Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Most Popular Retirement Stories of 2014

This year the most popular retirement topics had to do with the issues of aging, the best places to retire in the United States or overseas, health problems and money tips for both the poor and the wealthy.  Here are links to the top articles for 2014:

The UCI 90+ Study at Laguna Woods Village

Why do some people live to be 90 or 100 years old and others do not?  Which people are most likely to get Alzheimers?  This article is based on decades of research on the residents of Laguna Woods Village, a retirement community near the University of California in Irvine.  Some of their findings are much different than what we have always thought!

Keeping Track of New IRA Rules 

In this article, you will find links to an IRA Broker Comparison Chart, as well as a distribution cheat sheet.  Valuable information about choosing an IRA broker, the amount to contribute and the amount to take in distributions.

Where To Retire Near San Diego

Check out this list of great retirement communities in the San Diego area, and learn the advantages and disadvantages of retiring in this popular region of California.

Public Assistance for Low Income Retirees

Many retirees struggle to make ends meet.  Often they are eligible for a variety of public assistance programs, but they don't know about them.  Whether you need a little extra help yourself or you know of someone who does, this article provides a list of how and where to access the different types of programs that are available.   

Healing Your Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar Fasciitis is a very painful condition that affects the heal of your foot.  While it can take a few months to recover, this article contains a number of tips to help you on the road to recovery.

Problems in Retiring Abroad

More than 600,000 Americans now receive their Social Security checks in foreign countries.  Many people make this decision in order to save money while maintaining a high quality of life.  However, there are a few things that everyone needs to consider before making the decision to move overseas.

Retire in Lovely La Antigua, Guatemala  

If you are looking for a Central American city with a large, English-speaking ex-patriot community and excellent medical care, this may be the right location for your dream retirement home.

Costa Rica Has Become a Top Retirement Destination

Costa Rica has been ranked by HelpAge International as one of the best places for retirees and the elderly to live.  They ranked 90 countries on a variety of issues, including healthcare and Costa Rica came out on top.

Is It Alzheimers or a Treatable Disease?

When the elderly begin to develop dementia, it is often assumed that it is Alzheimer's and there is very little that can be done about it.  However, often dementia is caused by other problems that are quite treatable.  Even certain medications can cause the symptoms of dementia.  Learn how to tell the difference.

Warren Buffet's Retirement Advice

In an interview with Motley Food, Warren Buffet reveals his suggestions for successfully investing your retirement funds.  If you are looking for a stable investment income, you'll want to read this article.

Move to the Abruzzo Region of Italy

Have you always dreamed of retiring in Europe, but thought you could not afford it?  Check out this article about the beautiful, romantic Abruzzo Region of Italy where an American couple can live comfortably in a beautiful setting on less than $2000 a month.

Choosing a Continuing Care Retirement Community

Sometime in your 70's or 80's, many people choose to move into a continuing care retirement community, where someone else will do the cooking, cleaning and provide your transportation.  When you are ready to take this step, you'll want to know how to choose a good one.

You may also be interested in the top retirement stories of past years:

The Fifteen Most Popular Retirement Stories of 2013

The most popular topics were the articles about fabulous places to retire, how to make money after retirement and alternatives to long-term care insurance.  One article was was especially popular was the one that shared some interesting statistics about the Baby Boomer generation

The Eleven Most Popular Retirement Stories of 2012

Subjects covered include where to retire outside the United States, sunny places to retire in the U.S., retirement savings, healing relationships with your adult children, Baby Boomers and STDs, divorce after age 50 and niche retirement communities.

The Eight Most Popular Retirement Stories of 2011

Topics include cheap places to retire, working from home, how to prevent a broken bone, and crafts to do with your grandchildren.

For links to hundreds of additional articles about retirement, use the tabs at the top of this article.

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

Photo credit:  Photo of Laguna Woods Village was taken by author, Deborah-Diane.  All rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Realistic Gifts for Children and Grandchildren

Over the years, many of us have grown accustomed to being quite generous with our adult children and grandchildren. In addition, our children and grandchildren may have grown accustomed to receiving large gifts from us.  This can cause problems as we age and our budget can no longer permit us to be so generous.

What can you do to make sure that you do not destroy your own retirement plans by spending too lavishly on members of your family?

Talk to Your Adult Children

Even before you retire, there is nothing wrong with casually saying to your children, "I'm glad I am able to buy you this expensive gift now, while I'm still working, because I won't be able to afford to do these things once I retire."  This prepares your children so that, when the time comes, they are not shocked when they expect one thing and receive something else.

Set Up a Realistic Budget

It goes without saying that some retirees are able to afford to give more to their adult children than others.  Whether you can afford to spend $5, $50, or $500 a person, make sure you have set up a realistic budget that will not disrupt your income.  You do not want to be spending down your savings or investment principle in order to purchase gifts for your children.

The Best Gift You Can Give Your Children is to be Self-Supporting

Do you really want your children to have to support you in the coming years ... possibly at the same time they are trying to put their own children through college?  Do you want to have to move in with your children for financial reasons?

In addition, most young and middle aged adults would experience a great deal of financial difficulty themselves if they were called upon to help support their parents.  Consequently, you are doing your children a favor when you do not overspend on them for holidays and birthdays.

Sometimes Large Cash Gifts Can Be Part of Your Estate Planning

On the other hand, sometimes giving large gifts of cash, stock or property can be part of your estate planning.  If your estate planner recommends it, making large gifts to your children while you are still alive is one way to reduce inheritance taxes on large estates.  However, only do this after consulting with your estate planner and you have determined that you will continue to have an income stream that will support you for the rest of your life.

Make Sure You Keep Things Fair

When you reach the point when you have to decrease the size of the gifts you give to your children and grandchildren, be careful to keep things fair.  If you pay for an expensive trip for one grandchild, for example, but have no intention of doing the same thing in the future for others, it will only cause resentments and unhappiness.  Make sure that you are as even-handed as possible.  This is especially important in a blended family in which the husband and wife may have children from other marriages.

Decide Whether You Want to Give Gifts, Cash or Something Else

Some people I know give several hundred dollars at Christmas to each of their adult children, and they let them divide up the money between themselves and their children as they see fit.  Other people give individual gifts to their children and grandchildren, but no cash.  Another choice is to give gifts to one generation and cash to another ... for example, gifts to your children and cash to the grandchildren (or the opposite).   I have also known people who just buy gift certificates or write checks to everyone in the family.

One year, my husband and I decided to buy Disney stock for each of our grandchildren.  We thought it would be good for them to have an interest in the stock market and it would help a little with their future college costs.

However you decide to handle gift giving is up to you and should be based on your own financial situation, as well as what is easiest and most enjoyable for you.  After all, since you are making the gift, you have the right to decide how you want to handle things.  Just make sure you remember to take care of yourself, too.

Happy Holidays from my family to yours!

If you are interested in other articles about financial planning in retirement, use the tabs at the top of the page.  They contain links to hundreds of other articles on topics that could be of interest to you.

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

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Budgeting for Your Golden Years

At the end of each year, many people take time to evaluate their retirement plans, work on their budgets and evaluate how they are doing financially.  In fact, this is something everyone should do once a year, whether they are young adults, middle aged or already retired. 

One of the keys to a happy, successful retirement is to have a realistic budget.  This involves knowing which expenses will be reduced or eliminated entirely, which expenses are expected to remain about the same, and which expenses are likely to increase.  It is important to be honest when you evaluate how much money you can reasonably expect to need in order to have a satisfying retirement.  Here is some basic information to get you started:

Retirement Expenses that Could be Reduced or Eliminated

Mortgage -- Will you pay off your mortgage or move someplace less expensive where your payments will be lower?  If you go into retirement with your current mortgage, of course, you can expect this expense to remain unchanged.

Rent -- If you do not own your own home, will you remain in your current lease or move to less expensive housing?  Renting does make it easier for people to be flexible in making adjustments to their cost-of-living.

Debt -- Even if you still have a mortgage, many people try to pay off all or most of their other debts before they retire.  If this is true for you, it could make a substantial reduction in your monthly budget, depending on how much debt you have been carrying.

Commuting and Transportation -- Most people drive fewer miles after they retire, which also means that they spend less on related expenses, such as car repairs and parking.  However, if you plan to do a lot of traveling by car, this may not be true for you.

Lunches, work clothing, dry cleaning and other job related expenses -- Once you stop working, you are much less likely to be eating lunch out every day, buying suits or taking them to be cleaned.  The amount of savings can add up.

Retirement savings -- After you begin living off your retirement savings, you will stop adding money to your IRA or 401(k).  This is one expense that will drop off completely.

Medical Expenses - Maybe -- If you are old enough to go on Medicare when you retire, and if you decide to use a high-quality Medicare Advantage plan, you may save money, especially if you paid your own health insurance premiums in the past.  However, if you have received free or inexpensive healthcare through your employer, then this could be an expense that will be higher when you retire.

Retirement Expenses That Will Remain About the Same

Groceries -- While we like to think we will save money in every area of our life, the truth is that certain expenses, such as our grocery bill, are going to stay the same or may even increase slightly as we eat more meals at home.

Utilities -- This is another bill that will probably remain about the same or might increase slightly, especially if you have been accustomed to turning the thermostat down when you're at work.  Once you are home all day, running the furnace or air conditioner, watching television or using the computer, your utility bills will be at least as much as you spent in the past and could go up slightly.

Insurance -- The amount that you spend on homeowner's or renter's insurance, life insurance, and auto insurance are all going to remain about the same as what you have paid in the past.

Property Taxes -- If you own a home, even if you have paid it off, you still need to include your property taxes in your retirement budget.  They will initially continue to be about what you have paid in the past.  Over the years, you can expect taxes, and everything else, to go up.

Retirement Expenses that Could Increase ... Possibly a Lot!

Health Insurance -- Whether or not your health insurance costs go up or down depends a lot on what you have been paying in the past and the type of Medicare supplement you decide to purchase after you retire.  For example, if your employer paid for your insurance prior to retirement, then anything you pay for Medicare and the supplemental policies you choose will be an increase.  If you had an expensive individual health insurance policy in the past and you had to pay the premiums yourself, then Medicare, even with a Medigap supplemental policy, will seem like a bargain.  You need to do your research and have a realistic budget for your health insurance.  For most people, the least expensive way to handle Medicare is by using a Medicare Advantage plan.

Other health expenses -- Depending on the insurance you choose, you will still have co-pays and deductibles with most Medicare plans.  Drug costs are sometimes high for senior citizens, as well.  Basic Medicare does not cover dental or vision expenses, which can be significant as you age, so you may need to purchase extra insurance to help with these costs.  Even if you do have insurance, certain dental expenses, such as implants, can still be quite high.  It is wise to estimate what your deductibles and other costs could be and set aside some money to cover these possible future expenses.

Long-term care -- If you decide to purchase long-term care insurance after you are already in your 60's or 70's, the insurance premiums could be quite high.  If you have not yet reached your 60's, you are better off getting the insurance while you are younger and before you have developed any serious health problems. It is smart for most people to get the insurance, because the cost of long-term care can be significant when paid out of pocket.  According to the the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, you have a 70% chance of needing some type of long-term care after the age of 65.  A nursing home can cost as much as $90,000 a year and assisted living facilities run approximately $42,000 a year.  One way or another, it is wise to either buy the insurance or set aside some money for this possible expense.

Entertainment --  Particularly during the first decade after you retire, you may want to kick up your heels a little and spend more time traveling, eating out, going to plays, or indulging in your favorite hobbies ... whether that means enjoying more time on the golf course, purchasing a sailboat or spending money on your favorite collection.  It's important to budget for these activities before you retire.  It won't be any fun to retire if you are unable to afford to do any of the things you looking forward to.

Emergencies -- An unexpected event can have an even greater effect on you when you are not working, since it could be difficult to make up for the lost money.  For example, a sudden drop in the value of your investments, a period of high inflation, losing your home and possessions in a flood, earthquake or other catastrophe, significant medical expenses, or major car repairs can be difficult losses to overcome, particularly if you are living on a tight budget.  When you first retire, it is wise to set aside as much money as possible in an emergency fund so you are prepared for the worst.

The bottom line is that you need to prepare for everything.  As they say, hope for the best and prepare for the worst.  That's the secret to a comfortable retirement.


Yahoo! Finance, Dave Bernard, "5 Costs to Include in Your Retirement Budget," U.S. News & World Report, September 5, 2014.

For additional information about retirement planning, use the tabs at the top of this page to find links to hundreds of articles about great places to retire in the U.S. or abroad, financial planning, medical issues, family concerns and more.

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

Photo credit:  Photo of Laguna Beach taken by author, Deborah-Diane; all rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

What Happens to Disability Benefits When You Retire?

Millions of Americans are disabled and one of the things they worry about is what will happen to their income when they reach retirement age.  The answer to that question depends on the source of their disability income.

Private Disability Insurance

If you have been covered by private disability insurance, most companies cease making payments to you when you either reach age 65 or your full retirement age ... which can be age 66 or 67.  These companies typically pay you an income in addition to what you have been receiving in Social Security Disability ... or instead of it, if you were not eligible for Social Security.  In those cases, your income could drop dramatically when you reach retirement age.  However, the majority of Americans do not have private disability insurance.  Instead, they rely solely on Social Security disability coverage.  In those cases, their income will remain the same or, in some cases, might even increase slightly after they retire.

Social Security Disability Insurance

The good news is that your Social Security disability payments remain the same when you reach retirement age ... even if your income during your working years was not enough to qualify you for that level of monthly income.  This protects people who became disabled years before they reached retirement age, so they had a shortened work history.

What if You are Entitled to Social Security Spousal Benefits

Disabled people who are married, or who were married to someone for at least 10 years, also have the option of receiving monthly payments based on their spouse's work history, rather than continuing to receive their disability payments, if the spousal benefit would be larger.  In this case, it would be wise for them to begin receiving the spousal benefits at their full retirement age, when those benefits would be maximized.

Which Benefit Would Be Best for You?

Let's say that you have been receiving $1100 a month in Social Security Disability payments and you have a spouse or former spouse who is receiving $2500 in Social Security retirement benefits.  If you are age 62, you would be entitled to no more than $900 a month in spousal benefits, which is less than your disability payments, so there is no reason why you would switch to the spousal benefits.  However, if you wait until your full retirement age, between ages 65 and 67 depending on when you were born, you would be able to receive 1/2 of the your spouse's benefit, or about $1250 ... which is more than your disability payment.  At this point, it would be worthwhile for you to switch from disability to spousal benefits.

As you can see, if you are on Social Security Disability and in your 60's, it is worthwhile to take the time to compare your disability payments to your spousal benefits ... and re-evaluate every year until you reach full retirement age.  You will need information from both Social Security statements in order to make this comparison.  You can find your personal information at: my Social Security website.  You can use the information they provide and their estimator to make an informed decision.

Sources for additional information:



If you are interested in learning more about retirement planning, use the tabs at the top of this page to find links to hundreds of additional articles.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Fun Ways to Earn Extra Retirement Income

Let's face it.  Most Baby Boomers are going to have to do something to earn extra income during their retirement years.  The vast majority of Boomers simply have not saved enough money to live comfortably during their later years.

We see the reality of this around us.  Several times recently I have been in Starbucks or fast-food restaurants and observed that many of the employees are not the young, college-age kids one would expect to see.  Instead, these part-time jobs are often filled by people who are obviously in their 60's or older.  The same is often true of department store clerks and people in other service industries. I can't help but wonder if they are really enjoying what they are doing.

Instead of working in stressful, demanding jobs after retirement, wouldn't it be nice to find something fun to do that could also provide us with an extra income?  Look around, there might be more opportunities than you realize.

Examples of Fun Jobs for Retirees:

Create something and sell it:  I have a friend named Patti who is a retired Realtor and a wonderful painter.  She spends hours painting a wide variety of ocean and mountain scenes and selling her work at Southern California art festivals where she has gotten to know other artists who are doing the same thing.  It is such fun for her!  When I have visited her booth at the festivals, I have frequently observed that she is surrounded by other men and women our age who are making and selling jewelry or lovely boxes and items they have created out of wood or other materials.  A few years ago I bought some earrings from a 60ish man at a fair in Kona, Hawaii.  He told me that his wife made the jewelry, while he went to the fairs and sold it.  You can even start your own website and sell the things you make online!

Start a New Career and Be Your Own Boss:  Another friend of mine retired after decades of working all day as a hair dresser.  She decided to become a Realtor.  She wanted to try something different and has been successful and happy in her new career.  She only sells retirement condominiums in the community where she lives and she has become an expert in that area.  She never has to drive very far, but she always seems to have several active listings and a few buyers.   She is now in her mid-70's, works her own hours and has complete control over her new career.  It has certainly rejuvenated her.  As you can see, a job that has become drudgery for one person can be a fresh new career for someone else.

Write About Your Hobbies:  Do you like to crochet, knit, quilt, make jewelry or other crafts?  Why not start a blog or website and share your knowledge and experience with others?  While you might not make a lot of money writing about hobbies, you could earn a small amount each year to spend on incidentals, travel or Christmas shopping.  Check out this website: Domestic Diva Online.  The author has turned her love of creating craft projects into a successful website where people can follow her detailed instructions and create adorable crafts of their own.

Write About Your Experiences:  Perhaps you don't feel that you have any hobbies to share.  What about some of your life experiences?  Many people have created blogs about their personal life experiences ... traveling to exotic locations, going on cruises or even more day-to-day experiences, such as interesting places to visit in your local community.  You may have fun experiences that you would enjoy sharing, too.  Whichever type of blog you decide to write, you need to learn how to monetize it by adding appropriate ads from companies like Amazon, Google, Chitika, or Vigilink.  You can also list your blog on Amazon Publishing for Blogs, since some readers will subscribe to your blog on their Kindle.  You'll earn a little here, a little there and, pretty soon, it will add up.

Find a Fun Job:  Perhaps you feel that your financial situation requires you to have a regular paycheck and not rely on the advertising fees from a blog or website.  There are a variety of fun jobs available that you might find very interesting and stimulating.  One of our friends retired as a stockbroker and went to work in a health food store.  He had always been interested in vitamins and nutrition.  Another man I know works in an antique store.  He has a houseful of antiques and, although he worked for a large corporation most of his life, he always loved collecting antiques.  Now he gets to work at a store he really loves and share his knowledge.

Teach: If you have knowledge and expertise in an area, and enjoy sharing that knowledge with others, you can earn money by teaching.  Many of the Emeritus teachers at our local community college are in their 60's and 70's ... and this includes the fitness teachers who lead classes in yoga, Tai Chi, chair aerobics, circuit training and much more.  If you know how to play the piano, guitar or any other musical instrument, teaching is a fun way to earn extra money.  

Tutor Children:  Are you an expert in algebra, geometry or calculus?  There is a huge need for people who are patient and can take the time to really explain this subject matter to teens.  If this describes you, check with your local high school to find out how you can get connected with teens who need your help.

Work with other Senior Citizens:  If you aren't interested in working with kids, go to your local senior center and ask about job opportunities for senior citizens.  You might be able to work as a receptionist at the senior center or for a local business.  There are hundreds of senior citizens, many much older than Baby Boomers, who are working in the area around our community ... in the hospital gift shop, as security people at the community gates, for our homeowner's association, and in many other capacities.  Some of these jobs are part-time and others are full time.

Postpone Retirement and Spend a Few Years in Public Service:  One of the women I walk with every weekend spent two and a half years in the Ukraine after she joined the Peace Corps at age 62.  She had retired from the corporate job that she had held for nearly 40 years, but she wanted to postpone collecting her Social Security or using any of the money in her 401(k).  She did this by working for the Peace Corps.  It was a fabulous experience for her and she still goes on speaking engagements where she is asked to talk about her time in the Ukraine.   If you are interested in doing something like that, check out Encore.org This website will help you find government and private public service jobs that are designed for Baby Boomers looking for encore or second careers.  Many of these jobs will be right in your own neighborhood, in case you are not interested in traveling halfway around the world.  What a fun, interesting and satisfying way to postpone your retirement and increase your retirement benefits! 

Even if your Social Security benefits are not very large and you have been unable to save a lot of money for retirement, that does not mean you have to face a poverty stricken retirement.  There are a variety of ways you can make extra money and many of them will be a lot of fun!

If you are currently planning your retirement, you will want to check out the tabs at the top of this article to find links to hundreds of other helpful articles.

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