Here in New York State, Covid-19 and the new variant, Omicron, are spreading like wildfire. Mask mandates are back in enforcement, people who are unvaccinated are being fired en masse, fear is back in play, businesses are shutting down again (this time permanently) and almost everyone is on edge.

Positivity rates are rising as the omicron variant spreads. According to CDC data released on Wednesday, New York and New Jersey are the two states with the most rapid spread of the variant. The data shows that 13.1% of cases in the CDC region that includes New York and New Jersey are omicron, compared to a national average of 2.9%.

DH and I looked at each other upon hearing this news and it was a unanimous decision that no amount of money was worth either one of us putting ourselves in any jeopardy. DH just saw his cardiologist this week as part of his annual physical exam. As you all know, he has an inherited congenital heart condition. Every time he goes to his cardiologist he hears something new that is wrong with him. This time, he was told that his heart is thickening…..ever so slightly……..but in any event, it’s not good news. Everything else is stable but now he has something new to be concerned with.

So, without batting an eyelid I told DH to immediately withdraw from his Big Box job (only 4 days in to it) because with the rise of covid in our area and his new diagnosis, nothing is worth jeopardizing his life for. Up until now, both he and I have been fortunate to not have contracted any virus. We’ve been super careful and neither one of us wants to rock our good fortune. So, DH quit instantly.

Our main reason why DH returned to work (part time) was to catch up on two zero-interest credit card advances and to sock more money away into our savings to cope with higher inflation costs. To heck with all of that! In two months DH goes onto the Medicare rosters and in turn that meant his Social Security monthly check, despite the 5.9% increase will see a $170 reduction for Part B, a $7.20 reduction for Part D and a $74.25 reduction for a supplement plan. Plus he will have to cough up 10% in co-pays. That’s a total reduction of $251.45 to his monthly income.

Rather than work part time to fill in the gap, we’re just going to finally withdraw one of our interest payments monthly ($265) to cover his new medical costs. The other thing we are going to do is withdraw from our savings accounts the amount needed to pay off the two zero interest loans ($2245.18) which will free up around $200 a month as per our budget. With the extra influx of approximately $500 in to our monthly budget, 2022 will work for us just fine. It’s disheartening that it took a coronavirus variant scare to jumpstart us into action, but no life is worth sacrificing just to balance out a monthly budget. There always is another way to get through the maze of life. We just had to think about it and calculate our options. Thank God we have options!

We’re fortunate that we don’t need a lot of money to live. Our expenses are low. It’s true what they say about debt and retirement. They really don’t mix. Plus no one expected the current high inflationary rates of 10% to 50% to be hitting any one’s pocket. I personally prepared for a 3% rate of inflation. As per a lot of other retirees, we weren’t prepared. Going forward, however, now that we know inflation is not transitory but more permanent, DH and I can prepare a bit better. We’ve cut so many things out of our budgetary spending that at times I think we are unrecognizable. Yet, here we are. And yes, I will admit that as we started cutting these things away out of our budget, I was livid. I was upset. I was mad and I was angry. I guess I had to go through the seven stages of remorse and grief before I could finally accept our new world. Many of the experiences, hopes and dreams we planned have been put on hold and when you’re in your 70s as I am, waiting is really not a welcome option. But I digress.

There really is no such thing as ‘retirement’ per se. I’d like to reclassify it to ‘survival’. I told hubby our vegetable garden and one peach tree are going to be more important to us this summer than ever before. Since we’re going to be home more, I’d like to set up a chicken coop, just like all my neighbors on our road have, and harvest chicken eggs. A few have added in goats and horses. Goats I can understand but horses are just a bigger expense. In any event, it’s nice to know we have options. We’re going to hold on to our RV and two vehicles for at least a year and see how our traveling adventures (if any) pan out. As we all know, however, plans are meant to be broken. Best not to plan and just take life as it comes. Thank God we still have options.

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