Friday, March 16, 2012

Candle making

Candle making may not be "up everyone's alley", but I was impressed by how easy it is to learn candle making on your own, in your own kitchen! What an idea to do something creative that doesn't require a lot of lifting, stooping or bending! Bonsai is a great idea, however there is some daily, time consuming care that requires the kind of care you would give to your pets. Daily watering and weeding for starters. You have to know a lot about the art of bonsai to just make it live. You can't sell them to just anyone. They will die even with the best care by a very knowledgeable person. So candle making it is.
Candle making supplies are cheep! To start all you need is the wax, wicks, the barrel of a Bic pen and a few wide mouth canning jars. There are plenty of sites online that will give you plenty of insight on candle making and craft stores that carry candle making supplies.  I suggest starting with the supplies you can get at your local craft store. That way you don't end up with 10lbs of wax and 100 wicks requiring shipping cost from a wholesaler.
Candle making does not require a lot of lifting, stooping, walking and bending. We are occupied with ideas for unique candles when we aren't able to be around to make candles. Wax melts at 150 degrees Fahrenheit so you don't have to worry about severe burns. The only thing that truly frustrates us is waiting to sell them. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Planning for retirement

Like I said before there's lots of information out there about how to save, how much to save, and who you should consult to ensure you're saving correctly for retirement. There is a price you have to pay for all this "information". Everyone is looking for a cut of what you want in the end to retire on. Has no one noticed a large percentage of pre-retired people who have lost their retirement savings, or most of it? Just talking to people who are retired already gives you a good idea of their new financial status since 1998 and 1999. Anyone who thinks they are immune to this trend will not be prepared for the basic realities of retirement.
They will call the retirees of the near future something like "the retirement survivors", "The do it yourself retirement community", and so on. For these people the $500,000 portfolio they've always suggested will not exsist. Recovery from the recent recession will be unattainable for most retired people. By the way I get my information from Bnet, and CBS Money watch.
So how do we combat our possible fate upon retirement? By thinking ahead about what we already have;
We know our consumer needs will plummet. We will no longer need the money to commute to and from work. We know the possibility of our medical needs will do nothing but probably accelerate. We know our vehicles will no longer need to be the ones we depend on to get us to and from work.
Most of us know we will need to downsize our primary residence. We know we will change our eating habits. We know we will be just as affected by inflation as anyone else, but we have plans. By starting to think about retiring at least 10 years ahead of time we will reduce the strain of switching over to our new lifestyles and try to enjoy them once they've come.
If there is a retiring generation that knows, "reduce, recycle, reuse" we are the first. Just by using this simple formula we can go forward more prepared for the realities of retirement than any other generation before us, at least since the depression era. Only the people who remember the depression well had a better system of recovery from being broke than any generation following. They formed tight knit friendships that would help them recover together. They all started out being broke and as they recovered each had their own paths to a better life style. Some became wealthy, some middle class and some that never fully recovered. The only bond that kept them all together was their memory when they were all broke. Their friendships were forged in unity against starvation and from being in the same income class from their start up; broke. They knew and enjoyed the same functions because they were the most inexpensive activities available. They remembered those good times together because that was all they had.
Today, the closest knit group of people you'll find is the retired and soon to retire. Not because they came from tough times but the tough times probably to come. From this group of people we can learn. Many have had their finances all but wiped out. So the problem to come is; how do we live as cheaply as possible?
All I can say is we are looking in our own back yard! We can forget the $500,000 savings just for retirement, that's gone. So what do we have left? We have a home. Our children are raised. So we began thinking what kind of improvements can we make to it to make it the most valuable when we do retire?
As I say we are 54, soon to be 55. Some may say this is too early to plan for retirement as far as selling and relocating to a more practical existence. Too late! We started planning 10 years ago and followed through. Now we are looking at the house we will eventually will sell. We have a list in our minds of the many things we can tackle now to make it as profitable as possible. That includes updating, almost renovating portions that could use some tender loving care. We started in the kitchen and the bathroom, the two things people focus on inside the home when deciding to buy. The bathroom sink and plumbing are upgraded. In the kitchen the counter needed granite and only granite. We updated the back splash and replaced the appliances. All matching black with stainless steel. From what I've learned these two places are overlooked by homeowners to be updated. We assume it's because of the expense.
We also looked at the front of the house for "curb appeal". It definitely needed attention and still does. I hated to say goodbye to the original front door but........ One new and improved front door and a bowed window later it definitely says welcome. We already know lots of factors affect the sale of a house. We cannot control home values in our area, property taxes, interest rates, or it's location, so what can we control? Windows, siding, attic insulation and ventilation, seal the air supply from the furnace and air conditioner. Not only will this add to the desire to buy, it will be enjoyed by us in the mean time. The basement has never been insulated, that comes next.
Some of the things we won't do yet is landscape the front yard. That will get done about 5 years before we sell. I hate yard work. The hard wood floor in the hallway from the kitchen and in the bedroom will get refinished shortly before selling. Timing is everything.
Some things we can't do is expanding the garage to a two car attached. It already is close enough to the property line. The cement driveway will probably stay. Boy is that spendy and there is little known about how much effect it will have on the value or curb appeal of our home.
But we didn't stop there. A few years ago we bought a small piece of property in a private resort campground located in tourist country. We are part of an association to govern how it's run. For around $1000 a year we can stay there for about 7 months out of the year. Many of my neighbors are either retired or getting near retirement age. That takes care of all but the coldest of months beginning in November and ending by the 1st of April, five months. So the next question is; then what? We'll figure it out.