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Try Not to Slip

Dennis Friedman  |  Nov 6, 2020

THE FLU SEASON WAS approaching, so I decided to schedule an appointment with my medical provider for a flu shot. The next morning, I received an email from my prescription drug plan informing me that it was processing a payment for $30.80.
My immediate thought: “How could my medical provider charge me for a flu shot that I haven’t yet received? And why aren’t they billing Medicare?” Medicare provides a free flu shot to every enrollee.

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Margin of Safety

Richard Connor  |  Oct 28, 2020

MANY FINANCIAL planners say they “stress test” portfolios. That sounds like a good idea, but it isn’t well defined. I decided to do some research to see how I could apply the notion to the investments owned by my wife and me.
I came across a number of useful articles. Investopedia, one of my go-to resources for all things financial, provides this definition: “Stress testing is a computer simulation technique used to test the resilience of institutions and investment portfolios against possible future financial situations.” Forbes,

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Victims of the Virus

Richard Connor  |  Aug 19, 2020

SOCIAL SECURITY retirement benefits are one of the most complicated topics in financial planning. As you try to figure out how much you might receive, there are thousands of rules, different types of benefit and numerous scenarios to evaluate.
And then there’s the impact of COVID-19.
It turns out that this year’s economic slump, which caused the economy to shrink by a tenth in the second quarter, may interact with Social Security’s methodology to hurt those who turn age 60 in 2020.

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About That 4%

Richard Quinn  |  Aug 5, 2020

IT’S SCARY TO RETIRE with a pool of money, knowing how you handle it determines your financial security for the next 25 years or so. It must seem even scarier to everyday Americans who don’t think they can count on Social Security.
A recent Tweet caught my eye. It linked to an article about the problems with the so-called 4% rule. As you might recall, the 4% rule states that, if you withdraw 4% of your portfolio’s value in the first year of retirement and thereafter step up the dollar amount withdrawn with inflation,

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Early Decision

James McGlynn  |  Jul 21, 2020

DELAYING SOCIAL Security until age 70 will get you the largest possible monthly benefit, and that’s the right strategy for many retirees. But what’s right for many folks won’t necessarily be right for you—and you may want to file at 62, the youngest possible age, so you maximize your total lifetime benefit.
If you’re single with no dependents, you should probably file at age 62 if you’re in poor health or your family doesn’t have great genes,

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Your 10-Year Reward

James McGlynn  |  Jul 7, 2020

IF YOU’RE MARRIED, filing for Social Security can be confusing. But there’s one group who has it even worse—those who are divorced.
In recent weeks, I’ve had a number of conversations with women who had no idea that they were even eligible for spousal benefits based on their ex-husband’s earnings record. (I also recently watched the television show Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story, which gave completely erroneous advice on benefits for ex-spouses.) My hope: Someone reading this may learn that he or she is eligible for spousal or survivor benefits from an ex-spouse.

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Battle Over Benefits

Richard Quinn  |  May 8, 2020

ALMOST EVERYBODY collects Social Security at some point in their life. But it seems like that’s the only thing we all have in common.
Why are there such stark differences of opinion regarding Social Security’s purpose and effectiveness? Why are so many Americans willing to believe that one administration or another stole the Social Security trust fund? Why is any effort to modify the program for future retirees immediately denounced as a cut in benefits?

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Happy Days

Dennis Stearns  |  Apr 27, 2020

RETIREMENT IS BEING rethought: Playing lots of tennis, golf or bridge, while living modestly so we don’t run out of money, might have been an acceptable plan when lives were shorter.
Now, the early go-go years of life’s “fourth quarter” can last two decades, especially if we retire early. A life of pure leisure may not be financially possible—and it might even be a bad idea mentally, emotionally and physically. As we look beyond the current uncertainty of the coronavirus,

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Enforcing the Rule

Jiab Wasserman  |  Apr 7, 2020

THE MOST POPULAR retirement income strategy is built around the so-called 4% rule. Three-quarters of financial advisors say they use some variation on this approach. But is it safe?
The 4% rule specifies that you withdraw 4% of your nest egg’s value in the first year of retirement. Thereafter, you increase the dollar amount withdrawn each year at the inflation rate. Based on historical U.S. stock and bond returns, that strategy should carry you safely through a 30-year retirement.

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In Withdrawal

Jiab Wasserman  |  Mar 11, 2020

RETIREMENT ISN’T JUST about reaching some magic savings number. You also need a strategy for turning that pile of savings into a reliable stream of retirement income that’ll last for the rest of your life.
In academic lingo, it’s about changing from accumulation to decumulation—and it’s a topic that my husband Jim and I grapple with, as we figure out how best to cover our retirement expenses. There are three common strategies:
Systematic withdrawals.

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Athos’s Retirees

Peter Minnium Jr.  |  Nov 28, 2019

TUCKED AWAY ON Greece’s rugged north Aegean coast lies a place seemingly frozen in time, where men lead simple lives, much the same as they have for the past 1,000 years. It’s a rocky, narrow peninsula covered in wooded valleys and terraced farms that comes to an abrupt end at a dramatic 6,000-foot peak—Mount Athos.
Here, the men live in strict, self-enforced isolation. No women have set foot on the peninsula for more than 1,000 years and even female animals are removed upon their discovery.

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7,000 Days

John Yeigh  |  Oct 29, 2019

MY LAST CLOSE relative—other than my kids—recently experienced major health issues. That prompted me to reflect on my own potential longevity. I’ve got 7,000 days to go, more or less, or at least that’s what the Social Security Administration’s life expectancy calculator tells me.
It seems like a big number, but it’s less than 20 years and just a quarter of a U.S. male’s average 29,000-day lifespan. Each day in retirement, we get to decide how to utilize one of those precious remaining days—whether to use it wisely or possibly fritter it away.

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Staking Your Claim

Richard Quinn  |  Oct 24, 2019

WHEN SHOULD YOU claim Social Security? The optimum date for starting retirement benefits is the subject of much debate and analysis. For most people, however, it’s a simple matter of when they need the cash—and, indeed, many folks claim as soon as they’re age 62 and eligible. The experts can run models all they want. But when it comes to Social Security, it seems necessity and emotion rule.
One thing is clear, though: There’s no validity to taking your benefits as soon as possible,

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Time Well Spent

Jiab Wasserman  |  Oct 23, 2019

I CONSIDER MYSELF a retirement newbie. I only quit fulltime work in May 2018. Still, it doesn’t take long to pick up a few things about life in retirement. Here are four insights I’ve gained over the past year and a half:
1. It’s important to have a plan. I have witnessed how some retirees, without a plan or direction, struggle to fill the empty time. Here in Spain, for some retirees it can become an endless Groundhog Day cycle of daily drinking and tapas hopping.

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Waiting Game

Dennis Ho  |  Oct 17, 2019

HOW DO DEFERRED income annuities work and how do they fit into a retirement portfolio? I’m a fan of DIAs—sometimes also called longevity insurance—because of their simplicity and range of benefits. Indeed, I sell them through the insurance website I run. But I also realize they aren’t for everyone.
With a DIA, you hand over a lump sum to an insurer in exchange for regular income payments. Like a standard lifetime income annuity, the payments are guaranteed,

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