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Die With Zero

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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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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Taxing Pastimes

Richard Connor  |  Apr 10, 2023

THIS IS MY FIFTH year providing income-tax preparation as part of the IRS’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. This year, my colleagues and I have seen something new. We’ve had numerous retired taxpayers who have received IRS Form 1099-K for the sale of personal property. They’d never received one before and found it confusing.
What triggered these 1099-Ks? Many retirees find ways to supplement their income—including selling items on the internet. This is the modern version of yard sales and flea markets.

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Pretty Nice Joint

Richard Connor  |  Apr 6, 2023

JOINT REPLACEMENT surgery is a rite of passage for many retirees. I’d be willing to wager that a majority of HumbleDollar readers have either had one themselves or know someone who has.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons says hip and knee replacements are the most common types of total joint replacement. From 2012 to 2021, 2.55 million of these procedures were performed, according to the American Joint Replacement Registry, which is the academy’s data repository.

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Revisiting My Results

Richard Connor  |  Feb 3, 2023

I ENJOY WRITING for HumbleDollar—but I often feel I get more from the thoughtful reader comments than whatever insights I provided. For instance, in a recent article, I discussed some year-end financial decisions I was considering. Two readers made comments that caused me to review my decisions, while also delivering a few dollars’ worth of humility.
The first comment identified an error in my spreadsheet analysis. I noted that my marginal New Jersey state income-tax rate was 8.97%.

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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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What Gets Taxed

Richard Connor  |  Jan 23, 2023

INCOME SHOULD BE ONE of the simplest concepts in financial planning—and yet it turns out to be one of the most confusing, thanks to the multiple ways it’s calculated depending upon whether it applies to income taxes, Social Security and so on. My goal today: Help you sort out income’s shifting definition across the U.S. tax code.
Gross income. This is the granddaddy—income from all sources, before almost any taxes or deductions.

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Everyday Arbitrage

Richard Connor  |  Dec 27, 2022

SOME PROFESSIONAL investors make a living through arbitrage, exploiting small, short-term differences in the price of stocks, bonds, commodities and currencies. For the average investor, such trades can seem far too complicated. Still, I often look for opportunities for what I call “everyday arbitrage”—situations where I can take advantage of a difference in, say, tax rates or a product’s price.
Here’s an example: In a recent article, I wrote about how 2022’s higher interest rates will significantly reduce the payouts that some retirees will receive from the 2023 lump-sum option on their pension.

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