NOBODY, INCLUDING ME, wants to spend their hard-earned money on health care. That, of course, is illogical if you’re being treated for an illness or relieved of discomfort. Nevertheless, we don’t want to use our own money. That’s why we have health insurance—to cover everything. Or at least that’s our expectation.
When I ran employee benefits, I had many debates with workers about their health care bills. When a doctor charged significantly above the reasonable and customary fee,
ONE OF THE TOUGHEST financial challenges most people face—second only to accumulating enough for retirement—is deciding how to convert those funds into retirement income. Especially when the goal is to never run out of money.
I pride myself on being informed. This morning, I received my comeuppance. I was reviewing my 401(k) account, which is administered by Fidelity Investments. I had taken my required minimum distribution for 2021, but was exploring other ways I could withdraw money.
I BEGAN WRITING this article after reading a Facebook group’s page filled with derogatory comments about seniors and technology. The comments related to seniors’ inability to use a smartphone. Talk about stereotyping. The fact is, some of us seniors are addicted to technology—at least the nontechnical part.
For example, I recently went shopping and forgot something vital. No, I had my face mask. What I was missing was my smartphone. Smart is an appropriate word because,
LIVING PAYCHECK to paycheck is defined as spending “all of the money from one paycheck before receiving the next paycheck.” But living that way doesn’t have much to do with income level, even though the idea is often presented that way.
One study says 53% of those earning between $50,000 and $100,000 live paycheck to paycheck, including 70% of millennials. The popular claim is that 50% of Americans are just scraping by. To that,
IN DECEMBER 2020, my wife got an infection at the site of an old root canal. The dentist initially thought it could be treated with medication. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case, so an extraction and implant were planned.
The process took several visits and several bills, with the charges accumulating along the way. Some of this pain could have been relieved by a modest dental plan that I had from my former employer. That was not to be,
I’M ON MY THIRD cup of coffee this morning and it dawned on me how much I’m spending on the stuff. I have one of those machines that use the little K-Cup pods, which may be the most expensive way to make coffee. I find it curious that someone who likes to think of himself as frugal makes coffee at home that can cost 70 cents or more per cup.
If I bought a pound bag of house brand—not designer—coffee,
“THE REALITY IS THAT most working Americans will continue to struggle to achieve retirement security because the ownership of financial assets is highly concentrated among the wealthiest,” wrote Dan Doonan, executive director of the National Institute on Retirement Security, for Forbes.com.
I read and re-read that statement, especially the word “because.” It seems Doonan has concluded that the great wealth held by the top 1% somehow inhibits the rest of us from saving and investing.
I PARTICIPATE IN Facebook groups for retirees from my old employer. Having worked in employee benefits for decades, I know or at least recognize the names of many of the people.
Frequently, someone posts an obituary. It used to be that they were much older than me. No longer. Now they’re near my age—or younger. It’s all a bit unsettling. Often, a picture is posted of the deceased. I think to myself, “What happened to Joe?” Then I avoid looking in a mirror for a few days.
IT’S A QUESTION that gets asked all the time: What’s the best age to start Social Security benefits?
The discussion quickly deteriorates into calculating the breakeven point. Are you better off with a lower benefit for a longer period or a larger benefit for a shorter time—that is, assuming you live to your actuarial life expectancy? What if you die before you reach breakeven? Yeah, what if? You won’t be around to complete the final calculation.
IS THERE AN EASY way to solve our financial problems? I doubt it, but that doesn’t stop people from trying. Initial public offerings, cryptocurrencies and hot stock tips come to mind. But they seem insignificant in popularity compared to lotteries.
My state currently offers 11 different draw lotteries and 63 scratch-off games. Several cost between $10 and $30 each to play. I consider lotteries an insidious tax, mostly on Americans who can’t afford it.
LIKE MANY RETIREES, I have a 401(k), a brokerage account and a couple of modest rollover IRAs, plus a small—very small—annuity purchased 35 years ago in my more naive days.
Unlike most retirees, I also have a pension. My pension and our Social Security benefits comprise the income that covers our ongoing spending.
Why then am I addicted to checking my investment performance every day? Ask me and I’ll know my 401(k) balance. In fact,
THE KITCHEN REMODEL is complete. It’s so new that we’re still trying to remember where we put the can opener. Truth be told, we haven’t quite learned how to work all the appliances, either.
Ready or not, our remodeled kitchen was recently put to the test by the visit of two of our children’s families—including five teenagers. There were ongoing warnings like “be careful how you close that drawer” and “don’t put that there,
SINCE FIRST venturing outside the U.S. 14 years ago, I’ve come to realize the tremendous value that travel offers.
I began writing this article in Buenos Aires 18 months ago, shortly before a cruise around South America. We sailed on March 6, 2020—and it didn’t turn out so well. But I’m not deterred. As Mark Twain observed, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.” I second that.
DEAR 18-YEAR-OLD: You may be better educated and more intelligent than me. You may have more potential. But for sure you don’t have more experience. I have 60 years on you, so—as hard as it may be—take my advice:
There are no guarantees in life. You have to make of it what you will. Never give up.
You will have obstacles placed before you. You will be treated unfairly. You will have to deal with less-than-honorable individuals.
IN CASE YOU’RE wondering, that means, “Where is my blog?”
In retirement, it’s important to keep busy doing things you enjoy. For me, that’s blogging. It’s fun and I learn from readers’ comments.
On Aug. 17, I received an email addressed to “Karen” saying my site’s domain was expiring. Who’s Karen? It must be a scam, so I ignored it. The next day, my blog couldn’t be found.
I logged on to the domain seller and paid the fee.