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THE NEW REALITY OF OLD AGE IN AMERICA

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7 hours ago, Pat & Pete said:

True that^ . BUT , if you have nothing , then you can do nothing . Not that that's all that bad , but ... 

Interesting take in concept, but reality seems to be different. Also, each individual's reality is going to be directly correlated to how they were accustomed to living.

When I started researching RV living, I watched a LOT of video and read a LOT of stories. Those videos ranged from people with the 40 ft RVs with 4 slides to someone living in their car. On the 40 ft end of that spectrum, the people likely came from a big house, invested well, saved money, and either have never or will never hurt for money. On the car dweller perspective, they likely came from 1 bedroom or studio apartment living, having never owned a house, and have clawed for every dime over their entire life, with nothing TO invest. 

One is living in an RV. The other is essentially just homeless.

Now there may be that extreme minority living in their car that HAVE money but don't want to spend it, but for the most part, does anybody really want to sleep sitting up or in the fetal position in the back seat of a car when they could have an actual bed? I have my doubts.

What made me shake my head and kind of gasp in horror was the joy those folks had in their voices as they told their stories of car living or small van conversion. Every third word was "cheaper". As in "I should probably have used 3/4" plywood for my bed platform but 1/2" was cheaper." Well, this is also going to be where you live and sleep for the rest of your life. Is THIS the place to go "cheaper"?

"Having nothing" is not a place I ever want to be. Thus I have lived this last 15 years or so in a way that I am positioned to be okay for the next 10-12 before I die. I will never be rich enough to have that 40 ft trailer with the 4 slides, and a $100,000 truck to pull it (that $100k truck is worth more than my 4 bedroom house!). On the other hand, I am also not going to be pooping into a bucket with a plastic bag full of kitty litter in it either. I bought a fairly moderate, conservative, 25 ft Class C. It IS going to take some getting used to, but as I made the decision based on this line of thinking. I have a house. It has a bathroom, a kitchen, a living room, a basement. I do bathroom stuff in the bathroom for what, 20 minutes a day including showers? I cook for what, 30 minutes a day? I watch TV in the living room. I sleep in the bedroom. A second bedroom is my office. The 2 bedrooms upstairs were a music studio until it ran it's course of usefulness. The RV has a bathroom and a tiny kitchen. That accounts for one hour of my day. I spend hours a day at the computer, which will be done at the dinette table. When it's TV time, I will sit on the couch with my feet on an ottoman, replacing the reclining couch I have now. My dog, well, she will have to adapt to a small space, but as long as she is with me, the only adult she ever had, she will be fine. My doggy daddy duties won't change at all, just where I perform them.

So, the point of that rambling tome was this. Define "nothing". "Nothing" is quite relative. Someone who has nothing now would see my little 25 ft RV as a huge step UP. On the other end of the scale you get the woman whining because she is in a park where she can't extend all FOUR slides. Well boo frickin' hoo. Go somewhere else. ANYWHERE else. Anywhere that will get you to stop whining.

Some people consciously choose to live in a world where it rains every single day. My days are full of bright sunshine even in the darkest dead of winter. I was wounded in the war and didn't die. I was,  just 4 years ago, broadsided by a car going 70 mph and I didn't die. Life is truly a gift. Savor it. Find that sunshine. 

Edited by eddie1261

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11 minutes ago, eddie1261 said:

Life is truly a gift. Savor it. Find that sunshine. 

 Agreed . Before we started this 'journey' , we asked ourselves if we wanted to sit on the porch and watch the world pass by or would we rather sit in an RV and watch the world as we passed by . 

We like the sunshine , but there has to be some rain for a bit of balance .

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20 minutes ago, Pat & Pete said:

 Agreed . Before we started this 'journey' , we asked ourselves if we wanted to sit on the porch and watch the world pass by or would we rather sit in an RV and watch the world as we passed by . 

We like the sunshine , but there has to be some rain for a bit of balance .

Then factor in that I have no desire to be the richest corpse in the graveyard. I plan to die with $50 in the bank. My dead body is covered by a place that gathers organs for transplant, after which they cremate the rest. Free. Everything I own is to be sold in an estate sale and the proceeds go to the shelter where I got my last 3 dogs. I call that paying them back for the 3 great companions I got from them.

Once I get this house finished and sold and hit the open road, I will truly find the serenity I have lived in search of for my 66 years. That hopefully will be in late spring. One last major yard sale, the next day what is left gets donated, and I'm off to follow the sunshine.

I seriously have the world by the ass here. Some are not as fortunate and I am thankful for my life every day.

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7 hours ago, remoandiris said:

If people have "little retirement savings", who is at fault?  The company they work for?  The state?  The bank? Society as a whole?  Or the individual who decides to sped their money?

Beats me. However, there could be many reasons for it. It may not be solely an individual's fault as you keep implying.

 

7 hours ago, remoandiris said:

 

Recent shift in retirement savings plans???  Let's see...30 yrs ago I was smart enough to start saving/investing for retirement, and I was just a dopey 20-something who had been working for 10 yrs already, beginning with delivering morning newspapers in 5th grade.  Why?  Because my parents didn't have enough money at the end of the week to give me and my siblings an allowance, so if I wanted to buy something, I had to work for it.

 

Bully for you. But what's the purpose of sharing this?

Others didn't work hard and that's why they don't have any money saved? 

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"It is well written but it is also slanted. But it is difficult to know for sure unless you talk to a lot more people. I think that they went and picked people who fit the profile that they wished to write about." Good read but I do agree with Kirk. 

 

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4 hours ago, Zulu said:

Beats me. However, there could be many reasons for it. It may not be solely an individual's fault as you keep implying.

 

 

Bully for you. But what's the purpose of sharing this?

Others didn't work hard and that's why they don't have any money saved? 

Yes, bully for me.  You seem to think I am the only person who planned ahead.  Well, you're so wrong it isn't even funny.  And you keep failing to hold people accountable for their own failures.  Anything one person can do, another person can do.  But they have to want to do it.  You want to keep giving people an excuse.

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14 minutes ago, remoandiris said:

Anything one person can do, another person can do. 

That's like saying "Talent wins out". I wish.

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3 hours ago, richfaa said:

It is well written but it is also slanted. But it is difficult to know for sure unless you talk to a lot more people.

The WP article isn't really about RVers. They're used as examples for the writer's thesis -- People (in general) are working longer, many because of their poor finances. On the other hand, it would have helped the article's point of other non-RV examples were given.

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I agree that  many are working longer particularly if they will be relying on SS as the only source of income. Although SS was never meant to be the only source of retirement income many used it as such. We also had many friends who had their 401K  nearly wiped out in the 2008 economic readjustment ours declined by 38% but we were not using it for retirement income.Many who were using it for income never fully recovered and many had to return to work.

It can be difficult to invest or save $$$ although we always made a good wage raising 4 kids and providing for their future made it  very difficult. We are very fortunate to have a good retirement and employer provided health insurance.  Our 401K which since 2009 has fully recovered and is  making $$$.

 

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6 hours ago, Zulu said:

 

Bully for you. But what's the purpose of sharing this?

 

Yes. Bully for him.

Cheap shot, dude. All that was missing was an extended middle finger.

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People are staying healthy longer and living longer, so it seems natural to me that they will also likely be working longer. I looked at the statistical data on the number of years people collect social security and it seems that the average number of years to draw checks after 65 has only risen from 12.7 in 1940 to about 17.5 in 2010. Life expectancy has risen over the years mostly due to the reduction in infant mortality and controlling of diseases that used to kill people relatively early in life. According to Live Science, the upper age expectancy for those who survive to midlife has not risen significantly in 2000 years. 

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3 hours ago, remoandiris said:

Yes, bully for me.  You seem to think I am the only person who planned ahead.  Well, you're so wrong it isn't even funny.  And you keep failing to hold people accountable for their own failures.  Anything one person can do, another person can do.  But they have to want to do it.  You want to keep giving people an excuse.

Do you know how many families end up in bankruptcy because of medical bills?  Have you ever had a life threatening illness?  My dauther was a premie, 32 weeks.  Do you have any idea what the bills are like, even with insurance.  And if the insurance isn't all that great, then people end up bankrupt.   Thousands of people lost everything in the market downturn in 2008.  We have friends who were over invested in real estate,  lost over 1/2 of the retirement.   Think of all of the people who had retirement funds tied up with Madoff - through no fault of their own, because their bosses bought into the scam.  

You lack of empathy is staggering.   Must be nice to think that nothing bad happens to good people.

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Kirk,

Since the inception of Medicare, people, once they reach 65, are living longer.  We now have larger and large numbers of 2 generations who are on Medicare.  My mother is 95,  my two aunts are 94 and 90; all three going strong because they come from people who live long lives.    All three have had illnesses that before Medicare would have resulted in their dying, but now they were treated and just keep on going.   

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9 hours ago, Barbaraok said:

Since the inception of Medicare, people, once they reach 65, are living longer.

 

That is not true.  They may well be living more healthy lives, but science says that the upper limits of age have risen very little, if at all.

The Social Security retirement age: Who’s really living longer?

No, Humans are NOT Living Longer than in the Past

We’re Not Really Living Much Longer (HuffPost)Human Lifespans Nearly Constant for 2,000 Years

We're Not Really Living Much Longer

Why aren't the oldest living people getting any older?

Social Security History (from the Social Security Administration)

 

Edited by Kirk Wood

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11 hours ago, richfaa said:

I agree that  many are working longer particularly if they will be relying on SS as the only source of income. Although SS was never meant to be the only source of retirement income many used it as such. We also had many friends who had their 401K  nearly wiped out in the 2008 economic readjustment ours declined by 38% but we were not using it for retirement income.Many who were using it for income never fully recovered and many had to return to work.

It can be difficult to invest or save $$$ although we always made a good wage raising 4 kids and providing for their future made it  very difficult. We are very fortunate to have a good retirement and employer provided health insurance.  Our 401K which since 2009 has fully recovered and is  making $$$.

 

I see the thing about peoples retirement savings nearly wiped out in the 2008 recession (economic readjustment) talked about a lot.  And yes indeed the value of everyone's stock holding dropped tremendously.

HOWEVER, that overlooks the facts that to get to the significant stock market value (or house ownership value) by 2008 you would have started with some fairly decent amount of investments in say 2000, or 1995 and the value of the stock market really went up by 2008 and then crashed.  The crash did bring the value of your holdings down to some value, but still something more (quite a bit more) than you started with in 2000 or 1995.  IF in 2008 you lost all confidence in the value of long term holdings in stocks and you moved you stock holdings into fixed income you just shot yourself in the foot.  By staying the course your investments would have close to tripled from 2008 to 2016.

That is not the fault of anyone but yourself.

Additionally if you were depending on your stock holdings as your main (say 80% or more) investments and depending on those holding for income, you were not following prudent investment advice. You should have been invested at significant fixed income investments at, at least 50% bonds, 50% stocks, or maybe even better at 60/40% or 70/30%.  Again this is the fault of the investor not the stock market crash.

Earlier in this topic I gave a link to Scott Burns' articles.  They make excellent reading.  The articles themselves do not promote any company or are going to make anyone associated with the articles money.  The articles are just giving excellent food for thought and very good, conservative, investment advice. 

 

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19 minutes ago, Kirk Wood said:

Excellent info.  I had not seen this information before. 

