Tag Archives: Affordable

Blame it on the Tiramisu


It has been a while since I have written anything in this blog.  I think writing is mostly inspired by our unresolved emotions, fears that haunt us in the quiet hours of the night, the stories of our past that create our now and future realities undefined. When I first started writing this blog, I started in a flurry. I was in a constant state of internal turmoil, circling my future life, the life that would be my retirement and, as a result, the words fell on the page in rapid fire. It was a time of questioning whether I would be able to live a good life when I retired. What would it look like and where would it be? I have to credit this blog and what could be called a public journaling experience to calm my soul and take me to a place of now. It’s good to be home again, in my mind, in my heart and in my soul.

A number of readers of this blog have asked me over the past few months why I had stopped blogging. The truth is that I never really stopped. I simply paused. I paused because of one cappuccino in a small café.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESIt was a few months ago that my blog postings paused.  And, coincidentally, it was also a few months ago that I traveled to Cuenca, Ecuador, a city high in the Andes that has been touted as the number one place in the world for US retirees to relocate. I had been planning to travel there 6 months later with a friend, but those travel plans were moved up so that I could get a taste of my possibilities, sooner rather than later.  I needed to know.  I needed to quell my uncertainties, satiate my curiosity and affirm that one of the many options racing through my mind was viable. Waiting 6 months to find out if it was an option was not reasonable for me, unless I wanted to waste 6 months racked with unknowns.

So, I hopped on a plane to find out if one of my potential retirement options was something that I could hold onto as an option or something that I needed to walk away from forever.

It was during my eight days exploring Cuenca, Ecuador that a shift in consciousness took place and for the first time since the market crashed and the shell of my nest egg cracked, that I felt at peace.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAfter wandering the city for several days, meeting welcoming expats and locals alike, I found a little dessert café off Parque Calderon, at the other end of the block from where the cathedral stands. I settled in by the window to enjoy a tall Italian cappuccino and tiramisu. I sat with my thoughts and gazed out the window, watching life in Cuenca pass by. The cappuccino was tall, rich and beautifully layered. The tiramisu the best I had had. For the first time in a long time I felt at peace. I was present. I was in the moment. I was not searching for a solution to my future. I was living it. The cost of the cappuccino and tiramisu barely touched my wallet. I knew that I could afford to live here. I could be happy here. I liked the city. I liked the expats. I liked the culture and the locals. And, well, truth be told, I loved the tiramisu. Retirement would be just fine.

It was in that moment, sipping on that cappuccino, that I realized that not only did I have one good retirement option, but I had a world of options. I recognized that retirement can be anything I want it to be. It can be nomadic, moving from country to country experiencing this wonderful, culturally diverse world. It can be on a beach or in the mountains in a far away land. It can be in a small RV traveling around the US or in a park model nuzzled in with a community of other retirees. My options are unlimited.

I will be returning to Ecuador in the near future. There is so much more of that beautiful country that I would like to see, the smaller cities and villages, the hot springs, live volcanoes and waterfalls.

Truth be told, my reasons for returning are mixed. I guess on some level I want more of that delicious cappuccino and tiramisu in that little café just across from the park…or maybe, just maybe, what I really want is another dose of the peace that came with it.

A Tight Budget Doesn’t Have to Mean Disaster for Hair, Nails and Body


Have you ever had your hair cut and in the middle of it screamed, “Nooooooo!!!” and you knew, in that moment, that it was just too late?  Me too.  Mine happened in a small town on the Amazon River, just over the border of Peru, in Colombia.  May I say right now that my spontaneity and impulsiveness can sometimes get me into trouble.  This was one of those times.

Passport Renewal

I was living in Iquitos, Peru, in the heart of the Peruvian Amazon, about 4 hours from the river’s source. I needed to get a new stamp in my passport to be able to stay in Peru for another 6 months and heard that all you needed to do was take a “rapido,” a speed boat, down the river to Leticia, just over the Peruvian border in Colombia, where the countries of Peru, Colombia and Brazil meet. I could have flown to a larger city in Ecuador or Chile, and looking back that probably would have been a better choice, but I decided that a ride on the river would be fun. I bought a ticket and planned to be at the Embarcadero, where the boats, fish and bananas arrived to Iquitos, early the next morning.

The Embarcadero

I walked through the vendors that had their bananas and fish on the cement floor for sale to locate the boat.  The stench of fish first thing is the morning caused my stomach to churn, so I held my bandana over my nose, as I moved quickly through the busy merchants, trying not to slip on the fish fluids that covered the floor.  I arrived to the other side of the dimly lit cement building to the river side where fish and banana were being grilled and sold to locals and workers for breakfast.  Locating the boat, a battered mess that I wasn’t sure would hold up for this long trip, I climbed on board, found a seat about 3 rows back from the driver, and settled in for a long ride.  The boat had a somewhat tattered canvas roof, which I thought would be good protection from the sun or rain and there was also plastic sheeting rolled up on each side, held up with rope, that would be dropped down in the event of bad weather.  With my fruit, cheese and a couple of freshly made rolls from the local bakery tucked carefully away in my backpack, I was ready to go.

10 Hours

Aerial PhotoThe rest of the passengers arrived, found their seats, and after waiting and waiting and waiting in the heat of sun, we took off down the river. Waiting is a way of life on the river, a different pace in the jungle.  I had been on a speed boat before, back home on the lake, and preparing to venture out on this adventure brought back memories of the wind racing through my hair and the lift off the seat when the boat hit a wave, but I had no idea what that would feel like for 10 straight hours.  Yes, 10 hours of a contant churning engine, hot wind burning my face and drying my eyes, and the ongoing assault to my back and my body as the boat attempted to maneuver the river’s everchanging mood.

Our second stop enroute was a small town on the Peruvian side of the border, before we entered Colombian and Brazilian waters, about 9 hours into the trip.  Passports were stamped as we exited the country. I wanted to kiss the ground I was standing on.  It wasn’t moving, bumping or spraying water in my face, but back into the boat we reluctantly climbed, knowing there was only a small distance to cover before arriving to the small river town of Leticia, Colombia.

Feeling Grimey

We finally pulled up to the dock in Leticia.  I was worse for the wear, exhausted and feeling a little more than grimey.  The heat of the day, the whipping of the wind and the river splashing on me for 10 hours had made me crave a shower.  Needless to say, I was feeling less than my best.  I wandered town for a while before finding a tiny and somewhat rundown little hotel to stay at the for night. Just a bed, that’s all I needed.  As I moved through the streets of Leticia trying to get my barrings, I noticed a little storefront offering haircuts.  Feeling less than optimal, I considered getting my hair groomed. A shampoo and cut would make me feel refreshed, I thought.  After checking into my hotel and enjoying a lovely meal, my mind kept returning to that little store where the woman was cutting hair.  I wandered the streets, until I came across the same sign that had grabbed my attention earlier.  To my surprise they were still open for business and I went in to inquire about a cut.

“No Tocar” Means Do Not Touch

As I sat in the chair, in my best Spanish, I explained to the woman with scissors in hand that I wanted my hair cut to the length of my ear lobes, a nice bob of sorts.  She nodded.  I assumed she understood.  I told her that I have a cowlick at the nape of my neck and this absolutely must not be cut, trimmed, or in anyway touched.  I pulled up my hair that was down to the middle of my back and said, “No tocar, no tocar.” Do not touch. She must not have heard the word no, because within a split second she dropped the scissors in her hand, grabbed the now buzzing shears that moved from counter to neck at lightening speed. Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.  And, in the blink of an eye, the hair that was not to be touched was gone. “Nooooooooooo!” Too late.

She finished the haircut, shaving both sides at the nape equally, creating a bob with bangs and a neck that reached up far beyond my hairline.  As I bowed my head to count my money to pay her, I could feel the movement of air on my newly shaved head.  This, I said to myself, is not a good look.

I learned that getting a haircut on a little obscure side street in a small town, in a developing country, with my limited language skills was probably not the best decision I had ever made.

You, on the other hand, can make better decisions regarding your self-care options and not break the bank.

AFFORDABLE SELF-CARE

Fortunately, there are cost saving options for haircut, color, manicures, pedicures, massage and acupuncture, all to make you feel renewed and wonderful, without the results that I had that day in Leticia.

There are many ways that you, in your own city, can find wonderful bargains on all those special services that elevate you and nurture you. Once I returned back to the United States, I couldn’t bear to pay the cost to go to a high-end spa or salon for hair, nail and body work, so I found other ways to get an affordable quality haircut or wonderful massage that would be perfect for anyone on a budget.

Here are some ideas to consider:

Hair Care and Nails

Woman getting a back massage in front of the white backgroundSchools of cosmetology require students to have a certain number of hours in hair and nails before they can graduate.  They just aren’t going to set them loose on the public without supervised practice.  I have gone to the local school in my town and have received great haircuts for a great price.  Schedule someone who is closing in on graduation, so they have some experience under their belt. A supervisor is observing from a distance as the hair is cut and comes over at the end to check for quality. Hair color, manicures and pedicures can also be had at a very reasonable price.

If you are traveling the country in an RV, or living in park model, you will find that often in 55 and over retirement communities you can find someone cutting hair in the club house or a trailer in the park.  Ask around and you will get a good cut at a good price.

Spa Days

Going to a high end day spa when you are living a on fixed income or limited budget can take a big chunk of your living expenses.  If you put a little money aside every week in a few weeks you will have enough money saved to go to a day spa that won’t require using your grocery budget for the month.  In the area where I live there are lower cost days spa called Korean Spa.  There are many of these located around the country. You can spend the day for about $30.  If you are lucky enough to find a Groupon coupon, you can get a massage at a greatly reduced price.

Massage

treatmentroom2If you don’t have a day spa that is affordable near you, then look to see if there is a massage school.  Massage students are required to log a certain number of practice hours to graduate and become licensed.  Often massages are provided at the school clinic for a fraction of what you would pay to see a masseuse in a clinic or spa.  When booking an appointment, request a massage therapist who is close to graduation.  You can often get a really lovely massage for a very moderate price.

Acupuncture

Many consider acupuncture as part of their selfcare regime and find it not only balancing and healing, but also extremely relaxing.  If you are fortunate enough to have an acupuncture school in your area, check out clinic appointments at the school at a very affordable rate.  Again, request to be scheduled with those in their last year of school.

Groupon, Valpack and Local Specials

Remember to double check those value coupon books that you receive in the mail.  Often there are new businesses opening that offer new client specials for hair, nails, massage and acupuncture.  Groupon is a great resource for discounted services.

Do you have other ideas for affordable self-care? Please share your thoughts below.

 

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Copyright 2014 Budget Retirement / Debra Zulawski  All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

An Effective and Affordable Pain Management Option for Retirees


Do you, or someone you know, live with chronic pain on a daily basis?  Pain management, especially chronic pain management can get very expensive.  You have your regular doctor visits, various medications, those prescribed and over-the-counter, physical therapy, as well as various other therapies prescribed by your physician. With all those treatments, medications and therapies comes associated costs, some very expensive, and after all that outlay of funds you may still be experiencing pain on a daily basis.  What if there was a way to manage or eliminate your pain with less cost to you?

One Quarter Of Retirees Have Chronic Pain

Pain is a fact of life for many retirees and older adults. It dramatically and negatively impacts their life on a daily basis. Nearly 25% of older Americans live with chronic pain that affects their ability to function and to live a full and active life. Hobbies, favorite activities, and physical exercise have to be put aside, or for many they come to a screeching halt. Many people choose to take medications to reduce the pain, while others choose other therapeutic approaches, such as physical therapy, massage, supplements, over the counter remedies, chiropractic or naturopathic care. When living on a fixed income or a tight budget, those approaches can take a considerable chunk out of your wallet, leaving you feeling the impact.

 “Chronic pain afflicts a relatively small percentage of Americans in their late teens and early 20s, but increases sharply as adults enter middle age. By the time Americans are in their late 50s and older, more than one-third report chronic pain in their neck or back, with a similar percentage reporting such pain in their knee or leg. In addition, nearly one-quarter of Americans in their late 50s have other conditions that cause recurring pain.”

 

~ Gallup.com

Low-income Americans, those whose annual income is under $36,000 are more likely to experience chronic pain, and that demographic consists, in part, of retirees on a limited income. So, what can be done to manage and even prevent chronic pain from becoming part of your life, while not emptying your bank account in the process?

The Benefits, Without The Side Effects

An article on the Harvard Health Publications website quotes Dr. Lucy Chen, a board-certified anesthesiologist, pain medicine specialist, and acupuncturist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital as saying, “I think the benefit of acupuncture is clear, and the complications and potential adverse effects of acupuncture are low compared with medication.” The same article continues, “Over the years there has been substantial debate about whether acupuncture really works for chronic pain. Research from an international team of experts adds to the evidence that it does provide real relief from common forms of pain. The team pooled the results of 29 studies involving nearly 18,000 participants. Some had acupuncture, some had “sham” acupuncture, and some didn’t have acupuncture at all. Overall, acupuncture relieved pain by about 50%.”

Community Acupuncture Can Be A Boost To Your Wallet

Acupuncture can be expensive for those on a limited budget or fixed income. An affordable option that provides quality care at an affordable price is community acupuncture. So, what exactly is community acupuncture?

iStock_000001970667XSmall.jpgacupuncturemodelJordan Van Voast, L.Ac., owner of and practitioner at CommuniChi, a community acupuncture clinic, explains that most U.S. acupuncturists treat patients on tables in individual cubicles. This is not traditional in Asia, where acupuncture usually occurs in a community setting. Treating patients in a community setting has many benefits. It is easy for friends and family members to receive treatment together and many find it comforting as the collective energetic field (group chi) nurtures the entire group.

Sessions at community acupuncture clinics are considerably less cost to the patient than an individual session, with prices generally from $20 and up. Some community acupuncture clinics operate on a sliding scale basis.

There are many community acupuncture clinics across the U.S.  Locate a community acupuncture clinic near you on  the POCA Coop website!

Jim Sullivan, L.Ac., a licensed acupuncturist with St. Louis Community Acupuncture shared this fun and informative video. They talk about seniors and acupuncture, specifically, at about the 2:30 point on the video.

 

 

Have you tried the community acupuncture model for treatment of your pain?  Do you like the idea of a sliding fee scale to make acupuncture more affordable for retirees on a budget?

Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

 

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Note:  This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide medical advice. Talk to your health care professional regarding treatment modality recommendation.  Budget Retirement has received no renumeration for business or professional references in this article.  

Expat: To Be Or Not To Be…


That is the question.

Does the idea of becoming an expat call to you?  Do you enjoy new experiences, different cultures and want a retirement adventure?  Then moving to another country may be the perfect option for you.

There are many countries that offer a better lifestyle on less resources.  Deciding which one to move to can be overwhelming without a plan, and moving to a new country without completely researching it is a recipe for potential regrets.

For me, moving to another country that is within my budget is certainly an option worth considering.  Having lived outside of the U.S., in both Peru and Guatemala, I know that I enjoy other cultures and adapt well to countries that could be called “retirement affordable,” but I also recognize the need for planning.

“Life might be difficult for a while, but I would tough it out because living in a foreign country is one of those things that everyone should try at least once. My understanding was that it completes a person, sanding down the rough provincial edges and transforming you into a citizen of the world.”

 

– David Sedaris

Once you decide that becoming an expat is an appealing retirement option, then it’s important to take time to make the best decision for you.

Read, Research and Ruminate

Do some reading.  There are lots of resources on web, books in the library and videos on YouTube that will help inform you. There is a lot to learn so start dreaming, but back up those dreams with data.  Travel guides can provide you solid information about a country you are considering, the cities, culture, weather, getting around etc.  You will want to have a travel guides on hand when you actually visit that country for the first time.

Vacation

Once you determine that the expat life may be an option for you, then the time would be sooner, rather than later, to begin determining where you will move to when you retire. Vacationing is a perfect way to start.  In the week or two you are vacation in a location you can get a feel for the city and culture your are considering.  If you are not an experienced adventure traveler, then you may want to visit the country of your choice with a tour group first.  You will get an idea of the culture, food and climate from a tourist’s perspective.  You will see the major sites and you may even get some free time to wander around the city.  It’s a great way to get a mini and usually rapid paced look at part of a country.  If it feels right and you think you might be happy there, try to get back a couple more times to explore further, branching outside the city into the small villages, hamlets or pueblos.  It may be that you decide after further exploration, to your surprise, that you prefer small village life over the hustle and bustle of the city,

Extended Stay

As time get closer to making the move, you may want to consider an extended stay in the country of your choice.  Vacations can provide some information about a country and the culture. An extended stay will provide you with a more day-today experience, a closer taste of what life might really be like.

In many countries you can stay in a room in someone’s house. I lived my first 6 months in Peru in a “hospetaje,” somewhat similar to a B&B in the United States, in concept, but with a different cultural twist.  You can stay for a short time or for an extended stay at most of them.  Choosing to stay in this type of accommodation offers an opportunity to meet locals and get to know the owners, maybe even become friends.  It’s a nice way to start your time in new city and is easier on the wallet, and more culturally real, than staying in a hotel.

Another excellent option is to rent an apartment.  In many locales you can rent an apartment for short term leases, month-to-month or a few months at a time.  Living in an apartment will give you a more realistic perspective of what daily life would look like if you were to move there full-time.  Daily life would afford you the opportunity to shop in the market, cook your own meals and occasionally venture out to a local restaurant for a meal or to a pub to listen to some local talent.  It will give you the chance to search out and connect with expats who live in the area, ask a few questions and listen to stories of their adventures.  Most expats are happy to connect with someone from back home who are considering relocation and share their experiences.

Once you have considered the various countries that you might like to live in and decide where you are headed, it’s time to learn the language.

Are you considering retiring to another country?  What research have you done to ensure you are making the right choice for you? Share your thoughts below.