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Showing posts from August, 2017

Maintaining Your Balance In a Retirement Relationship

A reader posed an interesting, and important question to me a few weeks ago. She is wondering about retired couples whose desires aren't always in alignment. What can be done if one half of a couple wants to go in one direction, while the other person doesn't.

She cited travel as a good example of this type of conflict. One person really has his or her heart set on seeing the world, or at least someplace farther away than the local shopping mall. The other is a homebody and resists travel requests. Why? Health issues, financial worries, fear of uncertainty,....there are all sorts of reasons why travel is a turnoff for someone. 

This type of disagreement is important to resolve. Travel may be one obvious point of contention, but  probably not the only one. In a post a few weeks ago, I wrote that loosening the purse strings is difficult for many of us. Downsizing or moving to someplace with a different climate, eliminating or adding possessions,  redoing the budget, cutting back t…

Social Security: How Worried Are You About Its Future?

According to official figures, 53% of married couples and 74% of unmarried Americans count on Social Security for at least half of their retirement income. Almost half of those unmarried persons rely on Social Security for virtually all of their income. In real numbers that means probably living on less than $1,300 a month. 

Enough has been written about the problems facing Social Security and the dwindling funds meant to support it. Demographic factors, government's use of the money intended for Social Security for other purposes, and the politics of it all could spell a shaky future ahead for something that virtually all older Americans receive. Various dates have been published, but most predict there will not be enough money to pay full benefits beginning in the next 12-17 years.

Small Cost-of living adjustments were made this year, but disappeared for most because of an increase in Medicare Part B costs that matched the increase (strange how that happens). Full Retirement age a…

What Time Do You Start Your Retirement Day?

I will admit, the posts that get the most readership and comments are never the ones I expect. This one is a good example. First posted over 4 years ago, it continues to be read to this day. The original post had many more comments than I thought it would generate. I guess the topic is universal and we are all curious about what other folks do.

In any case, here is the original post from early in 2013:


One of the questions I get asked on a fairly regular basis is what a typical day of my satisfying retirement looks like. The answer I usually give is there are no typical days. Except for beginning each morning with breakfast and answering blog comments and e-mails, there is no set routine. I have made a determined effort over the last few years to not have my calendar look like it did when I was working.

True, I have a to-do list of things I must or want to accomplish each day:things like reminding me to empty the trash and roll out the cans, refill a prescription, finish a post, water th…

Loosening the Purse Strings

When I first retired I was worried about my finances. Would the money we had invested and saved be enough? Since I quit work a good ten years earlier than I planned, how would we pay for everything that was to come? Would we end up in a spare room in one of our kids' homes? 

Regular blog readers know the answer: Everything worked out just fine. My financial fears lasted a few years and then slowly faded away. As we became used to our new lifestyle we understood how flexible we could become to match income to expenses. We shifted our thinking from having to doing. We saw overall expenses drop to 50% of what they had once been even as our happiness increased.

Seventeen years into our satisfying retirement journey we are wrestling with another financial question: how do we accept that is OK to spend a bit more on experiences and things that would make us happier at home? How do we give ourselves permission to spend more? How do you loosen the purse strings?

Both Betty and I are financia…

Exercise: What Do You Do To Stay Healthy?

Regular reader, Madeline, asked if I would take a look at an area that many of us struggle with: exercise. A recent study found that a higher percentage of those 65+ are more concerned about health issues than financial stability. That makes sense since a major health crisis can do major damage to one's financial situation, even with Medicare and supplemental insurance in place.

It is a given that moving our bodies is helpful. Suggestions for people our age center on both cardio or aerobic and well as weight bearing activities. Thirty minutes a day for at least five days a week of walking and a few days of muscle strengthening exercises seems to be the consensus. If you jog or run, the total time can be reduced by half.

I can only speak for me, but that exercise frequency is not always met. Since Betty rejoined our gym we are doing better; 4 days a week is pretty typical. We start on the treadmill and then move to free weights or machines. During the cooler months of the year I will…

Retirement and Adventure: An Uncommon Couple?

