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Hello From California
Old 01-08-2024, 08:55 PM   #1
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Hello From California

Hello Peeps

Thanks for the opportunity to be here. I am approaching retirement. A lower income retirement with a schizophrenic son and a husband who is not overly healthy. He is 7.5 yrs older. I need to ensure we spend as much time as possible together.

Our 32 year old son was running/exercising and working for Apple. He owned a Condo. He got moved up 2-3x after College. Knowing he had schizophrenia, we felt he was beating the disease. His strict diet and exercise regime, his choice to get a degree in Exercise Science, he would beat it. He grew up with an Uncle with Schizophrenia so he was aware. Yet he was slowly loosing the battle since he graduated high school. Got a Bachelors degree. A strict Diet and exercise warded it off for a decade+

He is alive but not the same person. He lost the Condo he owned...moved in with us after getting arrested. Was in jail over a year, un-medicated. Almost died sent to ER after being forced drugged. It was horrific. He got into subsidized housing. With 100K in his 401k, it wasn't enough $ to buy a Condo. Prices really escalated here in California. So he chose subsidized housing.

We then bought a garage on 3 acres. Remodeled it, it's beautiful!! Living area is upstairs, no plumbing, just a compost toilet & portable sink/water in the bathroom. This is illegal to live in a garage but it keeps property taxes lower. It really doesn't look much like a garage with the logs. The pond is very clean due to snow run-off, good trout fishing. It's piped into our outdoor kitchen & bath. We could not afford to buy a home anywhere near here. You do what you need to do.

Outside we have a 10x12 beautiful outdoor kitchen area and an outdoor bath/shower, both have plumbing. We host parties there, game nights, etc. A nice place to gather, people go upstairs in the garage too to hang out. We also have 3 very nice Greenhouses to grow food in retirement. We live there 3/4 of the year. There is also a garage of the same size. Our son comes to spend the night with us at the "garage/home" 1x a week.

3.5 months a year in winter, we stay with our son 100% of the time at his apartment.

We pay $750 a month for the subsidized apartment+ $250 prop tax for the garage. $40 for my retiree health plan at age 60. In Retirement, I'll work 60+ hrs a wk during the Tourist Season only, hopefully until I drop dead

Right now, I work one 42 hr shift per week. Paid to sleep about 10 hrs a night. Very low stress job which includes meals.
Hubby's had issues breathing since I've known him-since age 23. He's on a BPAP breathing assist at night. He works seasonally bringing in about 20K a year thru his business. I've generally only worked half time, otherwise I go in a tailspin due to stress. Learned to cycle hard 3 days a week and work 4 days a week. I'm bi-polar. they say, but it's MUCH better now.

After healthcare costs are paid for, we will live off of 138% of the Federal Poverty level in retirement. This means an insurance company will NOT deny hubby treatment or postpone treatment since he will qualify for Medicaid if need be. Medicaid just pays it. Except in Summer because I am working earning too much $. Nothing's perfect yet I want him around for as long as possible

Luckily our interests are very humble-gardening, cycling, re-habing wild birds, church, bible study and volunteering. We like to go away 2 weekends a year to camp on the ocean or stay in a Hostel there. We have an older RV we keep parked at the "garage/home" We E-Bike most places, use the E-Car (2022 Chevy Bolt) about 1x a wk. Our DIY Solar system powers our transportation most of the year. It also lowers our utility bills. We do not pay homeowners insurance, water, and have very inexpensive food costs. Hubby has no health insurance at the moment but will be eligible for Medicare in 2.5 yrs

Retirement will be much different than I ever anticipated. Thank GOD I am a Christian. Life is so much easier realizing it's imperative to be appreciative for what we have though it's nothing compared to others here.

