Tuesday, January 25, 2011

It's all about Attitude - in Life and Retirement

As Bill and I get older, I find myself Googling retirement stuff.  Holy shit!  The bulk of it is people freaking out because they don't have the millions of bucks they have been told they need to live after chucking their jobs.  Right now, I'm feeling rather good about life in general, so I'll be brave and say 'boo hoo'.  You can live quite happily with just a little. I'm glad that I have the brains to know that all the money in the world isn't going to magically make me happy.  I know that we also have choices and options, right this minute and also ten years in the future.  Some of them might end up being ... well, not pleasant, but hey, that's life.  You can still be happy in between plan B and plan C.  You might end up really liking plan C after you get to that step, too.  Some of the happiest people I have ever known have been the ones living in what a lot of us would consider dire straits most of their lives.

Some of the goofball retiree comments I have heard:
I have worked too hard all my life to do with less than what I have now - So you've been miserable for 40 years, working the job you didn't like, but have the big house, two cars, eat out, drive around because you're bored, watch the tube...and stay miserable counting your nickels trying to maintain that lifestyle. 
I'm retired now so I have time to bitch - First of all, courtesy is cheap, so acquire some.  The first step in resolving any problem is communication, not bitching.  The poorly paid person you are bitching at didn't create your problem/issue.  Remind yourself to "be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle".
I can't afford a hobby - Finding something you enjoy doesn't have to be expensive.  And you don't have to succeed at it, either.  Try something different!  Try a lot of different things!  Here's a few options:
     1. Don't think you would like to garden?  Then try a tomato plant or an herb in a pot on your porch.  You might discover that you actually do have a green thumb.  Most gardeners will happily share plant starts or extra seeds.  If you don't have a big flower pot, you can probably get a 5 gallon bucket from the deli section at the grocery store or the local fast food restaurants and poke some holes in the bottom and lower sides for drainage.  You can also make your own natural bug spray.
     2. Take up walking - get to know your neighbors.
     3. Do some volunteer work without expecting anything in return - Meals on Wheels, help someone weed their garden, paint their house, repair their fence, give them a lift to their doctor appointment.  The best way to feel good about yourself is to help someone else.
     4. Read a book.  Not the same news in different newspapers, a book.  That's something in print meant to be enjoyed.  If you're reading this, you have access to a computer.  There's gobs and gobs of stuff to read on the web.
     5. If you can afford it, adopt a pet.  As pet owners everywhere know, there's no such thing as a free cat, dog, chicken, lizard, whatever.  But having some living creature to care for will give you hours of joy...and frustration at times.  Definitely not free, but for a lot of us, it's still worth it.

Some things are not hobbies!  If you're doing any of the below on a daily basis, you need a hobby. See above.  For example:

Constantly checking the expiration dates on your food.  Once in a while is good, put the older stuff in front.
When people casually ask 'how are you', you tell them...in great detail.
Holding the store clerk hostage with your lengthy story about your gall bladder surgery.
Calling companies daily and complaining about their product, like the M&M's are smaller now, etc.

You get the drift.  All the complaining in the world isn't going to make you happy. The hobbies may bring you some happiness, but if you start every idea with 'I don't think I'll like this', then you may be doomed.

If you want some changes in your life, you have to be willing to make some changes.

Now then, some options if you're retiring semi broke:
Be willing to live in a smaller place.  Sell your house, rent a smaller place, buy an RV or boat and go experience life while you still are healthy enough to do it.  Go through your stuff, keep what you need and actually use, sell or donate everything else.
ASK for what you need and choose 'used' over new  - Most areas have Freecycle, Craigslist, DAV, Goodwill, etc.  But tell people that you're in the market for a good used ____.  You might get exactly what you need for cheap or nothing.
Need more to eat?  Check the web for groups that forage in your area, local Food Banks, churches usually have some info on where you could get emergency food. Quit buying convenience foods, paper and cleaning products, etc, so you can make your food dollars go further.  Yes, you really can use rags instead of TP if you need to.  Read up on square foot gardening and container gardening.  Tons of forums and blogs about those things.  Yes, you really can produce some of your own food.
Get your vitamins from food, not pills.  My usual diet is so crappy that I need to take a couple vitamins, but overall, I'd rather eat a banana than take a potassium pill.  Do some research online to see what you can eat to get the vitamins you need.  Overall, a more vegetarian lifestyle is cheaper and healthier.  (I'm getting better at that...) 

And while you're checking that out online, check into the free online herbalism courses.  You'll probably still need some big Pharma drugs sometimes, but if you can make some 'food' type medicines, what do you have to lose?  Millions of people have done it throughout the generations, and it's still very common in other cultures.  Maybe not on your block, but it's still practiced.  And a lot of it works.  Just my opinion, as I'm no doctor.  One thing that I do when I have loose stools is drink some cornstarch water.  Yep.  Just a spoonful of cornstarch in a half cup of water, chug it down.  Hold your nose, it doesn't taste the best.  Then drink some water to get the taste out of your mouth.  You need the extra fluid anyway if you got the poops.  Repeat if necessary. That's what they used to use before Kaopectate and Imodium hit the shelves. 

Google everything.  How to make _______.  Frugal living forums.  Cheap living.  Tightwad living.  The full time RV'ing websites have some interesting information, even if you aren't going to do the RV thing. They have some pretty nifty ideas for storage in dinky spaces.  We have friends doing it now, and it sounds like a great community of rich and not so rich.  You can live in an RV for $500 a month, or of course, way more than that.  Again, Google everything.  Then you can make some informed choices of what's going to work in your situation.

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