Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Story for Valentine's Day

Today is Valentine's Day, and do I have a romantic story for you!

Last Saturday I received a wedding invitation from a college dormmate. The wedding will take place on the east coast in August.

What makes it special is not only do I know both parties, I'm the one who introduced them.

Picture Grace as Cupid.

The introduction took place 38 years ago, and to say that these folks were slow to get with the program is an understatement.

L. lived across the hall in the graduate dormitory.

C. was a cute, bright but very shy law student I'd met in the library.

It just seemed to me that they would be a good couple.

So I introduced them.

They went on a couple of dates but nothing clicked.

OK, so Grace isn't the world's swiftest Cupid.

L. married, had children, then lost her husband three years ago to cancer.

C. married, divorced, and kept working his way up the corporate ladder.

I kept in touch with L. but lost contact with C.

Two years ago, he found me through our alumni association and we renewed our friendship. He casually mentioned L. and asked if I knew what had happened to her. Indeed I did so I passed on her e-mail address.

As they say, the rest is history. And part of that history will be made in August when the two of them finally get married.

I am definitely planning to be there.

Let's see. Am I ready? Wings? Check. Arrows? Check.

Grace/Cupid is now on her game!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

City/Small Town/Country

Morrison at "All Doors Considered" has an interesting post about taking a trial run at retirement. But aside from the main points in her post, I was struck by one sentence where she posits that it is better (and certainly less expensive) to live in a small town rather than a big city. In her case, the big city is New York City, and the small town is in Rhode Island.

I agree that it is less expensive to retire to a small town, but you won't see Grace doing that.

Frankly, moving to the largest city in my state 20 years ago is one of the smartest and most soul-satisfying things I've ever done.

I didn't know how it would turn out, so I kept (and still have) my home in the much smaller coastal town where I grew up, reared two of my five children, and worked for 18 years.

I have good memories from that town, but I have better ones from the big city.

More to the point, I have better access to quality healthcare, public transportation (I'm something of a menace when I drive now--I can't imagine that it won't get worse as I get older), an amazing library system, local universities, not to mention great restaurants and an active cultural life. Not all of these things are more costly--I scout out all the freebies, which are more numerous here than they were in my hometown.

I've never quite understood the retirement dream of moving to a small town. A friend of mine did that a couple of years ago. He retired as a university professor (not from my city but from the second-largest city in the state) and moved to the beach. Financially, it was a success--but socially, not so much. He just moved back to his college-town and bought a condo. These days, if he wants to go to the beach, he drives the two hours there and gets a motel.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

January 2012 Wrap-Up

1. Moving quickly through the financial update (because I don't want anyone paying too close attention!) my Christmas spending caught up with me. I added $792 to my outstanding indebtedness and am now back up over $90,000. But my promise to myself is that this is the last time I will have to say that. My plan is that every month from here on out will have some kind of a reduction. Let's hope Murphy isn't reading this blog!

2. I cancelled my US Bank credit card. I haven't used it in years so it's no big loss. US Bank apparently felt the same way because they sent me a letter saying that beginning in April, they were going to charge me an annual fee of $39. Hmm--I think NOT! There's never been a fee before and I don't intend to pay one now. When I called them to cancel, the sweet young thang who answered the phone didn't even try to talk me out of it. I guess the financially frugal are not part of US Bank's target consumer base. I'm curious to see if the cancellation will negatively impact my credit rating.

3. The November, 2011 US Housing Report came out. My city showed greater losses in housing values for October/November than almost any other urban area. Oddly, Detroit showed the largest uptick--I'm guessing because there wasn't much further for their values to fall. I occasionally go through the Detroit listings just to see the amazing values to be had in their market. In mine, sellers are holding onto their homes in hopes that prices will raise in the future, leaving foreclosures as the hottest part of our market.

4. January is the month I schedule all my health check-ups. All turned out well. I may not have much money, but at least I have my health. And my health insurance! I cannot stress too much how grateful I am to be fully covered by my employer. If there is one thing I think is wrong in this country (which I love dearly), it is the lack of universal health care. No one, at any income, should have to worry about the cost of taking care of their personal health.