Sunday, February 17, 2019

Packing challenge

My husband has been wondering about my ever
increasing joy when the door bell rings
with another Amazon package.

Packing cubes, they are an obsession.
Why were these not present when we moved our family overseas
with suitcases
and little else?

We called one of our suitcases "Big Blue".
The current, smaller version of Big Blue.

She was about 35 inches
and often weighed in at 80 lbs!
After 10 major moves
(three with my son and his family)
Big Blue finally went to suitcase heaven- GoodWill.
(We think we saw her on the bottom of a grocery cart downtown.)
In those days I found huge bags that I
 could pretend to squeeze air out of
and fill each suitcase as if it were a dresser.
That is how it was used for six to twenty weeks.

But I digress.

Packing cubes.
It has been twenty years since we last traveled, together.
In my wisdom, we choose to carry on everything we can.
E bag of choice weighs almost nine pounds.
Choosing organization is heavy.
The suit cases have to be
under 22 inches and 35 lbs.
Twenty-one inches and
under 25 lbs
 since my husband chooses to let me
be the feminist
and lift my own case.
(Water workouts are helping that range of motion.)

There are many different packing ideas for these bags.
Don't worry, You Tube provided me with
hours of enjoyment - reviews and ideas.
Do you have any idea how many You Tube Travel channels there are?

And so the quest for packing cubes began.

Rick Steves Cubes
Rick Steves. He is the king of light travel.
Watching his presentations, I am amazed.
He does one set of shoes and, well, not much else.
The cubes were a gift from my son.
He had used them in Thailand.
They are well vented
(after living in Hong Kong,
I appreciated the air flow).
They were awkward for me otherwise.
They now live in the "in case someone needs these" Rubbermaid bin downstairs.

Found on Black Friday on Amazon
for half price.
E bags has ultra light cubes. They are made of rip stop material and ARE very light.
Shaped for E Bag luggage, a big plus.
Expensive?  I bought one set and sent them back,
could not justify the expense. Suddenly there was Black Friday!
The smaller ones are keepers. Three of them live in my suitcase now. They contain my coat, rain jacket, nightgown and sweater.
One is in my "personal item" with my compression socks, scarf and skirt. Sturdy. Not going anywhere.
I sprung for their small toiletry bag as well-
for everyone in the family- LOL. Black Friday rules!
Easy to unpack and pack.
The bigger ones live in the Rubbermaid bin.
Yes, it was cheaper to buy the set!

IKEA packing cubes, bought in a set of three
Now sold in a set of six. 

These are thin and...IKEA!
Ah, the Swedes think of everything
First Aide kit, ultra light sandals, and snacks.
None live in the Rubbermaid bucket.

The last sets are Eagle Creek.
Wow! These puppies were pricy
until the PX decides to end the relationship and
they go on ultra sale!!!!

Eagle Creek compression cubes.
Found on ultra sale.

Compression cubes.They zip down your stuff.
I am not a small woman.
My stuff is rather large. OK- large.
So....I gave it a try.
Small- swim suit and micro towel
Medium- Cold: four long sleeved shirts, a pair of pants, four pr socks and undies.
Medium- Warm: Three short sleeved blouses, convertible pants, undies and socks.
These are AMAZING. They zip stuff down, big time!

There is one small left over.
It lives in my husband's suitcase. (Don't ask, don't tell)

Eagle Creek Specter half cube
One last glance at the sale board the other day- bingo!
This, not a compression, bag ended up in my basket.
It is perfect for ALL of my electronics.
This dandy slips in my personal item like a champ.
The kindle, I pad and phone.
Why bother?
When you get to the airport,
you will understand.

And with that, my packing cube (and Amazon package) obsession
has come to an end.
My husband is SO happy it is over!

What is in that clearance rack over there?

Our Golden Years

My last post gathered an interesting response.

There was lots of pointing of finger hard against who "you boomers are".


From 60 to about 75 are the "golden years" of our generation.
Many of us had jobs in high school
I know I started in elementary as a babysitter (translate that to a Nanny for this generation).
My husband had a paper route with eighty customers.

We did not have a "carefree" childhood.
We worked for our 5 cent allowance
and created great ways to sell people services.
Yes, it was a GREAT childhood and we both loved ours.
Both of us went to college and graduated debt free.
My husband took nine years-
 working for the forest service in remote areas every other semester and summer.
I did the traditional four, with tons of help from my grandfather and parents.
Side jobs paid for the extras.

My children did not have jobs,
they had golden years during high school.
Our son chose a traditional route, our daughter did not.
They are both successful, happy adults.
They loved that time so much they have started very early
investing, saving, growing a family  and buying their houses
getting ready for self sufficiency in retirement.

My husband worked in various professions for thirty five years
twenty of those were military, providing a bed for our retirement.
My degree enabled me to teach when it was reasonable.
Children came first,
and we chose that someone would always be home for them until they graduated high school.
This is not the judgement call, or even a possibility,  for everyone,
but it was ours.
We ran sports teams, college fairs, and crazy field trips.

We traveled a great deal with the military- 20 countries- living in three of them.
A later job  gave me the opportunity to see 49 states.

What we learned is individuals are the same everywhere.
They want what is best for them
they know they can work to get it or complain if they don't.

And so, my friend, work hard.
If you don't like something, change it in your own life
and give good example.
Complaining may "help" you now---but your golden years will be lifeless.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

It is the economy, silly!

This is not a political post.

Yes, we, as retired people, have our own economy.

My husband is over 65 and I am under.

The year before we retired money was tracked carefully. To the penny, it was tracked. Weddings and first houses, bought. Education, as far as our input, was done. Mortgage was finished.

Our income stabilized quickly.   Cost of living adjustments, addition of my pensions (2022) and my SS ( 2023) will be the only changes. After that, until one of us kicks the can, it will stay the same.


