Category: Retired Life

Cash Budget and The Envelope Method

Cash Budget and The Envelope Method

Easy Ways to Save Money – Cash Budget and The Envelope Method

Easy Ways to Save Money using the cash budget and envelope method

Today, we are talking about the cash budget / envelope method strategy as an easy way to save money.

However, first, we need to address: credit cards.  We love them.  First, we love the ease of quickly swiping your card at checkout and moving on with your day.  We also love the rewards we get with them and the simplicity of having one consolidated bill to pay. 

In addition, we love the quick checkout of online shopping when our credit card number is on file and we just have one button to click and voila – a package arrives at our doorstep.  And, at least subconsciously, we love not having the stress of whether or not there is money in our checking account today to pay for the purchase…that can get sorted out next month.

The Price of Paying with Ease

But that ease comes with a price.  A pretty steep one in fact, according to Forbes.  Research shows that consumers are willing to pay up to DOUBLE the price if paying with a credit card than with cash.  That’s a lot of extra spending that dwarfs even the best rewards program!  Additionally, for the majority of Americans who don’t pay off their credit cards each month, interest rates can be 20% or more.  Between excess purchases and interest fees, that adds up very quickly!

The Benefits of Paying with Cash

  • Paying with cash, on the other hand, drastically reduces how much you spend, making it easier to save. 
  • When you pay with cash, you actually see how much you are paying and feel the pain of handing over a large sum of money.  However, with credit cards, you can walk out of the store on a spending high with little thought to the consequences. 
  • In addition, with a cash budget, you live with the immediate reality of the money you are handing over, making you less likely to spend more than you really want to.  And then there is the obvious – with cash, once you are out you are out.

A Cash Budget Case Study

set up a cash budget in three easy steps

To illustrate our point, let’s do some simple math.  Say a person intends to spend around $1,500 a month on groceries, eating out, household items, clothing, and miscellaneous items.  With cash spending, you can limit yourself to that $1,500.  But with credit cards, you could easily spend an additional $180 each month or more. 

Even with some of the best rewards programs, you will only get back around $35.  In a year, the person using the cash budget will have spent over $1,700 less than the credit card spender.  In addition, that person using the cash budget is no longer paying interest fees for credit cards. As a result, they will have saved $200-300 a month – adding up to around $2,000 for the year.  The cash budget will have saved this person thousands!

3 Easy Steps to Start a Cash Budget

Considering a change but not sure how to start?  Let’s talk about The Envelope Method – a system that uses envelopes to allocate the cash for exactly how much money you want to spend.  When you leave home, you grab the money from the envelope and do not allow yourself to spend more than what you have cash for.

So let’s get started.

Step One: Create and record a budget

I like to keep my monthly budget in a spreadsheet (like from Excel), but you can keep it anywhere you like – a piece of paper, a sophisticated financial software program, or anything in between. 

How to Determine Your Budget

  • Every month you will have fixed expenses (like your mortgage or rent payment) and variable expenses (like groceries). 
  • Start by taking your net income each month and subtracting out the fixed expenses that you know you will have – like your mortgage or rent, car payment, insurance payment, cell phone bill, utilities, etc. 
  • Then, you need to determine how much you want to spend on variable expenses. 
    • List out each category of spending – groceries, supplies, dining out, entertainment, gas, clothing, donations, etc. 
    • Take a look at the last several months of your bank or credit card statements to see how much money you are actually spending in each of these areas.  This is not necessarily a pleasant task, but if you don’t know where you are overspending, you can’t correct it. 
    • Determine how much you actually want or need to spend in each area and deduct that from your income. 

Consider a Slush Fund

Unless your budget is extremely tight, you may also want to consider a small slush fund category.  This money can be used for fun or spontaneous purchases, or saved for a larger fun or spontaneous purchase later. 

If you are not naturally a very disciplined person, The Envelope Method could seem a bit constricting.  Having a little, even if it’s just $20 a month, in a slush fund to spend on whatever you desire can help ease the pain of the transition. 

Determine Your Savings or Deficit

The amount remaining is how much you have to save each month.  Hopefully you have a pleasant surprise at this point, realizing that yes, you really can save that much!  However, you might also have a not so pleasant surprise – like discovering that your eating out and entertainment expenses are putting you in the negative each month.  That’s a tough realization, but it empowers you to make different choices to meet your savings goals.

If you are in a deficit, check out our tips on frugal living and saving money here.

An Example of a Monthly Cash Budget

Below is an example of a very simple budget, for illustration purposes.  This example is a monthly budget, but you could also consider doing a weekly or biweekly budget depending on how often you are paid.

Step Two – Prepare the Envelopes

  • First, determine a safe place to keep your envelopes of cash.  This could be a drawer or a filing cabinet or someplace else. 
  • Next, list out the spending category for each of your variable expense types – groceries, clothing, gas, eating out, etc., each on an individual envelope. 
  • Then, determine how you best want to organize them so that you can quickly find the envelope you need.

Next, Prepare the Cash for the Envelopes

  • After each paycheck, assuming it is electronically deposited, withdraw the amount of money you have budgeted for cash spending.  Be sure to ask the teller for bills that are small enough you can divide the money up correctly. 
  • Then pull out your budget and put the correct amount of money into each envelope.  In the example above, you would need to withdraw $675 from the bank and divide it up correctly over the 5 envelopes.

Extra Cash for Unexpected Needs

Depending on how often you need to spend money, you may wish to keep some extra cash in your wallet.  For example, take an extra $50 out the first month only to put in your wallet.  Then if you happen to be out and need to spend money unexpectedly, you can simply pay for the purchase with the money in your wallet and immediately reimburse yourself from the correct envelope when you get home. 

It’s important to immediately reimburse yourself so that you aren’t overspending and needing to pull out that extra $50 each month.

Step Three – Use the Envelopes

Perhaps the most challenging part of this process is remembering to get the cash out of the envelope before leaving the house.  That’s why keeping a cushion in your wallet is helpful.  Additionally, you could keep your checkbook and/or debit card with you at all times.  However, you should always have a backup plan to avoid using your credit card!

Tips for Success

pin for easy ways to save money by using the cash budget and envelope system
  • Before leaving the house, grab the cash that you intend to spend.  Going back to the example budget, if you budget $400/month for groceries and go shopping once a week, you may always pull out $100 before heading to the store. 
  • Or perhaps you shop for different items at different stores and you know one week is more expensive than the next based on what you are buying – adjust accordingly.  Maybe you need $80 this week and $120 the next.  It’s fine to vary how much you pull out of the envelope each time, but make sure that you stick within the cash you have for the month.
  • Of course, real life is difficult to balance down to the penny.  There may be times when you have to spend more in one category than you were expecting.  For example, perhaps you are hosting Thanksgiving and you are going to blow past your set amount for groceries.  When that happens, you can turn to your slush fund (if you have one) or reallocate money from a different envelope – perhaps you choose to not eat out this month and pull it from the entertainment envelope. 

What to Do with Extra Money

On the flip side, you may find that at the end of the month you have some money left in an envelope.  You could put it into your savings account, keep it in the envelope for next month, or reallocate the money to a different expense.  In all of these situations, the great news is that YOU are in control of your spending and you are staying within your budget.

Imagine going to the store with $50 in cash from your clothing envelope to buy a new pair of shoes.  At the store you find the dress shoes you need to replace the ones you have that are worn out – great!  But then you notice another pair that you like that are on sale. 

In the past, it would have been easy to just put both pair on your credit card and not given it a second thought…until the bill came.  But now you are on the cash only method. 

You have two choices:

  • You can either forgo the second pair knowing that, while the shoes are nice, you have worked hard to get on this savings plan and you don’t want to feel the physical pain of having to hand over the extra cash and cut spending elsewhere. 
  • Or you can decide you really like that second pair and pull the money from your slush fund envelope for this month.  Guilt free spending.

The Cash Budget / Envelope Method Applied to Savings

You probably have a checking account to handle short term expenses, as well as long-term savings accounts like a 401(k).  But if you don’t already have one, I recommend that you have a savings account for medium-term expenses – like vacations, gift giving, house expenses, etc. 

When you are in a position to save money each month instead of living paycheck to paycheck, you will need to save for larger expenses that the envelope funds won’t cover.  Perhaps you are planning a vacation or your house needs a new furnace.  If you are proactively saving, you can avoid putting these items on credit cards.

How to Keep Track of Goals

Having a savings account for each thing you want to save money for could be a bit cumbersome.  But it’s very easy to keep an Excel file, or use a notebook, and list out exactly what the money in the account is for. 

For example, you want to go on a trip next summer and your dishwasher is on its last leg so you know you will need to replace it soon.  You are sticking with your cash budget and able to save $400/month.  Each month you intend for $200 to go toward your vacation, $100 to go toward your dishwasher, and $100 to go toward building your emergency fund.  Your savings account tracker would look something like this:

Each month you add to whatever category you are saving for.  If you need to take money out of that category, then update your tracker accordingly.  Money can sit in there as long as you like – in this example the “Gift Fund” wasn’t accumulating any more money but $250 was available at any time to purchase gifts.

Cash Budget Conclusions

Credit cards make it easy to overspend without even realizing it.  If you don’t know where you are spending your money, you are likely overspending. 

The good news is that with some simple organization and discipline, you can make sure you are spending your money intentionally.  Cash budgeting using the “envelope method” is a great way to keep yourself from overspending and make it much easier to save money.

Cash Budgeting and the Envelope system provide an easy way to save money
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Easy Ways to Become Debt Free Before Retirement

Easy Ways to Become Debt Free Before Retirement

easy ways to become debt free before retirement

Easy Ways to Become Debt Free Before Retirement

As you begin to think about retirement, you’ve probably thought about things like draw-down strategies and the amount you will need for yearly expenses. And, as you probably know, the lower your yearly expenses, the less you will need in your retirement nest egg.

So, if you’re finding that you can’t quite make the numbers work between what you have set aside for retirement and what you need to live, you may want to consider the goal of becoming debt free before you retire.

The following are a few tips to help you pay off your debt before you retire.

Create a Budget

The first and most important step you’ll want to take to become debt free is to set up a budget. If you’ve never created one before, it may seem daunting at first – but it doesn’t have to be.

A budget can be as simple as a record of expenses compared to your income. You may use a spreadsheet to manually track these items, write them down with pen and paper, or you may review your bank statements.

Or, you can use tools to help automate this for you. Mint is one of my favorite tools for budgeting because it does all the work for me. After connecting my accounts, it tracks both my expenses and my income in real-time. I can set expense categories and monthly limits. If I go over in a category, Mint notifies me.

Whichever method you use, a budget is pivotal for you as you prepare for retirement. Once you’ve set one up, look at your categories. Start to consider which areas are negotiables (in case you need to remove them or reduce them later) and which aren’t negotiable.

Most of all, take a look at your expenses that go toward debt. Review how much of an impact this has on your budget and consider if reducing debt is the right plan for you.

If it is, consider the following tips to tackle your debt by category.

Student Loans Hindering you From a Debt Free Retirement

Becoming Debt Free Before Retirement

It may be decades since you last attended college, but there’s a chance you could still have student loans to your name.

According to the Wall Street Journal, in 2017, on average, student loan borrowers in their 60s still owed $33,800. What’s worse is more than 40,000 people aged 65 and older defaulted on student loans in 2015, which is a 362% increase over the previous decade.

Why is this so high? Often, these student loans aren’t their own; they’re for their children or grandchildren. Roughly 93% of all new private student loans to undergrad students have an adult signature on them – usually by parents and grandparents.

If you’ve graciously co-signed on loans for a student, remember that you are liable for paying those off, and you should consider those as your debts, too.

How do you get rid of those as soon as possible? You have a few options: pay them off or refinance.

Pay the loans off

The easiest way to get these off your mind and out of your debts is to pay them off.

If the loans are for you, consider any additional room you may have in your budget to put a little extra money toward your student loans. Every little extra bit helps.

If these student loans aren’t for your education, you may want to work with the student to get a plan in place for quick payoff. You may not be interested in paying them off yourself, and that’s absolutely fine. Help the student understand the impact of a few extra dollars each payment to expedite the payoff process.

Refinance the student loans

One of the reasons a co-signer is needed on student loans is because of the lack of credit history of many entering college students. However, once the student is out of college and has a career, that student may have established credit. Encouraging the student to refinance loans under his or her own name will free your role of this debt being yours, and may help the student get better rates.

We refinanced my husband’s graduate school student loans recently and saw a significant reduction in his interest rates. Changing nothing else about our payments, that would have allowed us to pay off the loans almost a year sooner.

Pay Off Your Mortgage

A recent study found that 44% of people in their 60s and 70s in retirement still have mortgages on their homes. While some do plan to pay the mortgage off within a few years, roughly 17% of them say they may never pay it off.

If you are at all able, try to pay off your mortgage before you retire. As you think about your monthly required expenses in retirement, housing costs could add a significant amount to those expenses. And, greater housing expenses add to the amount of money you’ll need in your nest egg to retire.

If you feel that you’ll be downsizing your home when you retire, consider your options for finding a place where the sale of your larger home could cover the entirety of the expenses of your new home. You’ll have a place to live and no mortgage payment.

Slash Credit Card and Consumer Debt

Easy Ways to Become Debt Free Before Retirement Pin

As you get closer to living on a fixed income, ensuring that you can afford what you spend is of utmost priority. This means that you’ll want to steer clear of racking up credit card debt and consumer debt that you may not be able to afford in retirement.

This is where the budget you set up can really come into play. Understand what your income is each month and how you can pay for your expenses without taking on more debt.

If you already have credit card debt, this is a good time to pay it off. Whether you were using credit cards for medical bills, vacations, or large purchases – the balance can follow you for years if you don’t make it a priority.

This is likely the first debt of all debts you’d want to pay off because the interest rates can be astronomical. Paying down the minimum balance won’t be enough to make a sizable impact.

Considering a Debt Free Retirement

If you’re hoping to have a debt free retirement, know it’s possible to achieve. Whether you have credit card debt, a car loan, a mortgage, student loans, or any other debt – you can pay it off before retiring. Use budgeting tools to get you where you want to be so that you don’t have money stress while in retirement.

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Easy Things to Make and Sell for Money

Easy Things to Make and Sell for Money

Easy Things to Make and Sell for Money

Easy Things to Make and Sell for Money

Whether you need more money now, or to stash in your retirement savings for later, one quick way to to get cash is to find easy things to make and sell for money.

1. Making Printables For Downloading

For this first one, you will need a little bit of technical skill and creativity. However, anyone of any age that has just a little bit of both, can quickly make money with printables.

What are we talking about? Printables are anything that you create and deliver in a downloadable format over the internet that provides a valuble product to your customer. For example, you can set-up an Etsy (the makers market) store and sell crafty downloadable items such as:

  • Sewing Patterns & Other Craft Patterns
  • Checklists, Calendars & Organizing Sheets
  • Coloring Books
  • Note Cards & Invitations
  • Business Cards
  • Workbooks
  • How to eBooks
  • Meal Planners
  • Pictures and Graphics
Easy Things to Make and Sell for Money Pin

Printables are very popular! I have downloaded many helpful ones myself. As a result, there are endless amounts of websites that will teach you the step by step process to starting a printable business. Just Google “printables business” or go onto Pinterest and search for “how to sell printables” to start.

These websites will give you tips on how to find easy ways to create these printables, even if you do not have a graphic design background. There are services, like Canva, that make designing something very easy for just about anyone. Just remember to do a little research on what is trending and what is always a popular search, before you start the creation process.

Keep it Easy

If you are looking for quick and easy in this area, then stick with Etsy. If you want to turn your printables business into something bigger, you can look into starting your own Shopify store, or selling on your very own website. Just know that path will require much more customer service. Customer service has a habit of taking the “easy” out of an idea.

2. Selling Photos

It has never been easier to sell photos than now. Online publishing (this blog included) has created a never-ending need for unique, quality stock photography. As a result, there are many market places that need photographers to provide photos to sell. You will need to have a good camera for this one. Moreover, you need to know a little bit about taking a good photo.

However, there is a lot of information out there to get started with for free, so we include this option in our easy things to make and sell for money list.

3. Easy, Trending Crafts to Make and Sell for Money

This is another route where you can sell on Etsy, or you can find in-person craft fairs and markets in your local area to sell things quickly.

Popular & Trending Craft Sale Ideas:

  • Jewelry – This is always a top selling category in any craft market space. There is a buyer for just about anything. Friends and family are often supportive of your creative expressions too. I have had friends that have sold jewelry at yoga studios and small businesses around town in addition to their online sales.
  • Bath Bombs / Soaps / Lotion Bars – Make these pretty, colorful and appealing and they will sell easily, especially around the Holidays! Bath Bombs are easier to make than soaps and lotions. However, all of them are a great idea, and you can find very good, organic recipes online for just about anything these days.
  • Clothing – Here are a few ideas with clothing.
    • Screen Printing: At one point, I joined a little creative art studio in town that rented access to their screen printing. I took lessons from them, and then made my own screen printed clothing to sell. I made several thousand dollars over that year selling these items. Moreover, it was a ton of fun! If you want to screen print – baby and kids clothes with cute prints sell well!
    • Knitting / Crocheting: If I can knit, you can too. I seem to have very little finger dexterity, even with years of piano lessons and hours and hours of typing each day! However, I can knit, and I enjoy it. It is therapeutic even! My mom taught me, and she does not do a lot of fancy knitting, but she has sold scarves and hats over the years. When she wears her creations, people see them and ask where she got them – easy sales for her.
  • Toys – Sticking with the kids and babies theme, people are often coming up with easy to make kids and baby items to sell. This is an area where Printables are big too (see above).
  • Stickers, Vinyls and Transfers – You can either make these and ship them, or you can create downloadable items for people to create themselves.

4. Sell Your Stuff

Next, it is time to embrace the Minimalism Trend and sell your stuff! This idea is not technically in the “make category.” However, you can still use your creativity and maker-skills with your current possessions.

Perhaps you have stuff you could refurbish and sell. Ideas for refurbishing include furniture, watches, jewelry, antiques, clothing items and accessories. You can also just sell things “as-is.” That is easy for sure.

Easy Places to Sell Your Stuff You Made for Money:

  • Ebay
  • Etsy
  • Craigslist
  • Local Facebook Buy/Sell/Trade Groups – search in your local area.
  • Mercari – A new one, but gaining popularity.
  • ThredUp – (for clothes and accessories)
  • eBid
  • Bonanza – I like their tag “Find everything but the ordinary.”

There are others, just look around and see what market place fits your items best.

