Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Earn Extra Retirement Income and Supplement your Social Security

Many people are discovering that their Social Security does not provide enough income for them to live comfortably for the remainder of their lives.  If you are among those retirees who are having trouble making ends meet, you may want to find a simple way to supplement your retirement income.  Even an extra few hundred dollars a month can make a tremendous difference for many senior citizens.

Before you look for a job, however, you may want to visit your local Social Security or Social Services office and see if you are eligible for any extra financial help.  For example, you may qualify for SSI (supplemental security income), SNAP (food stamps), or a housing voucher. These forms of financial assistance will be dependable and consistent, whether or not you are able to work. The lower your retirement income, and the fewer assets you have, the more likely you are to qualify for these benefits.

If you do not qualify for extra government benefits, but you have money in a savings account or IRA, talk to a financial planner or your banker to see if you have maximized the amount of income you are receiving.  Can you get a higher interest rate on your savings, or larger dividends from your stocks?  If you have invested in a mutual fund, is your current one the best choice to meet your financial needs? If you are making annual withdrawals from your IRA, can you increase the amount you are taking and still feel confident your assets will last the rest of your life? The more passive income you receive, the easier your life with be.  You should review your investments at least once a year to make sure you are maximizing their income and growth.

If those extra financial boosts are not available to you, or they do not provide enough financial security, one of the sources of income listed below may be exactly what you need.

How to Earn Extra Retirement Income

Dog Walking or Pet Sitting - In our retirement community, there are a number of people who have pets they are no longer able to walk.  There are other retirees who come to their homes and walk their dogs twice a day for them.  Often, I see dog walkers with two or three dogs at a time, strolling around our neighborhood. For able-bodied people who like animals, this is a great way to earn extra money and maintain their own health at the same time.  In addition, you are also providing an extra service to weak or infirm seniors, simply by stopping by their homes to pick up their dogs.  You are also providing them with daily contact with another person, and confirming that their health has not taken a turn for the worse. Another way dog lovers can earn extra money is by pet sitting for seniors when they go out of town.  Many people prefer a pet sitter over taking their pets to a commercial kennel.

House Sitting - If you are a reliable, responsible person who is willing to water plants, take care of pets, and keep a home picked up and orderly, this could be a simple way to avoid paying rent for a period of time, or to earn a little extra money while keeping your current residence.  My sister-in-law was a Realtor in an upscale community when she was in her 50s.  She stored her personal furniture and, for several years, she simply moved from home to home while people were on extended trips or their homes were up for sale, and they wanted someone to stay in them until they sold.  She rented a post office box to receive her mail and occasionally spent a few nights in a hotel when she was between homes.  However, for the most part, she was able to do this consistently for a long time and enjoyed the experience, the luxurious homes, and the easy way to build up her savings.

Rent Out a Room - First, check out the rules in your city or homeowner's association. If there is no problem with short-term rentals, you can register with a vacation rental site such as Airbnb, Homestay or VRBO. In addition, talk with friends and see if they know someone who would like to rent a room on a long-term basis.  One of my friends, a retired teacher, enjoys renting a room in her house each year to a college student.  Other people I know rent out rooms exclusively to other senior citizens.  If you are privately renting a room, make sure the rules are clearly written out regarding use of the kitchen and laundry, pets, chores, having friends or grandchildren spend the night, "quiet hours," etc.  It can save a lot of frustration in the future.

Rent out your garage or basement for storage - If you do not want people living with you, consider renting out part of your garage or basement for storage.  Many people will pay $100 or more each month to store their antique car, furniture they don't have room for, or other items.  If you live in a condo with an assigned parking spot which you do not use, you may be able to rent it out to someone else.  This is an easy way to make a little extra money without the need to regularly interact with someone else over breakfast!

Rent out your car - Many retirees discover that they use their car less and less as they get older, yet they still want to keep it.  Register your car on a site like Turo, and other people will pay to use it on a rental basis.  At the very least, you may be able to offset the expense of keeping a car.

Drive other people around - If you would rather drive people around yourself, and you have a good driving record and reliable car, sign up with Lyft or Uber.  People in our retirement community are beginning to be both drivers and users of these ride-sharing services.  It is a convenience for those who can no longer drive to have other seniors drive them around, and the people who are doing the driving are able to earn a little extra money helping their neighbors.  I have heard Uber drivers say that "they would rather drive retirees to the store or airport than pick up drunks from bars!"

Advertise that you will run errands for neighbors for an hourly fee - People who have just gotten out of the hospital, had surgery, or just have trouble getting out of the house, appreciate being able to hire someone to pick up their groceries, dry cleaning, and prescriptions. Just make sure they understand you are running a business and not doing this for free! It is not unusual for younger, healthier retirees to find themselves frequently providing these services for neighbors who do not offer to reimburse them fairly for the time and gas mileage this requires.  If your goal is to earn extra money, then you need to advertise, promote yourself, and run your service like a business.

Cook for those who are home bound - Our local neighborhood online site, Next Door, often contains posts from people who are looking for someone to deliver home cooked meals to them.  You may have to do a little advertising or promoting to build a clientele, but once you do, this could be a fun way to earn money doing something you enjoy.

Sell your arts and crafts - Our community has several sales a year which allow our talented local artists to sell their paintings, crocheted purses, jewelry, pottery, wood carvings, quilts, and other unique, handmade items.  You can also register with a site like Etsy, or sell your creations at a local flea market.  You may even build up a following of people who particularly like your style! When we were in Hawaii one year, we met a woman at a flea market who was selling the most wonderful coffee.  She grew it, roasted the beans, and sold the coffee grounds herself at the flea market.  Find something you enjoy doing and share it with the world.

Blogging or writing online - As a blogger myself, I have noticed that the income from online writing has dropped the past few years.  However, someone who loves to write can still earn a little money by writing a blog, submitting articles to Hubpages, or being an anonymous webpage writer through Textbroker. I have done all three. If you love to share your knowledge and experience with others, this can be a fun way to supplement your income.  If you write a blog, make sure you register as an associate with Google and Amazon, and you will be able to put their ads on your site.  When people click on a Google ad, or purchase something from Amazon after clicking on a link on your blog, you can earn a little extra money.

Write a book - If you have always dreamed of writing a book, go ahead and write it and use Amazon's free service at CreateSpace.com to produce your book and sell it online. Amazon will create both a print-on-demand paperback and a Kindle version of your book.  If you are patient, take your time, and do all the work yourself, you can create it for free. Before you start, it would be smart to spend a few dollars to get the Amazon Self-Publishing Guide and follow their directions. Success varies, but it can be very satisfying to have your books available online for family, friends and strangers to purchase. Although I have never written a best-seller, I have sold hundreds of copies of my books on Amazon under my pen name, Deborah Dian.

If you have an interesting background, you may want to write a memoir. If you survived a dangerous situation, or have learned how to deal with a complicated illness, there are people who will want to hear about your experiences. If you are an expert in a field, or you love to travel, you can even write both a blog and a book, and use them together to get paid to share your knowledge or adventures.  Set up a Twitter account and business-style Facebook author's page to promote your blog posts and books.  These are free and easy ways to promote them. When you expose your books to the public, you may be surprised at how many people will want to read them. For example, after several friends and members of my family were married in Las Vegas, I wrote my most successful Amazon book, "Your Guide to a Fabulous Las Vegas Wedding." 

Gardening or landscaping - Many people, especially as they age or get busy with their careers, tend to let their gardens go, even though they would really love to have a home surrounded by beautiful flowers and shrubs.  If this is something you enjoy, let people know you are in the business of planting flowers and maintaining them on a regular basis.  Contact local businesses, too.  I have a friend who had a lucrative business supplying plants to local office buildings.  They also paid her regularly to return each week to water the plants, prune them and replace them, when necessary.

Handyman or handywoman services - Are you good at making minor home repairs, hanging pictures, refinishing scratched furniture, etc.?  Put your skills to good use.  Senior citizens, in particular, are always in need of someone who can fix that door hinge, hang a screen door, put up their storm windows and provide similar services.

Clothing alterations - Another service which seems to be disappearing commercially, but is still in demand, is alterations.  If you are good at hemming, sewing on buttons, or making other similar repairs and alterations, you may be able to set up a thriving business from your own home.

Teach English or other subjects to students over the internet - If you would like to teach English to foreigners, you can now find jobs doing it from home.  Check out sites such as Lingoda and iTutorGroup which match up teachers and students.  You can also find jobs on Tutors.com and Wyzant.  One of our daughters tutored children in math on Tutors.com while she was getting her teaching degree.  It was a great experience for her and she was able to work during the hours which were convenient for her, since there are  nearly always students in other time zones who need help.

Tutoring - If you are not comfortable teaching online, contact your local school district about tutoring local students after school in subjects in which you excel, such as math, science, music or a foreign language.  If your school does not have any opportunities, you may try advertising your services in your local newspaper or a neighborhood newsletter.

