Battling Time

Dennis Friedman  |  Oct 16, 2019

AS I GROW OLDER, I realize how important money and good health are. If we have sufficient income to pay our retirement expenses and if our health remains good, we have the makings of something very special.
What is that special thing? It’s the ability to be independent—to live the life we’ve always lived with few limitations. We can continue to live in our home, drive our car, visit our friends and cook our meals.

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End Game

Dennis Ho  |  Sep 25, 2019

WHENEVER I TELL people I’m an actuary, I often get the same response: “So you’re the guy who can tell me when I’ll die.” It was funny the first couple of times I heard it, but less so a few dozen occasions later.
Still, the comment is a good reminder of a key statistics principle: Probabilities work well for large groups, but are less useful for smaller sample sizes. Statistics help actuaries predict the number of deaths for a large population.

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Righting Wrongs

Richard Quinn  |  Jul 23, 2019

SOCIAL SECURITY remains a great mystery to many Americans and is widely misunderstood. For instance, when Social Security’s trustees release their annual report, we get vastly different interpretations. One group will read the report and conclude there’s a “surplus” and plenty of money to improve benefits. Meanwhile, another concludes that the program is in fiscal trouble and fixing it is vital.
Headlines frequently state the program is going bankrupt. It isn’t. Today’s level of benefits may not be sustainable,

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Bet Your Life

Dennis Ho  |  Jul 16, 2019

INCOME ANNUITIES ARE a simple, cost-efficient way to generate guaranteed retirement income, and yet they account for just 5% of overall annuity sales. My contention: They can play a unique role in a portfolio—and deserve serious consideration by anyone planning for retirement.
When most people hear the word “annuity,” they cringe, and rightfully so. Over 95% of the annuity market is made up of tax-deferred variable and fixed annuities—investment products that are often complicated and expensive.

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Not as Advertised

Dennis Friedman  |  Jun 26, 2019

I VISUALIZED a retirement far different from the one I’ve experienced. Before I quit the workforce, I thought my retirement would be a carefree life where I could do what I want, when I want. I could work, travel, sleep all day. There would be few limits. Why? I had no money issues and few responsibilities.
Today, that seems like a dream. Since retiring, I realize my retirement is constantly changing. Unexpected events and expenses can derail the best-laid plans.

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Last Call

James McGlynn  |  May 14, 2019

WERE YOU BORN between 1950 and 1953, have been or are currently married, and haven’t yet filed for Social Security benefits? There’s a loophole you may want to take advantage of—before it disappears.
For couples, settling on the right strategy for claiming Social Security benefits is critically important, because it affects the size of each spouse’s benefit or spousal benefit, as well as the survivor benefit. But the payoff can be especially large for the group I’m discussing here—those born between 1950 and 1953.

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Hers, His and Ours

John Yeigh  |  May 2, 2019

WHILE FINANCES ARE critically important to retirement, it wasn’t the biggest challenge that my wife and I faced. Instead, when I quit the workforce two years ago, a stranger moved into our house.
It was me.
For the prior two years, I had worked in Texas, while my family remained in Maryland, so my son could complete high school there. Even before my temporary Texas move, I worked longish hours, traveled overseas regularly and had lengthy daily commutes.

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Better Than Golf

Kathleen M. Rehl  |  Mar 28, 2019

FOR ME AND MANY other older baby boomers, the traditional retirement model doesn’t work. We’re healthier and living longer than prior generations. Most of us don’t want to sit in a rocking chair, gaze at the sunset, play golf continuously, eat boring lunches at the senior center or live like we’re on vacation every single day.
Instead, we want to remain relevant, with meaning and purpose in our lives, and we want to continue to learn and grow.

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Cancel the Movers

Dennis Friedman  |  Feb 12, 2019

I’VE BEEN RETIRED for a decade. During that time, I have often wondered what it would be like to live somewhere else. Europe, with its rich history, seems like an exciting option. If not Europe, why not move to another part of the country, like Old Town Alexandria in Virginia? Rachel has a son and sister living in the area. We’d be close to Washington, D.C., and other interesting new places.
As I ponder that question,

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Still Learning

Richard Quinn  |  Jan 23, 2019

FOR THE BETTER PART of 40 years, I spent a great deal of time helping thousands of workers prepare for retirement. We ran seminars for workers and spouses on topics like retirement income, insurance, lifestyle, relocation and more. I think it’s fair to say that, if someone took advantage of the programs offered, they would have been well prepared financially and emotionally for retirement.
Sadly, relatively few workers utilized all that was available to them—this despite the support and urging of the unions that represented them.

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The Gift of Life

Jiab Wasserman  |  Jan 16, 2019

GLOBAL LIFE expectancy for almost every nation will rise during the next two decades, with Spain overtaking Japan as the country with the longest life expectancy. Meanwhile, on the list of 195 countries, the U.S. will fall 20 places, from 43rd to 64th. The average U.S. lifespan as of birth is still projected to increase slightly, from 78.7 years to 79.8, but at a slower rate than the rest of the world.
That isn’t great news for the U.S.—but it isn’t necessarily bad news for you,

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Half Wrong

John Yeigh  |  Jan 15, 2019

I WAS SINGLE-TRACK mountain biking with two friends. We had stopped for a rest—which was when I discovered how completely wrong I’d been with most of my financial decisions.
We had all recently retired from the same company and were debating when to claim Social Security. One buddy stated that he planned to start at age 70, so he would receive the maximum monthly payment possible. He defended his position by arguing that he was in good health,

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Subtraction Mode

Dennis Friedman  |  Jan 10, 2019

I’VE LATELY HAD THIS desire to spend money—not on big-ticket items like a car, boat or expensive watch, but on just about everything else.
When I go to the grocery store, I don’t look at prices anymore. If I want something, I just buy it. When eating out, I don’t look at the prices on the menu. I just order. I have a cable, internet and landline package that costs me $136 a month,

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Saving Ourselves

Richard Quinn  |  Dec 17, 2018

FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT said on Aug. 14, 1935, that the new Social Security program would provide “some measure of protection to the average citizen… against poverty-ridden old age.”
Nancy Altman, president of Social Security Works and chair of the Strengthen Social Security coalition, opined this year that “after a lifetime of work Americans should have enough guaranteed Social Security to maintain their standard of living.”
Make no mistake: There’s a vast gap between Roosevelt’s notion of protecting against poverty and Altman’s goal of guaranteeing one’s standard of living.

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Required Irritation

Richard Quinn  |  Nov 27, 2018

IT’S THAT TIME OF the year. We seasoned citizens must take our required minimum distributions (RMDs) from our retirement accounts, like it or not, needed or not. Uncle Sam forces us to take these taxable withdrawals, so he can get his share.
It’s a fairly simple process to figure out how much needs to be withdrawn. Determine the total value of your qualified retirement accounts, such as your 401(k) and traditional IRA, as of the previous Dec.

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