Category Archives: Baby Boomers

Cutting the Cable in Retirement

You know what they say about people who still have land-based wired telephone lines?  Everyone under the age of 35 has never had one, and everyone over the age of 55 is afraid to get rid of theirs.  We got rid of our land line, and within two weeks, we didn’t really miss it.

Now we’ve moved on to the television.  We’ve been on a satellite-based TV service for over a decade.  Every two years, as the TV contract became void, the satellite company would raise the rates, and we’d do the “dish dance” from one provider to the other in an attempt to get lower rates.  Why these companies don’t have better policies in place for customer retention is beyond me.

But being the ever so curious type, and wanting to stay young like the Millennials, I started doing research about streaming devices.

We carefully evaluated what we liked about the satellite providers, made a list, and then I set about determining how to meet our needs.

What We Wanted

  • We like being able to record shows to watch later – Hulu Plus allows us to record up to 50 hours of programming.
  • We like being able to pause and rewind live TV – I know, we’ve gotten spoiled by being able to say, “Back up!  What did he just say?” Hulu Plus, through it’s live recording also allows you to pause.  (In some cases you can’t skip forward through commercials.)
  • We like being able to start watching in one room, and continue in another –Because all of the streaming services are account based, you can pretty much do this with any streaming provider.
  • We wanted to be able to watch network TV, along with some of our favorite channels.  This took some research, as different providers carry different programming.  Interestingly, Hulu Plus and several others carry both ABC and NBC, but CBS doesn’t seem to want to play nice.  I needed to subscribe to CBS All Access in order to get all three major networks.
  • We wanted to slash the price we were paying for monthly TV – Here is where you need to be careful.  We already had Amazon Prime for shopping, and I already subscribed to Netflix because of some shows I routinely watch.  I added Hulu Plus and CBS All Access.  We now have way more TV options than we can possibly watch.  But here’s the warning.  It would be extremely easy to keep adding on extras (HBO, SHOWTIME, STARZ) and end up paying just as much as you did before.

What We Chose

After studying up, I chose to order an Amazon Fire TV Stick for each of our TVs.  (About $40.00 each) While they do present programming options with Amazon content forward, the device was absolutely simple to install and get started.  I went with Amazon because we were already Amazon Prime members, and so it made sense to access video content as well.  The Roku Express Streaming Stick would be another outstanding option, just as easy to get started.

What We’ve Learned

Well, here’s the first rule:

Thou shalt NOT leave the TV on for the dog, (upon leaving the house)
when one is STREAMING their live TV!
(She now listens to radio!)

  • That was just a little bit dumb, and we got a nasty gram from the cable provider that we had blown through our data package during that first month.  The good news is it hasn’t happened again.
  • We lost our on-air TV guide.  We were used to flipping down the guide to see what was on tv.  It was easily replaced by the free TV Guide app which we downloaded to our phones and tablet.
  • We needed to learn to access our TV programming in a different way.  You kind of need to learn what content is available on which app (Hulu, Netflix, Amazon, CBS, etc.)  Then you navigate with a simple remote through the apps to find your shows.
  • Many of the providers allow you to set up separate profiles, so hub’s stuff is all together, and mine is in a separate place.  It’s kind of nice.
  • I got the Fire Sticks with the built in Alexa function, but to be honest, we haven’t really used it as much as I thought we would.  It is a pretty cool feature if you are looking for something specific.  Alexa, find James Bond movies…
  • You NEED to know your wi-fi log in password, and the login information of any other accounts you might already have. (Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, etc.)
  • Because all of our TV is now account-based, we can log in and watch TV on any account, from any device, from anywhere we have wi-fi connectivity.  We can even take the Fire TV stick with us and plug it in to any other TV if we choose.  (We’ll probably do that in a motor home.)

I think the most important thing for us is that we now choose to watch television much more intentionally!  No more just leaving the TV on to make background noise.  No more falling asleep in front of the television.  We specifically choose what we want to watch, do so…and then turn the thing off!

