Saturday, November 28, 2020

Pensions and Lottery Winnings: Lump Sum or Monthly Payments - Which is better?

Many companies offer their employees a choice when they retire. They can either take the pension they have earned as a lump sum or as a monthly income for the rest of their life.  Whichever decision you make can have a significant effect on your future.  Unfortunately, employees often have very little time to decide, and the decision is usually irrevocable.  

People in other situations often face a similar dilemma.  What if you win a large sweepstakes prize or hit the lottery?  Should you take all the money in a lump sum, or take it in monthly or annual payments?  

Often the temptation is to take all your money at once and invest it however you wish.  However, do you know what the tax implications of that decision might be?  What if you make poor investment decisions?  What if you use the money to start your own business, and it fails?  What if you suddenly get unexpected requests for financial aide from everyone you know?  What happens then?

One the other hand, what if you take the pension or cash prize in payments for the rest of your life, and then die a year later?  What would happen to your money, then?

Whether you are trying to decide how to handle a pension you earned, or a lottery you won, you need to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of whichever choice you make.  The recommendations below, based on an article in the Money section of the September 2020 AARP Bulletin, may help you weigh your options.  

When a Lump Sum Payout is Best

* If your private employer is financially weak and not part of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., it is probably a smart idea to take the cash as a lump sum.  Religious organizations are examples of employers who often are not part of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.  If your employer closes down over the years, or cannot afford the promised pension, they may default on their pension payments.  

*  If you have a history of being a successful investor, or if you have a trusted financial advisor, you may be able to handle the lump sum well on your own.  However, do not let a financial advisor pressure you into taking a lump sum so he can speculate with it.  If he promises that you could "make a killing," or if he "guarantees" he can make you a lot of money, you should be skeptical.  No one can guarantee that your investments will always do well.

*  Take the lump sum if you already know you will have a sufficient monthly retirement income from other sources, and you want to use the lump sum to pursue other goals, such as helping your children pay off student loans or putting a down payment on a house.  However, do not become too generous with the money unless you are absolutely sure that your own retirement needs will be fully taken care of for 20 to 30 years.

*  Take a lump sum if you are confident you can be discreet with the money and not attract the kind of attention which will cause scammers and casual friends to suddenly show up and "desperately" need your help.  Are you capable of maintaining a quiet, private lifestyle and turn down frequent requests for money and gifts?

*  Take a lump sum if you have reason to believe you will not live long, or if you are unable to choose a beneficiary who will receive the money should something happen to you.

When Monthly Pension Payments are Best

*  According to the National Endowment for Financial Education, about 70 percent of lottery winners lose ALL their windfall within a short time, in some cases within a few weeks.  If you want to make sure you will still be able to enjoy your earned pension or lottery winnings for the rest of your life, then it is a smart idea to take monthly payments.  Then it will be almost impossible for you to spend all the money too quickly, leaving you penniless.

*  If you are financially undisciplined, it is probably better to take monthly payments.  This will prevent you from quickly giving away all the money to your friends and family, leaving yourself with nothing.  It will also prevent you from splurging on expensive homes, cars, boats, jewelry and trips, spending, spending, spending until you are out of money.  It takes discipline to handle a large sum of money responsibly, without quickly going through it all.

*  If you are worried about how to handle the money so it will last the rest of your life, then it may be best to simply take the monthly payments.  If you are anxious about how to say "no" to demanding relatives, then you will feel much less stress if you can tell them, "I'm sorry, but I only receive a small amount of money each month."  They will stop thinking of you as a potential bank!  Even when you choose to give them a little financial help, the amount you can offer will be substantially less.

*  If you are not a sophisticated investor and could easily fall victim to smooth talking friends and acquaintances who have lots of great "investment" ideas, then you may be better off taking the money in monthly payments.  Then you will always know you will have this income, without putting it at risk.

*  If the payor of the monthly payments is reliable and dependable, such as the state lottery, Publisher's Clearinghouse, or an insured pension plan, then taking monthly payments could be a good choice.   It is better to have a dependable monthly payment from an organization where the money is guaranteed, than hope to get a similar return from your own investments, which would not have a guaranteed return.

Whichever decision you make, it is wise to first discuss your choices with an attorney and a tax expert.  They can help you determine which choice is better, and whether you should set up a family trust to accept and distribute the money, who should get the distributions if something happens to you, and what the tax implications would be.  This is especially true if you are getting a particularly large sum of money. 

