THINK BEFORE YOU RETIRE Tip #2

Today’s blog is following Think before you retire Tip #1 blog.

Some of the FIRE (financial independence retire early) crowd that I follow and love haven’t thought everything through.  Some of them don’t own a house. That’s all fine and dandy for the time being but what happens when you have a heart problem (like me) or any other health problems?  You’re not going to be 65 or 70 with a health problem and be able to move or visit other countries every month. You are going to need a “base” property in order to live out your days.

When you retire, you want to have your house paid off.  There is no way, here in Southern California that you will be able to live off of social (in) security and be able to rent a house.  Renting costs have skyrocketed and if you don’t own your own house you will be shit out of luck (sorry about the cursing). The average rent for a one bedroom apartment in San Francisco (apartment, not house!) is over $3000 per month.  The average rent for a one bedroom apartment in Los Angeles is over $2100. The average monthly social (in) security check is only about $1500 per month. Even if there are two of you retired, you still have gas, electricity, t.v., cell phone, food, doctor appointments, travel (car, bus), insurance costs, etc., there is no way you can rent and live a “good” life while renting.  Also if you’re renting, there is no guarantee that the landlord won’t raise your rent, evict you, or sell his property to someone who doesn’t want a renter.

If you’re like some of the younger crowd nowadays, who think the government is going to take care of them, think again.  It’s not the government’s responsibility to take care of you. It is up to you. And you don’t want to live in a section 8 (low income) property when you’re 65 years or older.  That is not the way to spend the rest of your life.

Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Here’s to reading on!

PAYING OFF MY HOME ONE MONTH AT A TIME (post #11)

Well here it is again.  Time to update you on the latest balance of my mortgage.  Only one month ago my mortgage was $2000.00 more than what I owe now.  I was hoping to be able to pay an extra $3000.00 per month, but that isn’t quite happening yet.  I will need to work a lot more overtime or find a second job in order to have the house paid off in the next 3 years.  But I am bound and determined to do it.  

My spending is down to the minimum.  I just think it’s the taxes that I pay here in California.  Unless you have a ton of kids and only have one income, you get crushed with taxes.  At least today (at the time I wrote this, not posted it) the cost of a barrel of oil went down to about $45 per barrel, which means that gas prices should be coming down soon, well except that an oil refinery in Carson, California just caught on fire, which will in turn cause gas prices to rise, because someone will say, we don’t have the supply we need.  I allocate $280 per month for gasoline for myself. I rarely ever spend more than $240 per month on gas. Occasionally I will drive to my brothers (approx 90 miles round trip) or go to the doctors (approx 70 miles round trip) but I usually have left over money from my gas envelope (see previous blog about using Dave Ramsey’s envelope system https://americanseniorcitizen.com/2019/12/02/how-to-get-your-spending-under-control-2-or-how-to-use-the-envelope-method-of-budgeting/.  

Getting there!

In one month I will have been in my new house for a full year.  April of 2020 will be a full 12 months of paying house payments on my new house.  I am hoping I will have the balance down to around $118k or less. Wish me luck!

Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Here’s to reading on!

I use Personal Capital  https://www.personalcapital.com/to keep track of my networth.  I can see all of my accounts (retirement, checking, savings, etc.) in one place.  Instead of going to each separate entity to look at my balances, Personal Capital shows it all on one page.  It is digital financial software available for your computer and cell phone. Try it…it’s free. There is no obligation.

THINK BEFORE YOU RETIRE Tip #1

Get things done the way you want them before you retire.

When you’re looking to retire you need to prepare yourself prior to retiring.  What I mean is this. When you’re working and making money you have the resources to buy a car, remodel your kitchen, get the newest thing in a mattress, get a new roof, etc.  But what happens when you’re retired and you are on a fixed income of only about 30% of what you were making when you were working. What a lot of people miss is taking care of your body.