5. Easy Things to Make and Sell for Money from the Homestead

If you like getting your hands dirty, then this idea will be easy for you. I personally do not think gardening is easy. However, I have a lot of friends and family that tell me I am wrong, and that gardening is very easy! Then, if you can grow it, people will buy it.

Produce

It is a very popular and happy trend that people prefer, fresh, local produce. Just put a notice up on Facebook that you have tomatoes to sell, and you will easily sell them. Same with chicken eggs and dairy items. I have purchased eggs from neighbors, and I have even purchased chickens.

Poultry and Dairy

There are places that will pluck and package chickens for you if you want to raise and sell them for meat. I had a friend do this too, and she informed me it was not expensive to get the chickens ready to sell with a local butcher she found. I live in the Midwest. However, I think this is a trend everywhere, so I add even “chicken raising” to the easy money category.

Plants

Growing plants to sell can also be easy, but I would not say fast. Plants are certainly trending though. So, if you have a little more time and a green thumb, growing and selling plants and starter plants is a great idea. You could focus on house plants, outdoor flowers, or even vegetable garden plants.

Gardening Tools & Planters

Are you a Crafty Homesteader? Then there are lots of easy things to make and sell for money here. Here are a few ideas:

  • Decorated Planters & Pots
  • Garden Markers for Outdoor Plants & Smaller Ones for Herb Gardens
  • Gardening tools such as knee pads
  • Plant Hangers – Wood and Cloth (Macrame is back!)
  • Seed Packets
  • Compost – I make my own. I don’t sell mine, but you could! People want good compost. I use this tumbler, and recommend it as a good starter for making compost.

6. Your Plasma

Yep, there is always this option for a fast, easy way to make money. Technically, you make it, and you can sell it. Just find a plasma center near you. Then, make sure you qualify to sell your plasma before showing up.

7. Your Opinions

You also make your own opinions. So, we will give brief nod to Survey Companies in our easy things to make and sell for money. Just do these in your spare time to make a little extra cash.

I used to participate in Pinecone Research, and I actually did make some good extra cash with them! It was enjoyable too, but then I aged into a not as needed age category and my survey options shrunk. Eventually, I didn’t find it worth my time. However, every survey company is different and has different clients, so you can find one good for you to make some spending money.

Take a look at this article that reviews the top survey companies. It does a pretty good job of breaking it all down.

Conclusions on Easy Things to Make and Sell for Money

Both online and in person, there has never been an easier time to find easy things to make and sell for money. Everything we presented here has very little investment money to get started. Mostly, your costs will be any materials needed to make your items to sell.

Simply, find what inspires you and get to it!

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Slow Travel + Frugal Travel

Slow Travel + Frugal Travel

Slow Travel + Frugal Travel = Money Saved & Time Enjoyed

So you want to travel cheaply, and have the time to do it. Slow travel is the perfect way to get traveling done on the cheap, especially if you are practicing frugal living.

An Introduction

Slow Travel and Frugal Travel Tips

Since I (guest writer Cathleen) live in Hawaii, and travel anywhere involves an airplane, this is geared more towards air travel. These tips have been garnered over the years starting from my college days of travelling across the country and halfway across the Pacific 3-4 times a year, having to travel from Hawaii to DC every month for the last 5 years, plus the Mister’s extensive travels around the world.

Y’all didn’t come here for my life story, so let’s get to it:

Slow Travel + Frugal Travel Tips

Research

Slow Travel - Beach Scene
Sitting on the beach doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Just, please, wear sunscreen.

The library is a really good place to start with travel books. Keep in mind these are likely older, so probably aren’t up-to-date on restaurants and hotels, but should be a good source for a general idea of what you need to go, tried-and-true attractions, etc.

The second best thing is to use the internet – just Google the location you want to go, and things like “free things to do” or “cheap places to stay”. Generally, I make a list of places I’d like to see, with instructions on how to get there from my hotel or major transportation hub, to take with me on the trip.

Google Translate

If you are travelling internationally and you don’t speak the language, Google Translate is a must. You can get the Google translate app on your phone, and set it from English to whatever language you are doing (assuming you speak English).

The best part is you can record someone speaking, and google will do a terrible, but somewhat understandable, translation. And vice versa. You can also take pictures of words on signs and such and do translations- though they are hilariously terrible.

Frugal Access to the Internet

Rent a WiFi puck, or get T Mobile or Google Fi. A Wi-Fi puck will let you use your phone on Wi-Fi (no using data or calling), without having to pay the ridiculously high temporary prices for “using” your cell phone out of country. If you have T-mobile, you can make wifi calls from anywhere in the world back to your home country.

If you have Google Fi (which I do, and I have successfully used it’s international feature from Japan several times), you don’t even need a wifi puck in most of the developed world- you can also make phone calls and use data at the same price as you pay at home. I have used both T-mobile and Google Fi- each to progressively reduce my monthly cell phone bills.

Meal in Japan for Slow Travel Article
One of the Ryokan I stayed at- included a gourmet dinner, hot spring access, and a view of the ocean.
This was $90 a night, so it’s a fancier one.

Saving Money on Lodging

how slow travel saves you money

Shop around for lodging or get in on house sitting. You can cancel most hotel reservations up to 24 hrs before, so if you keep looking (though at some point you’re going to get tired) you can cancel the more expensive location. If you are taking public transportation, my rule of thumb is no farther than 0.5 miles from a transportation hub.

Places like hostels for not-20-year-old college kids can also be a great deal, so consider those. There are people that swear by Air BnB, but I’ve never used it, so I can’t speak towards that one way or the other. If you’re traveling in Japan, the homey Ryokan (traditional inn) can be inexpensive, usually at $50-100 a night.

Bonus: stay at places that has a laundry facility. This will let you save $ on dry cleaning, and not have to bring so much stuff. If not, wash your undergarments in the sink , and wring dry.

Slow Travel to Cheaper Places

Places like Thailand, Prague, and Portugal are all awesome and quite cheap to travel in. Just get a good deal on the airfare, and you’re set for a cool adventure.

Public Transportation

Often, this will be the most economical way of travelling. It might not be the fastest, but it will usually be much cheaper than renting a car, getting a tour bus, or using Uber. The cheapest option is to walk everywhere. You will also have the added bonus of learning to love your car again

Japan Rail has a pass where you can ride unlimited rides on their system, including the Shinkansen Bullet Train- so if you want to travel between cities this can be a great deal. Similarly, EuroRail has a pass for Europe, but it seems that more and more restrictions are being placed on the Eurail pass.

What to Pack for Slow Travel

My Packing List:

  • Day bag, wallet clutch, empty bottle, and cosmetics
  • The blue rectangle is my collapsible duffel.
  • My two pair of shoes, and tops
  • Bottoms (maternity tights fit awesome)
  • Dress, Silk Scarf, Leather Jacket, and fleece

This is literally ALL that I packed for my trip to Japan in May. Plus a pair of shoes I wore on the plane

Try to Carry-on Only

Carry on only, with a collapsed bag for souvenirs on the way back.  This will save you money on checked baggage fees. Though many international flights permit free checked baggage, if you have any plans of taking public transportation or domestic flights within your destination, you’ll save time, frustration, and money by just travelling with a carry-on.

The strategy here is to pack your lightweight stuff, and wear your bulky stuff on the plane. I also pack a small cross body purse that I can take out and use when out and about.

Here’s what to use:

  • A backpack
  • 1 rolling carry-on bag (that can expand, to hold your extra goodies)
  • Plus, 1 collapsible duffel bag for bringing souvenirs back.
  • Optional: 1 lightweight collapsible day-bag or cross body purse.

Trust me, after traveling with my parents thru Japan where my mom INSISTED she needed a check in luggage each person and the carry on…lugging all that luggage thru Tokyo sidewalks was not fun. Not. At. All.

Drive vs Fly – Slow Travel Wins

Slow Travel + Frugal Travel

How do you determine when it’s cheaper to drive than to fly? First, you need to determine how quickly you need/want to be there. If the total drive time isn’t too much more than the total flying time (including security, waiting in line, waiting for you luggage, and getting a rental car or finding public transportation), then generally it’s cheaper to drive, even accounting for gas.

Think about it- for even a tank-full of gas, you can transport 4 people comfortably, or 5 people less comfortably, plus your stuff. If you take the plane, then you need tickets for each person, plus a way to get to the airport (or pay for parking if you choose to drive yourself), and a rental car or public transportation at the destination.

If you take public transportation, you can discount the cost of parking (unless the place provides it for free). So adding on an hour for showing up in time to go thru security, and an hour after to get yourself sorted out, even a 1 hour flight from say, Houston to Dallas, takes up to 3 hours of your life, anyway. So why not just drive?

Slow Travel Flights 

You can use mileage points, or shop around. Or, as the ultimate cheapskate way of traveling, you can just see what deals there are and be flexible about when you go.

You’d be surprised at the strange airfare pricing structure airlines have. You’d think that a trip from NYC to London would be more expensive than from NYC to Chicago, since it’s further. But there are often times that it IS cheaper to travel to London than to Chicago.

So if you are flexible on where and when you go, some pretty cheap airfare can be found. This is how my friend does it- she regularly travels 6+ times a year to exotic places like Johannesburg, London, Thailand, Australia, the Antarctic.

Should you waste miles on cheap flights?

My thoughts are, no, I have better use for the miles. This is dependent on your situation: how often will you fly, and what’s most important to you. If it’s going a couple of states over to visit family, then by all means, spend the points.

