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Keeping My Cool

Kristine Hayes

Kristine Hayes Nibler recently retired. She and her husband reside in Arizona. She enjoys spending her time reading, writing and training their four dogs.

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Keeping My Cool

Kristine Hayes  |  Jul 23, 2021

MY 2007 HONDA CR-V’s air conditioning system started having issues about three years ago. I took it to a shop where they added refrigerant and declared the problem fixed. A year later, the AC stopped working again so I took it to a different mechanic, who declared the problem solved after adding refrigerant and replacing a relay. Several months later, I was once again driving around in a car at ambient temperatures. Because I spent much of the summer of 2020 working from home,

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Aging Alone

Kristine Hayes  |  May 20, 2021

MY MATERNAL grandmother just celebrated her 100th birthday. She still lives a mostly independent life, residing in her own apartment within a senior living facility. She walks to the dining room three times a day for her meals, does her own laundry and is always willing to talk about current events.
At age 54, I often try to imagine what it’ll be like if I live to the same age as my grandmother. The process usually overwhelms me with angst.

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A Firm Foundation

Kristine Hayes  |  Apr 9, 2021

I WAS 24 YEARS OLD when I started working fulltime. My salary at that first job wasn’t great—I was making about $16,000 a year—but the retirement benefits were stellar. As a government employee, I was entitled to enroll in the state’s pension plan. Every month, the government contributed an amount equal to some 17% of my salary. The money was guaranteed to never earn less than 8% interest a year. Most years, the rate of return was much higher.

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Not What I Planned

Kristine Hayes  |  Jan 30, 2021

I WROTE MY FIRST column for HumbleDollar four years ago. In that article, I described how a midlife divorce had forced me to learn as much as I could about investing and personal finance. As part of that education process, I spent hours creating spreadsheets designed to predict my financial health over the next decade.
Planning didn’t seem difficult back then because my life was quite simple. I shared a one-bedroom apartment with my elderly dog.

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Still Here

Kristine Hayes  |  Oct 29, 2020

I WAS AGE 31 WHEN I started my job as a department manager at a small college in Portland, Oregon. Back then, it wasn’t unusual for people to mistake me for one of the students.
Now I’m 53 and people assume I’m the mother of one of the students. I’ve been working at the college for more than 22 years, which means I’ve been there longer than most of the current students have been alive.

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Easy Street

Kristine Hayes  |  Oct 22, 2020

A FEW YEARS AGO, my future husband and I took a trip to southern Utah to participate in a pistol shooting competition. We were taken by the area’s beauty and easy access to outdoor recreational activities. While there, we looked at a few homes and were pleasantly surprised to find the prices quite reasonable. We decided Utah would be high on our list of places to relocate to once I retired from my job.

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Decisions, Decisions

Kristine Hayes  |  Sep 2, 2020

I’VE BEEN EMPLOYED fulltime for nearly three decades—and retirement is now on the horizon. That means I’m spending more time trying to figure out how best to generate retirement income.
One obstacle: I keep getting bogged down by the seemingly endless choices. Despite knowing how critical these decisions are, I often find myself throwing up my hands in frustration and opting to do nothing. My experience isn’t uncommon. Welcome to the paradox of choice: When faced with a host of options,

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Day by Day

Kristine Hayes  |  Jul 13, 2020

I’M THE TYPE of person who likes to plan. I have at least 10 to-do lists going at any one time. I have calendars on my refrigerator, my desk and my phone. I plan out my days, my months, my years and, on occasion, my decades.
My job, managing the biology department at a small liberal arts college, is a perfect fit for my personality. For the past 22 years, I’ve methodically planned out every day of each semester.

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Did It Myself

Kristine Hayes  |  Jul 9, 2020

I PURCHASED MY first house almost 30 years ago. To call it a “fixer” would have been an understatement. It was 800 square feet of neglected space in desperate need of repairs and updating. Being fresh out of college and working at a job that paid less than $20,000 a year, I didn’t have a lot of money to spend on improvements. But I had the energy and enthusiasm of youth.
Over a five-year period,

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While at Home

Kristine Hayes  |  May 22, 2020

WHEN THE COLLEGE where I work switched to a remote learning platform for the remainder of the academic year, I suddenly found myself out of work. The majority of my job responsibilities revolve around preparing laboratory classes for students—students who are no longer on campus.
Thankfully, I’m still receiving a paycheck, but only time will tell whether I’ll be furloughed or have my hours cut back like so many other employees at colleges and universities.

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Attitude Adjustment

Kristine Hayes  |  Jan 8, 2020

MONEY HAS ALWAYS caused me stress. As a child, I worried my parents didn’t have enough, even though I had no idea what sum would have been considered enough for our family of six. In college, I worried about accumulating debt. I ended up living so frugally that I managed to save nearly all of the Pell grant that the government awarded me. I not only graduated debt-free, but also had a sizable emergency fund in place as I moved into adulthood.

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Few Absolutes

Kristine Hayes  |  Dec 9, 2019

ALMOST 30 YEARS AGO, I landed my first fulltime job. I worked at a state-run academic institution, earning $16,000 a year. The sole retirement benefit was a pension plan with a five-year vesting period. There were no investment choices to be made. There was no ability to invest additional funds, beyond what my employer contributed to the plan. It was a retirement plan requiring no participation on my part.
My second job came with the option of investing in a traditional 401(k) plan.

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Why FI?

Kristine Hayes  |  Nov 6, 2019

“FINANCIAL independence” has become a catchphrase over the past decade—in part because it’s the FI in FIRE, short for financial independence/retire early, a movement that’s captured the imagination of some and earned scorn from others.
The strategies touted by the financial independence movement are simple enough: Earn a large salary. Live frugally. Invest a substantial percentage of your income in low-cost mutual funds. The objective: Accumulate savings equal to at least 25 times your total annual spending.

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Pet Project

Kristine Hayes  |  Oct 4, 2019

I’M A DOG LOVER. I’ve had four Cardigan Welsh Corgis share their lives with me. Over the past 25 years, dog food, veterinary care and training classes have consumed a large percentage of my disposable income. By necessity, I’ve learned a few simple ways to reduce the cost of pet ownership—including these five strategies:
1. Pet insurance. One of my Corgis, Riley, needed a $5,000 orthopedic surgery when he was a puppy.

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Educated Consumers

Kristine Hayes   |  Sep 18, 2019

COLLEGE STUDENTS who borrow graduate with an average $37,000 in loans. While many people believe loans are the only way to finance a college education, that’s simply not the case. Here are five ways to get an advanced education while minimizing debt:
1. Stay close to home. Sure, it’s fun to think about moving across the country to go to school. But staying close to home after high school comes with several benefits.

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