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

Disclosure: This blog may contain affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase from an Amazon ad, I'll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

You are reading from the blog:

Photo credits:  Pixabay/Kahll

Saturday, November 21, 2020

The Low Acid Diet for GERD, Inflammation and Your Overall Health

Do you suffer from acid reflux, heartburn or GERD?  Is your throat hoarse or do you cough frequently?  Do you ever get an uncomfortable lump in your throat or have occasional trouble swallowing?  You may be suffering from excess acid in your diet, and if the problem is left untreated you could end up with esophageal cancer or other serious health conditions.  It is even possible that excess acid in your diet and the resulting chronic inflammation which it can cause may contribute to Alzheimer's Disease, heart disease or diabetes.

Millions of Americans suffer from the symptoms of too much acid in their diet.  They often respond to their discomfort by using antacids, and these over-the-counter medications can temporarily mask the problem.  However, antacids do not necessarily heal the damaged esophagus, nor do they prevent the underlying problem.  Only changing the diet to a less acidic one can permanently cure the problem.  It is even possible to get relief by just changing to a low-acid diet for as little as 28 days.

Solving the Problem of Stomach Acid

According to Dr. Jonathan Aviv,  the Clinical Director of the Voice and Swallowing Center, who has researched this issue extensively, there are certain foods which you should avoid and, conversely, other foods which you should choose in order to lower your consumption of acid. 

You can get a detailed explanation of the problems caused by a high acid diet, as well as the best foods to eat, helpful menus, and more in Aviv's book, "The Acid Watcher Diet: A 28-Day Reflux Prevention and Healing Program."(Ad)

In his book, Dr. Aviv recommends following a strict healing diet for 28 days, followed by a less restrictive eating plan once you have healed the delicate tissues in the esophagus and other parts of your digestive system.

Getting Started on the Acid Watcher's Diet

People who are affected by stomach acid need to avoid:

Carbonated sugary drinks

During the initial 28 days of the diet, you will also want to avoid:

All carbonated beverages
Raw Onions
Raw Garlic
Other high acid foods

Choose to Eat more foods with a pH of 5 or higher such as:

Lean animal proteins
Whole grains
High pH fruits and vegetables
Aromatic herbs and spices

Eventually you will be able to add back some foods such as:

Some alcoholic beverages, such as potato or corn based vodka
Cooked garlic and onions
Select dairy products
Apples and peppers
Occasional sliver of dark chocolate

What Are the Potential Benefits of the Low Acid Diet?

Higher energy
Less bloating
Weight loss
Less indigestion and heartburn
Less phlegm in the throat
Less inflammation 

How to Get More Details

If you are concerned about the amount of acid in your diet and the damage it is causing your health, you will want to read Dr. Aviv's book "The Acid Watcher Diet: A 28-Day Reflux Prevention and Healing Program." (Ad)  It explains why there has been an increase in the amount of acid in our food since the 1980s and how to reduce it in our current diets.

The book also contains food lists, menus, and recipes to help you eat a diet which will reduce the amount of acid you consume.  After just four weeks, you could feel better and be healthier.

Benefits of Eating a Low Acid Diet

At first you may think that changing your diet is too much trouble. You may believe you can just live with your indigestion and eat what you want.  However, are you willing to suffer all the future consequences of that decision?

Eating a high acid diet can cause more than indigestion.  It can lead to esophageal cancer, throat burn, heartburn, bloating and irritable bowel syndrome. It can also cause chronic inflammation which has been linked to a wide variety of disorders, including Alzheimer's disease, heart attacks, psoriasis and diabetes.

Regardless of what health problem you may be experiencing, you have nothing to lose and, possibly, a great deal to gain by giving the low acid diet a try for a few weeks, at least. 
Disclosure: This blog may contain affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase from an Amazon ad, I'll make a small commission at no extra cost to you

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

You are reading from the blog:

Photo credit:  Wikipedia images - vegetables

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Retirement Resources for Baby Boomers - Where to Find the Information You Need

Occasionally, I come across helpful resources for people who are retired or are planning to retire.  Sometimes these resources are websites or organizations which I refer to when writing posts for this blog.  Since it would be impossible to write a post about every potential resource available, I thought it would be helpful to include a resource page on this blog for my readers who are seeking more information on a topic of interest to them. 