I am the youngest of 5 kids.  Almost everyone in my family has dentures.  My dad had dentures from the time he was 30 (never knew why), my mom had dentures, my oldest brother has dentures, both my sisters have dentures.  The other brother we don’t talk about (family history) but I think he has all of his teeth, not sure. As for me, being an RN and seeing my patients every day in their hospital bed taking out their teeth to brush them, then putting them back in, in order to eat drives me nuts.  I have known for a long time that I wanted to keep as many of my teeth as possible. I don’t want dentures. So I am doing the necessary work now, while I have a working income, instead of being in my 60s or 70s and wondering where I would get the money to take care of my teeth.

Do you realize that when you’re 65 and getting Medi-Care that it doesn’t cover dental?  That means if you need dentures, you, yourself are paying for it, unless you are also under Medi-Cal (California’s term for Medicaid – California has to be “special” and use special names for Government programs) then you get to go where Medi-Cal wants you to go, not the dentist of your choice.

It is your best bet to use your company’s flexible spending account (FSA) every year and take care of your teeth.  Get everything done that needs to be done, don’t wait until you’re retired. You want to keep your teeth, not have dentures.  There’s nothing that says when you’re retired you “have to have dentures”. Not me, I want to keep as many of my teeth as possible.  And I am spending the money now during my working years in order to do that.  

So go to the dentist now, get everything taken care of NOW while you can, then retire!

The same could be said for your housing.  See my next blog THINK BEFORE YOU RETIRE Tip #2

Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Here’s to reading on!

SPENDING ON VALENTINE’S

So today I went to Albertson’s grocery store to buy some things that I couldn’t get at WalMart (they had no asparagus..my Walmart is usually out of everything, they don’t stock it very well) or at Aldi (amazingly, Aldi was also completely out of asparagus).  Albertson’s is one of your more expensive grocery stores here in Southern California, but you can’t beat the meat when it’s on sale. It’s great tasting, great quality meat. But when I walked into the store, it was like St. Valentine threw up all over the store.  I don’t mind nice smelling stores, but the smell of all the roses wafting through the air along with the music (pretty loud) of Frank Sinatra made me forget for a split second that I was at the store to look for some meat on sale. There were more heart shaped metallic balloons then are usually at the Party Store store.  It got me thinking, How much do Americans spend on Valentine’s Day and why do we spend money on Valentine’s Day?

Well, according to History.com https://www.history.com/topics/valentines-day/history-of-valentines-day-2 other countries besides the U.S. celebrate this day by giving candy, flowers and gifts to loved ones.  Ancient Christian and Ancient Roman tradition say there are several stories about how Valentine’s Day started but I like the one legend where Valentine is imprisoned and had sent the jailor’s daughter (who he loved) a letter before he was killed and signed it “from your Valentine”.  How romantic is that!!!?

This year Americans are expected to spend a whopping $27 billion for this “holiday”https://nrf.com/media-center/press-releases/confident-consumers-and-broader-buying-lead-record-valentines-day.  Do you believe it? 

No, I didn’t get the BF anything for this day, except a Dollar Store $.99 card.  I told him not to get me anything. To me it’s just another day that is made to waste money.  I’ve got paying off my mortgage on the brain.

We will make dinner together.  It will cost us way less to have 2 rib eye steaks with a baked potato and asparagus with a glass of wine and have candles lit on the table than it would cost us to drive someplace, wait for a table (especially on a Friday night) and order the same thing.  For a bonus, we can both drink as much as we want because we don’t have to worry about driving!

To everyone who still has debt, forget Valentine’s Day and pay off a credit card.

Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Here’s to reading on!

PAYING OFF MY HOME ONE MONTH AT A TIME (post #10)

Well, so much for me updating my blog every 2 weeks!

I really apologize to everyone.  With the holidays, the birthdays, the working overtime, and the illnesses of winter time (I don’t know why, but I have been sick more times this year than any other year in my life) I am finally trying to catch up.

