Posts tagged ‘money’

Rich Retirement – Smart Retirement

It’s time for a round-up of recent magazine offerings on the topic of retirement, a chief concern of most Baby Boomers I know. Money Magazine’s October 2010 issue includes their Retirement Guide 2011. Penelope Wang’s cover story, “Seven Secrets to a Richer Retirement,” examines the latest research in the field of behavioral finance (a blend of psychology, neuroscience, and economics) and offers up practical advice for long-term retirement planning.

The article’s suggestions cover two phases, “before retirement” and “in retirement.” Among the steps to take before retirement:
Get a Good Picture of the Future You – Research suggests that it is difficult to visualize yourself at retirement age, but doing so in a realistic fashion may help individuals project the type of life they wish to have and better save for it. The article suggests you write down what type of retirement future you want, for example where you want to live, what you want to make time for, what your health concerns are, etc. According to research conducted by Hal Ersner-Hershsfield at Northwestern University, thinking of the grandparent of your sex that “you most closely identified with” can be a great proxy for your future self and calling that person to mind can lead you to budget better and save more!
Try to Beat the Other Guy – Comparing yourself to others and utilizing your natural competitiveness has potential to assist in retirement planning. Whether it’s seeing how peers are saving or those same peers putting pressure on you to meet your goals, commitment strategies can help you build up your retirement nest egg. Two websites mentioned in this section are: StickK.com, a free website that lets users make a public or private commitment for any type of goal and INGcompareme.com, a public website run by financial services company, ING, where you can compare your financial status with those of nearly 140,000 other users of a similar demographic to you.
Use Reminders and Checklists – Yale Professor Dean Karlan (one of the creators of the previously mentioned StickK.com) says, “Reminders are one of the simplest, lowest-cost ways to cut through distractions and stay focused on your goal.” He has worked with banks in other countries and looked at the impact of sending account holders text-message reminders (in the library world we call them e-notification), or by postcard. Savers that received the messages put away more money. Checklists are also helpful and many financial advisors use them to help their clients prepare for retirement. Arrange for automatic prompts sent to you at critical times in your life, e.g. tax time, at bonus time, using your digital calendar, and/or place a reminder where you will see it every day. The Money issue includes a “retirement checklist” in a handy foldout.
Think Bite-size Pieces, Not the Whole Enchilada – Instead of focusing on the total sum you may want/need for retirement (sounds like a lot but typically people overestimate how long their savings will last), make your goal the monthly income you want, a figure more people can understand, so they save accordingly. You can estimate your monthly retirement income by using a calculator suggested at trowprice.com (there is a Retirement Income Calculator under “Tools & Resources” in the Retirement Section).

Strategies in retirement:
Make Friends with an Annuity – Many retirees should consider investing in an annuity which kicks off a fixed, regular stream of income for life. While becoming more common, individuals are leery about insurers that sell these policies and fear losing control of their money since this type of investment requires an upfront purchase. The article cautions readers to follow standard investment advice – “it’s not all or nothing” – place just a portion of retirement savings into an annuity.
Take Losses in Stride – This is a tough one as I’ve discovered during the last several years! People feel the pain of losses more strongly than the joy of gains, a phenomenon called loss aversion. Behavioral scientists have determined that loss aversion spikes with age and it can be a problem if it leads you to invest too conservatively. The article suggests combating this tendency by keeping up on your financial knowledge, adjusting your investment mix as you age, and getting some outside perspective in your older years.
Protect the Future You – Your brain undergoes changes as you age that can affect how you manage money. You may follow the tendency to become more optimistic (the positivity effect) becoming more vulnerable to scammers and/or suffer a decline in mental abilities. Preparation now may protect you in the future. Advice here: stay active, simplify your finances, be hard to find, and arrange now for help later (e.g. establish a durable power of attorney).

The issue also has a helpful article on clearing roadblocks that provides advice on how to overcome challenges you may face in retirement (e.g. carrying a big mortgage, your portfolio hasn’t recovered, you won’t have health insurance, you’re still on the hook for college, and you’ve lost your job and time to save money). An interview with retirement expert, Alicia Munnell (head of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College), investment advice, and a “best places to retire” feature round out the rest of the issue. Money recommends the five following college towns with notable lifelong learning programs as best places to retire: Hanover, New Hampshire (Dartmouth College); Lexington, Kentucky (University of Kentucky); Bellingham, Washington (Western Washington University); Durham, North Carolina (Duke University); Prescott, Arizona (Yavapai College).

