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Old 01-30-2016, 06:17 PM   #81
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+1. He's likely got Tricare, too. I can understand how getting by on $1390/mo might be difficult but it wasn't so long ago that we were making ends meet on $27K a year (family of 4) living in SoCal. And around half of that amount was rent. No money for frivolities but at least we weren't eating cat food either.


This is true. When we immigrated, our income was too low so we qualified for Section 8 housing but the waitlist was years. Thankfully, we eventually got better paying jobs.
And depending on his level of disability, he might have access to the VA. I couldn't feel sorry for him...in one of the pictures, he was watching USA Network (cable or satellite) on a flat panel TV. And one of the 'down trodden' subjects of the article HAD to buy a $300 smart phone. Oye.

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Old 01-30-2016, 06:44 PM   #82
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Low income senior housing is often easier to get into then the regular low income housing. They generally take 1/3 of your income for rent and often are quite nice. She could probably qualify for Meals on Wheels and some other programs and be living a decent life. RV campsites and gas etc really add up. We have an used one that we travel in and it is not a cheap way to travel. I think it would be hell to live in one. I think she is satisfying her urge to travel by living this way and although sad it is a choice. The couple with the good disability income are just making poor decisions. I was a social worker at one time and poor people look at $ much different then others do hence some of the bad decisions.
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Old 01-30-2016, 06:56 PM   #83
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If I were headed to NO, I'd just allot longer than a couple of days so that I had time to familiarize myself with the restaurants, if that was my goal. Hint: There Are No Shortcuts, when it comes to food. You can try www.nomenu.com if you want, which is New Orleans' most well known food critic, but like most local food critics, some think he is not immune to bribes.

I SURE wouldn't ask a local single woman from the internet that I didn't even know where she eats all the time, unless I was a stalker. The reason I wouldn't do that, is that I would be likely to find just as good places on my own and it's just a little weird, KWIM? Unlike other destinations, in New Orleans there is not just One Good Restaurant - - the whole place is full of 'em.

lol. What are the odds that they will run into you or even recognize you? I am sure that there are several single women that eat at all the different places you frequent. I don't agree that one has to be a stalker to ask for recommendation.


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Old 01-30-2016, 07:03 PM   #84
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OK, I have spent more than that for a meal, but I wouldn't if I had $50K of CC debt. I don't know how their mind works, really.

Sometimes people who have a whole less money than I do shock me by the way they they spend their money. Priorities are definitely different.
Yes, it's all about priorities.

I think people in my family, particularly the ones who know how much I made, thought that I made a poor choice by just working part-time, then quit altogether to ER. Why, I should have continued to work so that I could move up from both of my 2 homes to nicer ones, get a German luxury car for each of us, etc...

I made my choice according to my priorities, and I need nobody to tell me that I did wrong. Same with these people. They live their life as they choose. It's all great.

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But if someone finds enjoyment in it and can afford it why not?

We only live once and can't take it with us.
Earlier, I talked about a place where they charged $10 each for a small side bowl of mashed potato or steamed broccoli. No, the broccoli was not claimed to be the top 1% of all broccoli, nor was the water used to steam it taken from the purest stream in the Himalaya or anything BS as such. It was at a place that used to be the only 5-star resort in Phoenix. You pay for the decor and service, not the food, which was of course also good.

My children booked a honeymoon suite there for 2 nights right after the wedding, and they invited us there for dinner. That was only the 2nd time we dined there over the years, but this time we wanted to see what a $1000/night suite looked like. Damn, it was nice, and I could see how people with 10x my networth would not stay in pedestrian hotels like we do.

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How about her completely unsubstantiated belief that "organic" is healthier?

"Organic" means more expensive. I am shocked how many people have swallowed the notion that it means healthier. This seems to be nothing but marketing, plain and simple.
For those who disagree, don't tell me about your "belief" or your anecdote about how "organic" cured your (eczema, arthritis, irritable bowel, energy level, etc.) or list some litany of the evils of non-organic food. Just show me some actual evidence.
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Yeah, I caught that part about how she had to buy organic at Whole Foods because she had to keep her blood sugar under control. "Organic" has nothing to do with what it does to your blood sugar level. Whole Foods has a lovely display of cookies and other baked goods right at the entrance!
Well, even if organic food is really that healthy (or at least it is not any worse than regular food, and if you are rich you may just do it to be sure), one should do the higher return things first, such as eating less junk food. A serving of organic veggie once in a while is not going to cancel out all that junk corn syrup they might have loaded themselves with every day.
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Old 01-30-2016, 07:18 PM   #85
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Certainly you can eat a meal out for under $22, but it's very easy to go over that too. Just a standard entrée at Red Lobster (random chain restaurant) is right around $22, pretty much any seafood restaurant is the same or more. Another chain, Carabba's, has some meals under $20, but if you add in a glass of tea or soda, you're right back up there. And that's not including alcohol or a tip. And if you go to non-chain restaurants the prices tend to be higher. So to those who've never paid that much for a meal in their lives, I suspect it's because you work at it. Which is fine, I tend to do that a lot too. But acting as if $22 for a meal is absurd seems a bit over the top.


