Retirement… thoughts that enter your mind in your 50’s.

Yes, we all know we think about it.  What do we need to retire someday?  Well… financial advisers tell us we need to have $1,000,000.00 in the bank to support ourselves through our retirement years.  Seriously???  This just isn’t going to happen here in the real world.  I’m no financial adviser, but I’m just a person who hopes to be able to take it easy someday…  So here are just a few thoughts I have on making it happen for myself someday!

SIMPLIFY!  Right now, I live in a 4 bedroom 2 bath home on a little less than one acre. With any luck, I will have enough equity in this home when I retire (lets just say in 15 years for all intensive purposes), that I can sell it, and buy a house outright with cash.  Let’s imagine a home equity as it stands today is right around $110,000.00 (which doesn’t buy much… but it will get you a roof over your head…)  So in 15 years, imagine the equity that will build towards a mortgage free home.  So, when you ask yourself, “should I include the equity of my home in my total net worth?”, my personal opinion is YES!  Not having a house payment in retirement years will be a big plus.  Just don’t forget that there will always be taxes and insurance, along with possible HOA (Home Owners Association) fees to pay!img_6067

LIVE IN A WALKABLE COMMUNITY!  Right now I have a car payment… I’ve had one all of my adult years, with the exception of the 1975 Ford Granada I bought for $1,000.00 when I was 20 years old.  Having a reliable newer vehicle is a must for me at this time in my life when I drive 15 miles to work each way.  Gas prices, auto insurance, and car payments really add up.  Luckily, my job affords me the be able to pay for this.  I have never really lived in a walkable community, but the whole idea sounds fantastic to me in my later years!  Of course, I will always have a car, but at some point, I hope that I don’t need a 4 wheel drive, snow busting SUV.  The older I get, the better it sounds to be able to live close to a community where I could walk or bike or (yes…) GOLF CART to places I need to go.  It’s a quiet dream I have to be “That lady” with the basket on her bicycle riding down the road to collect sea shells on the seashore.  Those “Over 55” Active Community’s don’t seem so bad after all!5-5 Lady alone in Heraklion

HEALTH INSURANCE COSTS…  Wow… these go up every year, along with health care costs.  This is huge when making the decision of what age to retire at.  At 62, Medicare isn’t at option.  So working full time may just be the best decision.  Eligibility for Medicare begins at age 65. Just don’t forget about supplemental insurance for major health care costs if something catastrophic hits, like cancer, heart disease, among a million other conditions that may create a medical financial disaster if you aren’t properly insured.

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SOCIAL SECURITY… Right now, it does still exist.  We’ve all been contributing to this fund every day of our working lives.  Our parents are drawing on what they’ve contributed in their retirement.  So what we do today is cross our fingers, and hope that it still exists to supplement our retirement savings in the future.  Right now at age 62 we can collect Social Security at a lower rate.  Full retirement actually is set at age 67.  Can we exist on Social Security alone in retirement?  Do you enjoy poverty?  The answer to both questions is a big NO! Unless you really do enjoy poverty…   So…

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RETIREMENT SAVINGS!  Yes, it’s soooooooo very important; SEP, 401K, IRA, Roth IRA, etc…  the list goes on and on.  Make a point to put away as much as you can each paycheck!  Each person is different.  So I don’t feel like it’s a good thing to define exactly what a person should have in the bank at the time of retirement.  But, it’s so very important to have that financial adviser who can help you set up just the right plan. Be upfront and forthright with the lifestyle you wish to live after you retire.

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KEEP WORKING…  If you don’t like slowing down, by all means, keep working!  No one says you have to stop, especially if you really love what you do.  If you retire, and decide you can’t stand it, you can always go back and find a new job (even if its just a part time gig!)

So that’s all I have for today’s blog!  Feel free to share your thoughts and ideas as well.

Happy Spring!

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Another Small Town Saturday Night… Bellaire, MI Short’s Brewing Company’s 14th Anni Party!

Oh boy!  Northern Michigan is all about everything craft beer these days, and a big part of the reason why, is a Northern Michigan guy from Bellaire, Michigan, named Joe Short.  14 years ago, he took his favorite hobby and turned it into a business that he’s kept his passion for through out the years.  Yesterday, the town of Bellaire shut down the streets and turned into a festival of all things Short’s for it’s 14th Anni party.  People lined up from all parts of the state to get into the big party!

7518834608_img_0240Performances by several bands from throughout Michigan happened here on this day.  In this picture, Braxton Hicks (aka…  Joe Short and Seth Bernard) and the Contractions performed their comical musical genius from the top of a  semi trailer downtown Bellaire.

7518834608_img_0260The Detroit Marching band showcased it’s Louisana style jazz, wowing the crowd!  I’m a new big fan!  These guys really rocked it!  The evening ended with Michigan’s own “Steppin’ in it” on the main stage.

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My new favorite beer of the day (and of the summer for sure!) is Short’s Soft Parade Shandy; A lemonade infused fruit based beer.  7518834608_img_0247

Even though it was a brisk, sunny, 40 degree day, everyone kept warm until the sun went down!

Cheer to Short’s Brewing Company…  Happy 14th. Anniversary, and wishing you many more!

Ancestry Obsession… More fascinating stuff!

Yesterday, in my lunchtime boredom here in the office, I decided to take a further look into my family tree on Ancestry.  This time I worked down my maternal grandfather’s lineage.  Low and behold… 11 generations back, I learned that my 11th Great Grandfather came across on the Mayflower in 1620!  Fascinating…  my very distant relative may just include notable names like Ulysses Grant, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and even Taylor Swift!  I’m pretty sure I may have to do more research to verify all of this information…  but it’s pretty cool to think that one of my ancestors had such a huge part in history.

According to MayflowerHistory.com Richard Warren came across on the Mayflower alone, leaving his wife and daughters behind in England.  The rest of his family came cross in 1923 on “The Anne”.  Richard Warren is one of the most common “Mayflower” passengers to be descended from, as all of his children survived into adulthood, married, and had large families.

Great stuff… Can’t wait to research more!  That’s all for today.  Guess I’m going to have to add England to my bucket list of places to visit!

Review: Canon EOS M100 Mirrorless Digital Camera

I love taking pictures…. good quality photos that document life at its best. Sometimes, that cell phone camera just isn’t good enough.

So instead of carrying my big clunky old Canon EOS DSLR around everywhere, I decided to tryout the compact version of Canon’s EOS Mirrorless Digital Camera. What a great purchase for me! It’s a lightweight, easy to use camera with changeable lenses with all the bells and whistles of my big camera. My favorite feature is the wi-fi sharing capability, that wasn’t available back when I got my original DSLR. Just take the shot, connect to WiFi, and transfer pictures back and forth to a phone, tablet, or laptop. This feature makes for convenient editing of pictures.

It’s all around just a great compact camera with the quality that Canon has delivered for years. I’d say it’s my new favorite toy! … and the picture quality, well… tell me what you think. Straight from the pint, or dish it into a bowl? Love those Saturday night decisions!

Nice blog on Traverse City! :) Looking forward to Suds and Snow this weekend! Weekend Round Up + Winter Weekend Getaway: Traverse City, Michigan — Savannah Said It

You guys! I TOTALLY forgot to get a Weekend Round Up posted for you yesterday! So you’re getting a mini weekend round up, and a mini weekend getaway idea for you! Let’s start with our roundup! We started our weekend Friday night with Margs and Mexican food with my best friend and her boyfriend! We […]

via Weekend Round Up + Winter Weekend Getaway: Traverse City, Michigan — Savannah Said It

Onward and upward…

Enough with the negativity!  I never meant for my blog to become a political tool, or a rant fest, but occasionally I do catch myself venting about bad happenings in our society, sometimes when its not even political. But then I kick myself just to remind my brain that this isn’t what its all about.

I started this blog as a tool to practice my writing skills, and talk about positive lifestyles, favorite travel destinations, along with favorite local places, and continuing life over 50!  So…  I had a few days of negative after the Parkland Shooting, and the Benton, KY shooting.  I voiced my opinion.  I wish there was a time machine that could send someone back to change all that happened here. But that doesn’t exist yet (Elon Musk, can you do something about that, please?), so I need to reset my thinking.

I promise to do better on the next blog, not only for the readers, but for myself.  I need to lighten up life a little!  So stay tuned… Life has to get better!

My curiousity gets to me! :) Join in the debate no matter what side you are on… But please have a valid argument.

This morning, while I sat back enjoying my coffee with my winter view, I watched “Face the Nation”.  There were students from Parkland High School, who were in the school during the mass shooting, voicing their opinions about gun control. These students have something legitimate to say!  I can’t imagine being one of the students in the school during the shooting.  Now keep an open mind, no matter what side of the debate you are on, because the country is now demanding action, instead of thoughts and prayers.   (Note to self… there is already some hokey information going around on social media about how many mass shootings have happened this year so far…)

  1.  While you have a right to guns, they do have a right to live… the pursuit of happiness, so the story goes!
  2. They are not out to disarm the country, they just want tighter restrictions on assault weapons. (Can you bear hunt with an AR15???  Is it necessary???)  One of the student’s speaking has a father who is a police officer, and owns guns.  Personally, I know a lot of sport hunters, who might find hunting with an AR15 rather unsportsmanlike.  Not to mention, the next sweet little deer that tries to munch down my freshly planted garden this spring may find themselves in a frying pan next fall during hunting season, without much argument from me.
  3. Some politicians say that more gun control laws won’t help…  How do they know this if they don’t investigate the options further?  Yes, there is a black market on guns… that’s an illegal black market.  There are laws for that which need to be enforced.  Criminals will always be able to get guns…  But is that just a bad excuse to sit by and do nothing?
  4. Nikolas Cruz has been on the FBI’s radar long before the shootings.  He was even expelled from Parkland High School.  He legally purchased the AR15 with no problems.  What’s going on with that?
  5. The family Cruz lived with kept their guns and ammunition under lock and key.  He apparently was sneaky enough to keep his own key to get access to the AR15 without their family’s knowledge.  He put their lives, and their children’s lives in danger… all because they were good hearted enough to step up and help him.  His mother had passed away of pneumonia the prior year.  Where was the rest of his real family?  I feel like something was missed in his upbringing.  Sorry, but it had to be said.  Did someone fail him along the way in his childhood?
  6. If I owned an AR15 for personal protection… kept it loaded next to my bed at night, and someone broke into my house, I’d hate to think that my dog might get hit.  I think I would opt for a hand gun, or maybe even a tazer.  (I guess now you will think twice before breaking into my house while I’m asleep!)  If I did choose an AR15 or something similar, no matter if it looked like a hunting rifle or an assault rifle, I would expect to go through extensive training and background checks to obtain and use it.

Those are valid points I came up with while listening to these students.  I’m trying to keep an open mind here, and I would like to open this up for debate (with real solutions, not name calling or arguing).

Let’s try to come up with some real solutions and encourage our country to combat such tragic events.

Please feel free to join in on the comments, but have a valid argument, and don’t be a name caller.  This isn’t about “snowflakes or rednecks”… its about human lives, family values, mental health care, and access to automatic assault weapons.  No one really wants “The Terminator” to come in and open fire anywhere.

In closing… imagine if this happened in your local schools where it involved your children, and their close friends, and families.  It can happen, and it has happened.  We need to step it up and stop ignoring signs that are right there in front of us.

Thanks for keeping an open mind.

Signed,

Your favorite confused moderate conservative!

Short, sweet, and too the point. We need a solution!

#parklandstrong #bentonstrong #sandyhookstrong #paducahstrong #thelistgoeson. Stop the violence… parents be involved with your kids. Speak up to your representatives for better mental health programs. It’s not about guns, it’s about violence. Thoughts and prayers don’t seem to be helping, so we need to step it up. #ittakesavillage

Just my thoughts.  By the way, how did that guy get that gun… and how did he get in the school with it?

The Rise and Fall of the Shopping Mall?

In the late 1960’s, shopping malls popped up all around the country. I remember, because I was a kid way back then, and one of my favorite pastimes was loading up into the car with my mom, Grammy, and aunties to hit the Paka Plaza in Jackson, Michigan. It was a joy to wonder through the toy department at Sears Roebuck to pick out the favorite teddy bear. If I remember correctly, I picked a somewhat girly bear. My cousin, Erin (yes, thats you dear!) picked the cuddly brown bear with the boy clothes. She was much more of a tomboy than I was back then. (Strange how my memory works!) While my mom and my Aunt giggled about sizes marked with TT… They said it meant “teeny tiny” size!

Then we moved UpNorth.. Rapid City, Michigan… Torch Lake… Aka 3rd most beautiful lake in the world! No malls.. But we took many long drives back to Jackson to hit our favorite spots, along with many relatives and in 1972 they got a wondrous new indoor mall.. Westwood Mall… This quickly became a new favorite, with its extra expansive JC Penney, and Hudsons!

UpNorth shopping was mainly downtown. Traverse City, with its famous Milliken’s Tea Room, among quaint boutiques with unique clothing items. In 1978, the community scored big with the opening of the Cherryland Mall. The community had come of age with its flagship department store, Prange’s, along with Sears Roebuck and Kmart, not to mention Main Street Sports (Kudos to the Gallagher family!). The place was usually packed with happy shoppers, until around 1991, when the community was introduced to the Grand Traverse Mall. Oh the joy of shopping became larger!

Flash forward to today… Milliken’s is gone from downtown. Westwood Mall is still surviving. Cherryland Mall is now the Cherryland Center, struggling to fill vacant spaces. Multiple stores in the Grand Traverse Mall are slated to close, leaving it’s development company in search of new tenant’s. Who is to blame? Some say Amazon.com.

Well.. Amazon is convenient, but… in my recent travels to Raleigh, NC (Crabtree Valley Mall) and Estero, FL, (Coconut Point Mall) I was pleased to find good busy bustling malls with amazing shopping, and very few vacant spaces! My anxiety about the death of my favorite sport is eased! Now… What are these communities doing that our struggling malls can learn from?

Perhaps its quality over quantity? Maybe it’s the economy setting of the communities? What if it’s simply a matter of making time to spend a family shopping day on occasion, instead of blindly ordering something to be delivered to your door?

This is simply one of the things that randomly runs through my brain from time to time

In the meantime… Get out there and hit those local malls… Make memories! Happy shopping, all!

Just being me… and being good with it!

There’s something I’ve been struggling with most of my life, that I’ve had the hardest time with.  It’s hard to even come up with words to describe it.  So here’s my best shot…

“I’m fat”…  Those words are stuck in my head.  They were there when I weighed 110 lbs., and there still there to this day.  But now I look back at pictures and think… well maybe I wasn’t so fat after all back then?  I think I actually looked pretty good now that I see it in hindsight.

Where did this obsession with my weight come from?  I was actually a pretty scrawny kid with thick glasses and a big smile.  My mom went on every diet there was “back in her day”… (yes that’s her favorite phrase!)  I even did the diet thing when I was about 21 at “The Diet Center’, with amazing results.  The focus was always on weight… and of course health, no matter if it was Weight Watchers, or Nutrisystem, or whatever diet was the latest thing.

Of course, back then, I was painfully shy.  So whenever someone showed an interest in me, I would shy away so maybe no one would notice that I was maybe just a bit chubby.  I let that rule my life, and break down my confidence.  Then I met my husband (now ex-husband)…  Nice enough guy, but very obsessed with the fact that I wasn’t supposed to weigh what he weighed.  Well… he was all of 5’8” with a metabolism of an 8 year old with ADHD.  So I did my best to make sure to get in shape, just for him!  What the heck???  Yes, I said it.  I was so unconfident, I thought I had to control my weight for someone other than myself.

About a month before the wedding, we were out in the woods wandering around, searching for morel mushrooms.  It’s a great spring time tradition in Northern Michigan.  He was having a quietly crabby day.  So I kept my head down, in search of the elusive fungi.  He finally looked at me and said, completely out of the blue, “you know you are getting to be over my weight limit”.  CRUSHED!  I spent the next four weeks on a crash diet, with long walks every night, just to make sure he wouldn’t leave me at the Alter.  What a big dummy I was!  My size 10 wedding dress fit perfectly the day of my wedding.  At the time, it seemed like a victory for me.

So for the next 13 years (with the exception of the year I spend in Chemotherapy and radiation for Hodgkins Lymphoma in 2000) I spent my life obsessing over being good enough for him…  Having a good enough job…  dodging his tremendous mood swings where he would hate on whomever pissed him off at the moment…  dealing with his “Rich people are worthless” attitude, which got him let go from several jobs, and giving children the evil eye if they slightly misbehaved in public, all the while expecting me to stand by his side and agree with his every word.  Dinner out with friends usually ended with “Tracey doesn’t need desert”.

One day my attitude on the whole subject changed when I came home from work, and he had been day drinking with the neighbor down the street.  The neighbor complimented the wax job on my car.  He piped right up to point out the flaws and wax crumbs…  I simply rolled my eyes and walked into the house.

He followed me yelling “I should just leave you”…  At that moment I realized he was very drunk.  So I ignored him.  He left the house continuing down the neighborhood on his quest for beer drinking buddies.  I sat stunned for an hour in my living room, fighting tears back.  I felt like I had failed. When he returned to the house, I looked him square in the face and said “Leave!”  Wow…  the little mouse finally spoke up!  He cried, saying he didn’t remember saying what he said.  So I softened… we went through some counseling which he completely ignored, until I decided to walk into the court house and file for divorce, about 9 months later.

I haven’t looked back since then!  Sometimes to get past those words in your head, you have to let go of toxic people.  My focus these days is on being healthy, and enjoying life.  That’s a #1 priority.  No more living life someone else’s way.  It’s been 10 years since that divorce, and I’m in a good place in my life.  I’m not a size 10 anymore…  but hey…  “I may be chubby, but I’m still cute!”  My truest friends and family don’t seem to mind at all.  Although I may offend an occasional toxic person from time to time.  Sorry, not sorry!