Would it surprise you to learn that my husband and I do not give each other gifts at Christmas? Or birthdays? Instead, we give ourselves the gift of living debt-free. We made this decision when we semi retired. We give gifts to family members and donate generously to charities. We decorate and bake Christmas goodies and swap them with neighbors. Some years we buy something for the house that we both would enjoy such as a small appliance or furniture, but in general we are content with what we have. The important thing for us is that we pay as we go.
Many seniors will never have a comfortable retirement because they carry more debt than they can handle. While the media drives everyone’s attention to what we should be outraged about, I pay attention to financial newsletters. The pensions promised to retirees are in a precarious situation. This is the time for wise seniors to reduce their debt-load or get out of debt completely. A good way to start is to reduce the family’s expectations around Christmas. No more striving for “the Wow! factor” in gift-giving or at least limit the number of them. Almost every senior I know is nostalgic for the Christmases of their childhood when times were tougher and gifts were more meaningful.
Today is a refrigerator triage day. Everything must come out and justify its existence to me or out it goes. This is the only area where I seem to manifest a hoarding behavior. I tend to see left-overs as a potential soup, quiche, or casserole ingredient and thus I have congestion in the fridge. I know a lot of people these days throw out leftovers, but I come from a time and a place where frugality was necessary. It is also the sign of a creative cook to know how to incorporate these ingredients into a delicious second life.
I have stuff in the fridge that I have kept for the same reasons other people keep non-food stuff. For instance, I have two quart jars of homemade pickles given by a friend who preserves garden produce. I need that space and I know it would take my husband and me three years to use up those two quarts, so out they go. But maybe first I’ll save some of it in smaller jars. My thrift sense kicks in along with an appreciation of the friendship.
Another reason I have kept some of the items is I paid good money for them. I sometimes see an interesting recipe online and bookmark it, but I lack an ingredient or two so I add them to my shopping list and purchase them. The trouble is, my memory doesn’t retain the purpose of the product so I end up with mystery ingredients. I need a system to link food purchases with the recipe they are intended for.
Dear Aging Coach,
I have way too many books but I love everyone of them! They are like old friends to me, but soon I must move to a very small apartment in a Senior residence and space will be limited. How can I pare down my book collection when it is so hard to choose?
I heartily sympathize with you. I can’t imagine a life without books. I have pared down my book collections considerably using the following methods.
- I have used my imagination to think about which books I would take with me if I were to go on an adventure, living in a recreation vehicle for instance, or maybe live on a boat. Knowing that space would be tight, I would select maybe five books each on all of my favorite topics. For me this would be cookbooks and gardening books. I have actually done this without carrying through on it. I set out on a table my five “can’t live without” books and evaluated whether I could leave behind the many others that I did not select. Fortunately I did not have to carry out the selection and they went back on the shelves to join their companions, but it did help me to cull some of the books which I have since donated.
- I have instilled some self-discipline in the form of “one book in = one book out”. When I buy a new (or used) book I single out a book from my shelves to be discarded or donated. I’m apt to discard any paperback books that have deteriorated from age or the acidity of the paper they were printed on.
- I have switched to downloading e-books that I can read on my tablet or iPad. My aging eyes appreciate the ability to enlarge the font with just a touch command. This is better for me than large print books because the tablet is much lighter than a printed book.