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July 2015
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September 2015

August 2015

Are We There Yet?

MusingsNo doubt you recall riding in the car in past years with your young kids and being bombarded over and over again with the question, "Are we there yet?" Turns out that, today, the same question relates to retirement.

For many of us, retirement is a moving bar if not a distant destination. One only has to look at the flurry of media reporting about "the retirement crisis" to know the majority of seniors have insufficient funds as they enter their later years. The recent Retirement Research Consortium Meeting, held August 6-7 in Washington, DC, included such topics as "The Great Recession, the Social Safety Net, and Economic Security for 50+ Americans" and "How Would Social Security Changes Affect Medicare Costs and Seniors’ Out-of-Pocket Spending?"

A sponsor of the Consortium is the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. The Center posts numerous Briefs and Working Papers on its site, one of which caught my eye: "Falling Short: The Coming Retirement Crisis and What to Do About It," by Alicia H. Munnell, who also authored a book on the topic. According to Munnell, "Today’s workers will need more income because lifespans (and retirement periods) are getting longer, health care costs are rising, and interest rates are very low."

Munnell's advice comes as no real surprise. "Working longer," she writes, "makes an enormous difference. ... First, it increases the size of an individual’s monthly Social Security check by 7-8 percent for each year of delay. ... Second, working longer allows people to contribute more to their 401(k) and provides more time for assets to grow; between ages 62 and 70, a typical individual’s 401(k)/ IRA assets are estimated to nearly double. And, third, working longer substantially shrinks the number of years over which an individual needs to stretch his retirement nest egg."

While Munnell also promotes saving, perhaps less common is her counsel regarding home equity: "Generally, retirees think of their home equity more as an emergency reserve rather than a potential source of retirement income. However, given the challenge of ensuring retirement security, this view may be a luxury that many can no longer afford. If households do not have enough from Social Security and their 401(k) assets, they should consider tapping their home equity by either downsizing or taking a reverse mortgage."

What strategies are you pursuing on the road to retirement... and are you there yet?




Together or Apart?

MusingsOne of the interesting aspects of retirement is the new dynamic between couples that occurs when you both have a lot of time on your hands. Pre-retirement, your time together may have been limited by such obligations as work (especially if you both worked outside the home) and raising children. In retirement, however, you may face the unusual challenge of actually interacting quite a bit more with your significant other.

This is an adjustment that can take its toll, even on the most stable relationships. Miriam Goodman, author of the book, Too Much Togetherness: Surviving Retirement as a Couple, writes in an article for Next Avenue, "To not drive each other crazy, couples need a mutually acceptable game plan for the future. They need to think about and discuss how they want to spend their time, including how much time they want to spend together. These talks should begin long before retirement."

Couples should think about how best to make the transition to retirement, both separately and together. For some, it may make more sense for one partner to retire first, and then the other to follow later. For others, retiring simultaneously doesn't present a problem. My wife and I didn't look at our next phase of life as retirement; instead, we viewed it as "rewirement." We both left our jobs, relocated, and decided to start a small business together. We later sold the business and moved on to our next phase, during which we both volunteer and work part-time.

Goodman suggests some strategies for a happier retirement together, including, "Take time to adjust to being retired," "negotiate sharing more household responsibility," "make sure you each have enough 'alone time,'" and "plan, but don't overplan or overschedule."

You can purchase Goodman's book directly from Amazon below.


Work and Retirement: The Real Deal

OntheClockToday's retirement landscape looks very much different from just a generation ago. Economic realities and the fact that many seniors aren't ready to call it quits are re-shaping attitudes toward working for boomers and beyond.

Proof of this can be found in a Merrill Lynch study, conducted in partnership with Age Wave, that reveals some stunning information about work in retirement:

  • More than 70 percent of pre-retirees say they want to work in retirement.
  • Nearly three out of five retirees launch into a new line of work.
  • Working retirees are three times more likely than pre-retirees to be entrepreneurs.

While earning income is a motivation for some, "many others are motivated by important nonfinancial reasons," according to the study, which breaks working retirees into four categories: "Driven Achievers, Caring Contributors, Life Balancers, and Earnest Earners."

The study found that today's retirement picture is a four-phase process: Pre-retirement, "Career Intermission" (during which 52 percent of retirees take a break from working), "Reengagement" (a time when the four categories of working retirees are active), and Leisure.

According to the study:

"Today, 40% of people age 55+ are working — a level of engagement in work among this age group not seen since the 1960s. As more people continue working in their later years, the U.S. workforce is steadily transforming. In prior decades, workforce growth was driven by the influx of young workers. In the last seven years, however, workers age 55+ accounted for virtually all workforce growth..."

We are a force!

Is Retiring Outside the U.S. for You?

OntheGoMy wife and I made the decision to relocate from the Northeast to the Southeast in our mid-fifties. Ten years later, we are very happy and convinced that it was a great move for us.

We never seriously considered relocating outside the U.S. -- but plenty of retirees do just that. The growing trend is largely because of cost, although lifestyle obviously plays a big role in the decision. If it's something you are thinking about, your choices of where to live can be overwhelming. That's why it might be helpful to let experts do the advance work for you.

One of those experts is Kathleen Peddicord. After editing and publishing International Living for more than 22 years, Kathleen started a new publishing group in 2007 called Live and Invest Overseas. Kathleen followed her own advice as well: She and her husband moved to Paris and then Panama City. As a travel veteran (she has been to more than 50 countries) and overseas expert (she wrote the books, How to Retire Overseas and How to Buy Real Estate Overseas and publishes the Overseas Opportunity Letter), Kathleen is as well informed as anyone about where to live outside the U.S.

Writing for Next Avenue, Richard Eisenberg cites Kathleen's 2015 "Retire Overseas Index" of best places to retire. These locations, listed in descending order, all get "A" grades from her:

  1. Algarve, Portugal
  2. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
  3. Cayo, Belize
  4. Languedoc, France
  5. Abruzzo, Italy
  6. Medellin, Colombia
  7. Hua Hin, Thailand
  8. Chiang Mai, Thailand
  9. Cuenca, Ecuador

Kathleen's books can be directly purchased from Amazon below.

From the White House Conference on Aging

MusingsThe day-long White House Conference on Aging, held on July 13, is, sadly, only a once-per-decade event. However, the timing of this year's event was particularly appropriate, given that it is also the 50th anniversary of Medicare, Medicaid, and the Older Americans Act, as well as the 80th anniversary of Social Security.

At this year's conference, several key actions were announced, among them:

- Clarification by the U.S. Dept. of Labor, expected by the end of this year, regarding how states can move forward with efforts to provide workplace-based retirement saving opportunities. This is important because Congress has not taken action on the issue at the Federal level.

- A new website,, has been launched to provide older Americans, their families, friends, and other caregivers, a one-stop resource for government-wide information on helping older adults live independent and fulfilling lives.  The site links to a broad spectrum of Federal information, including how to find local services and resources in your community for everything from healthy aging to elder justice to long-term care, as well as how to find key information on vital programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

- Several Federal rules affecting long-term care, healthy aging, and elder justice are being modernized. These include updating the safety and quality requirements for nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities, new rules to assist elder victims of abuse, financial exploitation, fraud, and neglect, and numerous others.

A detailed guide to all of the announced actions can be found here: