Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Retirement Dreams

Retirement means many different things to many different people. It could be a time of strife. We hope for a time of comfort. Some will be content with the comfortable surroundings in their long time neighborhood. Others will want to travel. Still others will make their goal to live as grandly as possible with limited funds. It was while I was doing research on this very subject I ran into this little gem:
Family Association Campgrounds
Don’t laugh at this idea! These are great, inexpensive alternatives to paying out hotel bills and handing over money to rent a place to relax at.
The intro:
These places are built with the idea to have people purchase a small piece of property therefore being part of an association to make sure it continues to run well into the future. The small pieces of privately owned land are equipped with water, electricity and telephone land lines. Each property has space for a shed to store things in, parking for at least two cars, plus room for a fire pit, a large amount of fire wood, charcoal grill and space still to move around and plenty of seating. People will put anything from a tent, to RVs that stay year round on it with a good sized deck and some use their space to get off the road with their RV buses.
The cost is usually less than buying a new car. Many of the lot owners with RVs put in central air, large sanitary sewer holding tanks and large, free standing LP tanks so they don’t have to frequently run and get more. No reservations necessary as you are the owner of your place. You can have all the comforts of home, only away from home and most are smaller. The refrigerator and stove are usually smaller while some RVs are now built with room in the bedroom for a real queen sized bed and a full sized bathroom.
Your association fees, property tax, most services and upkeep is very low in cost. The association fees usually cover the cost of community amenities such as: pool upkeep, hot tub, electricity, water and upkeep of roads, club house and other community owned property. Local firewood suppliers, holding tank pumpers, tree trimmers, etc. charge very little for their services because so many of your neighbors in a small area have the same needs you do. That’s why you’ll never see a “truck charge” on your bill. They’re already there performing the same service for your neighbors.
Property taxes are low because:
You don’t have a very large piece of property and there are no permanent buildings or foundations you therefore aren’t taxed like you would be for a cabin. People use this little getaway for anything from tent camping to parking their big RV bus. You could be a tent camper, but if you’re located near the wealthy guy down the way with the big flat screen television mounted to the side of his RV bus, you’ve got an instant byob sports bar to visit.
The drawbacks are few and for those who don’t mind “roughing it” will have even less drawbacks. The colder the climate is, the shorter the season.  As the temperature drops toward freezing at night the water is shut off. Up here in Minnesota there are some pretty adventurous folks who can get beyond the frigid winter temperatures, like snow mobile owners, hunters and ice fishing folks. They can “get by” without a few conveniences. We’ve even had a few weekends we’ve spent at our little “get away” when we had to start the furnace.  You have to think a little “out of the box”.  The food you bring won’t need a cooler because of the outside temperature. The first time we went during winter I put the frozen food in the refrigerator. My husband wondered why I didn’t put it in the freezer. I simply stated, “Because the refrigerator IS a freezer right now”. The outdoor temperature was 10 degrees at the time and even if we started the furnace it’s insulated enough to keep that interior temperature till the next afternoon when we planned on leaving.
To sum it up the idea is to have someplace to go you can call your own. The kids can run when they want, where they want and get the kind of amenities they’d love to have in their back yard and in their neighborhood. Children over 16 can go to the pool on their own. Because it’s a gated community all the kids can run around and be safe or ride their bikes to the club house and know their bikes won’t be stolen. During summer it reminds me of the kind of neighborhood we grew up in during the 60s and 70s. Everyone is looking out for each other.
People who are ready to retire as well as retired people enjoy the environment. Many men in the community enjoy working in the out-of-doors so much their wives joke about “keeping an eye” on their husbands activities that way. Any way you look at it, it’s truly a great idea someone had long ago. If you’re interested at all go to Coast to Coast Resorts. You don’t have to own a big 40’ RV to become a member and you don’t have to be a member to discover camp grounds and RV parks across America in their system. You can also go into their forum where anything and I mean anything associated with camping is discussed among people who travel.  I found one discussion about coolers and another about cooking over the open campfire.  Just an idea.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Would you like to see $1000 by this time tomorrow?

I've been sitting on my couch all morning drinking coffee in my robe and slippers. It's after 12 noon. So am I being lazy? No, consider it a well deserved rest. I spent the last three days at appointments for professional reasons and topped if off with 2 1/2 hours of shoveling snow late yesterday. I live in Minnesota. This morning I've been surfing the web and was reminded of something I saw too many times a little over a year ago:

Would you like to see $1000 by tomorrow?
I spent all of 2009 hunting (researching) online for earning opportunities. I know at first glance what will be coming up by the first ten words of one of their sales pitches. I had to experience it for myself. These days they’re only a chance to get a good snicker in.
The one in the title has to do with promising too much money for too little time spent doing it. These are usually the ones that tell you that what they have to tell you in the next 30 minutes will change your life and they will give you all the information for free! In reality what they give you for free is promises. They will end up telling you what they are going to tell you. All you have to do is buy their free how to guide for as little as $50, others would charge you much more, but we have this limited time offer for a few select customers only, no one else. And today we are cutting the price to $40.
You see where I’m going with this? Before you do anything, make a commitment, or (God forbid) send any money to anyone, look it up online. In your address or search bar type in “is a scam”? Of course you would replace the words “stupidadd” with the real website. If lots of personal experience feedback is listed great. Just make sure it’s actual feed back because some of the owners of these “opportunities will load up the search engines with propaganda from the company itself in an attempt to bury the truth on you, so that you don’t see it. There are really good sharks out there!
So anyway, you will notice that these types of adds that want you to spend $40 bucks send you a book that “tells you” all the wonderful stuff they are going to tell you in the next one you buy for only $40! Then that one tells you all the wonderful stuff they are going to tell you next time for only $40.
Don’t laugh, there are people who’ve spent $120 and more doing exactly what the website got them started in, in the first place. They bravely share their story on exactly how they got fleeced and how much they spent doing so! Proceed with caution. Even friends can accidently mislead you.
I won’t be able to get you $1000 by tomorrow but hopefully I can help you keep your hard earned money in your pocket, not theirs!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Brand new furniture!

When I was a kid my friend’s parents had ancient furniture and very little decorating. That is of course until the kids grew up and out of the house. We didn’t live in a poor neighborhood. We weren’t wealthy, but we certainly could afford decent, up to date furnishings.  After all many of the families spent money on programs their children were involved in and could afford pets. I knew I would be different if I ever had kids myself, however it took a lot of persuasion on my husband’s part to do that.
So when my kids were 15, 11 and 10 I purchased my first matching sofa and love seat. Now, I had boys, very active boys and their father (my husband) ensured they stayed that way. How many times have I had to say, “No wrestling in the living room”? So when I came home from work I would notice things like curtain rods partially hanging on the windows, and tell tale signs of the dogs on the light gray carpet. Thank God I didn’t spend a lot of money on that furniture! It could have been a very expensive lesson.
When the boys moved out and we began to upgrade. Since then we’ve replaced doors, windows, telephones, and furniture. After 27 years of raising kids I feel human again. (Don’t hate me). We actually went for broke on some sculptures and antiques. Is it through some kind of miracle that we can come home and find things where we left them? There are no new mysterious chips, nicks, or scratches. The flatware isn’t bent up for any reason at all. Pancake turners aren’t melted beyond use. Even the hood over the stove can be kept clean easily! I’m thrilled. Next, what about an upgrade on the car?
I do have one tip for you that I didn’t have to learn the hard way: Knowing my kids would be driving my car I purchased one that looked like it could house great power under the hood but, it didn’t. It’s a sports car body that has a four cylinder engine. It’s great on gas, however it has no “get up and go”. It’ll get you there cheep and safe. Personally I think I saved lives. You do the math: three boys, seven years of them driving my car and only two speeding tickets.
If I ever buy furniture for my boys I won’t feel the slightest bit guilty buying it from the Salvation Army!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Staying connected when we retire

