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Old 11-22-2014, 01:16 PM   #81
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I know a lot of people making a living wage in freelance writing. I'm surprised he can't make enough scratch to get by (along with his SS check) doing some freelance writing. He appears to have knowledge and some skill at operating a keyboard.

edit to add: I didn't realize he's over 80. Maybe he can't write like he used to, or doesn't have the skills to find the work any more.
I'm glad to see that others are thinking my thoughts. I read that entire article as a résumé and a freelancer's appeal to editors. "Call or e-mail now! By the way, my book has been re-issued..."

I sure hope he got paid a dollar a word for the article.

Heck, a Pulitzer Prize probably rates at least $3 a word.
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Old 11-22-2014, 01:24 PM   #82
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edit to add: I didn't realize he's over 80. Maybe he can't write like he used to, or doesn't have the skills to find the work any more.
Writers are like actors and professional athletes. They have Agents who get them gigs. HE doesn't have to KNOW anything
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Old 11-22-2014, 02:12 PM   #83
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"Consider a warehouse store. CHECKBOOK has found, for example, that when a Costco or Sam's Club is available, it will typically save shoppers for the items it carries about 30 percent compared to shopping, even for similar-size items, at the area's major chain supermarkets."

Consumers' Checkbook
I know the area of town where the writer lives......not only is Costco not available (without a car or taxi), there are very few grocery options that are not "upscale".

It seems to me that Costco is oriented to buying in bulk and maybe not as attractive to a single person household.
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Old 11-22-2014, 02:53 PM   #84
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He sounded like the ghost of my father. Capital produces income. If you want to have an income, don’t dip into your capital. I’d always been a bit of a contrarian, even as a child.
Sounds like he had solid advice from dad at one time but made his decision to take another route. His interesting writing style does not change the fact that he chose to spend it rather than save it.

We have heard about many, many fellow Americans who have made this fatal decision. Very few of them have ever joined this forum.
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Old 11-22-2014, 03:14 PM   #85
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I know the area of town where the writer lives......not only is Costco not available (without a car or taxi), there are very few grocery options that are not "upscale".

It seems to me that Costco is oriented to buying in bulk and maybe not as attractive to a single person household.
He is living in subsidized housing and shopping at an upscale market? Are there subsidized housing units in upscale areas? Then maybe where he lives is the bigger issue. It doesn't sound like a very frugal choice.

I bet if he posted his budget on the MMM forum they'd find more than a few ideas of how he could live below his means.

We've helped grandparents with expenses, but they were taking the bus with insulated roller bags to get groceries, one was legally blind at the time, and we had to work hard to convince them to even take the money.
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Old 11-22-2014, 04:23 PM   #86
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He is living in subsidized housing and shopping at an upscale market? Are there subsidized housing units in upscale areas? Then maybe where he lives is the bigger issue.
DC is funny like that. A neighborhood of $1m homes can be just a short walk from the projects. Also, land is at a premium and DC tries to keep out really big stores like Walmart. The one Costco that did recently open in DC is so far out that if an employee flicks a cigarette butt out the back door, it'll land in Maryland!

There are some grocery stores like Safeway and Whole Paycheck, -er Foods, but they're not cheap. Lots of mom and pop stores too, but they're pretty pricey.
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Old 11-22-2014, 05:04 PM   #87
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. It doesn't sound like a very frugal choice.
He didn't get where he is by being frugal . . . and that was with his own money. Not much incentive to alter his patterns--shop smarter, look for a cheaper neighborhood, etc-- now that he's spending other people's money, too.
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Old 11-22-2014, 05:05 PM   #88
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DC is funny like that. A neighborhood of $1m homes can be just a short walk from the projects. Also, land is at a premium and DC tries to keep out really big stores like Walmart. The one Costco that did recently open in DC is so far out that if an employee flicks a cigarette butt out the back door, it'll land in Maryland!

There are some grocery stores like Safeway and Whole Paycheck, -er Foods, but they're not cheap. Lots of mom and pop stores too, but they're pretty pricey.
My reading comprehension must be slipping. I didn't catch the DC location. I thought he lived in NY City.

I agree DC is a conglomeration of everything. All of the grocery stores I've been in are much higher than around Houston. We visit our son who currently lives in DC. Outside my son's immediate street, the neighborhood gets more economically diverse very quickly, to say the least. My son decided to rent his room out to a friend he met at his church and the guy pays enough for a top notch Houston apartment. My son's small house is worth more than twice what my place is worth. If you are trying to live on a limited budget, DC ain't the place to be.
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Old 11-22-2014, 06:00 PM   #89
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I'm 38 and only spend around $24k per year (no kids, not married). I make roughly $60k from w-2 and actually about the same off of investments...

I find it extremely easy to live off around $2k per month
Please be careful with reading his story. He may not make more than $13K or so a year. Let me help with some carefully placed words:
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By federal government standards, I’m not poor, but by any rational standard, I am. My [total] income [including social security] is above [the poverty guideiine of] $11,670 annually, which, in 2014, puts me above the poverty line for a single person. [Heck,] My Social Security comes to more than that [the poverty line by itself].
The $11,670 number comes from http://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty/14poverty.cfm

Also thanks to Running_Man for his picturesque writing style of his comments.
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But somehow I think he will always be burning the furniture in the fireplace.
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Old 11-22-2014, 06:15 PM   #90
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I liked it. He is a talented writer and does a good job describing the drudgery of borderline life. It doesn't matter if he put himself in the position. True, there are plenty of LBYMers who have intentionally and knowingly organized a rewarding life with similar finances. But when they reach their 80s and catch a bad toss of the health dice they may find themselves in similar straights - bad teeth and a crashed hard drive and no money to deal with either. At that point they (we) too may face some of the drudgery he reports. His broader point is that the problems of old age and little money are also the problems of many of the younger working poor and most of us don't feel their pain.
I liked it too. I would have loved to live in Eastern Europe after the wall fell and have that experience. I guess even though I have counted every penny for years, I don't feel the need to hold it against him that he didn't. Was it so unreasonable to take an early retirement at 53? I just retired at 45. I am taking a risk even though my planned SWR is 2%. Sure it may not be much of a risk, but if everything fell apart I guess it would be my own fault for thinking I deserved to retire so early.
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Old 11-22-2014, 06:23 PM   #91
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Reminds me of a painting showing a toothless old cowboy, looking like he's been rode hard and put away wet too many times, smiling and saying, " If'n I'd have known I was gonna live so long, I'd have taken better care of myself."

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Brilliant! LOL
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Old 11-22-2014, 06:30 PM   #92
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I think the main take away from this article should be how much damage margin accounts and/or financial advisers can wreak.

Also interesting that he just published his first novel in his senior years. Would love to have him over for dinner some time.
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Old 11-22-2014, 06:35 PM   #93
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Good grief! You can buy as little as two dozen eggs at Costco. And if one has money problems, eggs make an excellent, low cost food. The cholesterol nonsense has been debunked.
Costco often requires a car, not something every low income person has easy access to.
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Old 11-22-2014, 06:55 PM   #94
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She went on to say that huge numbers of people will do just that - head out, not knowing exactly, precisely, where they're going or what they're going to do when they get there, but convinced that "there" is better than "here".

To most on this board I would think that would be, to put it mildly, a strange thing to do. But apparently large numbers of people do exactly that.
I've done that several times in my life, and through good fortune, have found that beach. I know many don't.
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Old 11-22-2014, 07:01 PM   #95
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I'm glad to see that others are thinking my thoughts. I read that entire article as a résumé and a freelancer's appeal to editors. "Call or e-mail now! By the way, my book has been re-issued..."

I sure hope he got paid a dollar a word for the article.

Heck, a Pulitzer Prize probably rates at least $3 a word.
I figure he could be golden scribbling out a thousand word article each week (whether it's at $1 or $3/word). I don't know what a pulitzer is worth, but it must be something.

He may also resent younger, non-pulitzered editors telling him what to write about or telling him to angle his work a certain way.
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Old 11-22-2014, 07:16 PM   #96
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I think the main take away from this article should be how much damage margin accounts and/or financial advisers can wreak.

Also interesting that he just published his first novel in his senior years. Would love to have him over for dinner some time.
His first novel is actually being rereleased now--first published to great acclaim in 1984 (read about the rerelease here: William McPherson’s "Testing the Current" Takes an Encore [Terence Winch] - The Best American Poetry). It looks good.
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Old 11-22-2014, 09:57 PM   #97
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I am reading this now. Nothing I really want to say about it, given the tenor of most comments here. Basically, I guess I think art exists on a different plane from most of what we are focusing on here, and make no mistake, this novel is art. It may be that what we are holding up as what he should have done, or should do, just might make it impossible to create what he did.

Ha
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Old 11-23-2014, 02:50 AM   #98
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Costco often requires a car, not something every low income person has easy access to.
It doesn't have to be Costco. I just don't see a lot of retired, low income people on the frugal forums talking about upscale markets. Many low income households are not very mobile because of kids and jobs. For retirees on the same income no matter where they live, obviously many choose to live in low cost of living areas with affordable shopping nearby.

But Costco can work for singles if they have one nearby. We stocked up one of the kiddos first apartment with lots of non-perishables from Costco - TP, rice, pasta, spaghetti sauce, raisins, coffee, cartons of soup stock, canned beans, assorted nuts, and in the freezer chicken breasts and veggies.
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Old 11-23-2014, 04:44 AM   #99
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My reading comprehension must be slipping. I didn't catch the DC location. I thought he lived in NY City.

.
The references to DC were pretty subtle..... the giveaway was Foggy Bottom ( location of the infamous upscale farmer's market). This is a section of Georgetown. Most people would recognize Georgetown as an affluent area of DC although affluence and poverty do exist side by side in DC as others have mentioned.
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Old 11-23-2014, 05:35 AM   #100
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Costco often requires a car, not something every low income person has easy access to.
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The references to DC were pretty subtle..... the giveaway was Foggy Bottom ( location of the infamous upscale farmer's market). This is a section of Georgetown. Most people would recognize Georgetown as an affluent area of DC although affluence and poverty do exist side by side in DC as others have mentioned.
If he lived in my section of DC (would definitely need subsidized housing) he could join Capitol Hill Village and volunteers would drive him to Costco. And I would come by and help him with his PC -- maybe that hard drive just needs reformatting.
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