Monday, December 27, 2010

Beating the "High" Cost of Retirement

Lower cost of living doesn't necessarily mean lower standard of living, but in fact, a lower cost of living, will result in a higher standard of living -- but one has to be willing to move to where the cost of living is lower, and out of places where the cost of living is high.

The surprising thing is that many places with a lower cost of living, are actually good places to live -- while invariably, the worst environments, also have a higher cost of living -- which is the case in the major cities, in which the most affordable neighborhoods, are also the most undesirable, dangerous and stressful.

But for that same money, if they move to a smaller town in the US, they could live at least a middle class existence quite easily -- in virtually all the cities of less than 250,000. The state of the art in medical care is usually fully available in such communities, as well as the financial infrastructures and consumer accessibility to all the goods and services the world has to offer.

The key factor is achieving "retirement" in good health, because if one isn't, the health care costs can suck up whatever assets one has quickly, and if one is in good health, they can still work, hold (part-time) jobs, create their own self-employment opportunities, or be meaningfully and productively engaged in any other activities, besides paying for health care as their major preoccupation.

In the world of the Internet, one doesn't have to actually live in the major metropolitan areas to have access to the global marketplace and culture; one can access it from anywhere, and then go into the big city when they really need to -- which is increasingly unnecessary to do.

Thus, this would be the undiscussed great development and migration of the 21st century -- from high cost of living areas, with their greater crime, stress, noise and pollution, to the smaller communities where the idyllic higher quality existences are fairly/relatively inexpensive.

Many Americans think they have to live abroad to find those inexpensive communities -- but they also exist in the less crowded areas of the US, like a Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, West Virgina. A Walmart is a Walmart. If one needs a tan, look up "tanning booths."

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

One of the better ways of celebrating the Christmas season is not giving or getting more than one already has -- but in being grateful for and appreciating what one already has. That has the potential to multiply one's "gifts," even if one receives nothing more -- than what they already have.

One of the great problems of Christmas and abundance in general, is that one seldom appreciates and fully/best utilizes all that one already has, and so even the most prosperous of Christmases, can often turned out to be a great disappointment as well, as the more one gets, fuels the desire for more, while doing little or nothing, to increase one's quality of life, or satisfaction with what one has -- and making the most of them.

One is inclined to believe that the solution is simply getting and having "more," rather than doing more/better, with all that one already has. Very few people actually obtain maximum use and value of all that they already have -- but think that their solution is insatiably "more" -- and not that what they already have, may be more than enough, if they simply appreciated and got better use of the humble things they have -- that they simply take for granted.

That lesson was brought home to me recently when I discovered the many uses of an ordinary household product nearly everyone is familiar with and probably have -- tucked away in the cupboard, waiting to see the light of day. In fact, most people are hard pressed to think of a good use -- for truly one of the most useful products widely available and so cheap, that most people could only wish they could think up more good uses for it -- never suspecting that it good be as close to a panacea as there is in the world.

I'm talking about baking soda -- for less than a dollar a pound box. Church & Dwight make it for practically everybody else, so even the off-brand is as good as the trademark familiar
Arm & Hammer brand, though their bulk bag (13.5 lbs.), is a marvel of industrial strength packaging that the US still leads the world -- for $5.99 at Costco. I would like to think that such a bag is a virtual lifetime supply for many, or at least a year's worth, but fortunately, the more uses one can think of for it, the better off and healthier one will be -- including drinking, washing, cleaning, bathing, brushing with it -- as the most familiar and common uses. But the surprising thing to me, was in its effectiveness at extremely dilute concentrations of one teaspoon per liter of water in a spray bottle to cure all the problems one resigns themselves to thinking that there is nothing one can do about it.

Apparently, baking soda creates the optimal internal, as well as external environment for human life and activities -- eliminating most household odors, mold, mildew, and mustiness, one thinks is just how air smells. The most difficult thing to "see," is the environment one is conditioned to.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

All Is Lost

New Hawaii governor, Neil Abercrombie, has already made his signature move -- in spending all the emergency (hurricane) relief funds, on what he proclaimed was the great calamity of government worker furloughs.

So one wonders, how do things get worse -- if things don't work out to the sunniest best case scenario of never having any emergencies, or unanticipated expenditures. It's probably the case that a slow slide in real estate values have to accelerate to reflect the added risk of having no insurance nor capacity to meet the challenges of living perilously on the edge -- as though nothing bad could ever happen again.

People forget that previous governor, Linda Lingle, has lived a charmed existence -- and even managed to survive unscathed in an earthquake at ground zero, which is the personal luck she brought to the office and state as the governor -- which then people took for granted that they would always be so lucky, which has not been the case, for the last 30 years, as Hawaii has lived off of its natural advantages, while building nothing to enhance and sustain them.

That would mean doing something as essential as developing the great advantage of abundant sunshine as its great natural resource -- and revitalizing the land, instead of shipping its garbage (or trying to), to somewhere else, as befitting one of the most consumption-oriented, diminishing productivity economies in the world.

So thinking people are right in asking, "What's the plan?", because it was not necessary to have one, to win the election, and since, nothing but glittering generalities and sentiments have been pronounced, while the Cabinet selections, have all been to appoint the foxes to guard the henhouse. That is to say, the lobbyists for the schools, labor, unions, strong, now lead those departments of the state.

Which leads thinking Hawaii to wonder, who provides any checks and balances to runaway government spending mainly to benefit its own government employees -- and then, those politicians they will work to elect. Something has gone horribly wrong in paradise -- but is the predictable outcome of today's self-isolating societies, as well as personalities. They just drift further away from the river of life and commerce -- because it is their choice to do so, until the final isolation of death as its only outcome, and then that pattern is repeated, even by the young people who simply become old in that familiar pattern.

Thus such societies never die, or can be reborn, and transfigured into the more appropriate present response of contemporary lives -- but is a self-isolating backwater culture and society the most dynamic have to escape from. That is quintessentially the "island" problem -- of Haiti, Nauru, Papua, Samoa, and the islands of Micronesia, Melanesia, Philippines, Indonesia -- wonderful escapes from reality, that is actually better than these socialistic-utopian fantasies in which, nobody has to do any work anymore for the rest of their lives, because their welfare is the new entitlement, but they have to give up their freedoms, choices and alternatives, to make that work.

There is no margin for error -- in a state prone to it.