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Decision Time

The Land of Routinely Spectacular Sunsets

When the traffic slows at the gate and the heat comes in spades, the sameness of this gate guarding job can be overwhelming.  The guy delivers my generator fuel, I get some potable-ish water from the other guy and yet another shows up to pump out my septic.  Same guys doing the same thing on the same schedule for the last 3 years.  So one of my big challenges is filling up 16 hours of every day without going batshit crazy.

The highlight this week was my favorite Ranch Lady sending me some fresh yellow squash, zucchini and sweet corn.  On top of being the the first line of management on an active 20,000 acre working ranch, she also has 7 his-mine-ours kids.   I don’t know if the kids are garden slaves or what but I am guessing her garden is copious.  Just taking the time out to remember me sittin’ over here in the corner means plenty.

Some folks might think I am down here in the hinterlands of the Puckerbrush gnawin’ on a pig knuckle and drinkin’ out of a cow track like some heathen but it just ain’t so.  This rough country don’t mean you have to have such rough bark it makes the Good Baptists cringe.  So yeah, I sleep on clean sheets, brush my teeth and watch my satellite TV pretty much like any Suburban Cracker might.  One difference might be that I eat better than most folks trapped on that hamster wheel because I got the time to cook right;  especially so since I decided to learn how to really, really scratch cook several years back.

When the extra special treat of the fresh veggies showed up I knew what I would be doing with the sweet corn – corn maque choux.  Last night and fresh out of the cast iron skillet,  I paired it with oven broiled sirloin steak.  I will give it a day’s rest and then eat some more of it with some seared Ahi tuna steaks I fished out of  the freezer.  So yeah, me and Vela Von – Hound of the Puckerbrush – are maintaining our high personal standards.

**************************

The weather radio is janglin’ today like nobody’s business.  Some sure ’nuff bad weather just to the north by a few miles. Vela Von is gettin’ some good practice at being my hearing ear dog. She pretty much jumps straight up barkin’ whenever she hears the radio’s alert tone. I have trouble hearing it 8′ away in the same room and forget about it if I am in the bedroom.  I can’t tell you how thankful I am for that skill she is developing.  It is a God send for sure.

OK, just went off again and looks like we are in the crosshairs – 60mph winds and baseball hail.  8″ of rain in the last few hours just to the west of me –  gotta love springtime in Texas right?   Time to hunker down a bit.

Ohh- before I forget,  please tell me since you live in an RV, you have a GOOD Weather RadioPLEASE!  Anything else is foolishness of monumental proportion.

Late update: The north end of that super cell that was barrelin’ down on us just petered out and went away.  I bet Tilden and Three Rivers were less fortunate.

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A hound of the puckerbrush on duty

I have been doing some monumental cipherin’ lately because I am looking right at my 62nd birthday this year.

I guess it is no secret I greatly begrudge the ever increasing and unwelcome presence of the GOV in my life.  Lisa Lisa did the best she could this year but I still gave up over 27% of my income to the IRS.  Self employed, 1099 and all ya know.  The IRS classes me as itinerant homeless because I work and live out of an RV.  In my experience,  there are beaucoup RVers who are working and living out of their RV pretty much same same as me under the misconception they can take substantial business deductions.  Some of them are even filing returns reflecting this on the bad, bad advice of tax preparers or accountants.  Lisa Lisa did her education and knows her stuff about taxes and she researched this exhaustively years back even to the point of verifying it with some IRS dude she knows.  To shed the itinerant homeless label and actually treat this RV and the gate guard job as a legit business with all the inherent tax advantages,  I would have to maintain a primary homebase with living quarters other than this RV and I would have to reside at homebase at least 6 months out of the year.

My first paying gig ca. 1972

Now I know some of you are going to squawk and gnash teeth and tell me I am full of it.  You are going to vociferously inform me your CPA said this, that and the other was just fine to do and furthermore, you are going to inform me you have been doing it for years with no problem from the IRS.  Fine,  I am happy for you! No, really! If you can sleep good at night, go for it.

But consider this……..  I do not think I am a stupid, ill-informed citizen.  On the contrary, I have filed income tax every year since 1973 in a variety of shiny shoe and self-employed scenarios.  I sought out the best financial consultant authority I could afford over a decade ago and I still do not question her counsel to this day.  With that consideration, why would I hand over almost $10k to the hated IRS (those bastards!) if I did not think it was warranted without exception?  I would’ve give ’em the $10k this year gladly had there been a solitary elected official with balls enough to send Lois Lerner on a Fed vacation for willfully participating in criminal activity.  You remember her Bucky?  I ran foul of those IRS douche canoes in 1985 and vowed never again because they are ruthless and relentless bastards without conscience.  Obviously, YMMV – good luck with that!

