Tuesday, July 31, 2012

How Do We Afford Old Age?

I haven't posted in about a week and a half's time! I'm so sorry. Life has been crazy. My dad broke his hip recently and has had a number of other health issues pop up after the injury. He was back in the hospital last week, so I felt I had to go and be with him to help the process along.

And what a depressing process it is.

I know that there's a ton of talk right now about health care and what is the best options for the least amount of money. This is important. I believe that everyone should have access to good health care. It shouldn't be reserved for those who are wealthy or happen to have big employers with decent health plans. Actually, many of these decent health plans have been becoming less and less decent over the last few years.

This experience has taught me that long-term care, such as assisted living or even licensed nursing homes are extremely expensive. This is something that I haven't given any thought to until recently.

In my dad's case, Medicare and his supplemental do a pretty decent job of covering his medical expenses--which is a huge relief. The shocking part is how much care costs after the hospital stay is finished.

My dad lived independently before the accident, but those days are now over. The spectrum of living options after that range from independent living all the way to licensed nursing homes. The type of placement depends on the health needs. Somebody who can pretty much take care of themselves, but do not want a house to take care of and want social activity would do quite well in an independent living facility. Somebody else who has dementia, isn't ambulatory, needs help with meds, etc. needs a facility with a higher level of service.

The costs for these places can be shocking and can range from $3,000/month to $10,000/month. Yes, you read that right.

After a quick Google search, I found that the average American is saving far less that that. These numbers are old, but in 2001, the average American had about $55,000 in retirement savings. Only 11 percent of the population had more than $250,000 in savings. While these numbers are old, I doubt the overall trends in savings have changed much. Even if you double these savings amounts, it won't cover long-term care for very long.

How do people do it?

Are you prepared or are you counting on your Social Security savings to pay for your retirement? Bear in mind that the costs I've quoted will mostly likely increase exponentially be the time you retire.

I'm by no means a finance expert. I will say this. Save! Save! Save! If you're very young and reading this and feel it doesn't apply to you: SAVE! The earlier you start saving, the larger your retirement nest egg will grow. You don't even have to put a lot away in the beginning. Just starting a retirement plan and socking away a few dollars each year (more if you can afford it) will make a HUGE difference.

I really hope that if I'm lucky enough to reach old age like my dad did, there will be a doable method to handle care.

But I can't count on it and neither should you.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Beyond Icky!

It's time to link up to Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday! This week we're tackling the letter "I." Surprisingly, I'm not going to write about fashion today! Shocking, I know! I'm going to write about something extremely icky.  Getting older! Yikes!

This past weekend, I blew out another candle on my cake. Well actually, I didn't have a birthday cake per se. The restaurant also only put one candle in my dessert. Which is good. If they put the actual amount of candles needed, the restaurant would have gone up in flames faster than Mrs. O'Leary's barn.

Why is it icky to celebrate a birthday? Because I'm getting old! I need special glasses to see written print. Because it's not enough that I've been near-sighted my entire life. Now I have to be far-sighted too!

Don't even get me started on my hearing. That's going too. I think I have to start every sentence with, "What did you say?"

And my memory? I used to have a stellar memory! Now that's a thing of the past. I'm lucky if I can remember what I did the day before.

Certainly not least of all is that my hot flashes aren't abating anymore. I used to get them for a couple of weeks or so, then they'd go away for six months at least. Now they're pretty nonstop, and I've had them for a couple of months. I'm guessing that they're not going to retreat anymore.

I'd take my damn Geritol, but I can't remember where I put the bottle! And it's so hard to read the darn directions on the bottle anyway. I can't even get that childproof cap off! Luckily, my 8-year daughter old could help me with that!

It is truly icky getting old!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Life Well Lived: Looking Your Best

Blogher posed the following question through their Life Well Lived program: Have you ever asked for or given style advice to a friend or family member? How did it go? What are your best tips for having this delicate style conversation without creating hurt feelings? 

Wow! Considering I just had a guest blogger talk about fashion, and now I must address this question! This must be fashion week at Little Bit Quirky! That's a first, right? I do not usually dole out fashion advice. In fact, if I have to be completely honest, nobody has ever come to me for fashion advice, EVER. I think if I took the initiative and doled some out, the receiving party would do the opposite of what I told them. I can't say I would blame them. In fact, I sometimes get the strange feeling that Stacy and Clinton from What Not To Wear are about to jump out of the bushes at me and make me spend a ridiculous amount of money on 5 outfits. (please).

 Things are SO bad that my husband has even chided me about what I was wearing. So what if I was going out to dinner and the movies in grey sweats! It was cold and rainy, and I was comfy! Okay, my husband and I only go out on a date like 3 times a year, but still!

I did learn from my guest blogger yesterday that what you wear is important. It increases your confidence level. When you look good, you feel good!

To really get the scoop on how to give and even, ahem, receive advice, please visit BlogHer's post on this topic here. Please join me in commenting there. I just want to say that I wrote my post before reading BlogHer's article. Just saying.

After your done reading and commenting there, visit this post to enter a sweepstakes to win an iPod Touch. Good luck!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Guest Post from a Fashionista!

Today's post is from a special guest blogger! Anya Sarre is a stylist from ShoeDazzle.com. ShoeDazzle.com has a team of celebrity stylists including Kim Kardashian. Anya wanted to share some current trends in the fashion world that are easy for anyone to pull together. I don't know about the rest of you, but I could certainly use any help that's out there! Discover a New Look and a New You! Many people think that self-confidence only originates from within—your inner attitude is a big part of the equation, but how you look on the outside plays a part too. Clothing, accessories, and beauty all play a role in how we feel about ourselves. Embrace the sophisticated fashionista you are and show the world your red carpet ready fashion style and exude the confidence you have inside! Wedge Heels and Maxi Dresses Are In This Season patternmaxi The hip and trendy crowd is not wearing shorts this season. Instead, the maxi dress seems to be the crowd-pleaser. The natural cotton blends are casual and light enough to be worn in many situations. Flattering to almost any body type, ladies can appear dressed-to-impress while feeling quite comfortable. Evelyn Once you have the dress down, pick a stunning pair of women’s shoes to complement the outfit. For the summer feel, slip on a pair of wedge heels—a summer favorite. Neons are hot colors in all facets of fashion this season, so donning a pair of neon heels with a maxi can make you pop for all the right reasons. The maxi dress color palette features a wide range from or solids and patterns—find a complementary color that will be the perfect match and added punch for this summer ensemble. Do Not Be Afraid to Accessorize Many maxi dresses have the halter or tank look on the upper bodice. Since the look will show bare shoulders and arms, keep a shrug or light cardigan handy to cover any parts you aren’t comfortable with—adding this extra piece can also add a nice dynamic to the outfit. To break the monotony of color schemes and tones, accessorize with a nice beaded necklace and long dangling earrings. An ankle bracelet may also be worn to give a Bohemian “beach dweller” look. The hair can be worn up or down depending upon the occasion or your personality. As long as you are being uniquely you, you will feel good about your appearance. If you are looking good on the outside, you are bound to feel better on the inside. Studies have shown that dressing well on the outside will improve a person's outlook on life. Feeling good on the inside can help clients boost their self-confidence and excel in their personal and business lives.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Health Care Is So Expensive!

Because of my vacations, I've missed a couple (or a few) Alphabe-Thursday link-ups with Jenny Matlock. This week is the letter H. H is for Heath care. I usually avoid getting political on this blog. People disagree about issues and the odds of changing someone's opinion is probably the same as winning $500 million in a lottery jackpot. Actually, the odds of doing that are probably slightly better than changing somebody's mind on an issue. Nevertheless, the topic of health care costs is on my mind at the moment. My dad broke his hip and needed hip replacement surgery. Due to this and other complications, he can no longer live on his own and will need varying levels of support. What nest egg he has left will no doubt mostly go toward his health care, housing, and meals. We're hoping the nest egg will be enough to cover his health expenses over the upcoming years. Unless you're extremely wealthy, your nest egg will probably also be eaten up by the various healthcare expenses that accompany old age--if you're "lucky" to reach old age. I would love to see us live in a country that would pay for our heath expense, like other countries have. Do other country's health care models have imperfections too? Absolutely! I have no doubt that they do. It just depresses me that a person could save all their money so that they could have a beautiful retirement, only to have some heath woes deplete their life saving! Call me a commie, but I would love to have a single-payer system that totally rids us of insurance companies. It's sad to think you can scrimp and save every dollar, but it can all get taken away with a blink of the eye. Here's to aging gracefully without acquiring any lines or wrinkles.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

I Had an Awesome Vacation!

My husband had a business trip to (drum roll please) London! He took my daughter and me along for the ride. Let's just say the entertainment industry really knows how to treat folks that work for them! They were cool with us tagging along as long as we didn't increase the initial expense. The initial expense was an unrestricted first class ticket. My husband was able to cash that in and buy us all restricted business class tickets. The cost of this was so much cheaper, that we were able to add on extra nights at the swanky 5-star hotel without adding any personal expense! Crazy! The studio even treated us to a bowl of fresh fruit and a box of truffles (which I took hone with me--yum!). Let's just stay that when I worked for the government, travel did not involve chocolate, swanky accommodations, and upper-class airplane travel. Speaking of which, the 9-hour flight to London felt like a vacation on its own. Normally I don't drink much, but having flight attendants serve champagne before meal service, fine wine during dinner, and a dessert wine with dessert was really great! The entertainment options were great too. There were some movies to pick from that are even still in theaters (like The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel). I spent the flight out watching television series that I haven't had a chance to see yet. The flight was a lot of fun! The week in London was wonderful too. We did run-of-the-mill touristy things like go on the London Eye, visit the Tower of London, and take a double-deck bus tour of the city. we also saw the musical, Wicked, which my daughter loved. We did unconventional things like get a tour of Abbey Road Studios (where my husband had to work--oh darn). We got to hang out in Studio 2, where the Beatles recorded the bulk of their music. My husband even played on the piano the Beatles played on! I had goosebumps the whole time I was there! We also did VERY unconventional things like hang out with a couple of famous people. Sorry, but I can't publicly say who they were. The no-so-great parts of the trip? There really weren't any. The weather was pretty cold and rainy, but it didn't bother me all that much. The other problem was that Wimbledon was going on along with the Europe Cup Soccer finals, and the Olympics are going to start in a couple of weeks. London became busier and busier each day. Nevertheless, the crowds weren't as bad as they were in New York City during the holiday week. My daughter absolutely loved London and wants to visit it again some day. I wouldn't mind going back myself someday. Especially if I get to stay out of the Economy class section of the plane!