From time to time, as I discover new resources, I will add to this list.  People often send me links to their websites, or ask me to share links to books and articles they have written or agencies they represent. Sometimes they ask me to share articles they found helpful.  If I review the information and believe it adds a unique, helpful resource, without a bunch of ads, I may include it.

To the best of my ability, I will include links and information which appear to be worthwhile.  If you discover one which is out-of-date, or no longer useful, please let me know in the comments section so I can delete it and, when possible, replace it with a better one.  If you know of additional resources you believe should be shared, please add the information in the comments section, along with your explanation of why it would benefit other retirees.  However, I do not wish to advertise specific brands or products.

Resources Which Retirees and Future Retirees May Find Helpful

General Retirement Information - This organization represents the interests of retirees, whether you join the AARP or not.  They lobby the U.S. government for better Social Security, Medicare and retirement plans.  Members also receive their magazine and a bulletin, with a wealth of current information. In addition, members are eligible to get discounts for hotels, car rentals and other products.  AARP also sells their own line of Medicare Advantage and Supplement plans, but I recommend people do their own research in this area. - This blog has been ranked by Feedspot as one of the top 50 retirement blogs in the world.  It is a type of "reader's digest" of useful information for retirees and people planning their retirement, relying on information from a wide variety of sources.  It often provides brief summaries of much longer articles from other sources, and also includes original posts written by experts who offer to guest post on the site.

Government Agencies - This is the site to learn about your Medicare options, apply for a Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage plan, and get a replacement Medicare card.  You should use it in conjunction with the Social Security Administration website in order to get all the information you need about government programs available to senior citizens. - The Social Security Administration website is one of the most important government websites for retirees.  You can use it to apply for and manage your Social Security and SSI Disability benefits, as well as learn about how the various programs can help you.  Most of the questions you have about Social Security can be answered on this site. - The Government Publishing Office in Pueblo, Colorado is a government bookstore. It provides free and low cost brochures on a multitude of topics of importance to seniors, including information on reverse mortgages, handling money, food safety, health, and travel information.  Take the time to explore what they have to offer and order an assortment of short, clearly written brochures to help you take better care of yourself, your money and your future. -  This is the website for the U.S. Department of State - Bureau of Consumer Affairs.  If you are planning a trip to another country, this website offers travel advisories, warnings and general advice for keeping you as safe as possible.  The information is updated frequently, depending on the circumstances in each country.  They will even tell you if there is a particular region of a country to avoid.  Because it is available online, you can also check the website if you are already overseas.

Help as You Age

Moving for Seniors:  We can all feel a little overwhelmed about the idea of moving as we age, whether we are downsizing to a smaller home, moving to be closer to family, or realizing we need to move into assisted living.  This guidebook offers practical ideas to help the move go more smoothly.

Investment and Retirement Planning

Sarwa Retirement Planning - Everyone should speak with an investment planner at some point to make sure they are on schedule to save enough money to reach their retirement goals.  At least annually, they should check back with the investment planner to determine if they would benefit by making changes to their plan.  Although I have not personally used Sarwa, they are part of the new trend in robo advisors and the information they provide on their website is very helpful and worth reading, to give you a basis for comparing them to other investment planners you consider using. Sarwa is a Dubai-based company, but it serves customers worldwide and it administers your money through Interactive Brokers.  All investment accounts at Sarwa are protected SIPC products. SIPC protects the securities of an account up to $500,000 against insolvency or bankruptcy.

Investment Retirement Guide - This guide is a free web resource which is dedicated to providing the most up-to-date and accurate information about financial decisions that affect retirement.  Creating and sustaining sufficient retirement income and savings is an essential part of a secure retirement plan. While it may feel overwhelming, it's important to know what your options are. Retire Guide recently published an easy-to-understand guide to retirement income and investing. Their intent is that this guide helps to encourage those planning for retirement to make smart investment decisions.

Medical Facts, and - WebMd, the Mayo Clinic and the Cleveland Clinic websites all provide accurate, up-to-date information about a variety of medical problems.  Your personal doctor should always be your first choice for reliable medical diagnosis, treatment and information.  You should not use these websites to self-diagnose your symptoms, or self-treat them. However, these sites can provide you with general health information and facts about a condition you have been diagnosed with, as well as help you better understand your condition and common treatments.  

