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.

 

 

Power Outages and You

No matter where you live, or what size house or apartment you live in, you should be prepared in case the power goes out.  Especially if you live in an area prone to extreme weather!

Preparation is the name of the game and can contribute greatly to your survival!

So before the big snowstorm, or the hurricane season, or the tornadoes hit – here are some things to get ready, if you can.

Take into consideration the amount of space you have for storing some of these items, many of them can fit in a large backpack, or plastic storage tub, which would fit into a closet easily enough (and also make it easier to grab and take with you, if you need to evacuate) – so let’s look at the stuff you can pack ahead of time, first:

Non-perishables:

  • a roll of duct tape
  • pocket knife
  • waterproof matches in a waterproof container and some candles
  • paper and pencil
  • small fire extinguisher
  • two signal flares
  • photocopies of: your pets vaccination and license records; any prescriptions for your family and/or pets; your ids (drivers license, passport)
  • a bit of cash (you decide how much you can set aside – just know if no power, no atm or ability to run a debit/credit machine.
  • a list of shelters/hotels that accept pets
  • emergency phone numbers (if your phone battery dies…)
  • toilet paper, tissues, sanitary napkins or tampons, diapers, if needed. a roll of poop bags for the doggydoo
  • extra leash and collar (if you have dogs)
  • manual can opener
  • utensils
  • flashlight and extra batteries
  • 3 or 4 pair of clean socks (they can be used as mittens, in the cold. Or as potholders, in a pinch – if you are heating something up on a camping stove).
  • first-aid kit and antibiotic cream
  • if possible, a radio with batteries or hand-crank for power (something like this – click here)

If you have cats, keep your cat carriers with your emergency kit in same place. That way you can grab everything you need and go.

If you are a regular camper, keep your camping stove and camping gear stored with your emergency kit.

Also – if you are staying at your home, having these emergency supplies in one place makes it easier on you and your family.

Now the perishable items:

  • Try to keep a 3 day supply of water  available. That would be 1 gallon of drinkable water, per person or pet, per day. So 2 adults, 2 children and 1 dog = 5 gallons of water per day, times 3 days = 15 gallons of water. You can buy bottled water, or save plastic gallon containers (washed out of course) and fill when you a preparing for a storm that you know is coming. Another trick to consider is filling those gallon jugs, and setting them outside to freeze (in winter) then using them in your coolers to keep your food cold, if the power is out.
  • Check your pantries to be sure you have at least 3 days of non-salty non-perishable foods.  You can stock up on canned goods, granola and granola bars, dried fruits, protein bars, nuts and also remember things like peanut butter and crackers.  Don’t forget to stock up on baby formula for your baby, and pet food for your pets.
  • Make sure that if any of your family has a special dietary requirements, you have enough food to accommodate that.
  • When ever you have warning of a weather event on its way, double check your family’s prescriptions to see if they need to be refilled, and do so, that way you won’t be stuck without critical medications!

If the power goes out in winter, designate one room for everyone to “hang out in” and “camp out” there. closing the doors and blocking drafts, put blankets on windows, to conserve the heat in the room. You can leave a south facing window unblocked to get natural light and some warmth of the sun from there, but block it after dark.

If you can afford it, and you live somewhere that the power goes out frequently – you might invest in a generator. There are several small ones that recharge through a regular outlet or car battery or a solar panel (usually special for that generator), but on the plus side there is no gasoline required or loud noise or fumes. You can see a sample of one of these generators here, and its associated solar panel is here.

I know that you all cannot always afford to have all of these items ready and sitting in your closet, but this list can give you a head start on gathering what you DO already have into a single “kit” (plastic storage box or backpack) so you have something ready in an emergency.

 

 

 

Tiny house financing

Sometimes even a small amount is a stretch (especially when you are living tiny due to your circumstances instead of as a lifestyle choice). The world of tiny home financing is changing and trying to catch up to the interest in tiny homes.

This article should get you started with planning how to finance your dream tiny home.

https://www.curbed.com/2017/7/20/15958910/tiny-house-financing-loans-rv-personal

And here’s another take on the subject:

https://www.thetinyhouse.net/how-to-finance-a-tiny-house/