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Monthly Archives: June 2015

How Do I Choose A Roommate?

 

Last month, we discussed how to find Golden Girls housemates. Now, that you have emails pouring in from people eager to create a comfortable and interesting shared-living arrangement with you, how do you choose a lucky housemate?

Consider the Kind Of Living Arrangement You Want to Have

Each Golden Girls Home develops its own culture and style, and each member makes the house feel like home. But the style of the home is always unique.

Sometimes, a Golden Girls Home is adults comfortably living together and maintaining a certain independence: cooking and eating separately, holding informal house meetings, and keeping busy schedules with an occasional dinner together, a movie, or a birthday party.

In other situations, it is a group that desires a more family-like atmosphere, often called “co-housing.” These groups share kitchen duties and plan dinners together. They hold regular house meetings, make joint decisions, and plan shared activities.

It’s important for the members of the household to have a similar vision of culture and style, so consider the style of living arrangement you’d like to have when you begin interviewing roommates.

Connecting With Your Potential Housemate

  • If you like the way the person presents herself in the email application, reply with something like this: “I am looking for a woman between the ages of X to Y who is a non-smoker with no pets. Tell me a little more about yourself.” When she replies, ask for a phone number and set up a time to call her. (Don’t give your address yet!)
  • Get to know the applicant on the phone. Cover your basic issues such as smoking or pets and then see whether you two can communicate easily and whether you like her personality. Trust your intuition. If you don’t get a good vibe over the phone, politely tell her that you don’t think this is the right match. You do not have to give a reason.
  • If all goes well, invite her for a face-to-face interview in two to three days. (If you aren’t comfortable interviewing alone, ask a friend to interview with you.)
  • During the in-person interview, have a list of questions that will help you assess her personality and circumstances. Look for any cultural or lifestyle differences that you think might be difficult. Golden Girls Network encourages diversity, but sometimes very different people can’t live easily in the same house.

Traits to Consider During the Interview

Be honest with yourself about whether you think you could get along with the potential housemate’s personality. If she’s assertive and outgoing but you’re quiet and bookish, this probably isn’t a good match.

  • Age: People in different age groups may have different lifestyles. So, as a rule, we suggest looking for roommates within 10 to 20 years of your age.
  • Neatness: Most roommates are clean and tidy. But some clean obsessively while others embrace the philosophy “don’t sweat the small stuff.” Find someone whose neat meter is close to yours.
  • Deal Breakers: Be clear about your desires concerning smoking, pets, firearms and alcohol use in the home. These are deal breakers if the potential housemate has widely different views or needs.
  • Religion: If you have a strong affiliation with a particular religion, examine how important it is to you to have someone with a similar affiliation. You can’t discriminate in housing based on religious preferences, but you have a right to choose carefully when you are living in the same spaces.
  • Cultural Differences: Think about whether your customs may seem strange to others. In some cultures, it is common to speak loudly and to sound like you are arguing (when in fact, you aren’t!), and in other cultures, people have a quieter way of talking to each other. Would your cultural habits be difficult for someone from another culture?
  • Food Choices: Eating habits should be considered in some situations. What if you are not a meat eater, and someone cooks bacon every morning? Could you tolerate the smell and the occasional bacon grease?
  • Work: What if you have a housemate whose work requires that they leave early in the morning or come home late at night? If you are retired or not employed, you might look for someone who is in the same situation and who might become a companion or a best friend.
  • Social Preferences: Consider whether you’re a good match in terms of how much you both like to socialize. Do you invite people over to the house frequently, and would it be OK for a housemate to invite people over often? Some housemates may prefer a quiet house, while for others it may feel like a tomb.

Know yourself! This is your home and your living environment, so it’s okay to take your time looking for the perfect housemate. Next month, we’ll discuss how to put your housing agreement on paper.

Excerpt from “How to Start a Golden Girls Home” by Bonnie Moore. Click here for more info or your own copy.

 

 

How Baby Boomers Can Keep Their Money and Identities Safe Online

The Internet is an incredible tool, allowing us at Golden Girls Network to connect like-minded people over 50 so that they can create homes full of potential friends who share interests. And we love that the Internet allows us to keep in touch with Golden Girls through Facebook and email.

But not everyone’s intentions on the Internet are good. Hackers and online scammers target those of us over 50 because they expect us to be less computer savvy and more trusting. They want our money and our identities. With the following know-how, we’re going to prevent those abusing the Internet from getting them!

Lock Down Your Device

  • First and foremost, make sure your computer, your iPad, your phone, or any other device you’re using to connect to the Internet is secure. Install security and operating system updates, as well as antivirus software, anti-spyware and firewall software to prevent anyone from sneaking in and stealing your information.
  • Be careful about sending personal information over public Wi-Fi. Security can vary from system to system. In fact, if you travel a lot, consider purchasing a portable router to create your own hot spot so you can safely use your devices while you’re on the road.
  • Don’t open files, click on links, or download programs emailed by strangers. They can introduce spyware or a virus into your system.
  • Keep financial information on your laptop only when necessary, and, if you do, don’t use the automatic login feature that saves your user name and password. Foil thieves by making it difficult to login if your laptop is stolen.
  • Delete all personal information from your computer and mobile devices before you dispose of them. You can use a wipe utility program to clear your computer’s hard drive and remove the SIM card from your mobile device.

Protect Your Personal Information

  • Don’t use any passwords – like your birth date or your grandchildren’s names – that would be easy for someone to guess. Use a unique combination of numbers, upper- and lowercase letters, and symbols to create passwords and change them on a regular basis. Of course, remembering all those letters, numbers and symbols is never easy, but there are a variety of good password managers to make the job easier.
  • Look for the “lock” icon in the status bar of your Internet browser before you send personal or financial information online. (You’ll see it when you go to pay for anything on Golden Girls Network!) This icon lets you know that your information will be sent safely.
  • Never respond to an email asking for you to verify your password, account number or credit card number and do not click on the links in such an email. If it’s a company you actually do business with, or you’re unsure whether you do business with that company, call their customer service department using a phone number from either an account statement or from a web search.
  • Manage the privacy settings on your social networking sites so that only people you trust can have access to information about your day-to-day personal life. Bad guys can use this info to answer “challenge” questions about you, discover when you’re out of town or, even worse, discover when your roommates are away and you’re home alone. On more open social networking sites, be judicious about the personal info you share, and never post your full name, address, phone number or account numbers.
    • Your social security number is like gold to an identity thief, so protect it like the treasure it is. Never provide it in an email or on a social networking site. If a company requests it, ask why they need it, how it will be used, how will they protect it and what will happen if you don’t provide it. We never ask for it!

Next month, we’ll blog about online scams that target older Americans and how to fight them. Stay tuned!

Three Easy Steps To Downsize Your Files Before A Move

Today we welcome a guest contributor, Kay H. Bransford, who developed the award-winning MemoryBanc system to organize documents, accounts, and assets. We know keeping up with papers and legal documents can be a challenge! Thanks, Kay, for your perspective and insights!

Before you start buying boxes, consider how much weight and clutter you can eliminate if you just streamlined your personal documents before you pack. If you’re moving into a shared home with limited storage space, this can be especially important. Every year a list all the documents you should have and how long to keep them is published on USA.gov. Before you plan your move, we recommend you follow this 3 step process to clean out your files instead of moving and paying to move information you no longer need.

To downsize your files:

  • Collect 3 boxes and label them ACTIVE, DORMANT and SHRED

ACTIVE will hold all the documents, accounts, and financial records you use on a regular basis. DORMANT will be used to store important records you should keep but don’t use regularly like appliance manuals and tax filings. SHRED will contain all the items you want to dispose. While you might not need to shred all the documents, you will want to shred cancelled checks, pay stubs already reconciled with your W-2, and bank statements, unless they are used to support a tax filing.

  • Go through your file cabinets, old boxes or piles and put each document into one of the 3 boxes—adding boxes as needed to one of the three categories.
  • Organize your ACTIVE records, inventory your DORMANT documents, and shred the rest of the papers in the SHRED box.

When you arrive in your new home, you can unpack and file the ACTIVE box and store the DORMANT files in an out of the way but accessible location. You might be able to find a spot for your DORMANT files in a shared storage closet or the attic so they don’t take up space in your room – check with your homeowner to sort out what works best for both space and security of the files. You can easily repeat the 3-step process to clean up your records annually.

USA.gov offers an online resource How Long to Keep Your Documents. There are situations where you may want to keep documents longer than recommended. A scanner is the perfect tool to capture and minimize papers you or a loved one might need in the future. Some files to consider keeping or scanning that were not included on the USA.gov site include:

  • Bank statements. You might need to produce bank statements from more than the past year. If you apply for Medicaid (or are doing so for a loved one), you will be subject to a 5-year look back period that requires bank statements from the past 5 years.
  • Driver’s license. As the adult child who has been the caregiver for a parent, I was asked to provide a copy of my dad’s driver’s license to I could claim $2,500 of his money that was sitting in Kansas.
  • Land deeds and other records. There may be other instances where land deeds and financial records are requested outside the U.S. government recommendations. In addition to a driver’s license, I was asked to produce the land deed to the last address shown for my dad and that property was sold in 1969.

You need to determine what is right for you. But before that move, we do recommend you at least streamline what you are keeping and decide to move with you.

Kay H. Bransford developed the award-winning system to organize documents, accounts, and assets. Golden Girls Network members will receive a 20% discount using the coupon code “Golden” on any order placed at MemoryBanc.com.

Boomerly Offers a New Way to Make Friends After 50

Life after 50 is a time of transitions. With our family circumstances changing, we finally have the time and resources to focus on our own passions. We are free to experience life on our terms.

At the same time, despite the freedom that we feel in our 50s and 60s, many of us find it increasingly difficult to maintain the social connections that make life worthwhile. School plays and family BBQs are a thing of the past. Work events fade from our lives.

As time passes, we realize that making friends as an adult is different. We can no longer rely on work and family to keep us connected. We need to take control. We need to reach out and build the relationships that we deserve.

But, where can we start? How can we meet people who share our interests? Social networks are a great way to stay connected with people we already know, but, they don’t offer opportunities to meet new people. Dating sites can help us to make new connections, but, only if we are looking for romance. In-person events, like dance classes and yoga offer fantastic opportunities to meet people, but, they require us to step out of our comfort zone.

We need a new way to make friends. We need Boomerly.

Boomerly Helps People Over 50 to Build Meaningful Friendships

When we reach our 50s, we don’t want more people in our lives – we want to the right people in our lives. We don’t need more surface level contacts. We need deep connections with people who share our interests.

Boomerly is a new way for people over 50 to build meaningful friendships with like-minded people. It’s not a dating site or a social network. It’s an easy-to-use messaging platform that helps older adults to build relationships with people just like them.

The service was built from the ground-up to be safe, convenient and fun. For starters, unlike most social sites, Boomerly doesn’t ask you to type a single word to set up your profile. Just click a few buttons and your profile is set up automatically. This lets you get straight to the fun part – finding people who share your interests.

Best of all, Boomerly is free to use. Unlike dating sites, which limit how many people you can see without signing up for an expensive monthly plan, Boomerly lets you start talking right away – at no cost.

If you are interested in building new friendships with people who share your interests, give Boomerly a try. Your new friends are just a few clicks away!