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Connor’s Favorites

Richard Connor  |  Feb 2, 2023

HERE ARE MY TEN favorite articles that I’ve written over the three-plus years I’ve been a part of the HumbleDollar community. Although I write my share of technical and analytical articles, the ones I like the most have a human element.
As my wife will attest, I’m a bit of a softy, and care deeply about my family and friends. I like happy endings and want to see people succeed, especially the generations to come.

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Many Words Later

Richard Connor  |  May 21, 2024

THIS IS MY 150TH article for HumbleDollar. My first appeared on Aug. 12, 2019. I’m not sure when I became aware of the site, but it’s become an important part of my life. I’ve truly enjoyed the writing, along with reading the work of others and interacting with the editor, other contributors and readers.
For my 150th, I thought about looking back over the past five years and compiling a list of 150 observations.

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Fact Finding

Richard Connor  |  May 7, 2024

JANE IS A SINGLE woman in her 80s, sharp and friendly. She’s a former state employee with a solid retirement income. Unfortunately, she’s suffered some health issues in the past few years that have forced her to make serious changes.
I became aware of her issues when she came into the local AARP TaxAide site where I volunteer. She was the last client of the day, and the other scheduled client had rescheduled, so she got our full attention.

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Way to Go

Richard Connor  |  May 3, 2024

WHAT WILL BE YOUR legacy? This is something I’ve given a lot of thought to—right down to the funeral instructions.
Something I’ve learned through hard experience: One of the greatest gifts we can give to our families is a well-organized and well-communicated estate plan. They’ll appreciate it when the time comes.
Too many of us wait until an emergency to try to get our affairs in order. A severe illness or death is stressful enough.

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Avoiding or Evading?

Richard Connor  |  Apr 8, 2024

OUR INCOME TAX SYSTEM is based on voluntary compliance. Taxpayers are responsible for reporting all their income and paying the required taxes.
In assessing tax returns, the IRS differentiates between tax avoidance and tax evasion. Tax avoidance is “an action taken to lessen tax liability and maximize after-tax income,” while tax evasion is “the failure to pay or a deliberate underpayment of taxes.”
What are the major sources of tax evasion? Under-reporting income seems to be No.

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Owning My Mistake

Richard Connor  |  Apr 1, 2024

I RECENTLY WROTE an article about our purchase of a new primary residence, and our plans for our existing beach house. On the same day, HumbleDollar published a companion article that I also wrote. That second piece discussed the tax implications—and complications—of converting a former primary home to a rental property.
We had purchased the new home using a mortgage, and our plan was to refinance the beach house and use those funds to pay off the mortgage on our new primary residence.

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Losing Benefits

Richard Connor  |  Mar 25, 2024

SOCIAL SECURITY retirement benefits are a critical source of income for many seniors. But as I’ve discovered from preparing tax returns, there’s a lot of confusion surrounding two key issues.
The first issue: the reduction in benefits that occurs when folks claim benefits before their full retirement age (FRA) of 66 or 67, but continue to work. This is the so-called earnings test. If folks are under their FRA for the full year, the Social Security Administration will reduce their benefits by $1 for every $2 earned above $22,320,

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The Downside of Up

Richard Connor  |  Mar 14, 2024

SAVINGS YIELDS SOARED in 2023—and all that interest income is now showing up on people’s tax returns.
Forbes published historical average money-market rates based on FDIC data. The average rate in 2020 and 2021 was 0.1%. That jumped to 0.15% in 2022 and 0.59% in 2023. But remember, those are averages, and it isn’t difficult to find higher yields. For instance, interest rates on high-yield savings accounts are up sharply since spring 2022.

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Going Solo

Richard Connor  |  Feb 1, 2024

ON OUR RECENT TRIP to Alaska, I was surprised by the number of solo women passengers. It turns out I shouldn’t have been.
According to a recent report from Road Scholar, a not-for-profit travel company geared toward those age 50 and older, a quarter of its travelers were single, with 85% of them women. That group included married folks traveling solo. It’s a growing trend. The Road Scholar study reported that 60% of the company’s solo travelers in 2022 were married.

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Are We Qualified?

Richard Connor  |  Jan 16, 2024

WE SOLD OUR PRIMARY residence in the Philadelphia suburbs and moved to our New Jersey beach home in March 2021. The sale allowed Vicky and me to take advantage of what’s arguably the most valuable tax break available to everyday Americans: the capital-gains tax exclusion on the sale of a primary residence.
But while the tax break is valuable, it comes with strict and often-confusing rules—and those rules may work against us now that we’ve moved home yet again.

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Never Mind

Richard Connor  |  Oct 24, 2023

WHEN I LAST REPORTED on our retirement journey, we’d decided to put our search for a second home on hold. Well, in the immortal words of Saturday Night Live’s Emily Litella, “Never mind.”
We looked at many properties in several communities earlier this year, but we didn’t find anything we wanted to purchase. We decided on a cooling-off period, while we pondered what our next step should be. We kept a casual eye on properties coming up for sale,

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An Inside Look

Richard Connor  |  Oct 21, 2023

ALASKA FINALLY HIT the top of our bucket list. A number of friends had made the trip and returned with glowing reports of the scenery, wildlife and fresh seafood. Vicky and I each had our own No. 1 reason for the trip: She wanted to see whales, and I wanted to see the Northern Lights.
Alaska’s Inside Passage is often the destination for travelers headed to the 49th state. There’s a wide variety of ships that ply those waters,

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Roll This Way

Richard Connor  |  Aug 28, 2023

I THOUGHT I HAD a pretty good handle on health savings accounts, or HSAs. My wife and I contributed to HSAs over the decade before we retired. The money we accumulated has come in handy in the early years of retirement. I’ve also written several articles extolling their virtues.
But I recently learned that we missed an opportunity to further fund these accounts, while simultaneously reducing future required minimum distributions. The trick is to do a rollover from an IRA to an HSA.

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Die With Zero

Richard Connor  |  Aug 21, 2023

WHAT’S THE PURPOSE of life? Is it to die with as much money as possible or, as magazine publisher Malcolm Forbes was quoted as saying, “He who dies with the most toys, wins”? An intriguing and provocative book, Die With Zero, says no.
The book’s author is Bill Perkins, a successful energy trader. In it, he argues that the purpose of life is to accumulate as many fulfilling experiences as possible,

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What Medicare Misses

Richard Connor  |  Aug 15, 2023

ONE OF THE MORE challenging changes that comes with retirement is the loss of your employer’s health care benefits—and I’m not just talking about regular health insurance. Two other benefits that employers commonly provide are dental and vision coverage.
Traditional Medicare doesn’t cover common dental procedures, such as cleanings, fillings, extractions, dentures, dental plates and other dental devices. Medicare also doesn’t cover the cost of eyeglasses, lenses or contacts, which many of us were used to obtaining using our employer’s vision coverage.

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