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Thread: Living on a fixed income

  1. #1
    Senior Member ProfessionalLocator's Avatar
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    Default Living on a fixed income

    Living on a fixed income

    Since unfortunate circumstances leave me living retirement fixed income, no job prospects, I am passing on some tips. I hope to get some back.

    First determine a monthly budget. I set aside money for the first of the month to pay fixed and estimated expenses. Each month my living quarters cost the same. I want internet and basic cable and is the same each month. I use about a tank of gas a month so enough to fill up the tank. My estimated electric bill (my estimate this month was only $10 short). (Some areas your monthly gas and electric can be put on a budget plan where based on the last 12 months use you pay the same each month and make up any shortfall at the end of the year. Here they only do it for a 3 month period so I don't bother.)
    My estimate payment amount on ant credit card. My $35 prepaid phone card. These are my fixed monthly bills and are paid, or cash set aside, the first week of the month.

    My last monthly budget item is I play Powerball and MegaMillions. I put his cash aside and fill out a play slip for all four week's drawings. Since I go to purchase just once a month the temptation to buy any extra tickets are gone.

    But there are other long term bills like auto and house insurance. I pay these of for 12 or six months in advance because if I run into trouble not paying these bills result in loss of insurance. Do this with auto insurance and the cancellation is the same as getting too many tickets and you will pay a very high rate for insurance. An amount must be saved each month for these future bills.

    Next is a weekly cash in pocket budget. My groceries, no credit or debit cards, cash only. A few dollars for minor purchases or leisure expenses, I like to go to the beach once a week and have to pay for parking which is $2.50 an hour. (I am checking bus routes and carry on limitations.) I put his cash aside the first week of the month. Each week's cash gets a paper clip and note for which week it is reserved.

    Any money I have after the above is surplus but still not free to spend it. Some of it must be set aside for for possible repairs to my home AC or vehicle. Right now I need to buy an ABS break sensor, $55. I will have to soon replace a leaking rear engine oil seal which at a minimum requires dropping the transmission. If removing the transmission will still not allow this the the engine must be removed. Can't do that in the parking where I live.

    If there is any surplus after all that then there is the purchase of things I need but have managed without or things I want. Right now not all of my windows have screens and there are a few other things.


    That is life on a fixed income as long as my luck holds out. My next post will be an extrapolation of fixed / basic income as it affects anybody else.

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    Senior Member yahoo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Living on a fixed income

    I am still working PL so I can offer no advice/tips on this subject . You appear to have it all together for living out a good life.
    wise men talk because they have something to say and fools because they have to say something....plato

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    Senior Member ProfessionalLocator's Avatar
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    Default Re: Living on a fixed income

    Quote Originally Posted by yahoo View Post
    I am still working PL so I can offer no advice/tips on this subject . You appear to have it all together for living out a good life.
    Thanks, I am doing the best I can. With no job life is a little scary. Some major expense that I can cover I have no way to replenish those funds. I make the best of it.

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    Senior Member daman1's Avatar
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    Default Re: Living on a fixed income

    Times like these are when i wish i had money to help people. I have never layed eyes on you PL but I have learned enough from your posts that you are a person of quality. Im just a matter of a few years behind you and I fear I will be in a similar situation soon enough. I dont locate anymore myself for personal reasons. Its a use them up and throw them away industry. To all you newbies, use this as a stepping stone to better things. Theres no getting ahead in this industry. Loved the work tho. Even the bad days.

    Thoughts and prayers are scoffed at nowadays but sometimes thats all a locator has to offer. I wish it was more. Truley.
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    Senior Member ProfessionalLocator's Avatar
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    Default Re: Living on a fixed income

    This is about our future fixed income as that is almost inevitable for all of us. I did not plan on living like this but health problems have so far left me without choice. We all need to prepare for a future of a fixed income no matter how old or young we are. One thing I have noticed about locators, we are often pocket rich and spend our money as fast as we get it.

    First all of us are on a fixed income. We can only count on the regular 40 hour work week. So all the budgeting advice I gave in the previous post applies.

    Actually for us it is worse than a fixed income because most of us do not get a guaranteed 40 hour work week. When the weather is bad we usually shut down, without pay. Often we get the chance to get some more hours catching up on work not done due to weather, but not always.

    Even worse companies have to hire to cover the heavy load of the dig season most areas have. Sometimes they lay off, usually fire permanently, a percentage of their workers when dig season is over. Rather than laying off workers they will find some reason to fire for cause so there is no unemployment insurance coverage. Do something that will get you fired for this they may quietly sit on it for a month and fire you when they no longer need you. Worse is they reduce the work week to 30 to 20 hours. People who cannot live on half pay have to quit and find other jobs and our employers do this so they do not have to pay extra into unemployment insurance.

    But we generally have a great advantage, overtime. Most people complain bitterly about the OT, even turn most of it down, but if you want to make a decent living in our line of work you have to work it. One of our locators pleaded with our manger for a raise saying he could not put enough food on the table to feed his hungry children. The manger looked at the employees folder and said “You have turned down all offered OT for two months so you don't mind you children are hungry”. He did not get a raise.

