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Showing posts from February, 2017

Managing Your Photographs

Ask a retiree about hobbies and photography is quite likely to be on that list. Especially with the quality of cameras now part of all phones made within the past four or five years, it is very easy to point and shoot. Type "photography blogs" in Google and thousands pop up. Try the same thing on Amazon and find almost 7,000 books about the hobby.

Unlike some other activities, photography lends itself to specializing in different areas. Focusing (pun intended) on nature, family, wildlife (birding, for example), flowers and landscapes, travel, food preparation and presentation, home decorating, even classic cars or train engines....anything that piques someone's interest can become the subject matter.

And, therein lies a problem: storage and viewing. All those photos have to be put somewhere when you download them from the phone's memory. If you are even semi-seriously involved with photography as a way of capturing memories and expressing yourself. you are likely to…

Are You a Shadow Artist?

Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way talks about being a shadow artist. In her book, It's Never Too Late to Begin Again, she says a shadow artist is someone who has creative urges or abilities and chooses a career that is close to the life they would like to have themselves, but are afraid to pursue.

So, they settle for something in the "shadow" of their true heart's desire. A painter becomes a gallery owner, a playwright works in the front office of a theater company, or a photographer becomes an assistant to another photographer. Those folks satisfy their creative needs by being part of the world of art, but without the actual creation.

For some reason the shadow artist idea popped into my mind when I was thinking about unsatisfied desires. Retirement is the time of life when we are often able to pursue something that has eluded us until now. Yet, for a host of reasons, we remain in the shadows of that dream, unable to take the steps necessary to fully realize i…

Retirement and Watching Birds Feed

What do retirement and birds feeding have to do with each other? Well, usually not much. I guess you could say that retirement gives someone the time and freedom to watch the bird feeder in the backyard, and that's true. But, that is not where this is going.

I was watching birds eat on a particular morning not too long ago. Nothing was out of the ordinary. Dozens of them flew into the yard at first light and swarmed the feeder, suspended on a pole 7 feet in the air.

Those that couldn't get a clawhold on the feeder's lip waited patiently on the walls.

After an appropriate amount of time (in bird-time), a new batch would flap to the feeder and push away those who were already feeding. This process repeated itself for at least 20 minutes. I  moved on to something else as most of my morning visitors flew off to start their day.

Before leaving my chair and heading inside, what suddenly became obvious was the way some of the birds acted. While the majority jostled for space on the f…

Showing Love: Helping Our Aging Parents

Almost six and a half years ago I wrote a post about how we exhibit  love when we care for our parents as they age. Just last week I re-read that post and felt a twinge: I still had both of my parents when it was written. I wanted to share this with you again since this is something virtually all of us must deal with at some point. I haven't changed the original text which was written while both were still alive.

For many of us, One of the toughest things we face is dealing with our parents as they age. Watching someone you love decline is not pleasant. My mom and dad are struggling so I am learning as I go. Since they live in town that makes my wife and me the primary caregivers, though my brothers do what they can by long distance.

Almost 4 years ago, my parents had the foresight to move into a retirement community. It offers independent and assisted living options as well as a nursing care center. They wanted to avoid the situation where one or both became unable to care for them…

Social Security and Disability Insurance

The following is a guest post

Social Security might be seared into your mind as an iconic symbol of American retirement. That’s for good reason, with 43 million people counted in 2015 as receiving $56 billion in retirement benefits. But people over 50 should also realize there’s another side to Social Security.

It’s a major support program for people whose disabilities leave them unable to work. Another 11 million workers with disabilities and their dependents collect more than $11 billion in Social Security Disability benefits. And the Social Security Administration (SSA) predicts that your odds of needing the program will increase as you age. Among people who are 20 years old today, the SSA estimates more than a quarter of them will develop disabilities before age 67.
Applying for Social Security Disability (SSD) is a complex process, but it’s another element you might need to understand as part of your retirement planning.

Understanding Social Security Disability
First, it’s important t…

My 5 Least Used Purchases

I saw a press release a few weeks ago that noted Americans spend an estimated $9.5 billion on unwanted Christmas gifts. Many are either returned or discarded. Over the years I am sure I have contributed to that problem. I remember the year I gave my wife a non-working blender. I remember because she reminds of that faux pas occasionally. I received a grey, homemade, Nehru suit from my mother-in-law many years ago. It was as ugly as it sounds. No way was that being worn!

The subject triggered a thought: What purchases have I made that I simply don't use? These were not gifts, rather stuff I bought on purpose. Either the "need" wasn't real, the product doesn't work as advertised, or that season of my life has passed. Too many end up in the garage or storage shed. Here are five that come to mind (I am sure there are many more!):

*Fitbit Heart Rate Tracker. This was one of the best selling items on Amazon this past holiday season. I know a few people who own one or wan…

Ask Your Financial Advisor These 6 Questions

Not everyone agrees that a financial advisor is necessary. Some of us are quite good at fiscal discipline, understand how investments work, and have the experience and temperament to handle our financial future on our own.

For the rest of us (me!), having someone who can help us minimize mistakes and help us reach our goals is prudent. Just like we shouldn't self-diagnose ourselves when a funny-looking skin growth appears somewhere on our body, our financial health benefits from guidance. 

In thinking about this post, I figured there are a probably two dozen questions or concerns I could come up with if I were hunting for a new financial advisor (which I am not).  But, that is a bit overwhelming. You might look at such an extensive list and assume that finding the right person is too difficult. 

So, I have trimmed the list of key questions to six. The answer to each might lead you to another question or two, and that is good. Though not on the list, the most important question is one…