By 3 yrs, I'll have 40K in cash saved and my IRA should be around 100K-$125K. It's 100% invested in the S&P. However, that IRA is for me. I will need to survive after my husband dies and I don't want to live in subsidized housing. We are only there to monitor our son. Thanks for the opportunity to be here
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Old 01-08-2024, 09:09 PM   #2
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Hi, NorthernCalifGal, and welcome to the Early Retirement Forum! Thanks for the helpful and informative introduction - - I feel like I know you a little bit now, after reading it. Hope you enjoy your time here.
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Old 01-08-2024, 09:26 PM   #3
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Hi W2R. I just read your Bio, what a story. I am glad you shared it. Hopefully you are enjoying New Orleans. Yesterday I was looking at home prices, they are much cheaper than our area. Anyhow, thanks for your kind words
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Old 01-09-2024, 02:47 AM   #4
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Welcome! Thank you for sharing your bio. You sound resilient, which in combination with faith will get you to your goals.
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Old 01-09-2024, 08:38 AM   #5
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Welcome to the forum!
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Old 01-09-2024, 10:02 AM   #6
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Welcome, interesting to hear about your alternative living arrangements.

Do you have normal installed electricity in your home garage, or does it run off solar panels ?
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Old 01-12-2024, 01:48 PM   #7
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Thanks for the great introduction. Your life is just about as different from mine as I can imagine. Yet I depend upon my church friends - especially since making friends in my 60s (and now 70s) is difficult where I live (Honolulu.) I would find it difficult to live in any circumstances - whether in plenty or in want without the love of family and friends. Lots of friends here on the forum!

What can we do to aid you in your walk toward retirement? The group here is very knowledgeable about finances and dealing with the issues of early retirement. We have "experts" on Social Security, insurance, special needs, etc. (Of course, as I always try to point out - our advice is free, so depend on your own independent research.)

Blessings and aloha.
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Old 01-12-2024, 03:23 PM   #8
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Welcome! Schizophrenia is a very sad disease. When I was in graduate school they used to call it the disease of the thirds because people generally fell into one of 3 categories. One of the categories is that a third of people recovered spontaneously with or without medication over time. That obviously was the lucky group. I’m glad you are able to be there for your son.
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Do any of you cut it really close in easy retirement?
Old 02-05-2024, 01:41 PM   #9
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Do any of you cut it really close in easy retirement?

Nice to meet you all

Thank you for visiting this post. Curious if anyone is comfortable sharing their situation. If not, please do not continue reading further.
We cut it pretty close regarding our budget yet have very low expenses. Any tips to save $ is appreciated

Summary: Married. We retired last year at ages 62. We reside in a farmhouse on 3 acres in California. Outside barn for the chickens & storage. 65% of the year, we drive E-Car & cycle. Combined Social Security is $3005 per month Expenses are $2250. No debt. $100-$200+ leftover each month

Monthly Expenses: $200 prop Tax, $150 Internet/Phones, $50 Pets, $200 Towing/gas/maintenance, Utilities $400, Groceries $400,Giving $175, Eating Out $225, Gardening $50, Travel $100, $80 Indemnity Plans, Unexpected $100, Repairs $100 = $2280

Jan 1st-April 29th- We host Bunco game+ Potlucks 2x a week in our home.Serve 2 casseroles which are quiches made from our free range chicken eggs so they are a real hit. Many folks leave their leftovers for us as a thank you for hosting. We host these groups 2x a month during winter: Friendly Neighbors Club & Cycling Club, Church, Neighbors & Friends. So much fun! Spend maybe $8 a week, to have our meals covered for 3 days, sometimes four days. During these months, we drive the gas powered pick up 3x a month to Church so it's about $15 each trip. Church Potluck is 1x a mo. We eat out at a local grocery store called Raley's One most weeks which contains an organic salad bar-$12 a pound. They provide a nice dining area

We grow a huge abundance of potatoes, garlic, & onions, and some herbs, pole beans, sprouts, peppers and kale. Butcher 1-2 Roosters per month. Make our own bread. Shop at 3 different stores which are all within.1/2 mile so we save a good amount of $ on food. Savings is $150K in the IRA.

We worked for the same company for 20 yrs to become vested for their Indemnity Plan. Worked only 24 hrs a week/ four 6 hour days per week. We grew more of our food back then. He worked in Construction for 8 yrs so learned construction so fixed up our Farm house to being really nice. We have Retiree Indemnity Plans for $25 a month each (medical, dental, eye, drugs). Our Native American Clinic accept these plans as payment in full though it usually only covers about 80-85%. We only get teeth cleanings 1x a year, we are otherwise healthy so don't see doctors. At 65, still contemplating whether we are signing up for Medicare Part B for $160 each, I don't see it in the budget. It would mean I'd have to raid the IRA
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Old 02-05-2024, 01:57 PM   #10
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I give you credit for maintaining your expenses so low.

Me, personally. I'd be wringing my hands until the skin wore off if my income/expenses were so close. I'd still be working.
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Old 02-05-2024, 02:18 PM   #11
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My main concerns would be around the big "Stuff happens" expenses, and what happens as you age and become less active and less healthy.

Even if your husband is handy, a new A/C unit or roof is not cheap. Cars need to be replaced or have major repairs. Even if you've got decent dental coverage it usually maxes out at $1,500/$2,000 per year so if you need major work you may still owe a lot of money. You may need to hire out work that you used to DIY. I'm 71 and have taken very good care of myself but this year I needed a dental implant AND a crown on another tooth.

And, as far as Medicare B, yes, you need it. You may get lucky and not have any medical issues for a few years but when/if you do and try to sign up you'll get hit with a permanent surcharge for late enrollment. If you don't get the supplement you're still on the hook for 20% of the costs. And don't even think about not having prescription drug coverage- same issue with a surcharge of you wait to sign up, and prescription drugs can be crazy expensive. Medicare Advantage may work for you but there are plenty of discussions here on their DISadvantages for many people.

You need an emergency fund.
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Old 02-05-2024, 03:30 PM   #12
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My main concerns would be around the big "Stuff happens" expenses, and what happens as you age and become less active and less healthy.

Even if your husband is handy, a new A/C unit or roof is not cheap. Cars need to be replaced or have major repairs. Even if you've got decent dental coverage it usually maxes out at $1,500/$2,000 per year so if you need major work you may still owe a lot of money. You may need to hire out work that you used to DIY. I'm 71 and have taken very good care of myself but this year I needed a dental implant AND a crown on another tooth.

And, as far as Medicare B, yes, you need it. You may get lucky and not have any medical issues for a few years but when/if you do and try to sign up you'll get hit with a permanent surcharge for late enrollment. If you don't get the supplement you're still on the hook for 20% of the costs. And don't even think about not having prescription drug coverage- same issue with a surcharge of you wait to sign up, and prescription drugs can be crazy expensive. Medicare Advantage may work for you but there are plenty of discussions here on their DISadvantages for many people.

You need an emergency fund.
Excellent points, thanks. We pretty much planned for not having large expenses in retirement wanting to let the IRA grow until my age of 70.

Most homes here do not have A/C as it doesn't get that hot here,About late July, we run to the river about 5 min away to swim or just dip in. It keeps me cool for the whole day. We have fun doing it so I guess there's been no incentive to buy an A/C unit. We always sleep outside on the top deck and it always gets cool enough at night you can sleep fine during summer. The roof is metal so it never needs replacing.

Right before we retired, we bought these items: Three ENVI electric wall heaters at $199 each. I am amazed at how well they work. The power bill is about $40 more per month but they are very steady like central heating and air. Twice I've had to get up late at night to turn it down, it has no temperature thingy? or it doesn't work right. Not too bad.. Good looking wall mounted heaters. Also a 75 inch screen tv for $500 at Costco, a 25k E-Car and Specialized E-Bikes for under 3k a piece plus a humidifier. Roof is metal so it never needs replacing.

Our company folded up right as we hit the 20 year mark, vested, thank goodness in the Indemnity Plan. Chose to take some time off then enjoyed it so much we never started looking for another job. We have a cash emergency fund but not sure how much. I am guessing maybe 3-5k. We always have $ leftover each month he adds to it. Hubby also fixes our cars yet a guy from our town just came over since I posted this. Paid him $1200 to fix the truck. We don't have a lift so hubby just had him do it, and went over to help him lift something yesterday. I guess it drives fine now and am told nothing should go wrong with it soon.

My only fear is our Indemnity Plan is good but again, only covers about 50% of huge costs and 80-85% of most usual services. Being Native, the clinic will not charge us. We'll likely decide to get Medicare Part B, I'll just need to dip into the IRA sooner than expected. Or it may mean going back to work at 65yrs old p/t just to cover the cost.
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Old 02-05-2024, 03:31 PM   #13
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King Over Queens, I think you are in the majority.

To Athena53, for some reason, a mod has to approve my reply to you. I addressed each point except this:

Our Indemnity Plans covers up to $400 a month of drug coverage and the Indian Clinic gets their medication at cost which should be about 10-15% cheaper per my googling. It's still a risk for sure. Thanks, I will think on that.

The Part B surcharge is scary, it's pretty high. More of a concern to me. The Indemnity Plan does a fair job of covering what a supplement would for each service/procedure. I'll either get a p/t job or raid the IRA to ay for Part B. We are considering growing more food to start selling at the Farmers Market so that's an idea too.
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Old 02-05-2024, 03:35 PM   #14
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Your income might be low enough that you may qualify for Cal-Fresh (food stamps), possibly even Medi-Cal (Medicaid).

I would look into those programs if I were in your situation.

Sorry, just cuts a little too close for comfort for me.
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Old 02-05-2024, 03:38 PM   #15
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King Over Queens, I think you are in the majority.

To the other poster, for some reason, a mod has to approve my reply to you.
If you are a new poster, posts containing links are reviewed by the moderators. It is a way to cut down on spam.
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Old 02-05-2024, 03:47 PM   #16
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CalifGirl; you are bare bones on your budget. The only real place for you to cut is giving, which I suspect would be a hard No for you.

As Athena mentioned, you don't seem to have a fund for unusual expenses which happen with great regularity to most people. Your savings of $150,000 is minimal. You certainly do need Part B. You are healthy now at age 65, but you are likely the healthiest now, than you will ever be.

Is there any way for you to increase your income, or assets? How much is your farm worth?
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Old 02-05-2024, 03:55 PM   #17
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Your income might be low enough that you may qualify for Cal-Fresh (food stamps), possibly even Medi-Cal (Medicaid).

I would look into those programs if I were in your situation.

Sorry, just cuts a little too close for comfort for me.
Good thinking. We already get the privilege of going to the Native American clinic which is much cheaper for the taxpayer than Medicaid or those ACA plans that charge hundreds per month. Since we are able bodied, no doubt hubby wouldn't go for Food Stamps anyhow. All we need to do is earn about $600 more per month to cover Part B+ a $100 supplement at age 65-70. By 70, the IRA should be high enough we can pull from that.
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Old 02-05-2024, 04:03 PM   #18
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CalifGirl; you are bare bones on your budget. The only real place for you to cut is giving, which I suspect would be a hard No for you.

As Athena mentioned, you don't seem to have a fund for unusual expenses which happen with great regularity to most people. Your savings of $150,000 is minimal. You certainly do need Part B. You are healthy now at age 65, but you are likely the healthiest now, than you will ever be.

Is there any way for you to increase your income, or assets? How much is your farm worth?
Thank you. Yes it's a bare bones budget. Hubby just told me we have 8-10k cash emergency fund and about 8k in an HSA which we've never really used. The Company matched it. We forgot about that $

We turn 65 in a few years. We've felt no stress about money. I guess we've never needed more than what we already have on-hand. I asked him about selling veges at the Farmers Market, he said the Market it's seasonal for onlyt half the year so we'd need to make double that each month, about $320 for part b's and $100 each for a supplemental so about $1100 a month while the market is open. He's not sure we could do that.

He would rather go back to taking side jobs as a Painting Contractor working only in the Summertime.
I am open to doing that with him.

Our property is not really a Farm. It's a Farm house on a few acres. Per Zillow, it's worth about 400K. It's been re-modeled.
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Old 02-05-2024, 04:04 PM   #19
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Old 02-05-2024, 04:22 PM   #20
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Good thinking. We already get the privilege of going to the Native American clinic which is much cheaper for the taxpayer than Medicaid or those ACA plans that charge hundreds per month. Since we are able bodied, no doubt hubby wouldn't go for Food Stamps anyhow. We should just start learning more about gardening right now...preparing for the next two years when Medicare is required. All we need to do is earn about $600 more per month to cover Part B+ a $100 supplement at age 65-70. By 70, the IRA should be high enough we can pull from that.
At your joint income level, you might be at about the combined income level to receive both Medicare and Medi-Cal at no cost.
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