The overtime has been awesome (along with the holiday pay!) but very tiring.  If I was in my 20’s, 30’s, or even 40’s, I would be working twice as much overtime as I am now.  But overtime tends to burn me out sometimes. I am very lucky in the fact that where I work that I can actually dictate where I would like to work my overtime.  So if the floor I am on is too busy and I am tired of pushing myself I can always ask to work overtime on a slower floor!!!!

And now on with the paying off of my house.  With all the overtime I was able to work, I have managed to pay off a significant portion of my house.  If you go back to the #9 post, https://americanseniorcitizen.com/2019/12/26/paying-off-my-home-one-month-at-a-time-post-9/ you will see that I have paid down my mortgage to $127,669.00. And now the new pictures and charts!!!

( I still have to learn how to post charts/pictures)

Do you see that???  My mortgage is now down to $123,528.05.  I am where I should be at 12/01/2025. I get a feeling of euphoria when I look at my charts.  I am on track to pay off this house in 3 years. Every week it seems to get harder because I am trying to perform the payoff by following the amortization chart.  But I think from now on, I am just going to throw any extra money I have towards the mortgage without regards to the amortization schedule, so the charts after today may start to look different.  I am going to have to keep a running tab on the chart and do it that way.

Let me know what you think in the comment section below.

Here’s to reading on!

PAYING OFF MY HOME ONE MONTH AT A TIME (post #9)

Well Merry Christmas to everyone!!!!  How did everyone’s budget do??? Mine did good.  I did not go over my budget this year (I usually don’t).  This year I had actually stopped saving cash every paycheck and instead sent money to my Vanguard cash account every paycheck so I wouldn’t have all that cash sitting around at home.  And I still managed to send extra money to the mortgage company to go against the principal on my home. In fact I budgeted so well that I was actually able to send an extra $1500 towards the principal.  Yay me!


I have a feeling of euphoria right now when I look at my mortgage balance.  I have only been in the house since April (moved in in March, first payment was due April 1, 2019) and I have paid down over $12k dollars.  I was hoping that I would be able to pay down $20k to $40k by the time a year comes around, and I am keeping my fingers crossed that I can pay down an extra $8k by April 2020.  

Wish me luck in the comments below!

Here’s to reading on!!!

HOW TO GET YOUR SPENDING UNDER CONTROL #2 or HOW TO USE THE ENVELOPE METHOD OF BUDGETING

In keeping with living below your means there are multiple ways to go about it.  I think the easiest to start with is to buy purchases using cash whenever possible.

Think about it.  When you use your ATM or credit card do you really “think” about the money coming out of your checking account or having to pay for it later?  Or do you just swipe? I bet you don’t even think twice when you go into StarBucks or the grocery store. You just swipe and go.  

I have found it liberating to use cash.  Yes, liberating. I feel good when I have the cash to buy something and know that I owe nothing else to no one for this purchase.  I’m not saying that you owe anyone when you use your ATM or credit card (when you pay it in full every month) but according to a study “Spend til it hurts” by MIT published in Carnegie Mellon magazine, The pain centers of the brain are activated based on MRI studies when you use cash. They are not activated when you use plastic. You feel pain when you spend with cash, so you have a tendency to spend less https://www.cmu.edu/homepage/practical/2007/winter/spending-til-it-hurts.shtml

I bought the Dave Ramsey Deluxe Envelope System https://www.daveramsey.com/store/product/deluxe-envelope-system. You don’t have to buy one, you can just use regular envelopes but I find this wallet is very efficient in keeping everything categorized that I need and it’s very easy to use.

The goal here is to “feel the pain” when you have to spend any money.  Feel the pain of the money leaving your hand.  

Also Dave Ramsey has a  free budgeting app called EveryDollar https://www.everydollar.com/  This is a fantastic way to budget that connects to your checking account to see every category that you have set up and keep track of.  The only reason I don’t use this app at this time in my journey is because I get paid every two weeks and it is easier for me to use the Dave Ramsey Allocated Spending Plan.

