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Ten Commandments

Richard Quinn

In addition to writing for HumbleDollar, Dick blogs at his own site, QuinnsCommentary.net. 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 52 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 100 articles for HumbleDollar.

Ten Commandments

Richard Quinn  |  Aug 9, 2018

WE’RE FACED WITH a host of thorny retirement issues: Keep Social Security solvent. Make Medicare affordable. Many Americans aren’t saving enough. They want to retire earlier than they can reasonably afford. They’re effectively financially illiterate.
But in the end, you don’t need to worry about all Americans. Instead, what you need to worry about is you. Want a comfortable retirement? Here are my 10 commandments:

If your preretirement lifestyle is set with a view to what you can sustain after you quit the workforce,

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Running on Empty

Richard Quinn  |  Aug 3, 2018

AT 75 YEARS OLD, I find myself living paycheck-to-paycheck. I now understand how that feels and how it can happen. But you can put away the violin: It’s only temporary.
Being fiscally conservative, I don’t like being in debt or having unpaid bills. I even pay credit cards before they are due—or I used to. Until a month ago, I paid all my bills, with considerable money left over at the end of each month.

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Taking Your Lumps

Richard Quinn  |  Jul 19, 2018

READ THE MEDIA and you’ll likely be convinced that health care costs in retirement will be overwhelming. One example: The Motley Fool says the average couple will need $400,000 for retirement health care expenses—if they’re healthy.
Pretty scary stuff. But let’s be realistic: Every ongoing living expense stated as a lump sum looks scary. For instance, my total property taxes over my retirement will come to $435,000, excluding annual increases.
Not reassured? Consider this from a recent study by the Employee Benefit Research Institute: “For the majority of surveyed people,

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Pain Postponed

Richard Quinn  |  Jul 10, 2018

RAISE YOUR WALLET if you think taxes won’t be going up.
Is there much doubt that the federal government will seek additional revenue, given its ballooning debt and future spending on Social Security, Medicare and other federal programs? If so, should retirement savers really be deferring taxes—or, instead, should we be taking advantage of tax-free retirement savings?
The IRA was first introduced in 1974. At that time, there was a 38% tax rate on individual incomes of more than $20,000,

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Sharing It

Richard Quinn  |  Jul 4, 2018

I HAVE A PENSION, a 401(k) plan and other investments, and no debt. I worked more than 50 years to accumulate what I have. Still, I realize I am fortunate.
That brings me to a list of advice for seniors that’s now making the rounds on the internet. I found it fascinating—and disturbing. The list is presented for “those of us who are between 65 and death, i.e. old.” Many people who have read the list buy into the philosophy behind it.

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What Motivates Me

Richard Quinn  |  Jun 26, 2018

MY FATHER WAS AGE 19 and my mother was 11 when the Great Depression started. They were married in 1942 and I was born in late 1943. Their view of money matters was surely tempered by their life experience.
They had no investments to speak of and always kept what little money they had in a checking account. They would never borrow and didn’t know what a credit card was.
Many years ago, I convinced my mother to buy 75 shares of the company I worked for—a large utility.

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Benefits Lost

Richard Quinn  |  Jun 20, 2018

WHO’S YOUR WORST financial enemy? Got a mirror? For millions of American workers, their employee benefits play a significant role in their financial life—and yet this noncash portion of their compensation is often undervalued, overlooked and misused.
I designed and managed employee benefits for nearly 50 years. During those years, I tried every form of communication I could think of to get employees to pay attention to their benefits. I retired with a sense of failure.

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Double Life

Richard Quinn  |  Jun 12, 2018

A FEW YEARS BACK, I was conducting a retirement planning seminar. At one point, I talked about survivor benefits under our company’s pension plan. As I outlined the benefits, I noticed a strange look on one woman’s face. She was the spouse of an employee.
A few minutes later, I spoke about health benefits, explaining that a surviving spouse was required to pay 100% of the premium. Upon hearing that, the woman took a rolled-up newspaper and began beating her husband about the head.

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Wait, There’s More

Richard Quinn  |  May 30, 2018

IS WHAT YOU’RE PAID what you’re really paid? Probably not. The compensation that you don’t see each payday has a tremendous impact on your financial security and your future standard of living—and should affect how much you save and how you invest.
Defined benefit pension plans can be the most valuable form of noncash compensation. Health benefits for active and retired employees are a close second—especially so because they’re tax-free compensation (and hence a huge revenue loss for the federal government).

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Age-Old Myths

Richard Quinn  |  May 16, 2018

DESPITE RHETORIC to the contrary, Social Security isn’t going anywhere. Today’s workers will eventually collect benefits. Today’s seniors will continue to receive the benefits they’re entitled to.
But that doesn’t alter the fact that the program faces fiscal problems, is misunderstood, and is used as a political tool to mislead and scare people, especially seniors who depend heavily on Social Security benefits. I regularly scan social media to better understand how everyday Americans view Social Security.

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For Your Own Good

Richard Quinn  |  May 3, 2018

IF WE WON’T SAVE for the future, should somebody do it for us? Everyone knows Americans don’t save; last year, we managed a miserable 3.4% of personal disposable income. That’s not going to cut it for either financial emergencies or retirement.
We can’t even get many workers to save sufficiently to obtain an employer match in their 401(k) plan. That’s free money left on the table. According to separate calculations by Alight Solutions and Fidelity Investments,

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Choosing Badly

Richard Quinn  |  Apr 24, 2018

TIME VALUE OF MONEY, asset class, diversification, dollar-cost averaging: This is the language of investment professionals. But it isn’t the language of everyday Americans, including those saving for retirement in their employer’s 401(k) plan.
Trust me, I know. During my nearly 30 years overseeing 401(k) plans, including providing financial education to participants, it became clear to me that using such plans as intended wasn’t easy for most people.
For diversification, employees would often invest in several different mutual funds all focused on a similar collection of U.S.

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