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Archive for May, 2014

May 24: TrailWalkersClub Business Planning

May 26th, 2014 at 04:50 am

My plan for today was to crunch through a bunch of household paperwork and to spend a good amount of time developing my TrailWalkers Club (TWC)* business idea. I made good progress.

Over my first cup of coffee, I wrote 200 words or so** on a new blog article that I am titling "LTC Insurance: A Lesser and Necessary Evil". Then breakfast and off to "work."

8:00am to 12:00noon
-- plowed through that paperwork
-- finalized my day plans for next week***
-- used "left over time" to do some housework

12:00noon to 5:30pm
-- lunch and a DVD lecture on prehistoric man (After The Ice Age)
-- developed a "Trail Note" form to document all aspects of a trail hike from trip mileage to costs to trail observations to picture records, etc. Everything on one form from which to write up TWC blog posts and document expenses for tax purposes. The form came out great.
-- updated my TWC accounting and other journal pages

5:30pm to 7:00pm
-- ran a couple of bundled errands****
-- cleaned out the back of my truck

7:00pm to ...
-- dinner and a movie (Donnie Darko)
-- and played Pacific War*****

# # #


* For Fun And (Maybe) Profit:
Text is http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/05/01/for-fun-and-maybe-profit_108660/ and Link is
http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/05/01/for-fun-an...

** 200 Words A Day That (Hopefully) Matter:
Text is http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/05/07/200-words-a-day-that-hopefully-matter_108767/ and Link is
http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/05/07/200-words-...

*** Making Time For Fun:
Text is http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/04/08/making-time-for-fun_108206/ and Link is
http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/04/08/making-tim...

**** The Frugal Game: Errand Bundling:
Text is http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2013/12/26/the-frugal-game-errand-bundling_106315/ and Link is
http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2013/12/26/the-frugal...

***** My Strategy Games Rainy Day Passion:
Text is http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/01/07/strategy-games-my-rainy-day-passion_106565/ and Link is
http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/01/07/strategy-g...

LTC Insurance: a Lesser and Necessary Evil

May 25th, 2014 at 03:11 pm

I have maintained a long term care (LTC) insurance policy since I was in my mid-50s. I do not like paying out the $176 premium every month, but I have done so now for about 10 years. About a year ago, the insurance company got approval from state regulators to change my benefits duration from lifetime to a maximum of 10 years. I most certainly did not like that. But I have kept the policy and continued paying the premiums. Am I a glutton for punishment? No. Not at all. I am convinced that having an LTC insurance policy is the lesser -- and necessary -- evil. Here is why I think that.

Once you need LTC, having it is not optional. You go into long term care when you cannot take care of yourself. You cannot dress yourself. Or you cannot feed yourself. Or you cannot literally wipe your own butt. If and when the time for LTC comes, you cannot say no. You are going to get long term care or die in the street. So the only questions will be (1) who will provide you with long term care, (2) what kind of care will you get, and (3) how will it be paid for.

Long term care could bankrupt me. Or, at least, totally wreck my carefully crafted financial plan.* At a minimum $150 a day for a decent facility, LTC will suck up $4500 every month. That is $54,000 every year. And that is at today's prices. If I had to pay that out of my own pocket, my income would no longer stay ahead of my expenses. And my asset base would shrink -- and shrink -- year after year. To avoid that, an LTC insurance policy is the lesser -- and necessary -- evil.

I am not rich NOW, so self-insurance is no solution. LTC insurance is not just for if/when one might need care at 85 years old. Something could happen to me today to make me need LTC right now. I could have a crippling accident today. I could have a stroke today. And I would need LTC right now. So there is no time to build up a self-insurance stash by investing the insurance premium money instead of handing it over to the insurance company. To self-fund long term care at a minimum cost of $50,000 a year I -- and anyone else -- would need an extra half-million to 1.25 million dollars. Since I do not have that extra fortune today, I am covered by an LTC insurance policy as the lesser -- and necessary -- evil.

Long term care by family is a wrong solution. I cannot justify pressing a family member into who-knows-how-many years of forced LTC service just so I can spend the monthly premium money on something else. If I care for a person, I do not see how I can rationalize turning that person into my 24/7 servant -- never again being master of his or her life -- until I am dead and gone. To me, that seems the perfect way to turn that person's love for me into something else entirely. To avoid all that, an LTC insurance policy is the lesser -- and necessary -- evil.

Government-provided LTC is a poor and impoverishing "solution." Health insurance does not cover long term care. Neither does Medicare. The one way to receive government-provided LTC is through a Medicaid program. But Medicaid is specifically for people with no means. So, to qualify for Medicaid LTC, one has to become a person with no means. That boils down to not being able to qualify for Medicaid LTC until after virtually all of one's assets have been consumed by LTC costs. Nothing left for a legacy. Damn little left for your spouse. It is a financially hellish way to go. And the tradeoff is not good.

Government-provided LTC is minimal LTC. Budget limitations force it to be. With my LTC insurance, I can at least approach my choice of an LTC facility as a paying client with some expectations. As a Medicaid recipient, I would have to accept wherever I was placed and whatever care I was given. I do not want my living conditions -- and possibly even my life -- to depend on the good graces of a bureaucratic, non-performance-based government program. I will take the lesser -- and necessary -- evil of LTC insurance instead.

LTC insurance is a necessary expense. That is why it is a part of my $18,000 annual baseline living budget.** To me, LTC insurance is a need, not an optional want. And at less than $180 a month, it costs me much less than other people's frivolous new car payments.*** Even less than some people's cable television monthly bill. And the peace of mind I get from having LTC insurance is worth much more to me.

The takeaway: Long term care insurance is not just for when you become old and decrepit. A stroke, an accident, or some other health misfortune could make you need long term care now. So you have to protect yourself now. Otherwise you face the loss of all your financial assets. Or face the prospect of forcing your most loved family members into an unchosen life of servitude and limitations. Or both.

# # #

* My Six Lines of Financial Defense:
Text is http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/04/29/my-six-lines-of-financial-defense_108598/ and Link is
http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/04/29/my-six-lin...

** My $18K Annual Baseline Budget:
Text is http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2013/12/29/my-18k-annual-baseline-budget_106374/ and Link is
http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2013/12/29/my-18k-ann...

*** My Oldie-Goldie Thrifty-Nifty Truck:
Text is http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/03/25/my-oldie-goldie-thrifty-nifty-truck_107931/ and Link is
http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/03/25/my-oldie-g...

May 23: Another Basement Dry-Up and a Camera

May 25th, 2014 at 06:40 am

My plan for today was to dry up the standing water in the basement of our rental-house-to-be, do a "dump run", do some errands and go home. It all took me until after 8:00pm but I got it done.

Over my early-morning cup of coffee, I wrote the first 200 words or so* on a new blog article that I am titling "Long Term Care Insurance: a Lesser and Necessary Evil." Then breakfast and off to "work."

8:00am to 12:00noon
-- checked the news on my stocks**
-- spent 2 hours in the basement mopping and wringing out wet towels until the floor was dry
-- loaded up my Dodge Dakota*** for a dump run
-- drove to the dump and emptied out the truck

12:00noon to 5:30pm
-- had a "treat" lunch at yet another Chinese buffet
-- drove around doing bundled errands****
-- including getting a smoking deal at WalMart on just the perfect camera for hiking***** (a $270 retail-value display model for $155)
-- and when back at the house loaded up the truck with another batch of boxes for storage******

5:30pm to 8:00pm
-- had a nice country backroads drive home

8:00pm to ...
-- dinner
-- and some Pacific War game playing*******

# # #


* 200 Words A Day That (Hopefully) Matter:
Text is http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/05/07/200-words-a-day-that-hopefully-matter_108767/ and Link is
http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/05/07/200-words-...

** How I Stay On Top Of My Stocks:
Text is http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/04/09/how-i-stay-on-top-of-my-stocks_108229/ and Link is
http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/04/09/how-i-stay...

*** My Oldie-Goldie Thrifty-Nifty Truck:
Text is http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/03/25/my-oldie-goldie-thrifty-nifty-truck_107931/ and Link is
http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/03/25/my-oldie-g...

**** The Frugal Game: Errand Bundling:
Text is http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2013/12/26/the-frugal-game-errand-bundling_106315/ and Link is
http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2013/12/26/the-frugal...

***** My Love Affair With Hiking:
Text is http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2013/12/23/my-love-affair-with-hiking_106264/ and Link is
http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2013/12/23/my-love-af...

****** Packrating Is Costing Me Plenty:
Text is http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/04/30/packrating-is-costing-me-plenty_108631/ and Link is
http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/04/30/packrating...

******* My Strategy Games Rainy Day Passion:
Text is http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/01/07/strategy-games-my-rainy-day-passion_106565/ and Link is
http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/01/07/strategy-g...

May 22: A Good Hike and Rental House Surprises

May 25th, 2014 at 04:45 am

My plan for today was to drive 100 miles to our rental-house-to-be and do some work there. And to do a good hike* at a park that is on the way. The hike went great; but the work on the house took an unexpected turn.

8:00am to 12:30pm
-- got myself ready for the trip
-- drove the first 50 miles to my targeted park
-- had a nice 1.5 hour hike along a creek and up and down hilly terrain
-- treated myself to a chinese buffet lunch

12;30pm to 3:00pm
-- drove the last 50 miles
-- did an errand-bundle** stop at the town's DMV office to get our car tags renewed
-- and got out of DMV in less than a half-hour by going to that office(!)
-- then went to the rental-house-to-be and the surprises waiting there for me

3:00pm to 8:00pm
-- found a stink bug infestation (dozens of them) in the front room
-- found a lot of standing water on the basement floor from the recent super rain event
-- found the grass had grown to about 3-foot high since my last visit
-- first I took care of eradicating the stink bugs
-- then I mowed a small fenced backyard area with the gas-powered pushmower I had brought with me
-- and found that a pushmower was not going to be up to the job of mowing the meadow now grown on our one-acre property (and I would not have the stamina to do it anyway)

8:00pm until...

-- dinner and a movie... and crashed

# # #


* My Love Affair With Hiking:
Text is http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2013/12/23/my-love-affair-with-hiking_106264/ and Link is
http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2013/12/23/my-love-af...

** The Frugal Game: Errand Bundling:
Text is http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2013/12/26/the-frugal-game-errand-bundling_106315/ and Link is
http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2013/12/26/the-frugal...

May 21: Blog, Blog, Blog and a Boat Surprise!

May 23rd, 2014 at 04:13 am

My plan for today was to draw up some legal papers for a dangling real estate deal, clean house a little and do a "blog blitz". I did all that. But the neat surprise my wife sprung on me pushed my scheduled cost optimizing time block aside.

That is because today was also the day that my wife surprised me upon her return from a family assistance trip by showing up towing a lake boat and trailer!

Over my first cup of coffee, I wrote and posted my May 19th day "what did I do today" blog memo*. Then breakfast and off to "work."

8:00am to 12:00noon
-- first thing (of course) I did the am critter care
-- checked the news on my stocks**
-- swept the house and cleaned the kitchen
-- caught up the laundry
-- drafted two real estate deeds to correct a boundary discrepancy between 2 parcels of land we sold last year

12:00noon to 3:30pm
-- lunch and a DVD lecture on pre-prehistoric man (The Great Diaspora)
-- wrote and posted a May 20th "what did I do today" blog memo
-- played an hour of Pacific War***

3:30 to 8;30pm
-- my wife comes home from a 2-week trip towing a surprise!
-- it is a 12-foot lake boat on a trailer, with a 5-hp outboard motor, a trolling motor and anchor
-- which she got for just $300!
-- and which goes towards my way-behind-schedule $5000 spending spree****
-- so after finding a place in the yard for our new toy, we took a walk around the property to check her new plantings and then went out to dinner

8:30pm to...
-- finished editing and posted my blog article "The Chuckle Benefit of Financial Planning"
-- and played some more Pacific War!

# # #


* 200 Words A Day That (Hopefully) Matter:
Text is http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/05/07/200-words-a-day-that-hopefully-matter_108767/ and Link is
http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/05/07/200-words-...

** How I Stay On Top Of My Stocks:
Text is http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/04/09/how-i-stay-on-top-of-my-stocks_108229/ and Link is
http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/04/09/how-i-stay...

*** My Strategy Games Rainy Day Passion:
Text is http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/01/07/strategy-games-my-rainy-day-passion_106565/ and Link is
http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/01/07/strategy-g...

**** A $5000 No-Guilt Spending Spree
Text is http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/03/24/a-5000-no-guilt-spending-spree_107910/ and Link is
http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/03/24/a-5000-no-...

The Chuckle Benefit of Financial Planning

May 21st, 2014 at 05:42 pm

I am financially planned "up the ying yang." It is for financial reasons, of course. But that planning gives me more than just financial benefits. I get more from being insured against this, that and the other* than just the protection of my financial assets. I get more from having several backup layers to my income** than just the provision of secure cash flow. I get more from keeping my baseline expenses well below my income*** than just the creation of a large surplus for discretionary spending.**** What all this planning gives me that cannot be measured in dollars is peace of mind. What I call the chuckle benefit of financial planning. Here is what I mean.

Last week, I took my old blind dog Little Bit (of Trouble!) to the vet for her wellness exam. The doc found a mammary gland tumor that requires surgical removal. So just to know what to expect, I asked about how much. About $700, the vet said. Okay, I said. No sticker shock. No stress. The chuckle benefit at play.

We are having 16 new windows installed at the house. I brought in my handyman guy for an estimate on the installation itself. Between $800 and $1000, he said. I looked at him and nodded. He started to defend his price. I stopped him. You do not see me freaking out, I said. It is okay, I said. No stress, no worries. The chuckle benefit in action.

Last December, I had one of those LifeLine screenings done for no money out of pocket (which is another story). When I showed the results to my doctor, he advised getting a carotid ultrasound test at the hospital. Even though I would be on the hook for 20% of whatever the test costs, I did not even ask how much. Moneywise, when I get the bill that will be just another chuckle.

The financial planning I have set in place shields me from any sort of unexpected expense stress. My discretionary fund will cover Little Bit's surgery. Our home repair fund*** will pay for the window installation. My health expense reserve***** will defray any medical out-of-pocket costs I might have. It has all been covered in advance so that when an unexpected expense crops up all that is left for me to do is to chuckle at yet another curve ball thrown at me by life.

My financial planning makes it possible for me to enjoy one of the great benefits of being wealthy without actually having to be rich. It is not about being able to afford anything I might wish for -- because I cannot. It is about not having to worry about money -- which I do not. And that, as they say, is priceless.

The takeaway: The peace of mind that comes from being in financial balance is well worth striving for. Every new (or even current) major expense or payment commitment needs to be screened through that mental filter. Will I still be in financial balance if I go ahead? Or am I robbing myself of my chance for financial freedom?

# # #

* My Stash-Shielding Insurance:
Text is http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/04/10/my-stash-shielding-insurance_108254/ and Link is
http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/04/10/my-stash-s...

** My Six Lines of Financial Defense:
Text is http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/04/29/my-six-lines-of-financial-defense_108598/ and Link is
http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/04/29/my-six-lin...

*** My $18K Annual Baseline Budget:
Text is http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2013/12/29/my-18k-annual-baseline-budget_106374/ and Link is
http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2013/12/29/my-18k-ann...

**** A Discretionary Fund, Not a Discretionary Budget:
Text is http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/03/29/a-discretionary-fund-not-a-discretionary_107992/ and Link is
http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/03/29/a-discreti...

***** Taming My Health Care Costs Monster:
Text is http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/01/18/how-i-tamed-my-health-care-cost-monster_106764/ and Link is
http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/01/18/how-i-tame...

May 20: Bookcase Building!

May 21st, 2014 at 11:49 am

My plan for the day changed to bookcase-building after I got a late-night phonecall the previous evening from Anthony the carpenter letting me know he could come to work today. We had to adapt and improvise some, but we had a good day and got those bookcases* built.

I did not do my usual early morning blog post writing.** Instead I spent that time getting the work area, materials and tools ready for the day's project.

8:00am to 3:00pm
My usual 8am to 12noon task time block also went by the wayside as Anthony and I remain fixed on getting the first bookcase completed.
-- from 8am to 9am I kept readying things for the carpentry to come
-- from 9am on, Anthony and I worked together to construct a floor-to-ceiling built-in bookcase measuring 28 inches wide by 12 inches deep to fit into a corner/nook of my library.
-- I modified my original books-only design to be able to use the expensive lumber panels more efficiently and so ended up with 5 shelves for books and 3 for DVDs.
-- my final cost for the built unit was $315 ($165 for materials and $155 for Anthony's labor). And that I am counting as a part of my current effort to do a $5K spending spree.***

3:00pm to 7;30pm
-- with Anthony gone, I took a DVD prehistory lecture coffee break (The Great Diaspora)
-- then filled out my new bookcase with some 120 or so DVDs, my books on Roman history, Greek history and my biographies (bookending each shelf with one of my collected horse figurines).
-- and in the process emptied out 6 of the boxes in my packrat pile****

7:30pm to ...
-- dinner and a movie (The Joyluck Club) after I had put the barnyard to bed
-- and some Pacific War gaming***** to cap off the day

# # #


* My Books -- A Huge Frugality Exception:
Text is http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/04/25/my-books-a-huge-frugality-exception_108537/ and Link is
http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/04/25/my-books-a...

** 200 Words A Day That (Hopefully) Matter:
Text is http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/05/07/200-words-a-day-that-hopefully-matter_108767/ and Link is
http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/05/07/200-words-...

