An Art Major Does Math: How to Save for Retirement

If you are like I was when I first started saving for retirement, I’d look at the piddly amount I’d saved so far and think, “How am I ever going to amass $1,000,000 or whatever they recommend you have to retire?”

I wanted to explain to you, just as I explained to my younger self, just how I could do it.

First, this math is made on a few standard assumptions:

  1. The stock market can be counted upon to grow your money at least an average of 8% a year.
  2. By the rule of 72, it will take 9 years to double your money at 8% a year.
  3. You can save the maximum amount allowed per year in your IRAs, which currently is $6000.

Do you have $6000 a year you can put aside? After you see what I’m going to show you, you might want to! Otherwise, you can still make progress toward retirement with a smaller amount, so just stay with me.

For the sake of example, let’s say you start saving when you are 30 years old and you will retire at age 66.

You are 30 years old and you just put $6,000 away in an IRA. Your money doubles in 9 years (see assumptions above), so at 39 you will have $12,000, at 48 you will have $24,000, at 57 you will have $48,000 and at 66 you will have $96,000.

Do you think you could live on $96,000 a year in 46 years? Does that seem like a lot? Maybe you don’t need to save as much as $6,000 a year. Does it seem like too little? You can also save in a 401(k) too. And, you might just maybe get social security, or you might own real estate you can sell to supplement that. Maybe your retirement account will grow at greater than 8%. And actually this number doesn’t really matter because your money will continue to grow when you are retired, albiet at a low rate if you shift to more conservative investments for income. More on that below*

Now what if you started saving at 21 instead of 30? You would get one more round of doubling, so you could have $192,000 a year to live on instead. Pretty sweet.

The way I think about it is that every year I can max out my retirement contribution is one more year that I can live in retirement. The typical person may start saving at 30, retire at 65, and if they have saved all 35 years in between, they can having their annual living expenses until they reach 100 years of age.

*Let’s say you start saving $6,000 at age 30 and retire at 66, after 36 years of saving. Each year of saving is worth roughly $96,000, and 36 x $96,000 is $3,456,000. If you follow the recommendation to take out 4% a year from your overall retirement savings, you could take out $138,240 per year. I think I could live on that, how about you?

So again this is just how I think about it in a way that makes sense to me.

Cat Factory

I drew this probably 18 years ago or so and never did anything with it. Just found it in a box and thought I’d share. It’s a cartoon about the production of cats in the mythical Cat Factory.

You might ask…what comes next in the story? Well, if you have owned a cat, you know what Real Cats are like. They are not just soft, fluffy and cute. They are vicious killers of birds and rodents, who have never seen a dog bed they wouldn’t steal, or a object they are willing to leave on a table. They might even eat their owners when they die!

But don’t let those thoughts leave a negative taste in your mouth. Listening to some purring,

18 months into this covid stuff and I have my mask strategy sorted

I can now sort my mask selections into 4 categories which work for me.

  • These are some of the home-sewn masks made by various folks early in the pandemic. I wear these when I only need a mask for five minutes or less. They may not have started off as lumpy and ill-fitting but they are definitely not favorites at this point. I use them for brief spates and then they get washed, sparing better-loved masks the rough treatment of frequent washing.
  • My favorite in the cloth mask category is these All About Ankara ones I got from They work with my face shape, are comfortable. I can wear them for hours and even walk up a hill in them.
  • For all day use, like at work, the disposable loop mask is my go to. My work provides the standard blue ones, but sometimes I like to mix it up with these silky looking patterned ones by WeCare.
  • If I am stepping into a riskier situation, like … I don’t know what: my perception of risk varies from time to time and is mostly influenced by my hypochondriac spouse … I wear one of these Kn95s. Friendlier to my face shape than an N95, these disposable dudes come in several colors. I like this burgundy one.

Snake Plant

I got this snake plant several years ago and it blooms every year, probably because it is outgrowing its pot and is stressed. Recently we found that sugar ants had made it all the way to the second floor of our house and were hanging around this plant, probably attracted to the extremely sticky nectar on the plant’s flowers. So outside it goes for now.

Beginnings of snake plant flowering stalk

Deviled Eggs

I’ve read that if you store eggs wide side up, and stir a bit while boiling them, the yolks will be centered.

By Alyssa McFarland (variation)

12 eggs

2 tsp. Dijon mustard

2-4 dashes Tabasco or other hot sauce (optional)

Salt, to taste

½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

½ tsp. garlic powder (optional)

6 Tbsp. mayonnaise (use Hellman’s or Best Foods, “real” mayo)

Paprika for garnish

Place eggs in a pot full of cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 13 minutes. Drain the eggs, rinse under cool water, and peel. Let cool in the refrigerator.

Halve the eggs lengthwise and scoop out the yolks. Put the whites on a serving plate, hollow side up. Place the yolks in a bowl and mash with a fork. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the paprika. Mix well.