I use Personal Capital https://www.personalcapital.com/to keep track of my networth.  I can see all of my accounts (retirement, checking, savings, etc.) in one place.  Instead of going to each separate entity to look at my balances, Personal Capital shows it all on one page.  It is digital financial software available for your computer and cell phone. Try it…it’s free. There is no obligation.

Anyways, back to using an envelope system.  The envelope system is set up to allocate a certain amount of money that is determined ahead of time, then you put the amount of cash you have decided on in each envelope.  You spend the money that is in each envelope and when it’s gone, it’s gone. There is no more money in that envelope to use.  

When I first started on the envelope system, I had an envelope for almost every category.  Groceries, Gas for Car, Food Out, House Maintenance, Car Maintenance, Clothing, Medications, Dr.s/Dentist Visits, Vitamins, Hair, Gifts, Pet Supplies, and Misc.  And I carried all the envelopes around in my wallet. It was fantastic to go anywhere I needed and just pull out the cash that was required but it got to the point where I was carrying more than a few hundred dollars with me, which to some extent could be dangerous.  When at a cash register, you pull out this wallet with all these envelopes, you have all this cash, people give you a weird look, and you never know who is watching you.

So once I started following some of the FIRE bloggers (Mr. Money Mustache, Root of Good, Accidental Fire, Chris Reining) I found out that all the money I was waiting to spend, especially the maintenance envelopes, was being wasted because it could be sitting in a brokerage account earning interest.

So now every two weeks when I get paid, I do my budgeting (Dave Ramsey’s Allocated Spending Plan https://www.daveramsey.com/askdave/other/useful-forms) figure out how much I need for each category, go to the bank, get the cash and divide it into the envelopes that I have.

I currently only use 5 envelopes:

Groceries

Gas

Food Out

MIsc

Clothing

The clothing envelope doesn’t get filled with every paycheck.  I go months without buying clothes. So now it just gets filled when I know ahead of time that I am going to buy some clothes/shoes, etc.  The same goes if I know I will have to buy any birthday gifts for the upcoming two week period.

Here is an example of what I do (I am just using an arbitrary number):

Paycheck = $1000

Groceries $200

Gas $200

Food Out $200

Misc $200

I actually use less money than my example, but you will probably get the idea.  So, when you go to the grocery store, gas station, etc you can not spend more than what’s in your envelope…and that envelope is supposed to last you until your next paycheck. It does take some getting used to, but once you get used to it and find out how much more money you were spending prior to using the envelopes, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start this earlier in your life.  The less money you spend, the more you have to put towards your debt or your retirement.

Let me know what you think about the envelope budgeting system.

Here’s to reading on!

Disclaimer: Please use your common sense. The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal/financial/medical advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only.

Affiliate Disclosure: Posts may contain affiliate links for which I’ll receive a small commission. Thanks!

I do not get any money or free items from Vanguard or Personal Capital.  Vanguard just happens to be one of the most popular money management companies that most FIRE bloggers and myself use.  Vanguard is the largest provider of mutual funds and the second-largest provider of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) in the world.  Personal Capital is a wealth management company and provides free and fee based versions of online financial management tools. 

No, that is not me and my boyfriend (BF) walking on the beach. We both have longer hair! That is a free picture from Pixaby.

CHRISTMAS BUDGETING; CHRISTMAS IS THE SAME TIME EVERY YEAR!

Well people it’s that time of year again.  It comes every year, at the same time. It doesn’t sneak up on you, it’s not an emergency.  Every year on December 25th Santa Clause comes to your house and it’s time for you to pay him.  I know some of you give him an IOU slip in the form of a credit card and spend the rest of the year paying it off.  In fact, according to Credit Karma https://www.creditkarma.com/insights/i/quarter-of-americans-will-take-on-debt-for-holidays/ 22% of people are still paying off their debts from last Christmas. People open your eyes and wake up!!! When are you going to get your life together and stop borrowing to pay for Christmas! You need to plan.  