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Most of the changes in retirement plans of modern times have come about because of the demands of the workers for retirement packages that are portable, or which can be moved from one employer to another when one chooses to change jobs. This has given workers far more freedom with retirement funding but with any freedom comes responsibility. In years past employers offered retirement packages designed to reward the workers for staying with them for a long period and so build a guaranteed monthly income that would be fixed for the remainder of their life. As the next generation moved into the workforce, they became the majority of the workers but at that same time, they also filled the majority of management positions. As that happened both worker and employer loyalty began to decline and this has brought about the move to funds that can be moved and controlled by the employee. That means that the employee has the freedom to keep his accrued retirement funds when he changes jobs but it also means that he who invests well will retire well while the one less talented will have very little. Sometimes when we get what we have demanded, we must then also live with the result. SS was never intended to be a retirement plan for a happy retirement but rather it was to be a safety net to care for the unfortunate who have little. Is it really the responsibility of the taxpaying public to make up for the foolish decisions that others may have made in investing retirement funds or failing to save for retirement? 

"From each according to his ability, to each according to his need."    Karl Marx

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10 minutes ago, Kirk Wood said:

Most of the changes in retirement plans of modern times have come about because of the demands of the workers for retirement packages that are portable, or which can be moved from one employer to another when one chooses to change jobs. This has given workers far more freedom with retirement funding but with any freedom comes responsibility. In years past employers offered retirement packages designed to reward the workers for staying with them for a long period and so build a guaranteed monthly income that would be fixed for the remainder of their life. As the next generation moved into the workforce, they became the majority of the workers but at that same time, they also filled the majority of management positions. As that happened both worker and employer loyalty began to decline and this has brought about the move to funds that can be moved and controlled by the employee. That means that the employee has the freedom to keep his accrued retirement funds when he changes jobs but it also means that he who invests well will retire well while the one less talented will have very little. Sometimes when we get what we have demanded, we must then also live with the result. SS was never intended to be a retirement plan for a happy retirement but rather it was to be a safety net to care for the unfortunate who have little. Is it really the responsibility of the taxpaying public to make up for the foolish decisions that others may have made in investing retirement funds or failing to save for retirement? 

"From each according to his ability, to each according to his need."    Karl Marx

I don't agree that the changes came about because employees wanted packages that are portable. 

From about 1980 to around 2000 there was a big switch from defined benefit retirement packages to employees directed retirement packages. 

While there were a few employees in the 1980 to 1990 time frame who jumped from company to company, taking their skills to the highest bidder, I believe the majority would have been happy continuing to work for a good company with good benefits for 30-40 years and then retiring.

Part of the problem was the companies that provided excellent benefits were also burdened the cost of the benefits, while many of the newer companies, in direct competition, with them didn't proved the benefits, and ran a leaner ship and offered products and services for less cost. 

Some of this gets into the argument of which came first the chicken or the egg. 

Personally, working for 37 years for two companies which provided excellent benefits, I also saw we kept on the payroll a number of people who became complacent in their jobs and not producing as well as their counterparts.  They should have been required to start producing or let go.  Both companies I worked for started changing their employment practices in the mid 1990's to mid 2000's.  Fortunately both companies reduced a lot of the employees through early retirement.  Not that the employees wanted to retire. 

As evident so often now, there is NO loyalty from companies to the employee at all.  Just how much work can we get out of you for the least amount of money (and benefits) we can provide.  

For example one of the companies I worked for would outsource some parts of the workforce.  For example we were on a campus with about 14,000 employees.  We had an onsite medical staff of probably 15-25 employees.  One Monday morning when they came to work, they were told that this morning you will start interviewing with xyz company whom we contracted with to provide the services you have been providing.  If xyz company agrees to hire you, and you agree to go to work for them you will stay right were you are only with their benefits.  If not, here is a severance package and you can go on your way.   The savings to the company couldn't have been very much in the total amount of earnings for the company. 

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Along the line of my replies above, I realized in the 5-10 years before my retirement, that employees should not have loyalty to the company. 

