July 29, 2016

Amazon Best Selling Lists: What Do They Tell Us?

I thought it might be fun, or maybe instructive, to look at what is selling well on Amazon. The web site updates the lists every hour of every day, so what you would see today will be different from what I uncovered on a Wednesday morning in mid July. I am not sure what to conclude from what I found.

Here are some selected categories and the results of the top 20 sellers in each:

1) In the app store for Android. all but one of the best sellers are games. This was before the Pokemon Go craze but time-killing games totally dominate. Does this say something about smartphone use, how we spend free moments, or our need for distraction? 

2) In the books and comics category all but one are comics or kids' books. The lone exception is the NIV Bible. It has been awhile since I have visited a bookstore, but I wonder if the comic and graphic novel section reflects this interest.

3) In computers and accessories, all the top sellers are Kindles and Amazon's Echo. No laptops, desk computers, WiFi routers, or monitors are to be found in the top 20.

4) In the cameras and photo category four of the top 20 sellers are drones equipped with cameras. That is scary. 

5) In toys and games the top three are card games about kittens..exploding, imploding, and one that is so explicit it comes with a warning. Obviously, this is the latest fad that I have missed.  The sixth best selling game is called "Cards against Humanity, a game for horrible people."  Exploding kittens and a game for horrible human beings....does that say anything about where we are as a culture today?

6) And, the best seller in the home improvement category is a blue nightlight that lights up inside of your toilet when you raise the lid. Really?

I don't know how much I should conclude from this exercise. Apparently, a lot of folks have enough spare cash, or room on a credit card, to make whimsical or downright silly purchases. With more than half of Americans saying they would be unable to scrape together $1,000 for an emergency, high selling card games about deadly kittens and lighted toilet bowls indicates priority setting may be a bit off.

Maybe these purchases indicate an attempt to escape the steady drumbeat of bad news and political foolishness. For a nominal amount of money, retreating into a mindless game, reading a comic book, or flying a drone over someone's backyard could be a coping mechanism.

I will let others more qualified than me draw weighty conclusions from this sampling of our buying habits. But, I do look forward to your comments!


July 26, 2016

Retirement is A Great Time To Declutter

declutter, simple living

Reader Diane suggested I take a fresh look at decluttering and simplifying one's environment and lifestyle. Retirement is an excellent time to look for ways to reduce the "stuff' that crowds our home, our mind, our finances, our relationships,  and our schedule.

This is a subject I have addressed often over the years, but newer readers may have missed some of the posts that have appeared in Satisfying Retirement.
What you will find below are a series of links to some of the past posts that generated good readership and some great comments. Click on the ones that catch your eye or address a specific issue that interests you.

Then, I hope you will add your ideas and suggestions. The fascinating aspect of simplification is how varied are the ways we find to achieve our goals. Even the concept of "simplification" means different things to different folks. 

Simple living: easy steps you can take

Simple Living: One Room At a Time

Simple Downsizing: Grabbing a Ready-Made Opportunity

Simple Living My Way

Retirement Life Starts With a Blank canvas

Live Simply in Retirement - Links galore

America's Quest For Simplicity

Simple Living Can Become Silly

This sampling of past posts should be enough to get your creativity flowing. Now, it is your turn. How do you approach simplicity? To you is it cutting back on what you own, or buying what makes you happy but only the best quality you can afford so something lasts a long time? Do you dream of living in a tiny house? Is decluttering a passion of yours, or something that does not bring you joy?

July 22, 2016

Why Retirement May be Bad For You

Well, there is an interesting title for a post on a blog all about living a satisfying retirement. But, in all honestly, for lots of people, the answer is that retirement may not be a wise choice, at least not now. It may not be satisfying. 

I have taken the position many times that retirement is a unique journey for each of us. No matter how many books or blogs you read (!), friends you consult, or Google searches you conduct, the answer to your retirement success lies within you. The one-of-a-kind mix of your personality, your life to this point, your influences, your attitudes, even your spiritual beliefs, combine to influence this stage of your life.

One of the realities of that mix of factors is you may be much happier if you continue working until they carry you out on a stretcher. Your life might be fuller if you leave one job and start a new company. Your days may require the challenge of proving yourself in a competitive work environment.

Conventional wisdom says we are all ready for a break from responsibility and the enforced schedule of regular employment. Retirement is the stage of life when we get to indulge ourselves doing what we want, when we want. Travel, volunteering, writing, reading, playing with the grandkids, whatever makes us happy shapes our day.  

But, what if you are happiest when working and being productive in a situation where you are paid for your contribution? What if not having deadlines or timetables and goals just doesn't bring you satisfaction? What if retirement for you means leaving one job and starting another?

Then, go for it. The distinctiveness of this phase of our lives really means any path that satisfies you is the correct one to choose. What the majority of folks believe does not make that belief right for you. To follow the usual course means to deny your uniqueness, and that is likely to not end well.

Regardless of the way you live it, one reality of retirement is that things will change. Not leaving the work force, not taking the path most others choose may be the most authentic, most important choice for you, right now. Will it still be the best path in a year, five years, a decade into the future? Who knows? Your responsibility is to be open to making another decision when what you are doing now no longer seems to it; it is no longer entirely satisfying.

Robert Frost might have best summarized the retirement choice each of us must make: "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I - I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference." 

In its traditional sense, retirement may be bad for you. If so, don't do it. Design your own satisfying retirement journey. Go where there is no path. Instead, leave a new trail, one cut by you.

Note: I ran across this tongue-in-cheek blog post on the road less traveled and thought you might enjoy it: 10 Reasons to take the road not taken

July 20, 2016

Get Your House Ready For Retirement

Not surprisingly, studies show that nearly 90% of seniors want to "age in place," meaning they want to remain in their own home for as long as possible. Projections of $25 billion being spent to remodel homes to allow this to happen show this to be big business. 

Assuming you are, or will be, part of this 9 out of every ten of us who will resist the move to a retirement community, what can you do to make your current home safer and more convenient? What retirement planning steps do you need to budget for to be able to stay home for as long as possible? 

Unless you have already made modifications to your home, or bought one with aging in place in mind, most houses need changes to make the space safe and accessible. Here are some of the important things to take care of:

  1. If possible, a one story home  should be at the top of your list. As we age, knees, hips, and our balance can make climbing stairs difficult and dangerous. Stair lifts are an option, but impractical for many homes. If possible, there should be no stairs at all, even into a garage or living room. Front door steps should be replaced with a ramp. If you must have stairs, be sure there are rails on both sides, that the treads are solid, and there is adequate lighting.
  2. Kitchen appliances and cabinets that are easy to reach, without bending over or standing on a step stool.
  3. Either a low maintenance dwelling, or arrangements for others to do most of the work of maintaining your house, inside and out.
  4. Raised toilet seats and showers or tubs that don't require stepping up or down. Grab bars and a bath bench if appropriate.
  5. Bathroom countertops that are the right height when sitting on a stool. Mirrors lowered and lighting increased. Automatic pill dispensers.
  6. Elimination of throw rugs or other tripping hazards, like wires or cables, clutter and knick-knacks. Cut back on the amount of furniture in each room that must be navigated around to move easily, either when walking, in a wheelchair or with a walker or cane.
  7. More lighting throughout home. As our sight dims extra lighting will be necessary for safe movement and tasks.
  8. Doors wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair, flooring that is easy to navigate (often that means eliminating carpeting), and flush thresholds to help eliminate tripping. Changeover to door levers instead of door knobs.
  9. Emergency lighting (least several working flashlights nearby) if the power fails and medical/security monitoring in case of falls or threats of criminal activity. Cell phones or wireless phones close by.
  10. Closeness of family or friends to be able to check on your welfare on a regular basis.
  11. Adequate medical facilities that are close enough for both regular and emergency treatment. Arrangements made with home health organizations to provide nursing or physical care.  Emergency phone numbers posted in several locations of the home.
  12. Low vision equipment and tools if needed. Things like talking clocks, extra-loud ringers or door bells, and reading magnifiers may be necessary.

aging in place
credit: home4alifetime.com
Staying in your home as you age will take some effort and money. Your goal is to remain surrounded by familiar things and settings as long as you can do so safely. 

This list is not exhaustive, but should give you a good start in deciding if you can make your house into your age-in-place home.