Monday, December 20, 2010

Fast away the old year passes

I've been procrastinating and not very inspired this year about composing any sort of Christmas greetings - preoccupied with work and looking for work.  "Looking for work is the new work" as the cynical saying goes and this rings true for me.   This article in AARP really hit home - we can easily forget that our personal situations are often experienced in the context of the circumstances of the larger world.  I think "perspective" would be the word I'm looking for.

This past year I've had several very nice senior clients through home care agencies, and a very hectic part time position as concierge in a local retirement facility.  I also do freelance administrative work from my home office, and I've served several clients.  I am grateful for all of these people, and the income derived from my various efforts.  The downside is trying to keep it all together and have some kind of routine and personal life while juggling all these commitments.  This aspect needs some work in 2011!

Despite the difficult job market, I have notified my retirement facility employer that after January 2nd I would not be available for the five evenings a week "short shift" that I've been working since July.  I would like to continue with them as "relief" concierge and work maybe once a week or as needed on call.  Coincidentally, I haven't exercised nearly enough since I started working there.  I now work at the front desk in my "exercise window" which is not good for this old gal.  I'm not eating right either, and this year I've been diagnosed with high blood pressure, which to me is clearly a lifestyle issue.  My 61st birthday is coming up later this week, and I am thankful to one of my clients who has given me some sage advice that our health is our greatest wealth - so I must get off the "hamster wheel" and pay more attention to wellness.  I plan to continue freelancing and working for home care agency clients when suitable clients come my way. 

Ironically my health insurance premium, which has gone up in November to $602 per month has been my biggest motivator to be on the hamster wheel to begin with.   So I am trying to sort through my conflicting priorities of income, cash flow and good health and sanity!  This is the dilemma we are all faced with for sure, but as I get older and try to deal with all these issues in the Great Recession, it seems to be more perplexing. 

I have one "outside the box" project that I've been working on for several months - I'm looking into buying a low priced "distress" condo in Oceanside.  It is the only coastal area I can afford to consider.  I am undecided if I will use it as a rental, or move into it and use my existing home as a rental.  I'm no math genius and investment property requires a good amount of analysis.  I have been doing my research online, and have seen a number of units over the past few months.  Whether or not I can swing it and replace my cash flow from a job with rental income remains to be seen.  But rents are high here, and although the stock market is doing well now, the future is unknown.   At least I can relate to real estate, I can drive by it, make repairs etc.   Having all my retirement funds invested in stocks, bonds etc. is intangible and also not my core competency, although improving my investing skills is also on my list for 2011.

When I free up some personal time I must deal with some needed home repairs including a new roof on my house and several smaller projects.  This has never been my favorite pastime, but if I'm going to get into investment property, I need to get back into the groove with these projects.  I've done a number of fixer type projects through the years, including this house when Dad and I first bought it in 2002.  I guess I've just been burned out on home projects.  I've been watching HGTV and getting more ambitious!

My three little adopted cats are fine, sort of. They are all "psycho" in their own special ways.  They're relatively young - 2, 3 and 4, so they have a lot of energy.  They are my little fur family, and it is nice to be greeted when I get home and nice to snuggle with them and feel them purr.  Makes all the extra work worth it!  I had a senior client who lived alone and she said to me that sometimes she didn't speak to anyone all day -- I said "get a pet!"  They are wonderful companions despite the extra work and expense, and as another client said about my three, I'd be lost without them.

My holiday will be a little quiet and a little busy.  I asked to be scheduled to work at the retirement facility, it's time and a half plus a free dinner on Christmas Day.  I like the residents very much and it is nice to share the holiday with them.  I was expecting a visitor this week to help celebrate my birthday but we're in a rainy pattern and he's been sick so we are rescheduling.  I think I will manage to fill my time!  I am usually ecstatic when I find myself with a free day!

I must get back to some non holiday and non creative pursuits.  I have a load of bookkeeping to catch up with on Quicken and QuickBooks, plus all the usual chores, errands and desk work.

Oh did I mention wanting to spend more time writing in 2011?  Seems that has been on my New Year's Resolution list forever.  This just may be the year!  Goodbye hamster wheel - hello semi retirement and passive income!  A girl can hope and pray for the best for us all through the holidays and in the New Year.