Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Seniors - Save Money on Almost Everything!

By the time they retire, many Baby Boomers will face a very difficult financial situation.  The majority of Baby Boomers have simply not saved enough money to keep up the lifestyle they enjoyed before they retired.  Other retirees have discovered that they have enough money to cover their living expenses, but would like to economize so they can travel and pursue other hobbies.

Retirees are handling their financial shortfalls in a variety of ways, including part-time retirement jobs, downsizing to smaller homes, finding roommates, and even moving in with their adult children.  In addition, many Baby Boomers have found there are a variety of areas in their life where they can save money so they can continue to live independently and have an enjoyable lifestyle.

If you had a solid middle class income during your working years, you may not have paid too much attention to how to reduce your expenses.  It is also possible you may have been financially careful in some areas of your life, but did not know how to economize in other ways.  In addition, even if you were good at using discounts when you were younger, you may now learn that some discounts are only available after you reach your mid-60s.

Below is a list of ways you might be able to save money.  These ideas could make your retirement more comfortable and pleasant.  Check out the ideas below and see if you can put any of them to work for you.

Save Money on Trips

* Bring an empty water bottle on airline trips and fill it from the water fountain after you go through security.
* Take your toll transponder with you on road trips within your state to benefit from discounts on the tolls.
* Join AARP and/or AAA and ask hotels and tourist attractions if they offer a discount for members of those organizations.  If they do not, ask if they offer discounts for senior citizens or other types of discounts.
*  AARP members can also save money on long-term airport parking at, if they pre-book their parking on the website.
*  If you travel overseas, make sure your credit card does not charge a foreign transaction fee.
*  Be flexible when booking air travel.  In some cases, the cheapest days to fly are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Saturdays and holidays.

Save Money on Medical Expenses

* Shop around before filling prescriptions and ask if it would be better to use your insurance or pay the retail price.  Surprisingly, sometimes the retail price is less expensive than your insurance co-pay.
*  Once you are on Medicare, you may qualify for the Extra Help program at or call 800-772-1213 and learn how you can save money on your prescriptions.
*  You may also qualify for free medications through the Partnership for Prescription Assistance at  It is worth the effort to at least apply.

Save Money on Transportation

*  Make sure you are not wasting money on gas; remove rooftop carriers or anything else which could reduce your mileage. Consolidate your trips, so you are driving as little as possible.  Find local services, such as hair dressers and nail salons, to reduce your driving even more.
*  Keep your tires inflated to boost you gas mileage.
*  Shop around for the least expensive gas in your area; make sure you take into consideration any discounts offered by your grocery store, including Costco, Safeway, Kroger and Vons.
*  Shop for lower priced auto insurance.  It can help if you have a good driving record and take an online safety course.
*  Use public transportation, when possible.  Many cities offer senior vouchers for discount taxi rides, bus tickets, train discounts, etc. You may find it is possible and less expensive to have no car at all.  If you are a two-car couple, you may discover you can get by with just one.

Save Money on Your Lifestyle

*  Raise the thermostat temperature in your home in the summer and lower it in winter.  In the summer, a ceiling fan can reduce your air conditioning costs.
*  Shop for some of your clothes at resale shops or online at; look for sales before buying other products; purchase reconditioned tools and similar items.  Avoid paying the full retail price whenever possible.
*  Take advantage of discounts and coupons; use discount sites like @AmazonDeals or coupon sites whenever you can. Order discounted gift cards by shopping for gift cards at sites like or
* Ask your service providers, including your internet provider, cable company, or cell phone service, if they will give you a discount in order to keep your business.  You may also decide to get rid of services you rarely use or do not need. Consider using a prepaid cell phone plan.  You might also decide to eliminate your telephone landline and only use a cell phone.
*  If you need to use an out-of-network ATM, ask your bank to reimburse the fee.
*  Make more of your food from scratch, including your favorite beverages, pizza, salad dressing and soups.  Eat less meat and cheaper cuts, when possible.
*  Buy large containers of soft soap, window cleaner or similar supplies and refill your own bottles.
*  Use dryer balls rather than fabric softener.  They cost less and reduce your use of chemicals.
*  Get your books from the library.
*  Get cash back when you shop, either from a cash back credit card and/or a site like Ebates.
*  Use YouTube videos to make your own simple home repairs, change your own car filters, or even find exercise videos.
*  Get your taxes done for free through the AARP Foundation.  Find out how to make an appointment at or call 888-687-2277.
*  Use your computer to search for discount codes when you order online.  Try sites like

