Author Topic: Single, no kids, don't want to be a bag lady  (Read 11806 times)

WaxOnWaxOff

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Single, no kids, don't want to be a bag lady
« on: September 24, 2012, 01:35:15 PM »
Does anyone have tips on how a single woman with no children should plan for her golden years? I'm 42, an only child, single, and have no kids. Yeah, I know, some closed-minded people believe I've failed as a woman -- whatever. Although I've been doing okay building my 'stache and adopting frugal habits, there are times when I'm scared knowing that my quality of life when I'm old depends completely on my own planning since I have no kids, nieces, or nephews to lean on. My extended family is scattered around the country, so I can't depend on them either. Aside from taking scrupulous care of my physical and mental health and continuing to build the 'stache, what are some other things I should plan for to avoid being a burden on anyone? I already know I need to update my will, power of attorney, etc. Thank you for your advice!

Edited to add: although early retirement is a very nice dream, I opted to downshift to a less-demanding job for now for health insurance and 401k reasons. I'm also aggressively paying down the remaining $150K I have in my mortgage. Once that's paid off, I'll re-run the numbers and think things over again.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2012, 01:58:02 PM by WaxOnWaxOff »

smalllife

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Re: Single, no kids, don't want to be a bag lady
« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2012, 01:58:31 PM »
My plan is to stay active and involved in the community.  This will keep me busy, healthier than otherwise, and create friendships with those around me to be on the look out if I suddenly disappear.   I'm a generation behind you, but rough numbers show that statistically a fifth or more of all American women will make it to the age of 40 without kids so we won't be alone in our dilemma.  I predict that support networks and agencies will spring up to account for that need (especially since many women outlive their husbands) if organic support networks aren't available.

I think your plan is a good one :-)

Mariana

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Re: Single, no kids, don't want to be a bag lady
« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2012, 04:57:42 PM »
I agree with smalllife.  You can form great friendships/relationships in your community that become your family.  Having kids is no guarantee that you won't grow old alone--there are people all over this country growing old alone in nursing homes who do have kids! 
The best we can all do is foster the relationships we have and take good care of ourselves.  :)

maryofdoom

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Re: Single, no kids, don't want to be a bag lady
« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2012, 05:44:12 PM »
I know some ladies who are in similar situations to yours, whom I met through the Embroiderer's Guild of America. They are a blast. In fact, everyone in that organization is a blast.

From what I have seen of these ladies and their experiences, a key element for not being a burden on anyone is to cultivate and nurture your friendships with like-minded people. You might not enjoy embroidery, but I'm sure there's some kind of hobby you enjoy partaking in. I would advise you, in addition to all the financial stuff that you're doing, to find a group of people who are into your hobby and get to be good pals with them.

mustachecat

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Re: Single, no kids, don't want to be a bag lady
« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2012, 07:17:28 PM »
I can't remember where I read about this... I can't even remember if it was in the US or in Europe, but there is at least one housing cooperative that's just for single women that sounded really cool. Kind of like a secular convent. I forget if it offered social services as well, but I remember thinking that I should put myself on the waiting list because I'll probably outlive my husband by a long shot.

Does this ring a bell for anyone else? I remember the main woman in the article was older, had a boyfriend (who lived in his own place), and rode a bike to do errands.

totoro

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Re: Single, no kids, don't want to be a bag lady
« Reply #5 on: September 24, 2012, 07:17:36 PM »
I agree with cultivating friendships.  In Canada we have the live-in caregiver program which I have considered for later in life and I have kids.  This is a program that places someone, usually a nurse from the phillipines who speaks English, in your home for a very reasonable fee as a live in caregiver (Approx $1300/month plus room and board).  If you have a house with say three bedrooms and doubled up with a single friend to use these services it would be far more affordable than any other way of obtaining care and you'd get to stay in your own home with a friend until intensive care stage should you ever reach it (hopefully not).  If the individual stays three years in Canada s/he can apply to immigrate.  It is a win:win I think if you treat each other well as most of the caregives have families they hope to sponsor.

