It is freaking amazing how vulnerable we old folks get to scams and sales pitches as we descend the steps toward the grave. Lissen up, you young pups: if you have parents, it is sooo incumbent upon you to quietly keep an eye on whatever financial mischief they’re getting up to. If not to protect them (as most of them did for you when you were too dumb to know better), then to protect whatever assets you might inherit or to delay the day, as long as possible, that the old folks become dependent on you.
Here’s what brought on that outburst: Semi-Demi-Ex-Boyfriend called, all hepped up about having dropped something in excess of five grand on an improvement to his 35-year-old tract house in Sun City, a venue that most Boomers avoid like it was radioactive. While the house is ideal for a single person who doesn’t live there year-round, Zillow believes it to be worth $6500 less than he paid for it in 2004.
Here and there around Sun City, you’ll see old masonry houses that recently have been clad in stucco. Most of these get a layer of insulation under the new mud, which in theory should save on power bills.
Welp, one of SDXB’s neighbors decided to do this. Curious, SDXB stopped by to inquire, and that gave the contractor an opportunity to offer him a smokin’ deal if he would just sign on the dotted line before the guy moved his crew out of the area. So now he’s all excited because he expects this will increase the value of his hard tent (his term: a guy with terminal wanderlust, he wishes to spend his dotage in constant motion, using the place in Sun City as a place to camp out during the winter, when the weather’s livable). And it is true that the houses modernized with a layer of stucco do look a lot better than those with naked slumpblock walls.
So now he’s saying maybe he’ll sell the place, taking advantage of what he thinks will be spectacularly improved property value, and upgrade to a better place on the golf course.
Well. This sounds grand, until you think about it:
a) During the winter, it’s a rare day when you’ll turn on the heater. Today as we speak we’re in mid-November and it’s 73 degrees on my back porch. Last month my power bill was $66; this month it will be less. Ditto SDXB’s.
b) In addition to her house in Sun City, New Girlfriend owns a lovely home in Boulder, to which she repairs at the first sign of undue warmth. SDXB either goes up there with her or soon follows, every spring. She stays there until October. He spends most of the summer there, when he’s not hanging out with his relatives at the Hood River in Oregon or visiting boyhood friends in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Thus, when my power bills run upward of $200, he has exactly no power bills. None. Nil. Zero. Zip.
c) The two of them have developed a love of ocean cruises. They are merrily squandering their kids’ inheritance on wonderful cruises, and having the time of their lives! In summers past, they’ve been all over the Caribbean, to say nothing of the trip to Italy. And just now he’s got NG persuaded that nothing will do but what they must head for the South Pacific. Thus, between the summer home in the high country and the constant peripatetic mode, they’re hardly ever there!
d) SDXB has taken his neighbor’s word for it. He’s done nothing to check this contractor out or to get competing bids. This is SO out of character that it defies belief.
Well. IMHO if you plan to spend the entire year in one of those hard tents and if you believe you’re going to live in it until you croak over, this stuccoing scheme may not be a bad idea. Although God only KNOWS how many years it will take to recover the cost if only utility bills are taken into consideration, SDXB’s slump-block home is fully painted. A new paint job, if it’s done with a decent grade of paint, will cost him two or three thousand bucks. Newer forms of stucco come dyed to the color you please and, in theory, never need to be painted. So assuming that’s true and assuming he lives, say, another 15 to 20 years, he could save as much in paint as he spends on mud. In that case, whatever savings he realizes on the air-conditioning (which could be non-negligible, should he ever break up with NG) would be gravy.
But as a practical matter, SDXB has no intention of EVER spending another summer here in the Valley of the We-D0-Mean Sun. So that leaves us with the question of
IMHO, this is a case where a competent family member — a son or a daughter, for example — needs to be on hand to keep an eye on big-ticket decisions for an aging parent.
Of course, none of us wants to give over our autonomy to the younger generation (or to anyone else, for that matter). And naturally, none of the young folk wants to have to take on the responsibility of riding herd on an increasing frail (and so increasingly annoying) parent. However…it must be recalled that, after all, those parents shouldered 18 years or so of responsibility for the pups. Or, less altruistically: our assets are their assets. Whatever we refrain from squandering will help to keep our kids in the middle class, to the extent that a middle class survives in this country.
So. Keep an eye on us old buzzards, you young thangs.