Thursday, March 19, 2015

Marriage vs living together

Revisiting the marriage vs. living together question

Copyright by Tom Blake 2015

This week, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine features an article written by Senior Editor Sandra Block titled, “The Financial Pros and Cons of Getting Married Later in Life.”

I was aware the article was coming out because Block interviewed me a couple of months ago. I am quoted in three places in the article.

Block’s first paragraph states, “When you start a relationship later in life, does it make sense to marry or move in together? Answer: “It’s complicated.”

The length and thoroughness of Ms. Block’s article underscores the “It’s complicated” sentence. There are so many different scenarios she describes that it’s hard to sort out all of the legal issues surrounding later-in-life marriage vs. living together. She quotes a lawyer, Frederick Hertz, who says, “…for older unmarried couples, making a cohabitation agreement isn’t just a good idea, it’s a necessity.”

Health care costs are one example of why the marriage question needs to be thought through. One paragraph in Block’s article states, “The high cost of health care—particularly long-term care—can create one big disincentive for older couples to get married. Once you wed, you are responsible for your spouse’s medical debts, says Howard Krooks, a past president of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. If your spouse ends up in a nursing home, the cost could deplete your estate.”

Making the question even more complicated is that different states have different laws that apply to later-in-life relationships.

My words of wisdom explain the living-together relationship I have with Greta. I was quoted as saying, “It’s just a lot easier not to have to deal with inheritances and kids and everything that comes along with the decision to get married.”

To sum up the marriage vs. living together question: Couples contemplating marriage or living together, would be wise to consult a lawyer, or better yet, each should consult a different lawyer, to ensure they do what is right for their situation.

Ms. Block has a great deal more to say on the topic in her article. The link to Ms. Block’s article:

Venturing beyond our normal routine. What were Greta and I thinking?

This past Monday night at about 8 p.m, I heard live music coming from somewhere in the distance through an open upstairs bedroom window. Then, I remembered I had seen a big black tent being built in the Salt Creek Beach parking lot the day before, which is adjacent to the Ritz Carlton Hotel, and about a mile from our home.

Hearing the music reminded me of four months before, when we had seen a large outdoor tent on the grounds of the St. Regis Hotel, which is only about 400 yards away. On that night, we had heard live music but decided not to go check it out and we ended up missing a Steven Tyler concert that was being held for a large insurance company.

Although we were pretty settled in for the night, I jokingly said to Greta, “There is a concert nearby, want to check it out?”

She surprised me by saying, “Let’s go.”
We hopped in the car and drove to a parking lot just yards up a small hill from the tent. The music was very, very loud.

We walked down the small hill and saw 300-400 people milling around, wearing Roth Capital Partners name badges, listening to the band, sipping on adult beverages and lining up for food being served from food trucks. There were eight women go-go dancers dressed in polished silver jump suits dancing up on platforms all over the parking lot, swirling around poles but not exactly pole dancing. It was one hell of a party atmosphere, with lots of young people in their 20s and early 30s.

We slipped into the tent through a side entrance and grabbed a seat. Security guards were around but not paying much attention.

I went to the bar and ordered a couple of glasses of chardonnay. I asked the woman bartender, also dressed in a shiny silver jump suit, “How much?” She winked at me and said, “You know better than that.” When I put five bucks in her tip jar, she said, “Be sure to come back.” I said, “I will.” And I did.

There were four different food trucks dispensing their wares. We lined up at the In-n-Out Burger truck. They wouldn’t take our money either.

As the party was winding down, we asked some of the young people in attendance who the band was. “Poison,” was the answer. I had no idea who Poison was.

The next morning, my bank teller Sheri, knowing I had just retired, asked if I’d done anything new lately. I told her about the night before. She looked up Poison on the Internet and said, “A mid-1980s-mid 1990s glam (heavy metal) band. They’ve sold over 45 million records worldwide. Bret Michaels the lead on vocals.”  

I went online and found out that the event was the 27th annual Roth Capital Partners, an investment banking firm, shindig. Not every attendee was staying next door at the Ritz, some of the kids told us they were staying in motels and hotels miles away.

We wandered up the hill, got in the car, and drove home, it took five minutes.

It’s good once in a while for older folks to get out of the old routine. Although, my ears are still ringing, thanks to the band Poison.

Upcoming events

  • For information on the Tom Blake Loving Life After 55 cruise, November 12, out of Los Angeles, contact travel agent Ann at 949 702-3977 or by email at  Cruise details are also on this website:

  • Meet and Greet. There will be an age 50+ Meet and Greet at Tutor and Spunky’s Deli, Dana Point, California, 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 26. No admission charge.

Stuff - Clear out the clutter from her attic and keep the relationship


Copyright Tom Blake 2015

Holding on to a good mate, keep your clutter out of her attic

Last year, we mentioned comedian George Carlin’s You tube video about “Stuff.” It’s about all of the unnecessary stuff we hoard in our lives and the need to get rid of it. At the end of today’s newsletter, there is a link to his performance. It’s humorous.

When that newsletter ran, I did not anticipate that it would apply to me within the next few months.

Fourteen years ago, I moved into my girlfriend Greta’s home. I said to her, “I have written 973 newspaper columns and two books, I have a lot of stuff to store.”

She said, “Why do you need to keep all of that stuff?”

I said, “When I quote people in a column or a book, I need back up proof that they gave me permission to use the information. That can entail a lot of paperwork.”

Greta said, “I have an attic in the garage; we can put your stuff there.”

Over the years, the amount of stuff stored in her garage grew. I wrote a memoir in 2006 titled, “Prime Rib and Boxcars. Whatever Happened to Victoria Station?” That created another eight boxes of stuff. And in 2009, I published another book, “How 50 Couples Found Love After 50.” Another four boxes of stuff. Not to mention the cases and cases of unsold books that were stored.

Then there was all of the stuff I moved to the attic from my mom’s home when Mom passed. It is amazing what we accumulate in our lives. Boxes and boxes of stuff no one else will ever want.

Oh, when we traveled, we kept files on all of the places we’d been. More stuff to store.

Then, there were another 2,114 columns. Plus, there were records from my home that I had rented out, while living in her home. Also, there were some records from my Dana Point, California, deli—although I had a storage unit at the deli that held most of those records.

The attic in Greta’s garage was like the old coffee company, “Chock Full of Nuts.” Her attic was chock full of stuff (my stuff).

When you own a corporation, you are required to keep seven years of records, in case Uncle Sam or Governor Brown decides to audit you. Egad, that boils down to two or three boxes of records for each month. That’s at least 24 boxes per year, times seven, or about 168 boxes of deli corporate stuff that’s got to be stored somewhere. We had a deli storeroom.

On January 30 this year, I sold the deli; I had to move those 168 boxes from the deli storeroom to somewhere. Where? My sweetie’s garage floor (remember, the attic was chocked full), leaving no room to park a car. My stuff just wouldn’t fit into my garage at my home, where we now live.

And then my wonderful, kind, gracious, partner of 17 years humbly said, “I love you. But, we need the garage stuff moved because we have vacation renters coming to stay in the house and they need to park their car in the garage.”

What she meant was, “In other words, move your stuff to somewhere else. Now.”

Egad again, what to do?

My CPA said, “Rent a storage unit for your deli records. It’s a tax write off.”

So, that’s what I did. I found a place called Price Self Storage in San Juan Capistrano. Their logo looked like the old Price Club logo. That’s because the owner was the Price Club Chief Financial Officer before it became Costco. It’s amazing the trivia we uncover when we venture beyond our boundaries.

The space I rented is seven feet by ten feet. I have spent four days packaging and moving the deli stuff and some of my stuff from Greta’s garage to the storage unit. All the boxes are marked and dated.

I actually had fun doing this.

When Greta saw her garage cleared out, she gave me a big hug. By clearing out my stuff from her home, I remained in good standing in our relationship.

Of course, while sorting through my stuff, I started throwing stuff away. I filled four 50-gallon trash containers. If there is a lesson to learn from this move, it’s to start sorting the stuff you’ve accumulated in attics and garages now--while you’re still capable of doing so. Don’t leave the task for your kids and grandkids. It can be a monumental, emotional task. You find stuff that was significant in your life. That happened numerous times.

For example, I found an autograph on a 3 x 5-inch card from a football player named Ron Kramer who was an All-American at the University of Michigan and a tight end for the Green Bay Packers. I went to his wedding in Jackson, Michigan, in 1958.

I found two photos from 1975. The first is of Johnny Cash, holding his son John Carter, along with Johnny’s wife June, and me.

The second photo is of June Carter Cash and me.

I found a written authorization from Johnny to use his quote on the back of my first book, “Middle Aged and Dating Again.” It was signed, “In the 20 years I have known Tom Blake, he has become an authority on dating and relationships.” The authorization is dated August, 26, 1996.

Going through your old stuff can be heart-wrenching and rewarding. It’s amazing what you will find—stuff about your parents and events that happened to you years before. Stuff you’ve forgotten, stuff you just can’t toss out.

I found a hand-written letter, written by my mom on June 17, 1946, to my dad, when he went to France to help post World War II Europe get back on its manufacturing feet after the war.  

But best of all, I am still in good standing with the woman of my life of 17 years; I got the stuff out of her garage.

Clear out your clutter. It may save your relationship. And you will be doing your heirs a huge favor. And you never know what precious stuff you might find.

Link to George Carlin’s video on stuff: