Last month I had the deeply satisfying experience of getting together with five friends—who blog. That’s right. Instead of just a meet-up with other bloggers—I now consider them first and foremost to be friends. I walked away knowing that how we each blog is actually just the foundation for who we are as women, and what we value and appreciate. To me it is so interesting that although we are all very different people, with rather extremely different lives (not to mention blogs), we share something fundamental. It’s likely that when you start with such a connection there is almost an immediate sense of belonging. [Read more…]
Are you a victim of “lifestyle creep?” No matter how good a rightsizer you are, and I tend to think I’m usually pretty good at it, chances are you occasionally find yourself slipping into the creep now and then. I know I do. That’s because in our culture, nearly all of us are continually lulled into slowly but surely living just a little more comfortably, a little more extravagantly, a little more indulgently than in the days, weeks and months before. How does that work?
Slowly over time, any spending that starts out as a splurge—like a $4.50 latte at Starbucks to treat ourselves, a pricey bottle of wine to celebrate, or going out to dinner on a special occasion—can gradually become an almost daily necessity if we make them routine. Those acts are often triggered when we start making a good salary or get a raise. After all, we have the extra money, right? And as that “creep” of spending just a little more than yesterday becomes a new norm, we often find ourselves needing more and more such “rewards” to keep us happy and satisfied. If we aren’t careful, we can reach retirement with nothing to show for it. Fortunately, I believe a good cure for the dreaded lifestyle creep is to stay as mindful and focused on rightsizing as possible.
Some of you might not know that I have been a licensed real estate broker for the last 35 years. While I did sell a number of homes in my time, I am a far better researcher than a salesperson. That’s why I first began writing about real estate, and then eventually created my own writing business from there. And although I have written volumes about that topic over the years, I gradually transitioned into writing about other subjects I enjoy even more. Still, real estate has been very good to my family, many of our friends, and where we hold our primary retirement funds. So it always surprises me when I read so little about the advantages of real estate investment as a great strategy for retirement. Why? Maybe there aren’t enough of us pointing out how real estate investing can be a golden goose for your retirement over stocks and other investments.
A favorite parable of mine is the story of a poor farmer who owned a horse. One day the horse broke free and galloped away. All of his neighbors witnessed the calamity and rushed to his side to sympathize with him for this misfortune. He simply responded with a shrug and said, “Maybe yes. Maybe no.” That story illustrates just one of the valuable points made in the book The Geometry of Wealth – How to shape a life of money and meaning by author and investment educator Brian Portnoy, Ph.D. While most of us are familiar with the assertion that beyond a base level, money doesn’t make a person happier, Portnoy offers a more thorough perspective. At the same time, he reminds us that there are usually at least two sides to every situation. And it appears that money may be exactly the same. [Read more…]
When most people think of Mexico their thoughts usually go in one of two directions. It’s either a party destination like Cancun or Cabo San Lucas—or a scary place with drugs, crime and beheadings. My experience is much different. After traveling to over a dozen locations in this vast country, I am proof positive that Mexico offers a huge variety of pleasing destinations. But until Thom and I visited Ajijic (pronounced Ah-hee-heek) this summer, we never really considered Mexico as a viable alternative to life in the U.S. Now having spent three weeks in this special community, I’ve discovered the top three reasons why so many people call it home. Whether you are looking to move or not, you might want to compare the benefits of Ajijic to where you live now. We sure are. [Read more…]
Since turning 60 a couple of years ago, my interest in aging well and happy has ramped up considerably. For the longest time, I claimed that I was middle-aged and for some ridiculous reason felt that I would stay at that stage of life for decades to come. But something in me switched at 60 and the midlife label no longer felt true. The problem was, calling myself a senior or old person didn’t fit either. Since then I’ve been thinking, talking and writing about the process of aging from all sorts of angles. Surprisingly, something that is becoming more and more clear to me is that most of us hold a lot of bogus ideas about what aging means. And while I’m not usually one to use profanity, the term B.S. applies to a number of those erroneously held beliefs. [Read more…]
My husband Thom grew up in a very religious household. A questioner by nature, he struggled to grasp what he was told without constantly asking for evidence. But one thing he heard stood out as absolutely true. Without a doubt, he knew deep in his heart and soul that the most prized possession on Earth, more precious than gold or jewels, had to be wisdom. The certainty of that awareness never wavered. As it turns out, new research appears to confirm that obtaining wisdom just might be central to what leads to a happy and healthy long life—in other words, a key to positive aging. And it’s likely that treasure is something all of us would like to experience in the years to come.
A recent article in Money Magazine pointed out that many Millennials are obsessed with retiring early. In fact, this growing movement of those in the 21 to 37 years of age are convinced they can do it now, and quietly disdain those who wait until Social Security. With dozens of FIRE (financial-independence/retire-early) links exploding on the web and on Reddit.com, this idea is drawing in fans like flies. Yet, even though I applaud their desire to get out of the rat race and free themselves from debt, I find myself questioning why so many are convinced that retirement is the ultimate solution. From my perspective, we don’t need to retire or be completely financially independent in order to live our best life now—but it’s essential we take the time to Rightsize. [Read more…]
I recently went to lunch with a friend I’ll call Carol. After chatting for over an hour I told her it was time for me to go because I needed to finish my weekly blog post. She immediately asked me, “So what happens if you don’t?” In other words, does it really matter that every week I spend a great deal of my time and effort writing and publishing articles here on SMART Living 365? Remember, I don’t get paid by writing this blog (other than the sale of my books). So why bother?
The simplified answer is that writing, and what I do with it for now, matters to me and I believe it is my purpose—or you could even call it my dharma. That in itself is more than reward enough. Serendipitously, a few days later I listened to a podcast that further explained how living our “dharma,” offers each of us a path to a meaningful, gratifying and on purpose life. From there I was reminded that whatever unique dharma we have, it’s best not to wait for retirement, or anything else, before finding and living it to the best of our abilities. [Read more…]
We live in exciting times. Some of that enthusiasm comes after reading the book The Longevity Economy—Unlocking The World’s Fastest-Growing, Most Misunderstood Market by Joseph F. Coughlin. Why? Even though the book appears to approach the topic from an economics point of view, the vision it paints for the coming years is provocative, uplifting and filled with potential for anyone over 50. While no one can deny that we all face challenges on a global, national and even personal level depending upon individual circumstances, the cresting wave of baby boomers signals something momentous. The question is: Are we going to ride the surge or just sit on the sidelines? Are we going to create a better future, or just attempt to maintain ourselves until we die? Those are questions for business, governments and every single person alive today. [Read more…]