FruGal61 at your service

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FruGal61
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FruGal61 at your service

Post by FruGal61 » Thu Apr 19, 2018 6:08 pm

Greetings,

Just call me FruGal with a '61 on the end to show you just how young I am. Truth be told I'm turning 57 this year but my doctor told me last week I look 45, so...let's pretend I'm 45. That will make me feel like I really will be able to achieve ERE!

FruGal, yep, that's me. A natural saver from a young age who became self-employed at age 32 as I was (silly me!) pursuing pie-in-the-sky, yet highly enjoyable (well, mostly) musical ventures alongside my more acceptable, solid and dependable career choice of nurse. However, you can't perform in and run a band when you gotta be at the hospital at 7:00AM....so, ya makes your choices and ya decide to follow your dream. It was fun, I'm still doing it (music) and it is probably what I do best so I plan to keep on makin' it. :D

I've encountered much derision and judgment throughout my life over my frugal choices but heck, I've performed with world famous rock stars, have done a fair amount of international traveling, and yeah, I've salvaged most of my furniture from the street or hand-me-downs or the Salvation Army but....I "did it Myyyyyy WAY!" So, eff you - avid consumer friend or family member - and the horse you rode in on. If you need to furnish your home solely from Crate and Barrel and work 9am-6pm in your corporate job with BENEFITS (including being owned by said corporation) to support your needs for more and expensive stuff then - have at it. I've done life on pretty much my own terms since my early 30's and live in a very desirable and very expensive city (near my hometown), via cheap rent (knock on wood). I never married despite looking 12 years younger than my stated age (thanks, doc) and unlike many divorced females in my age group, never "got the house". So, despite being financially secure (I think?) I don't own the roof over my head. Sigh. :?

This could be a problem but fingers crossed for the next "bust" whereupon I will swoop in and scoop up my dream shack/lean-to/tiny house where I can age gracefully and not have to climb four flights of stairs. Or, if I don't BUY NOW (ummm....), will I really be "PRICED OUT FOREVER"? :roll:

Moving on. I have looked at other people's detailed descriptions of their monthly budget, income, outflow, investments, on this blog and elsewhere and it makes my head swim. That is not to say that I am not impressed by these super detailed descriptions! Can I just plunk it down here how much I have saved and can we just hope that I have done well and I have enough....? Because, the good Lord willin', I can't do it much longer. I'll leave out all the gory details of failing body parts but I don't see myself "working" per se, for "the man", ANY MAN past age 62 and I'm shooting for 60. Which brings me to....Dear old Dad. Blue collar, came over on the boat from Ireland at age 5. Retired at age 60, died at age 69. This fact has had a big impact. He could not wait to retire. He LOVED being retired and loved his freedom and I am very grateful that he got a solid 9 years of it.

So, here it is. Here's the number. Today, I am worth 1.4 million in cash and investments. I own nothing. I anticipate making about 40-50K per year until I retire and if interest rates rise, I may be able to live off of the interest for some years. I will try to NOT access Social Security until either age 67 or age 70. I have a sweet, talented, funny and intelligent partner but he is what they call "poor". Long story, which you don't want to hear. In short, I am on my own. I "may" (no guarantees) inherit between 50-100K.

Can I do it? Is 1.4 million enough? Please say "yes". :? (did I mention I own nothing and live in one of the most expensive cities in the country ?....please don't tell me to move to Peoria or Cincinatti!) :D

With gratitude,
FruGal61

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jennypenny
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Re: FruGal61 at your service

Post by jennypenny » Thu Apr 19, 2018 6:27 pm

Good news ... if you read jacob's book and follow his advice, you can retire tomorrow. Seriously.

You can find out more about ERE on the wiki and his blog but they are no substitute for reading the book.

Welcome. :)

suomalainen
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Re: FruGal61 at your service

Post by suomalainen » Thu Apr 19, 2018 7:31 pm

Yes

black_son_of_gray
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Re: FruGal61 at your service

Post by black_son_of_gray » Thu Apr 19, 2018 8:19 pm

Well, you've told us the numerator (1.4 mil)- what is the denominator?

