Back to Back Issues Page
Frugal Retiring News, Issue 82, April May 2016
May 13, 2016

What is taking most of our time lately

I know it is been a while since we put out a newsletter... We have been out-of-pocket for about a month visiting friends in Florida, watching the Masters golf tournament, and taking a cruise to Barcelona then spending 4 wonderful days in Madrid... Which I look forward to sharing with you.

The above is a picture of my best friend and wife who recently celebrated a birthday... At least that was my excuse for taking a cruise.

Note that she is in a very elegant dining room on the Celebrity Equinox.

We are switching allegiance from Princess cruises to Celebrity cruises...I will explain briefly why we have done so On a new page recently built.

Check it out and see if it works for you

Why choose Celebrity cruises

Frugal Living Tip number One

Getting ready to leave on our RV and becoming snowbirds in central Oregon proves once again how your stuff can control you.

We once again are being reminded of how simple life can be on a Boat and RV.

You simply do not need all the stuff that you have in a house to live a fulfilling and comfortable lifestyle.

Now I am not going to try to tell you that a boat and an RV are exactly the same lifestyle...No room for golf clubs or flyfishing equipment on a boat for example.

Your wardrobe on living on a sailboat in the Caribbean consists of swimsuits T-shirts and coverups... Flip-flops, a broad brimmed hat and sunglasses and you're good to go.

On an RV, since we do not do a lot of dry camping, you are almost always plugged into shore power which gives you the ability to watch television just like you are at home... Keep a refrigerator stocked just like you would at home... You just do so in a much smaller space.

Once again we are finding how little material things you need to live comfortably.

The similarities in a boat and an RV are that if you don't like the neighborhood and/or neighbors... Simply pull up the anchor and move... Or unplug and go to a different campsite.

As we start the loading process for the summer in our old/new RV, we laugh to each other about how little we are going to need in the RV.

For instance, we are going to have access to a library where we can rent DVDs for shows that we can't get on Netflix.

And with our new $30 external antenna we may find that we don't need satellite TV at all.

Right now We regularly watch 3 channels only available on satellite TV... ESPN, the Golf channel, and Fox News.

Julie and I are sports nuts, but we recall not knowing who won the World Series while we were boating until we returned to the United States saw on the plane to Miami an an old Sports Illustrated magazine...(It was the Atlanta Braves which shows you how long ago that was). Funny how unimportant certain things you thought were vital are not important at all using a minimalist and frugal lifestyle,

We may find that we don't need satellite television at all... That will save us $90 a month.

More about cable television in tip two.

Frugal living tip number two

One of the least favorite things I do is spend time on the phone talking to representatives of cell phone companies, satellite providers,etc... Just yesterday proves this point.

My bride informed me that our cable-television bill was $30 higher than it was the previous month.

I called Direct TV, and went through the computerized line and told them I had a billing question... They gave you the options of how to pay it etc.... Giving you the choice of choosing options 1 through 4.

Since I wanted to lower my cost... and that surely will never be an option you get from a computer... I said the magic words "customer retention".

I was immediately connected to a person who I bantered with for less than a minute before I told him I wanted him to give me one of 2 options.

Cancel my subscription... I have been with them so long I no longer have a contract and I would urge you to make sure that you avoid a contract of any kind, not only with television but with cell phones or anything else that requires a month-to-month commitment.

Option 2 was lower my costs to what it was a few months ago.

Lo and behold, I am saving $27 a month by just making a simple phone call.

It took maybe 3 minutes total.

Review the following page for the basics in negotiating and complaining....

How to complain

how to Negotiate.

In the Direct TV example mentioning the words "customer retention" moves you through 2 layers of personnel to people that have the authority to take action to retain a customer.

You are wasting your time until you get to a person with authority.

The 1st person that you talk to very very seldom has the authority to truly help you.

They are trained to handle the most basic questions... To get anywhere you will almost always have to ask to speak to their supervisor.

The magic words "customer retention" will get you past the 1st line supervisors and to a person/department who can truly help you save money.

Please try this the next time you are trying to work through the maze of options given by a computer generated voice.

You may have to say customer retention department to a person... In Direct TV's computer set up you can do so by getting to the billing option and just saying the words customer retention.

Try this it will work almost every time

Frugal living tip number three

Let's talk about some money and time saving ideas by using a train instead of going to the airport when traveling in Europe.

We took a taxi from the cruise ship to the Barcelona train station... $11... Took the above train to downtown Madrid, at speeds up to 301 km/h (that's 187 mph for the NASCAR fans)... A $10 taxi ride from the Madrid train station directly to her apartment front door. The train tickets were $70 a person... They are much cheaper if you purchased them 3 to 4 weeks prior to using them.

Saving time from the time we left our state room to the time we reached our apartment in Madrid was about 4 hours an actual travel time.

Compare this to going to the Barcelona airport flying to Madrid... Unless you live in San Diego you know that airports are usually a long ways from downtown... Going through the hassle of security. This would've cost us at least double and the actual transit time would've been about the same.

Bottom line use the train, and never use cruise ship transfers from the airport or to a train station they are unbelievably expensive when compared to a taxi not to mention taking much longer than a taxi.

Now a little bit about Madrid, which has become one of our favorite cities.

Frugal living tip number four

When we travel overseas, we usually prepare our main meals at the apartment that we rent.

In Madrid they have something called "tapas" bars where you can get a beverage and a snack for next to nothing... We spent a lot of time in the tapas bar.

I now throw rocks at prosciutto when compared to Spanish ham it is unbelievably delicious... I must've had at least 10 ham and cheese sandwiches on a croissant, with a beer or their house wine and the total was less than $5.

If you belly up to the bar as your intrepid reporter is doing here, versus sitting outside in the street underneath a table with a number umbrella you will pay half for the same food and beverage.

We also experienced a football, what we call soccer, match between Real Madrid in the bar 20 feet from our front door... We sat down instead of standing... And believe me folks that is an experience, Europeans go bonkers over football (futbal)... What a great experience.

In Lisbon, Malaga, Cadiz and Madrid we took bike tours and walking tours that we had booked ourselves prior to the trip... Lots of fun and you avoid the very pricey shore excursions that are offered by the cruise ships.

You will often find hop on hop off buses... Double-decker with earphones explaining what you're seeing in your choice of 10 languages. We find this a very frugal and great way to see a lot of the sites... We usually take a round-trip 1st and then on the 2nd trip decide where we want to get off and do a little sightseeing.

I doubt this will be our last trip to Madrid, we found it to be clean safe with very friendly people.

Incidentally the Spanish that you use in Mexico is better than nothing but in some important areas there are major differences.

For instance I guarantee you that sooner or later you'll have to use a restaurant... The word is bano in Mexico and aseo in Spain.

Frugal Living tip number five

I used to pride myself on answering every single email that I received from you loyal subscribers... But I was overwhelmed by the amount of messages that had built up with me being gone over a month.

There are now almost 3000 subscribers, I appreciate you all, but I simply cannot provide answers to some your questions.

So let me take this opportunity to let you know that from now on I will not respond to requests for realtor recommendations, recommend which park to stay at, requests for guest articles (you are stuck with me), financial or investment advice... Please use Google just like I would.

There are over 300 pages of information on site and I can't help recommending how much money you need to retire, or whether you should pay down debt, or whether Florida is better than Arizona... All these questions and answers are available on site.

I have had this site for over 6 years and the basic information of frugal retirement living has not changed and I hope that you can find the answers to your questions by digging around the site.

Due to the volume of emails the ones I do respond to usually refer you to another page on site.

For instance, "how did you find insurance for your wife for $266 year"... That's were I found the $266 per month health insurance for can do the same.

I am not "retiring" from Frugal retirement living... You'll still get the newsletters.

Thanks for your understanding.

Until next time

All the best.

God Bless,

Gary and Julie

Back to Back Issues Page