Retiree Diaries: A week with Kathryn of Cumming, Georgia

Welcome to Renew’s Retiree Diaries, a new series in which we go behind the scenes with retirees from across the nation to see how they are spending their time and money throughout the course of a typical week.

This month, we’re spending a week with Kathryn S. of Cumming, Georgia.

 

What industry did you work in prior to retiring?

I most recently sold health insurance, but prior to that, I was an internet car salesperson, worked for a company that did international investigations, owned a company that designed websites, did graphic design, and ran a school that taught Microsoft Office courses and graphic design. I have also been a lawyer, a law enforcement officer, a teacher, and a sculptor.

How much do you pay each month in housing costs/rent?

$648.50

What other regular monthly payments or expenditures do you have?

$27.50 – HOA fees
$105 – Medicare Part B
$285- Internet, cable tv, cellphone and home security.
$100-260 – Utilities (varies by season)
$80 – Landscaping
$120 – Pest control
$12.50 – Garbage pickup
$149.24 – Homeowners and car insurance
$300 – Groceries
$60 – Dog food, medications, and vaccines
$20 – Sirius/XM

Total monthly costs: $1,259.24-$1,419.24

Monday:

5:00 a.m. I went to bed after catching up on some work I did for my daughter-in-law, who is trying to launch her start up company, Nooar, and doing some reading.

10:00 a.m. My rescue/service dog, Remington, woke me up to go out. We went back to sleep.

3:10 p.m. We got up. I had some breakfast (2 hard boiled eggs and some yogurt), watched the news, and then we went to the assisted living facility where my 97 year old Mom lives. Remington looks forward to our daily visits and thinks that he is in charge of greeting every resident and caregiver. We watched tv until her caregivers came to get her ready for bed. Once they tucked her in, Remington jumped on her bed, kissed her face like he always does, and then looked at me and said, “Home.” I kissed Mom goodnight, told her that I loved her, and told her, “Sleep tight. Don’t let the bedbugs bite,” as I do every night to leave her with a smile on her face.

7:30 p.m. Back home. I warmed up the last leftover hamburger from the ones I barbecued on the Fourth of July, watched TV, entered online sweepstakes (I do this every day and have won several great trips and lots of prizes), caught up on my some online games, read all of the posts on social media, read all of my emails, and did some work for my daughter-in-law. She is Israeli, and English is her 3rd language. Her English is quite proficient now, but I have proofread everything she has written since she was an MBA student at Harvard.

1:30 a.m. Remington and I head to bed, where I will read for several hours.

Total spent: $0

Tuesday:

3:00 a.m. I read until I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I ate some leftover popcorn in the middle of the night and fell asleep at about 4:00 a.m.

9:30 a.m. Remington got me up so he could go out. Then we went back to bed.

2:30 p.m. We got up. My cousin, who lives about 20 minutes from me just texted me to ask me for some of my Mom’s recipes, so I spent an hour looking at all of them. I finally gave up and told her to come up and copy whatever she wanted. Then she said that she couldn’t come for a while because her beautiful 8 year old German Shepherd has acute leukemia, so I was back and forth between her and my sister, who is a vet, trying to suggest things that might tempt her dog to eat. It is so sad dealing with a sick pet. They just look at you with those eyes, and you feel so helpless. I think I cried for half an hour. I made a payment on my mosquito control. Most of my bills are paid automatically online, but this one I have been making payments on. I have one left.

4:15 p.m. Made a Morningstar Farms Fake Bacon BLT for breakfast and then we went to visit Mom. She was in good spirits. They had entertainment today, and she loves listening to music. It really helps people with dementia and Alzheimer’s because those memories are the last thing to go. I wish Mom were lucid. I would have loved to have talked to her about our cousin’s dog but I’m sure she wouldn’t have remembered her dog and maybe not even our cousin. She kept asking me where I was going to sleep. It is so hard to see my sweet Mom, who was so active and a world class duplicate bridge player, now needing help with everything and having the memory of a gnat. At least she and my Dad were savers and she has the funds to live in a very expensive facility and get full time care. I don’t know who will take care of me if I get senile. My son would probably put me somewhere. Scary thought. I think I would rather wingsuit myself off a cliff in Kathmandu.

7:30 p.m. We are back home. My daughter-in-law had some more work for me on the descriptions of items that can be ordered on her website. It was funny working on descriptions of thongs and bralettes, since I have never actually seen these in person! I don’t wear “Granny” underwear, but I can’t picture myself at 72 in a bralette or thong 😊I bought a microwave splatter cover on Amazon for $8.49.

8:10 p.m. Caught up on the news, watched some TV, caught up with social media. I was happy to see that those kids in Thailand got rescued.

Total spent: $8.49

Wednesday:

6:00 a.m. I finally got to sleep at 7:45 a.m. I stayed up to work on this project, watched a documentary about Whitney Houston, argued with some West coasters on two Facebook forums, finished reading my book, and then couldn’t sleep. I tried to call my daughter, Becca, in Israel, but I couldn’t get through. Maybe she is having phone problems. She is on the autism spectrum and lives in a group home for adults with different difficulties, so I never know. At least she is in a great program where she has access to every support service, lots of extra activities, and free medical and mental health services. Most importantly, she is happy. She has been at the same job for 7 years and has a boyfriend. I don’t get to see her often, but there is no comparable program here at any price, and in Israel it is free.

11:45 a.m. I went back to sleep for a few hours. I’m so tired!

5:00 p.m. I dragged myself out of bed and made myself relatively presentable (showered and dressed) because my roofer is coming over to show me some roof shingles. One of the joys of home ownership. I moved away from South Florida to get away from the hurricanes and still got hit by one last year. Fortunately, State Farm is covering everything minus the deductible, which is putting an unexpected dent in my meager budget. I’m trying to scare up more business for the roofer on social media to get some referral fees to offset the deductible. I already have two. I did this with the garbage collection company and got free pickups for a year. When you are retired and on a limited budget, you have to get creative. I cut coupons, use Ibotta, shop on Wednesdays for the senior discounts, shop around for my prescriptions, answer surveys for money, and shop the sales at the grocery store. Kroger has fuel points, and I also have a Costco membership, so I compare prices.

6:30 p.m. I picked a nice brown roof shingle. Hopefully my HOA will allow the color. My siding is light green, so it should look nice. I need to deadhead my roses, but I will have to wait until it is cool enough. Georgia is brutal in the summer, and my dermatologist yells at me if I go out in the sun. It was too late to see Mom after the roofer left, so I just watched TV while playing online games, surfing social media, and eating dinner. I feel guilty when I don’t go even though she probably doesn’t notice.

3:15 a.m. I’m going to bed early (for me) in hopes that I can catch up on my sleep. I’m reading “Mind Game” by Iris Johannsen until my Ambien kicks in.

Total spent: $0

Thursday:

11:30 a.m. We are up and doing some vacuuming. I’m vacuuming and Remington is avoiding the vacuum cleaner, that is. Keeping ahead of Husky hair is very labor intensive. A friend and neighbor stopped by to tell me that the color I picked for the roof was fine. He is going to have my roofer check his roof. Woohoo! Another referral fee! His little daughter was with him, and Remington didn’t want to share his toys. I had to watch him so he didn’t growl at her. I left a message for my adjuster to find out if they are going to cover the storm damage to my fence.

2:18 p.m. Time for brunch while catching up on the news. Scrambled eggs and half a bagel.

4:00 p.m. We went over to spend some time with Mom. Apparently she was napping when the Mexican dancers came. She would have liked the performance because she, my dad, and my sisters lived in Mexico City for a few years when I was in college.

7:00 p.m. It is still hot as Hell outside, but I deadheaded all the dead roses. Some bug is eating them, so I called the lawn service that is treating my weeds. They are going to treat all my shrubs, trees, and flower beds. I authorized 4 treatments for a total of $78. Apparently the three types of weeds I have in my lawn are very resistant and stubborn. I talked to the guy about the weeds in the garden, and he suggested Roundup. I normally just pull them. I hate the ones with the prickly leaves, but I have gloves. They are coming up through the mulch.

9:00 p.m. I remembered to water my roses and herbs. I love the smells of thyme, rosemary, basil, and oregano when the water hits them. I also have two types of parsley, cilantro, and chives. I heard a hoot owl in the woods behind the house. I wish I could see it. I love owls. We have red hawks too. Remington doesn’t allow birds or squirrels in “his” yard. He sits out there and listens for the coyotes at night. I wish it would rain and cool things off. My cousin in Abu Dhabi said it was 122 degrees there so I guess 84 degrees right now is not too bad. I told Alexa to count down 15 minutes so I don’t forget to turn the sprinklers off. I watched a documentary called “Peace Officer” on Independent Lens on PBS about the militarization of law enforcement. It is a whole other world from when I was a law enforcement officer in the 70’s.

9:30 p.m. Time for dinner while I watch Rachel Maddow. I follow politics closely and am a Democrat, so I am alternately depressed and hopeful about the midterm elections. I worry about my Medicare and medical expenses going up with Trump and the Republicans in office because I couldn’t afford that.

10:00 p.m. I just got an alert that my online library just borrowed another book I had on hold. I better finish the one I’m reading tonight because I have 4 more I have only two weeks to read. At least it is free.

10:30 p.m. I went out to get my mail. I usually check it at night because in the summer I am in my tank top with no bra and shorts, and my neighbors aren’t out and about. The check for my roof arrived. I went to sleep early for me (around 1:30 a.m.) and read for a while.

Total spent: $39

Friday:

8:30 a.m. Why am I awake so early? Since I was up, I called my insurance adjuster to clarify what portion of the check to apportion to the roofer and what part to the fence repair and how to handle the check, which is made out to me and my mortgage lender. I called them and they told me to send it to them unendorsed and they would have it back to me within 5 days. I think I will go to the post office and have them overnight it to expedite things. I called the roofer and found out they will repair my fence for whatever the adjuster said. Good news. So, I’m off to the new Kroger and the post office with Remington, and hopefully to Costco if my doctor sends them the refill request they requested from him yesterday. I called his office to remind him to send it.

12:00 p.m. The new Kroger is nice. Remington had a nice walk around the whole store. I spent $55.67 and saved $9.98 with coupons. I had lunch at Wendy’s for $10.77. It cost $6.70 at the post office to send the insurance check to my mortgage company to endorse and send back to me to give to the roofer. A good note–my neighbor across the street was out vacuuming her car, and I told her about the roofer. She has three leaks and will call him. Maybe another referral fee!

1:30 p.m. I lay down for a short nap and didn’t wake up until 6:00pm! Poor Mom won’t see us tonight.

7:00 p.m. I talked to my sister. She is 6 years younger than I am but has the same back issues I have. She is seeing a neurosurgeon on Monday. He cancelled her last appointment because of an emergency surgery. Unremitting back pain that no longer responds to therapy, drugs, or alternative treatments is no fun. That reminds me to charge the battery on the neurostimulator implant I have in my back to deal with my pain. I was flat on my back charging for an hour yesterday, but it wasn’t enough.

8:05 p.m. I have an app on my phone called Red Alert that goes off every time there is a rocket attack at Israel. It has gone off 17 times in 14 different areas since 6:32 p.m. my time. They are coming from Gaza, where Hamas has also been sending kite bombs all week. It is too early to call my daughter, Becca, in Israel. They aren’t hitting her neighborhood outside of Tel Aviv or where she works, but I still worry.

10:00 p.m. Watched The Great British Baking Show while eating a TV dinner and a can of green beans. At least it doesn’t have many calories.

11:48 p.m. Now the sirens are up to 44. The Iron Dome has brought down 5 missiles that it determined were headed for populated areas. There is an Iron Dome battery near Becca’s neighborhood. The last time I was there, I waved at them and mouthed, “Toda” (thank you in Hebrew). I wish I was there. It sounds crazy, but I guess I irrationally think I could keep her safe. It doesn’t matter that she is 34. She is still my baby.

Total spent: $74.14

Saturday:

8:49 a.m. I paid $200 on a credit card bill and was billed $2.98 by Apple. I was charged $42 by Arrow. 42 sirens have already gone off in Israel today. The IDF is targeting the launch and ammunition sites now.

11:00 a.m. After going back and forth between my doctor, Costco, and my insurance company, I am finally off to Costco to pick up my prescriptions and a few items. Tide liquid is on sale with $5.00 off. Remington loves Costco because I always buy him a hot dog. Did two loads of laundry.

3:00 p.m. I’m back from shopping. I found out that Costco had dog meds that are cheaper than the Humane Society or the non-profit I had been buying them from. $150 for a six month’s supply of Heartgard and Nexguard. $16.92 for my prescription. $89.54 for food, Turmeric, and household supplies. $4.49 for a hotdog for Remington and a smoothie that we shared. Then, we went to Home Depot and spent $19.73 on weed killer for my garden and bug spray for my herbs.

3:30 p.m. I threw in the last load of laundry, sprayed my basil, and took off to see Mom. She was a little confused. She was cruising the halls and couldn’t find her room. After she went to dinner, we stopped to see my sister, Sue, and her partner, Karin. Remington was being very protective.

7:00 p.m. I just finished dinner. Remington is passed out. Hamas agreed to a ceasefire with Israel after firing 200 rockets and motor shells, injuring 4 Israeli civilians. 173 sirens went off. 30 Iron Dome interceptions. Two are fired at each rocket, at a cost of $55,000 each. And that was just today. Each Iron Dome Battery costs 50 million dollars and Israel has 10 of them. They are short range defense systems. The Arrow systems can shoot down long range missiles, including satellites. David’s Sling, jointly developed by the Israeli defense contractor Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and the American defense contractor Raytheon, is designed to intercept enemy planes, drones, tactical ballistic missiles, medium- to long-range rockets and cruise missiles, fired at ranges from 40 km (24.85 miles) to 300 km (186.41 miles) with speeds of up to mach 7.5. David’s Sling is meant to replace the MIM-23 Hawk and MIM-104 Patriot in the Israeli arsenal. If the U.S. were ever in a major war, it would be heavily dependent on Israeli technology.

7:34 p.m. Time to put my clean sheets on my bed, take another shower (it was brutally hot out today), and climb into bed to do some reading. Maybe I’ll get through to Becca tonight.

11:00 p.m. I tried to call and got her voicemail.

Total spent: $280.68

Sunday:

6:30 a.m. I’m wide awake. Catching up with the news online, my online sweepstakes, email, online games, and getting ready for Sunday morning news shows. My daughter-in-law talked to a friend who is a cancer researcher who might be able to get my cousin’s dog in a clinical trial. I hope she qualifies. I tried to call Becca, but it went to voicemail again.

8:30 a.m. Time for breakfast. I’m in the mood for a Swiss cheese, tomato, and fake bacon grilled sandwich.

11:00 a.m. I fell asleep watching TV. I really need to get back on schedule. I’m onto another book, Two Kinds of Truth (A Harry Bosch novel) by Michael Connelly. I love this series and the Netflix series is enjoyable also.

3:00 p.m. We spent some time with Mom. She kept telling me about her bus ride on Friday. They load up the bus and drive around town. They call it “The Ride to Nowhere.” Sometimes they get ice cream. I would hate to live in a place like that or in a nursing home. It is no way to live, no matter how nice the place is.

5:30 p.m. I decided to be adventurous and make balsamic baby potatoes and carrots with fresh lemon thyme and rosemary, roasted Thai spice edamame with fresh cilantro from my garden, and broiled salmon with olive oil, cumin, and cayenne pepper. It was delicious, and I have leftover veggies.

7:00 p.m. I’m going to spend the rest of the evening reading and watching TV. Some of my favorite shows to watch are 60 Minutes, Food Network Star, Iron Chef, Shades of Blue, The Affair, Succession, Our Cartoon President, and Sharp Objects.

Total spent: $0

Reflecting on the week:

Taking care of my house and yard takes up an inordinate amount of my time and costs a lot of money. I think I should have bought a condo. I put an offer on one prior to buying my little ranch house, but the house inspection (it was new construction) brought many problems to light, including shoddy workmanship that the contractor refused to sign off on fixing, so I walked away.

If you don’t have a lot of money to take care of repairs, upkeep, and maintenance, you can get caught short if you are on a limited income. I spent a lot of time this week going back and forth between insurance companies, contractors, doctors, and pharmacies. Fortunately, I am well versed in dealing with these things, but if I weren’t, it would be exhausting.

I watch a lot of tv and read several books a week. I spend much of my day online and enjoy it. I don’t need to spend time with other people to be happy and do not miss being in a relationship. I like calling my own shots, planning and cooking my own meals, and eating and sleeping when I want to. I was heavily involved in working from home doing volunteer work for several years for the Humane Society, but I don’t miss it.The only thing on my schedule this week, other than seeing Mom, is to vote in the runoff elections, which is a nice change from running from doctor to doctor, test to test, and pharmacy to pharmacy.

Total spent this week: $402.31

 

Renew’s Retiree Diaries are written by retirees from across the nation. The views and experiences shared by the individual authors are their own.  The diaries do not necessarily represent the views or experiences of Renew, our employees, or our affiliates, or other retirees.

Want to write a Retiree Diary of your own? We’d love to hear from you. To get started, tell us a little bit more about yourself using the Retiree Diaries Application form. If you have questions before you start, you can reach out to us directly at [email protected].

Related articles, tools, videos, and more

Renew has tons of great resources to help you figure out retirement.

Group Created with Sketch.
Not sure where to start?

Read our quick-start guide for help, including which questions you should be asking as you approach retirement.

Read our quick start guide

Group Created with Sketch.
Not sure where to start?

Read our quick-start guide for help, including which questions you should be asking as you approach retirement.

Read our quick start guide