1) Come up with a rough food budget.
All of our groceries, OTC meds, paper goods come out of the same pot.
We add in any food we buy when visiting friends and family- since we do it often.

2) Look at the yearly price of things and divide by twelve.
House taxes, House/car/health insurance, car maintenance, doggie bills, propane, presents, smaller trips, house maintenance. We added all the bills up in each category and started a savings account for each. Retirement money comes in, these savings accounts are filled.
A huge plus this year is we are paying hardly any income tax! Hurray for the new accounting.

3) Spending money.
We are, both, pretty independent. Neither of us likes to "report" to the other. We started an allowance years ago. Right now it is about $300 per person, per month. Neither of us spend on impulse (well, there are times....). The allowance has us saving for things that we want or need. My husband has two hobbies, I travel.

4) Savings
 Currently we save about 10% of our monthly income.
We have a nest egg, but you never know what is coming. This is also the money for emergencies- like the roof- and major travel.  We will withdraw about 2% this year. It is saved in a combination of CDs, Stocks and (gulp) savings accounts.

5) Everything else.
Gas for the cars and electricity are about $100 a month a piece. Dinners out are simple. Runs to Walmart for the little things. Books, music. The only nemesis is Amazon. We are going on an Amazon fast beginning in April. Really, we are!

I keep one other set of books- investments. Our net worth- sans cars/house/Johnnyboat- are kept in a book. I've been doing it since 2005. It is fun to look back to see our money grow.

We don't have a lot, but it works for us.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

When you cannot find it, make it

My Memory foam travel pillow is the go to for plane flights.
It has traveled at least 100,000miles.
The pillow case has been washed, and washed.
It lives in a tiny packing cube.
It really needed a travel bag.
There was one on the internet for about $30.
That is how much the pillow cost.

Scouting the closet I found a pillow case that was long past prime.
Not sure where the sheets went.
And so....


Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Traveling with grands

We have six grands.
Three of them live close to us 
and they are good about packing their bags for a trip. 

Traveling with them has been a crazy time in the past
but we had babies on board.
Getting older, they are getting easier.

Two years ago the oldest grand traveled with me to see his cousins

at Disneyland.
We packed lightly
Carried on one rolling bag,
downloaded a few movies
and headed to the airport.
Three days and we were home!

Last week my daughter and I took the 11, 5,and 2 year old to meet up with my mom.
A five hour flight.

My "suitcase" was my backpack. No check ons for me.
My daughter packed one large suitcase for the crowd.

My daughter is good at corralling
I am good at the entertainment stuff.

Here is what I packed.
 The first aide pack.  Buy the kid stuff now. Getting stuck at Disney without Motrin was a huge problem. Don't forget the peppermints for tummies (they cannot take the Pepto or antacids).
 A variety of things to do: window clings (I bought one and cut it into four or five clings at a time), playing cards, magic tricks, non messy markers (with coloring pages), spiral graph, small books.
 I packed toothbrush for everyone, their tooth paste, sunscreen, Neosporin. All liquids went into a quart bag for carry through TSA.
Headphones for everyone, back up battery, back up sunglasses (sensitive eyes for open shades in the window seat). Back up diaper. washcloth, and alcohol wipes. The baggie had a vertical in inch slit below the zip. We put the kindles in them and hung them from the latch for the air line tray. WIN! I'll address baggies in my next post.
A small blanket was in the pack, but we dumped it in Phoenix. They did not need or want it.

My "stuff" was minimal.  In my medium sized compression bag: swimsuit, two blouses, daily undies, capris and a nightshift. Minimal make up (I LOVE the trail size Mary Kay stuff. I wish they would sell it.). Empty water bottle (filled inside TSA) and a few snacks.

I did bring some Starbucks coffee packets for the crews of our flights. BIG HIT!

How about you? Do you fly with littles? What is your secret?

Friday, February 1, 2019

2019- the year of travel begins.

It is going to be a traveling year.

Phoenix- January, July and November

Israel for 10 days in March

 Washington DC

and Maryland-  bi weekly
plus 10 days in April.

 New York- bi monthly
Massachusetts- August 

Rome for two weeks- October
And a trip to Missouri in July as well.

Some of the trips will be with grands.
Some will be with hubby.
Mots of the trips will be by myself, going to see someone else.

Monday, March 28, 2016

One of the three parts of our foundation.

Early saving and spending was encouraged by two books.
Master Your Money came out shortly after our youngest was born.
Ron Blue outlined basic principals 
on how to lay out finances.
He seems to be the father of the "baby step" program
that Dave Ramsey grew to a multi million dollar business.
We became an envelope/pay yourself first family.

Later, that same year, we met a financial advisor.
She was newly divorced with a young teen to support.
Smart as a whip, she knew it was important to start NOW.
We invested in Fidelity. 

1989 was the last time we had credit card debt.

The advisor gave us Jane Quinn's Making the Most of Your Money in the early 1990's and told us to read the Financial Times every day. We ended up with the Harold, but the idea was the same. Gain a base of knowledge and accumulate information about companies.

We learned the market and took some chances with cyclical stocks as well as long term investments. 

Years went by. Our broker retired. She was our last real advisor. We became acutely aware that if we were ok with the risk, we were the only ones who really cared about our money. 

We cashed out of our Fidelity to purchase our first house (sixteen years into marriage).  Our comfort level was, " a house paid off is more important than the risk in the system". 

After getting our "children" settled (one did college, the other didn't), we worked on simply building up our own accounts. Lived on one salary and saved the other. Stocks were chosen, bought and sold. Homework, homework, homework. We doubled our accounts and then really looked to see, we were in the position to retire.

Did you follow a similar path? What was the best move you made saving before retirement? The best?