Get to Choose

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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Get to Choose

Richard Connor  |  Mar 15, 2022

AS A YOUNG ENGINEER at General Electric, I took a three-day class on career development. That class strongly influenced my thinking about my career—and my life. The class made use of a great little book by David P. Campbell called If You Don’t Know Where You’re Going, You’ll Probably Wind Up Somewhere Else.
The premise of the book is that life is a journey, not a destination. We should set some basic goals that help guide our journey,

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Drawdown Drawbacks

Richard Connor  |  Mar 8, 2022

LOTS OF RESEARCH has been done on the best way to generate retirement income. It’s one of the most popular topics on HumbleDollar. I think this popularity is driven by two things: its obvious importance—and the fact that there’s no one right answer.
By contrast, figuring out how much we need to save for retirement is relatively easy. It isn’t hard to pick a future retirement date, or at least a range of years during which we’ll likely retire,

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Building a Bridge

Richard Connor  |  Feb 19, 2022

WHAT IF WE MADE IT easier to delay Social Security, so more retirees ended up with a larger monthly check?
Last year, I wrote about a study from Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research (CRR) that detailed the value in claiming Social Security later. A new CRR paper examines the topic further.
The paper describes a survey of those nearing retirement. The goal: to gauge interest in using a 401(k) “bridge” to generate income while folks delayed claiming Social Security.

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Making Your Claim

Richard Connor  |  Feb 16, 2022

THE SOCIAL SECURITY claiming decision is one of the most complex—and contentious—choices that retirees have to make.
I was reminded of that in December, while at a Christmas party. Two former colleagues were discussing their Social Security decision. Both are male, single, childless, retired engineers. Each has a traditional pension, a paid-off home and significant retirement savings. Ted is age 77. Fred is 66.
Ted took his Social Security at 62. His reason was longevity or,

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Showing Up

Richard Connor  |  Feb 9, 2022

MY WIFE AND I recently re-watched a video made by one of our nephews. In the video, he interviewed his grandparents—my wife’s parents—about their lives. He wanted to understand what they’d done or taught that built such strong family bonds that lasted over such a long time.
My wife is one of five children: three boys and two girls. Each of her four siblings is married with at least two children—11 kids in total.

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Aging in Place

Richard Connor  |  Jan 11, 2022

PREPARING FOR infirmity is one of the most important—and least popular—parts of financial planning. A neighbor’s recent stroke provides a stark example of this challenge. He’s in his mid-80s and has some underlying health problems.
Our neighbor lives in a second-story condominium, with external stairs as access. The stairs end at a narrow deck, with a right-hand turn into the home. An overhang blocks the screen door from opening fully.
When he had a stroke,

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Resolved: Get Healthy

Richard Connor  |  Jan 7, 2022

LIVING A HEALTHY lifestyle is one of the most important aspects of a happy retirement. It is, alas, also one of the most difficult goals for many of us to achieve. A 2005 Boston College Center for Retirement Research study concluded that health was the second most important factor in determining the happiness of retirees—and those with poor health “experience dramatically lower levels of well-being.”
I stopped working fulltime on March 31, 2017. My health,

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Yardeni Speaks

Richard Connor  |  Dec 28, 2021

MARKET STRATEGIST and economist Ed Yardeni says the current bull market is “the most hated and feared bull market that any of us have experienced, maybe in history.” This quote came from an interesting interview published in ThinkAdvisor, a magazine for financial professionals.
Worried about today’s lofty stock prices? You may find Yardeni’s views comforting. When asked about his market outlook, he commented on the strength of the current bull market, which started in 2009.

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On the Receiving End

Richard Connor  |  Dec 23, 2021

IF YOU’RE A NUMBERS geek who’s also interested in Social Security, the recently released OASDI Beneficiaries by State and County 2020 report is for you. Put out by the Social Security Administration (SSA), the report provides a wealth of interesting statistics.
Here are some basic numbers for context. As of December 2020, the U.S. population was 329,484,123. The population age 65 or older was 55,659,365, or 16.9% of the total. The SSA provides benefits to retirees,

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Fire Gods, Unite

Richard Connor  |  Dec 22, 2021

I HAVE A SECRET to share. I’m a Fire God, and quite proud of it. My first engineering job was with General Electric’s Aerospace Division in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. I started in the thermal engineering group. The group was responsible for the design, fabrication, integration, testing and operation of spacecraft temperature control systems.
An important part of the design was managing the heat input from the sun. Since the group “controlled the sun,” someone gave the group the moniker “Fire Gods.” I knew none of this when I joined as a young graduate.

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A Matter of Time

Richard Connor  |  Dec 20, 2021

I HATE TO BE WRONG. I’ve written before about the technique I’ve developed for evaluating health insurance. My wife and I have used it over the years to decide which plan to select. I’ve shared it with friends and colleagues, and many have found it useful in gaining insight into their own health insurance options. I still think it’s a valid and valuable method.
But our recent experience, after switching health insurance mid-year, made me realize it was missing one important variable—the length of time you’ll be in the plan.

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A Beautiful Mind

Richard Connor  |  Dec 16, 2021

I STARTED MY CAREER with a little-known engineering company called SAI. It’s now called SAIC, short for Science Applications International Corp., a publicly traded and internationally renowned technology firm. But when I started in 1980, there were only a few thousand employees and several small, independently run offices scattered across the country.
SAI was started in 1969 by Dr. J. Robert Beyster, a nationally recognized expert in nuclear physics and national security. He started the company with the dual tenets of technical excellence and employee ownership.

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The un-COLA

Richard Connor  |  Dec 13, 2021

SENIORS RECEIVING Social Security celebrated the recent announcement that their benefits will increase 5.9% this January. It’s the largest cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in 40 years, and it’s based on a measure of inflation called the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W).
As the name implies, CPI-W is a “monthly measure of the average change over time in the prices paid by urban wage earners and clerical workers for a market basket of consumer goods and services.” The index jumped 5.9% between the third quarters of 2020 and 2021.

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Undrowned Sorrows

Richard Connor  |  Dec 10, 2021

WE ALL SUFFER, in ways large and small, from COVID-driven shortages. The global supply chain has been disrupted, affecting automobiles, furniture, building supplies and much more.
But the impact really hit home last month when my brother-in-law called and told me he couldn’t find his favorite bourbon. He lives in central North Carolina, where liquor sales are limited to state-owned stores. He had to go to three stores to find his backup brand, Maker’s Mark.

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Advice at a Price

Richard Connor  |  Dec 8, 2021

THE PREDOMINANT WAY financial planners get paid is by charging a fee based on the amount of money they’re managing. The typical industry fee I’ve seen is 1%, and it’s been that way for years. Under this model, a financial planner managing a client’s $1 million portfolio would charge $10,000 a year.
Charley Ellis’s recent article explained how this approach came into being. His article also demonstrated how a seemingly innocuous 1% fee can actually consume a large portion of a portfolio’s return.

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