Hitting the Road

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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Hitting the Road

Richard Connor  |  Sep 20, 2022

MY WIFE AND I JUST returned from the first extended road trip of our retirement. We were away two weeks, drove 2,800 miles and visited 10 states. The primary reason for the trip was to stay five days on a houseboat on Beaver Lake, Arkansas, with seven friends.
We broke the trip into three phases. The first part took us from New Jersey to northwest Arkansas in two-and-a-half days. Along the way, we stopped in St.

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Beginning Badly

Richard Connor  |  Sep 15, 2022

SEQUENCE-OF-RETURN risk has long been a major concern among retirees—and it’s a real danger right now for those who just quit the workforce or soon will. Also known simply as sequence risk, it refers to the chance that the market declines sharply, forcing retirees to sell investments at depressed prices to generate income.
Wade Pfau, a leading retirement researcher, published a paper highlighting the danger involved. As he makes clear, a few years of market losses coupled with portfolio withdrawals can decimate savings,

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What to Worry About

Richard Connor  |  Aug 8, 2022

BOSTON COLLEGE’S Center for Retirement Research just published a study that explores what Americans think are the biggest risks to their retirement—as opposed to what they objectively are. The center found “a big disconnect between how actual and perceived risks are ranked.” That disconnect could be hurting people’s retirement planning.
The study says the biggest risk to retirement is longevity—living so long that we run out of money. But the survey found that the biggest perceived threat is a market drop that cuts into savings,

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Earning a Roth

Richard Connor  |  Aug 6, 2022

HAVE YOU GOT children or grandchildren with summer jobs? That means you could put them on the path to financial success—by helping them open a Roth IRA.
My brothers and I always had jobs, including delivering newspapers, bussing tables, mowing lawns and valet parking. My sons also had jobs at an early age, including shucking thousands of ears of corn at our local swim club. Later on, they were lifeguards, along with many of their friends from the swim team.

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Taking the Plunge

Richard Connor  |  Aug 3, 2022

WHEN I WAS LEARNING about investing, dollar-cost averaging was one of the first strategies I read about. Over the years, I’ve come across a number of articles debating the strategy’s virtues, usually comparing it to a onetime lump-sum investment.
Dollar-cost averaging consists of making a series of periodic investments rather than buying all at once. These purchases occur at regular intervals, regardless of the investment’s price that day. Using this strategy, you can purchase more shares when prices are lower.

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Bonding for Life

Richard Connor  |  Jul 30, 2022

WHEN MY WIFE AND I were young, it was common to receive savings bonds for major events, such as birthdays and religious celebrations. We carried on the tradition with our two sons and we’re planning to do the same for our grandchildren.
With our sons, we bought savings bonds to mark significant childhood milestones. We held on to those paper bonds for many years, and gave them to our sons when they graduated college.

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A Bad Trip

Richard Connor  |  Jul 27, 2022

FALLING IS ONE of the scariest health risks that seniors face. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than one in four seniors fall each year. The CDC estimates that over three million older people are treated in emergency rooms for falls annually, and more than 800,000 are admitted to hospital.
Most hospitalizations after a fall are to treat head or hip injuries. Falls also cause broken bones, especially in wrists, arms, ankles and hips.

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Inflation and Me

Richard Connor  |  Jul 26, 2022

INFLATION IS HURTING all of us—but in different ways. Even as the Federal Reserve tries to tame the inflation beast, it’s also prudent to look at our own spending and see if there are ways we can help ourselves.
What are some of the things my wife and I are doing? We had a recent discussion about the issue and came up with a list of modest changes we plan to make:

We’ll drive less.

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Even More Taxing

Richard Connor  |  Jul 14, 2022

INFLATION HAS BEEN the big economic story of 2022. Steep increases in consumer prices have hurt families in many ways—some of which aren’t so obvious.
You’re likely aware of the hefty increases in borrowing costs, home prices, rents, gas prices and groceries. But here’s something else to consider: how inflation can lead to higher taxes.
Important parts of the federal tax code aren’t indexed for inflation. Result: If inflation leads to nominal increases in a family’s income,

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Life on Pause

Richard Connor  |  Jul 11, 2022

THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC has disrupted so many aspects of our lives. I was reminded of that recently at, of all places, a bar in the Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, airport.
My wife and I were returning from our 40th wedding anniversary trip to Charleston, South Carolina, and Sunset Beach, North Carolina. Our evening flight was delayed, so we decided to get a glass of wine at a small kiosk bar in the terminal.
The bartender was a young woman in her early 20s.

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Six Months On

Richard Connor  |  Jul 9, 2022

IN EARLY JANUARY, I wrote an article describing my New Year’s resolution. My No. 1 goal was, and still is, to improve my health and fitness. It’s now six months later. Here’s a review of the results so far—the good, the bad and the ugly. Let’s start with the good:

Weight loss. I’ve shed more than 70 pounds since the beginning of the year. This has improved my life in so many ways.

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Four Decades Later

Richard Connor  |  Jun 15, 2022

LAST MONTH MARKED 40 years of wedded bliss for my wife and me. I’m amazed at how fast the time has gone. I still remember the day we met. It was at a party celebrating her high school graduation. I gave her a ride to pick up a pack of cigarettes, all the while lecturing her on the dangers of smoking. I believe I saved her from a lifetime of smoking. She saved me from everything else.

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Tax Shelter

Richard Connor  |  Jun 13, 2022

MY WIFE AND I RECENTLY took advantage of one of the most valuable tax breaks for the typical American family. The tax code provides a generous exemption on the profit from the sale of a primary home. Although this is widely known, it also—based on my conversations with a variety of people—seems to be widely misunderstood.
The Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 made a major change to the taxation of home sales. Prior to this,

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Paid to Wait

Richard Connor  |  Jun 6, 2022

ARE YOU IN YOUR 60s and worried about rising consumer prices? It’s worth understanding how inflation affects Social Security benefits—especially its impact on those who postpone claiming their monthly check.
Social Security benefits jumped 5.9% in 2022, thanks to the annual cost-of-living adjustment. This inflation increase was based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ CPI-W. This was the largest adjustment since 1982, and it affected nearly 64 million retirees. The increase took effect in January.

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Benefits of Work

Richard Connor  |  May 30, 2022

SOCIAL SECURITY’S complexity never fails to surprise. While many retirees have some sense for what factors determine the size of their Social Security check, few appreciate just how involved the benefits calculation can be.
For example, have you ever wondered what the Social Security Administration does if you continue working after starting benefits? It’s not a simple answer. There are two distinct treatments depending on whether you start benefits before or after you reach your full Social Security retirement age,

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