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Happy, healthy and surviving

If there are secrets to fun, healthy, happy survival at age 76 - I guess I've discovered them.

In 1998, my wife and I had designed and built our dream home on five acres in Sequim where we lived happily for six years. Then, becoming a widower in 2004 made it necessary to create a plan to direct my activities to continue maintaining our home and motor vehicles and to budget the finances to include food, utilities, insurance, medical bills and, of course, the home mortgage.

With a terrifying reminder of my age on the calendar and with the loss of my wife with her additional Social Security monthly income leaving only my own Social Security income, it was obvious I needed to revise my activities to create an even more affordable budget.

With the real estate market at its peak in 2004, I decided to sell my home to pay off my debts and offer a sizable down payment on a smaller home with an affordable monthly mortgage payment. However, several emergency items needing attention happened that rapidly would shrink my remaining monthly budget.

Then I discovered one of several "reverse mortgage" plans that were available. The balance of my mortgage was paid off, to be repaid when I moved or died. Without having to pay a monthly mortgage payment, I've been able to release the financial budget stress I was experiencing. Also, I arranged to have all my monthly bills withdrawn electronically from my bank account, which removes the stress of remembering to write checks for each bill every month.

Since everything I own is paid for, I owe no unpaid outstanding monthly bills. I only use personal checks from my bank account or cash and I don't use credit cards. I'm also not on the Internet with its many identity theft problems. I have not invested in nor am I involved with the fluctuating stock market. I subscribe to the Sequim Gazette, Times and two fishing magazines, all prepaid. My cell phone is used for emergencies only and the minutes are purchased only as I need them, with no monthly contract. I also have no monthly billing for a weekly garbage pickup. When necessary, I haul the rubbish and several full garbage cans in my utility trailer with my pickup truck to the Waste Management station in Port Angeles and pay cash.

Now, what do I do for fun? I own a 16-foot boat that I take to go fishing or crabbing in Sequim Bay in season. I also swim at the SARC pool in Sequim using a prepaid punch card. I have fun times with my friends from church and share many of their interesting activities.

Since I live only five minutes from town and church, the gas crunch is no problem. I'm enjoying my 1.16 acres with the trees and wildlife with my little calico kitty "Mystery." I've also been creating several landscape improvements for my home and to ease maintenance on my property.

With many years of employment in a variety of graphic publications as an artist, it's allowed me to spend much quality time in my home office designing art projects and cartoon illustrations for my friends and relatives. Since my handwriting is atrocious - my computer will type clearly and corrects any clerical errors on any official letters or other personal correspondence.

Like a diet - it takes a lot of effort but I've discovered to "just say no" to excessive purchasing. Of course it's almost impossible to overlook the many inviting advertising offers from the media. However, one long depressing look at my meager, monthly bank account makes me realize the correct decisions I need to make in order to survive comfortably.

I've been successful with these decisions so far - they work for me - I'm surviving - and I'm happy.

Woody Wixom is a longtime Sequim resident.

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