Fill the hollows of the whites with the mashed egg yolk mixture. To make it look pretty, you can fill a cake decorating tool with the egg yolk mixture, and squeeze it into the whites.

Sprinkle tops with paprika.

If serving this at a potluck or party, remember it is only safe at room temperature for 2 hours.

Quarantine Quarantune

Life was always unsafe

When you went camping and people got norovirus

When you went to a convention where the flu was spreading

When you ate burgers and fries every other day

You weren’t worried about dying then

What has changed?

Is it the news, that you can’t seem to get away from?
Is it the statistics and the word pandemic?

Is it the constant reminder when you see people in masks?

When we finally get the promised vaccine, the herd immunity,

When strangers can be together without fearing the others’ droplets of breath

When we no longer worry about the healthcare system collapsing

Will we ourselves be changed?

Anyone you meet could be contagious with anything

Including you

Life will always be unsafe, because

every life, some day,


Crocheted Edges on Blankets

Photo of a blue blanket with crocheted edges


Last year in the middle of lockdown I decided to take up a new hobby, crocheting edges on fleece blankets.

I collected fleece, acrylic yarn, and one of those circular blades that cuts tiny holes in the edges of fleece, watched some instructional videos, chose my crochet edge pattern, and made the blanket pictured.

Then in August I hurt my wrist, then in October, my other wrist, and literally haven’t touched a yarn project since.

I think I may be on the mend, and hope to start playing with yarn again soon.

Did you take up any new hobbies during COVID-19?


In all my years of having opinions about abortion, I never knew about this

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I’m not sure what I expected when I picked up the book Birth Strike, but I was pleasantly surprised when I realized a big focus of the book is about how governments use population control as a lever for the economy. Women are expected to produce (or not produce) babies at the will of those who control the government, and as you know, the government in the USA is now partly controlled by corporate interests. It is to the advantage of corporations (aka employers of those future taxpayers that women give birth to), to keep the nation in a state of partial unemployment, in order to keep wages down, as people desperate for a job will take what they can get.

How does this relate to the current situation in the USA, where there is frequent talk of overturning the Roe v Wade ruling, which legalized abortion in 1973? Roe v Wade was possible in 1973 because in the wake of the baby boom, we had too many workers, according to the powers that be. In recent decades, however, millions of workers are not earning enough to support a family, and are delaying having children.

People of working/reproductive age in America today are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Many want to have children but can’t find a way to do so. The corporate backed governing powers want women to produce more future taxpayers, so that they can keep wages low, but are more often now refusing to own up to their own role in making it realistic for a woman to sustain a pregnancy and raise a child. Without things like universal early child care, flexible working hours, a living wage, health insurance benefits for all, and parental leave, many women are forced to remain childless. Trying to take away safe, legal abortion and birth control options in this situation is like pushing someone into the snow after taking away their clothes.

This is just my attempt to summarize what stuck with me most about this book, but I encourage you to read it, because the author, Jenny Brown, has a lot more to say. She presents good arguments for why universal programs are more effective than “means-tested” or “qualification-based” programs, discusses reproduction issues as they relate to race, as well as the use of immigration as a way to bring in more workers and how the notion of a big family goes along with the notion of small government. She also surveys abortion laws throughout history in a multitude of countries, talks about women feeling compelled to produce soldiers for war (aka “cannon fodder”), and presents interviews with a number of women, as well as consciousness-raising questions. Good reading!

Finished the Kitchen!

This adventure started in June 2020 when a dishwasher leak led to damaged floor and cabinets…everything had to come out, and good riddance to Old Kitchen, too, you bad news 2020 thing, you.

You can read more about the kitchen remodel process here and here. My husband Troy did most of the work “in his spare time,” and yes, that is glow in the dark tile grout that looks like lightening…that backsplash took a month to do, so no, he can’t come over to your house some weekend and do it for you.

Cabinets from Pius, floor and counter by Seattle Style Flooring. So many decisions went into this…lighting, faucets, sink, vent hood, appliances, paint and more. I’d be happy to answer any questions, if I can.

Kitchen Backsplash

My husband likes to do things the hard way.

Most people, faced with the need to add some backsplash tile to their kitchen, would either hire a professional, or if they were an ambitions DYIer, would choose one (1) type of tile and apply and grout it and be done.

But no. We have two types of tile that are completely different shapes and made of different materials. Rather than put a straight line between them, my husband purchased a wet tile saw and made intricate cuts in order to develop this pattern.

Not content to simply grout the tiles, my man applied glow in the dark powder to some, to make it look like lightening.

Still not impressed? There’s more. Two walls contain secret messages relayed by the backsplash tile grout glow. One system uses Morse code, and the other, I have no idea. The secret messages when decoded may in fact lead you to a hidden prize.