Obviously, having $50K in credit card debt is nuts, but it's not uncommon. I personally would be eating ramen until I had it paid back. But no one I've ever met who had racked up that kind of debt made what I would consider to be good financial decisions. I feel bad for people that are in hard places, and since I can seldom differentiate between those that got themselves there vs. those that just had some really bad luck I give what I choose to charity and hope it helps.
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Old 01-30-2016, 07:32 PM   #86
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Low income senior housing is often easier to get into then the regular low income housing. They generally take 1/3 of your income for rent and often are quite nice. She could probably qualify for Meals on Wheels and some other programs and be living a decent life. RV campsites and gas etc really add up. We have an used one that we travel in and it is not a cheap way to travel. I think it would be hell to live in one. I think she is satisfying her urge to travel by living this way and although sad it is a choice. The couple with the good disability income are just making poor decisions. I was a social worker at one time and poor people look at $ much different then others do hence some of the bad decisions.
I totally agree. I don't know much about the social safety net elsewhere in the country but here in Oregon I know there is certainly adequate housing for seniors for 1/3 of their income - whatever that is- and many other programs to help seniors in need. I think some people enjoy living a tragedy of their own making either from ignorance of what's available or they just simply enjoy the romantic tragedy period.
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Old 01-30-2016, 07:48 PM   #87
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Certainly you can eat a meal out for under $22, but it's very easy to go over that too. Just a standard entrée at Red Lobster (random chain restaurant) is right around $22,
Maybe that is region dependent. I am looking at the lunch menu of my local Red Lobster and I see:

Five different lunch specials to choose from for $7.99, plus several others in that price range, none of which look too tempting.

I might be able to choke down the Sailor's Platter (fried shrimp, shrimp scampi, and broiled flounder) $10.49

They also offer Crab Linguini Alfredo $11.99

Even the gigantic Admiral's Feast is just $18.99.

Although I love seafood, I wouldn't choose to eat at Red Lobster. See post #80 for example
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Old 01-30-2016, 08:03 PM   #88
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So to those who've never paid that much for a meal in their lives, I suspect it's because you work at it. Which is fine, I tend to do that a lot too. But acting as if $22 for a meal is absurd seems a bit over the top.

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Old 01-30-2016, 08:20 PM   #89
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I grew up among extended family and numerous friends who had similar problems to those featured in the article. My mother was the outlier and my Dad was happy to have her take care of what little money we had. Mom was a frugalista before there even was such a word. She taught us that food on the table comes first and that if we didn't need something we shouldn't ask for it. We could do work in the neighborhood to earn money for luxuries. Fortunately, I was very observant and quickly learned how things worked. I saw extended family members make poor choices compounded by very poor choices. One cousin received a legal settlement and suddenly all her children had new vehicles loaded with all the extras and within a couple years two of the vehicles were totaled and the other one due to poor maintenance was not driveable.

I made an early decision not to live that way. I developed a friendship with a coworker at my first job who made roughly the same salary as I did. He frittered it away on expensive junk and lived paycheck to paycheck. He took on extra coaching jobs and still barely got by. He inherited a couple thousand dollars once and blew it on an extravagant trip. He would buy brand new vehicles with a bazillion payments and then just as it was paid off do the exact same thing. Being around him was maddening! I never felt sorry for him and don't feel sorry for the people in the article. They all made and continue to make extremely poor choices!!
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Old 01-30-2016, 08:55 PM   #90
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DH and I go out to lunch 1-2 times a month (mostly we eat leftovers at home). Our *choice* is to go to places that have good food but don't cost a lot. We know the thai place near my old work has good lunch specials, as does the greek place near us. If we feel like splurging, we'll go into La Jolla - but even there we can get out for less than $40 (with tip) at our favorite place, Barbarella's, by splitting appetizer, entree, dessert. (It's plenty of food for 2 people.)

