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Going Solo

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. He's written more than 100 articles and blog posts for HumbleDollar.

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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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Making Our Move

Richard Connor  |  Jan 16, 2024

VICKY AND I ALWAYS knew our retirement home would need to be near our two sons and their families, so we could be part of our grandchildren’s lives. It’s taken a few years and a pandemic, but we finally made that happen.
We purchased a new home in Monmouth County, New Jersey, in September 2023. We’ve now moved in, and we’re already enjoying more time with our grandsons. We’ve also met some very welcoming neighbors.

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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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Cash Is Back

Richard Connor  |  Aug 10, 2023

MANY OF US ENJOY chasing discounts at grocery stores and other businesses. For instance, one of my favorite local wine shops gives discounts to club members. To sign up, all you have to do is provide your contact information.
Lately, the store has stopped requiring me to give my name when I make a purchase. Instead, employees automatically give me the discounted price. Maybe I’m buying too much wine and they recognize me.
In my area,

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Fuel or Friction?

Richard Connor  |  Jun 15, 2023

I RECENTLY LISTENED to an interesting Hidden Brain podcast discussing different ways of bringing about behavior change. The guest on the podcast was Loran Nordgren, a professor at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management and coauthor of a book entitled The Human Element. The discussion centered on two related concepts: fuel and friction.
Fuel is the stuff we use to motivate ourselves and the people in our lives. It can be positive or negative.

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The Journey Continues

Richard Connor  |  Jun 1, 2023

I WROTE MY ESSAY for My Money Journey 14 months ago. Since then, our family’s journey has continued apace—including rethinking where we live.
The highlight of the past 14 months was the addition of another grandchild. We now have four grandsons, ranging in age from five months to 10 years old. Last summer, our younger son and his wife purchased a home in Monmouth County, New Jersey, roughly an 80-minute drive north of us.

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A Late Save

Richard Connor  |  May 26, 2023

MANY RETIREMENT savers fund tax-deferred accounts—with good reason: The money we contribute pre-tax to an IRA or 401(k) reduces our taxable income, plus that money grows tax-deferred until withdrawn.
But there are two lesser-known benefits that are worth keeping in mind. First, with IRAs and solo 401(k)s, you can contribute for last year right up until the tax-filing deadline in April of the following year. That means you can calculate your tax bill, make an IRA contribution that’s credited to last year—and voila—cut the tab you owe Uncle Sam.

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Exposing Themselves

Richard Connor  |  May 19, 2023

RICHARD NIXON IS best known for the infamous Watergate scandal. But how many of us remember that, prior to Watergate, he got caught up in another scandal over a suspect tax deduction?
In 1969, Nixon donated more than 1,000 boxes of his official papers to his presidential library and attempted to claim a $576,000 charitable deduction. This caused an uproar, and served to start turning much of the nation against the president.
Congress got involved,

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I Buy, I Sell

Richard Connor  |  May 18, 2023

SERIES I SAVINGS bonds have garnered a lot of press over the past year. Thanks to higher inflation, these bonds have become a lot more attractive. Although savings bonds have historically been a go-to gift for birthdays, baptisms and bar mitzvahs, they’re more complicated than you might think. I bonds have a number of features that can confuse the average investor, me included.
Series I savings bonds, or I bonds, are designed to protect an investor from losing money to inflation.

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Protecting Seniors

Richard Connor  |  May 15, 2023

RECENT HUMBLEDOLLAR articles have addressed issues of aging, including defrauding the elderly, end-of-life considerations and preparing our homes to age in place. It must be the season for worrying about the elderly because I’ve also had their welfare on my mind, thanks to several recent events.
First, a friend’s 93-year-old mother fell down a flight of steps in her home. A faulty handle came loose from a door at the top of a staircase,

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