Boomers, Markets & Money

A Down-to-Earth Discussion of Financial and Lifestyle Information for Baby Boomers

Nemo Found Rhode Island

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According to this morning’s Providence Journal, National Grid announced 187,000 homes lost electricity in Rhode Island.  We wish these residents the best.  Many people are working long hours  in uncomfortable conditions to get electricity services up and running.

Here’s a short post I wrote when I lost power when hurricane Sandy hit.  SANDY: Homeowners Insurance Coverage for Food Spoilage.

Enjoy a few pictures of the snow and birds in our yard today.

 

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Save Money and Enrich Your Life at the Library

Shell Display at the Sanibel Library

Shell Display at the Sanibel Library

Libraries are using technology to enrich our lives in surprising ways.

While on vacation, I spoke to Sanibel Island Public Library Director Margaret Mohundro who graciously offered ideas on ways to save money at the library.

Each library has unique offerings so she recommended consulting your local library to see what is available.

Convenience has increased as well. Many services can be accessed right from your home with an Internet connection and a library card number.

Savings and Shells at the Sanibel Island Library

Savings and Shells at the Sanibel Island Library

Here are just a few of Ms. Mohundro’s suggestions:

Museum Passes. Most libraries have passes to local museums, which you can check out for free. You can even do this when you travel. You usually can get a visitor library card for about ten dollars—“It’s a steal!” Some museums will offer passes to the whole family.

Learn a language for free with Mango. You can learn about forty languages at the library or online at home.

Research using online subscription services. The Sanibel Public Library offers subscriptions to Morningstar Investment Research Center, Weiss Financial Ratings Series as well as many others. The Florida Electronic Library provides free magazine articles. This information is from trusted and vetted sources.

Check out free audio and eBooks. You can check out books for your electronic devices such as iPhones, e-readers, and MP3 players. Not all publishers sell electronic books to libraries but many good titles are available.

Dramatic Shells From Around the World

Dramatic Shells From Around the World

• Author lectures and book discussion groups are a good way to stay informed.

Take out puzzles or Scrabble.

You can use the Wi-Fi and computers. And libraries are always a nice place to relax and read a book or magazine.

Resources are available for all age groups. Ms. Mohundro told me about R.E.A.D. which stands for Reading Education Assistance Dogs. Children sit with therapy dogs and read aloud to them as they work on improving their reading skills.

Bouquet Made with Shells

Bouquet Made with Shells

Check out other libraries in your regional system to see if they have different museum passes, events, and services. For example, my local library in Rhode Island offers Universal Class, which offers over 500 online non-credit Continuing Education courses.

Sanibel Island is well-known for its shells.  The library has a beautiful collection of shells from around the world.

Tightwad Tips: A Good List of Food Money-Saving Ideas

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My go-to nutritionist, with masters degrees in both nutrition and public health as well as decades of work experience, answers all my nutrition questions cheerfully.  Even better, Lisa is my sister-in-law , so the price is right!

I asked Lisa if she had any suggestions for money-savings tips for healthy eating.  Lisa “sniffed around” for us, as she said, and came up with a great article.  Money Talk News’ “30 Tips to Save on Food” has many useful suggestions.

No doubt you will already use some of these strategies, but I learned a few things.  Three helpful tips I picked up:

  • The suggestion to use up all your leftovers may seem obvious but I liked the suggestion of the Big Oven app.  It has a clever feature where you put in three ingredients you have in your refrigerator and it comes up with recipe ideas. Click on the Recipe Tab, click on Use up Leftovers!  I typed in carrots, bell pepper, and ground turkey.  Up popped 19 recipes.  I’m going to bookmark this site.  BigOven
  • Author Angela Colley advised substituting cheaper ingredients in recipes for expensive ones.  She noted that Cook’s Thesaurus has a list of food substitutions.  The Cook’s Thesaurus
  • Since we’re discussing food, I’ve included some photographs of a food market we visited in Peru this fall.  Of course, once I got started, I had to slip in a few other pictures.  I hope you enjoy!

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Tightwad Tips: Small Recurring Savings Add Up

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I’m into saving with the least amount of work.  I just don’t have the patience for coupon clipping or other time-consuming money-saving habits.

Still, as we transition into a new stage of life, what is important to us evolves; our spending patterns should evolve as well.  Take the time to review spending to make sure that money isn’t leaking out of the budget unnoticed.  The way I look at it, if we take the time to do this, we increase our chances of securing what we need and of having the resources to do what we most value with our time.

For example, like many other baby boomers, my husband and I decided to buy a vacation home on the west coast of Florida in 2009.  I know, I know, I can already hear the jokes.  Florida–God’s waiting room.  But anyway, it’s been fun and a great place to stay active in the cold weather months.

But it’s not cheap supporting a second home and we need to save more for our retirement years.  So we had to be creative.  We rent out the house part-time. We combed through our routine expenses to see if we could shave a bit off each one.  Pruning expenses helps with saving now, but also helps us to get used to living on less. Looking at credit card and bank statements for bills enrolled in automatic payment plans was a good place to start. They have a way of getting more expensive, and it’s easy not to notice the increases when we have them on “set it and forget it.”  Here are a few of the items we were able to cut:

  • The cable bill. Like some lucky pre-retirees our kids are out on their own and self-sufficient now. (Whew!)  But we were still paying for premium channels that we rarely watched. I dropped the channels and now every month we save a bit.
  • You may be enrolled in a Web or print subscription that you no longer read. Cancelling those is an easy way to cut spending.
  • Call your wireless carrier. They may have a cheaper plan that fits your current calling patterns.  The company is not going to call you up to suggest that.

If you manage to save $75 a month, that adds up to $900 a year.  After five years, that’s $4,500—serious savings without a lot of work.

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