Wednesday, September 8, 2010
How Shall We Then Live?
The answer is not always easy; I think it depends on your level of comfort. We have $1,400 a month to live on, but we can still save $500 a month. We won't receive Social Security for another seven years (at age 62) which will then triple our income, but we're not counting on Social Security so we're saving each month. The way things are going in the States, you just never know.
We're fortunate in that we have a great condo for $210 a month plus condo fees -- right along the Tomebamba River. We couldn't ask for a more beautiful place. But we have noticed since we have been here that rents are going up and so is the price of food. I left for America at the end of July and when I returned, cappuccino at the Oro Verde Hotel went up from $1.00 to $1.50 -- in part because Americans frequent the Gourmet Deli at the hotel.
So how shall we then live? Very carefully. Life can change for all of us in an instant, so we have taken some preventative measures. Since my hubby's hospitalization last month, we have decided on medical insurance through Humana which will defray the costs of hospitalization; they pay for 80 percent of our prescriptions and help with the cost of office visits (which are only $25 per visit). We also have kept our life insurance policies which are a combined total of $100 a month. You never know when you're going to get run over by a bus (a very likely possibility in Cuenca!). We will keep both life insurance policies until we reach age 65 which is in another 10 years. Some may think life insurance is not a necessity, but we do. If we both die simultaneously, our boys will be millionaires. I'm sure they're praying for our deaths right at this moment!
That being said "yes" you can live comfortably on $1,400 a month and still save. I'm usually not one to divulge our budget, but in this case I think it's important because if you only have one pension it's vital that you see the realities. I did not include my writing income which varies from month to month (usually $300 to $600); I write for compilations, the Internet and "royalties" on my books(s). Trust me, authors do not get rich, unless they're New York Best Times Sellers (I am not!).
So here it is...the truth...the whole truth:
Condo fees and water 90
Food 200 (we shop at the Coop)
Transportation 40 (bus, taxi) We do not own a car.
Life Insurance 100
Medical Ins. 80 (for both of us: hospital, prescriptions, office visits)
Cable TV 30 (Direct TV)
Dining Out 40 (once a month at a nice place or a lot of coffee/pastry/ice cream)
Misc. 40 (you never know what you might find at the mercado!)
Cell Phones 20 (pre-paid phone cards)
As you can see, we are well within our means. We do not have a maid (I need my exercise!); we don't have a gym membership (we walk a lot -- especially around the Tomebamba River that's in our "backyard"); we don't have a car (our feet carry us where we need to go); we shop mostly at the Coop which is incredibly cheap. I use vinegar to clean almost everything (it does a superb job without harsh chemicals). And my writing income is a bonus; I write for the Internet on several sites which goes directly into savings (via PayPal). We use my writing income for special trips, vacations and for dining out on special occasions. I do not include it in our monthly budget because I may decide not to write some day (I'm retired...remember?).