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Exercising Options

by Dave Friant

In reading this piece, chances are you’ve reached that nebulous final third of the ride. Well beyond that portion of life 30-plus years earlier when we were gainfully employed, fitter, and displaying our know-it-all capabilities on the issues of the day.

Those earlier chapters have been paged thru in exchange for some decision-making challenges and new adventures. Plenty of plusses highlight the landscape as we adjust to “every day is Saturday” characterizations. Ideally with savings and varying amounts of additional income (Social Security, Tuesday night Bingo winnings, proceeds from stand-up comedy gigs at senior living retirement communities), no more dependence on the bi-weekly fulltime paycheck and the accompanying stressors. Kiddos out of the house. Grandchildren in the house on a regular basis. Paid-off mortgages. Time and hopefully enough resources available to check off a few items from the bucket list.

But hold onto your collective horses! Tap the brakes. All is not peaches and cream for the climactic years still ahead on our calendars.

As is so often the case, fluctuating numbers for the most part manageable flies in the ointment creep into our versions of Shangri-La. Formidable foes in life that tend to crop up at the darndest times. Health concerns. Coping with departures of family members to different areas of the country. Unexpected emergencies requiring sizable expenditures. Especially for us males, efforts to establish and maintain good friend relationships. Significant others with a drop-everything-and-respond approach are crucial – such a valuable resource during times when worth and relevancy are being questioned.

Okay. Enough of the heavy stuff. Time for some “yes, I’m dealing with that specific predicament currently” real life analyses.

Foundation problems. Seems it’s always the season. Too much rain. High temps and too little rain. “It’s the nature of the soil composition in Texas,” claims those pier-happy experts on such issues. Uneven floors. Small but continuously enlarging crevices at various locations on both outside brickwork and inside walls. Doors that won’t shut as they should. You’re cracking me up! The house is paid for. We’re here for the duration. Shelling out $8K - $10K during our “senior adult” years for what might be no more than a beautification project? And what’s with that notorious “transferrable warranty” with the fine print which negates any round 2’s when problems re-arise? Nope. It’s simply not on our dance card at this point.

Another situation for discussion is the backyard fence with its’ supposedly “built for 20 years” guarantee and the steel posts every 10-feet. The one with a few discolored osteoporotic pickets that stick out like Naval Academy soon-to-be-discharged-for-cause midshipmen. An additional rub with the $3K - $5K project is the interaction with not always cooperative neighbors who have a stake in the project. At least two of mine would be excellent candidates for the Investigation Discovery (ID) Fear Thy Neighbor show.

We’ve all been there. What to do at 72 (and 70) is the continuing dilemma faced by this writer and the lady with whom I’ve enjoyed life for 50 years. The colliding of questioned needs versus some measure of enjoyment with the gifts of favorable experiences. As able to be accomplished with joints ablaze, reach up and ring the bell. Grab on to some exposures when they are still attainable. Determining exactly where lies the tipping point is the $64,000 question ($88,500 with the current recession). Measure carefully. Realize that on most occasions with all things considered, our existences will not be defined by how well we managed home-related projects.

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