Save Money on Personal Care

* Look for cheaper alternatives to products you use.  For example, women could use men's shaving cream, store-brand beauty products, or baby oil to remove eye makeup.  In fact, both men and women may discover store brands which meet their needs quite well.
* Need a massage or haircut?  See if there is a massage school or beauty school in your community.
* Buy your eyeglasses online from sites like  If you are an AARP member, you can also save at EyeMed.

Save Money When You Go Out

* Ask for senior discounts at restaurants, movie theaters and wherever they are offered. You can also purchase low cost movie tickets at ... although you might save even more at a discount movie theater or by going to matinee performances.
*  When eating out, consider splitting an entree or sticking with appetizers. Check to see which restaurants have specials on certain days, so you can eat out less expensively.  Skip ordering expensive alcoholic beverages at restaurants.  Enjoy a cocktail at home, instead.
*  Look for coupons at to get discounts at restaurants.
*  Try having dinner at a local culinary school.
*  Watch your local newspaper or check online for free summer concerts, neighborhood events, free museum days, spring training for your favorite baseball team, festivals, parades or other free and low-cost activities in your area.

A number of these ideas came from our personal experience, as well as from the July-August, 2017 issue of the AARP Bulletin.  Many people have found that an AARP membership pays for itself when members take advantage of the discounts which are offered at hotels, Avis and Budget Rent-a-car, a variety of restaurants, movie theaters and other locations.  AARP also has a job website at for those who feel they will need a retirement job, no matter how much money they manage to save.

If you are interested in other retirement planning ideas, suggestions on where to retire in the U.S. and abroad, Social Security, Medicare, common medical problems and more, use the tabs or pull-down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles.

Watch for my book, Retirement Awareness: 10 Steps to a Comfortable Retirement, which will be released by Griffin Publishing in 2018.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

End of Life Planning for Baby Boomers

While many of the posts in this blog are about how to live the longest, healthiest life possible, eventually all of us are going to face a time when we eventually decline in health and die.  Even before our death, we could experience a period of time when we are incapacitated because of a heart attack, stroke or dementia and become unable to handle our bills and other responsibilities.  The kindest thing we can do for our families is to gather our documents in one place and have an end-of-life plan.

How to Begin Planning the End of Your Life

You may be surprised to know that both you and your loved ones will have greater peace-of-mind once you have made an end-of-life plan.  After you have accomplished this, you can set it aside and hope it does not need to be activated for years or even decades.

In order to be prepared, you should contact a lawyer, write a will, set up a trust, and complete an advanced healthcare directive. You should also talk to a mortuary, prepay your funeral, if possible, and leave instructions with your heirs. You will need to choose a trustee to carry out your will, someone who will have a financial power of attorney to handle your finances if you are unable to, and a person who will carry out your medical wishes, as specified in your advanced healthcare directive.  These do not have to be the same people.

Making the decisions involved with writing these documents will help you clarify your thinking about who should be your trustee and who should make healthcare decisions for you, in the event you become incapacitated.

