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Frugal Retiring News, Issue 79, November/December 2015
December 16, 2015

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas...not Happy Holidays as the PC crowd demands. I hope this finds you and your family, loved ones all in good health...

Things are just fine in the desert even though as I mentioned in my last newsletter I did turn 70.

So far I find no benefit to being a year older other than reducing business for the local undertaker.

I am also letting you know that I am deleting all my social media accounts Facebook, Twitter (Which I do not think I have used once),Google Plus and Linked in.

Most of what I get is junk media is great for family stuff...I am just trying to simplify my life.

Frugal Living Tip number One

We have finished our transatlantic cruise Rome to Miami and as I mentioned in my last newsletter I used for our lodging.

We had an apartment with a super view very close to the main train station... A train takes us with one-stop in an hour for €6, that's less than $7, with one-stop to across the street from the port serving Rome.

We can walk from the train station at the port to the shuttle buses that will take us to the ship.

That is the good news... one thing we did not count on was no elevator and 108 steps of marble stairs to get to the apartment. It was very convenient to the train station which has a terminal inside the major Rome airport.

We were sore from schlepping all of our luggage that you normally take on a cruise.

Moral of the story we got a great deal on the apartment and it was convenient to the train station but the savings was negated by the difficulty of getting our luggage from the apartment to the station.

We learn something every time we take a trip. PS if I ever get tired of going to Rome... Someone come please shoot me, it never fails to amaze us as one of the great cities in the world.

From the Coliseum, to the Forum to St. Peter's Basilica... You are surrounded with 2000 years worth of history.

Frugal living tip number two

There are times that saving a few euros is not worth the hassle... Here is an example.

From the Rome airport you can save a few euros a person by taking a local train and Metro that will get you to the main Rome train station, called Termini, the hub for trains and all Metro lines.

Instead we have found that it makes sense to pay about $5.00 a person more and take the Leonardo express train from the airport to the Termini, nonstop... Carrying your luggage, especially luggage for a cruise, up and down a few stairs to switch Metro lines can be a real pain and you'll save at least an hour.

PS The new train service called Italo is highly recommended... It only goes between major cities but it is cheaper than the national railroad (remind you of Amtrak?) And the trains are nice and new.

I wouldn't even think about renting a car, especially in Italy, when the trains are so much more convenient, faster,etc.

Frugal living tip number three

If you want to save money on your water bill...

I just replaced my hot water recirculating kit... Thankfully under warranty.

It is easy to install... you place a pump on the hot water outlet on your water tank, and a simple to connect sensor on the sink that is furthest away from the water tank.

It has a 24-hour timer, so you can program in the times that the pump is running and really save... We leave it on 24 hours a day.

What is the benefit and how do you save? The sensor calls for the pump to send hot water throughout the system making it immediately available anywhere in the house.

While I waited for the pump to be repaired and replaced it took about 2 minutes to get hot water to the shower, that is very wasteful.

Go to Amazon and look for a Watts hot water recirculating system... its about $200, but well worth it.

Frugal living tip number four

It is already past December 7 as I write this so it is too late to change your Medicare advantage plan but I would like to make you aware the effect of the new health care program and the effect on your bottom line. My Medicare advantage plan is taken out of my Social Security check and there was no increase that I noticed for next year.

Julie, however being 63 got a letter from Blue Cross raising her monthly premium from $166 to $266 a month.

Yours truly found that I would be forced to go to to see if I could save some money on Julie's policy.

I was very shocked to find out that as I was going from page to page they asked me about my insurance and informed me that if I got a new policy for Julie I would be forced to forfeit my current Medicare advantage plan and go on Medicaid.

What are we going to do?... Pay the $266 for another 18 months before Julie becomes eligible for Medicare herself. So if you think you are going to save money with the ACA or Obamacare or whatever you call it...think again.

My Dr reaffirmed that you do not want to be on Medicaid...few Drs take it.

While I am on anti gov rant about of my best friends is a 82 year old ex Marine that uses The VA...he had a CAT scan that showed something on both kidneys.

He has had symptons of something being wrong internally and tried several medications to try and improve the situation...nothing worked.

When the VA told him about the "spots" on his kidneys this week...they said he needed a biopsy.

Here is the bad news...he has to wait 6 weeks before he can get a biopsy.

So Merry Christmas to someone who served his country...and gets thrown under the bus when he needs help.

He feels his age, 82, has played a big part in the delay for a procedure he badly get ready folks.

Frugal Living tip number five

We're spending a lot of time and money in redoing the interior of our new old RV...

So far we have replaced the floor with the help of a very good friend...

We pulled down the old valances and replace them with something more our style... Blue denim.

All plumbing fixtures on the inside have been or will be replaced from the brass that was very popular in 1992 to the brushed nickel finish that we prefer now.

Mechanically the coach is in very good condition and we had no problems driving from Denver to Phoenix when I picked it up this summer.

Since there are 3 huge Del Webb facilities in Western Phoenix we have our own RV storage facility that has room for over 9000 RVs, boats, horse trailers etc. we pay $225 a year for a space that is much bigger than we really need...

It is highly secure and just another reason why we were very happy with the Del Webb concept.

Frugal Living tip number six

Why folks go out and fight the crowds for Christmas shopping is beyond me. I needed some hacksaw blades, caulking and a few pieces of wood trim for my RV project.

I notice the Home Depot opened at 6 AM on Black Friday.

I go to the gym every morning at 5 o'clock and I'm usually done at 6 so I thought I'd just drop in and get the items that I needed and go home.

I never saw so many people in one store in my life... They had certain items on sale starting at 6 AM while supplies last that absolutely packed the store.

Julie recently bought a refurbished HP computer from Amazon for $270 (a similar new one would have cost double)...she is delighted.

Buying refurbished is just one more way to stay frugal.

Have a great Christmas and New Year

All the best.

God Bless,

Gary and Julie

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