Will You Really Move When You Retire?

OntheGoMany Boomers have dreams of relocating when they retire, but that doesn't match reality. Data cited by Mark Miller in "Stopping Work and Then Staying Put," his excellent article for The New York Times, indicates "only six-tenths of 1 percent of Americans over age 55 moved across a state line in 2015."

Still, Boomers are adventurous and interested in other parts of the country and the world, so as Miller points out in his article, there are plenty of sources proclaiming the best places to retire. The Milken Institute, for example, considers 381 U.S. metropolitan areas and ranks them for retirement suitability. The annually published Global Retirement Index ranks twenty-four leading countries for retirees.

Retirement expert Bert Sperling tells Miller there are some 40 surveys done of best places to retire, but he advises Boomers that they may not be picking a place and staying there forever. "There are really three stages," Sperling says, "a 'go-go' period where you're very active and seeing the world, then a time when you're slowing down and need more health care resources, and then a third where you really need to be cared for."

My wife and I, after more than thirty years of living in Boston, Massachusetts, decided to relocate to Asheville, North Carolina. We did so just as our daughter was going to college. We were tired of the Boston weather and wanted to downsize. After eleven years in Asheville, we have been happy with our choice. Just about everyone we've met in Asheville, most of them Boomers, relocated from somewhere else.

Relocation at retirement is obviously a very personal decision, and some of the reasons for relocating can be compelling. Some Boomers relocate to move closer to adult children, other family, or life-long friends; others move to change their lifestyle; still others may want to experience an entirely different culture by moving to another country. Before we made our move, we did consult a source of "best places to retire" and carefully evaluated cities and towns in the U.S. based on our needs and wants. For us, Asheville kept coming up to the top of the list.

Whatever your decision, do your research and make several visits to potential retirement locations so you really get to know the area before you commit to a move. 


Is Coaching or Consulting for You?

OnYourOwnThink about how much intellectual capital is lost when an experienced employee leaves a company. That person has developed a knowledge base, the expertise, and the stature to work as a high-level professional.

If you have been fortunate enough to hold such a career position, chances are your value in the marketplace can apply to a potentially lucrative, flexible second career: coaching or consulting. Writing for Harvard Business Review, Dorie Clark, author of the book Reinventing You, offers some excellent advice in "How to Become a Coach or Consultant After You Retire."

Clark recommends giving yourself plenty of time to make the transition from your full-time job to becoming self-employed -- as much as a year or more. She recommends conducting a self-assessment skills analysis to determine where you need to improve.

Clark says it's a good idea to concentrate early efforts on recruiting clients, even if some are volunteer efforts: "To gain experience as a coach or consultant," writes Clark, "take on a few volunteer clients on the side, while you’re still employed, in exchange for testimonials and future referrals (assuming it’s a good experience)." She also recommends a sensible attitude toward marketing: "Recognize the goal of your marketing," Clark writes, "[is] establishing a baseline of credibility for when a potential client checks you out." And taking a break between your job and starting a consulting practice is not a bad idea, either.

Coaching or consulting is not for everyone, but it is certainly a viable option if you have both the depth of experience and the desire to run your own show.

 


Resources for Seniors

OnaWhimHave you noticed that the number of online resources available for seniors has blossomed lately? It comes as no surprise -- Boomers are aging, they'll need all kinds of services, and information is free-flowing from service organizations and marketers who want to reach seniors. I've already mentioned one of the best resources from PBS, Next Avenue. (http://www.nextavenue.org/) Be sure to subscribe to their free email newsletter.

One of the newer resources is the website Senior Care Helper (http://seniorcarehelper.org/). Its mission is to be a resource for seniors and their caregivers. Especially for Happily Rewired readers, Susan Williams of Senior Care Helper was kind enough to share several links to valuable information for seniors about health, finances, aging in place, moving, and more. Check them out below.

Senior Health Resources

Boomer's Roadmap to Aging in Place

Moving Tips for Seniors

Financial Resources for Seniors

Planning for the Future for Seniors with Special Needs

Veterans Benefits for Seniors

Legal Planning for Alzheimer's and Dementia


Mourning a Career Loss

MusingsRetirement expert Kerry Hannon recently said this in an article that appeared in USA Today: "People go into mourning when they retire. Your whole identity is caught up in who you are and what you did."

I'm guessing many Boomers, especially professionals, can relate to Kerry's claim. Those of us who toil for decades in the same career reach a significant point of conflict as we enter our Sixties. Some Boomers cannot see retiring from a career that is so much a part of them, while others may be anxious to try something different but fear the unknown. If your career has defined you, what happens to you when you leave your career?

There is life after a professional career. Part of it is realizing there is a person underneath, not just a professional, who has interests, desires, and skills that may be applicable to other areas. Hannon says, "You're not reinventing yourself, you're redeploying. Maybe you're taking what you're good at and redeploying into a new arena."

Hannon suggests that Boomers who want to continue to work beyond retirement age (and research indicates almost half of us do) prepare for a post-retirement career. She advises a five-year plan to ready yourself for a new challenge. That's critical, writes Hannon, "because it'll give you time to test your new career direction, be it through volunteering or converting a hobby into a stream of income."

Her steps, which are described in the article, include soul-searching, doing a test drive, networking, researching, and getting your finances in order. This is smart advice; most Boomers prepared for their careers, so why not prepare for post-careers? Retirement planning is not limited to finances -- it also involves life and second career planning.

Read the full USA Today article, "Here's the New Retirement Goal: Love Your Job and Keep Working." 


Partners in Life and in Business

OnYourOwnIf you and your spouse have some basic business skills and you are leaving the traditional workplace, you might consider running a business together. Partners in life can be partners in business, although it does take a clear recognition of the differences.

My wife and I ran a small service business together after I left my professional career as an advertising executive. We used that business as a bridge from full-time work to part-time retirement. An unexpected bonus was that we were able to sell the business after seven years.

So what does it really take to start a business together? One of the most important things is setting boundaries. In our case, we tried to be as specific and detailed as possible in divvying up who did what, basing the decision on who was best suited to which area and tasks. We agreed early on that each of us would have responsibility for certain areas, but part of our mutual responsibility was keeping the other person informed about our respective areas. 

It may seem mundane, but you and your partner should sit down and put on paper every single function of your business and assign one of your names to each. Both of you should keep copies of the list so there is never a misunderstanding. It is also important to determine which decisions can be made individually and which should be made together. For example, any decision about financing your business should be a joint decision; which bills to pay when, however, probably doesn’t require dual decision-making.

Another area where boundaries come into play is personal versus business time. Being in business together often makes it difficult to separate your business lives from your personal lives. It is a real comfort to know that you can talk about business matters with your partner after business hours, but that can cut both ways. Hard though it is, try to turn the business switch off when you leave the office for the day (especially if the office is your home). You both need some breathing room away from the business – time for yourselves to talk about other things, to spend time together having fun, and to re-connect as a non-business couple.

Cover openWe were so invigorated by our experience being in business together that we wrote a book about it: Let's Make Money, Honey: The Couple's Guide to Starting a Service Business.

As a reader of Happily Rewired, you can get a copy of the print edition of this book for just $10.95 -- $6.00 off the regular price of $16.95, a 35 percent savings!

To take advantage of this special offer, you must order the book here: www.createspace.com/5616668  When you check out, enter this code: GKYC7AGA to get your $6 per copy discount.

If you have ever considered going into business with your spouse or significant other, this book is a must-read. It has received rave reviews from reviewers and readers alike. 

Save $6 on the print edition when you order now!


Avoiding the Dangers of "Staying Connected"

MusingsIncreasingly, Americans want to be instantly connected to each other and the wider world, no matter where we are, and the most common route for connectivity is the Internet. From a practical perspective, networking in a broader sense is really all-encompassing, making it possible to search for and access online information, shop online, use social media, get cash from an ATM, watch television, make phone calls, and more.

But, as you've seen in recent news headlines about cyberattacks, connecting can have consequences. Americans expect that makers of computer hardware and software, as well as network providers, take cybersecurity seriously and provide mechanisms to keep customers protected from viruses, malware, and cyberattacks. Even if they do, however, we need to take individual responsibility for protecting our own identities and personal information. This becomes all the more challenging when we expose ourselves to others online. As some of us find out, the online world can be more dangerous than we imagine.

Sadly, older Americans seem to be more vulnerable to online attacks and, perhaps even worse, to deception. According to the Department of Homeland Security, seniors are defrauded at twice the rate of the rest of the population. It can never be repeated too often: Never give out personal information online or over the phone if you are unsure of the authenticity of the person or organization asking for it. In addition, follow the basics of good online security practices: Never click on links in emails unless you know the sender, do not visit banking and other financial sites over public Wi-Fi networks, secure your smartphone with a password and/or fingerprint, and use passwords that are difficult to hack. On this last point, you might want to consider using a password manager, such as LastPass or Dashlane, for extra protection.

An excellent objective resource for Boomers concerned about cybersecurity is the Department of Homeland Security's "Stop. Think. Connect." resource guide. It has lots of helpful information and you can find it here: http://www.stcguide.com/explore/older-americans

All of us need to be conscious of cybersecurity, especially today. 


Get Your Copy of "Second-Act Careers" for Just $1.99

BooksRetirement expert Nancy Collamer's excellent book, Second-Act Careers, is available in eBook form for just $1.99 (regularly $11.99) for a limited time. The book, subtitled "50+ ways to profit from your passions during semi-retirement," features Nancy's great advice about how to leverage your current background and experience into a "second-act" career. Chapters include:

  • Build Multiple Streams of Expert Income 
  • Create an Information Empire
  • Start a Small Service Business
  • Pursue a Business-in-a-Box Opportunity
  • Trade Your Time for a Paycheck
  • Make a Living While Making a Difference
  • Get Paid to Travel
  • Ten Reinvention Lessons Learned
  • Envision the Life You Want
  • Look to the Past for Clues to Your Future
  • Ask, Analyze, and Assess
  • Research the World of Possibilities
  • Try It Out!
  • Some Final Tips on Creating Your Second-Act Career

This offer is only good until May 28, so buy your copy of the eBook now by clicking below! 


Working Past 65 Probably Means Embracing Compromise

MusingsOne of the biggest Boomer topics in news media, blogs, and newsletters is working past 65. I've discussed the trend numerous times in my blog. Boomers in general are interested in working past 65 for two primary reasons: remaining relevant (or feeling fulfilled) and continuing to earn income. Several big issues are likely to come up, however, such as:

  • Keeping your current job vs. taking a new job
  • Working full-time vs. working part-time
  • Staying in your field or making a career switch
  • Working for a specific need, such as to get benefits.

What Boomers who want to continue to work learn, sometimes the hard way, is that pretty much everything is a compromise. At 65 years of age or older, unless you are self-employed, your employability is viewed in a different light by most employers. The basic business decision for an employer is whether to retain or hire an older worker with a wealth of experience who very likely costs more, or hire a younger worker with current skills and potential who costs a lot less. For most employers, the choice is obvious, and the Boomer comes out on the losing end.

Compromise, therefore, becomes the name of the game if you want to stay in the work force. Writing for NextAvenue.org, Retirement expert Kerry Hannon offers five excellent rules for seniors who want to keep working and potentially switch careers. She suggests, for example, that Boomers who want a new career path should be prepared to take a pay cut. Compromise. She also says that you should be ready to negotiate benefits and possibly "trade" one benefit for another, depending on what is more important to you. Compromise. Read Kerry's entire article here: http://www.nextavenue.org/keep-working-60s-beyond/

It is admittedly difficult for Boomers who have had professional careers or have been in the same field for decades to find themselves struggling to remain in their current position, work in a new field, or even obtain a part-time job that is fulfilling. This is probably one reason a significant percentage of Boomers end up working for themselves.

There is no easy answer, and everyone's situation is different. But chances are you will have to, that's right, compromise.


Why Boomers Want to Age in Place

MusingsAs we age, we rely on people, places and things that are most familiar to us and give us comfort. For many people, aging also means a shrinking world in which a comfortable home is vitally important. This could be one reason that, according to AARP, more than 80 percent of people ages 65 and older want to stay in their homes as they age.

Staying in a home can be a challenge, however, if the home is not fit for aging in place. AARP estimates only about 1 percent of current homes are conducive to aging in place. This creates a difficult choice for many older Americans: Either they have to move or they need to upgrade their existing homes.

An excellent article on NextAvenue.org addresses the challenge head on. Will Your Home be Ready for Aging in Place? includes numerous suggestions for how to "redefine a home" to accommodate seniors. Among the ideas are the following:

  • Stairless entries
  • A gradual outdoor incline up to the entry instead of ramps
  • Doorways wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers
  • Lever-style doorknobs
  • Lever-style faucet handles
  • Shallower countertops to put items in easier reach
  • Curbless shower stalls
  • Slip-resistant floors and lighter-color floors for greater visibility
  • Lower placement of light switches and higher placement of electrical outlets
  • More windows for better indoor light

Obviously, some improvements are minor, while others require significant remodeling. The key is something called "universal design," says Richard Duncan, executive director of the R.L. Mace Universal Design Institute in Asheville, NC. He tells NextAvenue, “You can call it 8-to-80 or lifelong-living [that] responds to people over their lifespan through all of life’s changes, not just when older.”

Check out the article here: http://www.nextavenue.org/home-ready-aging-in-place/ Food for thought!


Why 70-1/2 is a Magical Age

MusingsIf you're closing in on 70-1/2 years of age, you're about to reach a milestone that has been established by our government as a magical age. On the positive side, that's when you must start drawing from your retirement accounts without penalty (it's called "RMD," or Required Minimum Distribution). On the negative side, it's now time to pay the taxes on that income, although they are likely to be paid at a lower rate because of your age.

There are very specific rules related to drawing from your retirement accounts. According to Wharton business economics and public policy professor Olivia Mitchell, "The rules are specified related to your age. For example, beginning at age 70 1/2, you must take out about 3.7% of the total amount in your IRA and the same amount out of your 401K plans if you’re retired. By the time you’re 80, the percent goes up to about 5.5. And at age 100, you have to take out 15.9%."

Mitchell adds that things can get complicated if you're still working at age 70-1/2, or if you have retirement money spread across several accounts: "...wait until you’re 70 1/2 to start drawing down your retirement accounts as long as you’re not working. If you have several IRAs, the law says that you can amalgamate the total and take your required minimum distribution out of just one of them, so you don’t have to dip into each individually to get to the total. However, if you have several 401(k) plans from previous employers, you have to take it out of each one separately. So, it’s a little complicated."

Mitchell has some other sound advice about retirement accounts. You can listen to or read her comments here: http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/are-you-ready-for-retirement/

I have a few comments on the matter myself.

First, I wish the government would make things easier, not more difficult, for retirees. It seems to me that the worst time to have to deal with complex financial issues is as you grow older. If you've had to deal with the wonderful world of Social Security and Medicare, you already know how convoluted things can be with these two programs for older Americans. Unfortunately, drawing on your own retirement accounts after you reach 70 isn't much easier.

Second, once again this reinforces the need for a trusted, objective financial planner. If you're already in your sixties and you don't have one, do not delay any longer. It is never too late to get solid financial advice, and with retirement account distributions coming up, it's essential. I have said it before on this blog, but I'll say it again: One of the smartest things my wife and I did early on in our marriage was to get a financial planner to help us. It made all the difference in the world.

Reaching that magical age of 70-1/2 can be a good thing in many respects, but making the right financial moves can make it better.