The paradox of the fixed income (aka: Should I get a roommate?)

Living smaller is a choice. And being on a fixed income, such as for older people on Social Security with little retirement/savings – it is a necessity.

Many older people are now considering the option of having roommates or homesharing. Our culture has, for decades, encouraged individuals to be independent until starting their own families…so this is a difficult shift for many people and may feel like “going backward”. Especially as they have become used to their solitude, privacy, and routines.

Yet the financial reality is, that if you are in a big home with many bedrooms, it is a burden to care for and pay for. Even if you are lucky enough to have paid off your mortgage – utilities and taxes continue to climb, while your income is fixed.

And if you do not own property, rents continue to rise, as well as healthcare costs. While your income stays the same.

It is a “no-brainer” to look for roommates in your age group when finances are fixed. And there are some applications out there such as Silver Nest at www.silvernest.com  and Senior Home Shares at www.seniorhomeshares.com. But they are not yet well-known.

And of course, sharing a place is not for everyone – there are many considerations – such as:

  • Do you have pets?
  • Does the home-owner or apartment renter have pets?
  • What happens when you want to have visitors?
  • What about family?
  • What happens if there is a medical emergency?
  • What happens if the person you are renting from – dies?
  • What happens in the event of a natural catastrophe (earthquake, fire, etc)?
  • What happens if there is a burglary?

Plus is it truly a “roommate” arrangement with shared responsibilities or are you simply renting a room?

While you answer those questions for yourself, there are upsides to shared living for seniors:  Companionship and Safety.

You may not think you need to have someone to say “good morning” to, but it is good for your health to interact amiably with another human being; and if you have a roommate, and you have a medical emergency – there is someone there who can call for help. And surprisingly for some, having a roommate, ensures a few more years of independence.

So if you are on a fixed income, and thinking of living smaller to help make your dollars stretch a little further, consider a roommate.

 

 

Freecycle.org

Once every couple of years I do an article on Freecycle.org (established in 2003)- like this one I did on Narrative.org : https://www.narrative.org/post/the-freecycle-network-tm – and while I know that not everyone who tries to use this service has had a stellar experience, those bad experiences are the result of other users, not the service itself.

Their mission: “Freecycle aims to keep items out of landfills by providing an internet listings service to help people give unwanted items to someone else for free in their own community. Keeping stuff out of landfills helps build a sustainable future, is good for the environment and builds local and world communities.”

Since researching it again for my Narrative article, I noticed that the City I recently moved to had a post saying they were looking for moderators. I am currently a moderator-in-training for the Moreno Valley group.  If you browse the groups available, you will find that there are groups all over the United States and all over the world from Albania to Zimbabwe.

When you join one (or more) of the groups, the Moderator will send you a welcome email with all the rules and how-to’s. Very simple, and easy to use – if you have something you no longer need that is clean and safe – you can post it as an “Offer” if you need something – you can post it as a “Wanted”.

The rules specify the no-nos and they make perfect sense for safety and liability reasons. And the Moderators job is to make sure that those simple rules are adhered to, and to help publicize the service.

I support anything that keeps usable items out of the trash – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – and this is one of the ways we can all do that, while helping others.

A quick suggestion to you, gentle reader: If you know of a non-profit that looks for donations of goods (for example: old towels for animal rescues) – share Freecycle.org with them. It is one more way for them to get their message out and ask for the items they need. 

 

Cryptocurrency and living smaller

If you follow my blog, you are probably wondering about the nep-5 wallet and the links for cryptocurrency, and for those who have not already invested in Bitcoins, or looked into cryptocurrencies – I believe it will be a boon to you in your search for making a living while living your life.

Many people who are pursuing downsizing, do so because they are searching for ways to make the most of the salaries they are receiving, while keeping debt at bay. Some people pursue tiny living, in order to speed up paying off debts in the hopes of “getting out from under” the massive debts that seem to pervade our society. And once someone has “gone smaller” they seek ways to provide alternate incomes in case they are “downsized” at work, or when seeking to work less and live more.

Cryptocurrency has been around for awhile. Like many technologies, early adopters were more technically educated and could get their heads around shifting and expanding their definition of money.