If it’s going to Hawaii, then just buy the $300 tickets to see your family. Save up the points to offset a $1000+ ticket instead. I’ve been going back and forth every month from Hawaii to DC for work the last 5 years, and I’ve had at least 2 free trips per year from miles (BTW United needs at least 45000 miles to get a free trip. Some airlines use more or less miles) 

Bonus: Whacky ways to get to Hawaii for free.

Every single one has been tried by someone (maybe not necessarily me). I cannot vouch for the safety or sanity of some of the ways. 

Extra bonus: if you’re retired military, military dependent, or current active duty, you can FLY FOR FREE on Space-A (Space Available, formerly known as MAC or Military Air Command) flights. I am not an expert on this, but Doug Nordman over at The Military Guide is. He has some really good tips (like you have to be VERY flexible about timing, and bring a down sleeping bag since it gets cold on some of the military cargo jets). He recently got back from a trip to Portugal.

Suck it up and stick it out on economy/coach

Unless you get a free upgrade, the cheapest option will usually be economy. Especially for international flights. I know, economy is incredibly uncomfortable-but just think- the extra $2000 for first class would really go nicely towards the rest of your travel, and buy a lot of massages on vacation.

Have I just flat-out paid for first class? Yes. Would I do it again? Probably (but not very often. The times I did pay for first class I was pregnant). You may also be able to pay for first class for only a portion of the trip by upgraded either at the time you buy your tickets or at check in.

It’s a good strategy to pay for the longest portion of your ride or for red eye flights where you’d like to be able to sleep (maybe), but cutting out the extra expenses of the shorter flights. Although this isn’t a guarantee that the first class flights will be available. (this does not apply to those that have medical conditions that make economy class extremely uncomfortable or medically dangerous).

Health Insurance

Check if yours cover international trips (like Medicare Advantage or some Medigap plans) or the areas you plan to travel. If it does, yay! you don’t need to buy extra coverage for travel health insurance. If it doesn’t, boo- you might want to look into purchasing extra travel health insurance coverage, just in case.

How to Exchange Money

Do a currency exchange at the bank, or get a card with low atm transaction fees and no foreign fees for atm access there. Those kiosks at the airport are a ripoff, in my opinion. Your best bet is to get a debit card from a bank that does business both in your home area and in the country you want to visit (for me, it was Central Pacific Bank, since they do business in both Hawaii and Asia), or get a credit union that goes international, like Pen Fed or Navy Fed, if you can. Often times the ATM fees are cheaper than paying a conversion/transaction fee.

Fluffiest pancakes I’ve ever had- at a cafe that is definitely NOT for tourist.

Don’t eat at tourist places

Find out a place office workers go, follow your nose. If you see a bunch of people in sneakers and day bags…they’re tourist and you’re in a touristy spot.The Mr., who’s filled 3 extended passports during his travels for work, follows his nose. If it smells good, then it’s probably a good place to try. Google maps is a great resource to see what’s close to you.

Stay at hotels that offer free breakfast or cocktail hours for dinner to cover ⅔ of your food expenses.  You can also find hotels that have kitchenettes and cook for yourself. Farmers markets and local markets are pretty awesome especially if its a foreign country.

Shopping – Slow Travel Style

Don’t buy souvenirs, only buy quality. I don’t know as if I really have to say much more on this subject matter. You have to be selective on what you buy if you’ve only got carry-ons and are taking public transportation and carting stuff around yourself. It’s much easier to buy a bunch of junk when you’ve got a porter. That’s a completely different tax bracket than I roll.

Bonus: if you’re in Japan (sorry, I love Japan!), and are a crafter, go to Tokyu Hands. It’s like a Hobby Lobby on steroids, with high quality craft supplies, each department has its own floor.

Miscellaneous Slow Travel Tips

  • Be flexible and have alternatives- sometimes you miss the bus. Literally. Having options on getting around can keep you from panicking and grabbing a more expensive option. Being flexible can also lend itself to slow travel- where you can find the best deals and opportunities.
  • Do a little research to know the area’s specialty, it usually will be cheaper. Bordeaux in France is higher quality and probably cheaper than getting it back at home. Same with pineapple in Hawaii. Seriously, it’s regularly on sale for 89 cents a pound, and super fresh. You’d be surprised at what’s at the local farmer’s market or grocery store.
  • Travel with a water bottle and some snacks- this will keep you from buying overpriced snacks and liquids on the plane, at the airport, or at convenience stores. If you’re flying, just bring an empty bottle, and fill it up at the airport wherever it’s safe to drink the water. There’s usually water bottle filling stations around. This will easily save you $3+ per person. Take into account the $9 sandwiches and $7 snack packs, for a plane ride, you’ll save about $20 per person, each way. If it’s 2 of you, that’s $80!
  • Travel with a secondary debit card not attached to your primary account to limit how much can be drawn if it’s lost or stolen. Leave your main one at home. If you’re traveling internationally, see if they have low or no foreign transaction fees so you can get money out of the local ATM.
  • Car rentals: though I really don’t like renting a car, sometimes, it’s necessary. When you’ve ruled out public transportation, walking, or Uber, a car rental might be the best thing. That said, you can also typically cancel car reservations up to 24 hours prior- so continue to shop around. I’ve had really good luck with Enterprise, finding a location not at the airport, and just having them pick me up at the airport, and drop me back off at the airport. You can also try booking through your travel site or the airlines- I’ve also had good luck booking through Alaska Air (while not even having a flight reservation with them!). And if you have a travel reward card, it typically will include car rental insurance, so there’s no need to add on the extra insurance that the rental cars push. Your car insurance will likely also have a rental car provision, as well. So read up on those to save yourself potentially a couple hundred bucks.
  • House sit– for longer stays, find someone to house sit for. This usually entails caring for a pet (dog or cat), though. For more details on House Sitting gigs, Tim and Amy at Go With Less have been doing it for years, and plan on making this their current permanent Early Retirement living situation. You can also reverse this, and have someone house sit for you to watch your dog or cat, instead of paying for a kennel. Though I mentioned house sitting already, I think that this strategy saves so much money that it warrants it’s own area.
  • Bring less junk: (I wanted to say “cr@p”, but this isn’t my blog, so I’ve toned down the swearing. A lot.) Keep your valuable stuff at home or wherever you feel is safe. You don’t need your 6 carat diamond ring or your Cartier watch to travel. Just more to worry about and keep track. The less you have to cart around, the better. Unless you plan on staying in one place. Even then, if you are taking public transportation (and you really should be if you want to save money), you’ve got to get all that junk to and from your lodging.
Slow travel
Haleiwa Beach Park- Yes, I took this photo. Did I purposefully avoid people so it looked like the beach was all to myself? Maybe/definitely.

How to Maximize Travel Rewards:

  1. Get a travel reward card. Choose FI has a good comparison chart (they may or may not get referral money at no cost to you should you sign up with a card through their site).
  2. Pay all your expenses on this card, and pay it off every single month. This is important- you want to gain points, but don’t want to have to pay interest to get it. So make sure that you aren’t changing your spending just to get the points. It’s no good to have travel points but be too poor to enjoy them.
  3. Travel with a single group or carrier- and get a mileage account (this is not the same as a travel reward card) that is linked to your travel reward card. This will earn you miles as you travel, in addition to earning miles for buying the tickets in the first place.
  4. When travelling, volunteer to be bumped for the travel vouchers every single time. This is very easy to do if you have a flexible schedule and you’ve only got carry on luggage.
  5. Keep an look out for “bonus miles” earning periods. You usually have to sign up with the card company, but you then spend as normally. If you reach the goal amount (ex. $5000 in 3 months), you will automatically get the bonus miles (ex. 2000 more miles).
  6. Buy the tickets or book the rooms when it’s the slow season for that area to get the lowest mileage-cost booking.

Extra Slow Travel/Frugal Travel Tips

  • Keep copies of your important documents somewhere separate from your wallet, just in case you lose it or it gets stolen. Credit cards so you can call your company, your passport, and your itinerary. At least this way you can get home.
  • Bring a USB power bar (charged) with you out and about so you can charge up your phone or wifi puck and still be able to use google maps.
  • Google maps is pretty accurate, especially for the developed countries, to figure out how to use public transportation. For the most part.
  • Bring at least 2 pairs of shoes (in case one gets gunky or breaks). Wear one on the plane, and pack the other. One genius idea: one guy I saw tied his sneakers to the outside of his backpack to carry on the plane!
  • Bring a thin silk sheet– it can double as a wrap, a scarf, or keep you warm on the plane.
  • Packable down jacket– if you’re going anywhere that’s kinda cold (compared to what you’re used to), this is super convenient. Wear that on the plane, too. I’ve seen that Tumi and Marmot both have very good packable down coats. I can’t really say because I use a packable down vest I got on super clearance, but I have other friends that regularly travel all over the world that swear by them.
  • Bring detergent sheets to wash laundry.
  • Bar soap doesn’t count towards your permitted liquids, so I usually use that to soap up with, and just bring minimal shampoo/conditioner all in one.
  • Bring meds you may need– even over the counter stuff for stomach ache, heartburn, allergies, especially if you’re going to a foreign country where you can’t read the language. Caution: make sure that the over the counter meds are permitted in the country. For example, Japan does not permit psuedophedrine or codeine, even if it’s over the counter meds in your country.
  • Comfortable supportive shoes are a must. If you’re sightseeing, your feet will thank you. I generally bring a pair of supportive boots (I love Vionics), and a pair of sneakers with supportive insoles. High heels suck for doing any type of walking.
  • Be friendly– you’ll be surprised how much a smile and a thank you (in the host language) will do.
  • Be safe-be situationally aware of where you are. Don’t go out into the ocean if the surf is rough and don’t turn your back on the ocean. Stay on the hiking trail, bring water and a cell phone with you. Deviate from trails and you might get lost. Explore, but pay attention to where you are going. Look both ways before you cross the street (don’t forget to look RIGHT first, then left, if you’re in a country that drives on the other side of the road). I can’t tell you how many tourist I’ve seen here in Hawaii disregarding basic safety common sense. Just because you are on vacation doesn’t mean you can’t get hurt- so please be safe.