Create two Notebooks with Copies of Important Documents

Once you have completed the paperwork, you will want to get two three-ring binders and insert copies of your important documents.  Among the things you will want to include are copies of your:

Will and Trust
Advanced healthcare directive
Driver's License
Social Security card
Insurance policies, including health, life and long-term care
Bank account information
Property title, mortgage documents, etc.
Titles to your cars and other vehicles
Personal property inventory, pictures and bequests
Military ID, Military service records, veteran disability status
Passport or citizenship papers
Marriage or domestic partnership certificate
Divorce decrees, pre-marital or post-marital agreements
Spouse's death certificate
List of your diseases or health issues
List of doctors, pharmacies and medications
List of friends, family members, church, employer, etc. and their contact info
Information on what to do with your pets
Advanced funeral planning information
Computer passwords for bank, brokerage or other important accounts, or instructions on where your heirs can find these passwords

Keep one of these notebooks for yourself and your spouse to use.  Give the other notebook to the family member or other person who will handle your affairs in the event you die or become temporarily incapacitated. 

What to Tell Your Other Family Members

Once you have made your plans, put them in writing, and assembled your notebooks, tell your trustee and other family members about your plans.  Let them know how you would like things handled if you become seriously ill or die.  Then, reassure your loved ones that you are not currently ill and you hope these instructions are not needed for many years.  Make sure your family members are all aware of your desires, long before the time comes.

Maintain your End of Life Planning

Things may change over the years.  Your trustee may become ill and unable to fulfill their role in the future.  Your insurance policies, names of doctors, and the medications you are taking could change.  Periodically you will need to review your notebook and update it.  When you update your own notebook, make sure you also update the one in the possession of your trustee, to reduce any confusion in the future.

If you take these steps, you and your heirs will discover you have much less to worry about when you do become seriously ill and the end of your life seems imminent.

If you are interested in more information about retirement planning, where to retire, common medical issues, Social Security, Medicare, and more, use the tabs or pull-down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles.

Watch for my book, Retirement Awareness: 10 Steps to a Comfortable Retirement, which will be published by Griffin Publishing in 2018.

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Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Caring for Elder Orphans - Seniors Living Alone

Are you at risk of becoming an elder orphan?  These are people who reach retirement age unmarried, childless, and with no close relatives who can care for them if they become unable to care for themselves.  It is also possible to effectively be an elder orphan if you have adult children with mental, emotional, or physical problems which would make them incapable of caring you.  Careers and other situations could also mean your children may live too far away to be of much assistance.

In a poll conducted by Caring Right at Home, only 25 percent of the respondents indicated they were completely confident they would have adequate family support if they needed care in the future.  There is a good reason for this concern.  Today's average senior citizen will start retirement with approximately seven people in their family who could possibly help them.  By 2050, when many Baby Boomers begin hitting their eighties, that ratio is expected to drop to an average of fewer than three potential caregivers per senior citizen.  In fact, many Baby Boomers will have no one at all who will be able to help them.  People in this situation are known as Elder Orphans.

Elder Orphans May Decline and Die More Quickly

There have been several posts written on this blog about the importance of family, friends and social connections for those who hope to enjoy a long life and satisfying retirement.  People without those connections are much less likely to have positive outcomes.  Some of the problems they could experience are:

*  Hastened cognitive decline (dementia)
*  Faster functional decline (difficulty with self-care)
*  Mental health issues (such as depression)
*  Premature death

How Communities Can Help Elder Orphans

The negative outcomes listed above are not inevitable.  Communities can reach out to help their seniors; in addition, the individuals themselves can plan ahead and make arrangements for their future care.

People who do not have a support system as they age are often a hidden population.  They may be surrounded by neighbors and community members who have no idea how much they are struggling to survive.  Below are steps which communities can take to minimize the problem:

*  Authorities can educate their residents to be aware of the elderly in their neighborhoods so they can help authorities identify anyone who may need a helping hand.

*  Communities can also join the new "Age-in-Place Village" movement, which is simply a way to simplify and organize services and make programs more accessible to the elderly in the area.  These services might include recruiting volunteers to help with home repairs and transportation, organizing Meals on Wheels or hot meals at Senior Centers, and helping seniors find solutions to any other nutritional, housing, transportation and medical problems they may face.  Each person's needs will be different, but they could require help filing their tax returns, dealing with medical bills, finding appropriate housing, or hiring a caregiver. 