Considering you have 13 years until Social Security, and let's say ~40 years of life expectancy, you could quit now and spend at least 35k/year with very conservative assumptions. You could spend up to about 60k/year with looser, but still reasonable assumptions. Assuming that you currently live off of the 40-50k you plan to bring in, I'd say you are already set - but leveling up your frugality modestly could easily put you in a very safe place.

... and Welcome!

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Re: FruGal61 at your service

Post by wolf » Fri Apr 20, 2018 2:41 am

Welcome FruGal!
...depends on your future cashflow, most important your expenses and net return of investments. Tell us more about those and it is easier to evaluate ERE/FIRE.

FruGal61
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Re: FruGal61 at your service

Post by FruGal61 » Fri Apr 20, 2018 8:22 pm

Thank you all for the replies. I will try to do a more detailed description of my expenses and net return of investments once I figure out what they are!

Will admit I have a lot of my savings in cash right now earning between 1.5 and 1.75% as the market seems a bit unstable and I am loath to lose money in it.

Does "leveling up your frugality modestly" mean become more frugal or let loose a little bit? ;)

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Re: FruGal61 at your service

Post by black_son_of_gray » Fri Apr 20, 2018 8:57 pm

By "leveling up" I mean this. When you figure out where you are, see if you can move up a few notches.

FruGal61
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Re: FruGal61 at your service

Post by FruGal61 » Sun Apr 22, 2018 10:28 am

Ah, thank you for the Wheaton chart. To start, I will list a typical inflow and outflow although since I'm self-employed, it varies month to month. Also, I plan to take about 8 weeks off (maybe more) from work this year - because I want to, for mental health, R&R, helping elderly parent, and rehab of injured and aging body parts. With interest rates hopefully rising I might expect increased interest income. I have not included income from my non-retirement mutual funds of which there are three:

March Inflow:

Income from work: $5,373 (there were 5 pay weeks in March so this is a bit higher)
Other income: $345 (from ebay sales, part time cash gig, etc)
Bank Interest Income: $1,100.00
TOTAL INCOME: $6,818

Outflow:
Rent: $1,125 (just increased to $1,200)
Car lease payment: $224.00
Excise Tax for Car: $106.00
Credit Card (food, gas, etc): $375.00
Phone/Internet/Cell: $123.00
Electric: $22.00
Health Insurance: $115 and co-pay for MD visit
Gift: $48
Other (estimated cash): $75.00

TOTAL OUTFLOW: $2213.00

suomalainen
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Re: FruGal61 at your service

Post by suomalainen » Sun Apr 22, 2018 9:41 pm

Holy shit! You have $750k in a bank savings account? :shock:

Rounding up to $2500/month in expenses, and $1.4MM in assets, you're looking at a 2.1% withdrawal rate, which is definitely enough by any reasonable measure. Even putting that theoretical withdrawal rate aside, combine the current income you're getting from your mutual funds with your bank interest and you're probably pretty close to your $2200/month burn rate. Put some of that cash into CDs or mutual funds or dividend stocks or a dividend ETF (like SDY) or corporate bonds (LQD being an investment grade ETF) or hell even government bonds (10 year US treasury I believe is around 2.8% and the 2 and 5 years I think are also in the 2-something range) and you'll be closer still. If you're getting current income to cover your expenses, you can ignore any mark-to-market losses as markets gyrate.

IlliniDave
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Re: FruGal61 at your service

Post by IlliniDave » Mon Apr 23, 2018 4:11 am

Hello and welcome. Yeah, I think you're in pretty good shape. I'm 1-2 years off and will probably have about the same net worth, or a little lower, with a chunk tied up in non-income producing real estate (imputed rent aside), so considerably less "money".

But I'll be living in places much closer to Peoria than any expensive city. :)

I didn't catch how much longer you plan to be working (you could probably stop now if you wanted) but during that time you might consider tracking your current spending in detail over a longer period if you don't already. That will give you a basis for additional confidence. My own experience with that is that month-to-month it can vary a lot, more so than I would have thought off the top of my head.

The real measure IMO is the asset to expense ratio. You seem to be at around 45X which is very good, and with a long track record of frugal living (as opposed to trying to start being frugal after the "paycheck" stops), should be a slam dunk.

FruGal61
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Re: FruGal61 at your service

Post by FruGal61 » Mon Apr 23, 2018 11:49 am

suomalainen wrote:
Sun Apr 22, 2018 9:41 pm
Thanks for the input. The cash is divided up in different accounts under the FDIC insured threshold of 250K, earning between 1.5 and 1.75%. I will admit I'm not that great at putting my cash to work, mainly out of fear of losing it and because I might use some of it to buy property if and when the market ever softens in my area. Or maybe I'll chuck it all and move to a warm retiree state - who knows. Stocks look risky at the moment. so I am planning on putting my cash holding into CD's for a while in my retirement account. I do have some short term and intermediate term bonds, as I read that with interest rates rising, long term is not a good idea? I probably should hire a professional but don't want to give such person 1% (as several of my family members are doing).

FruGal61
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Re: FruGal61 at your service

Post by FruGal61 » Mon Apr 23, 2018 12:07 pm

IlliniDave wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 4:11 am
Hello and welcome. Yeah, I think you're in pretty good shape. I'm 1-2 years off and will probably have about the same net worth, or a little lower, with a chunk tied up in non-income producing real estate (imputed rent aside), so considerably less "money".

But I'll be living in places much closer to Peoria than any expensive city. :)

I didn't catch how much longer you plan to be working
Thanks, IlliniDave. No offense to Peoria. ;-) I have been to Illinois, loved Chicago when I visited there years ago.

I grew up near my very expensive East Coast city and most of my family and friends are here. So.....I dunno where I'll land but I'm thinking of staying put for a while until maybe I can't stand the cold any longer.

Because of the extravagant cost of health care and the great unknown in that regard as one ages, with a 8-9 year gap before I'm eligible for Medicare, and presuming housing/food/transportation will continue to be expensive, I plan to work until 62. Maybe 60 if I'm lucky. My partner is broke so....that's another problem. My accountant relative lectured me the other night that I should be working FULL TIME now to maximize Social Security. She said the last few years of your work life are very important in figuring SS which I don't understand or even know if this is true. The problem is I have a chronic condition that prevents me from being able to work full time according to someone (the Man - Corporate America) else's schedule. I have to be able to work when I want and how much I want and so far, it has worked out (knock on wood). This conversation did strike a bit of fear in my heart, I will admit.

In addition to that, and because I am naturally frugal and can afford to do so, I do not WANT to work full time for "the Man" just for benefits. At almost 57, I am not interested in the extra stress of being owned by a corporation who gets to decide when I get to take time off, when I have to be somewhere, when I get to leave, when I get to go to the doctor - oh and the best one - being managed by someone on a power trip 25 years my junior. Yeah, talk about demoralizing. For me, in my current situation unless I found something amazing, full time employment does not appeal.

So yeah, in a nutshell, work 5 more years making between 50-60K including interest income (with write-offs for self employment bringing it down to below 40K), retire at 62. Or maybe 60 if things work out. That's the plan. :D

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Re: FruGal61 at your service

Post by jacob » Mon Apr 23, 2018 12:18 pm

FruGal61 wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 12:07 pm
She said the last few years of your work life are very important in figuring SS which I don't understand or even know if this is true.
Not really true. You add the earnings for the highest 35 income years (even if some of them are zero) after inflation-adjusting them (SSA has a table). Then you take the average. Your [monthly] payout is then calculated based on that number (it has progressive breakpoints and at some point it maxes out meaning whatever you pay into the system after that has zero impact on your eventual payout).

She's probably saying what she does either because those last years tend to be the highest earning ones for a lot of people OR because some people might not get all their 35 years in and thus have to add a bunch of zero-years. Keep in mind that conventional advice likely assumes that consumers have very little or nothing in terms of other savings.

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Re: FruGal61 at your service

Post by suomalainen » Mon Apr 23, 2018 12:40 pm

FruGal61 wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 11:49 am
I do have some short term and intermediate term bonds, as I read that with interest rates rising, long term is not a good idea? I probably should hire a professional but don't want to give such person 1% (as several of my family members are doing).
Everyone has their own investing approach, so best to find the approach that fits your goals, personality, risk tolerance, etc. That said, I think too many people think of being in cash as "safe", but they overlook the cost - 1.5% in theory doesn't even cover inflation. And even just looking at the chart for LQD, the "loss" in the Great Financial Crisis was ~15% and it recovered in one year (and you're getting paid 3% or whatever the yield was at the time in the meantime). Your time horizon is so much greater than 1 year that being nervous about the short term swings likely just means you miss out on the long term benefits of investing. In any event, you're in a great financial position (except maybe the "broke partner" thing), so you have as many options as you're willing to entertain! Good luck!

FruGal61
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Re: FruGal61 at your service

Post by FruGal61 » Mon Apr 23, 2018 12:46 pm

Thanks Jacob, that's what I thought. She may have assumed I would naturally be making more with each passing year but I'm not in a typical, corporate, get-a-promotion job and I suffered an injury 5 years ago that resulted in reduced income since (I told her this but she doesn't seem to "get it" or understand):

Just checked the SSA website. It says (estimate, at current earnings rate) I will receive:

At full retirement age (67): $2,120 a month
At age 70: $2,629 a month
At early retirement age (62): $1,493 a month

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Re: FruGal61 at your service

Post by IlliniDave » Mon Apr 23, 2018 7:35 pm

I've been working 31 years as a full time professional so the last 1-2 years are significant in that they'll replace near-zeros from part time jobs I had while going to school. If you've already got a 35+ year full-time work history or will have pretty strong part-time earnings the last few years (as you anticipate) it's probably not going to make a huge difference. I'll be replacing years with earnings < $10K with earnings at the cap, and even then the difference in benefit is modest.

For most people, like jacob indicated, they have spent their entire careers below the income cap and are getting disproportionate credits near the end.

If you like the part time work, that's great, but it seems like you have the option of shooting for the short end of your window. I think with a qualified healthcare plan you probably looking at a max out of pocket health expense of ~$24K/year (depends on state and county). While retired there's a chance your income will be low enough to qualify for some amount of subsidy to reduce that. But even if you don't and you retire at 60 then have bad luck health-wise every single year until Medicare you're looking at ~$125K in healthcare spending over that 5-year stretch; and most likely far less. I don't know how to figure a max out-of-pocket with Medicare and the usual supplements, but averages for Medicare recipients are on the order of $10K in medical expenses per year (premiums plus out-of-pocket). I think with healthcare costs we all have to take a leap of faith. My way of looking at it is if I'm so ill I burn through all my money on medical stuff, it means I'm too ill to be doing anything else with it.

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Re: FruGal61 at your service

Post by Peanut » Mon Apr 23, 2018 9:28 pm

Seems like you're doing great and fully loaded for retirement! If buying a place to lock in a secure living situation appeals to you maybe consider a condo. It's so much less work than a house and there are options with very low assessment fees in most big cities, I think.

Cautionary tale; I don't know what the story is with your partner, but I have a friend (no kids in the picture) who supports her bf pretty much 100% and while he's a great guy in many ways he's also a long-term drain on her finances. He has been for five plus years now and will continue to be as long as they're together, which is totally up to her as far as I can tell. I think that aspect itself of their relationship is one of the most problematic. Early on I thought she was better off with him than without because there was real love there, but as it's become apparent he will never 'get back on his feet' employment-wise and has a few bad habits to boot, my opinion has changed. My unsolicited advice is just consider what the long term may look like especially if you are not cohabiting yet.

FruGal61
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Re: FruGal61 at your service

Post by FruGal61 » Tue Apr 24, 2018 10:31 pm

IlliniDave wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 7:35 pm
If you like the part time work, that's great, but it seems like you have the option of shooting for the short end of your window. I think with a qualified healthcare plan you probably looking at a max out of pocket health expense of ~$24K/year (depends on state and county). While retired there's a chance your income will be low enough to qualify for some amount of subsidy to reduce that. But even if you don't and you retire at 60 then have bad luck health-wise every single year until Medicare you're looking at ~$125K in healthcare spending over that 5-year stretch; and most likely far less. I don't know how to figure a max out-of-pocket with Medicare and the usual supplements, but averages for Medicare recipients are on the order of $10K in medical expenses per year (premiums plus out-of-pocket). I think with healthcare costs we all have to take a leap of faith. My way of looking at it is if I'm so ill I burn through all my money on medical stuff, it means I'm too ill to be doing anything else with it.
Yes, healthcare costs are a big question mark. I was/am normally an active healthy person, long story behind what happened. I'm still pretty healthy, on no prescriptions and am active as possible. For the last four years I have been earning a low enough income to qualify for a plan in my state that has no deductible and somewhat reasonable co-pays. It is possibly I can continue that but who knows. Hopefully we won't become too ill or disabled to enjoy most of our "golden" years.

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Re: FruGal61 at your service

Post by IlliniDave » Wed Apr 25, 2018 3:44 am

FruGal61 wrote:
Tue Apr 24, 2018 10:31 pm
Hopefully we won't become too ill or disabled to enjoy most of our "golden" years.
That's one of the reasons I'm planning to retire in my "bronze" years, then I'll have the rest of them, my "silver" years, and lastly, if I last that long, my golden years. Out of all that time I should get a few good years. :D

I soothe the anxiety that sometimes arises from planning to bug out sooner (a little less money with a few more years to cover) by reminding myself that 10 years down the road from early retirement (I'll be 65ish) I'll likely still have options if money appears to be a looming problem, but if I work those ten years and let age catch up to me, the extra money won't get me the more youthful years back. It's a balancing act.

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Re: FruGal61 at your service

Post by FruGal61 » Thu May 03, 2018 6:52 pm

Interesting, thinking about health care/insurance, we have "bronze" and "silver" plans. The "gold" plans are for the special few who can afford them.

I've been watching the market and wondering what to do. Some are saying move out of stocks into cash and bonds. But with interest rates rising, it seems bonds aren't a good idea although I am no expert. Move everything into cash and CD's, may miss out on some additional gains....but stick it out, risk losing half or more like in 2008. I am sure there are many out there who are pondering the same thing.

After a walk in the woods today, I re-affirmed my desire to no longer work for 'the man'. With interest rates rising and much of my money in cash, I could conceivably live "off the interest" but this could affect my social security. A well meaning relative in her early 60's recently advised I should be "working full time!" Perhaps I already mentioned this. Yet, I have been purposefully keeping my income under a certain amount so I qualify for a plan with no deductible and don't have to pay through the nose for health insurance. The high cost of health insurance in this country seems to be what keeps most people in "real" jobs that often make them miserable. I've been in those real jobs and at this point in my profession, both physically and emotionally/mentally, I can't do it. OK, if my utter survival depended on it, yeah I could. So far, that is not the case. So I'll continue my work as a self-employed contractor, hope and plan for the best.

I do believe I would be quite miserable in a 9-6 "real" job just for the health care benefits, and from what I've heard, depending on the company, the employee ends up with a deductible, etc. Not sure I could endure the humiliation of a "review" by someone 30 years my junior, telling me what a great job I'm doing or how my "numbers" just aren't up to snuff.

Thus, I will continue on the course I'm on, planning to take at least two months off over the summer and early fall for mental health, for vacation/trip. I'll watch the market and maybe seek some professional or casual advice. I don't want to lose money, now at almost 57, I have less time to recoup any losses. Naturally, no one has a crystal ball.

The bottom line: it's not worth my mental health to get on the hamster wheel so I can show my family and friends that I've "made" it, that I have the right "stuff", that I'm "OK". So, I'm going to continue to be an "outlier" when it comes to entertaining, seeking entertainment, having nice "stuff" and having relatives/friends over. I don't have "the house" to do this. Yes, I feel badly about this but I can't be all things to all people. I appreciate the invitations to other people's homes, I just can't reciprocate.