I know with Christmas just a couple of paychecks away some people might be wondering “how in the world is she doing it?” “How is she paying off her mortgage early?” For one thing I try to live below my means.  I try to take my lunch to work, I rarely buy any clothes, I don’t buy jewelry (I was robbed not once, but twice and it’s not worth it), I don’t try to keep up with the Jones, or Johnsons, or the Whoevers.  

I prefer to be in Levi’s (which I can buy 3 pair for $120 on sale on-line or at the outlet) and a t-shirt (these I love https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B00KRYLK12/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1).  I also take some of the money that is left over from the cash I allocate to my cash envelopes every two weeks and place some of that into a Christmas envelope to use for Christmas presents.  I used to have a specific envelope where I would put a small amount every payday in this envelope, then by the time Christmas came around I would have a ton of money for Christmas presents. It got to the point where I had so much cash on hand I was getting scared that someone would rob me, and I was feeling stupid because the cash I had on hand was not working for me (earning interest) and just sitting, doing nothing but waiting to be spent. 

So I started putting that money into my Vanguard Brokerage account.  It sits there earning interest all year long until it’s time for me to Christmas shop.  I started to do that with a lot of my envelope money, just so I wasn’t carrying around or keeping at home, a lot of cash.  Budgeting for Christmas is easy if you become disciplined and live within your means. I love spending money at Christmas. If I could I would buy everyone I know a gift, but that is only not logical, it’s not obtainable for me at this point in my life.  

Things you can try in your own life… How about only one or two gifts for the kids or your spouse?  When did it become popular to waste your whole year of earnings to provide gifts that people may or may not appreciate, remember, or even use???  

Life isn’t about getting stuff.  Just look in your kitchen. How many kitchen gadgets do you have?  How many can you use at the same time?  

I was in Costco the other day.  NO, I don’t have a Costco card. I don’t think a Costco card is beneficial to me at this point in my life.  It’s just me. Anyways, I went into a Costco with the BF who’s sister has a membership there. All of a sudden I wanted to buy everything.  My mind started telling me that I needed that sweater, I needed the new silverware, I needed a 5 gallon jug of whatchamacallit. My mind was spinning.  I literally had to take a deep breath, close my eyes and tell my brain “This is just a want, I really don’t need (insert name of everything in Costco) to feel satisfied”.  If you are ever in this situation, just repeat those words in your head. Do you really need that new frying pan, air fryer, or toaster oven? Or is your brain just overwhelmed with the lights, all the people fussing about, or the “newness” of the items?  

If you just go down the next two isles, there are more things to distract you, and by the time you repeat those words above about 50 times you will be at the end of the Costco isles and you will forget about that first isle, then you can tell yourself “see you really don’t need the whatchamacallit”.

Start the new year of 2020 by putting $25 or $50 per pay period into your Vanguard brokerage account (please don’t use a non-interest bearing checking account or a low interest earning bank savings account) and by Christmas next year you will have most if not all of the money you need to pay for your Christmas shopping then and you won’t put yourself back into debt.

Leave any comments below.

Here’s to reading on!!!!

PAYING OFF MY HOME ONE MONTH AT A TIME (post #8)

Well here it is again, almost Christmas time and I managed to eek out another $600 and some odd dollars to put towards the principal only on my mortgage.  Actually it was exactly $635.04 which put my new balance down to $129,842.88!

I am almost a full 4 years ahead of my mortgage.  Dave Ramsey would be proud (I think)!

This next month is going to be a little tough.  As much as I want to pay off my mortgage YESTERDAY, Christmas is very important to me and I want to spend some money on some of my family.  It’s hard to determine how much money to spend during this season. But it is possible if you decide to make a budget. 