Conclusions on Slow Travel + Frugal Travel

Slow travel can be done on a budget- even for free (you’ve probably seen plenty of people bragging about credit card churning to get bonus miles for free vacations. I’m not really into that, but, if you are…have at it).

Slow travel and frugal travel comes down to 4 basics:

  1. Be flexible.
  2. Take public transportation
  3. Eat/shop local.
  4. Enjoy the experience

I wish you joy and fulfillment on your next trip.

Aloha.

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7 Best Frugal Living Tips for Seniors

7 Best Frugal Living Tips for Seniors

7 Best Frugal Living Tips for Seniors

The 7 Best Frugal Living Tips for Seniors

During various points in our lives frugal living is bound to have a different meaning.  While we are young, or have small children, frugal living may include things like couponing or discounts on things for ourselves or our children.  As we age though, frugal living tips for seniors takes on a whole new meaning.

Tip #1: Frugal Living Benefits Come with Age

Aging comes with benefits when it comes to the frugal mindset. Correspondingly, there are so many programs for seniors to take advantage of, you just have to ask about them and then do them. 

To start, here are a few frugal living senior discount programs:   

  • Discounts:  Think of AAA or AARP.  You can find so many places that accept these cards and you can get automatic discounts.  Don’t be afraid (or embarrassed) to ask!
  • Senior Discounts:  Many restaurants offer senior discounts (55+ or 60+) where you can get 10% – 20% off your meal.  Many grocery stores also have a senior day where you can get a percent off of your total grocery bill on certain days.  Many retail stores also offer a senior day for a percent off.
  • Travel:  Same applies for airline, car and hotel stays.  Senior discount!  See our article on frugal travel / slow travel.
  • Free activities:  Many city’s offer free activities such as concerts in the park and museum visits. 

Tip #2: Be Frugal, But Not Cheap

Frugal vs. Cheap.  Where is the Line? 

One of the key takeaways I got when talking to people is that in order to be frugal successfully, you cannot be cheap or stingy.  Is it better to buy something more than once because it’s cheaper? Or, is it better to buy the more expensive, but quality, item that could last a lifetime? Stingy living or being cheap is different than being frugal.

When adding up the numbers, it would make sense to purchase the more expensive, but quality item. However, it may cause a little bit of sticker shock at first. 

Frugal Living Tips for Seniors #3: Increase Cash Flow by Paying off Debt

To start, pay off your mortgage/debt before retiring whenever possible. In most cases, your mortgage/debt payment is your largest expense.  Consequently, by having no mortgage payment you have the option to downsize. Moreover, you can use the equity to purchase something smaller with the proceeds to help fund your retirement. 

Easy Things to Make and Sell for Money

Not having a mortgage payment is a huge weight lifted when it comes to retirement planning and frugal living for seniors.  However, don’t forget about your property taxes and insurance!  Those still need to be paid.  Therefore, put them into your monthly budget so you are not shocked when bills come due. 

Click here to read our article on easy ways to make things to sell for fast money.

Tip #4: Budgeting on a Fixed Income

Next, be intentional in how you spend your money.  Budgeting is a helpful tool in determining how much you can spend.  There is only a finite amount of money to be spent before it is gone.  Using the 4% rule for example; if you have one million dollars, you can only withdraw $40k a year in order to not run out of money. 

Be intentional about how much and how often funds are pulled from retirement savings.  By keeping track of every dollar you spend you should be able to forecast how much you will need later in life. 

This doesn’t have to be a cumbersome activity.  You could simply use pen and paper, excel or if you are savvy you can use online tools such as Mint or Personal Capital. Over time you will have a good understanding of your spending habits and will be able to better forecast the upcoming years of spending and adjust accordingly.  

Frugal Living Tips for Seniors #5: Embrace the DIY Mentality

Things you can do yourself, do them!  YouTube has a plethora of information on how to fix literally anything.  Why pay someone to do something that you can do yourself.  Perhaps not the big jobs, like a kitchen remodel, but those pesky small jobs that you may hire a professional for, learn to do them yourself. 

There are also plenty of people to ask if you’re not a YouTube fan. For example, going to the hardware store and simply asking the expert in the department.  Who knows, you may even find that you enjoy doing odd jobs around the house.  

Frugal Living Tip #6: Going Green

There are other ways to be frugal that could require money up front but will save money in the long run.  Electric vehicles for example.  The reality is that they usually do not cost more than a standard gas run vehicle.  But, you do save on the expense of gas and much of the maintenance.  To power an electric vehicle is pennies on the dollar compared to a gas powered vehicle. 

As another example, solar panels and solar water heaters can save you money.  While expensive to install, over time (usually a set number of years), the cost savings outweighs the cost expense. (That is, if you are in a sunny area). Also, don’t forget about the tax advantages of going electric or solar.  You can receive a tax credit, in most cases, both federally and by the state you are living in.  

Tip #7: Prioritize What Makes You the Happiest

Finally, and I think most importantly, you need to figure out what you enjoy doing and make that your priority.  The last thing you want in retirement is the feeling of being left out because you fear you don’t have enough money to do those things that you want to do, that you enjoy.  Just make sure to get the biggest bang out of your dollars.  Simple things like going out for lunch rather than dinner can help.

Conclusions

In summary, you want to make sure that you are happy in retirement and not just counting your pennies.  If you have a frugal mindset but are also doing things you enjoy, retirement will be much more enjoyable. 

Further Reading

Want even more Frugal Fun? Click here to read our article on the number one thing you can do to save money on healthcare.

Health Hacks to Save Money
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Caring for Elderly Parents

Caring for Elderly Parents

Caring for Elderly Parents: A How To Guide

Caring for Elderly Parents - a how to guide from medicare life health co.

Welcome to the ultimate guide to caring for elderly parents and/or grandparents. Aging is a natural part of life, and everyone should have a care plan for themselves and their aging loved ones. This guide helps you make the tough decisions to keep your loved ones safe and happy.

I personally know what it is like to live with elderly loved ones and care for them. I lived with my grandparents right before their health declined enough to move them to assisted living. It was the hardest year of my life. However, it was also rewarding to care for them after all of the years they cared for me.

This guide leads you through the decisions you will need to consider to help your elderly parents.

We will cover:

  • Where can my aging parents/grandparents safely live?
  • What services and products can keep them safe and happy?
  • How can I help them with health care and insurance?
  • Who should be in charge of their finances?
  • Where can I go for support?

Where can my loved ones safely live?

Senior Living Options with Medicare Life Health Co. is part of the caring for elderly parents series.

Helping your elderly parents or grandparents decide where they should live can be very emotional. This is true for all the people involved. The options range from staying at home to full-time care, and everything in between.

Senior Living Options

  • Living at Home – Options exist for helping your seniors live at home as long as possible.
    • There are non-medical care-giving services such as Home Instead and Right at Home. They provide help around the house and companionship, but not medical care.
    • The medical alert devices listed in the services in the next section also help give seniors and you peace of mind in regards to their safety. These are good for the home environment, as well as running around town.
  • Retirement Community / Apartment or Condo – Often times seniors will want to move to a retirement community or 55+ apartment or condo building. Seniors like the social aspects of these communities. In addition, there are add conveniences and informal safety networks in place to give everyone peace of mind.
  • Assisted Living – For seniors that need a level of care below the nursing home, assisted living is a great option. However, these homes can be expensive. There are not always spots open for low income or Medicaid beneficiaries.
  • Memory Care Centers – Dementia and Alzheimer’s is a growing disease in America. As a result, we see more centers and homes dedicated to residents with memory issues.
  • Nursing Homes and Long-Term Care – The last stop on the list is the nursing home / long-term care facilities. There are both private and public options in most cities, but it takes a lot of research to make sure you are finding the best fit for your loved one.

What services / products can keep elderly loved ones safe and happy?

Especially if your loved ones are living at home, there are different products and services that can give everyone peace of mind. These include aides to help with daily activities, as well as alert / check-in services.

Products to Keep Your Loved Ones Safe & Happy

Best gifts for seniors

We love products that keep seniors happy, independent and safe. Happily, more creative and innovative options exist that ever to make life easier. We are constantly on the hunt for life-improving and safety-enhancing innovations.

Best Gifts for The Elderly in Nursing Homes

For now, you can start by looking at our senior gift lists.

We love the idea of thoughtful and helpful house warming gifts for seniors that are making a move. Especially if this move was out of necessity. A little love and thought goes a long way with these big transitions.

Services to Keep Your Elderly Parents Safe

We all worry about falls and accidents. The elderly often experience a decline in balance and strength with each passing year. There are a few options out there of companies that will monitor your loved ones and give them the help they need in case of a fall. When we look at companies to refer you to, we look for ones with good customer service, customization options and no long-term contracts.

