The Snag

Richard Quinn

In addition to writing for HumbleDollar, Dick blogs at his own site, Before retiring in 2010, he was a compensation and benefits executive. Dick and his wife Connie have four children and 13 grandchildren, and they've been married for more than 50 years. Since retiring, they have been to 44 countries and driven across the U.S. twice. Dick takes pride in having kissed the Blarney Stone, drunk from the Fountain of Youth and placed a prayer in the Western Wall. He's written more than 200 articles and blog posts for HumbleDollar.

The Snag

Richard Quinn  |  Sep 14, 2021

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.

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Beginning Benefits

Richard Quinn  |  Sep 11, 2021

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.

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Take a Chance?

Richard Quinn  |  Sep 8, 2021

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.

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Can’t Stop Looking

Richard Quinn  |  Sep 4, 2021

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,

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New and Improved

Richard Quinn  |  Sep 1, 2021

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,

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Learning by Going

Richard Quinn  |  Aug 31, 2021

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.

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Quinn’s Commands

Richard Quinn  |  Aug 29, 2021

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.

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Richard Quinn  |  Aug 25, 2021

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.

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Got to Help Yourself

Richard Quinn  |  Aug 22, 2021

AT THE END OF EACH month, my pension arrives in my bank account. I can count on the same amount every month. It’s comforting.

In the old days, nearly 50% of working Americans had pension benefits. But it was never more than that. For most workers, the three-legged stool really only had two legs, Social Security and personal savings. Today, 76% of state and local government workers have a pension plan, versus just 12% of private sector workers.

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Quick and Easy

Richard Quinn  |  Aug 18, 2021

DON’T YOU LOVE those online calculators that, with just a touch of your screen, will tell you whether your retirement plan will be successful or not? I especially like it when I can pick the rate of return on my investments. Who knew that, if you assume an annual return of 40%, you could save less and retire sooner?

I just tried a FIRE (financial independence/retire early) calculator, designed for those who want to save aggressively and retire at a young age.

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Setting an Example

Richard Quinn  |  Aug 9, 2021

THIS PAST FATHER’S Day, I was listening to a financial talk show. The host asked listeners to phone in and describe how their father influenced their thinking about money.

Callers related that their fathers told them to save early, to not waste money, to avoid debt and a few other basic ideas like “don’t worry about keeping up with the Joneses.”

I told my wife I couldn’t recall my father ever talking to me about money.

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A Note of Cynicism

Richard Quinn  |  Aug 6, 2021

DO YOU HAVE A LOT of stuff—all those things that fill your basement, attic and garage? Dealing with these accumulated possessions is hard. But there are folks who have figured it out: They sell everything, even their house and car.

I regularly read blogs written by people who “retired” in their 30s and 40s, all of them living in stressless financial bliss. These folks live frugally off their dividends, other passive income and, of course,

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Save First

Richard Quinn  |  Aug 1, 2021

IT’S A TOPIC WHERE I always seem to be in the minority. The controversy: Should you save first and then spend what remains—or, instead, prepare a budget which then determines how much you can “afford” to save?

Budgets are scary and stressful. Go ahead, make a budget if you like. But if you conclude that you can’t afford to save, there’s no progress in that.

A Northwestern Mutual survey found that 49% of U.S.

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Pondering the Maze

Richard Quinn  |  Jul 27, 2021

RETIREMENT SAVINGS and decent health insurance are major goals for most Americans. Politicians attempt to help. Yet the resulting laws and regulations are confusing to the point of being counterproductive.

Can the average worker figure all this out? Nope. It’s too complex and unnecessarily so. Lucky Americans may get help from an employer, but many folks are on their own. Consider seven examples:

1. You can contribute up to $19,500 to a 401(k) in 2021 if you’re under age 50.

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Unnecessary Breaks

Richard Quinn  |  Jul 24, 2021

IT’S SOCIETY’S responsibility to provide for those in need. “Need” is the key word here. It bothers me that so many resources are directed to those of us who made it to old age.

Although there are many low-income seniors, the generalization that we’re all income-challenged is a fallacy. According to the Congressional Research Service, “The poverty rate for individuals aged 65 and older historically was higher than the rates for adults aged 18-64 and children under the age of 18,

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