Just venting on a muggy warm afternoon. Thanks ERE!

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Re: FruGal61 at your service

Post by IlliniDave » Fri May 04, 2018 3:48 am

I think I've just become more acculturated to it all. 'Working for the man' has never been part of my vocabulary. Since my first job in high school I was always acutely aware of 'what's in it for me' and I think I assess that pretty accurately.

All the larger companies out there that I have insight into have retooled their health insurance benefits to pretty much follow the ACA scheme because of the punitive treatment the old-fashioned "Cadillac" plans receive. The only benefit to continuing to work with my employer is that out on the market I'd have to pay 100% of the premiums (less subsidies if any) versus something like 30% while employed. Overall the cost is extremely similar to qualified exchange plans. To me the most important number in a health insurance plan is out-of-pocket max. I found that in the state I am looking at for retirement, the premium + deductible costs added together was extremely similar across the various levels of plans. I don't know if that was a coincidence for that time and state, or if that's how they work everywhere. But it implies that for an individual without subsidies with the higher level plans they are basically prepaying part of the deductible via increased premiums. So at least while my health holds out I'll probably go with the Bronze plans and have a contingency in my spending plan for spending up to the OOP max in the (hopefully unlikely) event it happens.

Working, the amount of my health insurance paid for by my employer is ~$6K iirc. Not enough to keep me working just for that bene. I tend to agree with your last paragraph, though I don't feel bad about it, it's just me being me. Consumption for the sake of consumption is what makes me feel bad. Luckily, most of my family is lower middle class so there isn't much extravagance to keep up with. My wealthiest relative is the biggest 'cheapskate' of us all. The longer I stick to modest-expense activities, the more I find myself in a circle friends (albeit a small one) content with the same.

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Re: FruGal61 at your service

Post by jacob » Fri May 04, 2018 6:41 am

IlliniDave wrote:
Fri May 04, 2018 3:48 am
I found that in the state I am looking at for retirement, the premium + deductible costs added together was extremely similar across the various levels of plans. I don't know if that was a coincidence for that time and state, or if that's how they work everywhere.
That should not be a coincidence. The insurance company is essentially selling an option on installment. An option close to the money will be more expensive (higher installment premiums) than one further away (so lower premiums). However, they're both priced according to the same probability which would be the equivalent of the volatility in Black Scholes. Presuming that bronze, silver, and gold people have different odds of becoming sick (getting into the money), the implied volatilities can be slightly different thus generation a skew. (In the market, that's where the smile generated by the fat tail comes from.)

IOW, there's "efficiency" along the different plans. (If there weren't, consumer demand/supply would drives prices up/down ...)

Most insurance companies will try to invest their premiums in other securities to make some extra money. This creates what's called the combined ratio. It's generally around 10% IIRC but that depends on how well the company runs their portfolio. Berkshire Hathaway is known to do this well.

Same with fat cats, like us, who use bronze plans ... and invest the premium we save for our own account for extra return ... until we have to pay it out in sickness.

FruGal61
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Re: FruGal61 at your service

Post by FruGal61 » Tue May 15, 2018 1:13 pm

I'm my case, I have been planning my income to be under a certain threshold so that I can qualify for a plan that will not cost $750 a month with a big deductible to insure just myself. Being self employed, I can rely on deductions in order to do this.

As for the last five years I've dealing with a chronic partial disability that affects my dominant side it seems to be the way to go. I am working less by choice and also necessity. That said, I am a bit concerned about how this will work in the next 8-9 years before I am eligible for Medicare as well as how it may affect my social security. If my disability worsens with natural aging, I suppose I could apply for SSDI if necessary. Would rather that not be the case, I would prefer to recover 100% to get function back but at this point after many medical opinions, I may have to live with ongoing deficits.

My goal: live each day less in worry and fear. Emotional stability. Practice "The Four Agreements". Try to find something wondrous each day. Spend time in nature as much as possible. Self-reliance. Not worry what others think, they are usually thinking about themselves. Know that others will judge by default and it really doesn't matter one iota. Often their judgments are projections of their own fear, self-doubt and insecurity.

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