Here are our Top Senior Monitoring Picks:

  • MobileHelp – Provides an alert system that works with a “Fall Button” that can automatically detect when a fall occurs. This company gets almost 5/5 stars in most consumer review panels. Learn more here.
  • LifeFone – Is our other top pick for Medical Alert Systems. It also is rated very highly and offers a free trial period. Spouses are also included in their standard pricing, which makes it a good choice for couples.
  • Iamfine – As a different kind of monitoring service, Iamfine is a daily call service that checks in with your loved ones by phone. If they fail to answer after a few attempts, Iamfine will alert your “care circle.” The service has a free 2 week trial period as well.

How can I help elderly parents with health care and insurance?

If your loved one is either older than 65 or disabled, they probably qualify for the Medicare program. In addition, if they are living on a very small income, they could also qualify for Medicaid.

From a high level view, your loved one will need to choose if they want their Medicare coverage to be bundled with a Medicare Advantage Plan or to be put together with Original Medicare, a Supplement and a Drug Plan. These are the two paths to choose from.

Let’s back up now, and break down the parts of Medicare. We want you, the caregiver, to feel as comfortable and knowledgeable as possible when helping your seniors make their decisions.

Helpful Medicare Articles for Caregivers

MedicareLifeHealth.com is a great resource for learning about Medicare. We have articles to show you how to set-up your loved one’s health care. We understand it is so important to make sure they get the coverage and care they need.

Here is where to go for more information:

Who can I call or email for help with Medicare/Medicaid/Health Care Insurance?

MedicareLifeHealth is a national community, but health care questions and registrations are often different state to state. So, we have a couple different resources for you to work with.

Carly Cummings, Medicare and Medigap Expert

If you live in Nebraska or Iowa: Your fearless leader of Medicare Life Health Co. (Carly Cummings – that’s me!) is a licensed life/health agent in NE and IA. I would be glad to help you with your questions and enrollment needs.


Please contact me here.

If you live in all other 48 States: We are building our directory of national insurance agents. Find one now:

Insurance Agents Near Me

Who should be in charge of caring for elderly parents’ finances?

There might come a time when you realize your seniors need help with their finances. As a result, you will discover two phases of caring for your elderly parents’ or grandparents’ finances:

  1. Assisting with their decisions.
  2. Taking over the decisions.

This same process translates to Medical decisions, so we will include information on both.

Durable Power of Attorney

When working with seniors to help them in making financial and medical decisions, you will want to set up “Durable” Power of Attorney (POA). This is a document that will give you (or someone else they trust) power to act in their place if they become mentally incapacitated.

The “Durable” part is important. Regular power of attorney documents end when a person becomes mentally incapacitated. Durable powers of attorney contracts do not. With this document, you will be able to help your elderly parent with important decisions when they cannot.

In addition, you will want to have two separate Durable Power of Attorney Documents:

  1. One for Medical
  2. And one for Financial.

Medical Power of Attorney (POA)

Commonly called the durable power of attorney for health care, this document names the person who will be making health care decisions for your elderly parent.

The named person will be able to enroll the elderly parent in medical plans, speak to doctors on their behalf, and represent their wishes in regards to medical care.

caring for a dying parent - a how to guide from medicare life health co. by crystal bayliss

You will also want to make sure your loved ones have a living will and a regular will. Knowing your loved one’s desires for how end of life care and services will go is very important. Please see our full article on “Caring for Dying Parents” here.

Financial Power of Attorney (POA)

Your elderly family member will also need to name someone to carry out their financial wishes when they cannot. This is where a comprehensive durable financial power of attorney is important.

Note, this should be a separate document from the medical POA. The financial POA allows someone take over your elder’s retirement accounts, taxes, and bills. For this reason, it needs to be someone they trust, and should be done as soon as possible to make sure they are represented in the ways they wish.

Working Together

Finally, although these are two separate documents, you certainly can name the same person on both. In fact, having the same person do both will make life much easier and simpler. If you do have different people named on each document, you will want to ensure they communicate well and can work together effectively.

Where can I get support for caring for elderly parents?

I remember pulling over to the side of the road, one very stressful day, because I couldn’t see through my tears to drive. At the time, I was living with my grandparents and trying to care for them while their health continued to decline.

Caring for Elderly Parents Stress Management: A How to Guide Presented by Medicare Life Health Co.

I was overwhelmed by the amount of work it took to keep them safe in their own home (even with the help of a home care company). Consequently, we were reaching the tipping point of needing to move them to assisted living. However, the thoughts about and process of this change were also just sad. It was a lot for me to handle.

Luckily, I had a very strong support system and access to help. You need this too.

Find Someone to Talk to Regularly

The first step is to reach out to someone to talk to and confide in. Care-giving takes a lot out of you. As a result, you need someone to listen to you and give back to you. Whether this is a professional counselor, or just a friend, you need to make “talking it out” a priority. Better yet, make your conversations a habit or a standing date.

Seek Outside Help

The second step is to get outside help. If your parent is still at home, see what is in the budget for hiring a care service. Even if just for a few hours a week. These companies help with daily living activities for seniors wanting to still live by themselves. (This is non-medical help.)

Alternatively, you can see what social network your seniors are a part of that might want to help. My mom was excellent at getting visitors for her elderly parents from not only their friends, church member, etc. but also from her own social network. You would be amazed at how many people are willing to swing by a nursing home and say hello during the week. You just have to ask!

Set-up Self-Care

Care-giving makes you busy, tired and often plain run-down. The only way self-care happens is when you make it a priority. Moreover, you need to set it in your schedule as an important appointment.

First, create and stick to a weekly workout schedule. Then, create a routine for getting healthy meals onto your table. Finally, make sure you keep your hair appointments, massages or other healthy ways to relax and stay on top of your health.

I know it is all easier said than done, but you will be much more efficient and helpful if you are well rested and cared for first.

Action Steps for Caring for Elderly Parents

checklist for aging parents and caring for your elderly parents and grandparents

In summary, caring for elderly parents, grandparent and loved ones is a long, hard journey. However, you are not alone! In addition to all the helpful organizations, services and innovations out there, there are also real people that want to love and support you. You cannot, and should not, do this alone.

Here are a few good steps to get you started or move you forward with your loved one’s journey.

  • First, if you are considering housing options, reach out to a home care service. If a move is a necessity sooner or later, start by touring one assisted living center or nursing home.
  • Second, for seniors living at home or even in assisted living, look into a couple of medical alert systems. Falls are all too common, and you need to be prepared.
  • Third, in regards to health care, reach out to a professional to make sure your loved one has the best coverage in their area. Plans change all the time, so a review is always a good idea.
  • Fourth, legally, make sure you understand what your loved one needs and wants in regards to making financial decisions. Get together all the proper documents needed to secure current or future Power of Attorney options.
  • See in your loved one has any Long-Term Care Insurance in place. Additionally, they could have a life insurance policy with a Long-Term Care Rider or a Critical Illness Rider.
  • Finally, create a plan now for taking care of yourself and start implementing it right away. You deserve it. Thank you for taking care of your elderly parents and loved ones.
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Best Gifts for Elderly in Nursing Home

Best Gifts for Elderly in Nursing Home

Best Gifts for Elderly in Nursing Home & Assisted Living

Best Gifts for The Elderly in Nursing Homes

When it comes to gift giving, you always want to be thoughtful and helpful. This is especially true when you are shopping for the best gifts for elderly in nursing home. These are also great gifts for seniors in assisted living.

There are our top picks that your friend or family member will appreciate if they are living in a nursing home.

The Best Gifts for Seniors and Grandparents

In addition, you can also visit our list of the Best Gifts for Seniors and Grandparents here for even more ideas.

Thoughtful Gifts

Nursing Home Guest Book

Visitors Book: Nursing Home Visitor Guest Book for Logging Name and Date, Floral

Remind your senior family members and friends how much you love them and miss them when you are not around. Leaving names and encouraging notes in their visitor’s book is a small gesture that means a lot.

Scrapbooks & Photo Albums

Making a scrapbook or photo album will also go a long way to comfort your senior. If you family member is just moving into a nursing home, giving them a book with pictures from their old house or neighborhood might make the transition easier.

Self Adhesive Magnetic Photo Album

Framed Photos & Electronic Picture Frames

Pictures of friends and family are good for the heart. You can opt for the traditional frames and photos, collage frames, or even digital frames. The digital frames are great to be able to see multiple photos. However, before you give a digital frame, make sure that your senior or someone at the home can keep it charged and working.

Stationary and Note Cards

There are so many beautiful cards and stationary options out there that it is easy to customize this gift to fit your family member or friend. Make sure to gift this gift with a hand-written note from you too!

Calendars

In addition, calendars are also a highly customizable gift. You can make a calendar yourself with photos of family and friends, or you can buy one in just about any topic your senior is interested in.

Helpful Gifts

Odor Reducing Bathroom Spray

Puracy Natural Room Spray, Lavender & Vanilla Air Freshener, Organic Bathroom Odor Eliminator, Perfume-Free

Your senior will appreciate the ability to keep their bathroom as fresh as possible. Nursing home bathrooms just tend to have smells that linger. This gift will help your senior to ward off embarrassment when having guests visit.

In addition, we found this room-spray very helpful as well in combating odors.

Hygiene Cloths

Ally Rinse-Free Ultra-Thick Adult Bathing Cloths are great for a quick refresh. Baths are often scheduled at a nursing home, so these cloths are helpful in the inbetween times. They are also microwaveable and hypoallergenic.

