Sunday, April 29, 2012

Ready to Retire - Really!

My name is Cheryl – but everyone who has known me for longer than 5 minutes calls me Cheri.  Today I turned 56.  One year ago today I began blogging about my journey in getting ready to retire.  Today I can say with certainty that I am in fact ready to take the leap into retirement.

I have seventeen business days to complete at work.  I expect them to be action-packed.  I wondered aloud to a former manager if I would really be able to get everything done before I left.  She gave me the sage advice that I would not – and not to let that bother me. 
It will take nine people to replace me.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. J  In reality, my position is not being replaced.  No surprise there – many businesses are scaling back and my employer is no exception.  I sincerely hope that my retirement will make it so someone else stays employed. 

I see retirement as both an ending and a beginning:  A new job and lifestyle as a campground host.  A new career as a writer.  And a new look for this blog.  I AM ready to retire – really!
The journey begins…

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Health Insurance 103

I thought about opting out. 

My medical insurance premiums will cost me 4 times as much as a retiree as they do as an employee.  This was expected.  We planned for this; we budgeted for this.  But now that I’m seeing the numbers face to face and realizing that for the next 10 years I’ll be paying this bill directly – no more having it deducted from my paycheck before I had a chance to miss it – it’s given me cause to reflect on the state of health care in our country.
Reflection #1:  Health insurance is truly a benefit.  A benefit that, according to 2010 Census Bureau data, 1 in 6 Americans does not have.  
Reflection #2:  I am fortunate to have access to health insurance as a retiree.  Many corporations are not offering coverage to their retirees, no matter the cost. 
Reflection #3:  From May 31 to June 1, the only thing about me that will change is that I will be a retiree instead of an employee.  Why are retiree health benefits so much more expensive?  It’s all about risk, and the numbers don’t lie.  People my age and older have more illness and tend to recover from accidents more slowly.  Insurance companies have to mitigate their risk by charging more to everyone in the “pool.”  Once again, I did the math, and it would be a lot cheaper to skip the hefty insurance premiums and just pay for the preventative services that I use every year.  But I won’t opt out.  I’ll buy health insurance – for the same reason that I insure my cars and my house – to protect myself and my family from catastrophic loss.
Reflection #4:  As I ponder the debates over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, I realize that “affordable” is a relative term.  I am choosing to afford health insurance, and I refuse to feel guilty because I can make this choice.  But wouldn’t it be wonderful if nobody had to choose to go without health insurance because they couldn’t afford it.
So aas I hear about the indiviual mandate and why the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act won't work without it, I think I see what all the fuss is about.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Easy Being Green?

Our “summer home” site at Hoop Lake will have no electricity except for what we bring with us.   We’re on our own to power all the creature comforts we’ve come to know and love.  The fifth wheel is set up to run lights on battery power and to run the refrigerator on propane, but it depends on plugging in to a power source to run the television, the stereo and the microwave.

Laptops and cell phones and iPods – oh, my!  How are we going to keep these charged?  There’s an app for that!  It’s called an inverter.  An inverter takes battery power and converts it to the 120v power we’re used to plugging into.  Quite literally, it’s DC-AC.    Paul installed an inverter the week we brought the fifth wheel home, and wired two powers strips – one to the inside and one to the outside. 

Later, in May, we’ll install solar panels on the roof.  The solar panels will keep the batteries charged – keeping that DC flowing into the inverter and powering my small appliances.  The inverter will power the coffeemaker, the satellite radio, and the curling iron – in addition to charging our electronics.  

Running the television, the microwave, and of course, my hair dryer will take more power than the inverter can provide.  If we want to use these, we’ll have to start the generator.   We don’t anticipate using the generator very often.  It is gasoline powered and it’s very noisy, and we’d hate to pollute the pristine environment at Hoop Lake.  If we get a streak of bad weather we’ll have to use the generator to charge the batteries, but otherwise we’re hoping our solar panels will generate enough power to keep the batteries charged.  

This is a great opportunity to prove our ability to use green energy and minimize our carbon footprint in our high mountain home.