But there are plenty of opportunities to spend more... Like the high end fish taco place a block from Barbarella's... Everything is ala carte and it's hard to get out of there for cheap.
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Old 01-30-2016, 09:01 PM   #91
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... Obviously, having $50K in credit card debt is nuts, but it's not uncommon. I personally would be eating ramen until I had it paid back. But no one I've ever met who had racked up that kind of debt made what I would consider to be good financial decisions. I feel bad for people that are in hard places, and since I can seldom differentiate between those that got themselves there vs. those that just had some really bad luck I give what I choose to charity and hope it helps.
Don't they still charge 17% APR on some cards? Even at 15%, the interest on $50K is $7500/year or $625/month. That's a huge chunk out of the woman's income.

I used to work with an engineer who had this kind of credit card debts. And it was 20 years ago. He made close to $100K back then, but had nothing to show for it. The things he squandered money on were so ridiculous. Later, I learned that he contacted a lawyer to see if he could declare bankruptcy to clear all debts. The lawyer said his income was too good to play that game.

How do you help people like that?
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Old 01-31-2016, 08:45 AM   #92
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I used to work with an engineer who had this kind of credit card debts. And it was 20 years ago. He made close to $100K back then, but had nothing to show for it. The things he squandered money on were so ridiculous. Later, I learned that he contacted a lawyer to see if he could declare bankruptcy to clear all debts. The lawyer said his income was too good to play that game.

How do you help people like that?

One of the things that struck me in the "how much did you leave behind" thread was that there were very few people walking away from C- level salaries- mostly people with good salaries by at levels that could easily be squandered on day-to- day extravagances. It all depends on your priorities.
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Old 01-31-2016, 10:21 AM   #93
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This woman has made a lifetime of poor decisions, and keeps making them. If she just started doing sensible things right now, her life would immediately improve. This moving around and living in a RV (towing her car) from one min-wage gig to another all over the country is ridiculous. She'd be way better off financially and her quality of life would improve if she found a $600/mo 2 BR apartment in a low cost of living area and got a roommate. She'd have more space to live in, more comfort, somebody would come fix the appliances when they broke, and most importantly she could build up a social network that is really important to an 80 YO. And she could take advantage of local programs for the poor.
She apparently made okay money in her working years, does not appear to have suffered from any sort of unpredictable calamity, and has arrived at precisely the point one would expect given her previous choices.
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Old 01-31-2016, 11:01 AM   #94
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"Should she go to the dentist, or take a guided tour of buildings designed by her favorite architect, Frank Lloyd Wright? Each cost $100.

She picked Frank Lloyd Wright. Her teeth could wait.

“I believe doing something fun, no matter how frivolous it might seem, is food for the soul,” she said. “You need to feed yourself some pleasure once in a while to keep feeling alive. Otherwise, it’s just drudgery.”

I can have some sympathy for this woman's plight, but I feel no responsibility towards her. A lifetime of living that philosophy has its consequences, and they are hers, not mine. I've had family members try to lay a guilt trip on me because I have some money squirreled away. I've told them, "hey, I didn't get up at 5AM to work instead of ski because I preferred to work. I would have preferred to go skiing. I did it because I didn't want to be poor.. And no, I won't lend you $5,000"...
Not only that, but she abandoned her for sale double wide, which even if it only sold for 1/2 price of the $40K would still be $20K in the pocket instead of $0.
But why do work/effort to prepare for the future, when her dead friend had left her $20 to blow.
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Old 01-31-2016, 01:55 PM   #95
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Maybe that is region dependent. I am looking at the lunch menu of my local Red Lobster and I see:

Five different lunch specials to choose from for $7.99, plus several others in that price range, none of which look too tempting.

I might be able to choke down the Sailor's Platter (fried shrimp, shrimp scampi, and broiled flounder) $10.49

They also offer Crab Linguini Alfredo $11.99

Even the gigantic Admiral's Feast is just $18.99.

Although I love seafood, I wouldn't choose to eat at Red Lobster. See post #80 for example
I didn't realize we were talking about a lunch menu. I didn't see anything in the article about that. They're definitely cheaper, although since they're also smaller they tend not to provide much in the way of leftovers. And as I said, I chose a chain restaurant as an example. I prefer better seafood than RL provides too.

