Day 59, a button and a money rethink

Monday, 1/28/2019

Started with a run, which was ok. Then ran a string of errands: to DiMartini’s for some fruit; stop at Trader Joe’s; stop at JoAnne’s Crafts; Piazza for a few other groceries. Wait, crafts?

My favorite jacket has a broken button. I’ve been keeping the jacket alive for years; in 2017 the lining started to fall apart and I paid to have it relined, as the shell is fine. I’ve replaced buttons on it before, the buttons on the cuffs tend to snag on things. Just as I decided to do something about this broken one, I realized that our collection of spare buttons went off in the sewing box that, along with the sewing machine, I gave away yesterday. There was probably a match for this button in it, but now it’s gone. Well, it’s not an odd button, I’ll get another. And I did, going into the craft store near Trader Joe’s, 5 minutes looking through the button racks, there was a card with buttons close enough to the originals. I spent longer waiting in line to check out than I did finding the button.

Home, put away groceries, sewed on new button. Fortunately I did not give away all the sewing equipment. There was a separate drawer where the pincushion, scissors, a few spools of thread lived. I actually had the thought yesterday to gather those up and dump them in the sewing kit, but decided no, hang onto basic tools I might use. And the next day I used them.

Money money money

While driving along earlier I’d been mentally reviewing what I wanted to talk about with our financial advisors — excuse me, my financial advisors — when we meet in March as scheduled. The most pressing issue I thought of was to address the change in income. In round numbers, Marian and I had a combined income of about $6000/month. Her social security and IBM pension were both higher than mine. Now that she’s gone, my monthly income is about $2000. But my expenses are only slightly reduced. (Food a bit less, one less person wanting shoes and clothing and books, etc., but those don’t add up to $500 per month. Utilities, insurance, maintenance all continue virtually unchanged.)

I’d got that far in my thinking when I realized that for at least two decades we had been living on that combined income and it had been just right: money out was usually equal to money in. If we took a trip or made some other big purchase we’d move money in from one of the investment accounts. But we never moved money back to an investment account. Net cash flow pretty close to zero.

Now, I realize, my net cash flow is roughly negative $3500/month. I’m not worried by this; I have ample reserves to make up the difference for many years to come. The question for the advisors will be, what accounts to take it from, and at what intervals. However, this realization that we’d been spending just what we made at $6000/month cast a whole new light on the analysis I made on Day 43.

Staying, Going

Back on Day 43 I did a rough calculation of how much it cost me to live right here, and I came to a number of $25,000 per year. But that can’t be right! Because for the past two decades Marian and I have been living right here and spending $72,000 a year, the amount of our combined pensions. We are not known for riotous living, either. No big parties. And the major vacations, and the two cars we bought over that span, were paid for out of investment accounts, not by saving up. So when I figured my cost of living I was low by a factor of almost three. I had to have been! Where did I go wrong?

Well, never mind that; what about the sticker shock I got, when I thought about the monthly costs of ILFs? They looked so expensive in comparison; the least expensive charging double what I thought I could live on.

They don’t look so expensive now, do they? As a couple we were living modestly on $6000/month. As a bachelor, history says I would need only a bit less, say $5000/month.

What does a 1BR unit at Channing House cost? $4650/month.

Hmmmm. Not such a rip-off after all.

Pulling chains

Sent some emails to people to remind them I’m waiting. To my niece to see if she wanted the china set. (She quickly replied with an apology, and no, they can’t use it.) To a friend who had a friend who might be able to appraise Marian’s jewelry. To a friend who has a friend at Webster house.

And a second email to the gallery in Monterey that I contacted on Day 53. You send an email using their web form, and you get a cheerful automated reply, “We’ll get right back to you.” But they don’t. I’m really forming a bad opinion of the art gallery business.

Computer stuff

Spent some time working on the computer. I need to transfer my game to Windows and package it there. I run Windows in a virtual machine in my “big” Mac system. But it’s been months since I fired up the virtual machines, and of course now Windows wants to update itself with months of maintenance. After the usual amount of fiddle-faddle and rebooting I got the job done, a working game on Windows.



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