Robes and Comfortable Cardigans

Help your senior family member or friend find their new favorite robe or sweater! Look for breathable materials that are easily cleaned and laundered.

No Slip Socks and Shoes

Warm comfortable socks with non-slip grips on the bottom are helpful for just about anyone, but especially those in a nursing home. This is their home and they would like to walk around in socks sometimes! However, there is that issue of tiled floors.

In addition, it is important to find the most comfortable shoes that also have sufficient grip. Nursing home residence often have lots of hard surfaces and not a lot of plush carpet around. Consequently, our elders need shoes that support as well as grip.

Lotions and Balms

Nursing homes and assisted living centers can be very dry! Light scented or unscented lotions are good choices, and even better if they are all natural.

Senior Friendly Technology

Clocks with large numbers and radios, music players with simple controls are great gifts for seniors and the elderly. Pre-programming their device or filling an ipod with their favorite music makes the gift thoughtful as well as helpful!

For those that need extra help, we recommend the Simple Music Player – MP3 music box for Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Best gifts for seniors

Again, if you need more ideas, make sure to visit our list of the Best Gifts for Seniors and Grandparents!

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Best Gifts for Seniors

Best Gifts for Seniors

The Best Gifts for Seniors and Grandparents

Best Gifts for Seniors

Here are the best gifts for seniors! Whether you are looking for a present for a grandparent, elderly parent, senior relative or friend, we have the top and trending gifts listed here!

Best Gifts for The Elderly in Nursing Homes

If you are looking for a gift for a senior that is in a nursing home or assisted living, please see our article on the best gifts for them too!

The Top Gifts for Seniors

1. Best Gifts to Create Memories and Share Love

One of the best ways to create memories and strengthen bonds is through story telling. Letters to my Grandchild is a gift that continues to give – give it to your grandparent and then they can give it back!

The letters come with story ideas and writing prompts for those that need a little inspiration. It also comes with stickers to seal the letters and ideas for when and how to open the letters.

Letters to My Grandchild: Write Now. Read Later. Treasure Forever. (New Grandma Gifts, New Grandparent Gifts, Grandparent Memory Book)

2. Best Senior Gift to Challenge Your Brain & Stay Young!

Grandpa knows, if you don’t use it, you lose it! Challenge your brain, create new neuro-pathways, and keep your mind young with the Games, Puzzles & Trivia.

399 Games, Puzzles & Trivia Challenges Specially Designed to Keep Your Brain Young.

3. Best Gift to Make Reading Easier & More Enjoyable

Reading can be easy and even more enjoyable for seniors with a little help from the MagniPros 3X Large Ultra Bright LED Page Magnifier with 12 Anti-Glare Dimmable LED. This is the upgrade from your typical magnify glass. It is easy to grip and easy to use.

MagniPros 3X Large Ultra Bright LED Page Magnifier with 12 Anti-Glare Dimmable LEDs(Evenly Lit Viewing Area & Relieve Eye Strain)-Ideal for Reading Small Prints & Low Vision Seniors with Aging Eyes

4. The Best Gift to Keep Mobile and Go Anywhere

Having the freedom to go where you choose and not have to worry about needing support to stand or sit is one of the best gifts you can offer a senior citizen. The Drive Medical Deluxe Folding Cane Seat will give your senior the gift for mobility and safety.

The cane is light enough (1.3 lbs) to walk comfortably with and the chair is comfortable enough for short rests and medium waits. The chair can support up to 250 lbs.

Seniors that love to travel swear by this product to keep them feeling safe in new circumstances.

5. The Gift of Turning Back the Clock

Both men and women over a certain age appreciate the ability to turn back time, even if just a little bit. This is especially true in regards to our skin. That is why TruSkin Vitamin C Serum for Face, Topical Facial Serum with Hyaluronic Acid and Vitamin E is a great gift for your beautiful senior.

This Vitamin C Serum is a #1 seller, highly rated anti-aging product that provides an advanced antioxidant to stimulate collagen production in the skin.

6. Best Gifts to Stay Fit at Any Age

Now, here is a gift for those needing a gentle way to keep mobile or get back into fitness. The Grow Young Fitness Chair Exercises for Seniors is a very popular program.

The DVD Starter Pack includes Cardio, Core work, Balance and gentle Yoga. It is an easy, safe, effective workout DVD for beginning fitness seniors and the elderly. This starter kit is by Grow Young Fitness.

Click here for More of the Best of Senior Fitness

7. Best Gift for Making Cleaning Easy

The Shark Rocket DuoClean is one of the most “Senior Friendly” Vacuums on the market. It has a very light structure and is under 10 lbs. We like this bagless version with the cord so you don’t have to worry about keeping it charged. Plus, the suction is stronger.

Many seniors have vacuums that are old and heavy. Replacing an old vacuum with a light, effective one might not be a very glamorous present. However, it is a very thoughtful one!

Shark Rocket HV382 DuoClean Ultra-Light Corded (Non-Cordless) Bagless Carpet and Hard Floor with Hand Vacuum, Charcoal

Even More Best Gifts for Seniors / Grandparents

Finally, here is a trending list of hot gifts for seniors. For those of you that need even more inspiration for Grandma or Grandpa:

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Jobs For Retired People

Jobs For Retired People

Jobs For Retired People: Supplementing Your Savings to Live Your Best Life + Retire Early?

This article, “Jobs for Retired People” is the second article in our New Series: The New Rules of Retirement.

Jobs for Retired People? Doesn’t retired mean “NOT WORKING?” Maybe, but maybe not! In our Series – The New Rules of Retirement, we are exploring what it means to re-define retirement to fit your needs and lifestyle.

In our last article, we discussed how the “Average American” close to retirement age these days might not have as much saved as they would like. We also did some math to discover what amount of side income might be needed for the majority of Americans to still “retire” when they wanted to.

In our case study, the “Average American” with the most average of savings might need an extra $1,295 a month to live the lifestyle they envisioned in retirement.

Retire Early???

Some of these side gigs might even allow you to quit your job earlier than you thought possible. We have heard stories of people LOVING their side job so much, and actually making good money from it, that they were able to retire from their full-time job early.

Side or Part-Time Jobs for Retired People

The Best Side Jobs for Retired People & People Saving Extra For Retirement

This article will help you to find a fun or creative “Side Job” / “Side Hustle” / “Part-Time Work” or another source of passive income to help you retire or save more for retirement.

A few things to keep in mind:

jobs for retired people
  • First, these are jobs to supplement your retirement savings. They may or may not be HUGE money makers – often they are just a way to make some extra income.
  • Second, they are meant to also be enjoyable and creative! Yes, they are still work, but with a retirement flavor and happy attitude. Some keep you active or challenge you mentally. Others are creative, and some even keep you social!
  • Finally, you can start these jobs before you retire. Use them as a second job to give your retirement savings an extra boost. In addition, many of the passive income generating jobs take some time to develop. That means the earlier you begin them, the more you can sit back and just maintain them later.

Side Job Category One: Jobs that Keep You Active

Pet Sitter / Dog Walker

Listen, retirement is not getting any cheaper or any easier. Everyone thinks they have enough saved for retirement as they near their golden years, however, the truth of the matter is that majority of people have nowhere near enough money saved. This is likely why you’re looking for a side job in retirement. Either that, or you’re just plain bored.

Either way, becoming a pet sitter or dog walker is a great opportunity to make a little extra money. 

Sites such as Wag! or Rover make it easy to do this. You’re probably already going to a morning walk anyway, so why not bring a furry friend with you and get paid to do it. If you’re really feeling adventurous, you could let the furry friend sleep over and get paid even more.

You could earn several hundred dollars a week all by just living as you normally would, but having an awesome four-legged companion with you. (From Austin with TheLogicofMoney.com)

Handy-Person

If you are good at fixing things, there are a lot of people that are not, and they need your help. People all over need help with small house projects and light outdoor work.

Becoming a “handyman” or “handywoman” might be as simple as making some quick business cards and passing them out to everyone you know. It is a great word-of-mouth, referral business, for those with a solid network of friends, family and co-workers. If you need help finding people to help-out and are comfortable online, services like TaskRabbit, can point you towards people looking for help.

Category Two: Jobs that Keep You Social

Vacation House/Room Renter

Tom Blake, from ThisOnlineWorld, suggests Airbnb as a way to stay both active and social in retirement while making extra money. He includes this in his list of “The Best Gig Economy Jobs – Make Extra Money On The Side.”

Airbnb allows you to make your house, or a room in your house available for rent to travelers. You can make decent side-income renting your home if you live in a well traveled area.

Tom mentions Airbnb is a great way “to make use of any extra space you might have in your home (in case you haven’t downsized) as well as meet new people!” Many of our friends have great Airbnb stories from both sides of the service. It’s a unique travel culture that can provide exciting experiences to an otherwise quiet retirement.

Drive for Uber or Lyft

Uber and Lyft are good ways to make a little extra money while interacting with new people. If you are in a touristy town and like to talk up your local hot spots and events, then you will find your happiness with a driving service.

On the other hand, driving services can also work out for people that don’t like to constantly chat (or drive around tipsy people late at night). Everyone needs trips to the airport, especially in the quite early mornings. Moreover, if you really aren’t feeling social, Uber Eats allows you to drive around food instead of people.