The good news is this…You CAN Teach an Old (erm….seasoned) Dog some new tricks.  BTW, we have cut the cost of our monthly TV bill IN HALF!  I’m curious how many other retirees have changed their lifelong TV watching habits!

Lynn

 

Retiring Without Children

Mother’s Day ALWAYS serves as a reminder to me that we are child-free (as compared to childless.)  It was a decision we made very early in our lives, and we’ve generally been OK with our decision.  Along the way, well-meaning friends would ask us, “Who will take care of you when you grow old?”  To which I always responded,

“Having someone to wipe my drool
was NOT a good enough reason to have children.”

And I still stand by that.  But now, as we get further along in our retirement years, our child-free decision does come with some interesting, but not insurmountable dilemmas:

  1. What is the best way for us to celebrate holidays?  The siblings all have families of their own, and we are always invited to participate.  But is it just wrong of us to want to take off, just the two of us, and leave all the holiday hoopla behind?  I see the tropics at Christmastime in my mind’s eye!
  2. What, exactly, should our will and estate planning look like?  Yes, there are siblings, nieces and nephews, and even a God-daughter, but the whole “who should get what” is a much more difficult decision when they’re not your offspring.  Literature is replete with examples of the young pandering to their elders in order to inherit!  God forbid!
  3. How much should we plan on leaving to charities, education foundations, the arts and such.  The desire to give back to this wonderful community of ours is strong!
  4. What if we start having mental challenges?  This one is probably the scariest of all.  I have many friends caring for siblings and parents with issues along the dementia spectrum.  Should that happen to us, would we even know??  A hard one to prepare for, for sure!
  5. Will we have enough money to either care for ourselves, (retiring in place and hiring any assistance we might need), or to move into a high quality retirement facility if necessary?
  6. And what if we don’t have enough money for any of this?

This would all be so very much easier if we knew exactly when we were planning to die!  Some very good friends of ours (also child-free) have suggested we plan it out like this:

We figure out how much we want to give to church, philanthropy and family, and set that pot aside.  We set aside enough to cover the nursing home for a couple of years (about the average stay.)  We make sure the insurance coverage is adequate to prevent catastrophe…and then we go out and have a blast!!!

Our goal is this:  If we play all our cards right, we want to cash out of this life NET ZERO!!  With any luck, the check written for our caskets will bounce!

Happy Mother’s Day to those of you who happen to be moms!

Lynn

We Can’t Spend Our Retirement Savings

Back in 2010, when hubs and I found ourselves both unemployed, we panicked – for about ten seconds.  Then we realized that we had been saving from every paycheck for our entire lifetime…we would be OK!

Skip forward eight years, and here we are – debt free, our home is paid for, our vehicles are all paid for, we are retired to whatever extent pleases us at the moment, we have sufficient pensions, and our investment account is healthy.  Now here is our dilemma:

We have spent our entire lives saving for our retirement,
…and now we have a hard time spending that money!

I can remember when my parents moved from acquisition to distribution in their own retirement.  My dad went out and bought a one-ton crew cab pickup and a matching 30-foot travel trailer.  My mom cried for days…not because she wasn’t up for the adventure, but because the idea of spending that hard-saved cash was contrary to our family’s deeply ingrained habits to “save for a rainy day.”

So here we are.  Hubs and I have been discussing (dreaming really) of buying a Class B travel van – basically a very fancy tent on wheels – so that we might load up our Roxy dog and take off exploring this country.

We have the cash, we could buy the thing outright – but wow, that would make a dent in our retirement funds, and we love watching that account balance go up…not down.  We could put down a sizable down-payment, and pay the rest off monthly, but there goes that “debt-free” thing.

So here we sit.  We’ve shopped different models, we’ve discussed the features we want to have, we continue to do internet research to learn new RVers tips and tricks.  Now if we could only pull the trigger.  A dilemma wrapped in a conundrum…

Lynn

Photo: Pina Messina ~ Unsplash

 

 

I Forgot to be Retired!

Late in March, Tanya, over at Our Next Life ran a couple of posts about using the term “retirement” honestly.  If you continue to make some money on the side, through blogging or other means, are you truly “retired?”  Tanya makes some good points about being honest with young people, who may get the impression that if they just save, they can retire early and presto…everything will be both hunky and dory!

As I mentioned in a post long ago, I had friends who told me, “You didn’t retire…you just quit.” , So when we met with our financial adviser last month, I asked her if she considered us retired, even though we continue to make some money.  Here’s what she said:

If you don’t NEED to make money…If you can live comfortably on your retirement income (pensions) and investments,
then YES…YOU ARE RETIRED!

She went on to say that if we continue to pursue other activities which we enjoy, and by chance make a little cash on the side, well, that’s just the icing on the cake.  We can pick and choose how we spend our time (another element of retirement.)

But here’s the rub…

In my little side hustle, I do some administrative support gigs for a few clients.  Document production, organization management, event coordination – things like that.  They are jobs that I can generally do from anywhere, on my own schedule.

Except that I forgot to pace myself…I kept saying, “Sure, I can help you with that!”  And before you know it, I was missing from my blog.  For almost a month.  Because I had work to do…..

Almost like a real job!   Ewwwwwwwwww!  Enough of that nonsense.  I’m retired!  Remember?

Lynn

Tips for Future Retirees

Happy Sunday, Voyagers!  Do you remember back a couple of months ago I asked you to ponder the following question?

What is the one piece of advice
you wish someone had given you
prior to your retirement?

Our retirement blogger community rose to the occasion and provided me with a wealth of suggestions.  Happily for me, I have been asked once again to guest post for Donna over at Retirement Reflections.  So I figured this was perfect opportunity to share the list I (um…..you all) put together.  So hop on over to Retirement Reflections and take a peek!  I’m excited to see what you think!  You’re the experts!

Lynn

Kauai – 8 Great Things to See and Do

Hubs and I just returned from eight days on the lovely island of Kauai, Hawaii.  Our visit towards the end of February gave us temperatures in the mid-70’s with a couple of warm, rainy days.  Kauai is known as the “garden island,” so travelers should be prepared for a little rain.

First, just for fun…It was pointed out to me that the east side of Kauai, when viewed from above, looks a bit like Chewbacca!

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Now on to the important stuff.  We stayed up on the north shore, in a condo (VRBO) in Princeville.  While there, be sure to visit:

The Kilauea Lighthouse

This landmark represents the northernmost point of the main Hawaiian Islands.  The unbelievable turquoise waters below the lighthouse point are worth the trip.

 

 

 

The Dolphin Restaurant, Fish Market and Sushi Lounge

Before I went to Kauai, I wasn’t a big fan of fish.  Well, if there is any place on earth to change that opinion, it was at the Dolphin.  The Dolphin boasts the freshest fish in Hawaii, and the servers were well versed in the characteristics of each type of fish.  These folks are also pros at impeccable preparation.  The Dolphin operates on a first come, first served basis, but there is a lovely garden where you can enjoy a cocktail and appetizers.  The menu has non-fish entrees, but trust me…try the fish!

Dolphin restaurant interior

 

Sunshine Helicopters

If you are staying on the north side of the Island, Sunshine Helicopters offers tours which take off from the Princeville airport.  Of all the places to take a helicopter tour, Kauai is the place.  Because much of this rugged island is inaccessible by road, a helicopter tour gives a unique perspective, along with fun narration from the pilot.

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Waimea Canyon by helicopter

A word of caution:  We allowed the concierge at the resort to book our flight, and found out upon returning that we’d have saved $200 had we booked it online ourselves.  (But wait…we’d have saved $190.00 if we’d attended the Wyndham timeshare spiel….hmm – learn from our mistake!)

Blue Dolphin Kauai Snorkel Tour

We took a tour over to the Na Pali coast on the island, via Blue Dolphin Tours.  Not only was the coast absolutely stunning, but the captain and crew aboard this large catamaran were over the top hospitable, offering breakfast, juices, sodas, lunch, and after snorkeling, the bar opened.  A wonderful day!