As I mentioned to a couple of highly productive newer young employees (22-24 years old):  "While you are working for this company you owe the company the loyalty to do your job to the best of you ability.  To show up on time and work hard.  However, if you find a company that gives you a reason to leave here and go to work there, you owe our company no loyalty what so ever.  Go to work where ever it is best for you.  Our company will not show you any loyalty in return for you staying here."

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"HOWEVER, that overlooks the facts that to get to the significant stock market value (or house ownership value) by 2008 you would have started with some fairly decent amount of investments in say 2000, or 1995 and the value of the stock market really went up by 2008 and then crashed.  The crash did bring the value of your holdings down to some value, but still something more (quite a bit more) than you started with in 2000 or 1995.  IF in 2008 you lost all confidence in the value of long term holdings in stocks and you moved you stock holdings into fixed income you just shot yourself in the foot.  By staying the course your investments would have close to tripled from 2008 to 2016."

 

This is true. We got into our 401K in 1985 and although we lost 38% at its low point in 2009 we still had more $$ in it than we put in . It has nearly tripled since 2009 as we strayed in for the long run.  Our home sold new in 1975 at 54,000.00 which is @ 250,000 in todays $$ however in both cases we live and spends in todays $$$$.We have never used the 401K for income so yes it did triple in value since the 2009 low point. I think it recovered the 38% by late  2012 or so and has earned double digits in most of the years since. Those who were using the investment as income say at the rate of 2K a month had to continue to use it regardless of their loss and recovery was much slower. Everyone differs

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Kirk,

In 1960 if one reached 65,  one had, on average, 14.3 yrs to go.  In 2010, if one reached 65, one had, on average,  19.1 yrs to go (20.1 for women).  These are based on CDC statistics.    https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/2011/022.pdf

Look at http://gerontology.usc.edu/resources/infographics/americans-are-living-longer/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/the-progress-report/44-years-of-medicare-succ_b_247834.html

I remember my grandfathers dying of pneumonia - they were 'made comfortable', but no real effort to treat them in 1960 because they were both 80 yrs old.  Today that wouldn't happen - my mother was 94 when she developed pneumonia the last time.  Vigorous treatment plus a week doing pulmonary rehab and she was back home.  

 

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3 hours ago, Al F said:

I don't agree that the changes came about because employees wanted packages that are portable. 

I must say that memory isn't always accurate on how it came to be, but I think that labor was a part of this change, but...............   In trying to find something that spells it out more, I found this article from "Workforce."

Quote

The ’70s brought America staggering inflation, disco, and legislation that changed retirement forever. In 1978, Congress passed The Revenue Act of 1978 in which Section 401(k) cleared the way for the establishment of defined contribution plans. The idea was revolutionary: Employees would be able to contribute their own money in a tax-advantaged way to an account to supplement any other retirement benefits they had with tax incentives for the employer to also contribute. The upshot? Over the past 38 years for the typical U.S. employee, the responsibility for developing a sustainable retirement income has shifted from the employer to the individual.

A “defined contribution plan” takes its name from the ability of the employee and/or employer to contribute a fixed sum to the plan. Over time, different types of plans evolved to serve different types of employees: 401(k) plans for private sector employees, 403(b) plans for nonprofit and public education employees, 457 plans for state and municipal employees and the Thrift Savings Plan for federal employees.

 

So Congress took the action, but at whose bidding really isn't clear. 

The History of Retirement Benefits

14 minutes ago, Barbaraok said:

These are based on CDC statistics. 

I guess it depends on whose statistics you choose to believe. :)

Edited by Kirk Wood

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When the company Dave worked for went from defined benefit to 401Ks they provided materials for employees to determine what they would do. This included lists of funds that had good reputations. Dave put his money into Vanguard funds and did well there. We would have had little idea what to do without those materials. Although, we were more fortunate than many in having family member with experience investing to help us if we wanted them to do so. Our comfortable retirement now is a result of both Dave's hard work and our luck. Yes, we were hit by the 2008 recession. But we sold our house before the market really tanked and we were able to leave our investments alone to recover. Those are the luck part.

