Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Cape Coral

We spent Tuesday morning looking at homes in Cape Coral. The area is well located near Ft. Myers.

While we found several very reasonably priced - $75,000 to $89,000 - older homes in good shape, I decided that the area just felt too "old". Even with me being retired, I would not want to be in an area where the average age looks to be about 75 and where I couldn't find big name entertainment.

Cape Coral's economy is severely depressed. But if you have a retirement income or can get a job in the health care industry, consider looking here as there definitely are some great housing bargains!

CIAO Ristorant

To celebrate my sister Ginny's birthday we drove to Naples last night and had a fabulous dinner at Ciao Ristorante, located near the famous 5th Avenue South Shopping District.

Italian born restaurant owner, Chef Gianfranco Loreti prepared a scrumptious meal. Ginny had a fresh shrimp and lobster pasta dish and I tried the pasta filled with ricotta cheese and black truffles, served with Alfredo sauce.

I'd highly recommend this restaurant not only for the food, but the ambiance and friendly waiters.

After dinner, we met Chef Loreti and talked about our love of Italy as our paternal grandparents were born in Sicily which we visited in September 1995.

That was definitely my favorite trip as we met many Sicilian relatives, but best of all we actually found the home my Grandma Rosa was born in.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Cape Coral, FL

Traditionally, Florida's been one of the favorite states for BOOMERs to relocate to in retirement. In the past few months, I've seen real estate expert, Barbara Corcoran, several times on the TODAY Show just raving about the fabulous home deals in Cape Coral, FL.

She bragged so much about the area that I just had to see for myself if the bargains were, my sister, Ginny, and I are spending the week here checking out the area and homes.

Being a retired BOOMER, I wanted a reasonably priced hotel; but of course, right on the beach! I love it when there's "truth in advertising" because the Neptune Inn - delivered everything that was promised on it's website and more. It's right on the ocean with breathtaking views, clean beach area, spacious rooms and friendly help!

Tomorrow we're spending the day looking at homes in Cape Coral. I've spent hours researching properties here and the 2 most important factors should you decide to consider the area are:
possible problems with Chinese drywall in homes built after 2003 and extremely high unpaid assessments for water and sewer.

For more buying tips from Barbara:

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Country at it's BEST!

I'm a concert junkie!
Ever since my cousin Lydia took me to see Elvis when I was 8, I've been hooked. I love the energy of the crowd and seeing an artist perform my favorite songs in person!

Like most Boomers, I was raised on Rock'n'Roll, so it too me a long time to really like and appreciate Country Music. I just didn't care for that twangy sound and the songs were all so depressing, filled with nothing but heartbreak. Then, I heard Alan Jackson and got hooked on Country. Last night, I was so excited to get to see 2 of my favorite Country stars -- Keith Urban with SUGARLAND as the opening act.

SUGARLAND put on an entertaining set filled with many of their greatest hits. The dynamic duo well-deservingly won the 2009 CMT Duo of the year Award. Jennifer Nettles voice was best highighted in her haunting rendition of one of my favorites "STAY".

Keith Urban was a fireball of energy the minute he hit the stage! He performed an electrifying set including a variety of songs from all his CDs. It's obvious that he has a mutual love affair with his enthusiastic fans. Early in his set, he jumped off the stage, struggled to get thru the fans on the floor, then performed several songs at a small stage up at back of the Pepsi Center. The crowd went wild!

To check out Keith Urban's tour schedule:

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Property Taxes

As we Boomers age, I think it's important not only to look for ways to make extra money, but also how to save it!

Most states reassess property valuations every 2 years and some even every year.

Have you noticed though that in the past 2 to 3 years, the Assessor's Offices have NOT dropped prices in proportion to what properties are really selling for?

I'm now working on my 2nd appeal in 2 years on my home. The first one resulted in a 10% per year tax savings for 2 years.

This time I'm really mad because I found out that many of my neighbor's received a 20% to 30% reduction in their tax bill, yet mine was only 3%. It's too complicated a story for here, but suffice it to say that I feel very strongly that I am being penalized for having successfully appealed my 2007 Valuation.

Take the time to review your property tax bills now!

When was the last time that your home was re-assessed to reflect the current low market values? If you don't know where to start, then go to the County Assessor's Office as all valuation data is public info and you can then get the comparison data you need to file an appeal.

Pay close attention to the Appeal deadline as most Assessor's Offices won't budge on it.
Gotta run as my Appeal is due tomorrow!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Question EOB Payments

As we age, most Baby Boomers will incur ever increasing medical bills. If you're under 65, then you can't qualify for Medicare, so at best you're still liable for probably 15% to 20% of preferred providers' bills and even more for other doctors outside of your medical network.

I've incurred thousands in medical bills over the past year and have had to fight the insurance company because they would not pay a "reasonable rate" for non-provider doctors.

I recently read that this is a common practice in the health insurance industry. They have been using an outdated database that overcharges patients for seeing doctors outside their insurance network; in turn, costing us billions of dollars for payments the meidcal insurer should have made.

That inaccurate database is run by Ingenix which in January agreed to pay over $350 million to settle allegations that it intentionally kept rates low. Many independent insurers used Ingenix to determine a typical average cost for care outside their network, thus subjecting over 100 million Americans to excessive costs for their portion of the bill.

I can't tell you the countless hours I've spent in the past year fighting with my insurance company. It really makes me furious that so many of us Boomers have paid medical insurance premiums for years, only to have to then argue with the provider to get a fair and equitable payment when we need a specialist!

It's your don't hesitate to challenge your insurance company's calculation of what you owe on your EOB(Explanation of Benefits).

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Michael Jackson

Okay, I admit it!

I watched the Michael Jackson Memorial yesterday, but mainly to see the incredible performances by so many big name stars.
Jennifer Hudson was just outstanding! Her performance gave me chills and further proved that American Idol viewers were wrong when they voted her off early in the season.

But there were several things that really bothered me!

While I strongly feel that a person is innocent until proven guilty and Jackson was cleared of all charges, the saint-like send off he was given was just too much. Of all the speakers, only Barry Gordy, MOTOWN President, briefly acknowledged Jackson's troubled past. Being Catholic, I would've sworn the other speakers were making their case for his sainthood. And if I were a Californian, I'd be even madder that the state funded the security...........shouldn't Jackson's estate be hit with a bill for it?

Jackson was a phenomenal entertainer, making many significant contributions to advancing the music industry, especially MTV. But come on -- calling him the best entertainer ever, the King of all entertainers. In my book he'll never own that title.

As any Baby Boomer knows, there's only one King.........and that's Elvis!

Computer Addict

Have you wondered how you ever got along without it?

I can't even imagine my life now without my laptop.

So, as an addicted user, it's been a tough 2 weeks. My computer is still not fully functional and even though I had backed up all my files and reloaded them, the operating system still refuses to recognize me, so I can't open anything. Damn, it's been so frustrating!

Then I went out of town for 4 days over the 4th holiday weekend and barely survived without any computer access. That's been the longest stretch in the past 10 years that I've gone without being online and I truly suffered from it won't happen again!

What about you? What high-tech item can't you live without?