In my areas (both winter and summer), a privately owned restaurant tends to be more expensive. My favorite seafood joint is on the cheap side, but a grouper sandwich, order of fries, and a soda comes to right around $20, plus tip and taxes. And no leftovers, unless you count fries. They don't have a lunch menu, so the prices are constant. If you went with a platter (entrée, veggies, salad or soup) you'd be in the neighborhood of $30. So, as I said before, while it's not too hard to stay under $20 for a good meal, it's also pretty easy to go over that.


The article did say she got two lunches out of the meal, so that's only $7+ per meal. Not too bad, although again, in her position I'd be eating ramen and peanut butter until my debt was paid off.
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Old 01-31-2016, 02:02 PM   #96
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Not only that, but she abandoned her for sale double wide, which even if it only sold for 1/2 price of the $40K would still be $20K in the pocket instead of $0.
But why do work/effort to prepare for the future, when her dead friend had left her $20 to blow.
And this article shows why it is important for retirees or should be retirees to be able to be given advice on the best financial steps to take, so often they see they have so little that they blow the last small amount of capital they have to do what they want short term, under the belief they have lived a life not doing what they want for so long. If she had taken the 20K from selling the trailer at a discount and the 20K she inherited and bought an SPIA, which for her personality leanings I believe would be the best possible option, she would have been able to get about $275-300 a month in additional income back in 2008, which would be a 20% increase to her income. $1600 a month tax free, while not a great life, is enough to be comfortable. I wish they would give a review of what she should have and could have done, not as a put down of her but as an idea to others in a similar situation of what they could do especially when they are for the most part physically healthy as this woman seems to be, but financial frustration is wrecking many lives.
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Old 01-31-2016, 02:04 PM   #97
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I didn't realize we were talking about a lunch menu. I didn't see anything in the article about that. They're definitely cheaper, although since they're also smaller they tend not to provide much in the way of leftovers. And as I said, I chose a chain restaurant as an example. I prefer better seafood than RL provides too.

In my areas (both winter and summer), a privately owned restaurant tends to be more expensive. My favorite seafood joint is on the cheap side, but a grouper sandwich, order of fries, and a soda comes to right around $20, plus tip and taxes. And no leftovers, unless you count fries. They don't have a lunch menu, so the prices are constant. If you went with a platter (entrée, veggies, salad or soup) you'd be in the neighborhood of $30. So, as I said before, while it's not too hard to stay under $20 for a good meal, it's also pretty easy to go over that.


The article did say she got two lunches out of the meal, so that's only $7+ per meal. Not too bad, although again, in her position I'd be eating ramen and peanut butter until my debt was paid off.
A quote from the lady:

“I thought I could handle eating and shopping,” she said, “but lunch put me over the top.”
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Old 01-31-2016, 02:16 PM   #98
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My father lived on just social security for over 15 years refusing any help, here is his budget which I put together from his bank and checkbook records after he died over the last 3 years:

Rent:--------------- 675
Utilities:------------- 90
Gas for Car---------- 85
Cable TV ------------ 32
Soc Sec Supp Ins ---86
Food & House Ex-- 475
Car Insurance ------ 71
Cell Phone ---------- 20 (virgin mobile)
Miscellaneous ------ 17
Credit Card Pmts*- 125
---------------------------
Total: ---------- 1,676

* Charged items to keep monthly stable to equal income typical credit card charges annually are:

Car License plates $75
Car Repairs $800
Medical Deduct $500

The car was paid for in cash about 6 years prior with cash for 4.5 K and he had about 4K in cash in the bank for the purchase of his next car from money saved in a month in any category. Fortunately he only drove 6-7K miles per year.
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Old 01-31-2016, 02:19 PM   #99
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As someone else pointed out, she is paying a boatload of money on interest.... and I did read more of the article where she buys from Whole Foods because of 'low blood sugar' and cannot eat fast food... WHAT Fast food caused high blood sugar.... that is what she should be eating if she wants to increase her sugar levels...


I also had stopped reading long before seeing there were two other examples.... the second one is a couple who has a $2700 per month pension... that is over $30K.... living can be done at that income level... just have to make better choices....


OH, BTW, I would not have wasted (my term) $100 for a tour of a Frank Lloyd Wright house.... there is cheaper entertainment... that is 8% of her monthly budget!!!
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Old 01-31-2016, 02:29 PM   #100
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No, the $100 is probably more than 8% of her disposable income. Remember the possibly $625/month interest for her $50K credit card debts.

Some people are so skillful at digging a hole right where they are standing, that I don't know how they can be helped.
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