    OT is a resource and like regular income must be budgeted and managed carefully or it is wasted. It just seems to evaporate. Before locating I had job with guaranteed 40 hours a week and a lot of OT. What I did each pay check was to divide up my OT money into different planned uses.

    One area was my small catastrophe reserve account. For if the car lost an engine, transmission or some other big expense. This need be built up to at least $3,000 to $5,000 dollars. Going to take time and a savings account at the bank is good for this.

    Next is the unexpected expense reserve. This is for small unexpected expenses and can be a few hundred dollars. This can be an artificial zero point in the checking account. Like setting a minimum balance of say $300 then having the discipline not to spend it. It takes discipline not to spend the money. What worked for me was an artificial zero point and the check register in the checkbook worked for this. Now the receipt at the ATM shows how much cash is in the account. But you know you wrote a check for rent that the landlord has not cashed yet so you know you can't spend all that balance. What I did was write a deduction for this reserve in the register so the account balance in the registered showed less available money than the actual balance.

    A savings for retirement account is critical and the younger you are the more important because a little money added each year is worth a whole lot 40 years down the road. If you are older then you need to start pouring as much as possible into this. This needs to be in the monthly budget but was not mention in my first post because I am past that. So a percentage of OT goes here.

    The final planed use was percentage of OT money for your fun or things you just want. All work and no play makes Jack a deranged boy in an isolated hotel. You made the extra money, diligently put away for future rewards now you need some instant gratification as this reinforces the will to do all of this. When it comes to working OT think of it this way – I am giving up an evening watching TV and getting a future and still afford better times when I do.
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    Default Re: Living on a fixed income

    I hope what I pass along helps you out. You have been around a while and you know what things are worth. You probably have a good knowledge of a certain category of items. Me, for example, I know about restaurant equipment among other things. So, I go out on the weekends and I attend auctions or I hit the yard sales. I'm picky in what I buy and I always buy as cheap as possible. Next, depending on the item I will either post it on eBay or on craigslist. Most of the time I can buy something for 10 or 20 bucks and sell it for 50 to 100 bucks. It isn't too hard you just have to know what things are worth.

    I've been doing this for many years and if I were to lose my job I could easily kick my buying/selling into high gear and make a living at it. But, it would be a full time job. At the moment I do it as a hobby (sort of) and I make an extra 200 to 300 bucks a month. It isn't hard but it isn't a sure thing either.

    Another method of finding good items is to go to the online auction sites. The best part about it is you can do all the looking and research from the comfort of your own home. For you, Pro Locator, you would need to go to https://maryland.hibid.com/ and sign up for an account. Start browsing the upcoming auctions. Find something and see what it goes for on ebay. If it goes for about $100 on ebay then pay no more than $30 for it. You may even get it for less. Then list it on ebay and sell it. after fees and all that you could make $40 to $50 on a single item.

    It is all up to you and you do it when you want and how you want.
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    Default Re: Living on a fixed income

    Quote Originally Posted by TheCableVine View Post
    I hope what I pass along helps you out. You have been around a while and you know what things are worth. You probably have a good knowledge of a certain category of items. Me, for example, I know about restaurant equipment among other things. So, I go out on the weekends and I attend auctions or I hit the yard sales. I'm picky in what I buy and I always buy as cheap as possible. Next, depending on the item I will either post it on eBay or on craigslist. Most of the time I can buy something for 10 or 20 bucks and sell it for 50 to 100 bucks. It isn't too hard you just have to know what things are worth.

    I've been doing this for many years and if I were to lose my job I could easily kick my buying/selling into high gear and make a living at it. But, it would be a full time job. At the moment I do it as a hobby (sort of) and I make an extra 200 to 300 bucks a month. It isn't hard but it isn't a sure thing either.

    Another method of finding good items is to go to the online auction sites. The best part about it is you can do all the looking and research from the comfort of your own home. For you, Pro Locator, you would need to go to https://maryland.hibid.com/ and sign up for an account. Start browsing the upcoming auctions. Find something and see what it goes for on ebay. If it goes for about $100 on ebay then pay no more than $30 for it. You may even get it for less. Then list it on ebay and sell it. after fees and all that you could make $40 to $50 on a single item.

    It is all up to you and you do it when you want and how you want.
    Thanks for the info. I will check out the Maryland auction site which may work or may not as I moved to Florida

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    Administrator TheCableVine's Avatar
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    Default Re: Living on a fixed income

    It may make more sense to check out the Florida section of HiBid.

    https://florida.hibid.com
    "Change does not always equal progress."

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    Default Re: Living on a fixed income

    There is the issue of where to put you retirement savings. A retirement account that you can take from employer to employer is the best, usually a 401K or an IRA. The 401K is an employer offered plan, is protected from creditors either you owe money to or losing a lawsuit. An IRA does not have these protections. The 401K (there is also a 403B) offers deferred taxation, no income tax on the money you put into the fund but your withdrawals are taxed. Generally there is no tax deduction on the IRA but no taxes on retirement payouts. I believe there is an option in some IRAs to defer taxes.
    The IRA is yours and travels with you no matter who you work for. The 401K has the ability to rollover the balance to a new employers 401K program provided permit it or even have a program.

    There is the question of protections of your 401K account from you employers and I find little information on this. What would happen if you employer went bankrupt or just shut down? Employee protections are notoriously poor. In bankruptcy the creditors come first and leave little or nothing for the employee. I remember decades ago a nationwide company, Color Tile?, went bankrupt and the employees found their money in the pension fund was gone. In an effort to pump up the stock the company cashed in pension investments to replace it with company stock which became worthless. So there is the question of how much do you trust your employer to do the right thing.

    The thing is the 401K some employers offer has an employer matching contribution offer. But read the fine print. The last one I read the fine print said they would match dollar for dollar only a percentage of your contribution plus a cap of how much they would contribute. That plan offered me a $5 monthly employer contribution for my maximum allowed contribution. And for the $5 the employer got control of my retirement savings.

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    Senior Member ProfessionalLocator's Avatar
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    Default Re: Living on a fixed income

    Part of budgeting is what we rent or buy.

    Most of us have a company vehicle we drive to and from home to work. We all like but do not need a new car for personal use. We do need a reasonably reliable late model vehicle for our off hours especially traveling on vacation. If we have a spouse then they need that vehicle, maybe even a new one. The spouse vehicle gets them to and from work and takes the family around to where ever. In this case your vehicle need only be a spare and for light use, a 'beater' will do. Remember a new car has extra expenses of lender required comprehensive coverage and manufacturers required maintenance to keep the warranty. The old beater is not on the road much and less likely to get totaled and if so what you save in insurance can easily pay for it's replacement. It feels better to drive a first rate car right now. Feels at lot worse to have ride the bus and to drive one of those big adult tricycles when you are old.

    Renting a home is for most everybody a poor decision. The most common objection to buying a home is worry of future hard times and foreclosure. People fear they will “loose all they invested” in the home. Got two things on that. One is when you rent you are guaranteeing that the rent money is lost with no return on that money. Renters in their rent pay the owner's mortgage, property taxes, insurance, maintenance cost plus cash profit to the owner. As a bonus the owner gets the appreciation of property value which they can borrow against to buy more property or cash in when they sell it years later. Two is eviction is easier and quicker for the landlord than foreclosure is for the bank.

    As a renter rent always goes up but the mortgage payment of principal, interest and mortgage insurance stays the same for the life of the mortgage. When the mortgage is paid off you are only paying property taxes (which the bank had been collecting in those mortgage payments) and other costs of ownership so your surplus cash every month just gets a big boost. I once worked as a Realtor and worked the numbers, the tax breaks offered by home ownership reduces the cost to that of many rentals. If you are expecting to have to move about the country I have an example. An Air Force enlistee purchased a home wherever he was transferred too. He looked for a property near the airbase and in a good school district so when he was transferred he rented out the property. In 15 year he ended up owning five houses four of which were being paid for by his tenants.


    For a long term investment a free standing house is best followed by a townhouse then a condo. But if a condo is all you are qualified then by all means get one. Now in my area a two bedroom condo appreciated better and sold faster than a one or three bedroom. For people with busy lives there is no yard or building exterior to maintain.

    Ever rent a room in where your housemate was also the property owner? Notice how you always paid in cash rather then check. This way there was no paper trail of rental income for the IRS to see. Yes a record of you living is there but you were just their buddy living there for free, just paid your share of utilities. No paper trail no proof.

    Their is the type of mortgage and today the 30 year mortgage is the most common. No wonder as this makes the most money for the mortgage company. You are sold the idea that you can buy 'more' home for the lower or equal monthly payment. For a 20 year mortgage you pay more per month than a 30 year mortgage for the same interest rate. The thing is that a 20 year mortgage is for a lower interest rate than a 30 year. The difference between a 15 year mortgage and a 30 year mortgage for the same interest rate is even grater. The 15 year mortgage interest rate is even lower than a 20 year rate. You may still pay more a month than a 30 year mortgage but will not make an additional 10 or 15 years of interest payments. Imagine your net cash flow at the end of year 15 and compare it to making another 15 years of monthly principal and interest payments, big money. If your principal, interest and mortgage insurance is $860 a month then the ten year shorter 20 year mortgage saves you $103,000 and a 15 year mortgage $155000. Now you have a home paid for and over those 10 to 15 years has appreciated in value. There are fine points like cost of replacing the AC or maybe heater or roof but these costs are built into your rents which have steadily increased over those years.

    FYI corporate structure is one of office drones and number crunchers who dominate operations. They have imposed the Rule of Five Percent. If you live in an apartment complex of say 400 apartments and the manger has all the apartments rented the drones will fire him. This is because the rule of five percent dictates that optimal money is made when there is a 5 percent vacancy rate or 20 vacant apartments at any time. If the vacancy rate grows greater then 5 percent then the manger is supposed to lower rent for new tenants. If all the apartments are rented then the manger is not charging enough rent and the company fires him for losing them money. As a renter you just can't win.

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