The October 2010 special “How to Retire Smart” issue of U.S. News & World Report, available in hard copy at the Library and through the Library’s EBSCO full-text magazine database, also focuses on how to get the most out of retirement.  Beginning with a pro/con discussion about raising the retirement age as a means to fix social security, and also including a “Best Places to Retire” feature, this issue encourages Boomers to explore starting a business or to embark on a second, or encore career.  Providing data from a 2008 survey conducted by Civic Ventures, the “Baby Boomers’ Next Act” article has a table that projects where to find encore careers, those later-in-life work opportunities that combine income with social impact.  The article also suggests that Boomers that want to continue working will need to adapt to stay relevant.  Jeanne Meister, coauthor of The 2020 Workplace, points out that the generation that will overtake Boomers in the workplace, the millennials (those born between 1977-1997), will most likely manage and meet co-workers in cyberspace, so marketing and communicating via social networking sites will be increasingly important in the future.  Boomers – if you don’t already have a Facebook or LinkedIn page, now may be the time to start creating your profile!

One interesting concept described in the Next Act article is that of “cohousing,”  an alternative housing model wherein residents in a development agree to socialize frequently, such as by eating meals together several times a week, and to govern the community jointly with some decisions requiring a consensus by everyone.  The homes in the development are typically clustered around pedestrian-only areas and a shared “common house” where social activities take place.  Living in these close-knit communities enables residents to age in place since neighbors can help one another.  According to the article, 119 such communities have been built in the United States.

Other articles focus on savings and investments, including second home bargains, and the U.S. News & World Report  “best places to retire” feature is tied to best places to launch a second career.  Among the locations suggested are:

  • Ames, Iowa
  • Harrisonburg, Virginia
  • Lincoln, Nebraska
  • Lubbock, Texas
  • Madison, Wisconsin
  • Manhattan, Kansas
  • Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  • Richland, Washington
  • Rochester, Minnesota
  • State College, Pennsylvania

The remainder of the issue focuses on health and fitness during retirement with data and targets from the Healthy People initiative cited.  Anti-aging treatments and overmedicating are also covered, as well as destinations to visit in retirement.  U.S. News partnered with TripAdvisor to identify places that most sparked wanderlust among middle and retirement-aged Americans.  Their top selections overall were:  Sydney, Australia; Anchorage, Alaska; Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona; Yosemite National Park, California; Havana, Cuba.  The article also has separate top destinations for culture and sightseeing, food and wine, outdoor and adventure, beach and sun, relaxation and spa, romance, and emerging destinations such as Reggio de Calabria, Italy.

If you are one of the 76 million members of the Boomer generation that is approaching retirement, there are great resources available to help you learn about your options and make informed choices.  In addition to reading this blog, don’t forget to visit your local library where all the books, magazines, databases, etc. are free.  And, if you have discovered a retirement resource you’d like to recommend to others, please share by posting a comment below.

November 14, 2010 at 8:15 am 4 comments

H.E.L.P. is on the way!


Do you have elderly parents, relatives, or friends that need assistance with planning for their future? Are you a “sandwich generation” Boomer seeking to help parents with their life needs? The Torrance Public Library is pleased to be hosting a series of life planning classes that will be provided by H.E.L.P. H.E.L.P. is a non-profit agency dedicated to empowering seniors, their families and caregivers to make wise choices. H.E.L.P. offers education and counseling programs focusing on elder care, law, finances, and consumer protection.

Beginning Wednesday August 4, 2010 and continuing on successive Wednesdays through September 15, 2010, individuals may attend classes on a variety of essential topics. Each two-hour session will be held from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Class Dates and Topics:

August 4                Staying in Charge of Your Health Care and
                                 Finances

August 11             Wills, Probate, and Probate-Avoiders

August 18             Trusts and Taxes

August 25             Elder Care and Residential Choices

September 1        Long Term Care Insurance: Pros and Cons

September 8        Medi-Cal for Nursing Home Care

September 15      Safe and Independent at Home

All classes will be held in the Katy Geissert Civic Center Library Community Meeting Room.  Classes are free; however, there is a suggested donation of $10.00 per person per class.  To reserve a spot, please call 310-533-1996.

August 2, 2010 at 4:26 am 5 comments

Zoomers: the new Boomers

Recently I attended a symposium on developing library programs and services for individuals 50+ and over. Several of the library agencies represented (Torrance Public Library included) were grant recipients through the California State Library initiative, Transforming Life After 50. At the session, we discussed terminology and there was general agreement that while many of us use the term “Boomers” to describe our target audience, the many people aged 46-64 we’re trying to reach may not relate to that label.

Enter one Moses Znaimer, a Canadian media innovator, who has begun to popularize the term, “Zoomers” and I, for one, must admit it appears to more accurately describe my generational cohort. Zoomers are “Boomers with zip” and Mr. Znaimer has done a good job conveying the sense of action that characterizes Boomer aging. In a Zoomer’s world, one doesn’t consider retirement but rather engagement.

Author David Cravit in his book, The New Old, describes the essence of a Zoomer, “It’s not only that the Zoomer is the sum of  all of the ages he or she has ever lived through – it’s that all those ages are still in operation, all at the same time.” Here is his description of the archetypical Zoomer:
• Body of a 65-year old (the body is what it is) but there is a ferocious battle to keep the body healthier and more active for as long as possible
• Mind of a 45-year old – Zoomers always see themselves as 10-15 years younger than their chronological age
• Libido of a 25-year-old – Sex has always been important for this demographic so why should it disappear now?
• Heart of a teenager – Passion and a consistent interest in new experiences dominate with the belief that death is distant and/or not likely to happen
• Controls the spending – Marketers, policy-makers, academic s, and the media are paying great attention to Zoomers because they spend more money, in just about every category of goods and services than all other age groups combined!

Mr. Cravit’s book can be read as a field guide to Zoomers and as I skimmed its contents I found myself nodding and smiling as I recognized myself and my friends over and over in its pages. The book does provide a great overview of the many trends associated with and concerns of Boomers/Zoomers or anyone who still refers to him or herself as “middle aged,” for example, how to slow the aging process and deal with greater life expectancy, the problems of the sandwich generation, money/spending and “SKIing” (Spending the kids’ inheritance), sex, politics, and marketing and consumerism.

If you are a boomer-aged individual or older, how do you feel about the term Zoomer? If we used the term in library programming and publicity, would you be more likely to attend? Please post your comments below – we welcome your input. Also, you can check out a sampling of Mr. Znaimer’s Zoomer Magazine and an associated website 50plus.com by clicking on the links.

February 13, 2010 at 3:52 am Leave a comment

Finding Fun and Cheap Entertainment

free sign by klbusta - http://www.flickr.com/photos/klabusta/346519139/

free sign by klbusta

Right now we are all looking for ways to cut back our expenses, and reinvigorate those old values of frugality and thrift.  Some of the recent economic forecasts have predicted that we will not make major gains in employment until 2017!  With over 7 years of a potentially sluggish economy, many of us will be in need of cheap (or free), wholesome ways to enjoy ourselves, spend time with family and friends, and lift our spirits.

First, let’s start with some different strategies you can use to find things to do locally.  You may be familiar with some of these suggestions and some might be new. Set aside a few minutes before your weekend to explore your options and plan an awesome day!

1. Check out the City of Torrance’s City Events Calendar. The calendar is a relatively new feature of the city website and is designed to make locating city-sponsored events easier to find. Events hosted by other agencies may also be included. Library events are listed here!

2. Pick up a copy of your city’s recreation calendar. You can get print copies of the Torrance Seasons at the library or online. To access the recreation services of other cities in the South Bay, sign up for Redondo Beach’s e-zine or see Rancho Palos Verdes website. Recreation guides don’t only feature ongoing classes, but other one-day programs that have been planned in advance.

3. Scour your local print mediathe Daily Breeze, Los Angeles Times, Easy Reader, Palos Verdes Peninsula News. Browse the entertainment and calendar sections of the print and online versions of your favorite paper. Don’t forget the Los Angeles Weekly’s vast entertainment calendar.

4. Browse through Yelp. Yelp is a community review site where you can find information on the best restaurant in your neighborhood, where to fix your shoes, upcoming events, and more. Become a “Yelper” yourself and contribute your opinions. Here are some recent lists created by Yelpers on restaurants and bakeries in the South Bay.

5. Sign up for Yelp’s weekly email. If you are adventurous and like to explore new neighborhoods, Yelp spotlights different parts of town, as well as different themes.

6. Explore Upcoming. This event site is owned by Yahoo so you can log in using your Yahoo id.  Enter your hometown in the search bar and see all the events nearby. You can browse events by type as well – music, family, sports, etc.

7. Word of mouth. Truth be told, most of us discover things to do through people we already know. Reconnect with your family, friends, and co-workers some of the best fun there is.

8. Boomer-specific fun. Last but not least, visit the list we created especially for local Boomers with links to some of the local events you might be interested in.

More ideas, suggestions, and featured events to come, so stay tuned. By the way, many of these sites are good ways to promote your own events!  If you have any additional suggestions or tips, please include them in the comments – we would love to hear from you.

