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Baby Boomer Retirement



Useful information for retirees and the 10,000 Baby Boomers who turn 65 every day!



Updated: 2017-08-16T12:24:40.624-07:00

 



Margaritaville Retirement Communities

2017-08-16T10:50:21.502-07:00

Baby Boomers are putting a new twist on retirement.  One of their musical icons, Jimmy Buffett, is opening a creative type of retirement community, which will be named after his hit song, Margaritaville.  The new retirement communities will be designed to create the laid-back, casual lifestyle which many Baby Boomers desire.  These active adult communities are being built in conjunction with developer Minto Communities.  The first one will be opened in Daytona Beach, Florida, with the sales office opening in fall 2017 and will be named Latitude Margaritaville.  The second one will be built in Hilton Head, South Carolina and is scheduled to have its sales office opened in 2018.  If these are successful, more are likely to follow.Features at Latitude MargaritavilleMany of the features in this $1 billion neighborhood will be similar to what Baby Boomers have come to expect in similar active adult communities in Florida and other retirement hotspots.  There will be approximately 7,000 homes.  Community amenities will include a spa, lap pools, fitness facilities, retail shops, a band shell for live outdoor entertainment, and a free shuttle to Margaritaville's own private beachfront club.Residents will be allowed to drive their personal golf carts throughout the community.  This will be a convenient way for them to access some of the Margaritaville themed restaurants, including Cheeseburger in Paradise and the Five O'Clock Somewhere Bar ... the perfect places to look for that "lost shaker of salt."The idea is to create a fun place to retire.  The developers hint that Jimmy Buffett himself may show up for an occasional concert.Margaritaville ThemeThe idea behind the community is based on Jimmy Buffett's song lyrics.  In case you are not familiar with the song, some of the lines which inspire the community are:Nibblin' on sponge cake,Watchin' the sun bake;All of those tourists covered with oil.Strummin' my six string on my front porch swing.I blew out my flip flop,Stepped on a pop top;Cut my heel, had to cruise on back home.But there's booze in the blender,And soon it will renderThat frozen concoction that helps me hang on.Wasted away again in MargaritavilleSearchin' for my lost shaker of salt.Some people claim that there's a woman to blame,But I know, it's my own damn fault. Home Choices in Latitude MargaritavilleIf the song lyrics are not enough to inspire you to want to live there, residents can choose from two and three bedroom house plans which are priced from the low $200,000s to the mid-$300,000s.  All of the styles include dens and garages.  The community promotes their houses by describing them as "your new home in Paradise."Buyers may want to ask if each home comes with a bottle of tequila and a free blender!  If not, be sure to bring your own along.  You'll fit in just fine.For more information about Latitude Margaritaville, check out their website and watch a video at:https://www.latitudemargaritaville.com/If you are interested in learning more about other places to retire in the United States or overseas, financial planning, common medical issues, 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 helpful articles.Watch for my book, Retirement Awareness: 10 Steps to a Comfortable Retirement, which will be published by Griffin Publishing in the fall of 2017.You are reading from the blog:  http://www.baby-boomer-retirement.comPhoto credit:  Margaritaville Twitter page.[...]



Be Prepared for Emergencies

2017-08-09T14:12:06.109-07:00

Whether you are age 30, 60, or 90, there will be  times during your life when you will be affected by some type of emergency.  It could be an injury, a health setback, an unexpected expense or a natural disaster.  While it is impossible to be prepared for every eventuality, it is important for everyone to plan for the most likely emergencies which could affect us.  Below are a few common types of events which might happen to a retiree, and how to protect yourself.In addition to the list below, you may want to add to this list emergencies which could be common in your specific family or community ... such as early coronary events in your family, or neighborhood flooding during times of heavy rain.Financial DisastersAccording to Investopedia, in 2016 people in their 60s had a median savings account of about $172,000.  This means that half of all retirees had less than that ... many of them much less.  If you are living off Social Security, plus additional income based on dividends or interest on your savings, you do not want to spend the principal in order to purchase a new car, buy a hot water heater, replace a roof, or pay the deductible for surgery or other medical treatments.  The obvious solution is for everyone to save as much as possible prior to retirement and designate a portion of that savings as an emergency fund which you do not depend on to cover your essential living expenses.In addition, you may want to discuss with your financial planner or investment advisor whether your money is invested conservatively enough to be protected, in the event of a drop in the stock market or other major financial reversal. FallsAccording to the National Council on Aging, about one in four people over the age of 65 falls each year.  Falls are the most common cause of fatal injuries and are a common cause of hospital admissions.  Keeping your body strong and getting regular exercise is the first line of defense in preventing falls.  Everyone should make sure their homes are well-lit and contain no loose rugs or other items which could cause you to trip. You may also want to purchase a medical alert device, especially if you live alone.  You wear them like a pendant or bracelet and use them to quickly contact an agent who can call an ambulance, neighbor or relative for you, in the event of a fall. You should also talk to your doctor if your blood pressure medicine or other medications make you feel light-headed or dizzy.  They may be able to change your prescription.House FiresAccording to FEMA, older Americans are much more likely to die in a house fire than younger adults. If you have trouble hearing, take sleeping medications, or have difficulty getting out of bed by yourself, you have an especially elevated risk of dying in a house fire.  Make sure your home is equipped with plenty of very loud smoke and fire detectors, as well as a carbon monoxide detector.  Change the batteries frequently, at least every six months.Install nightlights in your home and plug them into outlets near the floor, so they can guide you to an exit. The air is clearer near the floor, so crawl out if you have trouble finding your way.  Be sure some of your nightlights have a battery backup, in case the electricity goes out.  Sleep with your bedroom door closed so you do not succumb to smoke inhalation if a fire starts in another room.  Check to see if you can get outside to safety from a bedroom window if the fire is burning between you and an outside door.Natural DisastersIf you live independently, you need to be prepared to handle any natural disaster which could affect you.  Depending on where you live, that could include hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, blizzards, earthquakes or wildfires.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) says on their website that "being prepared can reduce fear, anxiety, and losses that accompany disasters." Because you may move a little slower as you age, it would be wise to pre[...]



How to Live Longer - Add Years to Your Life!

2017-08-02T17:12:57.279-07:00

No one knows how long they will live.  There are no guarantees that anything you do will absolutely assure you will live to be 100 years old. However, research indicates your genetics account for only about 25 percent of your longevity.  The rest is up to you.  There are definite actions you can take which make it much more likely you will add years to your life.In an article called "50 Great Ways to Live Longer" published in the March, 2017 issue of the AARP Bulletin, scientific and government studies helped them compile a list of proven tips for increasing the length of your life.  Not all of the AARP suggestions are listed in this post.  When I read the list, some of their tips seemed to correlate to a longer life, but may not have been the cause of it.  For example, there is a correlation between living in California, New York or Vermont and having a longer life, especially if you have a low income.  Conversely, if you live in Nevada, Indiana or Oklahoma, your life expectancy could be much lower.  However, that does not mean your state of residence is actually the cause of why some people live longer than others.  Individuals can live either a long life or short life in any state, depending on their personal lifestyle.While there are no guarantees in life, it is still worthwhile to follow the suggestions listed below.  They are based on scientific research and could make a tremendous difference in the length of your life, as well as how much you enjoy living those extra years. Tips for a Longer Life 1.  Take Extra Vitamin D - The amount should be based on a blood test, but Vitamin D deficiency can contribute to a variety of health problems which you can easily avoid.2.  Avoid painkillers - Only take the minimum amount or eliminate them completely.  This includes both prescription and over-the-counter painkillers.3.  Get at least six hours of sleep a night - It will cut your risk of heart disease and strokes.  Try to get seven or eight hours of sleep, if possible.  It will make your health and life better in a number of ways.  It may even make it easier to maintain a healthy weight.4.  Have frequent sex - It has been shown to not only increase the length of your life, but your enjoyment, as well.  5.  Get married - Married people, especially men, have a lower risk of heart disease.  Of course, if you are in an abusive or miserable marriage, this suggestion may not work for you.6.  Eat a healthy diet - Research shows the right diet for longevity includes fully ripened fruit, coffee, green tea, vegetables, whole grains, whole milk, olive oil, fish, nuts, spices and plenty of water.  You should also reduce your consumption of added sugar and alcohol.  While you're at it, take care to prevent food poisoning when preparing your meals.  Keep your work surfaces clean, separate meat and vegetables, wash your hands and refrigerate ingredients which could spoil.7. Find a purpose in life - You may find your purpose in volunteer activities, helping your family, attending religious services or becoming involved in anything else which is meaningful to you.  Having a purpose can add years to your life; it can also make you look forward to getting up each day.8.  Lead a generally healthy life - We have all heard most of it before. Stop smoking, lose weight, exercise daily (including walking and climbing stairs, if you can), read books, get a flu shot and find a woman doctor (statistically, they have better outcomes).  In addition, monitor your own health and see your doctor if any aspect of your health changes, such as unexpected weight-loss, unusual fatigue, bleeding, or changes to the skin. 9.  Fill your life with friends and love - Socialize frequently with friends, get a pet, spend time with the grandkids, and forgive your family for past hurts.10.  Practice safety - There is no point to eating right if you die from an accident.[...]



How to Retire Without a Car

2017-07-26T14:44:22.026-07:00

For many Baby Boomers, their automobile plays a significant role in their life.  It may be a status symbol or feel like your ticket to freedom, giving you the ability to go wherever you want, whenever you want.  Whether you drive a tiny red sports car, a sedate sedan, or a big SUV, it may be difficult for you to imagine living without a car.  However, a large number of young adults have already discovered they can get along just fine without a personal vehicle, and Baby Boomers are learning a lot from their adult children and grandchildren.Owning a Car is ExpensiveOwning an automobile can be costly, whether or not you are making payments on it.  Even if your car gets good gas mileage and you are no longer commuting to a job, gasoline alone may cost you $100 to $200 a month.  In addition, you will need to pay for insurance, tires, oil changes, repairs and your state registration fees.  Eventually you will probably need to replace the car, which could require a large outlay in cash and/or an even larger monthly payment.  As a result, owning a car could become too costly for many retirees.Health Conditions Could Keep You From DrivingAs we age, many people develop health issues or take medications which make it difficult or impossible for them to drive.  While you may be healthy and active when you first retire, you may eventually develop vision problems, Parkinson's Disease or be undergoing chemotherapy and no longer able to drive safely. In addition, many medications used by seniors, including sleeping pills, painkillers and other prescriptions are not safe to take before driving.Affordable Alternatives to Driving a CarFortunately, there are reasonable alternatives to owning an automobile.  If you move to an over-55 retirement community, such as one of the many Sun Cities across the US, Laguna Woods Village in Southern California, or The Villages in Florida (to name a few), you may be able to drive around your community and to local shopping areas in a golf cart.  Electric golf carts are generally significantly less expensive to own and operate than automobiles.  Because of their lower speeds, they also tend to be safer to operate. Golf carts are not your only choice for transportation. Many retirement communities have their own community buses to drive residents to various activities.  Some Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) have vans which will take people to nearby businesses, doctor's appointments, churches, movie theaters, shopping centers, etc.   If you occasionally need to travel outside your immediate neighborhood, public transportation such as cabs and buses are an affordable alternative for the occasional trip to a business appointment or local airport. A $20 or $30 cab ride three or four times a month is still much cheaper than owning and maintaining a personal vehicle.Cities with Walkable Neighborhoods and Public Transit If you do not want to move to an over-55 community, you can still find great neighborhoods where you will not need to own a car. The Millennial Generation has proven to us that it is possible, affordable and enjoyable to live in safe, walkable communities with an assortment of public transportation choices. Many small towns would fit this description, as well as popular neighborhoods within some large cities.Forbes Magazine's February 28, 2017 issue included an article titled "No Car, No Problem." In the article they published a list of great communities which are not only walkable, but also have access to public transportation, Uber, Lyft, and/or car rentals by the hour.  They eliminated cities with high crime rates, assuming that seniors would not want to walk around a dangerous community.  You can find their full list at forbes.com/retire-without-a-car, but below are their top nine recommendations, including the city and specific neighborhoods they mentioned:Arlington, VA - Clarendon/Courthouse, Ballston, and Lyon Villag[...]



Surprises in Retirement

2017-07-19T09:09:26.554-07:00

If you are not yet retired, what do you think it will be like when you finally walk away from your job for the last time?  If you have already retired, did it turn out to be what you expected?  What surprised you the most?  Were the surprises pleasant or disappointing?Most people find that at least some aspects of retirement were not quite what they expected.  Some people were disappointed and lonely.  Other people were delighted by how quickly their lives become filled with new activities.The varying reactions to retirement may be a result of different personalities.  In other cases, it could be because of inadequate financial resources, which make it tough to "live the dream."  Whatever the reason, below are some of the surprises many people have expressed about retirement.  If you are not retired yet, knowing what has surprised other people may help you better prepare for retirement; if you have retired, it may help you realize you are not alone in what you are experiencing and it may not be too late to make changes which will help you enjoy your retirement more.What Surprises People Most about RetirementLoss of Self-Worth - We had a neighbor whose father came to stay with her after retirement.  He was very quiet and kept to himself.  My neighbor told me her father was depressed and out-of-sorts because he had retired from a job as the Superintendent of Schools for a large school district.  He had literally supervised thousands of employees until the day he retired.  Afterwards, he felt "worthless" and didn't know what to do with himself.  While he could have turned his energies towards volunteering, local politics, or finding other ways to help people, he just hung around her house and remained depressed.  People need to have a reason to get up each morning if they want to have a satisfying retirement.It Can be Easier than Expected to Leave Your Job Behind - On the other had, after working decades for a company, many people are surprised at how quickly they can put the past behind them and find new activities, interests and friends.  The people who are able to leave the past behind seem to flow more smoothly into retirement.  Surprisingly few people talk much about their former career once they retire.It is Expensive to Retire - If you have been telling yourself you will be comfortable living on half, or even 80 percent, of your current income, you may be shocked to learn that the amount of income you need will be just as high as it was while you were working.  It is true you will not spend as much on the cost of commuting to a job, buying lunches from restaurants, or maintaining a work wardrobe.  However, these cost savings could be replaced by expenses related to engaging in new hobbies, eating more meals at home, traveling, and spending more for medical expenses.  In particular, Medicare premiums could be higher than expected and will shoot up dramatically if you get a financial windfall (taking a retirement buyout or selling stocks), because you will be required to pay a Medicare surcharge.  Those who opt to purchase a Medicare supplement may be surprised by the cost, as well.Financial Planning Really Does Pay Off - Those retirees who had the self-discipline to put aside a nest egg for retirement are often pleased to discover their plan worked out well for them after retirement.  In the same way, those who managed to pay off all or most of their debt prior to retirement are also happy to see the difference it makes in the quality of their retirement, and how much easier it is for them to ride out the ups and downs in the economy.  For example, if your home temporarily loses value during a recession, it is not as stressful if you do not have a large mortgage against it. For those who have not been able to save as much as they hoped prior to retiring from their career, many retirees are surprised to[...]



Opioid Addiction in Retirees

2017-07-12T16:38:39.701-07:00

According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, the current opioid crisis in the United States is this country's worst drug epidemic ever.  Unlike drug problems in the past, this one is not limited primarily to the younger generation.  Opioids are killing Americans of all ages.  Doctors have been over-prescribing pain medication for years, without realizing the impact it was having on their patients, including the elderly.  The results have been devastating for many senior citizens, as well as their children and grandchildren.  Families have been devastated by the effects of opioids.Opioid Addiction in Retirees is a Significant ProblemAccording to an article in the June 2017 AARP bulletin titled "The Opioid Menace: A Nationwide Addiction to Opioids Threatens Older Americans," as well as other sources, the statistics are shocking:*  In the single year of 2015 alone, nearly one-third of all Medicare patients (or about 12 million people) were prescribed opioid painkillers by their doctors.  Over the past year or two, some doctors have reduced the number of prescriptions they write for these drugs and the majority of states now put caps on the quantity of opioids a Medicaid patient can receive.  Unfortunately, these actions are not enough. Far too many patients are still receiving prescriptions for these dangerous drugs, often for chronic pain, minor injuries, dental procedures and out-patient surgeries.*  Also in 2015, approximately 2.7 million Americans over the age of 50 were believed to have abused prescription opioids.  By abusing the drugs, it means the patients were taking more of the medication than their doctors had prescribed or for reasons other than why it was prescribed. *  Despite efforts to reduce the number of opioid prescriptions being written, a survey in 2016 indicated that 99 percent of physicians continue to prescribe these medications for longer than the recommended three days.  To make matters worse, some patients "doctor shop," constantly looking for new doctors who will write them a prescription, which they can easily fill if they pay out-of-pocket for it rather than using their insurance or Medicaid.  Other people steal painkillers from the medicine cabinets of friends or relatives, order the drugs from foreign pharmacies, or switch to lower cost heroin, which is an illegal opioid drug made from morphine.  Frequently, the heroin is mixed with Fentanyl, which makes the drug much more addictive and can be lethal.*  People over the age of 65 are being hospitalized in record numbers because of opioid abuse.  In fact, the number of such hospital admissions has quadrupled in the past 20 years.  Most cases involve people who never dreamed they would become drug addicts.*  Opioid addiction is a deadly disease.  An incredible 42 percent of all opioid overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2015 happened to people over the age of 45.  The real number of such deaths may be much higher, since many deaths could have have been misdiagnosed or simply listed as "natural causes," especially in the very elderly.  This is not an addiction problem which is limited to teens and young adults.*  The older you are, the greater your risk of becoming dependent on these drugs.  Doctors are more likely to prescribe them for your pain and, because of slower kidney and liver function, the drugs may remain in your system longer.*  Of course, opioids also are killing our adult children and grandchildren, causing stress and worry for many retirees.  As reported in a Jacob Soboroff television special, made for MSNBC, called "One Nation Over Dosed," on June 24, 2017, opioid overdoses are currently the number one cause of death for people under the age of 50 in the United States, resulting in more deaths than those from car crashes, HIV or guns for people in the pea[...]