Linda Sand

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17 hours ago, Barbaraok said:

Do you know how many families end up in bankruptcy because of medical bills?  Have you ever had a life threatening illness?  My dauther was a premie, 32 weeks.  Do you have any idea what the bills are like, even with insurance.  And if the insurance isn't all that great, then people end up bankrupt.   Thousands of people lost everything in the market downturn in 2008.  We have friends who were over invested in real estate,  lost over 1/2 of the retirement.   Think of all of the people who had retirement funds tied up with Madoff - through no fault of their own, because their bosses bought into the scam.  

You lack of empathy is staggering.   Must be nice to think that nothing bad happens to good people.

You are quite right, I have a serious lack of empathy for people who plan poorly and can't foresee possible problems with the decisions they make.  Choices have consequences.  Your friends who put more than half of their eggs in the real estate basket failed to diversify.  Even the dumbest financial planners know about diversification.  Diversification has been the watch word of investment for decades.  It didn't just pop up since 2008.  Perhaps your friends were more interested in quick profits than proper planning.

I have a friend who went cheap on health insurance.  Yes, that was short sighted.  He is paying for it now.  Do I feel for him?  Nope, because he went into it with his eyes wide open and made his choice.  Now he is suffering with the consequences.   

 

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3 hours ago, richfaa said:

"HOWEVER, that overlooks the facts that to get to the significant stock market value (or house ownership value) by 2008 you would have started with some fairly decent amount of investments in say 2000, or 1995 and the value of the stock market really went up by 2008 and then crashed.  The crash did bring the value of your holdings down to some value, but still something more (quite a bit more) than you started with in 2000 or 1995.  IF in 2008 you lost all confidence in the value of long term holdings in stocks and you moved you stock holdings into fixed income you just shot yourself in the foot.  By staying the course your investments would have close to tripled from 2008 to 2016."

 

This is true. We got into our 401K in 1985 and although we lost 38% at its low point in 2009 we still had more $$ in it than we put in . It has nearly tripled since 2009 as we strayed in for the long run.  Our home sold new in 1975 at 54,000.00 which is @ 250,000 in todays $$ however in both cases we live and spends in todays $$$$.We have never used the 401K for income so yes it did triple in value since the 2009 low point. I think it recovered the 38% by late  2012 or so and has earned double digits in most of the years since. Those who were using the investment as income say at the rate of 2K a month had to continue to use it regardless of their loss and recovery was much slower. Everyone differs

I can't emphasize enough, if people are depending on stock investments to withdraw a steady 4% to 6% of their total investments each year they made some poor decisions. 

Retired folks really should have diversified so they did not have to take the total amount from their stock investments.  If they were diversified in a 25% stock 75% bond split, they would only have needed to take 1% to 1.5% of their annual disbursement from the stocks which were falling in value.  The rest would continue to come from the bonds or fixed income investments, which hopefully did not decline like the stocks.  Additionally, they may have be able to reduce their spending for a year or four to allow the stocks to hopefully recover.  Or if they couldn't reduce spending to totally stop taking money from their stock investments they could at least reduce the amount they needed to withdraw. 

We are like richffa, we started investing in the IRA's the day they came available and the same with the 401K.  Part of the reason we were able to put money in investments is: 1) I had a decent paying job, 2) invested in a company stock plan, which while they didn't double our investment or even 40% increase, but did allow us to stay debit free for vehicles 3) Sharon, while she didn't work outside the house, contributed greatly to our life by managing an efficient house and meals, 4) our house was our only debt, we paid cash for everything else, 5) we only owned homes which did not stretch our monthly income, 6) our vacations and weekend trips were about 90-95% camping in a pop top camper which we kept & used used for 20 years, 7) cooked the vast majority of our meals at home (going out to eat was a treat), and 8) perhaps most importantly we were motivated to live frugally, and enjoy life, not "things". 

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