– rs

October 21, 2009 at 11:27 pm Leave a comment

Getting Real About Retirement

!BbqE-,w!Wk~$(KGrHqMH-C0Equyk1qOWBK)!mnYQYg~~_35Most major news and business  magazines have devoted one or more recent issues to the topic of retirement and U.S. News & World Report   is no exception.  This journal’s outlook is a bit more cautious and pessimistic with their October 2009 Fall Money Issue cover story stressing  “Yes! You Can Still Retire.”   Contrast that to the Fortune Magazine we profiled in our post on August 14, 2009,“You Can Still Retire Rich (Really!)”  I’d like to retire rich but frankly I’m setting my sights a bit lower and, after reading through the issue, I think the magazine presents valid, if conservative, advice on looking at retirement realistically.

The lead article in the issue “Getting Real About Retirement,” contends that the recession of the past year or so is forcing those of us closing in on retirement to reset our expectations for the golden years. While the economy appears to be making gains, it could be a decade or more before lost wealth and other damage is repaired and author Rick Newman points out we may be seeing a drift down in middle-class quality of life. He speculates that for Baby Boomers the economic tension of the next ten years will play out as a battle between spending and saving.

Newman cites John Bogle, founder of the Vanguard mutual-fund firm and author of Enough: True Measures of Money, Business and Life. Bogle says we’re not going to be able to live the way we used to and we’ll have to be content with a little bit less. In Bogle’s view, imminent retirees are working their way down the “inverse priority” pyramid – the progressively painful list of things they can live without. Most economists expect unemployment to stay high for the next five years and agree that more people are going to postpone retirement.

Other articles in the issue offer advice and guidance on retirement concerns such as best places to live, entrepreneurship, financial planning and investments, careers, and health & lifestyle. For example, here’s a listing of the 2009 “Best Affordable Places to Retire” (in the order they appear):
Columbus, Ohio
Fort Worth, Texas
Asheville, North Carolina
Eugene, Oregon
Kansas City, Missouri
Columbia, South Carolina
Tucson, Arizona
Jacksonville, Florida
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Aurora, Colorado

The U.S.News & World Report Website has an on-line search tool that uses some of the following factors to help readers made decisions about where to live in retirement: strong job growth, low unemployment rate, low business tax rates, reasonable home prices, affordable cost of living, proximity to health care, and ample recreational opportunities. I would add proximity to educational institutions and public libraries to that list!

The issue cites a study we mentioned in a previous Link Logs post, “Boomer Entrepreneurs are Hot!” (July 26, 2009) conducted by the Kauffman Foundation that concludes that we’re going to see an increase in necessity entrepreneurship because people have been laid off and have few, if any, options other than to start their own business.  According to an Urban Institute and AARP Public Policy Institute analysis of late-life working patterns, roughly one quarter of all workers who change careers after age 51 become self-employed.

Kirk Shinkle, author of an article on rebuilding your portfolio, provides some facts about the damage done specifically to the Baby Boomer aged population – the median decline for 401(k) plans that posted losses between January 1, 2008, and early August 2009 for Baby Boomer investors was 19.6%, or a median loss of $12,386   (source: Jack VanDerhei, Employee Benefit Research Institute). To see a full recovery, Shinkle says, will depend on how much one saves and how quickly markets grow but he feels the key will be savings.

One of the shortest articles in the issue, “Making the Most of Frugal Living” has practical information culled from Jan Cullinane’s book, The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your Life.  Recommended is developing habits such as being more vocal about asking for deals from companies, tracking coupons, and using retailer benefits such as gift registries.

There’s a nice photo essay on NORCs (I had never heard this term) “naturally occurring retirement communities.”  The communities which began about 20 years ago, have grown to approximately 300 in the United States, are located in areas with heavy concentrations of seniors, and are natural in that they are not retirement complexes or facilities that seniors move into. These communities provide support services (e.g. home repair, social activities, volunteer support, access to health and fitness opportunities, discounts at local merchants, etc.) to residents so they may age in place.

There are numerous other articles in the magazine, but I particularly enjoyed the “10 Tips for Living to 100” by Deborah Kotz which gathers information from a host of studies on the subject of health, fitness, longevity, etc. Here’s the summary list:

1. Don’t retire!
2. Floss every day
3. Move around
4. Eat a fiber-rich cereal for breakfast
5. Get at least six hours of shut-eye
6. Consume whole foods, not supplements
7. Be less neurotic
8. Be a creature of habit
9. Live like a Seventh-Day Adventist
10. Stay connected

Has all this information about retirement made you more or less likely to retire while still a Boomer (46-64)?  Do you have any tips to pass on to others about things you/they can live without on that inverse priority pyramid?  Please post a comment below – we look forward to hearing your thoughts.

October 12, 2009 at 8:24 am Leave a comment

Retirement Blitz – Boot Camp and beyond

73fb51c88da034533b122210.L._SL500_AA240_Because several of my close friends recently retired and several more are making plans, it seems that everywhere I turn I see information on retirement. It’s true not as many Boomers as I expected are actually going through with it, but news and financial media are definitely continuing to focus on the changing face of retirement.

For example, when I visited my local Borders several weeks ago, I walked past the magazine section where they displayed the 6/22/09 issue of Fortune Magazine, a “Special Investor’s Issue” devoted to retirement with the cover story labeled “You Can Still Retire Rich (Really!)” Of course I flipped through the contents and was intrigued enough to go back to the Library and read through it more carefully. While access to this issue online is no longer available from the Fortune website, once there you can use the key word “retirement” to retrieve many recent articles on the subject. Or you can visit the Library and read the magazine in its entirety, and/or use the Library’s database subscription to EBSCOhost to access individual articles in the magazine.

Another item that caught my attention was an article in the New York TimesA Boot Camp to Prepare for Retirement.” Two women, Marcia Tillotson and Joy Kenefick who work with Wells Fargo Advisors in Charlotte, North Carolina, have developed a retirement boot camp to help individuals prepare for retirement and decide if they really are ready to stop working. The idea is to put the participants through a series of drills or exercises that mimic what retirement will feel like.

The boot camp lasts about a year and, according to the article, about eight out of 10 pre-retirees who go through the training decide to work longer than they originally planned. The women share a general outline of their program which includes drills on the following: Spending (a cash-flow analysis), Net Worth Statement (looking at your assets and liabilities), Insurance Audit, Goal Setting, Increase Savings, Tax Planning, Charitable Giving, and Estate Planning.

I’m not sure I agree with all their advice (they recommend paying off your mortgage before retirement) but I like the idea of simulating retirement before you actually take the plunge and I think the areas they’ve identified for their drills give one a good framework from which to begin making decisions.

I also stumbled across a free workbook and DVD set offered from the MetLife Mature Market Institute that contains assessment tools, information, and resources to help those contemplating whether or not to retire, and how to move on with encore careers. The workbook is based on methods developed by author and life coach, Richard Leider, author of Repacking Your Bags: Lighten Your Load for the Rest of Your Life. The workbook is a follow-up to the Institute’s January 2009 study, Discovering What Matters: Balancing Money, Medicine and Meaning, and is available free by e-mailing MatureMarketInstitute@metlife.com.

During these troubled times, a military analogy for retirement planning (boot camp) seems fitting, and the best advice one can give is to arm yourself with as much information as possible, drill on the essentials, and have an escape strategy.

How have you prepared yourself for retirement? Did your plans turn out as expected? Please share your experiences with us – add a comment below.

August 14, 2009 at 1:08 am 5 comments

The Incredible Shrinking Boomer Economy

0931covdxThe impact on the economy of Boomers slowing down their desire for material things is the focus of a cover story for the August 3, 2009 issue of Business Week magazine. The article uses examples from the auto and hospitality industries, among others, to illustrate how Boomers are cutting back and provides some insight into changing marketing techniques to try and woo younger consumers. It’s an interesting article that’s sure to generate a lot of discussion. Also available on the Business Week website is a podcast relating to the cover story and a slide show providing a critique of advertising campaigns meant to appeal to Boomer consumers.

Business Week is available at three Torrance Public Library locations: Katy Geissert Civic Center Library, Henderson, and Walteria Libraries. If you wish to read the Henderson branch copy, you’ll need to hurry – the branch is scheduled to close for refurbishment on August 1, 2009!

July 28, 2009 at 1:09 am 1 comment

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  • Rich Retirement – Smart Retirement November 14, 2010
    It’s time for a round-up of recent magazine offerings on the topic of retirement, a chief concern of most Baby Boomers I know. Money Magazine’s October 2010 issue includes their Retirement Guide 2011. Penelope Wang’s cover story, “Seven Secrets to a Richer Retirement,” examines the latest research in the field of behavioral finance (a blend […]
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    The October issue of Atlantic Magazine features a provocative cover story focusing on the Baby Boomer generation and their responsibility for and contributions to the country’s present situation. Whether you agree or disagree, Michael Kinsley has written an essay that will make you think. The issue also includes response commentaries from “experts.” Personal […]
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