suggestions for me? What I can do so that I don’t have to wait till I’m half dead to retire? Like at 62 or 65, in  which case I don’t know even know if social security will be there for me or not and if it is if they will cut it down so far that to live on it will put you WAY below the poverty line?

Any suggestions you have will be appreciated.

David

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Moving forward

Hi David,

Billy and I are sorry for your loss and all the pain and shock that had to have put you through. There just aren’t enough words to say to you about this situation, but one thing is for certain: you are here now and want to move forward.

Thank you for taking the time to write to us and to share your circumstances.

We would like to congratulate you on your positive attitude – your self-reliance and your willingness to be flexible to create a future that is workable and rewarding for you.

How retirement appears

Sometimes retirement doesn’t come in a neat package – it can be thrust upon us in the disguise of uncomfortable circumstances. This is what has happened to you and we invite you to look at this as a great opportunity to reinvent yourself.

We have a friend who found himself in similar circumstances and a few short years later, he is the happiest he has ever been. It “seemed” that everything was taken away, but actually, he was given a ticket to his freedom.

You may be in a much better place in only a couple of years, too.

Let’s take a look at some of your questions and some of our suggestions on how to make the most of this state of affairs where you are.

English and math teachers are in high demand

Teaching ESL

You asked about teaching English as a second language.

My personal experience with this was completely volunteer. I taught children of various ages at their school, in my home and in a public restaurant.

However, opportunities to learn English are in high demand as oftentimes men and women in business suits approached me and ask me for lessons. And we hear from our Readers who themselves are teaching English in foreign countries that it is a solid opportunity.

While I have no personal experience in making money teaching English, my understanding is the best places to teach would be in Japan, Taiwan or Korea. Perhaps even China. We know several people who have done this and were able to save quite a bit of money to pay off debt or to put towards retirement. In these cases, they were given lodging and a salary. These days you can make over $100k tax free if you work overseas.

Also, you mentioned in another email that you are a computer programmer of sorts – you might consider teaching math – which is also in great demand. If you don’t want to move overseas, you can teach math online from anywhere by being a digital nomad.

Online tutoring or online jobs

On another track, you might consider online tutoring which would give you the opportunity to be “anywhere” and still keep a commitment to teaching or other sorts of income opportunities such as a variety of online jobs.

Take a look at our Retirement Jobs Page which offers many opportunities to be a consultant, to freelance, work abroad, get paid for volunteering or even offer you the ability to mix adventure and travel with receiving a paycheck. If you are looking to be a Digital Nomad, this could work for you.

Any of these ideas could be a jumping off place for you and once you begin to delve into it, doors will open. This would only the beginning.

Find answers to all your retirement questions, click here

Housing

As we demonstrate in our own lifestyle and share in our books what you pay for housing is one of the biggest capital outlays in any household. You mentioned that you have a 38 foot RV set up at your brother’s that will only cost you $100 a month, so you obviously “get” this part of the equation.

However, if you would like to undertake a journey and see other countries or other States within the U.S. and mix that with being an online employee/entrepreneur you might try house sitting. There are long-term house sits literally all over the world where your lodging would be practically free. Whether you would like to spend time in San Francisco, Tucson, in the wine country of Napa Valley, in a beach town in Costa Rica, in the mountains of Tuscany, Colonial cities in Mexico or Guatemala, in London, Spain or France, house sitting gives you that opportunity to get out of the rut of daily existence and add some spice to your life.

Meet the locals, walk to museums, buy your food at farmer’s markets and neighborhood bakeries – these experiences will open your mind and your life.

Houses and cars take up a lot of retirement funds to maintain

Transportation

Depending on how much travel you want to do in your new life, costs for transportation might be something to consider. If you become car-free this would be just one more monthly expense you can free yourself from. Take a look at our Lifestyle Page and find links to car-fee cities and books on how to live well without owning a car. We have been Car-free since 2009 and don’t miss our vehicle in any way. The money you save on repairs, maintenance, fuel, parking, etc. can be used to hire a taxi or private driver (especially in foreign countries) or take the subway, ride a bike or even do RideShare, Uber, Lyft or rent a car whenever necessary.

Go paperless, get free

In preparation for any of these new changes of travel, adventure and self re-invention, get your communication and methods of paying bills digitalized. Go paperless as soon as possible. This will free you up immeasurably and in ways you might not have considered.

To be honest with you, this could be one of the most exciting times of your life. While the circumstances that brought you here were painful and confusing – perhaps even unjust – what you do with your life from here on end is up to you.

I hope you find these suggestions to be useful. Please feel free to write any time.

We wish you the best of luck.

Akaisha and Billy

Simplify, simplify, simplify

Posted in All Things Financial, Heart Song, Housing, Q & A From our Readers, Travel Tips and Insight | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Power of Having a Plan

Hello Billy and Akaisha,

I wanted to write to you today because I wanted you to know that I have a “plan!” I always tell people that are seeking my advice that if you have a plan you can always change the direction of the plan, but you have to start somewhere.

You have given me the courage to put my plan into action. Each time I read one of your emails that are chocked full of information I become more positive that I am heading in the right direction. My goal is to be in “retirement” mode and living as an expat by early 2013. I may start as a house sitter to explore the place that will suit me the best.

The 1st steps I am taking is to de-clutter my house…years of collectibles have become junk to me and taking up space and collecting dust! I have some great friends that are helping me with this monumental task. I am not a hoarder, but if I keep going this could be reality. I think the hardest thing for me will be to give up my wardrobe and shoes. Deciding to give up those cute Zebra striped shoes with the red bow will be heartbreaking…LOL.

Love at first stripe!

I am excited and nervous at the same time. I have been researching, thinking and planning for this for over six years. I will not be wealthy but I will be ok and living outside the U.S. in some of the places you mentioned will make that possible.

I am so happy the day I ran across your blog, I don’t even remember how that happened, but I have been a faithful reader ever since. Hopefully our paths will cross and I will have the pleasure of meeting you personally.

Elizabeth

Put your retirement plan into action. Click here

Hi Elizabeth!!

I am so excited for you as well — and am happy to hear that you are moving forward with your retirement plans. We have been traveling the world for over 2 decades and it just keeps getting better.

I remember you saying that you are no stranger to travel yourself, that you have a flexible attitude and that you know another language (Spanish I believe…) These are valuable tools and will serve you greatly when you relocate.

We have discovered the joy and expanding opportunity of house sitting also, and are starting to implement this into our travel style. I think you will love this choice — wonderful homes available to you all over the world, some of them with gardens and pets and lovely neighbors.

House sitting is more affordable than staying in a resort

Thank you for keeping in touch and like you say, perhaps we will meet on the road someday. Wouldn’t that be GREAT?!

By the way, when you give up your Zebra striped shoes with the red bow, I will send you my address! I want those shoes!! 😉

I know that sometimes it is a challenge to move forward into the future and to let go of “things” but those items will be replaced with other fantastic ones.

I think you will do just fine.

Thanks for staying in touch and feel free to write any time.

Best,

Akaisha and Billy

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Posted in About us, All Things Financial, Heart Song, Housing, Q & A From our Readers, Women's Work | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Up, Up and Away – Or Not

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. 

Harry, my 90-year old friend, planned a trip from San Diego to London that included stop-overs and a number of connections. He designed it this way because his cardiologist didn’t want him taking any long, direct, flights. After reading Harry’s itinerary I took a nap.

Harry enjoys planning each leg of his trips. Maybe when I’m Harry’s age I’ll enjoy the process too, but for now the only thing I enjoy is being there.

“You don’t mind airport turmoil and chaos?” I asked.

“I love it,” he answered. “I’m a people watcher and airports are the best place for that.”

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“You don’t hate connecting planes?”

“Nope. It’s exciting.”

Me? I would rather fly one plane directly to Hell, than have to connect planes to Paradise.

“Don’t you find packing exhausting?”

“What’s to pack? I throw in three pairs of slacks, five shirts, underwear and socks.”

That would explain it. In addition to daytime and evening outfits, I need my creature comforts: jewelry, curling iron, makeup, tweezers, pillow, books, extra shirts for when food lands on my chest — which it always does – and four  pairs of shoes: three designer pairs and one orthotic pair for my throbbing bunion.

No matter what airline I select, it’s always furthest from the terminal entrance. And, I’ve never entered and shoved my way down a crowded airplane aisle without resisting the urge to say:

“Mooooo.”

To travel or not to travel?

I watched a man’s slacks drop to his ankles as he placed his luggage in an overhead bin. He stood in his tidy whities, casually speaking to the airline hostess, and it was several minutes before he bothered bending over to retrieve his slacks.

I talk to myself when I’m in the air:

I need to pee, but I don’t want to bother anyone. Maybe I can hold it in for another 3,000 miles. 

Who told him that arm rest was his?

She’s getting up, again? I have to remove everything from my lap and struggle to stand… again?”

I was once stuck sitting next to a man who weighed over 450 pounds. He was wedged into his seat with two seatbelt extensions stretched tightly across his galactic belly.

Individual seats are not always that roomy

I’ve battled weight all my life, so my heart goes out to anyone with an eating disorder. But compassion dissipates when someone the size of a Humvee has you pinned down and held captive. The heat from his gargantuan left arm welded my right arm to my breast. His mammoth hip and thigh rested on mine. My right side went numb.

I couldn’t turn pages of my magazine, and had to eat with my left hand.

I wrote to Continental and requested compensation for having to share my seat with another person. Continental wrote back and said, Thank you for flying Continental.

Today I began planning a Florida vacation, and I’m already hyperventilating. I had to pack a pair of sweats to wear in the pool, because I just discovered that when I wasn’t looking my knees decided to take shelter under a layer of thigh flab. I didn’t see it happening or I would have put a stop to it.

My attempt at making airline reservations was futile. Delta had only one seat available. Continental could get us there at 3:00 AM. United had room in the baggage compartment. Finally, Jet Blue came through but we’ll be traveling on separate planes.

I spent an hour comparing car rental rates. Some offered a $20 bonus for gas. Others offered a $30 coupon for – I never found out what for. One required taking a shuttle to their car pick-up location in a nearby state. I ended up making reservations with three companies, intending to cancel two. I can’t remember which two.

I’m wiped out. I don’t want to wait until my vacation to relax. Bring me a drink with a tiny umbrella. I’ll be in my bathtub.

After all this stress over making travel plans, I’ll be relaxing with an umbrella drink!

Other posts by this author:

An Apple a Day Doesn’t Work

Vacationing with a Stranger

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Posted in Guest Blog Posts, Women's Work | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments