Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Bag Lady thinks about money

My fear of running out of money was the motivator for me to create this blog in January of 2010. I was getting ready to retire, and I was terrified that we'd made a mistake in our calculations and that we wouldn't have enough coming in to live out our lives.

It's been 16 months since we left the workplace. So far, so good. We keep our eye on our investments and on the news swirling around Medicare and Social Security. For the most part, though, we've lived without giving a lot of thought to scrimping. We're frugal, but we're not scrimpers.

In the last month I've been considering how we spend. And yesterday I made a material decision.

We'd planned to take a cruise in March along the fjords of western Norway. I want to see the Northern Lights, and the Hurtigruten cruise line was an attractive option. We made a 20 percent down payment back in September. As I thought about the remaining 80 percent, and the airfare, and incidentals before and after the cruise, I wavered. A lot of money for a weeklong trip.

And then Art broke a tooth.

We have dental insurance through my COBRA, but our share of the oral surgery and subsequent repair will be close to two thousand dollars. And the COBRA coverage ends on January 31. Then Art will have mediocre dental insurance through Medicare and I will go without. Looking at the current bill, which is a known, and future dental issues, which is an unknown, I considered whether the mental anguish of future unknown bills was worth a weeklong cruise. Particularly since we've got other more economical trips planned for December, January and February. And, more significantly, Norway is not on my bucket list. An undeniably beautiful place, but not one of my "must sees".

So I canceled the cruise. And felt relief rather than regret.

We will still travel. We have several timeshares, and we belong to two home exchange clubs and two hosted exchange clubs. And we can do the Norway cruise another year if it's still appealing. Or we can see the Northern Lights in Fairbanks, Alaska, which is much closer and for which we can use our frequent flyer miles.

When I think about that, I feel relief rather than regret too.

I don't worry about being a bag lady any more. But I do need to be responsible.








22 comments:

Morrison said...

Wow. Will you be getting a refund? Or content to cut your losses?

I thought I was the only one who thought like this and made long term decisions.

May you have many happy trails on where you can comfortably afford to go. I only wish you the best.

And happy teeth!

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

Sounds like a wise decision. We have some of the same thoughts about money: there are no guarantees, but we seem to be able to live comfortably enough if we pay attention to what we're doing.

Rita said...

If you felt relief then it must have been the right thing to do. Trust your gut and you'll be okay. You have other fun trips planned anyways. It's not like you're being stopped from traveling. Have fun!! :)

#1Nana said...

You could use some of your travel budget and get your dental work done overseas. I've seen a couple of blogs from people who get all their dental work done in Mexico, just over the border from where they winter in Arizona.

Northern lights are on my list too. Icelandic Air has great deals from Seattle, hotel and air for 4 days for around $600. Now if I could just be guaranteed that the northern lights would be making an appearance during the four days I was there...

Retired English Teacher said...

I think it is great that you thought through all your options, feelings, desires, and finances. Oh that we all could be that objective in our decision making.

Teri said...

Sometimes you have to make changes and sounds like you made a good decision.

June said...

I'm with Rita. If your feeling was one of relief, and not ongoing questioning, then you made the right decision. Seeing the Northern Lights would be great, but you're absolutely right....you need not go to Norway to do it!

DJan said...

I agree with the other commenters. It is hard not to have dental insurance (we don't) and I've spent thousands already since retirement on my teeth. If I need a root canal, that money I've put aside can be used for it, but if I spend it on a vacation, it's gone. I just recently went through a similar vacillation about a trip to Arizona this winter and decided against it.

Although I'd love to go if I have enough money, it makes me feel MUCH better to know that anything that happens dentist wise can be covered and not put on a credit card...

Muffy's Marks said...

Trusting your gut, is the right thing to do. And being comfortable with that decision makes it right. Who knows.....you may win the lottery!!!

MerCyn said...

We can do a lot, but not everything. Fun with worry is no fun!

Arkansas Patti said...

Dentistry is almost beyond the average person. Now I understand snaggle toothed old folks.
The cost for a bridge for one tooth could supply a full set of dentures.
Sorry you had to cancel your trip and hope you get a refund.
Sometimes the northern lights are visable in the states. Much cheaper.

Olga said...

It seems like you will have many travel opportunities ahead, something you planned for with the time-shares and house swap clubs. So why not feel completely comfortable about any trips you take? I thought we would travel more in retirement, but my husband says he is done with seeing the world. Right now it is not a priority for me.

Beth from Maine said...

I like the way you think - responsibly.

Linda Reeder said...

We all have to make choices. When we make the choices that make us feel more secure, like you did, it's a good thing all around.
I have been interested in that same Norway trip. but we haven't scheduled any expensive trips recently because our savings account has dwindled down to an insecure amount.
Fortunately we do have dental insurance through our state benefits board for public employees.

Terra said...

Linda, it sounds like you reasoned your way to a decision you are happy with. I did wonder, will you get a refund of that 20 percent deposit?
You have other cruises in mind so still will have some adventures and fun.

Sightings said...

I sympathize. I'm in the process of getting an implant, and was shocked, absolutely shocked, at how much it costs. Teeth are expensive!

Bob Lowry said...

You made the right choice. It sounds as though you would have worried about the money before, during, and after the trip...no fun.

My wife and I would very much like to go on a church sponsored trip to the Holy Land next Spring. But, the cost Of $8500 for 9 days just is too far a stretch.

Oh well, it is all about choices.

Galen Pearl said...

Good decision. If you are stressed about what you are spending on it, you wouldn't enjoy it. It occurred to me while reading this post and some of the comments that you might enjoy Bob Lowry's blog Satisfying Retirement. Maybe you already read it. Anyway, here is the address if your interested. http://satisfyingretirement.blogspot.com/

wheels4me said...

Fear of economic insecurity might leave us, but it sure helps to be prudent in our purchases.

Barb said...

I'll read about your pig baby when Im up to it. Meanwhile,I'll agree-if you felt relief, then it was probably the best choice. One of my living in Europe regrets is that Inever did the fjord thing (I did a cruise thing, just between Oslo and Helsinki and such). but you know what? My inlaws did the Alaska thing and LOVED it. Whatever you choose will work out. Finding dental insurance thats worth it is a pain. I have to have a denture repaired...sigh

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

I truly hope Art's tooth gets all fixed up and heals quick! I know you have a lot of traveling on the horizon and there is nothing more difficult than doing that with a toothache. Smart lady to cancel Norway; sounds cool but the outgo sounds like it would've been more stress later and who needs that in retirement?

I really hope we can make it work to get together in January when you're in the state, I know I have fallen off the planet but will try to email you soon so we can coordinate...life moves way too fast sometimes!

Lots of your blog to catch up on now...off to read!

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