One of the best pieces of equipment this generation is going to have when we retire is satellite communications.  Most of us are not reluctant users of cell phones, the internet, and social networking. We already have researched what we need and have a good understanding of what we use. Land lines are gradually going away so as we travel we only have to find electricity to charge our equipment.
I can see this as an area to think about actually downsizing. Smart phones, etc may not be absolutely necessary to some of us especially if we often find ourselves in the unconnected wilderness. This is where I step in. My hubby and I went for the Verizon phones because of the coverage. While the others talk about the coverage they have, it is still limited due to their towers only being available where the population is the densest. We use ours for “ship to shore” communications. I know that’s very nautical of me but sometimes my husband is out on the boat while I’m back at the camp fire and talking with neighbors. ATT may be chosen by many but when it comes right down to it, you won’t be finding us in a large metropolis very often. Yes, we have a “ship to shore” radio on the boat but we don’t want the world hearing our casual conversation. Yes, we are adventurous. I hope they develop a plan for a cheaper rate for the retired. I dream a lot too!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Just finished my taxes and on with the year

This year we'll be getting back over two thousand dollars. This wasn't luck, this was what I do for our W4s every year. Next year our autistic son will probably not be here so leaving him off the W4 will probably not count. But this year our return will come in handy, of course. We installed a new door on the front and insulated the attic. That came in handy too for the Federal return. Next year we plan on building a screen porch witch will help with the heating and air conditioning bills.Times are tight for everyone.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Retire In Comfort

No matter what the retirement age will be that social security tells us we can retire at, planning is everything. We know retirement money from social security will be tight. I think retirement services should be free, but I dream of a perfect world. My husband and I are actually scoping out useful retailers that think about things before we do. Let’s face it, the older we get the more that goes wrong physically. I’m one of those people who’s all about statistics and spreadsheets. We tend to see our hearing and eyesight diminish. We will have a tendency toward diabetes, arthritis, plantar fasciitis, and thinning and graying hair. None of this is new news! I figure why not get a jump on it? We have one good thing going for us; we are not entering new territory! Billions of people came before us! The beginning of the baby boom is now on the verge of entering the retirement zone. Our biggest concern is retirement money. Our next big concern will be how we will be able to downsize comfortably.
As I have since I was a kid I pay attention to other people’s life style, how they do it and what seems to make them happy. The unfortunate thing is few like to share what they did before they got there and how they changed their way of living after. All I can do is observe! And I do observe. I’ve heard from a couple of women that their husbands retired at least 6 years before they did and their husbands never touched a vacuum during their entire married life. This would be a definite stress factor for me. I would insist on all those cleaning robots and give the china and crystal to my kids. We’d be using a lot of paper plates but the laundry would always be waiting for me! “Sorry honey but a cleaning woman will be here once a week. Are you cooking tonight? It would not be pretty!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Trophy fishing in retirement

Minnesota’s fishing season for walleye and northern opens soon. Two hours north of me is the ”Walleye  Factory”, Mile Lacs lake. Around that lake is a whole bunch of littler lakes that are great to fish for anything else. They are also great to fish in windy or unstable weather. No one want’s to be caught out in the middle of Mile Lacs if a storm pops up.
Any way I anticipate we will be doing a lot of fishing when both of us have a lot of time on our hands. We’ve been fishing together and with our children for over 30yrs. I caught my first trophy walleye when I was 8 and my first trophy northern pike a few minutes later. Again, I was lucky, my father brought me everywhere fishing. We went on three Canadian Fishing trips together. Thanks DAD! In the mean time I’ve learned a few of the lake fishing rules, not river fishing, that’s something entirely different.
These three rules never change no matter what Country or state you are fishing in: 1 Go where the fish are, 2 Go where the bait fish are, 3. Use the right tackle and bait for the species.
Fish like a certain kind of habitat within a lake. The DNR will tell you specifically what is in a particular lake. Near us is a lake that has mostly pan fish. We aren’t going to try to go for walleye or northern in that lake! The DNR will also tell how and where to catch them.
Watch where the wind blows. Lots of people believe the wind blows the bait fish to the far side of a lake, opposite from where the wind is coming from. So northern winds blows food to the south end of the lake. But when you look at what fish bite on you really have to wonder. Walleye feed on both minnows and mayflies’ hatching. Minnows like rocky shores on any side of a lake. Mayflies are out deep in a lake. Northern like to bite on red and white Daredevils along weed lines and deep holes. Bass hang out under docks, on any side of a lake. There, I’ve said it. Disagree if you will but I catch fish just fine thank you. One thing is for sure, the fish are where their food is. They aren’t swimming with their food, they are nearby. They swim where they are most comfortable near their food, usually swimming deeper, coming up once in a while to feed.
I’ve got two rods only. One is for northern; the other is for the little stuff like bass and the skittish walleye. Nothern run bigger, hit or bite harder, and fight something fierce. This calls for a strong, stiff rod, a real that can pull them in and line strong enough not to break. I use 45 lb test line at least, I’ve got an 18 inch steel leader as well. I always use a Dare Devil, red and white on one side and silver on the other. Walleye on the other hand are skittish and particular. My rod is light and very flexible. I had an Ugly Stick for a while but switched to something lighter. It’s loaded with 5lb test line and I even leave the bail open, feeling any activity with my fingers. Here in Minnesota Lindy Rigs are the order of the day, 14 ft long Lindy Rigs! Minnows are the bait.
My husband likes to bass fish. During that time I read. He casts a minnow under every protruding thing along the shore line. Anything that has a shadow.
Just following these simple rules increases your chances to catch fish. Many believe our success is affected by phases of the moon. Change in the angle of the light and unstable weather I do believe has an effect on when fish will bite more I do believe. I do know that when the walleye fishers go out at midnight on opener they’ve had to wait until daylight started breaking before anything bit. I am not this excited about fishing.
On a final note we find much information on where to fish, how to fish a local lake by hanging out with the locals! These people by nature are protective of their knowledge, unless you go into a bar. Yup, a couple of drinks and you have something to take notes by! They’ll share advice right down to what colored beads to use and what order to have them in on your rig! One huge tip to take though, don’t ask a lot of questions, just act interested in what they say. Even if they talk about their dog in the mean time, just look interested.  Also, knowing someone who lives in the area who is open to giving up their secrets is huge. If you don’t have access to these resources hire a guide for half a day planning on going back on your own to practice what you’ve learned. Think of it as a half day of school and probably fish as well! Watch everything they do, they do everything for a reason. There is a guide up near the Canadian border who has a twitch in his finger suddenly fishing for walleye, jerking the line just a little with his bale open. It must work for him!
So keep your eye on the sky and your nose to the grind stone. The fish aren’t going to jump into your boat!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Retirement abroad

I was looking around for retirement ideas that actually save you money and ran into MSN. Do I plan on leaving the country? Well Spain is a nice idea, health care is cheep. No, I don't plan on it, but 4 million Americans do! To retire for cheep in paradise I would have to leave my kids and grand kids. I'll have one or two dogs to think about, what are their veterinarian clinics like? Plan early!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Feeding Humming Birds

Hi again! I'm in from talking to my neighbor. She too noticed the Cardinals "making noise" lately. She's the kind of neighbor that always claims responsibility to anything good happening in the neighborhood. You know the type, they will say "that's because I just put out the feeders". Or she'll say "I created a Cardinal habitat for them and they live in my trees". Oh well. I'm looking for another type of feeder, hopefully that I've never tried before. It's been a while since I've had a domed one that ground feeders like. But the price differences this year are very drastic. I've seen them for as much as $80! I'd rather make my own! So anyway I was surprised to find Amazon is selling them for less than $50 and shipping is free! So here it is -
Ebay doesn't even have it any cheaper. I've been to Menards, they don't have it at all yet. My neighbor will say I'm borrowing them from her. Now I'm going to look for red fuchsias for those beautiful humming birds.

My back yard

In my "neck of the woods" I hearing the birds! They are making noise. I have Cardinals every year. Cardinals live here their whole lives here. The are born here and die here. The first death in my yard was hard for me to come to grips with, but in the end I was glad that poor defenseless little thing chose our place as it's final oasis from all things bad. Other Cardinals came, one by one, "to pay it's respects". A funeral of sorts.
So any way I've been thinking about my kitchen garden and herbs. Even though I'm tempted to run out and buy starter plants and keep them in my kitchen but why not let the pros be in charge of keeping them flourishing in the best environment they can be in? It's kind of like free labor. But I know what I want. Rosemary, sage and thyme. Maybe some basil. I wish I could grow cinnamon, bay leaf and nutmeg. But then I would also be able to grow coffee and fly to the moon! Oh well. Have a great day!