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Poipu, Koloa and the Spouting Horn

Be certain to follow highway 520 to the southernmost part of island. En route, you will pass through the Tree Tunnel, made of eucalyptus trees.  Old Koloa Town, the island’s first sugar plantation town, is charming and worth the stop.  Continuing on to Po’ipu, you will find Po’pu Beach Park and Brennecke’s Beach Broiler.  Enjoy one of the best Mai Tais ever built and some ridiculously yummy food!

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The Spouting Horn Beach Park is worth a visit.  The horn is made from a lava shelf, where water from waves is forced through an opening, squirting water out a blowhole.  This particular blowhole is different from others, because air rushes through another hole, making a moaning sound.  Some say it’s a dragon…

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What Kauai trip would be complete without a beautiful, beach sunset.  The stunning Kekaha Beach Park is part of a 15 mile stretch of white sand beach.  While this is not a beach for swimming because it is unprotected from the ocean and has strong rip-tides, it is a lovely spot for sunbathing or beach combing – or in our case, watching the sunset:

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We’re home now, and our Kauai trip did just what was intended.  Get us out of the snowy north until spring was at least visible.  My forsythia is starting to bloom outside my window.  Guess it worked.

Lynn

Retired Spring Break is Better

A couple of years ago, I read a very endearing blog post written by Lauren over at The Stuff of Life Blog.  It seems that Lauren found herself traveling with her son to Miami for spring break!

First off, she gets some seeerioouuusss cool mom points, especially since she footed the bill.  And secondly, she got me thinking about why I was glad not to be my former, younger, wild thing self of (eh-hem…) just a few short years ago.

These days, the Encore Voyage definitely does not include spring break antics.  Here are a few reasons:

1. We don’t need to escape – Our daily life is pretty damn sweet!  Back in the day, we would count the days until we could ditch college and get some relief somewhere…anywhere!  Now, there’s just not that much to run from.

2. Sleeping in is no longer our priority – God knows I never thought anyone would hear me say this…I have become a lark.  This from a perpetual night owl!  I worked my way through college as a bartender – staying up half the night was part of the routine.  Spring break was when we dreamed of sleeping until noon.  But now – wait for it – I love the sunrise!  I believe this is because we are no longer exhausted as we were during our working careers.  Weird, I know, but true!

3. We don’t need to use spring break to catch up (on studies or other chores) – Remember when you would use spring break to start reading that 50,000 pages that you had put off reading?  Or would count on having the time finally to start that term paper? For us, those things that need to be done have either already been done, or they’ll keep until tomorrow…or next week.

4. The party of a few hundred thousand can go on without us – Spring break evokes pictures of beaches full of wall to wall young sweaty bodies.  Not my idea of a good time anymore.  Does it say something about us that on our recent cruise, there were few people younger than about 25?  And that we planned it that way?  I don’t think we’re old fuddy-duddies, but we sure as heck plan our springtime travels for the times when the little revelers will be safely back in their academic constraints!

5. We know our limits –  Ahhhh, that dancin’, loud music, beach filled, booze fest attended by thousands of our new best friends.  Back then we could hardly wait.  Older – wiser – I can’t remember the last time I puked on my shoes!  Perhaps it’s because we can now afford better cocktails and good wines?  Or maybe we just grew up enough to know that needing to shave your tongue or hold your eyelids open with toothpicks is not a great feeling…

6. THEY come to US – I don’t know about the rest of you, but when I was in college, I couldn’t wait to go HOME for spring break.  Most years I was out the door and headed for good old mom and dad’s!  Laundry in tow and expecting a paid for, home cooked meal was about the best thing ever.  We don’t have kids, but my friends tell me that one of the perks of retirement is getting to spend time with children and grandchildren on their spring breaks – On your own terms!

7. No more bikinis! – Lauren truthfully points out that it is difficult to walk around all day with your stomach tucked in, but that if she had to, she could – She just doesn’t need to anymore!!! I couldn’t have said it better myself!

So how about it, fellow Voyagers?  Got any other reasons why retired spring break is better for you?  I’d love to hear!

Lynn