My next post will be about using the envelope system, by Dave Ramsey.

Let me know how you budget.

Leave a comment below.

Here’s to reading on!

Disclaimer: Please use your common sense. The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal/financial/medical advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only.

Affiliate Disclosure: Posts may contain affiliate links for which I’ll receive a small commission. Thanks!

No, that is not me and my boyfriend (BF) walking on the beach. We both have longer hair! That is a free picture from the internet.

LIVING LIFE

Well, well, what to do, what to do.  You know that sometimes you really need to live life.  

BUT ONLY WHEN YOU CAN AFFORD IT!!!

I don’t go out often, and don’t go out to eat often.  But one of my biggest downfalls is going to McDonald’s and getting a regular Ice Tea with lemon.  They are only $1.00, plus tax = $1.08. That’s my big thrill of the day on my days off. But the last time I went,  besides being out of lemons (McDonald’s informed me that they will no longer carry lemons…ugh) the girl who took my money at the drive through and the girl who handed me my Ice Tea both had their nails done.  I mean, long sculpted, fancy rhinestones (are they rhinestones now a days?) or bling on them. And I wondered “how much do they spend on those?” Well it turns out in California you can spend anywhere from $30 to $70 to get a manicure and some fake nails put on!  And that’s every two to three weeks! OUCH. When you are only getting paid $10 to $12 an hour for work, why in the world would you spend that much money on nonsense? This is why some people complain that “life’s just not fair” or “I can’t afford school, or a car, or clothes”.  Where do these people think that they are entitled to all of this stuff. Have they never heard of saving up for items, or waiting until they can afford it?

You can not make $10 per hour and expect to rent an apartment or house and have a car payment (unless you have roommates).  You can not expect to get your nails done, have fancy clothes and go to school, unless you can afford it or someone is helping you pay for it.  You can not afford it if you are on any kind of assistance (welfare, SNAP, etc). If you are over 18, you should not be having your parents take care of your kids (you shouldn’t have kids unless you can afford them, without having your parents help you) and think that you can still go out, get your nails done, drive a nice car and expect the public to foot the bill for all of your “necessities”.

Enough of my howling….back to the subject of this blog which today is to LIVE LIFE.  I am on Dave Ramsey’s Baby Step # 6 (pay off mortgage early) and even with sending extra money to pay down my mortgage I have managed to save some extra money to get an electric bike!

I did it.  After intense research by the BF, we have both decided on getting Rad Rover Power Bikes.  They are the best. We went down to Balboa Island and rented them from SportsRent for a couple of hours  just to make sure they were the ones that we wanted. It was a wonderful time. The sea breeze rushing through your hair as you barely pedal (I love pedal assist!).  Looking at the wildlife in the marshes, gliding down the bike path on a beautiful sunny California day. I don’t know if I could live anywhere else (although the taxes here are killing me, I may have to move someday).  

Anyway, using an electric bike instead of my car will help the environment, somewhat and my health.  Although there is no way I can use it to drive to work. I leave too early, come home too late and there is no safe path for biking back and forth to work for me, otherwise I would definitely use the bike for that.  I will be able to go to the grocery store, the bank, the new movie theater, and even to the BFs house. I can’t wait for it to arrive!

The one downfall I have is that the money I have spent could have gone to pay off an additional 4 to 5 months of my mortgage, which at the time of this writing I have already paid off an extra 4 years in 8 months.  But I think the goal is to be frugal and remain happy. Do things you like, but only when you can afford them and that may inspire you to push yourself and be successful.

How do you want to be successful in being frugal?

Let me know in the comments below.

Here’s to reading on!

Disclaimer: Please use your common sense. The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal/financial/medical advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only.

Affiliate Disclosure: Posts may contain affiliate links for which I’ll receive a small commission. Thanks!

No, that is not me and my boyfriend (BF) walking on the beach. We both have longer hair! That is a free picture from the internet.