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Fighting IRMAA

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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Fighting IRMAA

Richard Connor  |  Oct 18, 2021

I TURNED AGE 64 over the Labor Day weekend. One of my goals for my 65th orbit of the sun is to really dig into Medicare.
Luckily, I have a few friends and relatives who have blazed the trail before me. I’ve also studied Medicare as part of some financial planning courses I took a few years ago. Still, one topic I’ve never researched in detail is Medicare’s income-related monthly adjustment amount, otherwise known as IRMAA.

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Make Your Own Luck

Richard Connor  |  Oct 14, 2021

THERE’S A FAMOUS quote that’s often attributed to Thomas Jefferson: “I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.”
Making your own luck is a concept I’ve long believed in, and have written about before. Clearly, luck plays a role in all human endeavors—finances especially. I’m particularly intrigued by the intersection of luck and hard work. But how exactly can we add to our store of good luck?

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The Right Tools

Richard Connor  |  Oct 6, 2021

WE RECENTLY UPGRADED our home with smart locks, which open with a keypad code or cellphone command. After a bunch of research, we settled on Yale Assure Locks, which I’d also seen on an episode of This Old House. I’ve installed many locksets in the past, so I didn’t expect any problems.
Once they arrived, I gathered my tools, opened the packages and read the instructions. It seemed pretty straightforward. I set to work on the deadbolt,

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Back to Normal

Richard Connor  |  Sep 17, 2021

WE’VE ALL BEEN looking for signs that the financial world is returning to some semblance of normalcy. I recently read a CNBC article that gave me hope. The article said that worldwide dividend payouts were expected to reach $1.39 trillion in 2021, almost back to pre-pandemic levels.
The data came from a report by Janus Henderson, a U.K. money manager. Dividends in this year’s second quarter increased 26% from 2020’s second quarter and were only 6.8% below 2019’s second quarter.

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Income for Sale

Richard Connor  |  Sep 15, 2021

“SHOULD YOU BUY an annuity from Social Security?” That’s the title of a paper released by Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research (CRR) in May 2012. It’s one of the best articles I’ve ever read about the Social Security claiming decision—and it’s had a big impact on my thinking.
Most of us know what an income annuity is: You hand over a sum of money and, in return, receive a check every month for the rest of your life or for a specified period of time.

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Be Prepared

Richard Connor  |  Sep 14, 2021

I’M WRITING THIS a few days after Hurricane Ida ravaged parts of our country. We were lucky. Our home here on the South Jersey coast was spared from all but minor rainfall. Much of Pennsylvania and North Jersey saw enormous amounts of rain, flooding and tornadoes. In my 64 years living in this region, I don’t recall there ever being this much severe weather, especially the number of tornadoes.
Prior to the hurricane landing in Louisiana,

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Wheel Deal

Richard Connor  |  Sep 8, 2021

I’VE BEEN KNOWN to overanalyze decisions, especially financial ones. When faced with a money question, often my first thought is to create a spreadsheet. While this brings groans from family and friends, I find them a great way to clarify my thinking and gain insights. Sometimes the resulting insights are glaringly obvious, and I get to laugh at myself.
My wife and I were looking to replace her nine-year-old SUV. We had read and heard that new car inventory was the biggest problem we’d face,

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Losing Ground

Richard Connor  |  Aug 27, 2021

IT’S BEEN WIDELY reported that the Social Security Administration will likely announce a roughly 6% cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for 2022. That would be the largest increase in monthly benefits since 1982, when retirees’ checks climbed 7.4%.
But the impact on retirees is more complicated than you might imagine. Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research recently published a paper entitled, “The Impact of Inflation on Social Security Benefits.” The paper investigates three ways that inflation interacts with benefits.

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It Takes a Village

Richard Connor  |  Aug 20, 2021

FINDING HIGH-QUALITY, affordable childcare has always been a challenge, but it became especially so during the pandemic. Suddenly, thousands of parents were working from home. Many childcare centers closed or restricted new enrollment. Our small South Jersey town saw an influx of families fleeing New York and Philadelphia. That put a strain on limited local resources, and spots for the summer have been hard to find.
I know a little about this because my youngest son and daughter-in-law have been struggling to find consistent childcare for their 17-month-old son James.

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Eyeing That Check

Richard Connor  |  Aug 7, 2021

THE SOCIAL SECURITY Administration began rolling out a new, smaller annual statement on May 1. As reported in Think Advisor and other publications, a small percentage of online “my Social Security” account users, who aren’t currently receiving benefits, will get the new printed statement.
The new statement is two pages instead of four. One significant improvement is a graphic that shows what your estimated monthly benefit could be if you started taking benefits in any of the nine years between ages 62 and 70.

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Pay as You Leave

Richard Connor  |  Aug 6, 2021

MY BROTHER and sister-in-law are approaching retirement age and will likely relocate so they can be nearer their children. The last time they sold a house, it took more than a year to find a buyer. But they’ve spent time and money fixing up their current home, and it’d likely sell quickly, especially in today’s hot real estate market. Their thought: Why not sell now, and then rent for a few years until they retire and move?

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Park Place

Richard Connor  |  Jul 31, 2021

OUR SOUTH JERSEY beach town transforms from empty to overrun during the summer. This past July 4th weekend was one of the busiest many of us had ever experienced. On these occasions, parking spaces go from a mass-produced commodity to the rarest of diamonds.
We had company for the weekend, so we had to park four cars instead of the usual three. Before the weekend, we grabbed a desirable spot in front of our house and vowed never to move it.

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Retire to Paradise?

Richard Connor  |  Jul 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  |  Jul 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  |  Jul 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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