WaxOnWaxOff

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Re: Single, no kids, don't want to be a bag lady
« Reply #6 on: September 24, 2012, 08:32:04 PM »
Thank you for the support and the great ideas! I do like the idea of a housing cooperative, so I'll look into that some more. Nuturing friendships definitely appears to be key. I'm already active in my local running community and I also have several friends who are in the same situation as me, so that's a start. I'll explore more opportunities to get involved and nuture even more friendships (no small feat for introverted me).

reverend

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Re: Single, no kids, don't want to be a bag lady
« Reply #7 on: September 24, 2012, 09:24:46 PM »
Consider it the socially responsible thing, to not have kids. :)  You don't suffer from the vanity of most of us who decide to inflict a child on the planet instead of helping the myriad children that are already out there. hehe


Wendyimhome

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Re: Single, no kids, don't want to be a bag lady
« Reply #8 on: September 24, 2012, 10:24:06 PM »
In terms of thinking really far down the road, consider pricing long-term care insurance policies.  Beyond that, it sounds like you are in good shape with your investment choices and discipline.

As far as the concern of a social support group, I don't know if you are a college grad but, if so, you might want to get involved with an alumni group.  That's always a good way to find friends.  Local charitable groups (e.g., church, United Way, etc.) can also be helpful.

Also, I think the concerns you have weigh against a rush to retire.  Even if you reach a point of financial independence, you might want to continue working so as to maintain the relationships.  If you don't like the job or your colleagues, you would want to look into the possibility of changing jobs to one that, despite paying less, has more enjoyable people to interact with.  But there's no quicker way for a single person to become lonely than to drop out of the job market and spend all day at home.

madgeylou

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Re: Single, no kids, don't want to be a bag lady
« Reply #9 on: September 25, 2012, 10:47:44 AM »
I can't remember where I read about this... I can't even remember if it was in the US or in Europe, but there is at least one housing cooperative that's just for single women that sounded really cool. Kind of like a secular convent. I forget if it offered social services as well, but I remember thinking that I should put myself on the waiting list because I'll probably outlive my husband by a long shot.

Does this ring a bell for anyone else? I remember the main woman in the article was older, had a boyfriend (who lived in his own place), and rode a bike to do errands.

is this the place? it's in amsterdam:

http://www.amsterdam.info/sights/begijnhof/

i read about it in this article in the atlantic called "all the single ladies." great reading.

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/11/all-the-single-ladies/308654/?single_page=true
« Last Edit: September 25, 2012, 10:50:23 AM by madgeylou »

mustachecat

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Re: Single, no kids, don't want to be a bag lady
« Reply #10 on: September 25, 2012, 11:20:00 AM »
is this the place? it's in amsterdam:

http://www.amsterdam.info/sights/begijnhof/

i read about it in this article in the atlantic called "all the single ladies." great reading.

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/11/all-the-single-ladies/308654/?single_page=true

Yes, that's it! Thanks, madgeylou!

Another resource for people interested in cooperative living is the Intentional Communities website: http://www.ic.org.

bogart

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Re: Single, no kids, don't want to be a bag lady
« Reply #11 on: September 26, 2012, 02:24:59 PM »
I'm not "your demographic" (I'm married and have 1 kid and 2 stepkids, plus assorted extended family...), but honestly, I think asking the kinds of questions it seems that you are asking is probably a good idea for many of us to consider.

In the past 3 years, both my parents-in-law and one stepparent-in-law have passed away (one survives).  My dad is in a nursing home with dementia, while my mom is living (very) independently (my parents are divorced).  One of my mom's neighbors has recently passed away, and the surviving spouse is at wits end despite having (a) plenty of money and (b) in theory/rationality, plenty of reason to anticipate the spouse's death. 

In watching (and in some cases providing assistance to the individuals involved in) all this, and just in general, I've been really struck by the extent to which people experience physical and cognitive declines as they age.  Not everyone, obviously, but (ongoing, or temporary but serious) problems of one sort or another are far more common than we in our younger years suspect or plan for, I think.  My dad's dementia is of course one extreme of that and one that gets attention (in reporting on the difficulties the elderly and their families negotiate), but my mom's neighbor, for example, has over the past decade or more turned from valuing (and having) a tidy home into a hoarder, the sort who could be on the TV show.  Both the neighbor and one of my 2 sets of parents-in-law really struggled with the process of moving from the homes they had owned for decades into more suitable residences (my in-laws moved from a multiple story house that had no bathroom one could access without climbing steps into a ranch home; my mom's neighbor hasn't yet moved but needs to).  My mom, who could run circles around most of us, needs to be able to swim regularly to avoid debilitating back pain.

Personally, I'm watching all this and trying to think ahead.  I'm fortunate that I live in an area where I want to stay that has many of the features I think are likely to be important down the road; these include:
  • good (well, decent, I'm in the US, and not a major city...) public transportation options, including for the mobility impaired
  • low crime rate
  • good hospitals and other medical care facilities
  • good public resources, e.g. the swimming pool my mom uses is a public pool

You may value different things, of course, but I think it's useful to think about.  Spending time with elderly people, and asking them about their experiences, might help you get a more visceral sense of what the tradeoffs may be, and/or what you don't want to do without (of course you may already do this and I don't mean to presume you don't, but I just don't know).

As we make modifications to our house (which I hope to live in forever), I'm eyeing accessibility and safety (e.g. minimizing fall risk).  There are a number of resources (books, webpages) on design features that facilitate these kinds of things, and I've tried to educate myself and make informed choices.  Of course, if you're not anticipating living in the same place it may not make sense to start planning this now, but it's something to keep in mind. 

I haven't gotten to where I've planned (much) ahead for a guardian for me or my financial resources ... I think (?) my legal documents name 2 (one my husband, one a stepkid).  But clearly this too merits attention and need not be a family member. 

DocCyane

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Re: Single, no kids, don't want to be a bag lady
« Reply #12 on: September 27, 2012, 07:16:25 AM »
I'm in roughly the same situation, though I do have a partner -- she is five years older than I. No kids. One sibling who lives on the other side of the country.

I would do as my father did, namely set up everything for yourself before you get to 70. Assuming we are blessed to live so long, the goal would be to have life on autopilot by then.

And for as bad as it has been being Generation X, living in the shadow of the eternally needy Boomers, they will leave behind a lot of care facilities and residences for us.

Most importantly, plan but don't fret. I sometimes lose sleep over things that may happen decades from now. How silly is that?

WaxOnWaxOff

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Re: Single, no kids, don't want to be a bag lady
« Reply #13 on: September 27, 2012, 10:47:17 AM »

And for as bad as it has been being Generation X, living in the shadow of the eternally needy Boomers, they will leave behind a lot of care facilities and residences for us.


That's my attitude too. And since there are fewer of us, we Gen Xers will have plenty of options.

LearningHow2Stache

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Re: Single, no kids, don't want to be a bag lady
« Reply #14 on: August 02, 2017, 07:00:15 AM »
Hi, I'm in your same boat. Making plans for my own long-term care. Don't want to be dependant on anyone. My sorority sister did this TED talk about this very subject & I hope to maybe find one of these communities & live on my own for as long as I can, before I need full-time care.

https://www.ted.com/talks/grace_kim_how_cohousing_can_make_us_happier_and_live_longer/up-next#t-30810

wenchsenior

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Re: Single, no kids, don't want to be a bag lady
« Reply #15 on: August 02, 2017, 08:01:00 AM »

And for as bad as it has been being Generation X, living in the shadow of the eternally needy Boomers, they will leave behind a lot of care facilities and residences for us.


That's my attitude too. And since there are fewer of us, we Gen Xers will have plenty of options.

It's my attitude (or possibly self-deluding hope) as well.

I am in a similar situation, in that I have a husband, but no kids.  I have very limited family (mostly older; also only one family member of the group has kids/grandkids....very few breeders in our clan; one other is married to someone younger, who has a lot of relatives close by, so she might be ok).  What little family there is is scattered all over.

My husband is older than me, and is not in regular contact with his family, so nothing there either.

I am in poorer health than husband at the moment, but that could change over time. We got a LTC policy for him, but I'm not insurable and I'm specifically targeting an extra 200K savings for my own potential health care needs.  As to the logistics, I think we're just going to have to try to proactively set up a safe living situation and then pay for help as we need it. 

I suspect the advent of self-driving cars (and to a lesser extent Uber etc) and grocery delivery is going to be a huge boost to us, in terms of independence.  That has been the biggest problem I've seen in many aging relatives.  They become house locked due to eyesight decline or fear or accidents, and thus it becomes hard for them to shop or interact with the world or go to doctors or whatever, unless they have drivers around. 

Sibley

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Re: Single, no kids, don't want to be a bag lady
« Reply #16 on: August 02, 2017, 08:59:34 AM »
I wouldn't rely too heavily on LTC insurance. There's been indications that the product isn't sustainable for the insurance companies. Unless a government steps in to provide (in the US, Medicaid), you may be on your own.

Laura33

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Re: Single, no kids, don't want to be a bag lady
« Reply #17 on: August 02, 2017, 09:41:17 AM »
The "bag lady" mentality is an emotional issue, not a practical one.  My mom has more money than she will ever need, and she still fears being a bag lady, eating cat food on a park bench.  The best thing you can do is try to divorce the emotional response from the very real practical issues.

FWIW, being single and without family provides one distinct advantage:  you are aware, your whole life, that it is up to you -- you know what you face, and so have years to plan for it.  Imagine being dumped for a younger model at 60, or having those kids you relied on to support you suffer from addiction or medical issues.  I think a lot of people who have partners and/or families just blithely assume everything will be ok and someone will always be there to look out for them, and so when bad shit happens, they are lost and don't always have the time or the ability to recover.

On the practical side: save a big 'stache.  Find community around you for emotional support.  Get insurance to protect your downside risk.  Find some trusted advisors/close friends who can serve as medical decisionmakers and who can step in to make financial decisions if necessary.  While you are still young and competent, investigate the available resources for mental/physical/emotional support services, so you can have that set up before you need it.  Consider a CCRC or something similar, and work with a lawyer to set up a trust to cover those costs if/when you are no longer competent to do so.  Etc. 

mozar

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Re: Single, no kids, don't want to be a bag lady
« Reply #18 on: August 02, 2017, 02:43:35 PM »
Don't be like my grandmothers. My dad's mother refused treatment for breast cancer and died a slow and painful death over two years while the cancer spread over her body. My dad had to quit his job to take her to medical appointments. My mothers mother kept going barefoot in her house, not cleaning up spilled water, and slipping. She broke her leg and hip 3 times. And you guessed it, my mom had to quit her job to take her to medical appointments in Florida. My mom lives in Maryland. My mom's brother who actually lives in Florida refused to help.

My mother's mother refused to move from her house where she kept having accidents, refused to do physical therapy to get stronger, and refused to let anybody help with her finances until one of her sons saw late notices on bills (despite the fact that she was a millionaire).

You'll go along way to helping yourself if you are willing to move if/when you need to, ideally before you are desperate. The thing that seems to mess people up the most is being in denial that they need help. Take care of your sh*t (and automate your bills!) and it shouldn't be a problem.

Quote
what are some other things I should plan for to avoid being a burden on anyone?

Make sure all your investment accounts have beneficiaries. I also advise that once you get older like 70 plus you can pay a lawyer to close all your accounts for you when you die/handle your estate. When you do your will it will be on file with the state and they have staff who close out estates as well.

It's really not that big of a deal. People die without wills all the time.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2017, 02:53:32 PM by mozar »

pachnik

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Re: Single, no kids, don't want to be a bag lady
« Reply #19 on: August 02, 2017, 04:46:40 PM »
I am in with you guys though I do have a spouse.  I have no kids; my husband has an adult daughter.  They are pretty much estranged at this point though.  So even if you have kids, it isn't a guarantee.

My husband and I are going to do our best on our own - pay for services when we aren't able to do stuff.  For example, when we can't clean house anymore, pay for a housekeeper etc.    We already live close to stores/doctor/dentist/community centre/library but I would move even closer if we couldn't drive anymore.   I really don't want to end up one of those stubborn old people, who won't move to a more convenient place. 

I do have a younger brother + SIL and their kids living next door.  If I had no other place to turn, I would ask my brother for help. 

Cali Nonya

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Re: Single, no kids, don't want to be a bag lady
« Reply #20 on: August 02, 2017, 04:51:26 PM »
I was about to say, wow, same boat here.  42 introvert, single with no kids.  But the original post was from 2012, so the OP would be 47 now.

Cali Nonya

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Re: Single, no kids, don't want to be a bag lady
« Reply #21 on: August 02, 2017, 05:33:45 PM »
I was about to say, wow, same boat here.  42 introvert, single with no kids.  But the original post was from 2012, so the OP would be 47 now.
wow I didn't notice it was such an old post but guess its still a good thread for us single (or possibly widowed in the future) childless people with no or few extended family. My one fear is probably something like a stroke or dementia where my mental capacities are gone - especially if I have full health and mobility otherwise (will I be that crazy old lady running nekkid thru the streets or flinging all my money at young sailors in port on Liberty?). If you lose you mental capacity to care for yourself and your assets and have no family to recognize that kind of decline,  it might be awhile before the system gets involved with providing care for you.  Probably best to make some community connects with various people via clubs, church, activities so that someone will notice mental changes before you do to many harmful things to yourself, your finances or young sailors ;-).

I guess it depends on the part of the country, might be young lumberjacks that need to worry.  ;-)

dreams_and_discoveries

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Re: Single, no kids, don't want to be a bag lady
« Reply #22 on: August 03, 2017, 01:42:29 AM »
When people ask me how I will cope when I'm elderly without kids to look after me, I simply answer cash.

And anyway, I don't like the idea of burdening kids with elderly care, I much prefer to call in the professionals in this instance.

I'm determined to not be one of those people who refuse to leave their home, but to downsize myself into retirement housing when I need to and enjoy the company of others also in their golden years.

NinetyFour

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Re: Single, no kids, don't want to be a bag lady
« Reply #23 on: August 03, 2017, 04:22:02 AM »
Posting to follow...56, female, single, no kids.

nlsquared

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Re: Single, no kids, don't want to be a bag lady
« Reply #24 on: August 03, 2017, 06:16:13 AM »
Thank you for resurrecting this thread!  I'm about to turn 50, also with no kids and single.

I'm definitely an introvert, but the idea of a co-housing community is appealing to me.  I'd like to stay independent
as long as possible, but feel I need a "Plan B."

Drifterrider

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Re: Single, no kids, don't want to be a bag lady
« Reply #25 on: August 03, 2017, 07:01:32 AM »
I can address this from the male perspective.  Single, no children, no close family.

I pay myself first and always have.  I live on less than I earn.  I have good medical insurance and no life insurance.

Getting married or having children is no guarantee "someone" will care for you if you get old/ill, etc.  In fact, there are no guarantees at all.

Plan to live a long time and save/invest accordingly but also enjoy your life along the way.  Tomorrow isn't promised.

As to the "what if"?, don't worry about it.  We all die.  If we plan right we die in debt, out last check bounces and we get buried in a rental suit.

Dicey

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Re: Single, no kids, don't want to be a bag lady
« Reply #26 on: August 03, 2017, 08:01:41 AM »
P2F. I'll be back.

Tris Prior

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Re: Single, no kids, don't want to be a bag lady
« Reply #27 on: August 03, 2017, 06:07:10 PM »
Posting to follow. As the child of a mother who expects me to be her 24-7 caregiver when the time comes because she failed to plan, it is heartening to see others like myself who are determined NOT to do this to our loved ones.

(I don't have kids, have a partner with health issues, he has strict instructions to put me in care should I develop dementia or need hands-on medical care. He is NOT going to be changing my diapers or doing medical stuff that doctors and social workers somehow think non-trained family members can do, like putting in IVs and giving painful shots at home!)

joonifloofeefloo

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Re: Single, no kids, don't want to be a bag lady
« Reply #28 on: August 03, 2017, 07:54:39 PM »
I agree with cultivating friendships.  In Canada we have the live-in caregiver program which I have considered for later in life and I have kids.  This is a program that places someone, usually a nurse from the phillipines who speaks English, in your home for a very reasonable fee as a live in caregiver (Approx $1300/month plus room and board).  If you have a house with say three bedrooms and doubled up with a single friend to use these services it would be far more affordable than any other way of obtaining care and you'd get to stay in your own home with a friend until intensive care stage should you ever reach it (hopefully not).  If the individual stays three years in Canada s/he can apply to immigrate.  It is a win:win I think if you treat each other well as most of the caregives have families they hope to sponsor.

Oh! I will do this.

(I have a kid, but I don't want him to feel responsible for my care, except in the extremely low chance that's how he wants to spend his time, energy, and money. My goal is for him to have a life far fuller than just "me.")

I will actually tweak my housing plan accordingly. Two elders living together, with a lovely live-in caregiver, sounds awesome to me.

brooklynmoney

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Re: Single, no kids, don't want to be a bag lady
« Reply #29 on: August 03, 2017, 08:59:08 PM »
I am a friendly visitor to an older single woman who is widowed and childless with no siblings or living family. She does an excellent job taking advantage of resources available. She gets meals on wheels she has several volunteer visitors, she uses our access a ride program and goes to yoga at the community center. She's shown me you can be a badass single old lady. She also has an aid daily helping her with daily living.



misshathaway

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Re: Single, no kids, don't want to be a bag lady
« Reply #30 on: August 04, 2017, 08:50:48 AM »
I am a friendly visitor to an older single woman who is widowed and childless with no siblings or living family. She does an excellent job taking advantage of resources available. She gets meals on wheels she has several volunteer visitors, she uses our access a ride program and goes to yoga at the community center. She's shown me you can be a badass single old lady. She also has an aid daily helping her with daily living.

THAT is a very encouraging example.

joonifloofeefloo

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Re: Single, no kids, don't want to be a bag lady
« Reply #31 on: August 04, 2017, 09:42:12 AM »
I've been relieved to be surrounded by badass single old ladies for some years now. 78-100 years old, independent, sharp as tacks, physically active and healthy, community organizers, social, etc. They are who I want to be when I grow up.