Laguna Woods Village Statistics and Amenities

2017-07-05T19:16:08.492-07:00

Laguna Woods Village, CA has numerous amenities.When you are looking for a retirement community, it can sometimes be difficult to get specific information about it.  If you only go to their website, you will typically read an abundance of superlatives about how wonderful the community is, but find very few actual details.  As a result, when Laguna Woods Village in Orange County, California released a list of very specific statistics about the community, as of 2017, the information was exactly what potential residents would want to know if they were interested in living in this retirement community on the edge of Laguna Beach, California.  This information can also serve as a basis for potential retirees to compare the communities they are considering, even if Laguna Woods Village is not on their list.Statistics About the Community of Laguna Woods Village* Rated one of the Top Ten Retirement Communities in the U.S. in 2017 by 55Places.com* Voted Best Senior Living Community in Southern California by the Orange County Register * Built on 2,100 acres of rolling hills in Orange County, California* Housing consists of 12,736 condos and co-ops with 94 different floor plans* Most of the housing was built between the mid-1960s and the mid-1970's* Many of the condos and co-ops have been extensively updated over the years * Only a 10 minute drive to the beach from most parts of the community* Averages 255 days of sunshine per year  Statistics About the Residents of Laguna Woods Village* Average new resident is 66 years old, although many are in their 50s* Average current resident is a median age of 76.7 * Approximately 18,500 residents live in the community* Average of 1.45 residents per household* Approximately 65% female and 35% male * Approximately 96% have at least a high school diploma; 42% have a bachelor's degree or higher* Median household income of $38,674 (in 2017)* Median home value was $211,500 (in 2017), although home prices can range from below $150,000 to over $1,000,000Race and Ethnicity in Laguna Woods Village* White 87.3%* Asian 10%* Black 0.7% * Other 0.6%* American Indian 0.1%* Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander 0.1%* Hispanic or Latino 4%(I realize those numbers do not quite add up, but those are the figures they published.  I assume that the 4% of residents listed as Hispanic or Latino would also be included in the white category.) Safety at Laguna Woods Village* Lowest crime rate of ANY city in Orange County, California* Guarded 24 hours a day with 14 security entrance gates* Private security force which roams throughout community 24 hours a day* Contract with Orange County Sheriff's Department to provide additional police services, as needed.  Amenities in Laguna Woods Village* Over 250 clubs and organizations, most with a full slate of activities* 814 seat performing arts theatre with a wide variety of choices in entertainment* Two professional golf courses - a championship 27-hole course and a 9-hole walking course* Five swimming pools* Equestrian center with 38 stalls for horses, a riding ring and guided trail rides; residents do not need to own a private horse in order to go on trail rides or take lessons* Two community gardens with private plots which can be reserved by residents* Transportation system with 8 fixed bus routes and on-demand rides to local retail, dining and medical facilities * Community television channel with exclusive programming* Three fitness centers; two are staffed by trainers* Ten tennis courts* Table tennis facility, pickleball courts, and archery facility* Seven clubhouses including an American Contract Bridge League accredited facility* College level extended learning classes on-site provided by the Saddleback College Emeritus program* Three multimedia computer labs * Professional workshops including facilities for jewelry making, slip casting, woodworking, ceramics, photography, sewing,[...]



Cheapest Countries for Retirement

2017-06-30T16:31:38.579-07:00

With millions of Baby Boomers expected to rely almost entirely on Social Security benefits when they retire, many of them will choose to move to another country.  When they do, they will find they are not alone.  Currently, there are approximately 8 million Americans living in foreign countries.  According to the Social Security website, "over half a million people who live outside the United States receive some kind of Social Security benefit, including retired and disabled workers, as well as spouses, widows, widowers, and children."Although you cannot use Medicare in another country, you are able to have your Social Security deposited in a foreign bank, or in an American bank with foreign branches.  In most other countries, you also have the option of signing up for their national healthcare plan and have basic Medicare in the U.S. at the same time, should you want to return to the U.S. in the future.Source of Information on Cheapest Places to RetireIf you are interested in retiring in another country, you will want to research your options carefully. There are a number of books and articles available on the internet.  On Feb. 18, 2017, Money Magazine published an article called, "These Are the Cheapest 50 Countries to Live."  While their article was not necessarily geared towards retirement, I found the information useful for anyone who is considering retiring in another country.  All the countries on their list are less expensive than the United States.The author, Elyssa Kirkham, based her information about the countries with the lowest cost-of-living on research from GoBankingRates, which looked at the purchasing power of the dollar in each country, cost to rent an apartment, price of groceries and the consumer index.Issues The Researchers Did Not ConsiderThe researchers did not consider factors such as safety, the political system, or lifestyle.  While many of these countries could be very attractive to American citizens, others might be quite undesirable ... such as Syria, Russia and Serbia. The list of countries is further down in this article.  If you want more details about how each country ranked, you can find the full article at "Cheapest Countries to Live." Do Your Own Research Before Moving to Another Country  As I have mentioned above and in other articles in this blog, it is important for readers to do their own research, check the State Department website for warnings and advisories about travel in those countries, contact local agencies or tour companies and, finally, visit the country before deciding whether you want to move there permanently.If you still feel that such a move would be a good idea, you would then be wise to consult with a lawyer, CPA and Realtor in the country of your choice. They could help you find a safe, affordable place to live and keep you on the right side of the law in your new country.List of Cheapest Countries to Retire1. South Africa                         26. Montenegro2. India                                     27. Albania3. Kosovo                                 28. Nepal4. Saudi Arabia                        29. Georgia5. Kazakhstan                          30. Brazil      &nb[...]



Help for Retired Grandparents Raising Grandkids

2017-06-21T16:43:14.728-07:00

Like millions of other couples in the U.S., the man and his wife who handle our taxes are also raising one of their granddaughters.  A widow in my book club raised two of her grandchildren until they finished college.  Several other retired people we know have raised their grandchildren for at least part of their childhood.  Unfortunately, this issue creates a number of problems for senior citizens, including where to live.Journalist Leslie Stahl, from 60 Minutes, addressed some of the problems involved in raising grandchildren in her book Becoming Grandma: The Joys and Science of the New Grandparenting and in an article she wrote for the website Next Avenue called  "A Place to Live for Grandparents Raising Grandchildren."Millions of Grandparents are Raising their Grandchildren According to Ms. Stahl, there are almost 3,000,000 grandparents in the U.S. who have legal custody of some or all of their grandchildren.  Approximately 18 percent of these families live below the poverty line.  They face a number of issues, including where to live.Limited Housing Options Make it Difficult for Grandparents It is against federal law for children under the age of 18 to live with parents or grandparents in an age-restricted over-55 retirement community, a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) or other type of senior facility.  Children are also not allowed in low-income housing for the elderly or in senior apartment complexes.  As a result, grandparents who make the tough decision to raise their grandchildren are often forced to move, sometimes into situations which are not safe for them or their grandchildren and which are not well-designed for the elderly.The sole exception to the lack of housing for grandparents who are raising their grandchildren is the Grandparent Family Apartment Complex which is located in the Bronx in New York.  The complex was build in 2004.  According to Leslie Stahl, it is the only complex of its type in the United States, although there is unquestionably a need across the country.  In addition to providing affordable housing, the complex offers different types of support to the grandparents and children, including transportation, legal services, mental health services, after school care, tutoring, support groups and parenting classes.  These programs at the Grandparent Family Apartment Complex seem to be making a significant difference in the lives of the children.  Their high school graduation rate exceeds that of the surrounding community.Why Grandparents are Raising their GrandchildrenThere are many reasons why grandparents feel compelled to take over the custody of their grandchildren.  The children's parents may have died in an auto accident or from diseases.  In some cases, the parents may not be equipped to properly take care of their children because of mental illness, abusiveness, addiction, or alcoholism.  In other situations, the parents may be deployed with the military or could be in jail. Sometimes the problem is a teen pregnancy and the grandparents decide to continue raising both their child and their grandchild.  Whatever the cause, grandparents who have already raised their own children often find themselves starting over again with their grandchildren.Housing Solutions for GrandparentsWhile their options are limited, there are a few things grandparents can do to make the situation easier for both them and their grandchildren.More affluent grandparents, of course, have more options about where to live.  They may be able to remain in the family home where they raised their own children or move into a similar community.  Younger grandparents who are still in good physical condition may be able to continue to hold down a job and raise their grandchildren.Low-income grandparent[...]



Should You Loan Money to Adult Children?

2017-06-18T09:46:33.861-07:00

Retirees and those approaching retirement frequently face a common dilemma ... should they give or loan money to their adult children?  A Pew Research Center survey in 2015 discovered that approximately 61 percent of people with adult children had helped their kids out financially during the preceding year. The decision to help or not to help can be difficult, especially if grandchildren are involved.  Many retirees wonder when they should agree to co-sign a lease, help their adult children purchase a car or assist them financially in other ways, and when they should say "no."In a January, 2017 article in AARP Magazine, titled "The Bank of Mom and Dad," Stephen Perrine, the author, suggested four questions to answer before you either lend or give your children money.  He also presented several examples to help people understand how to apply the answers.Questions to Answer Before Lending Money to Adult Children1.  Is the money intended to be used for something they simply want, but don't need; or will it add real stability and security to the child's life?  (Necessary)2.  Will this be a one-time or short-term gift or loan, or will it be something which will require an ongoing financial commitment lasting for years?  (Short-term)3.  Will your financial assistance require you to co-sign a contract?  Could it hurt your credit?  Is there a financial risk to you or your adult child?  (Financially safe)4.  Can you give or loan this money to your child without it damaging your relationship?  Could it cause future tension or resentment?  (Emotionally safe)How to Decide Whether to Help Your Adult Children FinanciallyWhen you consider the above questions, obviously the best time to help your child financially would be when it is necessary, short-term, financially safe, and emotionally safe.  Of course, life is not always that simple.Ideal situation:  When one of our granddaughters needed braces and her mother, our divorced, hard-working daughter, could not handle the added cost by herself, my husband and I were happy to step in and make the monthly payments.  Towards the end of the contract, our appreciative daughter had secured a better paying job and took over the payments herself.  At the time we decided to help, we believed our decision was necessary, short-term (although it went on for a couple of years), financially safe and emotionally safe.  We could afford the payments and our daughter could not. We had no problem making the decision.Complex situation:  Not all decisions are as clear as the one above.  For example, what if your child "needs" a car to get to work.  Should you help them with the down-payment or co-sign the loan?  If they are asking for your financial assistance, you are within your rights to only offer a limited amount of help, especially if your decision could put you at financial risk.  You may want to insist they purchase a practical, used car.  You might decide to provide a down-payment, but not co-sign a loan.  If you do decide to co-sign the loan, you need to understand that it could affect your own credit, particularly if your adult child begins to miss payments or make late payments.  Could you afford to take over the payments if your child defaults?  In this case, the purchase of a car might seem necessary, but it would not be short-term assistance, financially safe or emotionally safe, since it could create a strain in your relationship with your child.Other types of situations:  In the AARP Magazine article, Perrine also discussed other complex situations such as paying for an expensive wedding, co-signing a lease or mortgage, giving or loaning your children money for a down-payment on a home, helping an adult chi[...]



Affordable Retirement Cities with Pleasant Climates

2017-06-07T15:03:01.647-07:00

Are you looking for a pleasant, affordable city which is a good choice for retirement?  Do you want to have access to quality healthcare, cultural diversity, and mild weather?  The website caring.com put together their 2017 list of "Best Cities to Retire on the Cheap," and one of the cities listed below might be the perfect choice for you.The major the factor which caring.com considered was the overall affordability of the city.  As they point out, however, there is no benefit in finding a city with cheap housing if the weather is so cold in the winter you pay exorbitant prices to heat your home.  You would probably be no better off financially, and you would have to deal with the downside of aging in an area which frequently experiences snow, ice and other weather extremes.  When they put together their list, therefore, in addition to affordability they also considered climate, healthcare, economic vitality and both geographic and cultural diversity.  In other words, these are cities which are not only affordable, but have a number of other advantages which would make them attractive to retirees.Before moving to any of these cities, retirees will want to do more research to make sure they can afford to live in the city of their choice and to determine if they will have access to activities which interest them.  You will also want to plan an extended vacation, if you are unfamiliar with the city.  However, some of these cities should definitely be on your list of ones to consider if you hope to relocate to a fun, affordable city after retirement. Affordable Retirement Cities According to Caring.comTucson, Arizona - For decades, people have retired to this city with a population of just a little over a half million.  This makes it easier to meet other newcomers in your age group.  Traffic is not a major problem and there are plenty of ways to stay active ... yoga studios, shopping centers, restaurants, and more.  There are eight hospitals in the city. Because it is in the high desert, the weather is milder than many other parts of Arizona.Dover, Delaware - The state capitol of the small state of Delaware is equally small .. with a population of less than 40,000 people.  Despite its tiny size, the city has a strong economy, plenty of places to shop and eat out, plus you are halfway between New York City and Washington, DC. This gives you the opportunity to hop on a commuter train and experience world class entertainment, while living in a city which is far more affordable than either New York or Washington.Bend, Oregon - For retirees who want to live in a city but be close to a wide variety of outdoor activities, including golf, snow skiing, hiking, fishing, boating and mountain biking, this city could be the ideal spot for you!Sarasota, Florida - Built in the 1920's along the Gulf Coast of Florida, the Art-Deco downtown is adorable.  The Ringling Brothers Circus wintered here in the past, so expect to see circus memorabilia around town.  There is also an opera, symphony, ballet, music festival and other ways to stay active.Boise, Idaho - This city gets an average of 21 inches of snow a year, so you will still have to deal with bad weather in the winter.  However, it is affordable and has an abundance of hiking and biking trails in the city.San Luis Obispo, California - This small California city near the Central coast is home to Cal Poly University and is affordable compared to many other California coastal cities.  The weather is very temperate and it is surrounded by other affordable small towns such as Atascadero, Nipomo, Arroyo Grande, Paso Robles, and Templeton.  One of my granddaughters went to college in this town and we enjoyed visiting her and strolling through[...]



How to Report a Scam or Fraud

2017-05-31T14:23:23.194-07:00

No matter how hard we try, the vast majority of us will eventually become victims of a scam or fraud.  Our downfall could be identity theft, a con artist, overly aggressive debt collectors, internet or phone extortion, phishing emails or other types of crimes.  Whenever something like this happens to you, it is important to contact authorities and help them fight these crooks.Scammers are Criminals First, it is important to understand that these types of behaviors are illegal and the people committing these crimes can be fined or sent to prison for cheating you.  In many cases, the phone calls and emails originate in other countries.  Whether the criminals are in the U.S. or another country, they can still sometimes be caught and punished.Second, you should recognize the fact that these scammers and con artists are well-trained.  They know who you are and how to get information from you.  They are experts at tricking you into sending them money or giving you the information they need to steal money from you.  Everyone needs to be constantly vigilant and learn how to protect themselves from scams and fraud.Finally, you should not be embarrassed if you become a victim of one of these crimes.  Often there is nothing you can do to prevent them.  The internet is full of identifying information about millions of Americans.  Facts about you have often been obtained illegally by scammers who use sophisticated means to hack into computers and steal information.  It is not your fault.  You should never be too embarrassed to report any fraudulent use of your identity.If you do become a victim of a scam or fraud, it is extremely important to notify law enforcement, so these criminals can be hunted down and stopped. How to Report a Scam or FraudWhen to Contact Local Police, the District Attorney or your State Attorney GeneralIf the fraud was committed by someone locally, such as a dishonest contractor, a door-to-door sales person, or a local business, contact your community police department, your county district attorney, and your state's attorney general.  File a complaint and provide them with as much specific information as you can.  In addition, you may want to file your complaint with the FTC, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Postal Inspector, or the Internet Crime Complaint Center.  Their information is listed below.You should also contact the local authorities, as well as your financial institution, if your credit or debit cards have been lost, stolen or used fraudulently.If you are not satisfied with the results after you have reported one of these crimes, you may also want to contact the crime fighting reporter for a local television station.  They may be able to get more attention than you can on your own.Federal Trade Commissionftc.gov/complaint(877) 382-4357Use the FTC to report identity theft, overly-aggressive debt collectors and any situation in which you have been the victim of a fraud.  You may not hear back from them after filing your report.  However, the FTC compiles a database of scams and uses the information they collect to build cases against specific con artists. One person's complaints about a scammer might not make a difference.  Hundreds or thousands of complaints could result in a criminal investigation.  You are helping to protect others when you file a complaint, even if you never get your money returned or hear back from the FTC.Consumer Financial Protection Bureauconsumerfinance.gov/complaint(855) 411-2372If you feel you have been deceived by someone promoting a financial product, such as a loan, bank service, credit report, debt collection, or credit card, contact the CFPB.  Your should a[...]



Friends and Family Prolong Your Life

2017-05-24T12:37:04.234-07:00

Are you looking for a fun, easy way to live longer?  According to research done at the University of California in San Francisco, and reported in the AARP Bulletin, spending more time with your friends and family can increase your life expectancy.The researchers followed 1,600 adults who had an average age of 71 at the beginning of the study.  They took into consideration their socioeconomic status and their overall health.  Those people who self-identified as being lonely consistently died at a higher frequency over the six years of the study.  During that period of time, 23 percent of the lonely people died; only 14 percent of those who were satisfied with their level of companionship died.How Retirees can Increase their SocializationSince loneliness can contribute to early death, it is important we take steps to make sure we do not become too isolated as we age ... which is easy to do when we no longer go to a job.  Below are a few suggestions for increasing the time we spend around other people, particularly after we retire.1.  If you have relatives nearby, make sure you reach out to them and try to spend time together.  Your adult children and grandchildren can immeasurably enrich your life.  If you are not retired yet, but have older relatives or siblings who live in your area, plan activities which include them.2.   If you live in a mixed age community and no longer spend much time with your neighbors, make an effort to get to know them.  An occasional block party or neighborhood ice cream social benefits people of all ages.3.   Find out if your community has a senior center.  They often have exercise classes, parties, dances and, sometimes, low-cost lunches which seniors can enjoy in the company of other people.4.   Call your local community college to see if they offer classes for senior citizens.  Many colleges offer emeritus classes which are either free or very low cost.  Going to classes which you enjoy is a fun way to meet other people with similar interests.  Suggest a few of you go out to lunch or for coffee either before or after your classes so you can get to know each other better.  5.    Make an effort to join a club, organization or place of worship.  Participating in these organizations can help you stay connected with other people.  The more involved you are, the better off you will be.  It is not enough to attend an occasional club meeting or church service.  Volunteer.  Join a committee.  Go to social events.  These experiences will enrich your life.6.  Regularly speak with your friends and neighbors.  You may even want to set up a specific time every day, or several times a week, when you call and chat with a friend.  If one of you doesn't answer and there is no explanation for the absence, agree that you will contact family members, a neighbor, or local police so someone will do a "welfare check" on you.  It will bring you and your friends peace-of-mind if you all know that you are looking out for each other.7.   Do not rebel against the idea of moving to an independent or assisted living facility.  While some people still have a negative image of these living arrangements, sometimes comparing them to old-style nursing homes, the truth is that most people thrive in these facilities.  Today's senior housing facilities have a wide variety of fun amenities and provide an excellent opportunity to socialize and make friends.Remember:  Being sociable not only makes you happier and improves your outlook, but can prolong your life.  The more involved you are with other people on a reg[...]



Your Pre-Retirement Checkup

2017-05-17T11:48:00.799-07:00

If you are getting close to retirement, it is time to do a pre-retirement checkup.  You want to feel confident you will have enough retirement income to support yourself and your dependents; you also want to have a plan to make sure your money lasts the rest of your life.  While no one can guarantee your assets will last a lifetime, you do not want to retire until you feel fairly certain you will not outlive your money.What is involved in a pre-retirement checkup?  How do you make sure you are ready to retire?Organizing a Pre-Retirement CheckupOf course, you should have been looking over your retirement plans throughout your working years, not just when you are about to retire.  The earlier you started planning, the more likely you are to have a satisfying retirement.  However, about five or six years before you think you will retire, you need to evaluate your plans more carefully.Start with your annual Social Security benefit estimate.  How much income do you expect to receive at different potential ages?  Would you be better off if you postponed your retirement by a year or two, or even until age 70, in order to increase your income?  Remember, if you are married and have been the primary breadwinner, your spouse will also be affected by your decision.  The longer you wait to retire, the higher your income will be, as well as the income of your spouse.Next, look at the size of your retirement savings account.  Many financial planners recommend retirees start by only withdrawing 3 percent a year, gradually increasing that amount by 0.03 percent a year, so they are sure their money will last the rest of their lives.  If you add that amount to your Social Security benefits, will you have enough income to maintain your current standard of living?Do you have any other income which will supplement your Social Security and savings withdrawals?  For example, are you eligible to receive a pension in addition to Social Security or will you have a small income from a hobby, part-time job, rental property or other source?Evaluate Your Living ExpensesOnce you have a fairly good idea of how much income you will have, it is time to evaluate your current cost-of-living.  Are there expenses which you expect will be lower after you retire, including commuting costs, eating out, and buying work clothes?  Are there some expenses which you expect to be higher, such as taking trips or eating more meals at home?If your estimated retirement cost-of-living far exceeds your future potential income, you may consider relocating to a less expensive area, getting a smaller home or taking other steps to reduce your expenses.  You may be able to make some of these adjustments before you retire and use the money you save while you are working to build up your retirement savings.Talk to a Financial PlannerEven if you believe your retirement plans are in good shape, this is a good time to meet with a financial planner or investment advisor.  You want someone who will charge you an hourly fee to review your investments or a flat fee to manage your assets, and not someone who relies solely on commissions from the investments he sells you.  Ask the advisor to look over how your retirement assets are invested and recommend changes which could increase the growth of your assets over the remaining years before you retire.  Once you retire, you may want the financial planner to reallocate your assets in order to increase your income and reduce your risk.In addition, a financial planner can help you determine how much more money you might need to put aside in savings during your remaining working years, what age you should b[...]



Protect Yourself from Fraud and Scams

2017-05-09T21:17:40.532-07:00

Retirees are extremely likely to become the targets of scams or fraud.  As a result, we must be extraordinarily careful about our interactions with businesses and people who contact us by phone or on our computer. We are continually bombarded with phone calls and emails from dishonest people who try to trick us into turning over our personal information or money.  Many of these scammers are very persistent and deceptive.  Sometimes it can be difficult to tell the difference between legitimate and fraudulent websites.  The only way to stop these scammers is to learn how to protect ourselves and then report the crooks who try to cheat us.What are the Most Common Scams Against Seniors?There are a number of ways in which scammers are able to cheat us.  They may call, pretending to be a grandchild in trouble, and beg for money.  They might win our confidence on an online dating site and ask us to "loan" them money to help them out.  They could impersonate an IRS agent and threaten us with jail if we do not immediately pay our back taxes, which they demand in the form of gift cards or other untraceable types of instant money.  Sometimes they ask for donations to official sounding charities.Scammers can also trick us by sending fraudulent emails from sites which look similar to the official sites of our bank or credit card company.  They might download malware on our computer and lock us out, until we pay a ransom.It seems as if the different ways scammers can attack us are endless and they are continually coming up with new approaches.  We have to continually be vigilant.How to Protect Ourselves from ScammersWhile there seems to be no limit to the variety and creativity of the scams which threaten your financial security and peace-of-mind, there are steps you can take to make yourself less vulnerable.1.  Ask plenty of questions if a family member calls and asks for money.  No matter how much of an emergency it appears to be, make sure you are actually talking to your relative and not a complete stranger.  We have told our adult children and grandchildren not to get their feelings hurt if they ever call asking for money and we pepper them with questions.  We explained to them there are very aggressive scammers who pretend to be members of a family and beg for financial assistance ... often while "crying" so it is difficult to identify their voices.  As a result, we would need to ask numerous questions before sending anyone money.  These questions might include where they went to school, their best friend's name, or their address as a child.  We have also told our family members we would call them back on their cell phone and discuss the request with other family members, to make sure the request is legitimate.2.  Be suspicious if an "authority figure" calls and demands money.  Whenever a stranger calls pretending to be an IRS agent, the manager of your bank, or an representative from your credit card company, do not provide them with information they should already have such as your credit card number, date of birth or full Social Security number.  If you are in doubt, hang up and call the company or business directly, using the official customer service phone number for your bank or credit card company. The IRS will never unexpectedly call you demanding an immediate payment.3.  Do not send money to strangers you "meet" online.  No matter how compelling or sad their story is, there is no way for you to verify they are telling you the truth.  Be suspicious, even if they show you "evidence."  Many of these scammers work in groups and th[...]



Short on Retirement Savings

2017-05-03T11:04:29.788-07:00

How much money do you think you will need in order to retire comfortably?  The honest truth is you probably need more, much more, than you actually have.  According to SeniorLiving.org, half of Baby Boomers, the generation which is currently retiring at a rate of 10,000 people a DAY, have saved less than $100,000.  Over one-third have saved less than $50,000.  This means a substantial number of Baby Boomers have not saved enough money to produce a modest retirement income, even when combined with their Social Security benefits, and they are at a serious risk of outliving their retirement savings.Breakdown of Baby Boomer SavingsThe report at SeniorLiving.com showed the following statistics for Baby Boomers as of December, 2016:37% - Saved less than $50,00013% - Saved between $50,000 and $100,00014% - Saved between $100,000 and $200,00012% - Saved between $200,000 and $300,00009% - Saved between $300,000 and $500,00015% - Saved $500,000 or moreHow Much Does the Average Retiree Spend?According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the typical household whose head of house is age 65 or older spent $44,664 in 2015.  That cost-of-living has probably increased since that time.How Much Income Can the Average Retiree Expect?Social Security is designed to replace approximately 40% of an employee's pre-retirement income, although many Baby Boomers mistakenly believe it will replace 90% of their income, instead.  In 2017, the average single retired person collects $1,360 in Social Security benefits.  The average couple receives $2,260 in benefits.   This translates to an income of $27,120 a year for a retired couple, far below the $44,664 the average household spends.  At a 6 percent return, only the people who have saved $350,000 or more (less than one-fourth of retirees) will have enough savings to make up the difference between their income and the average cost-of-living for the typical retired couple. To make matters worse, many certified financial planners recommend retirees withdraw no more than 4% of their retirement savings per year at the beginning of retirement, and increase that amount very gradually, in order to be confident they will not run out of money during the remainder of their lifetime. This means they would actually need to have $450,000 or more in savings in order to maintain an average lifestyle.  Unfortunately, the vast majority of retirees do not come close to having that amount of savings.What to do if You Have Not Retired YetIf you are getting close to retirement, but you have not stopped working yet, here are a few steps you can still take to deal with a shortage in your retirement savings.1.  Start cutting your expenses now, while you are still working, so you can adjust to your future cost-of-living and, at the same time, free up more income for savings.  It is better to make small sacrifices now, if it means you will be more comfortable later in life.2.  Increase the amount of money you have going into an IRA, 401(k) or 403(b). 3.  Postpone retirement until age 70, which could increase your Social Security benefits by approximately 24% over what you would receive if you begin to collect at age 67.  This action alone could substantially reduce the amount of savings you will need during retirement.4.  Pay off all your bills, including your auto loans and mortgages, if possible, to minimize your expenses during retirement.5.  Discuss your retirement plans with a certified financial planner to make sure your savings are invested appropriately to maximize your earnings and growth. What to do if You Have Already RetiredIf you[...]



How to Find Jobs Late in Life

2017-04-26T15:07:46.482-07:00

Many people nearing retirement age will need to keep working until they are in their 60s or 70s in order to have enough money to support themselves and their families.  However, sometimes people lose their jobs in their 50s, or they work in physically demanding jobs and know their bodies will not be able to take the punishment much longer.  What can people do when they need to change jobs late in life?The good news is that it is quite possible to find new careers or less physically demanding jobs as you age. My husband and I have known a number of people who have started new careers in their later years.  Most of them found the jobs through the normal application process.  However, for those who have trouble finding a new job on their own, there are special programs to help them.How to Find an Job After 50Whether you are looking for a new job because you are no longer physically able to handle your current one, or because you were fired or laid off, you may believe you are getting too old to find another career.  Some people talk themselves into the idea that no one will hire them after they have reached a certain age. However, you may be pleasantly surprised to know there are more opportunities than you realize, if you know where to find them.  Below is a list of organizations which could make your job search a little easier.BankWork$ - This is a free training program which teaches people of all ages how to become bank tellers and customer-service reps.  They will also help you polish your resume and find a job.  You can get more information at bankworks.org.Department of Labor Job Centers - The Department of Labor operates over 2,000 American Job Centers which are committed to helping workers of all ages who either want to be re-trained or find a new job.  These centers are also called CareerOneStop and you can find more information about them at https://www.careeronestop.org/The Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) - Although the Department of Labor program mentioned above is for people of all ages, SCSEP is specifically for unemployed people ages 55 and older who have low household incomes.  The program participants are paid the minimum wage while they get experience working for nonprofits and public institutions.  SCSEP is affiliated with the National Council on Aging (NCOA).  You can get more information on the NCOA website at https://www.ncoa.org/economic-security/matureworkers/scsep/  AARP Back to Work 50+ - This AARP program works with community colleges, nonprofit partners and workforce boards to help people over the age of 55 who do not qualify for SCSEP because their household income is too high.  You can call (855) 850-2525 for more information about the program.Where Else Can You Find Help Getting a New Job?If you have explored the above organizations, but are interested in seeing what other options are available in your community, here are a few additional ideas to help you find a new career, even if you are 55 or older.Attend job fairs in your community - They may lead you to jobs you never considered ... either full or part-time, permanent or temporary. A wide variety of jobs can often be found at these local events.Apply to your local community college - Local colleges frequently offer training programs and job placement assistance with businesses in the community.  Many of them offer training which meets the specific needs of factories, industries and businesses in your town.Contact local unions and trade associations about job opportunities - At the very least, these organizations can[...]



STEP Program for Overseas Travelers

2017-04-19T15:47:26.933-07:00

One of the joys of retirement is the ability to travel virtually anytime you want. You are no longer tied down by your job's allowable vacation schedule or your children's school holidays. You can even move to another country, if you choose. However, when traveling overseas, it's not smart to simply throw caution to the wind. Make sure you take full advantage of the Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), as well as their other services.Emergency Help from the U.S. State Department Enrolling in the STEP program will give you the latest security updates. It will also make it easier for the local U.S. embassy or consulate to contact you if there is an emergency. You can either use the internet to enroll at https://step.state.gov/step/ or you can go to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate and enroll there.The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service which allows U.S. citizens and nationals traveling abroad to register their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. According to the STEP website, the program can help you: Receive important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in your destination country, helping you make informed decisions about your travel plans.Help the U.S. Embassy contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency.Help family and friends get in touch with you in an emergency.Other State Department Services which Help Foreign Travelers In addition to signing up for the STEP program, you should regularly check the State Department's website.  It is different from STEP.  Instead of waiting for them to contact you, it is a site where you can check out the current Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Worldwide Cautions.  This could help you decide on the best or worst travel destinations before you make your reservations.  If you are planning to retire overseas, it could also help you decide which countries and areas within the countries are best for American expatriots.One helpful page on the State Department's website is the State Department Travel page.  You can get information about passports and other travel related information there.If you are planning to move to another country, you can contact the local consulate or embassy for information on a wide variety of services available to U.S. citizens, including passport renewal, obtaining federal benefits overseas (such as receiving your Social Security benefits in another country), transmission of citizenship to your children, documenting their birth overseas as U.S. citizens, and obtaining visas. Whether you are planning to spend time in another country for a week or live overseas for decades, it is important that you take full advantage of all the services available from the U.S. State Department, as well as our embassies and consulates around the world.If you are interested in more information about traveling overseas, moving to another country, where to retire, financial planning or common medical issues, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional topics.If you are beginning to plan your retirement, watch for my book, Retirement Awareness, which will be available in the Fall of 2017 from Griffin Publishing and Watering Seeds. You are reading from the blog:  http://www.baby-boomer-retirement.comPhoto credit:  morguefile.com[...]



California Active Adult Retirement Communities

2017-04-12T08:07:49.879-07:00

Are you looking for an over-55 active adult retirement community in California?  Do you believe that California is too expensive or has other issues which would make it undesirable for you to live there?  Most of the retirees who currently make California their home have been very satisfied with the decision, including those who have relocated from other states.  Here is some of the information you should know.Cost of Living in CaliforniaAdmittedly, parts of California, especially near the coast, can be more expensive than living in other states.  Homes in some areas can cost more than similar ones in other retirement meccas, such as Florida, and California also has a state income tax.  However, there are both condos and single-family homes throughout California which may be more affordable than you expect, including many in the $150,000 to $400,000 price range.  Many of these condos and homes can be found in the large number of active adult retirement communities scattered throughout the state.In addition, property taxes are lower per $100,000 valuation than in some other states which do not have a state income tax, such as Texas.  Many people have found that the added expense of paying a state income tax on their modest retirement income is offset by the lower property tax rate.  Of course, you would have to talk to your financial advisor or income tax professional to see which of the states you are considering would work out best financially for you.Weather in CaliforniaThere are a wide variety of climates in California.  Along the coast in Southern California, you will find mild temperatures most of the year.  The inland desert area around Palm Springs, in the Coachella Valley, is pleasant in the winter, but extremely hot in the summer. It has been a popular place to retire for decades, with everyone from former President Gerald Ford to Sonny Bono and Bob Hope taking up residence there in their later years.Northern California is colder and wetter in the winter than Southern California, but mild and sunny in the summer.  For those who enjoy winter sports, the California mountain ranges are sprinkled with ski resorts in Southern, Central and Northern California and many people who enjoy outdoor sports have purchased mountain cabins in rural areas, where they have been able to retire very affordably.  Fishing lakes, golf courses, vast park lands and other recreational areas can also be found throughout the state and hundreds of thousands of retirees have found comfortable places to retire near their favorite spots.Consider an Active Adult Retirement CommunityOne popular choice is to retire in one of over 100 active adult retirement communities which are scattered around California.  These age restricted communities for people age 55 and over contain homes and amenities designed to be fun, convenient and accessible for people as they get older, even if they have limited mobility.  Below you can learn more about some of the more popular, affordable choices available in California.A Popular Retirement Community in Southern CaliforniaLaguna Woods Village, just outside of Laguna Beach, is one of the most popular retirement communities in the state, with 18,000 residents.  Located just five miles from the Pacific Ocean, it also contains golf courses, swimming pools, tennis courts, gyms, clubhouses, a theater, a stable with horses for resident use, and many other amenities.  Condos are available in a wide range of prices, from $150,000 to over $1,000,000.  The [...]



Mental and Social Planning for Retirement

2017-04-05T15:07:31.377-07:00

No matter how much money you may have saved towards your future, there is more to retirement planning than simply having enough income.  You also need to give some thought to your goals, social needs, activities, where you want to live and how you want to spend your life after retirement.Many people will live between 20 and 30 years after they stop working.  A few could even live as long as 40 years after retirement.  That is a long time to spend sitting around, watching TV.  Instead of being bored for decades, this is a time when you can choose to make a difference in the lives of others, live passionately and enjoy the years you have left.  What will you do when you retire?How to Have an Emotionally Satisfying RetirementPut Together a "Bucket List" - What things have you always hoped to do in life, but never had the time?  Is there someplace you always wanted to visit?  Have you dreamed of taking art or music lessons? Play in a band? Travel around in an RV? Live on a sailboat?  Move to another country?  Write a novel?  Join the Peace Corp?  Nearly everyone has a secret dream which they never had the time to fulfill.  Think of retirement as your opportunity to pursue your goals.  Do research on what you need to to do in order to achieve at least one of your goals ... and possibly more. You can even start working on your bucket list before you actually retire.Decide Where You Want to Retire -  While the majority of people at least start out their retirement living in their pre-retirement home, many people will eventually move either to a retirement community, assisted living or someplace closer to their children and grandchildren.  When the time comes, where would you like to retire?  Not only do you want to choose a place which is safe, comfortable and easily accessible as you age, you will also want to take into consideration your emotional health.  Will you be near people you love?  Will you be able to engage in activities you enjoy?  Is it near a hospital and your doctor? Is it safe and walkable? These are all important aspects of choosing a retirement home. Plan a Social Life - Whether you decide to live near your family or in a dream location, it is very important that you maintain a social life.  It has been shown repeatedly that people who have an active social life are less likely to develop dementia or other health problems.  Decide what activities are important to you and make sure they will continue to be accessible as you age.  Your retirement will be happier if you can easily get to your preferred religious services, sporting events, entertainment venues, a senior center, exercise facilities and other activities.  You do not want to feel restricted to your home.Have an Exercise Plan - After you retire, it is far too easy to relax in your favorite chair, put up your feet, turn on the TV and tune out the rest of the world.  You've earned it ... right?  The problem is that relaxing too much can make your more likely to become obese, develop heart disease and possibly become susceptible to other illnesses, as well.  Instead, everyone should aim for at least 30 minutes a day of exercise which is brisk enough to cause your heart rate to increase.  It can be walking, jogging, bicycling or taking an exercise class.  Believe it or not, exercise improves your brain function, reduces stress, helps your overall physical health and can give you a positive mental attitude.&n[...]



How to Prepare Financially for Retirement

2017-03-29T15:37:46.365-07:00

Whether you are 30, 40, 50 or 60, everyone needs to take steps to plan to retire someday.  Of course, the younger we are when we start, the better prepared we will be to retire when the time comes.  No matter what your age, what are some of the things we need to do in the years before we stop working?  How can we make sure we are financially prepared when the time comes?Steps in Retirement PlanningSave Money in an IRA and/or a 401(k) - If you work for an employer with a 401(k) or 403(b) plan, take advantage of it.  Have your employer withhold some of your pretax income and put it towards your retirement.  Some corporations will even match the donations of their employees, which means you will be able to accumulate wealth twice as fast!  The younger you are when you start saving, the better off you will be when you finally stop working.  However, even if you are in your 50s when you start, you may still be able to put aside 10 to 15 years worth of savings, which could make a huge difference in the quality of your retirement.If you are self-employed or do not have a 401(k) or 403(b) plan where you work, save money in an IRA instead.  You can even have both, if you have enough excess income.  However, if you save too much money, not all of it may be tax free.  It is still beneficial to save as much as you can towards retirement.Talk to a Financial Planner about How to Invest Your Savings - If you are in a 401(k) or 403(b), your employer may give you a menu of mutual funds, tell you to pick one or two, and that is where they will invest your contributions.  The same thing could happen with an IRA, if you decide to set up an automatic withdrawal and investment program.  Most of us could use a little help in choosing the best investment plan, however.  It will probably be worth your time and money to talk to a certified financial planner or investment advisor representative.  Get their recommendations on how to invest your savings for growth when you are young, and for income when you get ready to retire.  Be sure to diversify your investments so you do not have too much money in one type of fund or investment.Pay off Your Debts As You Approach Retirement - Nearly everyone will have a more comfortable retirement if they keep their debts to a minimum after they retire.  The closer you are to retirement, the more important it is to have a plan to eliminate all your student loans and credit card debts.  If you can also pay off your home and car, you are going to have a lower cost-of-living once you are living on Social Security and your savings. Get an Estimate of Your Future Social Security and Pension Income - Everyone should periodically get estimates of how much they can expect to receive in the future from Social Security benefits and any employer funded pensions.  Everyone needs to know how much income they can expect to have after retirement. You also need to understand how much you could increase your income by postponing your retirement by a few years.Come Up With a Retirement Budget - Estimate how much it will cost you to live after you retire.  If you have a large gap between your current expenses and anticipated income, investigate the steps you can take to reduce your expenses by downsizing, for example, and how you can increase your income by taking steps such as postponing your retirement age.  If necessary, you may also consider getting a retirement job which will help increase y[...]



Hidden Costs in Assisted Living Facilities

2017-03-21T20:41:38.854-07:00

The cost of living in a skilled nursing home, assisted living facility or memory care unit varies greatly across the United States.  Charges can vary from around $3,000 to $7,000 a month for basic expenses, but hidden fees can drive the cost much higher.  It is these unexpected charges that sometimes cause the greatest stress for families trying to keep a relative in a comfortable facility.Basic Costs for Senior Living While the exact prices will vary at different facilities and in various parts of the country, below is a list of sample basic charges from a facility which offers different levels of care in Orange County, California. Their basic charges are for independent living.  The costs increase as the resident begins to need more types of care.The least expensive level is independent living.  This includes meals, weekly housekeeping, and access to activities, exercise classes, a fitness center and swimming pool.Below were the basic monthly charges for one person living in the sample facility in 2016:Junior Studio          $3177Small Studio           $3167Large Studio           $3539 - $3609One Bedroom         $4162 - $4343Two Bedroom         $5324 - $5429If two people are living in the same apartment, there is an additional monthly fee of $1000.  Upon moving into this particular facility, there is also a non-refundable processing fee of $1500.Residents can also expect these monthly rents to increase periodically.Additional Hidden Costs of Assisted LivingWhat many retirees and their families do not expect is that there could be a number of necessary extras which can dramatically increase the cost of living in the typical assisted living facility.  Below are examples of some of the possible fees.  While these are just a sample of possible charges, based on one facility, everyone should ask about the cost of these services before they select a residence, because these charges can potentially amount to thousands of dollars above the cost of basic housing.Medication Management:        $410 - $525 a monthDressing / morning hygiene:     $400 a monthUndressing / evening hygiene:  $400 a monthEscorting residents to meals/activities:  $300 a monthChecking on resident every two hours:  $500 a monthIncontinence Care:                  $600 a monthCueing (reminders):                 $120 a monthStand-by during showers:         $480 a month for 7 showers a weekFull Assistance in showers:       $700 a monthTreatments for wounds, etc:     $10 per treatmentBlood pressure or sugar monitoring:    $40 per checkLaundry:                                 $100 a monthOther types of assistance:         $4 to $15 per service  As you can see, someone could easily be charged as much as $3,500 to $4000 over the basic apartment rental, if the resident needed a great deal of personal assistance and attention.  Of course, few people will need all of those types of assistance.Memory Care Facilities are All-InclusiveIf you or your loved one needs to move into a Memory Care Residence, the expectation is that they [...]



How to Choose a Financial Advisor

2017-03-14T15:55:28.140-07:00

Do you rely on your friends, neighbors or brother-in-law when it comes to investing your money?  How much do they know about different investment products such as insurance, annuities, mutual funds, tax-free bonds and stocks?  Even if they know a little about those products, do they know which ones are the best for you?  You need to find a fiduciary such as a Registered Investment Advisor or Certified Financial Planner who is knowledgeable and will put your needs first.What Should an Investment Advisor Do For You?A fiduciary should work for you.  They should put your needs first ... above their own.  They should offer a variety of products and combinations of products which are designed to meet your goals ... whether that is to increase the value of your assets, protect your portfolio for the benefit of your family, or provide a lifetime income for you and your spouse.The fiduciary should do this and, at the same time, help you avoid high commission products, funds which are heavily front-loaded, or investments which give large incentives to the salesmen.In fact, a fiduciary should be creating a comprehensive investment plan designed to meet your needs, without causing you to pay unnecessary or excessive commissions.What Are Examples of Fiduciaries?The type of investment advisor you are seeking could be a LPL - Financial Advisor, a CFP - Certified Financial Planner, an IAR - Investment Advisor Representative, or someone with a similar background, education and designation.The person you choose should have knowledge about tax planning, asset allocation, risk management, retirement planning and estate planning.  They should also know about a wide variety of investment products, including life insurance, annuities, growth stocks, dividend stocks, tax-free bonds and funds.  They should be capable of putting together a balanced portfolio which is diversified.  They should not rely on just one type of product or products from only one company.How Can You Find a Reliable Financial Advisor?Your first step in choosing a financial advisor is to see if they are a Certified Financial Advisor, an Investment Advisor Representative, or one of the similar designations mentioned above. Next, ask them what agency oversees their business.  It should either be FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) or the SEC (the Securities and Exchange Commission).  Some advisors may be registered with both.  Your advisor or other employees of their company may also hold insurance licenses, be a CPA and or have other professional designations and certifications.  Go to the appropriate regulatory agencies and check out both the advisor and their company.  Confirm they are licensed and see if any complaints have been filed against them.  You are also looking to see if the information the agencies have is the same as what the advisor has told you.  You need to be confident they are not touting a phony degree or designation which does not exist.You can also used the website Brightscope to see what licenses they hold and if there are any disclosures about them.Finally, you may simply want to Google their name and see what comments there are on the internet about them.  A few vague complaints may not be a problem.  However, too many negative comments and indications of disciplinary actions against them could be a red flag.When Should You be Concerned About Your Financial Adv[...]



Beware of Collectible Gold Coin Investments

2017-03-08T15:58:05.245-08:00

Retirees are often warned about the wide variety of scams which are aimed at them.  The August/September 2016 issue of AARP Magazine devoted several pages to a scam that has cost many older Americans thousands of dollars after they purchased what they thought was a very secure, safe investment ... collectible coins.Risks of Collectible Coins The problem develops when people who are not experienced coin collectors make purchases without having the items examined by an outside appraiser.  Because the value of the quality of a coin can be subjective, buyers are often charged far more than the items are worth.In addition, the price of gold and silver can fluctuate wildly.  People often invest in precious metals when they feel insecure about world events or the stock market.  They think owning gold and silver is a safe, secure way to protect their assets and many people like the idea of owning investments they can hold in their hands and keep in their safety deposit box or in a lock box at home.However, the price of gold and silver bullion is frequently at its highest during times of uncertainty and international instability.  Once events calm down and the world situation becomes more stable, the price of bullion drops and, along with it, the value of collectible coins.Between the subjective nature surrounding the quality of a collectible coin and the wild fluctuations in the price of gold and silver, it is possible for investors to lose a large portion of their assets very quickly.Thousands of Americans Have Lost Money in Collectible Coins A U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging report from 2014 estimated that over 10,000 Americans have been the victims of precious metal cons and the losses have amounted to about $300 million.According to the AARP article mentioned above, investors are often the victims of "bait and switch."  They see an ad for precious metals at near-dealer prices.  When they contact the business, the sales people talk them into purchasing "collectible" coins rather than bullion.  They are told the coins will appreciate faster.  However, the mark-up for these coins is often so high that it is actually nearly impossible for the buyers to ever recover their purchase price, let alone make a profit.How to Minimize Your Risk if You Invest in Collectible Coins While there are reputable dealers, it is important that investors minimize the amount of their savings which is invested in precious metals.  Some financial advisors recommend they limit their exposure to 5 percent or less of their total holdings.  They should also work with either registered brokers or dealers who are accredited by the Professional Numismatists Guild (PNG).  It is also important to do plenty of research and educate yourself.  Don't rush into it.  See more than one dealer and consider getting an independent appraisal of any coins you consider purchasing.Senior citizens are the victims of scams more often than any other age group.  Don't let your retirement get derailed by unscrupulous salespeople. Are you interested in more information about financial planning for retirement, where to retire, common medical problems, 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:  http://www.baby-boomer-retirement.comPhoto credit:&nbs[...]



Medicare Changes Planned by Congress

2017-03-01T14:04:26.326-08:00

There is a great deal of nervousness and confusion surrounding changes to Medicare in the coming years.  In fact, many retirees and working adults near retirement age do not realize these changes were already set in motion in 2014 and, unless something happens to stop them, they could dramatically change the way people on Medicare receive their benefits.  As a result, I did more research on the current plans, the changes which are coming and, finally, I consulted AARP through their Facebook page to get clarification on exactly what is being proposed.What are the Current Medicare Choices?Currently, Medicare recipients have three choices for receiving their benefits.1.  Basic Medicare only - Medicare pays about 80 percent of approved costs for hospitalization and doctor visits, including a short period of time in a skilled nursing or rehabilitation facility each year, when medically appropriate.  The medical procedures, lab tests and care which Medicare will cover are specified as defined benefits.  The beneficiary pays the cost of anything not covered by the government fixed benefits. 2.  Basic Medicare plus a supplemental insurance policy - This is currently the most popular choice for the majority of retirees, with beneficiaries using basic Medicare as their primary insurance carrier and buying a supplemental policy as a way to cover the 20 percent of their medical bills which are not covered by basic Medicare.  Beneficiaries pay a premium for their supplemental policy.  The premiums vary widely depending on the size of the co-pays and deductibles.3.  Medicare Advantage plans - These plans are currently a type of voucher system with both a defined benefit and a defined contribution from the government.  Medicare pays a monthly premium (defined contribution) to the insurance company you choose, and the insurance company takes care of covering your medical care (defined benefit).  You may find a policy with either no additional premiums or which only have a small additional premium over the government's defined contribution.  You do not deal directly with Medicare; you only deal with your doctors and chosen insurance carrier.  Under a Medicare Advantage Plan, you have a defined benefit.  This means your policy has to cover AT LEAST all the benefits you would receive under basic Medicare.  It also has a defined contribution, which is the size of the voucher the government pays your insurance carrier.What Would Be Different Under the Proposed Medicare Changes?Essentially, under a 2015 House Budge Resolution which came out of a committee headed by Paul Ryan and was passed by the House of Representatives in 2014, Congress would like to drop the government's responsibility for guaranteeing a basic level of medical care for all senior citizens.  Medicare beneficiaries would no longer be assured they would have defined benefits.  Instead, ALL beneficiaries would be switched to a voucher system where they could purchase a Medicare plan which is either fee-for-service or from a private insurance carrier.The government would no longer guarantee that seniors would be entitled to specific medical benefits.  You would pick an insurance company which could offer a range of choices, depending on how much you are willing to pay in additional premiums, above the government voucher.  As a result, the po[...]