How Elder Orphans Can Help Themselves 

No one should face retirement and expect their local community to step in and take care of everything for them.  While local agencies may be helpful, everyone needs to take steps to protect themselves as they age ... especially if they are at risk of becoming an elder orphan.  Even those who have a spouse at the beginning of retirement may eventually discover themselves widowed, and those with adult children may ultimately find their children have their own problems and cannot do a good job of taking care of their parents, too.  In addition, children may live far away and only see their parents two or three times a year. As a result, they may not be aware of some of the problems their parents are having with day-to-day life.

Below are some of the things you can do to minimize your risk of becoming an elder orphan and having no one who is able to care for you on a consistent basis:

*  Consider purchasing a long-term care insurance policy while you are middle aged and still healthy.  The insurance will pay for you to move into a long-term care facility or have an in-home caregiver when you reach the point when you can no longer care for yourself.

*  Instead of a long-term care policy, you could also consider moving into a CCRC ... a Continuing Care Retirement Community.  Many people initially move into independent living apartments or homes in one of these communities.  Later, if you need skilled nursing or memory care, the contract you have with the CCRC will generally guarantee that they will care for you for the rest of your life.

*  Even if you do not buy long-term care insurance or move into a CCRC, you can still prepare for the future by doing everything possible to arrange your affairs so you are secure.  Talk to a financial planner and make sure you have a regular stream of income which will last the rest of your life.  Make alterations to your home so it will be safe and accessible, even if you have surgery or if you are temporarily incapacitated. You may consider purchasing a medical alert system which would make it possible for you to easily contact someone if you fall or become seriously ill. You should also investigate the available support services in your community, should you need them, including available transportation, local in-home care agencies, financial aid, and volunteer organizations.  In addition, check out commercial services such as Amazon and other online shopping services, meal delivery, mail order prescriptions, and laundry services. You should also make a contingency plan for getting whatever care you might need in the future.  Planning ahead will enable you to remain self-reliant for many years.

*  Finally, no matter what other plans you make for the future, be sure to expand your circle of friends.  If you have no family nearby, your friends can become closer than your family.  Friends can fill in the gaps when you need them.  You can share holidays together, give each other rides to doctor appointments, take care of one another's pets, and be an emotional support when you go through difficult times.  The more time you spend developing friendships, the better your future support system will be.

For more information about planning for retirement, CCRCs, long-term care insurance, finding a place to retire, changing family relationships, Social Security, Medicare and more, use the tabs or pull-down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional helpful articles.

Watch for my book, Retirement Awareness: 10 Steps to a Comfortable Retirement, which will be published by Griffin Publishing in 2018.

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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Most Popular Retirement Stories of 2017

Each December, the Baby Boomer Retirement blog looks back at the retirement news which captivated our readers the most during the preceding year.  The most popular retirement stories of 2017 ranged from financial concerns to the latest news on how to live a long, healthy life while remaining free of dementia.  One interesting new retirement community also made our list of top stories.

All of the major topics covered in the past year were important both to people who have already retired, as well as those who are still planning their retirement.  Below is a list of the most popular articles of 2017, with links so you can read the entire article for yourself.

If there are additional topics which may interest you, use the pull down menu or tabs at the top of this page to find links to almost 500 helpful articles, organized by topic.

2017 Most Popular Retirement Stories

How to Find Jobs Late in Life - Millions of Americans are discovering they simply cannot retire on Social Security and their savings alone.  When this happens, their best option in many cases is to find a job and continue working as long as possible.  This article contains both general tips for finding a retirement job, as well as links to specific sites where you can explore the available jobs or find job retraining opportunities.

Travel Scams to Avoid - One of the joys of retirement is the ability to travel whenever you want, without concern for your children's school schedule or similar issues.  However, older people are also more likely to be victimized by scammers. Learn about some of the most common travel scams and the steps you can take to avoid falling victim to them.

