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“Are You Thinking About Retirement?”

Before going to law school, I worked for a year at Birsch Chemicals in Norfolk, Virginia. My job was to sell equipment and cleaning supplies to military ships on the Naval base.

It was a fabulous experience to be on different Navy ships every day. I always tried to look like I knew where I was going, as I walked the plank to board the ship. ( Kinda like this guy)

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In reality, I was learning something new everyday. Like sailors telling me about arriving at 0’dark thirty, sleeping in the rack, or carrying a short-timers chain. A short-timers chain is the chain that some of the sailors would carry, with a number of links to indicate the days or months that they had remaining until they were discharged.

Most of the Navy personnel that I called on were either chiefs, sr. chiefs, or officers. None of them carried a short-timers chain, but many would tell me how much longer they had until they retired. It was their focus.

I learned that the chiefs’ mess (where they ate) served better food because the Navy paid for it. The officers had to pay for their own food. They had better silverware… but they saved money on the food! Best to eat with the Chiefs!

I have many good memories and lessons from that year. Still, one things that sticks with me relates to the retirement of the chiefs. As they were given their retirement party with the send-off of “Fair Winds and Following Seas”, many of them that I knew, never found what they were looking for in retirement. I would come to learn that several passed away, probably out of sheer retirement boredom.

Which leads me to the memory of one of my relatives, who had impact on me. Uncle Dick was actually my mother’s uncle, but he was “Uncle Dick” to me as well.

I remember him retiring at age 55, as an accountant from Sunoco. But I never thought of him as retired.  Over the next 45 years, he was busier in retirement than when he was working at Sunoco. He had a cable TV show; wrote for the AARP magazine; and was active in speaking and Toastmasters. It was not unusual to see him watching a Phillies or Sixers game, while knitting a hat.

That’s how versatile he was. Never bored; Never just retired. And, he was so interesting. Even as a teenager, I truly enjoyed just talking to him.

Now that I am in my 50’s, I am regularly asked whether I am thinking about retirement. Life is never unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose. (Viktor. E. Frankl)

I feel a great deal of purpose in what I do. Every day at the firm is a new challenge. One family member said to me after his retirement, “whatever you do, don’t retire“. I think that now he is truly enjoying retirement. But I am glad to say that I enjoy work and… Life is good! Let’s see what I say over the next 45 years!

 

And for pic o’ day, I worry that this could become me in retirement, even though it references “football”…right?

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Some Retirement Advice

I usually read the Baltimore Sun to get some Oriole baseball news. A letter/article written by Richard T. Seymour in the Opinion section caught my eye. It’s titled Outliving Our Retirement Funds. 

It’s a good reminder for any age. Mr Seymour starts out his opinion piece with “At 88 and 87, I’m glad my wife and I are alive, but scared we’ll live much longer. We’re out of money.

He owned his own business and says that they did plan for retirement. They paid off their mortgage with the piece of mind that no matter what, they would always have a roof over their heads.

With their savings, they felt that a conservative 6% return on their savings would give them a cushion. They didn’t count on a market crash, or that a 6% return was not happening. Now, they are faced with the possibility of living only on their social security, because of their dwindling retirement savings.

I attach this for the blog because it’s “ponder material”, no matter where you are in your journey. It’s great when life is all cake. But, here’s something to think about. Just sayin’, on a Monday.

 

And for pic o’ day, and because it is pool season, I thought this sign was funny:

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Retirement or Just Plain Tired

     “Don’t be pushed by your problems, be led by your dreams”. (Ralph Waldo Emerson) I was reminded of that quote in an article from Intentional Retirement.com titled “8 Habits of Successful Retirees“. It really provides some good reminders on living life:

     1. Live with a sense of urgency. Life is limited; Live each day with meaning.

     2. Take Risks. We all should have insurance and wear seat belts. Still, to pursue goals means taking some risk to attain.

     3. Be healthy. In 1900, the three leading causes of death were flu, diarrhea and tuberculosis. Today, the three leading causes of death are stroke, heart attack and cancer. The article reminds that stress and diet are part of these causes.

     4. Retire to something, not from something. The article discusses pursuing not escaping.

     5. Retire based on your bank account, not your birthday.

     6. Choose yes over no; active over passive; adventure over inertia. Mark Twain said, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed over the things that you didn’t do, rather than the things that you did”.

     7. Do Important Work. All of us are created to do something meaningful and productive.

     8. Foster meaningful relationships. “If a man (or woman) does not make new acquaintances through life, he will soon find himself alone. Keep friendships in constant repair”. (Samuel Johnson)

     The article attached above has many more nuggets on life. It seemed applicable in the blog because I had just sat down with someone to discuss value for their case. Many of the things above had been impacted by the crash.

     For instance, she couldn’t hang out with her friends; was not able to work and save money; was fearful for her health; and felt like the crash had caused her to be a couch potato. When the accident happened, she was a teenager. These principles of a good retirement were reminders for a teenager. 

     A reminder that no matter where we are in life, we all need purpose. Plus, we need to be able to have the physical capability to carry out that purpose. Without your health, it is hard to enjoy anything.

     And from Mom’s archives for pic o’:

friddday

 

Social Security Thoughts & Charts

    The younger you are, the less that you might feel interested in reading this blog. Since our practice does handle social security claims, I thought that I would post a few tables from Charles Schwab, that at least gives you something to think about. 

     As of 2002, you can no longer just retire at age 65. Every year in the federal government budget conversation, there is a move to increase retirement to an older age to save the social security fund. 

     Based on the current law, 2002 was the last year that someone could retire at age 65 and receive full benefits. The table below shows the different variations of when. This is a “looking into the future” blog. For some, the future is getting closer.

     One last thought. Yogi Berra said about the future, “Always go to other people’s funerals or they won’t come to yours”. He also said, “The future ain’t what it used to be”…   I know,  I “pulled a Yogi” by saying “one last thought”.  Kinda like, “let’s pair up in threes”.

     Anyway…something to think about:      

 
If you were born in … Your “normal” retirement age is …
1937 or earlier 65
1938 65 and 2 months
1939 65 and 4 months
1940 65 and 6 months
1941 65 and 8 months
1942 65 and 10 months
1943-1954 66
1955 66 and 2 months
1956 66 and 4 months
1957 66 and 6 months
1958 66 and 8 months
1959 66 and 10 months
1960 or later 67
 
Consider taking benefits earlier if … Consider waiting to take benefits if …
You are no longer working and really can’t make ends meet without your benefits. You are still working and make enough to impact the taxability of your benefits. (At least wait until your normal retirement age so benefits aren’t further reduced due to earnings.)
You are in poor health and don’t expect to make it to average life expectancy. You are in good health and expect to exceed average life expectancy.
You are the lower-earning spouse and your higher-earning spouse can wait to file for a higher benefit. You are the higher-earning spouse and want to be sure your surviving spouse receives the highest possible benefit.

      And for pic o’ day,  retirement?

another retirement

Money Stumbles

 

I just had breakfast with someone who was bemoaning the fact that he has no 401K. One of his new year resolutions is to get started on retirement.

I just met with a financial planner; He admitted that he was frustrated with himself. A lot of the recommendations that he gave to clients was advice that he couldn’t always follow, because of life circumstances. Finances make it harder for him to put as much money aside as he thinks that he should.

Both of these men were saying what most all of us are saying. We know the road to take but it’s not always easy to get there. In my area of law, there usually is an event that has derailed any attempt at setting something aside right now. That adds to the frustration of a client who is trying to get medical treatment; trying to get better; trying not to miss too much work and still trying to make ends meet.

In a time of crisis, it’s almost a guarantee to look back at the past and say, “I wish I would have (insert a multitude of thoughts). ConsumerReports.org has some good reminders on finances that I thought were good blog fodder. They are called “Seven money stumbles to avoid”. In good times, it’s hard to follow these; In hard times, it’s even hard to read them. Still, it’s a good list to work on to keep from making some of these financial stumbles:

  • Not updating wills and beneficiaries. Eighty-six percent hadn’t updated their wills or other estate-planning documents within the previous five years.
  • Not sharing information with family. In only 30 percent of households did both spouses know major details about the family’s finances and where to find account information.
  • Messing up on 401(k)s. About two-fifths of respondents set aside 6 percent or less of pretax income in defined-contribution retirement accounts, most likely missing out on free employer matches. Ninety-one percent never reviewed fund expenses within their plans, though those expenses play a major role in investors’ returns.
  • Underinsuring. A mere 36 percent of homeowners had purchased extended coverage on their homeowners insurance that covered the full replacement value of personal property. Only 20 percent of survey respondents had umbrella coverage to protect them from liability lawsuits.
  • Not planning for emergencies. More than 70 percent said they didn’t have an emergency fund that could cover three to six months of living expenses; 77 percent had not stored important financial information and contacts in a secure place.
  • Not checking credit reports. Four out of five respondents don’t review their three credit reports at least once a year, though they’re free and indispensable.
  • Mismanaging debt. Almost one-fifth of those surveyed had revolving debt on credit cards of at least $10,000. Of the almost one-quarter of respondents who were in debt for education loans, 47 percent had taken more costly private loans.

These really are reminders of preparation and paying attention. Insurance agents have even asked me to run some ads to remind people to buy more insurance. Usually when you need it, you really need it and that’s because the person that hits you either has no insurance or very little. If you carry more than minimum, at least your underinsurance coverage can help with your losses, and then your insurance company can even go after the defendant to pay them back.

For pic o’ day, my mom sent me this one, with some real investment advice!

 

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