Q: We moved to a mobile home retirement community seven years ago and are happy here. However, the monthly maintenance fees have doubled, and we are concerned about future increases. We live on Social Security and a small retirement income. Can we afford to stay? What are our choices?
A: List exactly how you now spend your money. Do not wait until the increases come and force you to bail out.
Think options! They are always on the table and can make things doable.
Can you cut expenses? Consider a part-time job. Check out selling and renting. Cut food expenses by ordering Meals On Wheels. Seek entertainment and socializing at your senior center. Check your newspaper's classified ads to find paying work. Do neighbors or friends need help with their yards or housekeeping?
Shop the dollar and charity stores. Reasonably priced items and good values are often found there. Do your utilities offer seniors lower rates? Perhaps there is even the possibility of a part-time job at your homeowners office. Be creative and discover your options. They exist!
Q: Over the years, my wife and I have purchased two small duplexes. Inflation and excellent locations have increased their value. Our only grandson has been working part time as a bank teller for the past two years, but he is not upbeat about his future there. He has a winning personality and people skills. We pay a rental management company nearly $15,000 a year for its services. Does it make sense to hire our grandson to take over the management?
A: Go slowly! Dealing with the family, jealousies, managing him, excusing his mistakes and giving advice he will accept requires more patience than you can imagine. Sometimes you, as the boss, won't be satisfied with his performance. What do you do then?
Often it does not work out, but that depends on how the ground rules are set up and who is in charge. How mature, dependable and capable do you believe your grandson is at his age? Has he had enough experience and taken a positive attitude about moving ahead with his career? Has he found a passion and committed himself to a work ethic, and is he currently financially responsible? Is he adaptable and prepared to respond to tenants' emergencies, such as a flooding toilet?
Have you discussed the possibilities with his parents, and how do they feel about the possibility? Some concerns could be jealous granddaughters, interfering relatives, wage increases, backup for his vacations or illness, bringing rental issues to your holiday parties, and supervising repairs and maintenance, and differences of opinion are always on the table.
You would soon learn that hiring family does not always enhance relationships and family popularity. He could be an instant success, but experience always counts.
Perhaps your best option might be to encourage your management company to hire your grandson and teach him the business.
Doug Mayberry's weekly column, "Dear Doug," can be found at creators.com.