Changing Old Habits, Forming New Ones

When I retired in June, we knew that our finances would look a lot different; I was very nervous about the drastic decrease in our cash flow. My husband assured me time and time again that it would all be OK. It turns out that we were both right. We’re doing OK with it, but it is a huge change. One effect of the change is that we have been working on finding ways to reduce costs by changing old habits. I am getting quite proficient at turning off lights, and Doug has fixed the hoses on the washing machine. Somehow they were reversed when the washer was installed, so the cold water settings were actually hot, and hot was cold. Not only were the wash load temperatures reversed from the dial indicators, but every load has been rinsing in totally hot water. No clothes were ruined, but by putting them right I know we’ll save money, and now that I know the selection dial is correct I’m choosing to do most washes in cold water as well. While we were thinking about the hot water, we’ve insulated our hot water heater, too. It’s amazing how all these little things can add up over time, and I’m sure we’ll find more ways to save as time goes forward.

But the biggest change so far is that we have cancelled our cable TV and land line phone service, and it turned out not to be as hard as we expected it to be. We kept the internet service, again reducing costs by buying our own modem to avoid the monthly rental charges. We have cell phones through another company, and had been thinking that the land line was redundant anyway, and we love it now that we don’t get all those political and non-profit fundraising calls. I also apologize – again — to my sister and friends we forgot to notify about letting the phone go! (Oops!)

For years we have had the Comcast “Triple Play” – broadband cable, phone and internet. We’re not big TV watchers; it’s mostly a habit. Doug would usually turn the TV on around dinner time, and would start to watch a show, lose interest, and go off to another room and do something else; I could easily do without TV at all, but occasionally I become hooked on a program. After seeing our Comcast bill increase by about $10 a month over the last few months due to various changes in the bundle discounts, we decided the number had crossed the line from reasonable to ridiculous, and we began to look at other options.

After several phone calls to Comcast it was clear there was not much we could do to reduce the bill by more than a few dollars – not an acceptable solution. When everything is bundled, it seems the prices of the individual services are mysterious and exceedingly expensive. So, we terminated our cable TV and phone, saving us a whopping $100 a month.

We do enjoy watching some TV, though, and we bought a new TV just a year ago, so our solution was to purchase a Mac mini computer, which comes “a la carte” with no peripherals (meaning no monitor, keyboard or mouse). We hooked it up to our TV, and now we can watch our favorite TV shows through the computer. We already had an extra wireless mouse and we bought a wireless keyboard, so we can control the TV from our seats in the living room.  The investment in the mini computer will pay for itself in about six months.

I like it a lot. All of the networks provide programming of the shows we want to watch, so we’re really not missing anything, and we can watch at our convenience rather than scheduled program times. The biggest change is in how we watch the news. There are no streaming live news programs available – at least I haven’t found any yet. Instead of a news program, we scan the headlines and then select which stories we wish to know more about and either read it on the screen or click on the story’s video. The good part about being selective in the news stories we watch is that Doug doesn’t become furious at the political stuff that drives him crazy! It is still rather awkward for us to view the news this way, but it’s getting easier.

The best thing of all, though, was a complete surprise. We now spend time together reading! I have always been an avid reader, but Doug wasn’t. Over our years together, he gradually started reading when we traveled, and since some of our trips have been long, he has read quite a few good books. He has now decided that reading is a good thing!  With TV not quite so easy anymore, even though it’s there and sometimes we do choose to watch, we mostly will sit in the living room and talk and read. I recently finished reading Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing, and now Doug has started it. What? We’re reading the same books and talking about them? I think I died and went to heaven.

Life is good!

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11 thoughts on “Changing Old Habits, Forming New Ones

  1. So great to read and here! former student here (Ben Mueser), and its good to know the serendipitous and wonderful surprises of your retirement. I love your bookshelf. On the beach in Costa Rica, I just finished A Farewell to Arms (never read it in high school). Glad to know your doing well, and happy new year!

    • I just noticed that I wrote ‘here’ not ‘hear.’ Thats probably not good to write to an old English teacher is it… apologies.

    • Ben — GREAT to hear from you, and I’m not your teacher anymore so don’t fret; I promise not to look at any typos. I hope you are still writing/performing poetry! A Farewell to Arms was a book I read in college, too, or are you done? I found that once I didn’t have a teacher ordering me to read a particular book, I chose to read a lot of the great books and loved them. I think I might even re-read Steinbeck and Dickens . . . Anyway, thanks for making the connection — may 2012 bring you all good things.

  2. That is really cool. Great Job to Doug. I love that you two are reading together and having conversations about the books. I often wonder what Bill and I will do once we have no one else but each other in the house. I hope we turn out as you and Doug have. Good job, Marilyn!!

  3. Thanks for blazing the retirement trail. I’m an avid learner of all things you’re teaching me of what is to come.
    Best of all good things to you and Doug in 2012.

  4. It’s neat that you’ve figured out how to watch television through your computer. Shows that “where there’s a will, there’s a way.” A good model for the many retirees trying to reduce costs. Bill

  5. I am glad I found your blog through Bill Burnbaum. I retired in June and we are facing many of the same issues and feelings. I look forward to reading more of your posts.

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