Archive | March, 2014


20 Mar

Strokenomics is a term referring to the situation you find yourself in if you or a loved one suffers a stroke and are forced to live within new means. Hopefully, you invested in a supplemental long-term disability. If you did not, I strongly urge you to do so. Chuck and I were on the verge of buying a policy when he had his stroke, and the difference in our disability income would have been as much as $3,000 per month. As it is, we live on his Social Security Disability Income, a standard long-term disability monthly payment that ends in 2016, and a monthly withdrawal from his retirement. The latter I hate to do, but it must be done in order to make our monthly expenses.

So it bears repeating: if you have not already done so, buy extra long-term disability insurance, which will provide much-needed extra income if you or your spouse become disabled or chronically ill. Furthermore, it will enable your or the loved one to be placed, should it be necessary, in a private healthcare facility as opposed to one run by the state; or offset in-home care, which can be very expensive but can greatly relief the burden of caretaking/enable you to be cared for in your home. Do it today, or you may be put in the situation in which I find myself, a full-time caretaker unable to work outside the home because hiring a caretaker for Chuck would reduce my hourly income to about $5.00.

Not to say that we are destitute. We are very lucky to live in a First World country and to have excellent health care and good, basic insurance. However, when Chuck’s standard LTD runs out, we will lose almost $800 per month, forcing us to dip deeper into his retirement fund. Unless, of course I can make my writing profitable, which I am working on. But if we burn through his retirement, and nothing is left when I’m retirement age in 15 years, what will we, or I, live on? Chuck is 11 years older than I, and his health is somewhat comprised by his disability, so chances are I will outlive him. I haven’t been paying into the Social Security system since I began caring for him almost seven years (2393 days) ago. In addition, having worked erratically and, as a writer and a teacher, never having made a big salary, what I will draw most likely won’t cover all my expenses. I have worried myself sick over this imagined future until I finally forced myself to let it go. I’ll do what I have to do, when I have to do it.

Meanwhile, I have found ways to economize, and I thought I’d share in case anyone else in a similar situation might benefit from my ideas. Strokenomics may be used by anyone who wants to cut corners, by the way. Also, I’m sure I haven’t thought of everything; so if you are reading this blog and have some ideas, please leave them in a comment.

First, I buy 95% of my clothes (and household items such as glasses, pots and pans, etc.) from thrift shops. Even if I could afford to buy new clothes, at this point I don’t know that I would (unless I win the lottery, my secondary plan): why would I want to pay $30 for a blouse that I can get for $4 at a thrift shop? An additional benefit is that I’m not supporting outsourcing, and my carbon footprint may be reduced by about 10%, according to Patrick Barkham in an article, “10:10 Fashion: Can I Give Up Buying Clothes for a Year?” in the on-line version of “The Guardian.” I draw the line at shoes, however, because I am squeamish about wearing someone else’s footwear. However, I save money by purchasing shoes on sale, getting them at about 40% off.

Giving up meat will reduce the grocery bill, as well as lower your carbon footprint and diminish cruelty to factory-farmed animals. According to a study conducted by the Environmental Working Group, “Lamb, beef, cheese, pork and farmed salmon generate the most greenhouse gases. With the exception of salmon, they also tend to have the worst environmental impacts, because producing them requires the most resources – mainly chemical fertilizer, feed, fuel, pesticides and water – and pound for pound, they generate more polluting manure.

“On the health front, the scientific evidence is increasingly clear that eating too much of these greenhouse gas-intensive meats boosts exposure to toxins and increases the risk of a wide variety of serious health problems, including heart disease, certain cancers, obesity and, in some studies, diabetes.” For more information, including a chart detailing the Full Lifecycle Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Common Proteins and Vegetables, please go to

Sometimes I feel I’m being nickled and dimed to death. In these cases, I have learned to reciprocate. For example, I recently dropped a couple of movie channels, lowered my Internet speed and reduced my phone (landline) features for a net savings of about $50. I don’t own a cell phone (that’s what I said), so there’s $30 or so.

Some other means of saving include:
Eat out less.
Wait until the movie comes out on DVD.
Lower your thermostat a couple of degrees by day and even more by night.
Recycle paper you use for the printer by using the other side for drafts; or rip them up and use to jot down notes or lists.
Sell stuff you don’t want on eBay.
Cut coupons for groceries.
Look for bargains or two-for-one sales.
Buy secondhand furniture from consignment stores.
Buy a used car, or at least a low-mileage or hybrid vehicle.
Don’t get another cat! Or dog: pets are expensive. One, or one of each, is enough.

Finally, buy lottery tickets. (Just kidding! Sort of. But don’t spend too much on these. Besides, the fewer people who buy, the better my chances of winning.)

As I mentioned, I’m sure other ways exist to employ strokenomics. Please let me know if you think of any. And while I hope you don’t have to implement a strokenomic plan, good luck if you do!

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