Sunday, March 25, 2012

Publish Your Autobiography for Free

They say that everyone has a story to tell.  Do you?  Have your children asked you to write down the stories you tell them?  Do they have questions about your childhood and the years before your children were born?  Would they like to know about your years in the military or other interesting experiences you have had in your life? Have you ever thought about writing your autobiography, but didn't know who would read it, or how you would get it published?  You'll be pleased to know that there is a way to do it for free.

Publish Your Life Story, But Do Not Pay For It

One of our neighbors faced this dilemma a few years ago.  In the 1960's, he and his wife were sent from South Korea to the United States to study. They were both in their 20's and they had to leave their two young children behind in Korea with relatives.  After being in the US for a few years, our neighbor became a college professor at a major American university, and they were able to bring their children here to live. Now our friends are in their late 60's, and their children are grown.  These adult children wanted to know about their parents' lives in Korea, as well as their early years in the United States, so our neighbor wrote an autobiography and had it printed at a vanity press.  He gave copies to his children and neighbors, which is how I came to read it.  I loved his book, and thought it was a very kind thing for him to do for his children. 

However, not everyone can afford the luxury of printing books at a vanity press, which can cost thousands of dollars ...  which few people ever get back in sales.  Instead, more and more people are discovering that they can use the free publishing services on Amazon to produce paperback books and Kindle e-books, at no cost, except $5 or $10 for the books they actually order.  If you don't buy a book, it costs you nothing to use the service.

Write Your Book Using CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing

Today, you can write a book as a word document on your computer and submit it to's CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing.  You need to follow their detailed formatting instructions, but it isn't hard. Here is a brief summary of what you need to do:

*  Write your book as a Word Document

*  Download one of the free CreateSpace templates; cut and paste your autobiography into it.

*  Put a page break at the end of each chapter and at the end of your book.

*  Open an account with CreateSpace and follow their instructions to upload your book from your computer onto their website.

*  If they tell you that you need to imbed your font, follow their simple instructions to do that.

*  Follow their instructions to create your own cover.  You can use a generic photo that they provide or you can upload a family photo and use it on your cover.

*  They will suggest a price that will cover the cost of printing the book.  It will probably be an odd number, such as $4.37.  Round it up and approve the price.

*  Order a proof and have it mailed to you, so you can see what it looks like.  If you are satisfied, log back onto the site and tell them to publish it.  It will be available for sale on within a few days, and your relatives can order it.

*  Tell CreateSpace you want the information sent to Kindle Direct Publishing.  Set the price there at .99 cents.  Your family can download it on their Kindles for that amount.

*  You may even have strangers buy copies of your books ... but only if you promote it.  That's OK.  You primarily did this for your family and friends.

*  When you receive royalties from the sale of your books, you can use the money to do something fun for your family. It won't be much, but it will be exciting to celebrate with pizza or a bottle of wine!

Books That I have Written on CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing

Although I have not written an autobiography (perhaps another year), I am working on helping my father and mother put together the story of their lives.  My father is currently recording stories from his life and I have promised to write them up and publish them, when they are ready. It may take a few years for my father to finish his part, but I am enjoying the process.

I have already written a few Kindle books.  One is:  "Your Guide to a Fabulous Las Vegas Wedding."  Others are: "The Mayor and the Garbage" (a novel for 9-12 year olds), and "Romantic Budget Wedding Ideas" (a book for anyone trying to save money on a wedding).  You can use the links to them to read an excerpt, and see how I formatted the books, wrote dedications, etc.

Benefits of Publishing an Autobiography

Your descendants will really appreciate the opportunity to read your life story.  Even if no one else ever gets a copy, you will enrich the lives of your family members by sharing a little bit about your own life.  Were you a war veteran?  Did you move across country?  Did you have to take care of ill family members?  Did you suffer from a great disappointment, or go on an exciting adventure?  All of these topics will be interesting for your family members to read.

To top it all off, you may even be able to sell a few copies and make some money from your autobiography!  Your experiences may enrich the lives of others.

If you are interesting in more information about retirement planning, changing family relationships, travel, where to retire, medical issues and more, just 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:

photo courtesy of

Thursday, March 22, 2012

How to Tell if your Pain is Dangerous

Do you suffer from pain?  Virtually everyone experiences some day to day aches and pain.  That is actually normal.  However, some types of pain could be an early warning of a serious health issue.

How can you tell if your pain is serious enough that you should see your doctor?  On, the famous Dr. Oz reports that there are 4 body pains you should never ignore. 

Types of Pain that could Indicate a Serious Health Issue

Jaw Pain:  If you experience jaw pain after or during physical activity, it could indicate a heart attack.  Be particularly alarmed if you also feel pain in your chest or left arm and shoulder, or if you experience shortness of breath.  Call your doctor right away!

Leg Pain:  If squeezing the back of your calf causes you severe pain, you may have deep vein thrombosis.  Be particularly worried if your leg is red and warm.

Abdominal Pain:  If you feel severe pain within 20-30 minutes after eating meals that contain fat, you may have gallstones.  If antacids don't help, you should have a doctor check it out.

Pins and Needles pain:  If your foot seems to fall asleep and you feel muscle weakness, you could have a damaged nerve or impaired circulation.  Your doctor should check it out.

Your Doctor is an Important Resource

Many of us are reluctant to contact our physicians, particularly over what we perceive as simple aches and pains.  However, any time you develop a new pain, pain that is intense, pain accompanied by redness or fever, or anything that alarms you, let your doctor know right away.  While it may not be a serious condition, it is possible that it could be your body alerting you to an impending heart attack, stroke or other medical condition.  Don't ignore your body's early alarm system!

To read more about these health concerns, you may want to see the full Doctor Oz article at:

If you are interested in learning more about health issues affecting baby-boomers, retirement planning, changing family relationships, where to retire and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page for links to hundreds of additional articles.

You are reading from the blog: 

Photo credit:

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Medication May Cause Your Depression

Do you feel sad more often that you used to?  Do you tend to want to stay home most of the time and avoid social situations?  Do you feel tired, rundown, and uninterested in food?  You could be suffering from depression and your medications may be to blame.

The typical retiree is taking more medications than they did at any other time during their life.  If they complain about depression or sadness, their doctor may simply add an antidepressant to the mix, without investigating whether one of the other medications they are taking could be causing their problem.  This can cause additional side effects and only compounds the problem, often without resolving the depression.

Which Medications Cause Depression?

According to an article at, there are actually 10 types of medications that can cause senior citizens to feel depressed.  Here is a brief list of some that you should watch.

Beta-blockers: Prescribed to treat high blood pressure, they can also cause fatigue, depression and sexual problems.

Anticonvulsants: Prescribed to treat seizures, neuropathic pain, and bipolar disorder, they can also cause depression.

Benzodiazepine tranquilizers: Prescribed to treat anxiety and insomnia, they are not always fully metabolized in the liver and can build up to toxic levels, causing depression.

Parkinson's drugs: Prescribed to treat the symptoms of Parkinson's disease, the high levels of dopamine they cause can result in depression.

Corticosteroids: Prescribed to treat inflammation problems such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout, they also lower serotonin levels which can result in depression and other psychiatric problems.

Hormone-altering drugs (including estrogen): Prescribed to treat hot flashes and other hormonal problems, manipulating our hormones can have unexpected consequences, including depression.

Stimulants (including Ritalin): Prescribed to treat daytime sleepiness and narcolepsy, increasing dopamine can result in depression.

Proton pump inhibitors and H2 blockers: Prescribed to suppress gastric acid and treat GERD, it has been discovered that changing the pH of the stomach can have unintentional consequences.

Statins: Prescribed to lower levels of cholesterol, it has also been discovered that reducing cholesterol too much can cause depression.

Anticholinergic medications:  Prescribed to reduce stomach acid, they can cause depression and cognitive impairment.

Symptoms of Medication Related Depression

If you take any of these medications, and you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed below, depression, fatigue, cognitive problems or other new symptoms, you should talk to your doctor about changing your medication rather than simply adding an anti-depressant to the list of other drugs you are taking.

Cognitive Problems
Withdrawal from social settings
Lack of interest in food
Trouble sleeping

If you have trouble concentrating or thinking clearly, experience bouts of dizziness or weakness, these could also be symptoms of medication related problems.  Let your doctor know if you have any possible side effects of medications you are taking.

If you are interested in learning more about age-related health problems, retirement ideas, financial planning, changing family relationships or 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:

Additional information available at

Photo courtesy of

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Do You Need a Million Dollars to Retire?

Recently I have noticed on some of the question and answer sites I use, such as, that people are asking if they will really need to save a million dollars before they retire.  Obviously, the people who are asking this question are those who realize they are not even close to reaching that lofty amount of retirement funds.  What has been even more interesting than the question of "how much do I need to retire," however, are the answers.

Most Americans Have Saved Very Little for Retirement

The truth is that very few Americans have saved a million dollars by the time they are ready to retire.  In fact, the majority have saved less than a hundred thousand.  That does not mean they cannot retire, or even that they will have a miserable retirement.  There are many ways to make the numbers work for you.

Maximize Your Social Security Benefits

First of all, the average retiree currently only gets about $1100 - $1200 in Social Security benefits.  That does not need to be true for you. If you work until your full retirement age of about 66, you should be able to increase your retirement income to at least $1800 a month, and perhaps as much as $2500 a month, depending on your past earnings.  If you are married, your spouse will be able to get at least half that amount, even if your spouse never worked.  Therefore, even a single-income couple could have an income from Social Security of about $2700 - $3600 a month, without a penny of interest income from savings.

Compare Your Retirement Income to Your Retirement Expenses

Once you know how much you will receive in Social Security benefits, compare that amount to what you currently have in monthly expenses. 

Let's say that you currently spend about $4500 a month, and you will receive $3,000 a month from Social Security.  That means you are short about $1500 a month. 

Now look closely at your expenses.  Will you have your mortgage paid off by the time you retire?  Do you have other large debts, like money you borrowed to put your kids through college, that could be paid off by the time you retire? 

Let's assume that you have $500 a month in bills that will be eliminated when you retire.  Now you are only short $1000 a month. 

Are there other expenses that will be reduced once you quit working?  Will you save money on gas for your car, business lunches, parking, union dues, and other job related expenses?  That may be another $200 a month in savings.  Now you only need to make up $800 a month, or $9600 a year, in order to maintain your current standard of living.

Saving enough money to produce an extra $9600 a year seems much more manageable.  If you have $160,000 invested with a 6% return, you will earn exactly the $9600 a year that you need.  If you don't have that much saved, you still have a few choices.

More Ways to Increase Your Income or Reduce Expenses

If you have not saved the money you need to retire, you still do not have to give up the idea of ever retiring.  There are a few other actions you can take to make it a reality.

First, you can continue working another year or two, which will increase the amount of Social Security you will earn and to give you time to save more money.  If you work until you are 70, you could easily increase your Social Security to $3000 a month, and your spouse would get $1500.  Now you're receiving $4500 a month, which is the amount you currently spend, and your problem is solved.

Another approach is to look for ways to downsize or simplify your lifestyle, such as moving to a smaller home, making do with one car, and cutting back on travel or entertainment.  Just having a smaller mortgage could be enough to bridge the gap.

In addition, you should look carefully at the Medicare plan you choose when you both retire.  If you have a Medicare Advantage plan that charges you no additional fee over the basic cost of Medicare, that will probably save you a lot of money compared to what a Medicare Supplement plan would cost.  Shop around.  If you have paid for individual medical insurance policies in the past, this could really cut your expenses.

Try to Get a Higher Return on Your Assets

If you have managed to save some money in your retirement accounts, but less than $160,000, you could take the money you have and see if you can find an investment or annuity that will pay you more than a 6% return.  The higher the return, the less money you will need. 

You might be able to find some dividend paying stocks that pay a good rate of return.  Make sure you diversify your funds over several stocks, however, and remember that high-dividend paying stocks can be volatile or, sometimes, risky investments. 

In some cases, you might choose to put your assets into a product like an annuity.  For example, currently offers annuities starting at 6.1% for people who are 65, 7.5% for people who are 75, and even higher rates for older seniors.  I'm sure that other companies will match those rates.  Shop around and get the best deal possible.

The bottom line is that, for most of us, trying to save a million dollars might be nice, but it is probably unnecessary.  As always, you are welcome to leave comments and suggestions on any post and I will reply within 24 hours.

To stay up-to-date with information related to retirement, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of this article to find links to hundreds of additional articles on financial planning, affordable places to retire, medical issues, and more.

You are reading:

Photo courtesy of

Monday, March 12, 2012

Helpful Smart Phone Apps for Baby Boomers

Smart Phone apps have been designed to make our lives easier.  If you are a Baby Boomer, there are certain apps that you may find especially helpful.  Whether you own an Android or iPhone, make sure you are getting the most out of this handy piece of technology.  What are some Smart Phone applications that could benefit you?

Your Bank's Mobile App

Nearly all large banks now have a mobile app and you will find this extremely helpful if you travel very much.  I have used the app that is linked to my bank to transfer money from savings to checking, and to pay a bill while I was away from my home computer.  You can use the app to instantly see if a check has cleared, or to check your account balance. 

Red Laser

If you are a very careful shopper, this mobile app can save you a lot of time and frustration.  It allows you to scan in a bar code and check for price comparisons.  Before you drive from WalMart to Target to Costco, and back again, to compare the price of the same camera or a similar item, go to the store that is closest to you and scan the bar code.  It will tell you the price of the item in a variety of stores.

My Fitness Pal

Are you trying to stay in shape, and you just want to keep track of your calories, weight and the amount of exercise you are getting?  This app makes it easy to see how well you are doing.  Since most of us always have our phones with us, we are much less likely to forget to enter the data when we are on the go.

Value Diary

If you have used Weight Watchers in the past and want to keep track of your points, without paying a monthly fee, download the very inexpensive Value Diary app.  When I downloaded it, it cost $2.99.  You can manually enter your foods or look them up on their database.  Keep track of your points and maintain your weight without going to meetings or paying a monthly fee.

The Weather Channel

Are you concerned about storms in your area?  Do you want to know the weather at your travel destination?  The Weather Channel app is a convenient way to instantly know about weather alerts, expected precipitation and anything else that could affect your travel plans.

A Local News Station

I have the app for my both my Los Angles ABC  and CBS affiliates, as well as CNN.  Whenever there is a breaking news story, I am immediately notified.  This is particularly handy whenever there is an earthquake or major traffic stoppage in my area.  It also keeps me informed of major news stories, no matter where I am.


Want to talk to your family and see your grandkids at the same time?  If you and your family members have iPhones, you all have Facetime, which is similar to Skype.  However, if you have an Android phone or sometimes talk with people on one, having Skype is a wonderful way to visually see the person you are talking to. You grandkids will love it!


One of my used apps is WAZE, a free GPS navigation system.  It uses real time data to guide you around heavy traffic and warns you of obstructions or vehicles that may be parked along the side of the road.  It is invaluable if you live in a large city where traffic is a daily problem.

There are thousands of other useful cell phone applications, as well.  If you are interested in some apps that are recommended for senior citizens, you may want to read "Smart Phone Apps for Senior Citizens."  It has reviews of a number of other handy smart phone apps including Dragon Dictation, SitorSquat, Shazam, Pandora, WebMD, Google Translate, and more.  Use these apps to make sure your phone is providing you with every possible type of assistance.

If you have any other apps that you have found helpful, feel free to leave a comment below and share your knowledge with others.

If you are looking for additional information that is helpful to retirees and Baby Boomers, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles on where to retire, financial planning, health issues and more.

You are reading from the blog:

photo courtesy of

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Life Alert Bracelets for Peace of Mind

Life Alert can help you worry less
about elderly family members.
Although Baby Boomers have begun to turn 65, most of us do not feel as though we need any help taking care of ourselves.  We travel, live in our homes, walk our dogs and often hold down jobs without any difficulty.  Many of us feel healthy and in the prime of our lives.

Why People Need Medical Alert Bracelets

However, some of us may have elderly parents, aunts and uncles or other relatives who are still alive and living alone.  If they are not in an assisted living facility where someone checks on them several times a day, they could fall, faint or have a heart attack and days could pass before anyone realizes there is a problem.  I have a friend whose elderly aunt fell and was injured.  It was several days before she was found on the floor of her bedroom, dehydrated and in pain.

Even Baby Boomers are not always in perfect health. By the time we have reached our 60's, there are many Boomers who are facing serious health problems, such as diabetes, that could cause us to need emergency medical care.

As someone who lives in a senior community, I often worry about some of my friends and neighbors who live here.  Many of them live alone.  Although most of them are active and busy, days could go by before I might realize that I hadn't seen them recently.  Since I don't go door to door in my neighborhood checking on people, there is no way that I would know if a neighbor was inside their home, sick or injured.

How Loved Ones Can Be Protected

Because of these common worries, the Life Alert company and several other manufacturers have come up with medical alert bracelets that seniors can wear.  They need only push a button in order to summon emergency help.   Another type of bracelet that is popular is the GreatCall medical alert system that can be ordered on Amazon or directly from the company.  You may want to do a little comparison shopping and see which system will work best for you.

I know it would bring me peace of mind to know that more of my neighbors used one of these services.

If you are interested in learning more about the different emergency services for seniors offered by the Life Alert company, you may also want to read this article, written by a friend whose grandmother actually uses the service:

Hopefully, you can make sure the people who live alone in your family are safer because they use one of these services.

If you wish to stay in touch about other matters that could affect retiring Baby Boomers, including where to retire, financial planning, health concerns and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of this page to find links to hundreds of additional articles.

You are reading from the blog: 

Artwork provided by

Sunday, March 4, 2012

A Bit of Good News About Social Security

Do you think Social Security is
Many people have heard for so long that the Social Security Administration is broke, that a substantial number of people believe that no benefits will be paid in the near future.  However, according to AARP and government estimates, this is not actually true.  In fact, this is one of the common myths about Social Security that needs to be dispelled.

The Truth about Social Security

First, although changes do need to be made if Social Security is going to be able to fully pay all the promised benefits for the next 100 years, there are a number of proposals under consideration that would solve these issues and fully fund the Social Security trust funds for the future.  When people say that "there will be nothing left when I retire," they are actually misinformed.

The Social Security trust fund can continue to pay full benefits until 2037, and about 75% of promised benefits after that ... and this is true even if they do absolutely nothing to solve the projected Social Security deficit. In even this worst case scenario, there may not be as much money available as we have been promised, but there will certainly be benefits paid to everyone who has earned them.  In addition, with a few little tweeks, such as raising the cap on the wages that are subject to the Social Security payroll tax, the shortage could be avoided and there could be enough money to meet all the promised future obligations.  One way or another, Social Security will be there when you retire, although you may not receive as much as you hoped.  In truth, most people cannot live on Social Security alone anyway.  Everyone should be saving as a way to supplement what Social Security does provide.

Few People Could Produce Better a Higher Income Than Social Security

Second, many people believe they could invest the money better themselves.  There is nothing preventing these people from investing some of their income in a 401(k) or IRA and seeing if this is true.  The truth is that very few people have managed to invest their money in such a way that they can get the return that Social Security will provide them.  However, it is highly recommended that everyone put aside as much money as possible in their own retirement accounts so they can have a more comfortable retirement than they could manage on Social Security alone.

Social Security is meant to provide a base of income for everyone who has worked during their adult life.  They receive this money whether or not they are able to invest their own money well.  Currently, Social Security provides the majority of retirement income for at least 1/2 of Americans over the age of 65.  In fact, it provides 90% of the income for single senior citizens.  If the government stopped collecting Social Security taxes and eliminated Social Security benefits, most of these people would end up on other government programs, such as welfare, and general taxes would have to be raised to cover those services.  Social Security works, and works well, for people who have worked hard all their lives and deserve a secure pension.

The Future of Social Security

Personally, I was relieved to read this information that was provided by AARP and based on government estimates.  I know that Social Security will be important to me and to other family members when I retire, and I encourage the government to take steps to keep the program healthy and capable of providing all the promised benefits. 

However, even if the current Congress fails to act responsibly, I am relieved to know that the program can keep going on some level until we have some responsible legislators who will make sure the program is solvent.

Meanwhile, I encourage you to write your Congressman and make your feelings known.

If you are interested in learning more about financial planning for retirement, where to retire, health issues or family relationships, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page.  They contain links to hundreds of additional articles.

You are reading from the blog:

Photo courtesy of

Source of information about benefits:

Thursday, March 1, 2012

New FDA Advice About Statin Risks


Statin drugs have been shown to be quite effective in lowering cholesterol levels. However, like nearly all drugs, there are some potential side effects that many people only vaguely know about.

Recently, the Food and Drug Administration issued new guidelines about statin risks, and I felt it was important to let our readers know about these risks so they could watch for any symptoms.  Below are the new guidelines from the FDA.

Good News About Statins

First, the good news.  It is no longer necessary for your doctor to routinely monitor your liver enzymes.  Serious liver injury from statin use is considered very rare.

Statins have been shown to be one of the most effective ways we have to lower cholesterol levels.

Potential Risks While Taking Statins

Memory loss, forgetfulness and confusion have been reported by some statin users.  Researchers have said that, when this occurs, they have found that the confusion can be reversed within weeks after stopping the statin. This may be the result of getting cholesterol levels too low. The brain needs a certain amount of cholesterol in order to function properly. Make sure your doctor is not over-zealous about lowering your cholesterol to the point where it affects your thinking.

Some people on statins have experienced an increase in blood sugar levels, which can lead to Type 2 diabetes.  The number of people who experience this increased risk appears to be small.  However, it is good to be aware of the possibility.

Some medications interact with lovastatin and can increase the risk of muscle damage.  (Since I take lovastatin, I was particularly interested in this potential health risk.)  The new labels for lovastatin are going to list what drugs to avoid taking with lovastatin, and the maximum dose of lovastatin you should take if these other medications cannot be avoided.  Since these drugs were not listed in the FDA article that I read, everyone who is on lovastatin needs to read the insert on their next prescription refill very carefully.

Sore muscles are another possible side effect of statin use.  My doctor suggested that I take 200 mg. of CoQ10 with my statin every day in order to minimize the muscle problem. I have been using this combo for three years and the combination seems to be working.

If you are looking for more heath and retirement information of important to Baby Boomers and retirees, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of this page.  They contain links to hundreds of additional articles.

You are reading from the blog:

Photo of pills courtesy of

Information about statin risks from the government website at: