It’s exciting to see nuggets of optimism that the worst of this pandemic is behind us.
According to the CDC, the percentage of new COVID-19 cases and hospital admissions has declined over 60% since the first of the year.
As of now around 70 million doses of vaccine have been administered in the United States, with over 1.5 million more doses of vaccine happening each day.
Many states are starting to loosen restrictions, and entire countries are once again opening their borders to visitors.
All this good news is giving a lot of people hope that life will soon be back to normal.
But that’s not going to happen. The COVID-19 pandemic was a global game changer, and things will never be the same.
The economic, social, and psychological disruptions have been so disastrous that the damage is still being assessed. Even the most knowledgeable experts are uncertain what the future holds.
Where does that leave each of us? What will our new normal look like?
While we individuals have...
Cynthia: Well, it’s that time of year.
Edd: I love Valentine’s. It’s the official day to celebrate how much I love my forever sweetheart.
And our lunch at Rosée yesterday was fantastic!
C: That’s so sweet, but I wasn’t referring to Valentine’s, Romeo. This is the time of year when we schedule our medical appointments.
E: Yikes. Why are you bringing that up? Going out for a romantic meal is so much more fun to talk about!
C: Because it’s what we do every January and February. And taking care of ourselves is part of how we’ll get to celebrate Valentine’s Day for many more years.
E: Can’t argue with that. I think a lot of folks in the States try to squeeze their medical stuff into the end of the year before new deductibles kick in. That’s not an issue for us with 100% coverage and $0 deductible.
C: Right. We do it now because 1) we always return after the holidays...
If last year had been “2020-The Movie”, it would have been a box office disaster, would you agree?
And thus far trailers for the sequel, 2021, don’t look remarkably better.
Many Americans are becoming nostalgic about how life was for them growing up and longing for simpler times when:
“Ah,” you think sadly, “those days are gone forever.”
In much of the U.S. perhaps, but not elsewhere in the world, we’re happy to report.
We recently returned home to Cuenca, Ecuador after a long trip to the States. Not surprisingly, our refrigerator and pantry needed restocking after 3 ½ months away.
Stepping out of our building to go to the grocery store, the restaurant owner across the street saw us, smiled and said,...
Edd: Well, here we are back in Cuenca after a l-o-n-g time in the States.
Cynthia: Yep. When our son asked us to extend our trip to help out with remote learning for our two grandchildren, a 6-week visit turned into 3 ½ months!
E: As we discussed in a previous conversation, our lifestyle is pretty simple and extremely portable, so once we figured out how to pay the rent from abroad we were all in.
C: In another chat we talked about differences we observed between life in the two countries. You’ve been out and about more than me. What have you noticed since we’ve been home?
E: We wondered what would change during our absence. Turns out that aside from some businesses closing and a few new ones opening everything is pretty much the same. Ecuador moves at a slow pace.
C: You know, we were fortunate that this is one of the most lenient and still sensible countries as far as requirements for entry. Of those opening their borders,...
Note ~ We’ve extended our family visit in the U.S. to help with our grandchildren’s remote learning. The current plan is to begin 2021 back home in Ecuador. Thank you for continuing to follow our expat adventures!
Cynthia: So much has changed since this time last year when we had a big Thanksgiving celebration in the Yunguilla Valley outside Cuenca. At least 18 friends were there!
Edd: Yep. Tons of food and “adult beverages.” Catching up by the pool. A fun day. Although gatherings will be smaller, I’m sure expats will still get together and continue holiday traditions if they aren’t with family.
C: And now here we are in North Carolina planning a quiet family Thanksgiving dinner.
E: With two young grandchildren I wouldn’t call it “quiet!”
C: Ha! I stand corrected. You know, 2020 is a year many of us will always remember but would like to forget.
E: I’ll say. There’s...
Cynthia: “Would you like to round up?” We didn’t know what the checkout clerk was talking about when we paid for our groceries with cash.
Edd: I asked, “Round up to what??” “The nearest dollar,” he replied. I said, “If I have a choice, I’d prefer to round down.” He wasn’t amused…
C: And when we asked what happens to that extra change he said, “It goes to charity.” “Really? Which charity?” Crickets.
E: We’re actually used to clerks asking weird questions. For years in Ecuador they always want to know if you have exact change. And for sure we don’t have the coin shortage supposedly going on here. We more often use Sacagawea dollar coins than bills.
C: I’m noticing more differences now that we’ve been here awhile. We walk almost everywhere at home, and it takes us about 25 minutes to go maybe 2 miles from our apartment to Parque...
Edd: I’m noticing something.
E: We’ve been in North Carolina for a week.
C: You just realized that??
E: Stop it. Already we’re starting to establish a routine. After about that amount of time the same thing happened during the first half of our trip in New Jersey.
E: That when we go somewhere different we flounder around for a bit, but once we get our bearings we unconsciously create a version of our “normal life.”
C: I hadn’t thought about that but OK. There’s more, right?
E: You know me well, my love. It made me think about when we first moved to Ecuador and how much we struggled in the beginning.
C: Boy, did we! Knowing no one. Jumping into a Latin American culture with pitiful Spanish skills. There were days when we thought, “What have we gotten ourselves into?”
E: It was overwhelming for sure but also fun and exciting. We were...
Edd: Well, here we are. Back in the States for the trip that was originally supposed to have happened in April. How great is it to finally be with the New Jersey half of our family?
Cynthia: It’s terrific! We’ve logged a lot of hours on Skype and Zoom during the past six months, and I’m grateful this technology has made it possible for us to stay closely connected. Who knew we would be jumping on Zoom with our grandchildren to help with their school work?
Since a lot of people aren’t flying these days and wondering if it's safe to travel, why don’t we talk about our observations from being in 2 countries, 3 planes, and 4 airports getting here?
E: So much has changed since our last trip in January, especially having to do with traveling. We had no idea what to expect. Here’s a recap of our experience over a 24-hour period along with some photos.
The airport in Cuenca has only one or two flights a day right now, but the...
If the upheaval of 2020 has you concerned about your retirement, you’re not alone. A recent survey revealed that a full 70% of people in the 50+ age group are more worried now.
Nearly three-quarters of respondents said they plan to work longer than they originally hoped. But the harsh reality is they hope to work longer than they planned.
Older employees have already been the most negatively impacted by coronavirus layoffs. And historically when members of this demographic lose their jobs prematurely, only one in ten ever earns as much again.
Whether you know you haven’t saved enough or worry that you’ll outlive your nest egg, there’s an overlooked and under-reported strategy that allows you to retire sooner rather than later.
With the money you have.
And at the same time preserve, or even grow, your nest egg.
We break it all down in a new Exclusive Report called “Concerned about Retirement?”
Learn about a canny “outside-the-box”...
Cynthia: We’ve had several subscribers write to us asking if living abroad still makes sense with everything going on in the world right now. I think it’s a really valid question that we should talk about.
Edd: I agree. Even after five months of this pandemic there’s so much fear and uncertainty. A lot of times when people are trying to process those extreme emotions they tend to kind of shut down.
C: Yeah. When you’re not sure what to do the easiest choice is to do nothing.
E: Exactly. I think the key words you said are “right now.” It doesn’t feel like it, but coronavirus isn’t going to last forever. And, of course, everyone’s hoping for a speedy economic recovery.
C: But what if that doesn’t happen? There were concerns about retirement savings pre-pandemic. With the stock market fluctuations and massive unemployment I’m sure a lot of people who believed they were in good shape...