*** A $5000 No-Guilt Spending Spree!:
Text is http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/03/24/a-5000-no-guilt-spending-spree_107910/ and Link is
http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/03/24/a-5000-no-...

**** Packrating Is Costing Me Plenty:
Text is http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/04/30/packrating-is-costing-me-plenty_108631/ and Link is
http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/04/30/packrating...

***** My Strategy Games Rainy Day Passion:
Text is http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/01/07/strategy-games-my-rainy-day-passion_106565/ and Link is
http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/01/07/strategy-g...

May 19: Bills, Stocks And A New Hiking Trail

May 21st, 2014 at 04:06 am

My plan for today was to do the weekly bill paying, straighten out some discrepancies in my recent dividend payouts and hike a "first time" trail.* All went according to plan.

Over my first cup of coffee, I wrote another 200 words or so** on a new blog article that I am titling "The Chuckle Factor of Financial Planning". Then breakfast and off to "work."

8:00am to 12:00noon
-- first thing (of course) I did the am critter care
-- checked the news on my stocks***
-- paid the bills, checked my follow-up file and took care of pending admin "fixes"
-- reconciled the dividends discrepancy (and found I had a 140-share count error in my QRE position)

12:00noon to 5:30pm
-- lunch and a DVD lecture on pre-prehistoric man (The Origin of Homo Sapiens)
-- had a great time doing a 1.25 hour hike on a new trail (for me) at Walnut Creek Park. Saw a young fox close up. And there are more MILES and MILES of trails over there for me to do!
-- back at home, I wrote and posted a May 18 "what did I do today" blog memo
-- played Pacific War****

5:30pm to 7:00pm
-- straightened out my QRE stock tax lot positions and worked out my true cost basis for them
-- watered all those plants (again) and put the barnyard to bed
-- surprise! Tony the carpenter called and he can come tomorrow to get those built-in bookcases done!*****

7:00pm to ...
-- dinner and a movie (Hereafter)
-- and some more Pacific War!

# # #

* My Love Affair With Hiking:
Text is http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2013/12/23/my-love-affair-with-hiking_106264/ and Link is
http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2013/12/23/my-love-af...

** 200 Words A Day That (Hopefully) Matter:
Text is http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/05/07/200-words-a-day-that-hopefully-matter_108767/ and Link is
http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/05/07/200-words-...

*** How I Stay On Top Of My Stocks:
Text is http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/04/09/how-i-stay-on-top-of-my-stocks_108229/ and Link is
http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/04/09/how-i-stay...

**** My Strategy Games Rainy Day Passion:
Text is http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/01/07/strategy-games-my-rainy-day-passion_106565/ and Link is
http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/01/07/strategy-g...

***** My Books -- A Huge Frugality Exception:
Text is http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/04/25/my-books-a-huge-frugality-exception_108537/ and Link is
http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/04/25/my-books-a...

May 18: New Investing Work Plan & Pacific War

May 19th, 2014 at 01:14 pm

My plan for today was to finish setting up the protocol and forms for my new investing work plan* and to also have some fun -- which I did blogging and playing my Pacific War pc strategy game.**

Over my early morning coffee, I started writing a new blog article*** that I am titling "The Chuckle Factor of Financial Planning". Then breakfast and off to "work."

8:00am to 12:00noon
-- first thing (of course) I did the am critter care
-- got nearly done with my investing paperwork revamp

12:00noon to 5:30pm
-- lunch and a DVD lecture on pre-prehistoric man (The Neanderthals)
-- wrote and posted a May 17 "what did I do today" blog memo
-- played Pacific War
-- watched a movie ("Lovely Bones") while I brought my diet control tracking forms up to date (Yes, I have those too.)

5:30pm to 7:00pm
-- finished the forms and plans for my new approach to reinvesting
-- watered all those plants (again) and put the barnyard to bed

7:00pm to ...
-- dinner, reading mystery short stories and more Pacific War playing

# # #

* A New Work Plan:
Text is http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/05/17/may-16-errands-a-new-work-plan-and-divid_108968/ and Link is
http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/05/17/may-16-err...

** My Strategy Games Rainy Day Passion:
Text is http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/01/07/strategy-games-my-rainy-day-passion_106565/ and Link is
http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/01/07/strategy-g...

*** 200 Words A Day That (Hopefully) Matter:
Text is http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/05/07/200-words-a-day-that-hopefully-matter_108767/ and Link is
http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/05/07/200-words-...