Category Three: Jobs that Keep You Creative

Selling Crafts – Online or In-Person

Craft Fairs are still hot! If you like to craft, you can tour your state (and beyond…) selling your creations. Makers Markets, Junk Stocks, Fundraising Craft Fairs, State Fairs and Flea Markets abound and are fun for all involved.

For those of you like enjoy selling online, the popular markets include Etsy, Artfire and Bonanza. To learn more about how to sell on Etsy and everything it entails, I recommend this article on Successfully Simple Sisters.

If you need help with setting up an online shop, hop onto a site like Fiverr and search for “help with etsy shop” or something similar. You will find freelancers that will help you get started!

Freelance Writer

For those of you that like to write, look into becoming a freelance writer. Online publications (and some local in print ones) are always looking for people to add valuable content to their sites for their readers. We suggest reaching out to the smaller ones you might already read first.

In addition, you can find places to write for by searching for “best sites for freelance writing” or something similar. Here is one article we found to start you off. Insert your specific area of interest to make it more relevant. For example, “best sites for music freelance writing.”

Category Four: Jobs for Retired People that Keep You Busy

Taking Surveys

If you are looking for a way to make money on the side that doesn’t take a whole lot of effort, then taking surveys is a fun way to pass your time. You can sit on the couch, listen to music or the TV, and provide your opinions to people who want them.

Popular online survey sites include Pinecone Research (which I did for a couple years and loved!), Opinion Outpost, Inbox Dollars, and the National Consumer Panel.

If you want to take this one into the “real world,” then look for paid opportunities for participating in Focus Groups and Health Studies.

Category Five: Jobs for Retired People that Keep You Challenged

Start a Blog

Oh boy, if you are up for the challenge, then try starting a blog! People actually do make money from their blogs these days – especially niche blogs. However, there is a steep technology learning curve, if you are not already very comfortable creating online.

Blogging can be a great way to generate passive income. Typically, you can make good money after years of effort, lots and lots of writing, and much search engine optimizing. If you enjoy learning and writing more about a subject you are already passionate about, then you will love blogging. On the other hand, you will also have to find learning about blogging interesting, because half of your time will be devoted to that.

Tutor or Teach

Both in person and online, tutors and teachers are in demand. If you have a field of expertise or passion for helping a certain age, then start there. This is a great business to grow by word-of-mouth if you have a decent network of friends and family to reach out to, but there are also businesses that can bring you students. Tutoring centers exist both online and in physical locations and are always looking for qualified help.

If you have graduate degrees in certain areas, you can look into teaching at your local universities and community colleges as an adjunct professor. Certain fields are always looking for people with Master’s degrees and beyond to teach both online and in person classes.

Jobs for Retired People Conclusions

jobs for retired people

There are so many opportunities to create the kind of retirement and work-life you want in our new economy. The New Rules of Retirement say you have the creative power to shape your life.

You can work and play at the same time with these part-time jobs.

We will be continually adding to this list. We would also love to hear your suggestions and what has worked well for you. Please email us or comment below.

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Minimalist Living

Minimalist Living

Minimalist Living

Minimalist Living

Minimalist Living, Minimalism, Conscious Consumerism, Simple Living, The Joy of Less, Decluttering, Downsizing… Perhaps you have encountered these words recently and realized this is a movement spreading across America. Minimalist living is nothing new, but weary Americans coming off the consumerism roller-coaster, are discovering it again.

Minimalism Across Generations

Millennial Minimalism

Minimalism is appealing across generations, but it seems to be most appealing to the Millennial Generation. The Millennial generation (born 1981-1996) grew up with the high spending of the 1990’s and the bubble bursts of the 2000’s. Exiting school with a poor job market and lots of debt shaped the way Millennials see the world. Moreover, the highlighted effects of climate change from global consumerism are concerning to this generation which will most likely live to see the effects of our changing weather.

According to Forbes, 78% of Millenials would rather spend money of experiences than on stuff. (59% of Baby boomers say the same thing.) Millennials are opting for smaller house, smaller carbon footprints, and sharing cars/tools/etc. They are decluttering and donating the remnants of their early spending, and the mainstream is taking notice.

Baby Boomer Minimalism

Can baby boomers be minimalists

The Baby Boomers are noticing too. As we mentioned, over half of the Boomers said they would rather spend money on experiences than things. However, this number is far below the Millennial count, and Boomers have a much more complicated relationship with things.

The Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) grew up with rapid U.S. economy growth, the rise of the suburbs, and the marketing of the “American Dream.” As a result, Boomers were the generation of accumulation. Generation X (born 1965-1981) was not far behind in picking up where the boomers left off in consumption of stuff.

Now, the Baby Boomers are entering retirement in droves (10,000 Boomers each day reach retirement age) and sometime after this (hopefully a long time after this) they will pass. What happens to all their stuff?

Unloading Your Stuff for Minimalist Living

Minimalist Living by Generation

Here is the new reality: the generations after you do not want your “stuff.” Heirlooms to one generation are now the junk of the next generation. This is not to say that nothing is precious. You might have a few very special objects that can be confidently passed down. However all the china, crystal and large pieces of furniture that were once considered essential and now considered (heavy) burdens.

Step number one will always be – STOP buying more stuff! Once you have accepted this concept as more than theory, it is easier to move on to step two – minimizing your stuff.

Traditional Downsizing and the Rise of Sweedish Death Cleaning

Let’s say you are a Baby Boomer (as an example, this applies to all ages), with a average to above average living space and perhaps even a storage unit. You have accumulated many things in a large amount of categories including clothes, shoes, accessories, kitchen wares, furniture, decor, outdoor tools, camping gear, exercise equipment, beauty supplies, cars, holiday decorations, etc.

How does the responsibility of this amount of stuff make you feel? Moreover, who will inherit this responsibility when you are gone?

There are several ways to look at this situation that fall along the spectrum of minimalist living:

The 4 Phases of Minimalist Living
  • Organizing
  • Decluttering
  • Downsizing
  • Minimalist Living

Let’s look at each step on the journey:

Organizing

Organizing is not minimizing. It is taking what you have, sorting it out and putting into a manageable system so you can use it and enjoy it effectively. It can be helpful to you, and those that have to sort through your stuff later, but it does not take away any of the burden of material things.

Organizing will always have a place in the process of minimizing. You will need to organize what you have at every step in the minimalist journey. In addition, organizing will get easier as you let go of more and purchase less.

Decluttering

Decluttering is the first step in embracing minimalist living. It involves not only a physical shift of letting go, but also a mental shift into what it means to live more with less.

Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, brought decluttering into the spotlight in 2014. (As did her Netflix special a few years later.) It is still a great book to start you on your journey of letting go and learning to find the joy of living with less. Are you unfamiliar with this book? The premise is to only allow things to exist in you life that “spark joy.”

For example if a pair of shoes does not bring you joy – get rid of them. If you have 10 shirts in your closet, but only 2 shirts make you feel good and look good (i.e. bring you joy) then you have 8 shirts too many. Kondo also has a very effective system of gathering, sorting and deciding what stuff stays and what goes.

Downsizing

Minimalism by Generation

Downsizing goes beyond decluttering and challenges us to face our mark on this world and what we might leave behind. In this way, we consider how our current living situation is affecting our own happiness and the happiness of those around us.

For example, consider the size of your living space. How much space you live in affects your comfort level, but it also dictates the amount of responsibility (or burden) you have. Your space size decides how much time you spend cleaning and maintaining and how much money you spend doing these activities. It also affects those around you by the amount of energy you use (your carbon footprint) and the amount of resources you use to maintain your home.

When you pass, your responsibility (burden) for all of your things becomes someone else’s responsibility (burden). The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning is a very recent book on an old subject. It is dedicated to helping people unload their stuff now, so their loved ones will not have to when they pass.

When done in the Swedish fashion, downsizing and decluttering becomes an act of love. Moreover, it becomes a journey that allows you to share experiences and meanings behind objects and heirlooms, before you part with them.

Minimalist Living

Finally, after you have organized, decluttered, and downsized, you may just be ready to embrace a minimalist life. Minimalism asks you to let go of anything that does not serve you or bring you happiness. It favors quality over quantity, and conservation over consumerism.

More than any of the other step, minimalism is a lifestyle. You get to define what simple living means to you. Maybe it means only owning 30 items of clothing or letting go of a large house or an extra car. Minimalism can free up your cash now that you have stepped off the consumer wheel. Maybe that means you can retire early – or even retire at all!

Above all, minimalism can give you freedom. It is amazing how much stress and pressure comes from our accumulation and maintenance of our stuff. If you are looking for a guide to start you on your path to minimalist living, then I have a few recommendations:

  • The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own. This book by Joshua Becker is an excellent starting point for any curious reader. It was one of the first minimalist books I read, and it reached me right where I was at – in my suburban home with a crowded garage.
  • Project 333. For those of you that want to create a minimalist life, but would like to start smaller, Project 333 will help you minimize your wardrobe. This is a website/blog that will challenge you to evaluate what you really need in regards to clothes, shoes and accessories.
  • The Minimalists. This website will lead you to articles, podcasts, movies and other resources that will help you discover more about minimalism and the people that practice it.

Going Forward with Minimalist Living

Whatever stage of life you are in, it is good to know that it is not to late to minimize! It is just going to be a lot harder for some. Starting small with one specific area or project will help. As will understanding that letting go of stuff is a journey. We are never really done, and choosing a minimal lifestyle is an everyday process. However, it is worth is when you consider all the benefits: time freed up, money saved, resources conserved, and stress relieved.

the four phases of minimalist living
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