Perhaps its the stress of the holidays but lately I have been feeling a bit jaded. I suppose it happens to the best of us. Holiday depression sets in and we can’t explain our feelings nor understand why we get so down in the dumps.
I think my real problem has nothing to do with Christmas. It’s the sinking reality that my retirement life has changed yet once again and I am NOT liking the adjustments I am forced to make. Isn’t it always something more and different from the obvious that gets us riled up? Yet we seem to suppress it and not recognize exactly what is going on?
In other words, I was feeling sorry for myself.
That is until I started watching this new YouTube, tell-all Channel (click here for the full series) by a woman named Glenda Sully. She recently started her own series on YouTube entitled “Real Life On Only Social Security.” The series is brutally honest and extremely eye-opening. Glenda is a 68-year-old southern woman whose husband left her. She transplanted up north to be with her daughter. Glenda has been chronicling what it is like to live on $1300 a month. She lives in a $590-a-month studio apartment that has recently become infested with roaches and mice. She wakes up in the morning with roaches in her bed and in her toaster. When she complained to her landlord he threatened to evict her.
Glenda gets $15 a month in government food stamps. She uses it to buy milk and eggs. After that she supplements her meals with church pantry items and dumpster diving at Aldi. She is constantly, constantly lecturing her audience NOT to do what she has done and that is she never prepared for retirement. She saved nothing. She spent everything!
“Drive your car into the ground“, Glenda warns. “Stop spending money. Save it instead. Stop buying things. I’m telling you this so you don’t wind up like me.” Glenda concludes.
Here’s Glenda food shopping with her $15 Food Stamp Card:
Here’s Glenda showing what ‘Real Life On Social Security’ looks like:
Here’s Glenda giving a tour of her $590-a-month, roach infested, studio apartment:
Seeing Glenda’s life forced me to look at my own retirement life. Was I making any of the mistakes Glenda warned others NOT to do. Unfortunately, my answer was ‘yes’. This Christmas I was spending entirely too much money. Money that in my new retirement predicament I did not have. (hubby has dire health problems and can not collect social security for another three years till he reaches 65, otherwise he will lose his valuable health insurance! In the interim, he is out of a job and we must slink back to adjusting to living on a much lower income.)
I looked over ALL the stuff I had recently purchased, decided what was a need vs a want, and then packed it up and brought it all back to the stores. I didn’t need the $65 cotton sheets my daughter demanded she sleep on. The original cotton sheets were just fine. I didn’t need the $75 new boots. My 5 year old boots were just fine. I most assuredly didn’t need another $50 haircut! I went back to Super Cuts and got my $16 senior special haircut and it looks just great!.
My husband was amazed at what lengths I was willing to go in order to get our finances in order. Inspired by Glenda, I came to the brutal truth that I wasn’t listening to the heeding words and desires of my husband nor was I looking at the true reality of our restructured retirement standard of living. I was insisting on living as we did before and that is a very serious mistake many, many retirees make. When I got my credit card bill, it was for $1500.58. For the first time ever, I wasn’t able to pay my credit card bill in full (without dipping into our savings account). I could only comfortably pay $500 and that would mean, for the first time ever, I would incur finance charges.
This was NOT acceptable.
I can’t dip into our liquid savings because it’s all earmarked to get us through the three years till Nick goes on medicare and collects his social security. It would be extremely embarrassing if we couldn’t meet our financial obligations, such as paying our taxes, because I kept overspending. My credit card bill consisted of all the Florida reservations I made for the upcoming winter. I proceeded to book the trip anyway despite my husband begging me that he didn’t want to go this year. He was exhausted, tired and just couldn’t face another RV haul down south. Next year, he promised would be better but he just needed a year off. He was fine with our flying to The Grand Canyon and staying in a hotel (all ‘paid’ for with frequent flyer miles) BUT he just didn’t have the gumption to drive down to Florida.
So, I cancelled each and every Florida stay, got full refunds except for a $25 cancellation fee and got the bill down to a more reasonable $182.91. My husband couldn’t believe that I actually did it but Glenda inspired me. I surely don’t want to wind up like her, and that folks, is the point of her message. Glenda got through to me loud and clear. Nick and I need a year to recoup our money and that’s exactly what we are going to do.
I am, however, going to fly to see my sister for two weeks in February BUT I am ‘paying’ for the flight with my frequent flyer miles. No cash will leave my wallet.
I’m not feeling depressed anymore. In fact, I’m feeling a whole lot of inspiration instead. I got out my Christmas tree and will finish decorating it today. Nick is busy outside putting up our holiday lights around the house exterior. We’re seeing the kids and grandkids all together on the 23rd. We stuck to our $25-each-granddaughter gift budget. Everyone is chipping in some food item to grace our holiday table.
Life is good. Life is balanced. And most importantly, so is our checkbook!
Live well and prosper, my friend. Live well and prosper.
UPDATE: Our tree is done!