After all, money is a symbol that we use to barter for goods and services. The days when that money had actual gold and/or silver to back up the stated value of the currency have passed away. (If you don’t believe me look at old money versus newly printed money. Example: a 1935 E series One Dollar Bill “silver certificate” is currently being sold for $299 dollars on Etsy.com).

Once the concept of cryptocurrency became well understood by the technologists of the world, many other cryptocurrencies were being created, and today there are as many (or more) cryptocurrencies out there as there are paper currencies.

What are some of the advantages of cryptocurrencies?

  1. They are faster to send and receive, and have lower (and sometimes no) extra fees to handle. So things like “remittances” being sent from one country to family in another country, can more easily be done with smaller amounts of money.
  2. Developers who create games, can establish an economy that is based on pennies (or fractional amounts of whatever currency) and still make money, because there are not those heavy bank fees to contend with.
  3. “Tipping” and “Donating” can happen worldwide, because the currency is easy to transport in the internet and easy to convert.

Some disadvantages are:

  1. You need to establish a wallet or wallets, virtually, to receive and send from; and the “key” to these is often a long string of characters, making it hard to remember and to secure. For example, if you keep your wallet on your computer and your computer crashes – boom, no money. You need to keep a copy of the wallet on a usb stick (also known as a thumb drive, or jump drive), in case – which means remembering to back things up regularly.
  2. Also, not all wallets work for all currencies, so you may wind up with a few wallets.
  3. The process of buying, transferring, and spending cryptocurrency; while it is “simple” is not EASY, and you must truly pay attention to the details, and be focused on what you are doing. Because if you transfer currency to a wallet that is not compatible, you will (usually) lose that currency. It is like putting your money in your pocket but your pants don’t actually have a pocket, so the money falls to the ground wherever you happen to be…

The fact is there are growing numbers of ways to make cryptocurrency on the internet, from connecting your blog to a browser that allows “tipping” in the form a the BAT cryptocurrency (Brave which also allows you to keep those intrusive popups and video autoplays that eat up your bandwidth) to sites that allow you to earn cryptocurrency with your original content (Narrative, Publish0x, Steemit) and the variety of mining sites (CryptoTab – a chrome compatible browser that mines Bitcoins while you browse) and faucets (sites that let you “collect” bitcoins during time intervals in the hopes that you will spend time playing games or looking at their advertisements). I am certain, as people become more comfortable with cryptocurrencies, we will see even more ingenious ways to make money with them.

And of course, there is the old fashioned approach, as well – which is investing in cryptocurrencies. A site like Coinbase,  allows you to invest and also keep your currency in the coinbase wallets. It doesn’t handle all currencies, but it does have some of the major players – plus while it lasts – they have instructional videos to teach about the various currencies, and once you have registered an account with them, you can go through the videos and earn some of the currency they are teaching you about.

If you are already making a living, or at least a side hustle that pays in cryptocurrency – please share you experiences!

If you have questions, ask them, and I’ll try to get you the answer.

Cryptocurrency is the next evolution in “money” – here’s hoping you have good experiences with it.

 

 

Circle Pond Tiny Home Community

Recently an article in the Tiny House newsletter caught my eye. It was about “A real tiny house community in Florida (not a vacation place)” located in Ruskin, Florida.

When I clicked on the article, I was immediately inspired to find out more about the woman – Debbie Caneen, who created this tiny community and how she did it. I also wanted to find out more about how someone with a tiny home should go about contacting her in order to join her community.

I reached out to Debbie and she immediately got back to me and agreed to let me interview her. We traded a couple more emails – I sent her my questions ahead of the scheduled phone call and we spoke on Saturday morning (June 15, 2019).

The moment you hear her voice you know that this cheerful woman juggles multiple projects and priorities with good grace. She seems to be the epitome of “The more you do, the more you get done”! We wasted no time getting into the nitty gritty of how her tiny home community came to be a reality.

Part 1.

Giving me some background on the area, Debbie told me that three miles east from her property is Sun City Center’s retirement community where it includes about 22,000 retirees; and the particular residential facility that she works for has 400 under one roof on any given day. In addition, in her role as President of the South Shore Coalition for Mental Health and Aging, she sees the growing requirement for services to and for the retiree demographic. The needed services for them, such as: food preparation, housekeeping, general living assistance, and more – are typically lower wage jobs, which presents a problem. Where will these support service people come from if there is no affordable housing available locally?

While pondering that question, serendipity arrived in the guise of a local realtor who made an announcement at a meeting she was attending, about a local investment property – a mobile home park. It sounded like something she should look in to.

The four and a half acre “park” had been on the market for over 3 years, and had six ancient and decrepit, yet occupied, mobile homes on the property. The pond at the center had been fenced in and overgrown – so much so that it was nearly impossible to see the water due to the algae grown covering it. The local offices of the county routinely cited the park for code violations. In short, it took a great deal of imagination to see this land for what it could be, and not walk away from what it was.

But Debbie is no stranger to hard work, or to tiny living. Having worked on 40 acres, farming earlier in life, and an avid lifetime sailor – she knew that the land could sustain determined people and she knew that tiny homes were livable and efficient. In her mind’s eye, she saw a community of tiny homes, with edible landscaping, and a community garden.  A place that would be affordable, and sustainable; a place where people could afford to live. Her vision was strong, and she began the process of due diligence and upon purchasing the property, rolled up her sleeves and dug in.

Part 2.

The hard work turned out to be the easy part. What caused her much soul-searching and many sleepless nights, was what to do about the six families currently living in the dilapidated park. These old structures were not only in disrepair, the costs for electricity to keep them cool in the Florida heat was more than most of these families could afford. Often they paid their utility bills and had nothing left for the rent. If Debbie had been a “run of the mill” developer, she might have simply hired a lawyer to evict these people and sent them on their way. Instead she worked out a way to help them move, speaking with each family and assisting them with their move to a new locale.

Once they were all moved away, then the process of clearing the land, breaking down and removing the old homes and trash, removing the fence around the pond, and cleaning the pond could begin.

The surrounding neighborhood loved seeing the evolution of the area from tired and a bit trash covered to a tidy oasis. With a community college close by, gas station, shopping, the Amazon Fulfillment Center and restaurants also within a couple of blocks, the Circle Pond Tiny Home Community is not only improved greatly, it gives other residents nearby a nice boost of intrinsic and real value.

Part 3.

I asked Debbie what advice she would give to others who might want to do what she has done; what did she wish she had known, or what would she have done differently. After a thoughtful pause to reflect, her answer was that since this whole project was pretty much new – to the county and to the city, she learned a lot just by trying to get things done. “You discover what you need to do as you need to do it.” If there was any one thing she would advise it would be to “Be Proactive! Imagine the worst case scenario and plan for that.” For example, while it isn’t a requirement for RV’s (how tiny homes are viewed on site) to be strapped down for hurricanes, she asks that the tenants strap down their homes for safety. That attention to details translates to a safer community.

She also went on to say, that whenever she hit a problem or a snag, she would let it alone for a while and go do something productive (like planting another fruit tree on the property) and often the answer or inspiration leading to the answer, would come to her. From her list of the fruiting trees that she has planted on the property, including (but not limited to) peaches, plums, avocados, pomegranates, jack fruit – and she named off lots more, I am guessing she had her fair share of obstacles and challenges. She happily mentioned that her belief is that if you are trying to help others, the answers will come. I have to agree, and the proof is there in her accomplishment!

What she has created on her four and a half acres, includes: 12 spaces for tiny homes, edible landscaping in the form of many fruit trees, a stocked pond and a community garden; with plans for 12 more spaces once the local city services pull in water lines and sewage – which should happen soon, since there is a town home development being built nearby.

The current resident’s average age is 34 and they are a true community of people who are helpful to each other and enjoy tiny living and organic gardening.

Each lot is 30 feet by 30 feet leveled crushed gravel, and the space rent is $450 a month which includes the utilities including electricity (except for wifi). You will have to bring your own tiny home, but you can situate it as you please in your space. There is parking for each space, and the community is dog friendly. A fenced dog park area is planned in the near future.

If you are interested in renting a space and joining her tiny community, or just would like to tour it in person, please contact her through her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/TinyHomeOnWheels/ or email her at Info@circlepondtinycommunity.com to make an appointment to visit or have a phone call.

