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January 2016

A Prescription for "Happy Aging"

MusingsAging is what you make of it -- and maybe we can all take comfort in the fact that aging is an inevitability for everyone. In a thought-provoking blog post for the Brookings Institute, Robert Holzmann ponders the world's aging population. He says "Population aging is likely the most important socioeconomic change since the dawn of mankind, the importance of which equals that of climate change." He suggests that, with increasing life expectancy, "the best response is generally to lengthen individuals’ working lives (i.e., defer retirement)."

But working longer has its own challenges. Holzmann writes, "Three necessary ingredients for promoting longer working life are clear: individuals must be skilled, healthy, and motivated. The policies to achieve this, however, are not well understood or available. ...Population aging can only be successfully addressed with innovative pension, labor market, and other reforms that encourage and enable older people to stay healthy, skilled, and motivated."

As to the prescription for "happy aging," Holzmann says research "identifies four key areas for individual action:

  • Have a purpose in life that is on your mind when you rise and get ready for the day. E.g., a paid or unpaid job, a hobby, or another occupation that makes life worthwhile;
  • Exercise—it helps one to stay healthy, reduces stress, and is a natural fountain of lifelong youth. A healthy lifestyle strengthens the outcome;
  • Stay socially embedded through family, friends, or other forms of social interaction, as these established psychological mirrors are critical for individual wellbeing; 
  • Take care of the 'birds and bees,' a major part of one’s humanity throughout life."

Read Holzmann's entire post here.

Does the Medicare Part B Premium Increase in 2016 Affect You?

MusingsI am relatively new to Medicare, but I already see why dealing with Medicare can be a perplexing experience. Just learning the language of Medicare with regard to all of the "Parts" and what is/is not covered is an education. And this year, thanks to the most recent Federal budget, the premium for Medicare Part B has increased -- for some, very significantly. 

Here is the information about the increase from the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services:

As the Social Security Administration previously announced, there will no Social Security cost of living increase for 2016. As a result, by law, most people with Medicare Part B will be “held harmless” from any increase in premiums in 2016 and will pay the same monthly premium as last year, which is $104.90.

Beneficiaries not subject to the “hold harmless” provision will pay $121.80, as calculated reflecting the provisions of the Bipartisan Budget Act signed into law by President Obama last week. Medicare Part B beneficiaries not subject to the “hold-harmless” provision are those not collecting Social Security benefits, those who will enroll in Part B for the first time in 2016, dual eligible beneficiaries who have their premiums paid by Medicaid, and beneficiaries who pay an additional income-related premium. These groups account for about 30 percent of the 52 million Americans expected to be enrolled in Medicare Part B in 2016.

The good news is, if you receive Social Security payments already, it appears that your premium will remain the same, as long as your income doesn't exceed a certain amount, as shown in the table below: 

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 2.00.30 PM

Hopefully, this all makes sense to you.

As for Part A, most people do not pay a premium; however, there is a slight increase in the annual deductible, from $1,260 to $,1288. 


A 3-Pronged Strategy for Fulfillment in the Second Half of Life

MusingsMany Boomers feel either bored or unfulfilled in the second half of their lives. After raising children and spending decades in their careers, Boomers often perceive that their lives have come to a grinding halt. Their children are grown, their careers are over (by choice or by circumstance), and they are unsure of their next move. Many Boomers simply can't figure out what's next -- where to go from here?

I know the feeling because I was there, too. I left a professional career in my late 50s by choice. My wife and I decided to embark on a new adventure, relocating from the Northeast to the Southeast. At the same time, we started a small business together, ran it for over six years, and sold it. After our business experience ended, I gave the next stage of my life a lot of thought. I came up with a 3-pronged strategy to move forward. Here's what it looks like:

  1. Do what you love. I always loved to write. While writing was an essential part of my professional career, it wasn't the focal point. I decided that now I could make it the focal point, so I began to write non-fiction, both for money and for personal satisfaction. I was fortunate that doing what I love could also generate some income. This was the first prong.
  2. Give back.  I thought this would be a good time of life to give back and share my knowledge with others. Given my marketing and branding expertise, I decided to volunteer as a marketing/branding counselor with a small business center, helping owners of startups and small businesses. In addition, my wife and I became volunteers for a local humane society because of our love for animals. Not only could I give back, this experience also afforded me the opportunity to share an interest in an organization with my spouse. Giving back was the second prong.
  3. Be healthy. I believe good health makes all the difference as you age. I made a commitment to eat healthy, reduce stress, get enough rest, and exercise every day. The third prong was taking care of myself. 

This 3-pronged strategy, which I call my "rewirement," has an added benefit for me: At this stage of life, juggling several different things keeps me busy and stimulated. Each of them brings personal satisfaction of some kind. I am not locked in to a job with regular hours, so I can control the amount of time I spend on all of the three areas. I can fill in around the three areas with social activities, travel, and recreation.

Keeping busy and feeling like you are doing worthwhile things are keys to fulfillment in the second half of life. Some Boomers are perplexed by the challenge of what to do next. For me, the 3-pronged strategy was the answer. Of course, it won't necessarily work for everyone -- that has to be an individual choice. But it is worth it to develop and define a plan that can lead to your own meaning, purpose, and happiness.

Is This the Year You and Your Spouse Will Work Together?

OnYourOwnWould it surprise you to learn that Boomers are one of the fastest growing segments in creating new businesses? With an employment market that generally ignores the value of Boomers' work experience, more and more older workers have made the decision to strike out on their own.

Is this the year you'll make the move and become self-employed? Is this the year you and your spouse will work together? If that sounds crazy, think about the upside. Who better than your spouse to be a trusted partner who makes as much of a commitment as you do to running a business?

My wife Sharon and I made a decision to start a business and run it together. We planned to operate it as a transition from professional careers into retirement (which, for us, involves part-time work and volunteering). We ran a successful service business that produced a steady stream of annual income and we were even able to sell it after about six years.

As you might expect, living and working with your life partner is definitely not for everyone; it presents special challenges that can test your relationship. In our case, we were confident we could make it work. Why? Because we had already learned a lot about working together in two previous companies. (In fact, we first met when we worked for the same company.)

We discovered that we had "business compatibility." We shared the same values and the same attitude toward operating a quality business and servicing clients, but we had uniquely different, complementary skills. 

9780996576000.MAINAfter we sold our business, we thought about the many other Boomer couples who might want to start a business together, and we wanted to do something to help them. So Sharon and I wrote a book about it called Let's Make Money, Honey: The Couple's Guide to Starting a Service Business

As much as it is a good story, Let’s Make Money, Honey is also a how-to guide that covers planning, financing, outfitting, and launching a service business, as well as operations, marketing, sales, customer service, and managing growth. Included are useful tools to help couples assess their business interests and compatibility. The book has gotten rave reviews -- read some of them here.

If you have an interest in owning a business with your spouse, I think you'll find the book inspiring and instructional. It is available now in print and eBook formats. You can read a free chapter from the book at the link below. You can purchase the book directly from this blog -- just click on either button under "Purchase Now!" to the right.

Download Sample Chapter