You may also find this information helpful.  These articles include information on how to plan for your medical expenses after you retirement, plus a senior cancer guide, and information about mesothelioma. Again, these are not meant to replace the information provided by your personal physician, but these articles could be a useful supplement.  

Medicare Assistance

Boomer Benefits at or (855) 732-9055 -  This agency is licensed in nearly every state and their agents can assist you with finding the best Medicare Supplement or Medicare Advantage plan to meet your specific needs in your community. They are insurance brokers, and we have received very good reviews about them.

Senior Safety - Products to Protect You from Various Risks

Medical Alert Devices - If you are at risk of falling, having a heart attack, a stroke, or a seizure, or if you live alone, you may benefit by having a medical alert device which will connect you to an operator or call 911 for you in an emergency.  You can find a variety of brands of devices and compare the different options available at  (Ad)

WebCam Safety - This article provides information on how to make adjustments to your WebCam to prevent people from spying on you. Since so many people are now communicating through webcams, this information could be especially protective:

Nursing Home Safety - This website helps family members identify examples of nursing home abuse in the care of their loved ones.  On the website they describe nursing home abuse as the "willful infliction of injury, unreasonable confinements, intimidation, or punishment with resulting physical harm, pain, or mental anguish."  You can learn more on their website at:         

* * * * * * * * *

Do you or someone you know have cancer?  Show how you feel about this dreaded disease by wearing this "Cancer Sucks" bracelet in a choice of steel, gold, or rose gold.   You can find this bracelet, as well as a variety of other jewelry and gift ideas, at either of my online gift shops:

Disclosure: This blog may contain affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase from an Amazon ad, I'll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

If you are interested in reading more about common medical issues as we age, where to retire, 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.

You are reading from the blog:

Photo credits: Morguefile, etsy

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Quick Recovery from Stress or Negative Thoughts

Did you smile today? Why not give it a try?
Everyone feels down sometimes, and we all have to deal with stressful situations.  Whether you are feeling overwhelmed by politics, world events, bad health, the death of a loved one, or a problem in your family, it is beneficial to know a few tricks to help you quickly improve your mood and put your worry aside, even if only for a short time.

No matter what you are dealing with, WebMD pulled together a list of suggestions to help you feel better in under 15 minutes.  Below is a brief summary of their tips, and some ideas on how they can be applied in your life.  Don't limit yourself to these suggestions.  Be flexible and creative.  Think of your own ways to make these tips work for you. 

Meditation -  This practice scares some people who believe they cannot "empty their mind."  In truth, that is not even necessary.  All you have to do is make some time for yourself, relax, close your eyes, and breath.  You may find it helpful to count while you do it ... for example, inhale for 5 seconds, hold, and then exhale for 7 seconds.  While you are busy counting, you cannot focus on your worries at the same time. Some people find it easier to pray than meditate. In fact, prayer can be very meditative, especially when you use a repetitive prayer for a period of time. When meditating, do not worry if you doze off.  It shows you are relaxing.  You will feel amazingly calmer after this practice, as well as more positive and patient.

Spend time outdoors - Sunshine and fresh air are perfect antidotes for the blues.  You do not have to do anything extraordinary.   You can work in your garden, take a walk in the park, or even just relax on your patio watching the birds and little animals that make their home in your backyard.  Time outdoors can give you more energy, improve your memory, and make you less anxious.

Laugh often and easily -  What makes you laugh?  Do you enjoy silly pet videos online?  What about jokes and cartoons?  Do you have a favorite sitcom or movie you like to watch?  Researchers have found that even the act of faking a smile can make you feel better. A real, genuine laugh can do even more!  It can brighten your day, release feel-good endorphins, and stimulate your heart, lungs and muscles.

If you enjoy reading uplifting, positive books, an excellent choice is "10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works" by Dan Harris. (Ad)

Make a Gratitude List - Reminding yourself of the good things in your life and around the world is a great way to improve your mood.  If someone in your life has upset you, writing down all the good things about that person can have a positive effect on that relationship.

Practice compassion - When other people repeatedly upset you, it can be very helpful to pray for them.  If you prefer not to pray, simply think about them and mentally send them good wishes for their health and happiness.  Doing this will help you feel better about yourself and may improve your relationship with that other person.

Take a Walk - This simple activity can improve your mood, reduce your stress, and increase your creative thinking.  The exercise will flood your body, including your brain, with oxygen.  It strengthens your muscles. And, as mentioned above, spending time outdoors comes with its own benefits.

Listen to your favorite music - Are you getting stressed from watching the news, or is something in your life causing you to worry about the future?  Turn off the news and distract yourself from your worries by tuning in to your favorite music.  Whether it is soft and soothing, or loud and energetic, it is sure to take your mind off negative events.  If it moves you to dance, or you decide to sing along, it will have even more benefits.

Do something productive - We all have that mental list of little tasks which need to be completed, but we never quite get around to doing.  Accomplishing something simple, such as making a necessary phone call, answering an email, or making a small home repair, can make you feel so much better about yourself.
When I was raising my children, a parenting tip I learned was to never ask a young child to "clean their room."  That was too broad a task and could overwhelm them.  Instead, ask them to pick up and put away five or ten items.  Then, check the room and, if necessary, help them put away a few more things.  Before my children knew it, the room was clean, and we had finished the task without a temper tantrum.  Today, I still use the same "trick" on myself.  Instead of telling myself I need to put away that big pile of laundry, address that stack of Christmas cards, or clean out my closet, I tell myself to just do ten small things.  I have found that once I have finished that task, I will usually just keep going and complete the job!  If it is more than I can finish in one day, I remind myself of how much less I will have to do the next day. Doing something productive makes us all feel better about ourselves at any age!

Connect with other people - People who spend too much time by themselves are more likely to be lonely and depressed.  The best defense against these feelings is to reach out to other people.  Call someone or arrange a video meeting with your family or a small group of friends.  Send a birthday card, email, or text to friends and family members.  You will feel happier and you will build up your support system, which is invaluable if something goes wrong and you need help.  Even during times when we must quarantine because of a pandemic, it is important that we reach out to others and put in the effort to maintain our relationships.

Eat healthy snacks - You will have more energy and have a better outlook if you enjoy fruit, nuts and whole grains for your snacks, rather than sugary drinks and cookies.

Help someone else - Need a real boost to your self esteem?  Do something for someone else.  Volunteer, even if you just make calls from home. Donate to a charity. Drop off a plate of cookies to a neighbor. Help a relative get through a difficult time. Smile at people you pass in the street.  If you are wearing a facemask, give them a little wave or nod of the head.  When we lift up other people, we lift up ourselves.

Stretch - Yoga is considered a healthy way to reduce your stress and supply your muscles with the food and oxygen they need.  If yoga sounds too difficult for you, just take some time each day to stretch all the muscles in your body, while taking deep breaths.  It will relax them, loosen them up and it is a great way to start your day!

Hug someone - During the Covid-19 pandemic, and whenever there is a contagious disease going around, one of the activities people miss the most is the simple act of hugging their loved ones.  One study even says that hugging can increase our immune system.  So, as long as you are at home with your immediate family and it feels safe, enjoy that hug!

Focus on your self-talk - Are you overly critical of yourself whenever something goes wrong?  Make a list of positive mantras to use instead of that negative self-talk.  Tell yourself that everyone makes mistakes.  You will do better next time.  It was not a big deal.  You're still a good person. Those types of statements will turn your day around.  One positive statement which I particularly like is "It is never too late to start your day over."  It is a great way to put your troubles behind you, especially if you are feeling guilty over loosing your temper or getting upset about a minor issue.

Send thank you notes - This is a wonderful way to become more grateful for the good things in your life.  I also like to keep a stack of "Thinking of You" cards on hand, to send to people I have not heard from in a long time.  Everyone likes to receive a personal, hand-written note once in a while!

If you keep some of these actions in mind, you will find that you can reduce your stress and turn those negative thoughts around!
Do not forget to be creative and find your own little ways to inspire and uplift yourself.  Read books that cause you to smile, make you happier, or inspire you. A good place to start is "10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works" by Dan Harris. (Ad)

Disclosure: This blog may contain affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase from an Amazon ad, I'll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

If you are interested in reading more about common medical issues as we age, where to retire, 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.

You are reading from the blog:

Photo credits: Pixabay