Generally, I play it safe. You aren't going to to find me bungee-jumping, sky-diving, rock-climbing, even riding a big, fast roller coaster. Thunder Mountain at Disneyland is about my speed. Financially, my wife and I are conservative. Our possessions are quite mainstream. When we vacation we make standard choices like Hawaii or the Pacific Northwest.  Going to Tibet or the rain forest of the Amazon aren't really on our radar, though next year we will break out a bit with a river cruise in Europe.

So, why a post about adding adventure to your life? Primarily, I need to listen to the message. Also, adventure has a much broader definition than is usually assigned to the word. It doesn't have to just involve physical activities. Adventure is what being alive is about. This subject also seems like a sensible follow up to the post based on two quotes that ran last month.

Why Be Adventurous?

What are the possible gains if you decide to embrace a more adventurous life? Self-confiden…

My Smart Speaker Experiment

Blog reader, Rick from Oregon, read my post from a few weeks ago,  Do You Have a Smart Speaker?  and decided to issue a challenge. He suggested I buy an Amazon Dot and try living with it for a few weeks. If I didn't find it useful he offered to buy it from me. That sounded like a win-win deal, so I took him up on the offer; my $50 Dot arrived on July 26th and was installed in the living room.

The Dot is the little brother to the Echo, the device that is getting most of the press. The Dot does what the more expensive version does but with a smaller speaker. If using the Dot to play music it should be plugged into a sound system or a better quality speaker.  Otherwise, it is the same device: an always on voice-activated command center.

In the almost three weeks I have had the Dot, how have I used it? I started by asking it to answer some random, silly questions, like the distance to Mars, the current temperature and chance of rain, the start time of a baseball game, and to tell me som…

5 Retirement Myths You Should Ignore

Being human, we tend to look for simple solutions to complex problems. We accept "common wisdom" rather than do the hard work necessary to find answers for ourselves. 

What follows are five myths about retirement: beliefs that are comforting and sound logical, except, they are not true. Ask yourself how many you have fallen for, how many affected your retirement planning and lifestyle.


1) It will all work itself out
This has to be the most dangerous of the untruths we tell ourselves. With the typical 50-something American having less than $100,000 set aside for retirement, the next 30 years of your life will not magically work itself out.  No matter how generous a pension might be, or how much Social Security is likely to pay you each month, you are not going to have a satisfying retirement on a savings account that produces less than $300 a month of additional income. 

Think of your retirement as a complex machine with lots of moving parts, and one of them is financial. It is a…

Retirement Travel: Summer's Not Over Yet!

A part of a satisfying retirement for many of us is an active travel schedule. Depending upon our budget and personal desires, that could mean cruises, trips to Europe, and a few weeks in Hawaii. It might mean a long weekend in Durango, The Olympic National Forest, The Shenandoah Valley, or a B&B in Bar Harbor, Maine. It might mean checking into a hotel in a small town like Patagonia, three hours away from responsibilities and routine.

Over the past few months a few e-mails have asked me to investigate some unusual or different travel options. Of course, being retired, we are not restricted to vacations only from September through August, but maybe you want to get one more trip under your belt before Labor Day. I've located a few lists of places to visit and explore, some more expense than others, and the majority are within the continental U.S. so potentially doable by the bulk of the readers of this blog.

I know there are a lot of readers of this blog live in other countries: …

Did You Know That.....

...retirement was an unknown concept for most of human history. Work until you die, or can't do anything productive any longer was the "rule." With most of us living in rural situations, retirement made no sense. The cows needed milking and the crops had to be planted, regardless of your age.

Most experts cite the start of Social Security in the United States in 1935 as the official recognition of a change in mindset. But, not until Medicare was enacted in 1965 were most people able to even consider retirement at some point.

As you are aware, 10,000 Baby Boomers are retiring every day. This massive flow will continue for another several years. That many people puts Social Security and Medicare under tremendous pressure. Neither was designed to support so many folks for so long. In 1935 the government figured setting the retirement age at 65 was a safe move; the majority of recipients would not live for very many years after that.

Well, we showed them! Within a few years aft…