I've had a programmable thermostat since I moved into this house some 22 years ago. It's helped me save money on my heating and cooling bills. Everyday when I left for work, my furnace or A/C turned off and didn't come on again until about a half hour before I got home from work. The house stayed warm/cool until I went to bed, then let the house cool off until about 30 minutes before I generally got up.
It's a great system. I recommend a programmable thermostat for anyone who spends a good deal of their time away from home.
Today, I reprogrammed it to keep the house warm from the time I get up until I go to bed. Why?
I don't go to work anymore.
I got laid off, and while I'm looking for a new job, I'll be very surprised (and pleased with myself) if I get one. I'm 61 years old and my skills are centered on a dying industry. I'm applying for a lot of things I believe I can adapt my skills for, but frankly, if I was hiring and had a choice between me at my age, with my skills, and someone 25 or 30 with skills tailored to the new industry -- I think you can guess who I'd hire.
I'm not panicking. In fact, I'm sort of warming to the idea of retirement -- even though it's a few years early according to my plan. I've got plenty of time now to get to all the projects that have been piling up around my house. No more commute. I'm reducing my carbon footprint by the amount of gas it took to get me to work five days a week. No more packing a lunch. No more racing to get out of the house to beat the traffic so I won't be late to work. No more laundry in the middle of the night to be sure I have something clean to wear tomorrow.
Funny thing, though. I'm going to miss the work. I actually liked my job.
I had a sneaking feeling that my job might not last until full retirement age. So, I've been making preparations to support myself without my regular full-time job. All my preparations weren't in place. If I'd had a couple more years, I could have been much better off than I am today. But I'm not about to descend into poverty. I'm simply going to have to be very careful about my finances.
But this is my point: Anybody who says we should raise the age for full retirement with Social Security, and raise the eligibility age for Medicare is either out of his friggin' mind or just doesn't care about how older people are going to survive.
I'm not alone. More and more people over 50 are being pushed out of the workplace by corporations that want younger, cheaper workers. Fewer and fewer older workers are being rehired in new positions.
Right now, I'd be dancing a jig rather than working the numbers to see how I'm going to make it if only one thing were different: If I was eligible for Medicare. As it is, I have another 3-1/2 years to pay for my health insurance out of my pocket. I can get into one of the exchanges under the ACA next year, but I haven't seen any firm predictions of what that's going to cost. I'll have COBRA for a while, but that's going to cost me an arm, if not an arm and a leg. I got a "buyout" package, but that lump sum is going to go almost exclusively to pay for health insurance until I'm old enough for Medicare. (That is, I'm going to set it aside as my insurance fund. I have no way of knowing whether it will last until I'm 65).
The ACA is better than nothing. But it's not really good enough -- not by half.
We should have Medicare for all. We should have single payer. We should have a guarantee that nobody has to stay in a job they hate because they will lose their health insurance if they quit.
The savings overall from having every American covered, cradle to grave, would far exceed the cost of covering everybody. Our industries would get a boost from not having to cover their worker's health insurance.
I just don't understand why this is so impossible!