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When It’s Urgent

Howard Rohleder

A former chief executive of a community hospital, Howard retired early after more than 30 years in hospital administration. In retirement, he’s enjoyed serving on several nonprofit boards, exploring walking paths with his wife Susan, and visiting their six grandchildren. A little-known fact: In May 1994, he was featured—along with five others—on the cover of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance for an article titled “Secrets of My Investment Success.”

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When It’s Urgent

Howard Rohleder  |  Jun 22, 2022

EVEN THOUGH I’M NOT a doctor, I’ve been around medicine all my life. My father was a general practitioner and I spent my career in hospital administration. I had administrative oversight over three emergency departments of varying sizes. Based on my experience, here are 10 recommendations that may improve your experience should you need to visit an emergency room:
1. If you use the emergency room (ER) for a non-acute medical condition, bring a book.

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Rx for Medicare

Howard Rohleder  |  Jun 9, 2022

RONALD REAGAN SAID “the nine most terrifying words in the English language are ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help’.” Government programs are put in place to address real concerns. But they often come with unintended consequences.
When created in 1965, Medicare addressed the real need of senior citizens who couldn’t afford health care, just as Social Security was established in 1935 to help seniors in poverty. Both have become pillars of American retirement,

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Quick Work

Howard Rohleder  |  May 3, 2022

I’VE USED QUICKEN since the DOS version, with my first entry made in August 1992. I’m trying to decide if I qualify as a power user. The fact is, there are so many Quicken features that I simply don’t use.
The product was first released in 1984 as a basic digital checkbook. It later moved to Windows and it’s now a subscription service. I love the ability to manage my checkbook, but over the years Quicken has added features aimed at managing my entire financial life.

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Paying Myself

Howard Rohleder  |  Apr 15, 2022

WHEN I RETIRED 10 years ago, I need to replace my biweekly paycheck. Because I was retiring early, and there would be no pension or Social Security for many years, my goal was to use savings to create a synthetic paycheck.
During my final few years of work, I prepared by channeling most of my paycheck into both taxable and tax-deferred accounts. My pay was much higher than what I needed for living expenses.

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Affordable Care?

Howard Rohleder  |  Apr 6, 2022

WHEN PLANNING OUR early retirement, I realized that getting and paying for health insurance for my wife and me would be our biggest financial challenge.
Before 2010’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) took effect in 2014, we talked to an insurance agent who gathered our medical histories and submitted them to insurers for consideration. Despite two major surgeries, I was deemed insurable. My wife, due to a congenital condition that had never caused a problem but might,

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Life Care Compared

Howard Rohleder  |  Mar 21, 2022

MY IN-LAWS AND MY mother all moved into continuing care retirement communities after giving up their homes. My in-laws were not yet 70 when they moved in and my mother was age 75. They lived in two different communities about a 45-minute drive from one another.
Both communities provided excellent care, but had differing levels of service and had different ways of being paid. I’ve garnered further insights as a volunteer board member for a third continuing care retirement community (CCRC),

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Walking Away

Howard Rohleder  |  Mar 18, 2022

IN PROFESSIONAL sports, superlatives are often overdone. Even the GOAT designation—greatest of all time—is sometimes applied prematurely. But love him or hate him, Tom Brady is arguably the GOAT among NFL quarterbacks and perhaps among all NFL players. For proof, look no further than his collection of record-breaking statistics, Super Bowl rings and most valuable player awards.
Could it be that he has added another GOAT designation with his epic fail at retirement? Brady reversed his retirement announcement from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after just 40 days.

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My Time to Claim

Howard Rohleder  |  Mar 14, 2022

I’VE FINALLY DECIDED when to claim my Social Security benefit. Along the way, I realized that calculating the ideal start date is easy—provided you can predict your retirement income needs (doable), your investment returns (hard), the inflation rate (hard), your future tax rate (hard), your date of death (hard) and what Congress will do in the future (impossible).
This particular financial journey began when I was preparing a recent blog post on the knotty issue of when to file.

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Valuing My Income

Howard Rohleder  |  Feb 8, 2022

READER COMMENTS on one of my blog posts prompted me to dig deeper into my thinking about asset allocation. A trip to the HumbleDollar archive led me to a Charley Ellis article where he emphasized that readers should incorporate Social Security, pensions and annuity payments into any analysis of their asset allocation and portfolio risk.
A guaranteed stream of income is clearly valuable. I knew this, but I had missed the obvious conclusion—that the net present value (NPV) of these income streams should be considered part of a portfolio.

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Final Act

Howard Rohleder  |  Jan 21, 2022

DESPITE WHAT’S SHOWN on TV medical shows, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can be a traumatic procedure that has a low likelihood of success. Even if successful in immediately restarting the heart, the fact that it was necessary doesn’t bode well for long-term survival.
Some injuries or illnesses happen so suddenly that there’s little time to consider options. But for many, old age creeps up slowly or a serious illness drags on and worsens. This is the point where it’s helpful to have not just a living will and a health care power of attorney,

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Giving Directions

Howard Rohleder  |  Jan 12, 2022

IF YOU FIND YOURSELF with a loved one in hospital who can’t make medical decisions, it can be overwhelming, intimidating and emotionally charged. Decisions are needed and each family member is conflicted: What would I want? What would the patient want? What do I want for the patient? The result can be sharp family disagreements.
Death, the prospect of death or even thinking about death is so loaded with emotion that it can hinder our willingness to prepare.

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Pick Your Poison

Howard Rohleder  |  Dec 17, 2021

TRAVELING DURING the holidays? As we drive east out of Ohio and into Pennsylvania, we know to fill the gas tank before we cross the border. According to the Tax Foundation, Pennsylvania has the third-highest gasoline tax in the country, behind California and Illinois, and about 20 cents per gallon higher than Ohio.
All states have to balance their budget. But they take very different approaches. This provides 50 experiments in taxation—and those taxes influence our behavior.

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Driving Me Happy

Howard Rohleder  |  Dec 6, 2021

MY CAR EMAILED ME to say its tire pressure was low. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say it this way: An email from Subaru was triggered by data uploaded from my 2020 Forester, all part of the automatic safety and maintenance technology built into the vehicle. The email confirmed the dashboard light indicating the same problem.
My frugal friends and I have had friendly debates about car buying. Is it better to buy a used car and avoid the instant depreciation when you drive off the dealer’s lot?

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A Difficult Choice

Howard Rohleder  |  Nov 27, 2021

FEAR OF MISSING OUT, or FOMO, seems to be everywhere. We suffer it when we read about our friends’ fabulous experiences on social media. We can also suffer it when investing, as we fret that our friends are making more on their investments than we are.
My own concern in recent months, however, hasn’t been FOMO, but FOLB. No, it doesn’t roll off the tongue like FOMO. It’s my own invention—and it stands for fear of losing big,

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The Number

Howard Rohleder  |  Nov 20, 2021

WHEN I WAS IN MY early 30s, I decided to determine “the number.” What would be enough money to allow me to retire, and what was the path to get there?
Personal computers were newly available, so I decided to work this out in Lotus 1-2-3. There was no internet to speak of. Investment companies didn’t have online calculators running Monte Carlo simulations that incorporated hundreds of possible retirement outcomes and spat out a most-likely scenario with a 95% confidence level.

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