Personal Update 202106 | 1 Jun 2021 | Tuesday

GREETINGS!

Thanks for taking a moment to read this month’s update. The photo featured above is from a walk in Iowa City on 15 May 2021.

Communications

In May I returned to providing an outgoing voicemail greeting that is updated daily. This way, anyone calling will get some information about my availability for the day, and when to expect a response from me. I have a similar automatic reply for text messages when I’m unavailable.

When convenient for others, my preference is usually to receive an email rather than phone call. Emails are easier to find, organize, and prioritize. I’m also able to provide links and attachments.

Text messages are a good way to communicate on matters that require a quick response, but otherwise email makes more sense.

Forward-Looking

Starting in August 2020, I began posting my personal newsletter and Resources For Life newsletter at the beginning of the month rather than the end of the month.

I found with an end-of-month deadline, the newsletter would get completed in haste with other activities having a priority. Setting a goal of getting the newsletter done early in the month helped me not feel pressured. It was on the top of my list of monthly tasks, but need not be rushed.

In recent months I’ve switched to forward-looking tasks, preparing for and completing tasks ahead of the goal. I’ve started this month’s newsletter a day early so that after some revisions and reflection it will be ready to send out on the first of the month.

I have some other monthly tasks that I start preparing for in the final days of the previous month.

Tech Work

As I mentioned in the previous newsletter, April was mostly spent working on annual finances and bookkeeping. As a result, May was very busy catching up on web project commitments and some unplanned tech support needs. This had me working 7-days-per-week to catch up and keep up. I’m still keeping a busy schedule heading into June.

Tech Upgrades

Something else keeping me busy in May was the purchase and setup of a new primary computer used for my daily work. I wrote about the process. [More Here…] This required some planning. The new computer uses a different processor than the previous one (the Apple M1 replacing the Intel Core i7), so I’m trying to limit my work to the software written for the new processor. The old computer is still running, but had some ongoing reliability issues so it needed to be replaced.

Another slight disruption during the month of May was caused by a Microsoft update that caused some Windows computers to have startup trouble. I assisted people who had crashed computers, and had to perform a fresh Windows 10 installation on my own computer.

Fortunately for all of the above work, I have backups and didn’t lose any data.

WRITING

Due to the excessive tech work last month, in May I created only four posts on the Resources For Life website. You can see the latest new content on the What’s New page.

Road to Minimalism

In recent months, in addition to doing less writing, I’m spending less time on dozens of other non-income-producing activities and initiatives I was involved in previously. In my December 2017 newsletter, I referred to this as “Bringing in the Fishing Nets.”

This downsizing and simplifying will take years and involves shutting down numerous websites, closing outdated online accounts, and going through hundreds of boxes of old work-related items in a pursuit of online and offline minimalism.

Going forward, I want to make sure my schedule and life are as lean as possible. Having to work seven days a week through the pandemic, and through the Derecho storm, during power outages, despite multiple system crashes, has taught me the importance of being prepared for the next crisis situations and not being overextended.

I plan to contribute less to the Resources For Life website, and starting with the June 2021 newsletter, I plan to have quarterly seasonal updates for RFL rather than monthly. I’ve discontinued the Heart Songs program which I started 20 years ago, because it was an example of something that had been taking more time. I’ve explained more about that below.

The direction I’m heading in will be an increasing focus on tech services and web services. As I’m looking to the next 20-30 years, I need to anticipate that I won’t be able to continue working 60 hours a week, so I’ll need to plan accordingly.

Heart Songs

I’ve enjoyed sharing music each month through the Resources For Life newsletters. Starting this year, I’m planning to switch to occasionally sharing music through posts on the site, but not as featured items in the newsletter.

In the past, I’d encounter new music while driving and listening to the radio, or at restaurants, or watching movies, or a new TV series, etc. With the pandemic I’m at home more, working more, and not exposed to much new music. These days, much of the music I hear, I already know. It’s not new. 

In the past, one of the primary opportunities for me to enjoy music was during my daily workout. I’ve changed my exercise routine and these days go on nature walks without listening to anything other than nature. My work these days requires more focus, or time on the phone with people, so the role of music in my life has diminished.

Because I’m no longer exposed to music on a regular basis, finding songs to share every month required some additional time in an already busy schedule.

In addition to these factors, the music industry has gone through seismic shifts in recent decades. For many years I used an Apple iTunes playlist sharing feature to share music. That service was eventually discontinued. Other similar services came along, but didn’t last. YouTube has been the most recent service I relied on to share music, but often great music videos are not available months later. Either the artist removes their own videos from YouTube or someone not authorized to share the music is asked to remove it from a personal YouTube channel. Spotify allows for playlists and sharing links to songs, but not all music is available there.

Given licensing and copyright restrictions, I considered using services like Artlist.io as a source for unique royalty-free music that I could share without worrying about it not being available in the future. The music comes with a lifetime unlimited license to use and share through created works. However, the service is expensive, the collection is limited, and it takes time to download and manage the items. I did use the service for a while. Here’s a music video I created from one of the songs I liked. [View]

The Soundcloud music service is a nice way to learn about and follow local musicians and lesser known musicians, but downloading and sharing can be a bit limited, and the premium service is expensive.

For all of these reasons, I’m planning to phase out the Heart Songs tradition.

THANKS!

Many thanks to all of you who keep in touch and provide support for the work I do.

20120224fr-greg-signature

Want More News? To signup to receive monthly notifications from me, please click here. For additional news and updates, you can click here to subscribe to the Resources For Life Newsletter.

Origins. For those of you who are new to these monthly personal updates, they began about 20 years ago out of a desire to share from my personal life about topics of lifeways (faith), health, career, finances, relationships, effective living, and public interest efforts. This is based on the life map presented on the Resources For Life website.

Personal Update 202105 | 1 May 2021 | Sat

GREETINGS!

Thanks for taking a moment to read this month’s update. The photo featured above is from a walk in Iowa City on 28 Apr 2021.

business Accounting

It’s tax season, so I spent most of April working on annual financial bookkeeping for the consulting work I do. Over the years, I’ve been able to automate most of the process. Even so, I still review all transactions to make sure the automated system is working properly, and I manually complete the work that can’t be automated. There are thousands of transactions in a year for income and expenses that all need to be reviewed. Some require only a glance, others require a deeper review. I have multiple redundant ways to document each transaction including paper receipts, email receipts, scanned documents, GPS records, and other methods. If you’re interested in learning more, I’ve written up the complete guide to the small business billing and accounting system I developed. [Read Here]

WRITING

Due to the almost full-time commitment to bookkeeping recently, last month I created only five posts on the Resources For Life website. Some are tech support guides and others are featured documentary videos. You can see the latest new content on the What’s New page.

COVID Thoughts

I’m thankful to have avoided getting COVID during the pandemic. I’ve tried to follow all the recommended guidelines and encourage others to do the same.

This past week I was listening to the news on Iowa Public Radio and learned that 80% of Iowa’s 99 counties have rejected some or all of their COVID vaccine allotment because there is little local interest among Iowans in becoming vaccinated. In many Iowa counties, fewer than 50% of people are vaccinated. Some people don’t wear masks, or if they have masks, they can’t muster the energy required to cover their nose. News reports from elsewhere in the U.S. show maskless people participating in massive street parties. People continue to travel for pleasure. A report today states: “100 Million Americans Are Fully Vaccinated as Concerns Grow About the Rest.” Source: NY Times, 1 May 2021 [View] While some people are willing to sacrifice 20 minutes and endure a poke in the arm for a free vaccine to save lives, others are not. This isn’t surprising. If people aren’t willing to pull a mask up 1/2-inch to cover their nose, they probably won’t expend greater effort to help others.

The carelessness of some people is resulting in contagious mutations and variants of COVID that will be harder to stop.

Against the local context of apathy and complacency, it’s been difficult to hear the news of suffering in India this past week. It’s also a foreboding warning to others.

India has actually been, and continues to be, mostly a success story when it comes to their COVID response. Over 1.8 million lives have been saved in India during the pandemic — If India had the same response and outcomes as the United States in fighting COVID, there would have been about 2 million fatalities in India instead of 212,000.

India is now fighting the more aggressive mutations of COVID. They are struggling. Other countries, like the U.S. may not fare as well.

Let’s all consider how we can stop the further spread and mutation of COVID, and do our part to protect ourselves and others.

THANKS!

Many thanks to all of you who keep in touch and provide support for the work I do.

20120224fr-greg-signature

Want More News? To signup to receive monthly notifications from me, please click here. For additional news and updates, you can click here to subscribe to the Resources For Life Newsletter.

Origins. For those of you who are new to these monthly personal updates, they began about 20 years ago out of a desire to share from my personal life about topics of lifeways (faith), health, career, finances, relationships, effective living, and public interest efforts. This is based on the life map presented on the Resources For Life website.

Personal Update 202104 | 6 Apr 2021 | Tuesday

GREETINGS!

Thanks for taking a moment to read this month’s update. The photo featured above is from an evening walk in Kent Park on 5 Aug 2020.

What Keeps Me Busy These Days

I continue to be busy providing tech services, working on web design projects, and offering other support to people from morning until evening seven days a week. For breaks from my work, I go on walks in nature, and work as a sous-chef in our home kitchen. I also keep busy creating an average of one post per day on the Resources For Life website. More about that below.

Web Design

Something I like about Iowa City is that so many interesting people live here. Recently, I’ve been working on creating a website for a bicyclist who is known for having completed a 20,000 mile self-contained bicycle ride from the northern tip of Alaska to the south-most point of Chile. There are some more pages to create for the website, but if you’d like to learn more about the epic ride you can do so by visiting the completed portion of the site. [Visit Site]

WRITING

Last month I created 28 posts on the Resources For Life website. Some are tech support guides and others are featured documentary videos. You can see the latest new content on the What’s New page.

THANKS!

Many thanks to all of you who keep in touch and provide support for the work I do.

20120224fr-greg-signature

Want More News? To signup to receive monthly notifications from me, please click here. For additional news and updates, you can click here to subscribe to the Resources For Life Newsletter.

Origins. For those of you who are new to these monthly personal updates, they began about 20 years ago out of a desire to share from my personal life about topics of lifeways (faith), health, career, finances, relationships, effective living, and public interest efforts. This is based on the life map presented on the Resources For Life website.

Personal Update 202103 | 1 Mar 2021 | Monday

Greetings!

Thanks for taking a moment to read this month’s update. To signup to receive monthly notifications from me, please click here. The photo featured above is from my morning walk today. I’m not sure what animal tracks those are.

Winter Days

We had some exceptionally cold winter days in February, and plenty of snow, which combined with the cautiousness of the pandemic, has kept me inside most of February. As usual, I’ve been busy with my tech support work, but at this time of year I am also catching up on annual financial and administrative tasks. So, I’ve not created as much content as I usually would have.

WRITING

Last month I created more posts on the Resources For Life website. Some are tech support guides and others are featured documentary videos. You can see the latest new content on the What’s New page.

THANKS!

Many thanks to all of you who keep in touch and provide support for the work I do.

20120224fr-greg-signature

Want More News? For additional news and updates, you can click here to subscribe to the Resources For Life Newsletter.

Origins. For those of you who are new to these monthly personal updates, they began about 20 years ago out of a desire to share from my personal life about topics of lifeways (faith), health, career, finances, relationships, effective living, and public interest efforts. This is based on the life map presented on the Resources For Life website.

Personal Update 202102 | 10 Feb 2021 | Wednesday

GREETINGS!

Thanks for taking a moment to read this month’s update. To signup to receive monthly notifications from me, please click here. The photo featured above is from a walk on 5 Jan 2021.

Keeping Busy With Various Services

I continue to be busy providing tech, web, audio, photography, and videos services. It’s nice to have a mix of different projects to be working on. Here’s an example of some work in recent weeks:

  • The primary computer for a local business had stopped working. The computer was probably over 10 years old, so finding parts would be difficult. I was able to track down a specialty power supply that worked. Getting it installed was a bit difficult since the computer was not easy to work on.
  • Someone had an old out-of-print LP record they wanted converted to digital audio. I was able to create separate MP3 audio files for each song on the album.
  • A local author needed a website renovation to display information about their books. I was able to modernize and upgrade the website.
  • I’ve been working on a variety of video projects for people. One project involved recording and editing video of people telling their stories of achieving better health. That project is still underway.
  • Tomorrow I’ll be setting up an audio system for someone’s home.

Working During the Pandemic

These days I generally avoid in-person visits. When an in-person visit is necessary (like setting up a stereo system), I limit such visits to one per week and get errands done on the same day. I’m always masked up — usually with two masks.

With weekly outings, I have enough days before any encounters to confirm I don’t have any symptoms of COVID, flu, cold or anything else. Then, I have several days afterwards to make sure I don’t start showing signs of having contracted something.

By self-quarantining after every weekly outing, I’m able to reduce the risk of spreading to others. Also, if I were to come down with something, I could report back to my most recent contact to let them know.

These sensible and simple measures involve very little effort or cost, and only minimal planning. They’ve worked for a year to avoid getting and spreading any illnesses.

WRITING

Last month I created more posts on the Resources For Life website. Some are tech support guides and others are featured documentary videos. You can see the latest new content on the What’s New page.

THANKS!

Many thanks to all of you who keep in touch and provide support for the work I do.

20120224fr-greg-signature

Want More News? For additional news and updates, you can click here to subscribe to the Resources For Life Newsletter.

Origins. For those of you who are new to these monthly personal updates, they began about 20 years ago out of a desire to share from my personal life about topics of lifeways (faith), health, career, finances, relationships, effective living, and public interest efforts. This is based on the life map presented on the Resources For Life website.

Personal Update 202101 | 3 Jan 2021 | Sunday

GREETINGS!

Thanks for taking a moment to read this month’s update. To signup to receive monthly notifications from me, please click here. The photo featured above is from a walk in Kent Park yesterday.

PODCAST

The podcast has allowed me to respond to the increase in demand for tech support during the COVID-19 pandemic, as we’ve seen an increase of people at home using their computers and devices for work and other purposes.

Last year I produced about 30 hours of podcast content in 56 episodes averaging a little over 30 minutes per episode. These are audio recordings of the advice I would give for the most common questions that people regularly ask of me, and usually pay me for answering.

With the podcast audios available, when people would call asking a common question, I could point them to the audio with the answers they needed. This allowed me to help more people, and saved money for those needing help.

If I take the number of plays for each episode, and total those up, there have been about 625 hours of content that people have listened to. This is mostly tech advice that I would typically charge $100 per hour for. So, assuming it was helpful to those who listened, it’s the equivalent of giving away $62,500 in consulting.

You can see recently posted podcast episodes at ResourcesForLife.com/podcast.

WRITING

Last month I created more posts on the Resources For Life website. Some are tech support guides and others are featured documentary videos. You can see the latest new content on the What’s New page.

THANKS!

Many thanks to all of you who keep in touch and provide support for the work I do.

20120224fr-greg-signature

Want More News? For additional news and updates, you can click here to subscribe to the Resources For Life Newsletter.

Origins. For those of you who are new to these monthly personal updates, they began about 20 years ago out of a desire to share from my personal life about topics of lifeways (faith), health, career, finances, relationships, effective living, and public interest efforts. This is based on the life map presented on the Resources For Life website.

Personal Update 202012 | 5 Dec 2020 | Saturday

GREETINGS!

Thanks for taking a moment to read this month’s update. To signup to receive monthly notifications from me, please click here.

The photo featured above is from my morning walk on 28 Nov 2020. We’ve begun seeing some frost on the ground in the morning.

TECH UPDATE

As I mentioned in my November newsletter, I spent October designing an alternate computing environment for my tech work. In this way, if something happened to my Apple computer system, I could easily use the Windows and Linux computers I built. Shortly after my November newsletter, my Apple computer began failing and needed repairs.

I’ve spoken about this experience in my podcast episodes 52 [listen] and 54 [listen]. I’m thankful I had setup a parallel system that was up and running so the disruption was minimized. The computer got repaired and is working great now. It was in the shop for about 12 days. It was a good test.

PODCAST

You can see recently posted podcast episodes at ResourcesForLife.com/podcast.

WRITING

Last month I created more posts on the Resources For Life website. You can see the latest new content on the What’s New page.

THANKS!

Many thanks to all of you who keep in touch and provide support for the work I do.

20120224fr-greg-signature

Want More News? For additional news and updates, you can click here to subscribe to the Resources For Life Newsletter.

Origins. For those of you who are new to these monthly personal updates, they began about 20 years ago out of a desire to share from my personal life about topics of lifeways (faith), health, career, finances, relationships, effective living, and public interest efforts. This is based on the life map presented on the Resources For Life website.

Personal Update 202011 | 1 Nov 2020 | Sunday

Greetings!

Thanks for taking a moment to read this month’s update. To signup to receive monthly notifications from me, please click here.

TECH UPDATE

This past month I spent some time redesigning my office computing technology including building a Windows desktop computer and a setting up a Raspberry Pi computer. Having a diversified tech work environment, using Apple, Windows, and Linux, keeps me flexible and allows me to choose the best system for each task. Most of the new posts last month on Resources For Life are about these tech projects on the What’s New page.

PODCAST

You can see recently posted podcast episodes at ResourcesForLife.com/podcast.

WRITING

Last month I created more posts on the Resources For Life website. You can see the latest new content on the What’s New page.

THANKS!

Many thanks to all of you who keep in touch and provide support for the work I do.

20120224fr-greg-signature

Want More News? For additional news and updates, you can click here to subscribe to the Resources For Life Newsletter.

Origins. For those of you who are new to these monthly personal updates, they began about 20 years ago out of a desire to share from my personal life about topics of lifeways (faith), health, career, finances, relationships, effective living, and public interest efforts. This is based on the life map presented on the Resources For Life website.

Personal Update 202010 | 3 Oct 2020 | Saturday

GREETINGS!

Thanks for taking a moment to read this month’s update. To signup to receive monthly notifications from me, please click here.

PODCAST

Since last month, I’ve uploaded episodes 39 to 45 on a variety of topics. You can see recently posted episodes on the What’s New page at  ResourcesForLife.com/new or the Podcast page at ResourcesForLife.com/podcast.

WRITING

Last month I created 44 posts for the Resources For Life website with some of those being podcast episodes. Some are featured videos. You can see the latest new content on the What’s New page.

VINTAGE VIDEO

For those of you fascinated by vintage newsreel footage, you will likely enjoy this presentation by Nicholas Johnson at Grinnell College on 1 Apr 1971.

PRODUCTION NOTES: The compilation of this video required combining three different videos, boosting the audio level, and sliding the audio track to make it precisely synchronized the audio with the video. The raw footage was provided by the University of Iowa Library Archives.

THANKS!

Many thanks to all of you who keep in touch and provide support for the work I do.

20120224fr-greg-signature

Want More News? For additional news and updates, you can click here to subscribe to the Resources For Life Newsletter.

Origins. For those of you who are new to these monthly personal updates, they began about 20 years ago out of a desire to share from my personal life about topics of lifeways (faith), health, career, finances, relationships, effective living, and activism. This is based on the life map presented on the Resources For Life website.

Personal Update 202009 | 3 Sep 2020 | Thursday

GREETINGS!

Thanks for taking a moment to read this month’s update. This month’s update is a bit longer than usual to provide an update on health and finances.

To signup to receive monthly notifications from me, please click here.

PODCAST

The podcast has been going well. Since last month, I’ve uploaded episodes 32 – 38 on variety of topics. You can find those episodes and other content on the What’s New page of the Resources For Life website. [View]

BACKGROUND — In April, I created a new podcast for those who prefer listening to their information rather than (or in addition to) reading articles and watching videos. The podcast is called Walk and Talk with Greg Johnson. You can pick and choose the shows by topic. You can also subscribe or listen with Apple PodcastsGoogle Podcasts, or Spotify. You can see recently posted episodes on the What’s New page at  ResourcesForLife.com/new or the Podcast page.

Farming

I’ve had a long-time interest in farming and agriculture. It’s a vocation that involves many disciplines. For more about that read “Yeah, farming is easy. Just become an expert in these 7 disciplines.” [View]

I’ve provided tech support and web design services to many farmers and agriculture-related organizations, was a 4H member, and have lived on farms for many years.

So, this past month I launched Farming Life as a Resources For Life initiative that focuses on promoting permaculture and regenerative practices in agriculture and food production.

On that page I feature some of the agriculture articles I’ve written. I still need to go back to older articles and assign the new farming category so they show up on that page.

WRITING

Last month I created 15 posts for the Resources For Life website with some of those being podcast episodes. Some are featured videos. You can see the latest new content on the What’s New page.

Health

Cars have regular maintenance intervals designed to preempt failures. Tasks like changing fluids, replacing belts, and making adjustments are scheduled to be done prior to mechanical failures that are known to be common after a certain timeframe.

Like cars, our bodies are known to have certain failures after certain periods of time. Our healthcare system is designed to begin early detection examinations before problems occur.

There are ailments and health problems expected for people as they reach certain milestones. That usually includes some hearing loss, vision loss, and deterioration of joints and bones. Cumulative damage injuries like skin cancer can be expected for those who spend time outdoors. So, doctors check for signs of any problem.

I would describe myself as generally healthy, active, exercising daily, and making good food choices. At least that’s how I imagine myself. As a teenager, when I had started gaining weight, my Dad encouraged me to start running. At the beginning of my training, I could barely run a city block. By 10th grade, I was running about 5 miles a day and participated in a 21-mile run. That positive experience early on with wellness and fitness stayed with me throughout my life, and I’ve stuck with a daily exercise routine. I choose organic foods and take a reasonable number of supplements. I use an app to track everything I eat. I weigh in daily, also recording body fat, bone density, and other details. I daily invest time, money, and attention on wellness.

Despite my mindfulness about wellness and my active pursuit of better health, for some reason, I seem to reach health milestones for aging about 30 years earlier than most people.

In 2010, I discovered a red spot on my nose, and it turned out to be skin cancer. Someone I know had the same cancer, in the same location, and had the same surgery, in the same week as I had my surgery — many similarities except that they were 30 years older than me. I’m thankful that I’ve not had any problems with skin cancer since then. I’ve been careful to stay covered and protected when outside.

In 2017, I launched some websites to support local bicyclists. That work required many hours of cycling to video record and document the many miles of trails in the Iowa City area. Later in the year, as the days grew shorter, I was driving after dark and noticed my right eye had become very blurry and foggy. I saw my eye doctor at the end of the summer. That vision problem was non-existent in May of 2017 at my regular eye exam. So, the problem appeared in a matter of months. I considered getting cataract surgery in the fall of 2017. The person I know (mentioned above) who is 30 years older than me, was also struggling with cataract issues and was scheduled for cataract surgery at the same time I was planned to get my procedure done. They went through the surgery and had trouble with it, so that made me reluctant to get the surgery at that time. I thought perhaps my vision would improve without surgery. Over the three years since then, my vision got worse in my right eye. It was beginning to make it hard to do my work. I was told that there could have been harm to my eye from a bicycling accident in 2017, or perhaps extended exposure to the sun. I finally mustered the courage to get the eye surgery in May of this year. Thankfully that procedure went very well, and the special lens that was installed gave me very clear vision for the close-range work I do, as well as adequate vision for driving. In addition, the lens has UV blocking that can help prevent future harm from excess exposure to sunlight.

This summer, I began noticing some pain in my right shoulder. By July, the pain was so severe that I went to a team of specialists who work with professional athletes. Fortunately, in Iowa City, we have access to excellent healthcare that would otherwise not be available most places in the country, and it’s covered by my health insurance. I began getting some physical therapy to exercise the shoulder. However, the problem kept getting worse. So, two weeks ago, I received multiple steroid shots in the shoulder using a 2-inch deep tissue needle. That helped a lot with the shoulder pain, which almost entirely went away. This has made it much easier to continue with my PT program to gain strength and improve range of motion for my shoulder. I was familiar with the process of getting steroid shots in shoulders because when I was a teenager, my grandmother would get steroid shots every six months to relieve pain.

As I was getting that steroid shot a couple of weeks ago, I thought of my grandmother, and then began thinking about these other examples where I am experiencing ailments about 30 years before expected: vision problems, hearing problems, joint problems, blood sugar problems, respiratory issues, thyroid issues, etc. I’m the youngest old person I know. It’s like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, but going in the wrong direction.

Another ailment that’s common in my family is people dying at 59-years-old. So, the combination of me getting ailments 30-years early and having a family history of people dying 20-30 years early, that concerns me. My mom died when she was 59. She traveled a lot, and enjoyed life up to that point, yet I’m sure she planned to have more time during retirement. Her mother (my grandmother) lived to be 89 despite smoking, drinking, and eating very rich foods. So, I don’t have a fatalistic attitude about lifespan. It’s certainly a roll of the dice. Yet, it’s a roll of the dice that could result in a wide span of possible outcomes.

With my own life planning, career plans and retirement plans, I need to think ahead with two outcomes in mind. I need to have one plan for a long life, and another plan for a shorter life. In recent years, I’ve tried to do more traveling for pleasure (as opposed to work-related travel). I’ve also tried to spend more time with family. I’ve been doing more of the things that people wait to do during retirement in case I don’t have the opportunity to do them later.

The health challenges I face aren’t necessarily life-threatening, but they are livelihood threatening. The tech work I do really depends on maintaining good hearing, vision, mobility, strength, and mental clarity. As I see these areas of health at risk, I begin to get concerned about my long-term plan to work into my retirement years, and that has financial implications.

Finance

I’ve not had any expensive habits or hobbies in my lifetime. I’ve mostly focused on my work and found enjoyment in that. Tech gadgets are a source of entertainment and learning. Those can sometimes seem costly, but they help with my career.

So, not being much of a world traveler, and not having any expensive habits or hobbies has allowed me to typically have more income than expenses. Also, because I enjoy the work I do, I’ve been able to work 6-7 days a week for many years.

My long-term financial plan has always been to invest in my own business, invest in my own skills, invest in work-related tools, and keep working into my old age.

Part of my financial plan, since I was in college, has been to earn money with tech consulting, and then donate time, money, and resources to non-profit groups and those in need. Before I was known as PC-DOC, my original business name was PICC (Public Interest Computer Consulting). Although the names have changed, the mission has continued for my entire career.

So, over the years, I’ve given time, money, and equipment to many non-profits and individuals. Everything beyond my own basic living expenses was given away — for decades. In later years I had a retirement fund through the University and that remains, but it’s not enough to actually retire on.

During my time working at the University of Iowa, I donated time, money, and tech equipment to the University equal to many thousands of dollars. Most of the computers, software, tools I relied on at the University, I purchased with my own funds. Sometimes I would use personal funds to purchase cables, adapters, and other supplies for instructors or departments. In addition to that, I would buy equipment for some of the international students who were instructors and on limited incomes. Part of the motivation for this is that faculty and grad student instructors were being told that funds weren’t available for certain items. I needed those items to get my work done. So, I’d just buy them myself, get the job done, and continue to the next project.

Some of my giving shows up on invoices as discounts or donated equipment that could add up to be hundreds of dollars off the amount owed. I recently discounted an invoice from about $1,500 down to $300 for a business that was having a hard time.

For many years I’d been giving several hundred dollars every month to help a local family that was running a community outreach.

Much of my giving involves micro-philanthropy. It’s under-the-radar giving that won’t ever result in receiving any public recognition.

These are all just a few examples of many. I explain all of the above, not to publicly proclaim how charitable I am (others give much more than I do), but to simply explain how it is that I’m not a multi-millionaire by now.

People who see me working hard and giving much away assume I’m very wealthy. Anyone learning I’m not a millionaire must wonder where all the money went. They may think I collect exotic cars, or smoke expensive cigars, or drink fine wine, or have a gambling problem. Nope. It’s simply that I’ve spent a lifetime giving everything away beyond my basic living expenses.

My giving hasn’t been careless, emotional, haphazard, or without much thought. I’ve primarily offered in-kind contributions, to people and organizations I’m working with, because that kind of giving is very targeted, precise, impactful, and easy to monitor. Although there were some years when I gave to a portfolio of national organizations, I’ve generally avoided giving money to far-away bloated organizations that don’t have much oversight.

Rather than waiting until I have the net worth of a Bill Gates or Warren Buffet to start giving, I’ve chosen to give along the way. That way the giving is more intentional, mindful, and effective. It’s like dollar cost averaging applied to charitable giving.

Fast forward to today. For my entire life, I’ve seen my business as a kind of ATM machine that I can get money out of at any time. So, I’ve not felt much need to save up for retirement or anything else. If money is needed, I work. If more money is needed, I work more.

With the encroaching health problems I described above, I’m realizing that I may not be able to continue working 60 hours a week into my 90s. Indeed, I’ve already started cutting back a bit. As a result, I’m reducing my giving. Not because I’m getting stingy, but because I have less income. That’s been hard for me because those who had depended on me in the past wonder why I’m no longer giving as much. My ability to donate my time, or give equipment away, has been reduced.

The health concerns impact financial planning. If I’ll be living into my 90s, then I really should hunker down, work hard, and minimize any non-essential spending. I’ll probably need to start saving more for retirement in the event that I’m unable to work when I’m older. That will also cut into what I’m able to donate of my time, money, and equipment.

THANKS!

Many thanks to all of you who keep in touch and provide support for the work I do.

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Origins. For those of you who are new to these monthly personal updates, they began about 20 years ago out of a desire to share from my personal life about topics of lifeways (faith), health, career, finances, relationships, effective living, and activism. This is based on the life map presented on the Resources For Life website.