Aging Ain't So Bad

MusingsYou know how myths develop a life of their own and become mistaken for fact? This has never been more true when it comes to aging. That's why, when I read the eight top myths about aging on Senior Planet, I didn't know whether to laugh or to cry. The myths perpetrated against the elderly are something to behold. Here are just three myths that are all too common, according to gerontologist Joan Erber, co-author of the book, Great Myths of Aging: 

"Older people are suckers -- easy prey for scam artists."

It is often said that older people are far and away the demographic that is most vulnerable when it comes to scams. Actually, says Erber, people in their 80s and 90s may be more trusting, but they are no more gullible than young people. The reason it appears more older people are scammed, she says, is likely that they are targeted more often because of their perceived nest eggs. In addition, older people are less likely to report fraud.

"If you live long enough you'll wind up in a nursing home."

Not true, says Erber; in fact, "only a small minority of old people wind up in nursing homes." In 2011, for example, less than 4 percent (3.6 percent) of people age 65 and older lived in institutional settings. The trend today is for older people to "age in place."

"Brain power declines with age."

Yes, certain cognitive abilities (short term memory, for example) decline with age. However, "a recent study about aging and wisdom concluded that older people are more likely to look at things from multiple perspectives, allow for compromise and recognize that knowledge has limits."

It would serve our generation well if we were to continue to set examples that bust up myths like these. For more myths, go to Senior Planet.


Creating a Company Over Age 50

OnYourOwnEntrepreneurship is alive and well -- surprisingly, especially over the age of 50. It's logical in some respects for the 50-plus set to be thinking about starting a business. Careers in later years seem to decline for any number of reasons, including layoffs, age discrimination, and burnout. The good news is that creating a company over the age of 50 can be an invigorating experience.

Michael Glauser's new book, Main Street Entrepreneur, doesn't concentrate exclusively on entrepreneurs age 50 and older. Still, almost half of the hundred small town business owners he met during his research trip across America were in that age group. Glauser tells Richard Eisenberg of NextAvenue.org that these entrepreneurs have advantages: "The obvious one is that they've been in an industry for a number of years, so they really know it and related industries. ... The second thing is they know how business works; they're not young or naive. And they're pretty sure their business idea will work before they launch it."

Glauser also notes that this is a great time to start a company. "There's a growing preference for small, local companies," he says. "Also, powerful technologies now let you do business with the same kind of tech equipment that only large corporations could afford in the past." In addition, says Glauser, "there are a lot of new financing formats, like crowdfunding, to test products before you spend a lot of money on them."

Read Glauser's full interview on NextAvenue.org here.

By the way, my wife and I are proof positive of what Glauser learned. We started a small, local service company in our mid-fifties and ran it successfully for seven years before we sold it. You can read about our experiences in our book, Let's Make Money, Honey: The Couple's Guide to Starting a Service Business.


Genius: A Thoughtful Movie for Adults

MediaI don't know about you, but my wife and I have become a lot more selective in the movies we watch. We detest violence and cruelty, both of which continue to pre-occupy many movie makers. Instead, we lean towards "message" movies that we perceive will have some lasting value.

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 3.05.28 PMGenius is in that category. This movie chronicles the short writing career of Thomas Wolfe, focusing on his relationship with his editor, Max Perkins. Genius is very much a period piece, taking place in the 1920s. It really has the look and feel of an older era in the dress, the lifestyle, the book publishing business, and even in the way it is lit.

Of course, a fine movie is nothing without a story and excellent actors, and Genius has these elements as well. We got real insight into the way Wolfe and Perkins developed a relationship, the psyche of Wolfe, the instability of his wife, and the toll working with Wolfe took on Perkins's personal life. We witnessed tour de force performances from Colin Firth as Perkins and especially Jude Law as Wolfe. Law was as believable a troubled genius as any I've seen on screen. The movie itself was understated, almost to the extent that it felt more like a play than a movie -- but its strength as a dramatic film was impressive. This is a movie for adults.

My wife and I often judge the quality of a movie based on whether we think about it and talk about it well after we finish watching it. For us, Genius was one of those movies.


Celebrating Our National Parks at 100 Years

OnaWhimOn August 25 of this year, the National Park Service turns 100 years old. I think this deserves special recognition from the Boomer generation, since our lives have surely been enriched by these places of exceptional natural beauty.

My first memories of National Parks are probably similar to yours. I remember when my parents took us on a cross-country trip, westward bound from New York, driving all the way. It was the Fifties and Americans were in love with autos. Among the unforgettable sights I saw were Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Canyon. Ever since, our National Parks have left me awe-inspired.

Stories about America's National Parks abound, from the Ken Burns film about National Parks on PBS to tales of people who have made it their goal to visit every National Park (there are more than 400 of them) before they die. There is even a club devoted to visiting all of the National Parks.

Do yourself a life-changing favor: If you haven't visited a National Park lately, do it. If you are 62 years of age or older, you can probably do it for free. Why? Because your age qualifies you for a "Senior Pass," good for lifetime free admission to over 2,000 Federal recreation sites, including National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges, and many National Forest lands. The Pass is just $10 if you pick it up in person (driver's license or other government ID required), or $20 by mail. Download an application below.

Visit a National Park today -- and wish our National Parks a happy 100th birthday!

Download Senior_Pass_Application


Power to the (Older) People

MusingsYou probably remember one of the slogans of our youth, "Power to the People." Today, we might be able to modify that slogan to proclaim, "Power to the Older People." Perhaps you don't realize it, but the Boomer generation is today and in the near future the most influential in terms of economic impact. 

The McKinsey Global Institute, a division of consulting firm McKinsey and Company, recently analyzed the 60+ age group globally in its report, "Urban World: The Global Consumers to Watch." According to the report:

"The largest elderly consumer markets today are in developed economies where their number will grow by a third between 2015 and 2030. These consumers will generate 20% of global consumption growth over this period. In comparison, European millennials will contribute less than 2%.

"In developed economies, they will account for 50% of all urban consumption growth from 2015 to 2030 — $4.4 trillion. In Western Europe and Northeast Asia (Japan and South Korea), these individuals will account for about 60% of urban consumption growth. ...

"In the United States, they will contribute more than 40% of consumption growth in housing, transport, and entertainment. People over 50 bought over 60% of the new cars sold in the United States in 2010, up from less than 40% in 2001, according to one study. The elderly increasingly want to age in their own homes. A decade ago, U.S. citizens aged 55 and older accounted for less than 33% of all spending on home improvement. By 2011, this share was more than 45%."

The bottom line is our age group has considerable economic power, and increasingly, companies will need to cater to us with products and services that meet our needs. So take advantage of your age and repeat after me: Power to the Older People!


Last Chance to Get the eBook Edition of "Let's Make Money, Honey" at Half Price

LMMH book cover-jpgThrough July 31 only, you can get the eBook edition of Let's Make Money, Honey: The Couple's Guide to Starting a Service Business at half price -- just $3.50 -- if you order it through Smashwords. You can get the book in any format for any device, including a PDF. 

If you've ever thought about going into business with your spouse, this is the book for you. It tells the story of how my wife and I started a small service business and sold it seven years later. You'll find plenty of advice about what to do and what not to do when starting a business with your spouse. It has received excellent reviews and I know you will find it helpful.

To get your copy at half-price, simply go to: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/568837  When you place your order, enter the code SSW50 and you'll pay just $3.50 instead of the regular price of $6.99. This offer is only good at Smashwords and it expires on July 31, 2016, so order today!


"Consulteering" Offers a New Way to Look at "Rewirement"

MusingsI often opt for the word "rewirement" rather than "retirement" in describing a Boomer's next life phase. Now, along comes a novel term to describe what some members of the 50-plus crowd have adopted as a lifestyle: "consulteering."

Sixty-eight year old Dane Peters deserves credit for the term, at least for its first reported use in The New York Times. Formerly the head of a Montessori school, Peters tells Kerry Hannon that his new way of keeping busy is his "trifecta. Paid work, giving back and relaxation. I call it 'consulteering.' "

In Peters' case, the consulting part of the equation involves supporting independent schools "with my expertise in leadership and governance." It is easy to see how someone with his background could obtain consulting assignments, but what about other Boomers with completely different professional experience? Retirement transition coach Dorian Mintzer tells Hannon she believes consulteering is possible for others. She says her clients are “intentional in figuring out what’s next — realizing they benefit from some work structure and want to build social connection, mental engagement and meaning into their life.” Consulteering, says Mintzer, is "a great way to fit work into life rather than trying to squeeze time for life into your work schedule."

It turns out I have been "consulteering" in my post-career, even though I hadn't thought of it that way. I have used my marketing experience to take on select consulting assignments and my writing experience to do freelance writing projects. Meanwhile, I also volunteer and take time for myself.

Maybe you should consider "consulteering" as a new way to look at "rewirement."


Is a "Micro-Enterprise" Right for You?

OnaWhimIn previous posts, I've discussed everything from part-time work to volunteering to starting a business in an effort to keep busy and supplement retirement income in your later years.

Another creative option is something called a "micro-enterprise." Chris Farrell, author of the book Unretirement, tells RetirementRevised.com, "micro-enterprises allow you to work from home, take advantage of technology, not touching your retirement savings and using just a little money to experiment.” Another plus of a micro-enterprise is, if you have a new business idea you can“find out if there really is a market–if there is, then you can commit more resources and perhaps round up more money,” says Farrell.

Mark Miller, who writes RetirementRevised.com, cites the stories of several individuals who have started successful micro-enterprises. He also points out that the new sharing economy offers micro-enterprise opportunities through such services as Uber because Boomers make little or no investment while generating modest income. This could be an attractive way to supplement retirement income, as long as you realize dabbling in a micro-enterprise is not the same thing as creating a business with the intention of making it a full-time, going concern. Says Farrell, “What a micro-enterprise allows you to do is buy a lifestyle–it’s not about creating a business with a five-year exit strategy.”


More Gigs to Start in Retirement

OnYourOwnI've written about the gig economy before -- but it continues to make news as a new economic factor in our society. While gigs, or short-term freelance assignments, are appropriate for any age group, they seem to be tailor-made for Boomers who are looking for creative ways to generate income without the commitment of a full-time or even a regular part-time job.

As an example of what kinds of gigs are available for Boomers, Katie Little, writing for the CNBC website, offers "25 Side Gigs You Can Start in Retirement." Here you'll find some great ideas, everything from consultant and interim executive to Uber driver, Peace Corps volunteer, virtual assistant, and tutor.

Check out this helpful article. There are all kinds of opportunities for Boomers who are willing to think differently about employment. Start gigging!


Creative Ways to Make Money on Your Own

MusingsA recent post on the Retired Brains website (highly recommended for Boomers) caught my eye. Entitled "5 New Ways to Own Your Own Business," the post listed some creative ways to make money on your own, primarily through the new "sharing economy." Among the ideas were becoming a driver for Uber or Lyft, renting your home through Airbnb or HomeAway, and becoming a pet sitter through Dogvacay.

What struck me is that non-traditional work opportunities like these never even existed a few years ago. Now, through a combination of our online-enabled world and the concept of taking on "gigs," options are opening up to Boomers to replace the the more typical part-time work with a former employer or in retail, fast food, or hospitality. Gigs can provide a means to generate income to supplement Social Security and retirement savings while also giving a Boomer the chance to enjoy greater flexibility and be self-employed. Boomers who have been pursuing professions or careers on a full-time basis for most of their adult lives may find this novel type of work to be different and maybe even invigorating.

So when you consider what to do next and you still want to make some money, you might find an opportunity among the many services that use independent contractors as part of the sharing economy.

By the way, have you considered another creative way to make money: starting a business with your spouse? My wife and I started a service business together and generated pre-retirement income for seven years. Then we sold the business. Learn how you can do this too in our book, Let's Make Money, Honey: The Couple's Guide to Starting a Service Business. For the month of July only, the eBook version is available from Smashwords.com for half price -- just $3.50! To get your copy in any eBook format, including PDF, visit: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/568837. When you check out, enter the code SSW50 to get the eBook for just $3.50. This special offer is only good at Smashwords.com through July, so order today!