Friday, December 30, 2016

2016...goodbye and good riddance

2016 is a year that will live in infamy.  For me anyway.  Bit up and down.  Too much down.

Simplicity and frugality-wise, it wasn't terrible.  I managed to re-supply my savings enough to think about getting the real cabin started in 2017.

And thank goodness, and frugality, I had enough savings to do what needed to be done during some rough times.

Starting last December, ok, end of 2015, but it rolled right on through the new year so I'm lumping it all into 2016.  Why ruin 2 years?

Last December, I lost two people.  First a really good old friend passed away suddenly.  She was younger than me.  I didn't stay to help her family because I was heading back to the folks to visit my father.  He had the "big C", not that one, cancer.  It was bad.  Really bad.  He died.  But at least I had the cash in savings to help my friend's family and to go back for the visit over the holidays and the vacation time to stay through the end times and the memorial.

Then, 11 days later, Gramma falls and breaks a hip.  Frankly, I think the hip broke, and then she fell.
I didn't go home immediately.  I already had another trip planned for Feb to help with my father's stuff.  Instead, helped pack up Gramma's apartment as she had to move to a nursing home. I got to visit her and Mom and the rest which was good.

In June my godson graduated college which was/is AWESOME!  SOOOO proud of him (he got out with very little debt..yeay him!!!).  I went for the graduation, helped with a move.  Then he and I took a celebratory road trip back to the family homesite for my father's memorial.  Drove Idaho to Iowa, and back.  We thought we could take a leisurely tour on the way back to Idaho, but alas, he GOT A JOB!  Yeay him!!!!!   So, we booked.  The graduation and trip were the highlight of 2016.  And again, glad I had saved up and could do this.

In Sept, another trip to Iowa.  Flew out and an Aunt (a very young fun one) and I drove a moving van back to Idaho with my stuff and a couple of her things out of Gram's apartment.  Got to visit Gram again.  And Mom and the rest.  The trip with the moving van went really well until the end.  The end SUCKED.  But the company and the scenery were excellent. Thanks Aunt!

Alas, a few weeks after I got back, a person I had worked with and who filled the role of uncle or grampa for me, passed away.

Next Gramma died.  She had decided it was time and that there would be NO memorial or funeral or anything.  Nothing.  She did want my sister and I to take a vacation with Mom.  So we went.  It was great and once again I was glad I had saved up and had the money to do this for Gram. (We all paid our own way so actually: yeay all of us.)

Finally, I got word that a friend from college had passed suddenly.  He was almost exactly my age.  I miss him. 

That's enough now.  Just one more day of 2016 to go. 

More on the good stuff:
The graduation and road trips were great!

The vacation with Mom and my sister was fabulous.  We love Vancouver BC.

And I love my wee shed cabin thing!  It is a BIT tough to keep warm when it is below 10degs F, and windy.   The rest of the time it is awesome.

I splurged and spent 20$ on a sled!  RETAIL and NEW.  Very unlike me but I had enough screwing around looking at thrift stores and the snow wasn't going to last forever.  I have been sledding and snow shoeing on my land.  That is now my favorite thing.

The solar got fixed and the well works!  I spent a bit to get the good electricians out, but now it works.  That was worth it.

And I got bees!!!!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Happy Solstice!!!!

The light is coming back and I NEED IT.  The days getting shorter and shorter and shorter get on my nerves.  Which isn't fair to the universe.  It's just a thing that happens.  And if the days didn't get shorter, they wouldn't later get longer.  (I'm like a philosopher).

Anyway. I do love the winter solstice.  I even convinced myself that the sun came up earlier this morning because it was up while I was still at the gym.  Reality check:  I was running late.  Whatever.  I liked it. 