How to Live Longer - Add Years to Your Life - Although no one can guarantee that you will live to be 100 years old, there are some interesting traits which appear to be common in those with the greatest longevity.  Read the tips in this brief article and learn how to minimize your odds of dying an early death.

Social Security Myths and Misunderstandings - Have you been told that it is too late to save our nation's Social Security program and there will be no money left by the time you retire?  Do you think the problem is result of people living too long?  You may have become a victim of some of the myths and misunderstandings which are prevalent about Social Security.  Learn the truth and discover the practical suggestions Congress could enact in order to save the Social Security for yourself and future generations.

Tips for a Sharper Brain and Better Memory - What can you do to keep your brain sharp and fully functioning?  What are the cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure numbers you should strive to achieve?  Do you know the connection between good heart health and good brain health?  This article will help you understand what your lifestyle, health and diet goals should be if you want to maximize your memory and brain function.

Margaritaville Retirement Communities - Remember the Jimmy Buffett song "Margaritaville?"  Many Baby Boomers think of it as a great theme for their retirement.  Now, a developer in Florida is actually building a collection of retirement communities which have been designed around a Margaritaville theme.  Learn more about these communities in this article and decide if one of these retirement communities might be right for you.

Early Diagnosis of Dementia is Possible - Many people are surprised to learn that memory loss is NOT the first sign that someone could be developing dementia.  Some of the earliest symptoms are much more subtle, such as anxiety, aggression, apathy and poor impulse control, to name a few. Learn more about how to recognize that you or a loved one could be developing dementia, so early treatment can be started.

How to Retire without a Car - Most Americans dread the day when they might have to give up their car. It could happen because the expense becomes too much for you to handle on a retirement income, or you may develop health conditions which make it impossible for you to drive.  Whatever the reason, there are a variety of affordable alternatives to driving which would make it possible for you to continue to get around and enjoy your life, even without a car.

Opiod Addiction in Retirees - Every year, approximately one-third of all Medicare patients are prescribed opioid painkillers by their doctors.  As a result, millions of Americans over the age are 50 have begun abusing these dangerous drugs.  In fact, roughly 42 percent of all the opioid overdoses in the U.S. have happened to people over the age of 45.  Learn more about this health crisis, including the names of the most commonly prescribed opioids, so you can insist that your own physician does not put you on the dangerous road to addiction.

Short on Retirement Savings? - One-half of all Baby Boomers have saved less than $100,000 towards retirement.  One-third have less than $50,000.  To make matters worse, the average amount of Social Security benefits is less than $1400 a month.  This article contains a number of practical solutions for helping to solve your retirement income shortfall so your senior years can still be enjoyable.

Medicare and Cancer Benefits - Prevention, Diagnosis and Treatment - If you are on Medicare and receive a cancer diagnosis, you may be worried about your insurance coverage.  This article was written by a Medicare insurance specialist and will help put your mind at ease, in most cases.

Vacation Timeshare Risks and Benefits - Millions of Americans own timeshares, with the number increasing every years.  Many time share owners appreciate the convenience of owning a "second home" without bearing the full burden of the annual expense and maintenance.  However, there are also disadvantages to timeshare ownership and they can be difficult to resell.  Learn more about timeshare ownership. 

How to Hire a Home Care Agency - Assuming you are fortunate enough to live a long life, it is likely that eventually you or someone in your family will need the services of a caregiver. What requirements should you look for in a home care agency?  What characteristics are important in the caregiver they send to your home?  This article will help you find a reputable agency and high-quality caregiver for yourself or someone you love.

If you are interested in learning more about financial planning, Social Security, Medicare, where to retire, common health problems and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional helpful articles.

Watch for my book, Retirement Awareness:  10 Steps to a Comfortable Retirement, which is due to be released by Griffin Publishing in 2018.

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