It galls me to think that before 1913 the GOV supported itself as prescribed by the Founding Fathers and we gave up not a single dollar to the GOV for taxes. Before the days of career politicians and professional lobbyists, tariffs, import/export duties and such supported Washington and it worked because the GOV was small and they left most taxation matters to the State.  That was the intention of those fellas that drafted the Constitution you know – most matters in the every day life of an average citizen was a State’s Rights concern.

I read this in a blog I frequent some time back and it hit home like a bullet between my eyes……

At some point it simply becomes too expensive for a self-respecting person to be a citizen anymore. Of wealth, of credulity, of patience – you simply run out. What are you supposed to do then? Lay down and die? Screw that.

Now that I have Social Security as an option, a piece of paper and a sharp pencil were put to use.  Looks like I can collect Social Security and work doing this gate guard thing only about 4 months out of the year and put the same amount of money in my pocket.  The IRS would be a huge loser in this scenario but ask me if I give a damn.  Starve that monkey I say!  I disapprove of how they spend about 85% of my contribution anyway and based on recent history, those GOV fellas don’t even care what I think – not even a little bit.

ca. 1957

60 years have passed since this picture was taken with my grandfather; 1957 was the year My Bro came on the scene.  I have mentioned in the past I think I got one great adventure left and 2018 just might be when it starts.  Plenty of RV folks travel far and wide when they retire. Me? I got no desire to do that.  Already driven a million miles and been through every state at least twice so that holds no attraction.  Besides I like Texas a-plenty and there are still plenty of places to go and explore here. So I got in mind a few acres of Texas dirt, a hermit shack, a few chickens – mebbe a pig and a good dog on the porch next to the beer cooler and rockin’ chair.  Sounds fairly curmudgeonly don’t it.

What I would like to know is thoughts from y’all about this retirement thing, takin’ the Social Security at 62 and maybe some good areas of Texas to consider for that few acres of dirt. I am sure there are several of you that have been there and done that and I would appreciate any amount of insight by experience you care to share.

I have got used to living close and simple and enjoy it. That ain’t gonna change.

End Note: Woodstock Nation by Big House from the Big House cd.  Ya know, every time these Bakersfield boys pop up on my Zune I get sad that they faded away like so many other good things over the years.  4 CDs and done – more is the pity. Monty Byrom had as good a singing voice as anybody -ever- in music and I bet you a cold beer you never heard of him ’till just now.  Little wonder, youtube has everything and anything and you gotta dig to find these boys. You get more youtube hits on The Big House Wedding Band out of Philly than you do these legit boys – go figger.

 

I couldn’t resist a twofer.  Trust me, these boys know how to lay down a tight groove.  If ya want some more good ‘uns,  look up ‘Buck These Haggard Blues or Prayin’ to Live’  on your  Spot-tunes or whatever it is you kids do.  🙂

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26 comments to Decision Time

  • Bryan

    I hope you are successful finding a few acres of Texas dirt. I’m a little more partial to Arizona myself. I’ve had pretty good luck with landwatch.com when looking for property. I found a few that have been perfect had my ducks all been in a row. I ran across something yesterday that may interest you, it’s called a “Binishell”, lower cost, concrete construction and seemingly energy efficient.

    Happy to hear VV is taking good care of you and good luck with your search.

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    • Andy

      Good to hear from you Bryan.

      Nothing against AZ in my book but the lack of water out there does concern me. Sort of like Terlingua West.
      Looking at that binishell right now.

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  • Bill Ringer

    Just a note to tell you that I enjoy reading your posts each week.

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  • HOWARD C. GORDON

    takin’ the Social Security at 62. CK out how much you would lose by taking it at 62?
    I lost a little over 25 percent on mine. Also do you have an statement from SOC-SEC
    showing how much you would get at this time? If your health is good I would really
    think about taking it right now.

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    • Andy

      Thanks for the thoughtful comments Howard.
      Yes, I have my statement and were I to wait until 66.5 I would have to live until age 80 for that wait to make a net difference.

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  • Rob

    62 & what to do…

    There are questions for you to answer.

    1) Do you enjoy your work?
    A job you enjoy, really like doing is rare thing from what I’ve seen. I have had work that I really enjoyed & I’ve had work that I went to because I had to eat. Where are you on that scale?

    2) If you retired what would you do?

    3) Will the SS$ &/or work give you enough to live like you want to?

    Past those question… I took my SS$ as soon as I was able. 90 days before my 62nd birthday I applied. The day I turned 62 I was started. The NEXT month they actually put the money away for me. The month AFTER that I was given my money, in my case that was the 4th Wednesday of the month.
    1st Month I was able, 2nd Month they saved the money, the 3rd month I received my money.

    I figured It was mine and I wanted it (I PAID FOR IT!). I figured they STILL had it to give. I have no idea how long I will live but I knew I’d hate to have my last thought being something about letting those SOB’s have my SS$.
    I took it as soon as I could & I’ve not regretted it for a second.

    I actually worked for the first 18 months after I retired as a work camper. The summers at an Amusement park in Iowa (loved it!) and the winter at an RV park in Texas. Working was a hard habit to break.
    At the amusement park I had several revelations. The first was that workcamping was fun & the second was most of the other workcampers were way older than I was.
    They were doing that job because A) It was fun. B) They had to do something. “B” is the most important part.

    For you to live anther 20 or 25 years would not be unusual.

    Good luck with your decision!

    Notes- I was told that the first year you take SS$ it’s not counted against you, I have a friend who planned to save all his first years SS$ to buy a new car that should last him the rest of his life. He was a big planner…

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    • Andy

      Thanks Rob,
      My thoughts parallel yours for the most part. I like the gate guard thing and by the end of the year I will have finished up about everything I can accomplish and remain stationary. I have a long list of things to do that require mobility – can’t do that and gate guard.

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  • LJ

    D’pends of the needs, wants, and what if’s of the individual.
    Myself, after being Rif’ed out of work on Nov.10,2010, 1 month and 1day after turning 60. (the new big cheese figured out they could hire 2 1/2 more people by making excuses to bump me out). I was mentally ready 2 years before that, figured I would stall/stay on until 62, but corp greed changed that plan. Anyways, after paying into the system for 42 years, plus my general dislike/mistrust/disgusted opinion of government hacks, and the fact that my wife provides plenty through her work, (which we have proud opportunity of getting gouged at 35%), I chose to begin pulling my SS stipend at 62. Had the choice to choose, plus accountant convinced us of the uncertainty of living long enough to get that extra $ by waiting, and the extra years one has to keep on ticking to make up the total difference by deferring to later date. it’s a toss up gamble either way. I’m heading to Montana in 3 weeks w/ the Rig, because I can. Good luck/good life/Andy

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  • LJ

    oh forgot to mention (blame it on the 66+ years)

    Places to land: Love the seasons at least the cool not so damn hot ones. So Winter in Texas, Summer in higher elevations, Spring time dictated by where snow/ice is gone. Perfect place is where my uniform fits the weather. Where ever Shorts, T-shirt, occasional long pants and Jacket temperature weather, where it’s not too sweaty, not too shivery, plenty vistas, not terrible far from Diesel or groceries, and open road kind of places. Bottom line: where the wind blows, however far the wallet lasts, or the inter-will desires. After all you’re RE’tired. Clear sailing/fair winds/calm seas, Andy you are a resourceful, able bodied individual w/ a Big Ass Suburban, Bowling Equipment, and VelaVon.

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    • Andy

      Larry
      After I un-assed from that big truck I honestly have little desire to do any substantial traveling. Don’t get me wrong, I can still put the miles down like a road dervish if required but the desire to have a definite and permanent homebase is overriding right now.

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  • Leo

    Andy, I’ve no significant regrets after ‘retiring’ at age 62. Sure, there are always things that hindsight suggests could have been done differently, but overall, I’d say to you to free up your time so that you have no duty or obligations except those that you willingly take on.

    I’ve chatted with a number of folks that are ‘retired’ but are in a go-go-go mode and they honestly believe that they have to see so many sights or travel so many miles so that they have something to talk about when they get together with other retired folks. It’s like there is some contest or something.

    I’ve learned that there’s a lot to recommend having the time to contemplate the wonders of just being alive. Slowing down and appreciating the bird song at dawn. Watching the antics of the squirrels. Contemplating the majesty of another glorious sunset, being thankful that I saw this one and hoping that I get to see another tomorrow.

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  • Mickey Holder

    Take the SS as soon as you can. Buy that good ole Texas dirt and work 3/4 months (what you can and not have to pay a lot of taxes for the honor) GG. We did this for 4 years with Site Watch. Then in 2015 we started doing Storm Assessment for utility companies. Working 150 miles from home, all expenses paid, but again on a 1099. Job is 2/3 days, unless a bad tornado or hurricane, Spent 2 weeks in Fla last Oct for Hurricane Matthew. Made more money working 2/3 days once a month than working 24/7 for a year GG. We built a new stick/brick home in 2007- so we have plenty of time at home base to do our chores/hobbies/family.

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  • Steve

    I checked out at 63, 7 years ago. I have no regrets doing so as it allowed us the freedom to come and go as the wife and I pleased. We kept our house in Las Vegas and escape north for the summer. At first I worried about if we could make ends meet after working at a very good wage. We live simply ,but lack nothing as far as food, roof over the head, reasonable health and clothing. I was raised that if you had that, everything else was a luxury.
    After reading your blog for a while I know you have the knowledge and tools to make a comfortable living on SS$, so go for it, this lifestyle doesn’t suck.
    What surprised me was even after taking a 50% cut in take home we still were able to tuck away a bit of savings, which this last 20 days has come in very handy.

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  • RVNGal

    Andy–Retire at 62. You never know what life will throw at you! If you get bored, you can find something to work at. You are resourceful and handy. I think you will be happy. But,please do not give up this blog! Love your writing style and your stories! Best of luck finding someplace in Texas. We like the Mineral Wells area. Country, but close to Weatherford for your big city stuff. The Brazos River and it is in the beginning of the hill country. You may want something more remote (but you have been remote for a good while). Good luck. We will be reading you all the way!

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    • Andy

      Thanks!
      I know the Mineral Wells area and you are right – too close to the Metromess for me.

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  • Ken

    I took the SSmoney when I could, figgered it was mine. Only problem was I enjoyed my work. I was a tech writer/trainer in oil/gas. Hell, I retired about 5 times before it took. No suggestion as to area of Texas. I fled the hill country to get rid of Mountain Juniper fever. YMMV
    Good luck wherever you light.

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    • Andy

      Hey Ken,
      Didn’t you end up out around Lubbock?

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  • Ken

    Yessir, bout 20 miles away. No juniper, so no itchy eyes and sneezing attacks. Big little town is Lubbock. Ain’t many snowflakes around, you would fit right in.

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  • Michael Barnett

    As as retired military guy that is also (in our way living the simple life), I would go for it. You have earned the right to. Why not live now. Not by the bell but as you want to. You could work the warmer months and live off grid during the cooler ones. Head for the mountains my friend. If I can call you that!

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    • Andy

      Hi Michael,
      I enjoy y’all’s blog. It is a no whining zone.

      I am a little surprised that the overwhelming majority say take it! or have actually taken it early. Online advice is almost overwhelmingly the opposite! I am starting to think is is a dastardly plan to keep us working until we die and never see a nickel of SS.

      That is quite a nefarious conspiracy theory. It couldn’t be right. No way!! Right? RIGHT??

      Oh, those bastards make my blood boil!

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  • Rob

    I’ve noticed that some places/people value the dollar over all else, with such a mindset waiting might be the answer.
    But… if you valued time as the one thing that you really can’t get any more of taking the SS$ at 62 would almost be a no brainer…
    I used the word “almost” because the possibility exists that your current day to day actives were what you wanted to do anyway.

    In my world I (finally) realized that “time” was the really valuable thing..

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  • Byron

    Andy,

    I am in the same decision making process about SS and I have always had it in my mind that sooner is better unless you are one of the lucky ones who have found the perfect job. You know, doing something that you really enjoyed so much that it didn’t seem like it was keeping you from doing something else. Anyway, the “Financial Wizards” seemed to overwhelmingly suggest stay until FULL RETIREMENT or some later time. The one thing we can’t know for sure is how long any of us will live.

    I am leaning on earlier and my reasoning is I can do more for my family and myself. If I am fortunate enough to live past the ‘Catch Up’ point, I hope I will have done enough for my family and friends that those memories I gave them by being with them instead of working will have some value beyond a few dollars.

    As far as finding that perfect spot with a few acres, take time and visit the areas that interest you. You are resourceful and I think when you see it, you will simply know it is the right place. Look into the County Tax requirements for ‘Animal Units’ if you are thinking Agriculture Exemption for taxes or Minimal Acreage required for Wildlife Valuation to minimize the tax burden. These two items vary greatly County to County.

    Wishing you the best and as others have said, please keep the blog going or maybe there are other writing endeavors you have been putting off that will become your passion and reality.

    Take care!

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    • Andy

      Thanks Byron,
      All of ‘them’ do say wait until full retirement almost universally and yet the overwhelming opinion here is to take it early. Makes me say hmmmmmmmmmmmm. Perhaps ‘they’ want us to stay on the hamster wheel as long as possible and OFF the SS rolls?

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      • Rob

        Say $1000 a month, why not? That’s $12k a year, do the math as to how many years until you’re at the full amount.
        I’m thinking they’re betting you’ll be gone before then & that’s how ever many thousands that will be saved.

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  • Libby Nester

    I totally agree that taking SS at the earliest time possible is the smart thing to do. I plan to. I don’t want to die before I see a penny of it.

    I really enjoy your blog and hope you continue it.

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