At my place the ski was completely clear when I got home at 7:12pm...and it was pitch dark.  The moon wasn't up yet.  It was a truly gorgeous night.  I woke up at about the time of the actual solstice which was nice.  I wake up every night, but at least this time, it had a side benefit.  Apologies to the recipient of my actual-time solstice text.  I kind of wish I had one of those cameras that takes night photos.  By which I mean...a camera.  The phone and the ipod weren't cutting it.  Hard to describe the stars to those of you who live in lighted areas.  It's amazing when it's dark and cold and clear. 

I see this as the beginning of the new year.  So, Happy New Year!  I guess that means I have several "years."  The calendar year beginning on Jan. 1.  The fiscal year which starts on Oct. 1.  The solar year that begins on winter solstice.

For those of us who celebrate solstice, we need better music.  Not crap like "here comes santa clause" or the smarmy tripe that runs on the radio and stores NON STOP for MONTHS.  Nor the moody enya type stuff.  Good songs like these few tolerable xmas ditties:


And just in case I don't get back to the blog before the calendar new is an offering from Stephen Colbert and Michael Stipe with a needless and distracting James Franco cameo:

Thursday, December 1, 2016


There is a question mark on that because the discussion is so often presented as "must save 1million dollars!

It's as if f Dr. Evil were in charge of retirement planning...

There is no way in heaven or hell, or even in places that actually exist, that I will have 1 million dollars for retirement.  Not happening.

So, can I retire?

What about Social Security?  I hear that it might go bankrupt any minute.  But will it? Just because less will be coming in, fewer workers per retiree etc, doesn't mean it immediately heads to zero or that we can't start taxing the wages above whatever the current top limit is for SS tax (seriously, there is a top limit...I'll never hit it).  But, what if it DOES still pay out at something near the current rate.
Here is a spot to find out approximately what you'll get:

You can see it in today's dollars or future dollars.  It did NOT say "zero."  I will get something.

I have a retirement plan at work, 401k type.  I contribute to get the maximum match from my employer.

I could contribute more but I'm going a different route.
I'm cutting expenses.

IF I can get expenses down below my estimated social security payment, then my work retirement account will be there to cover slack and unexpected expenses.

First, I do not currently have any debt and I take drastic lifestyle measures (to some, they don't seem drastic to me) to avoid debt.  E.g., I live in a shed and a camper. I paid cash on the barrel head for my current car.  For my land.  I have a small solar system for which I paid cash.  Same with the well.  My only recurring monthly out of pocket expenses at the moment are my cell phone and a storage unit with the stuff I hope to put in the future cabin I hope to build without debt.  Annually I pay car insurance and a healthcare/fitness program that I choose to fund and find worth the expense at this time.  The healthcare/fitness could be dropped if I lose some income.  As could the cell phone.  There is no TV expense, no internet, no utility bill of any kind (no I said, some might find that drastic).

And of course, taxes on the land which I am working to keep to the minimum, like everyone else.

I do spend on travel, gifts, and other things.  Those expenses can be minimized or eliminated if need be.

Food...I'm going to need that.  I'm always trying to find ways to be cost effective with food.  Eating crap processed foods...which I not the best.  While it can seem cheaper up front, one is not healthy on that.  And, turns out it's not cheap.  So, I try to eat as much whole food, cooked from scratch, as possible.  I'm also working on growing more food.  I have space, but not much decent soil so it takes time to get that going.  I do have 2 apple trees, some berries, and a small garden.  I have access to a cheap fishing license and stocked trout ponds which I could take better advantage of.

In the coming months, I'm going to focus back on eating whole foods, more fruits and veg and working to get my "added sugars" down to the recommended levels (6 teaspoons a day...which is 24 or 25 grams).  Since it's hard to tell how much of the "sugar" on a food label is added, the easiest way is going to be by not eating food that comes with nutrition labels!  Hello produce aisle, farmers market, and maybe a CSA.  And of course, gardens, sprouting jars, and the like.

I doubt I can totally eliminate packaged or restaurant food (much added sugar there too) or that I want to, but as I eat up what I have and even throw out some of the worst, I'll focus on replacing it with actual produce and meat.