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

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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.

Don’t miss a beat. Sign up for our newsletter.

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,


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?



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