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If you have a “Living Smaller” story, or know of one – let me know. I’d love to interview you and share your story with the world.  Contact me Natalia Corres, at: Info@idea-storm.com 

 

 

Tiny Homes legalized in Washington State

Originally written and published in Narrative.org’s Tiny Houses Niche.

May 9, 2019 – Jay Inslee, Governor of the State of Washington signed the Tiny House law. This law legalizes living in tiny home and tiny homes on wheels in the State. This is a great stride forward for Tiny home owners in all states.

For a full transcript of the law, click here.

Go to the new section 5 to see:

(4) For purposes of this section:  (a) “Tiny house” and “tiny house with wheels” means a dwelling to  be used as permanent housing with permanent provisions for living,  sleeping, eating, cooking, and sanitation built in accordance with the state building code.

p. 6 ESSB 5383.PL  (b) “Tiny house communities” means real property rented or held  out for rent to others for the placement of tiny houses with wheels or tiny houses utilizing the binding site plan process in RCW 58.17.035.

My Mysterious “Facebook” Lockout

Originally published in Medium at https://medium.com/@nataliacorres/my-mysterious-facebook-lockout-554820244ef7.

Back in 2004, I heard about this social network platform called “Facebook” and in 2005 I finally got around to joining. I had a developer’s account for awhile, because I was working for a little web-based application startup company who wanted to be able to capitalize on opportunities that could arise from shared acquaintances and friends. And time marched on.

Which brings us to today June 5, 2019 — where for the last 24 hours I have been stuck in this screen (I’ve covered my phone number in the screen print):

“Oh” you may be thinking, “why doesn’t she put in the code?”

Because they never sent it. And clicking on “Resend Confirmation Code” is how I got that little red lock down message.

“Oh” you think again, “maybe change your password?”

Tried that, and it sent me confirmation that I have changed my password, but I still cannot log in.

To report a problem, I have to login.

To get to my business pages, I have to login.

To get to a variety of other applications, that I have (stupidly) used Facebook Credentials for, I have to login.

Are you seeing a trend?

In fact, there is no where on the Facebook site that enables you to message them, no phone numbers to call, no email addresses for reporting anything UNLESS YOU ARE ALREADY LOGGED IN. And yes, I did a Help Search, and nothing addresses when you are stuck in the particular screen I am stuck in and have not received their SMS texted security confirmation code.

I had to do several google searches to find an email to use (here it is in case you need to try it someday: disabled@facebook.com) and that is a long shot because according to my searches it takes them on average 100 hours to answer their emails.

And remember, an average means that it could go waaaay higher or I might have an email sitting in my inbox right now (I don’t, but I suppose it could happen).

Adding insult to injury, many of the applications that I have used Facebook login credentials for, also do not have a way of getting to your account without logging in to Facebook. An Ourobouros problem, the snake eating his tail…(i.e. catch-22, circular issue — can’t get there from here).

It is a mystery to me, that a platform that prides itself on connecting people is unreachable unless you are IN the application. And even then, you are advised to send a Messenger Private Message to the Support folks and sometimes you can find a chatbox, but after the chatbot has tried everything and you realize it is a bot and not a person, you still have no answer.

Plus I am advised by some of my friends who still have access to their accounts, that all of my messages have disappeared and that I am listed as blocked for offensive material. One would think that Facebook would notify me of such an offense — or perhaps issue a warning of some kind. Not that I have posted anything that could be considered offensive (I don’t post political stuff, I am mostly a science/tech/animal welfare and funny stuff kind of post).

My biz pages are about living smaller (more sustainably) — “Zen of Living Smaller” and writing for a living “Words to Live By”; hardly the stuff of controversy or graphic violence. No hate speech, unless you count hate against child and animal abusers…so WTH?

After years of strange stuff happening, and the advent of more and more and more advertising I am inclined to say that if I cannot get this corrected in a reasonable timeframe. I will probably give up on Facebook entirely and move on.

I will miss the interaction with many of my friends and acquaintances, but it will probably free me up to write more — so there is a plus side.

NOTE: Today is 6/6/19 and I have not received a reply to tweets or to the email  I sent. BUT…I have discovered that this has been an ongoing problem for Facebook since March of this year. Still no fix? Well folks, if I hear nothing by Friday – I will remove all the links to Facebook and call it a nice run, but it couldn’t last forever.