Customer Service Representative - Some companies, especially large national retailers, will hire people to work from home to take orders and provide customer service to clients.  The companies like the fact that they do not have to provide office space for large numbers of people using phones and computers.  You can work from your own home, as long as you are reliable, have a quiet place to work uninterrupted, are willing to work the hours they need you, and you have a computer, phone, headset and internet service. Contact the headquarters of various retailers and ask if they need work-at-home customer service representatives. Do NOT fall for a scam, however. If a company wants you to buy any products or special equipment from them, look elsewhere for a job.  If you are a retiree looking for work, the last thing you want to do is spend money that you may not recoup. 

Part-time jobs - Virtually everywhere I go, restaurants, shops, cafes, bakeries, department stores and dry cleaners have signs which say "employees wanted."  If you need extra income, it would not hurt to stop at a local business and fill out an application.  Don't forget your favorite clothing store.  You may even get a discount!  In addition, talk to someone at your nearest senior center. They may hire you, or they may know of an upcoming job fair where you can meet a number of potential employers. If you live in a senior community, many of them hire residents to work in their office, gym or other facilities.

Sell things you no longer need - Many retirees are crammed into small spaces, trying to hold onto every hobby item and piece of furniture they ever purchased.  Although this is not a long-term solution to your financial problems, if you need extra money and space, try selling items you no longer enjoy or need. Gold jewelry you no longer wear can sometimes fetch a good price.  Selling these items could help you get through a time when money is tight, for example to cover a medical bill or car repair.

If you have other, legitimate ideas to help retirees earn extra money to supplement their Social Security, please feel free to share the details in the comments section.  I'm sure it will be appreciated. Do not include links to other sites, however, or your comment will not be published.

For more information on financial planning in retirement, where to retire, Social Security, Medicare, common medical issues and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles.

You are reading from the blog:  http://www.baby-boomer-retirement.com

Photo credit:  morguefile.com

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Responsible Computer Use after Retirement - Safety and Netiquette

Once we retire, most of us discover that we have more free time than ever.  Many people use that extra time to go to the gym, garden, take long walks, enjoy movies in the afternoon, play bridge, socialize with friends and engage in other healthy, positive activities. However, over the past five years of my retirement, I have noticed that far too many of my friends spend countless hours on the computer in unhealthy, unproductive and even harmful ways.  Often, their computer activities actually alienate their friends and relatives.

There are probably more ways to misuse the computer than I can ever imagine.  However, below are a few issues which everyone should avoid.  If you find yourself slipping into one of these behaviors, the best thing to do is push yourself away from the computer and go take a walk or call a friend!  You need an intervention! 

Online Do's and Don'ts

1.  Don't send chain emails to everyone on your contact list - Periodically, I have had to ask my friends to take me off their list of people to whom they send chain emails.  Some of these emails relay "warnings" which are completely untrue or as unlikely to happen as being struck by lightning while sitting in your living room.  Other emails contain suspicious links I would never consider clicking on.  Who needs another virus on their computer?  Far too frequently, the emails are political in nature and, whether I support that candidate or not, I'm not interested in getting endless emails about politics. I am perfectly capable of choosing my own political campaigns to follow! I always delete these emails when I read the first line.  In a few cases, I have blocked the sender so they can no longer email me.  Don't be tempted to fall into the trap of thinking that, just because you are retired, you can now create a new career for yourself by constantly emailing everyone you know in an attempt to "rescue them," "convert them" or "help them."  Your help is not wanted.

2.  Don't spend hours playing computer games - One of my friends confessed to me that she sometimes plays "Bejeweled" and other computer games for so many hours that her arms and hands have become tingly and felt as if they had fallen asleep.  Sometimes, she sits at the desk so long, she has trouble standing up afterwards. Frequently, she stays up until 1:00 in the morning or later playing these games, and it is hard for her to fall asleep afterwards.  It may be fine to play games for a few minutes in order to fill up some empty time or relax yourself.  A few games can even be mentally stimulating and exercise your brain.  However, if you are playing for so long that your hands become numb or you cannot stand up, it is time to find a more active hobby.  Making real jewelry would be much better for you, and more rewarding, than spending hours on a game like Bejeweled!

3.  Don't share fake news stories on social media - Many people enjoy the social aspect of being able to stay in touch with old friends on Facebook, Instagram and similar sites.  It is fun to see the latest photos of your friends and their grandkids, and share pictures of your own.  However, the March, 2019 issue of the AARP Bulletin reported that people over the age of 65 are seven times more likely to share a fake news story on Facebook than a person between the ages of 18 and 29.  Think about that.  At our age, you would think we would have more sense than a 20 year-old!  Of course, since it can be challenging to know if a news story is true or not, it is important to check with a verification site like Snopes.com before spreading news stories, especially ones which could be inflammatory or come from questionable sites.  This extra caution is important whether you are spreading "news" on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or by email.  Use some discretion and be cautious about what you share online.

4.  Don't constantly complain online - Residents of our retirement community share information about estate sales, coyote sightings, new shops, and power outages on a site called Nextdoor. It is a very handy way to be kept up-to-date on events which could interest people in our neighborhood.  However, some people use the site to relentlessly complain about everything they believe is wrong.  This would not be such a problem if people only occasionally brought up a concern or question.  However, a few of our local retirees post complaints nearly every day, to the point that some of them have been banned from the site.  You do not want to become that "grouchy old man or woman" who never seems to find anything good about your life.  Go out and participate in an activity you enjoy, so you do not have time to spend your days complaining.

5.  Don't be rude to others online - Far too many people say things online which they would never say to someone in person.  Whether it is a celebrity or an ordinary person, simply because you can message them through the internet does not mean you have the right to say cruel and hurtful things to them.  Do not tell people they are stupid, ugly, or fat. Do not call them racist or insulting names, even if you disagree with their political or lifestyle beliefs.  Basic etiquette, sometimes referred to as netiquette, still applies to the online world.  People have committed suicide because of the cruelty of others on sites like Twitter and Facebook.  Do not succumb to the mob instinct of saying whatever you want online.  Practice the same thoughtfulness and consideration you would in person.  If you cannot say something kind, it is better to say nothing at all.  

6.  Don't become engaged in illegal activities online - Whether you are tempted by online gambling, pornography, or the sale of illegal products, don't use your extra time to indulge your baser instincts.  Who wants to go to jail in their 60s or 70s for online criminal activity?  It would be a terrible way to spend the last few years of your life.

7.  Don't forget to protect your privacy - Have you ever wondered about all those cute questionnaires on Facebook which ask you about the kind of pets you have, your pet's name, the town where you grew up, the year you were born, your Zodiac sign, your childhood nickname, etc.?  Often, the designers of these so-called surveys can use the information you provide to narrow in on your potential passwords. Don't participate.  Make sure you are using privacy settings on all the sites you use, and don't give away any information unnecessarily.  In addition, be extremely careful with people you meet on dating websites and similar places online. Even sites like Twitter are populated with people who post they are only there to find "someone special."  Since Twitter lacks even the minimal protections you get with a dating site, getting involved with a stranger this way can be extremely risky.  You do not even know if they are using their own name and photos!

8.  Do not harass other people - Some people have become discouraged using the internet because members of the opposite sex harass them, try to get dates with them, and will not leave them alone.  If you are lonely, get involved in activities in your community and meet people in person.  Avoid trolling and harassing people online.  Either they will be upset by the unwanted attention, or they could be trying to lure you in and take advantage of you.  Stick with people you know or take the time to find legitimate ways to meet new people.  Make friends through your clubs, classes, place of worship, and similar activities.

9.  Do sign up for computer classes - No matter how long you have used a computer, there are always new things to learn.  Everyone should occasionally take a computer class so they are up-to-date on the latest technology, programs and online risks.  Since modern smart phones are simply small computers we can carry in our purse or pocket, you should even consider taking a brief lesson when you get a new phone.  It could save you a lot of frustration.

10.  Do teach your grandchildren to stay safe on the computer.  You may want to get your grandchildren the book, "Screenwise: Helping Kids Thrive in Their Digital World."  Of course, you will want to read it, too, and discuss the book with them.  It could help keep you both safe when you are online. 

The bottom line is that we all need to be responsible computer users, especially after retirement.  It is easy to get addicted to sitting in front of your computer, endlessly pushing buttons, playing games, forwarding chain emails, and not thinking about what you are saying and doing. However, while computers can be useful tools for staying in touch with family and friends, doing your shopping, reading, learning, and banking, it needs to be used responsibly.  Now, get off the computer and go take that walk!

For more information about retirement planning, where to retire, Social Security, Medicare, common medical issues, travel and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of helpful articles on a variety of topics.

You are reading from the blog:  http://www.baby-boomer-retirement.com

Photo credit:  Photo property of the author; all rights reserved.

Blog Changes Affecting Paid Kindle Subscribers


This brief post only affects my Kindle Subscribers, those of you who have been paying .99 cents a month to subscribe to this blog so you could read it regularly on your Kindle.  I have appreciated your support over the years.

Unfortunately, Amazon is no longer going to support any blogs on Kindle.  As a result, I want to encourage all of you to follow my blog for free, by submitting your email address, using the "Follow This Blog" element on the right-hand column, to receive the latest posts by email.  I will not personally see the email addresses of those who follow my blog, unless you contact me directly and send me your email address.  Amazon automatically handles the email addresses which are submitted under the "Follow This Blog by Email" section.

You can also just save this blog to your "favorites" list and read the posts whenever you want.  It is updated at least once a week, usually on Tuesdays or Wednesdays.

Either way, thanks so much to my paid subscribers for your years of support.  I look forward to having you continue to read my posts for free in the future!

Below is the letter I received from Amazon, explaining the changes:

Hello,

Thank you for using our Blog service to publish your Blog on Kindle. We are writing to let you know that on August 19, 2019 we are discontinuing support for all Blogs on Kindle due to low usage. Your blog(s) BABY BOOMER RETIREMENT will no longer be available for sale in the Kindle store and you will no longer be able to manage blogs through kindlepublishing.amazon.com. This change will not impact any related publications that you manage outside of Kindle. If you have any questions or believe you have received this communication in error, please reach out to us at newsstand@amazon.com. 

Sincerely,
Amazon

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Alzheimers Disease Linked to Gum Infections

If you are concerned about reducing your risk of Alzheimer's Disease as you age, see your dentist regularly.  Researchers have known for some time that general inflammation in the body could be connected to Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia.  More recently, researchers reported in the journal "Science Advances" in January, 2019 that inflammation caused specifically by gum disease may also be linked to Alzheimer's Disease.  At the same time, gum disease inflammation is also known to be a risk factor for heart disease, so failing to care for your teeth puts you at double risk. More and more, we are learning that dementia does not develop in a vacuum.  It is a result of the general care we give our minds and bodies.

Oral Bacteria Linked to Alzheimer's

The research on periodontal or gum disease and its link to Alzheimer's was performed by Dr. Stephen Dominy and Casey Lynch, the founders of the pharmaceutical firm Cortexyme.  They discovered the presence of the bacteria Porphyromonas gingivalis, known as Pg, in 50 out of 53 brains of Alzheimer's patients they autopsied.  Pg is the cause of periodontitis, which leads to chronic inflammation and tooth loss.  Discovering the presence of this oral bacteria in the brains of Alzheimer's patients is a major breakthrough and could lead to treatments to reduce the risk of developing this serious form of dementia.

Can Bacterial Pg be Blocked from Entering the Brain?

Without getting too deep into the science, the researchers were able to use small molecules to target Pg in mice, enabling them to reduce brain degeneration.  However, the research is extremely early, which means it could be a decade or longer before a medication could be designed to protect human brains from the consequences of gun disease.  Much more research, as well as large clinical trials, will need to be completed before a protective treatment can be released to the public.

Protect Your Brain - Take Care of Your Teeth and Gums

In addition to the research done by Dominy and Lynch, other researchers have discovered that Alzheimer's patients who are diagnosed with oral infections often develop more intense cognitive decline during the following six months, when compared to patients who do are not diagnosed with gum disease.

Whether or not the bacteria which cause gum disease are also one of the causes of Alzheimer's Disease, everyone who wants to avoid this debilitating form of dementia would be wise to brush their teeth twice a day, floss daily, and visit their dentist every three to six months for a thorough cleaning.  Patients should also follow the recommendations of their dentist to prevent periodontal disease.  In some cases, this may involved gum surgery or other treatments. 

If you use good oral hygiene in addition to following other recommended aspects of brain health, you will be doing everything researchers suggest in order to avoid or postpone dementia.

The other tips for maintaining good brain health, often referred to as The Six Pillars of Brain Health, are: 

Getting frequent physical exercise
Eating the MIND diet
Having fun with stimulating brain exercises
Getting plenty of sleep and relaxation
Socializing with others
Taking care of your general physical health.

If you are unsure how to follow the MIND diet, use this Amazon link to see:  The MIND Diet Plan and Cookbook.  You will find that it is similar to the Mediterranean diet, with many delicious and easy to prepare meals.

If you want to find some stimulating brain exercises, use this Amazon link to see a wide selection of brain game books to regularly give yourself a mental workout.

If you are interested in learning more about dealing with common health problems as we age, where to retire in the US and overseas, financial planning, 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 on this blog.

You are reading from the blog:  http://www.baby-boomer-retirement.com

Photo credit:  Google images - Dental care in Mexico - Yucatan Times