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Retire to Paradise?

Richard Connor

Rick is a semi-retired aerospace engineer with a keen interest in finance. He retired from Lockheed Martin Space Systems after a 38-year career designing satellites. Rick is a lifelong Philadelphian with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Villanova University. He completed the Certified Financial Planner® and Retirement Income Certified Professional® programs at the American College of Financial Services. Rick and his wife Vicky have two sons and three grandsons. They recently retired to the Jersey Shore. Rick is an amateur winemaker and enjoys a wide variety of other interests, including chasing grandkids, sports, travel and reading.

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Retire to Paradise?

Richard Connor  |  July 23, 2021

I RECENTLY WROTE about how my wife and I downsized to our beach home. It had long been a dream of ours and we’re thrilled it came about. Right after the move, we climbed on a plane and experienced another common dream of retirees—living in an exotic tropical paradise.
We visited our son, daughter-in-law, grandson and their Boston terrier in Nosara, Costa Rica. Nosara is a beautiful village and resort area carved out of the jungle on Nicoya Peninsula,

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Checking Up

Richard Connor  |  July 22, 2021

MY WIFE AND I DO a mid-year and year-end financial review. This includes an updated family balance sheet, cashflow analysis, portfolio review and a review of retirement projections.
I’m semi-retired and do some consulting when work is available. This income isn’t guaranteed, so I keep a spreadsheet that estimates our income and tax burden for the year. I usually update this quarterly to see if we need to submit any estimated state or federal tax payments.

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Qualifying for Care

Richard Connor  |  July 19, 2021

A NEIGHBOR WAS recently telling me about the increasing amount of care he and his wife have to provide to his 90-year-old mother-in-law, and the challenges and expenses he expects in the near future.
I was able to offer some advice—because this is an area where my wife and I have significant experience. Together, we took care of her parents and mine, both medically and financially. If this is something you’re experiencing, or may soon,

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Where Wealth Begins

Richard Connor  |  June 18, 2021

AT A RECENT FAMILY event, some of the younger adults were asking their uncle what investments they ought to buy. The uncle is a veteran finance professional with a background in alternative investments.
The young men, all in their early 20s, were just starting their careers. They wanted his opinion on hot stocks, cryptocurrencies and nonfungible tokens (NFTs). One of them had recently made several hundred dollars buying and selling an NFT of an NBA image.

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Moving Right Along

Richard Connor  |  May 5, 2021

MANY DREAM of retiring to the beach. My wife and I just did it. We recently sold our primary home outside Philadelphia and moved to our vacation home on the New Jersey Shore. The decision wasn’t easy. It was the result of a number of events coming together, including the pandemic, the hot real estate market and an attractive, but unexpected offer on our primary home.
We’d lived in our old home since 1994.

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Hierarchy of Savings

Richard Connor  |  March 4, 2021

EARLY IN MY CAREER, one of my mentors at work used to talk about “excess paychecks.” He was a single, senior engineer who lived frugally. Back then, the concept seemed ridiculous to me. But I’ve come to realize he was right: Most of us don’t need every dollar we’re paid for living expenses, so we should think carefully about where to stash the excess.
That notion came to mind recently when taking to a friend.

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Dueling Desires

Richard Connor  |  February 17, 2021

MANY YEARS AGO, when I first developed an interest in financial planning, I read as much as I could on the subject. I distinctly remember being in a bookstore—remember them?—and looking at the myriad of personal finance books. Two stuck out.
The first book purported to show how to maximize your spending throughout retirement and die with nothing. The second book purported to help with the opposite strategy—leaving millions to your children. The stark dichotomy struck me then and it’s stayed with me ever since.

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My Social Security

Richard Connor  |  January 14, 2021

SOCIAL SECURITY is a crucial source of income for many retirees. But unfortunately, there’s also much confusion, because the ways benefits are calculated sure isn’t simple.
Want to learn more? To get started, I’d suggest heading to the Social Security Administration’s website and creating a free “my Social Security” account. For those currently receiving benefits, the website allows you to:

Verify your benefit payment amount
Get a replacement Social Security card
Get a replacement Medicare card
Change your address and phone number
Start or change direct deposit of your benefit payment
Get a replacement SSA-1099 or SSA-1042S for tax purposes

If you aren’t currently receiving benefits,

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Flunking the Test

Richard Connor  |  December 24, 2020

I RECENTLY WROTE about how, if you claim Social Security benefits before age 66 or 67, your monthly check could be reduced if your earned income is “too high.” Shortly after the article appeared, I ran into a colleague who was struggling with the issue.
My colleague had retired a few years back. He thought there might be some opportunities to do part-time consulting with our old employer. But nothing came of it during the first year he was retired,

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Lucky Strikes

Richard Connor  |  December 7, 2020

WHEN OPPORTUNITY knocks, will you be ready? In the past 15 months, my wife and I have had two attractive but completely unexpected opportunities presented to us.
On Labor Day 2019, a neighbor at our New Jersey Shore house told us they were selling their home. They had bought a lot nearby and were planning to build a larger house to accommodate their growing brood of grandchildren. They knew my wife and I had a third grandson on the way,

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Rate Debate

Richard Connor  |  November 30, 2020

THE 4% RULE HAS almost mythic status in the financial planning world. Originally suggested by Bill Bengen in a 1994 article, the rule provides a simple way for retirees to figure out how much they can withdraw from their portfolio without running out of money. In a recent article, Bengen updated his rule.
The rule defines the maximum amount retirees should withdraw from their portfolio in the first year of retirement. Got a $500,000 nest egg?

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For Goodness Sake

Richard Connor  |  November 20, 2020

AS YOU STRIVE to do well, should you also strive to do good?
We’re seeing a boom in environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing. For instance, according to a recent Morningstar report, there are now 534 index mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) around the world that screen their holdings using ESG criteria. Together, these funds have almost $250 billion in assets—more than twice the sum they had three years earlier.
ESG investing offers a way to invest in funds that consider issues such as the use of natural resources,

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That Monthly Check

Richard Connor  |  November 12, 2020

SOCIAL SECURITY is the most important source of income for many retirees. Yet there’s also a lot of confusion, especially when it comes to how benefits are reduced if you continue working and how benefits are taxed. In fact, I’ve heard many folks confuse and conflate these two separate issues.
Want a refresher? Here’s a look at both topics:
Working while collecting. If you start Social Security benefits before you reach your full retirement age (FRA),

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Margin of Safety

Richard Connor  |  October 28, 2020

MANY FINANCIAL planners say they “stress test” portfolios. That sounds like a good idea, but it isn’t well defined. I decided to do some research to see how I could apply the notion to the investments owned by my wife and me.
I came across a number of useful articles. Investopedia, one of my go-to resources for all things financial, provides this definition: “Stress testing is a computer simulation technique used to test the resilience of institutions and investment portfolios against possible future financial situations.” Forbes,

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State of Taxation

Richard Connor  |  October 21, 2020

ONE OF MY FAVORITE things to do is sit on our local beach with a cold beverage on a beautiful day, and talk finance with interested friends and family members. This past Labor Day weekend, I did just that with a soon-to-be retiree.
One of the big issues facing him and his wife: where to live. He had been relocated to New York by his employer. But he and his wife are natives of the Philadelphia region,

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