THEY SAY TIMING IS everything. That’s something I should know—because I’ve never been very good at it. The motto of Scotland’s Kerr clan is Sero Sed Serio, or Late, but in Earnest. That’s been my reputation since I was young.
In high school, my basketball game blossomed at the end of my senior year, just in time to have one good game of double-digit scoring before I graduated.
LIKE MANY RETIREES, I’ve thought about moving. My two children are living elsewhere, and I have no other family in the Florida city where I’ve resided for more than 17 years. For two years, I’ve researched buying a condo closer to the ocean or even moving to Mexico, where my modest fixed income would go much further. Perhaps I should return to my hometown up north—something two friends from high school have already done.
I’VE SPENT THE PAST seven or eight years lamenting our cash position, both the interest it was earning and the size of it. The former was too little, the latter too much.
Some years ago, we sold an investment property with the idea of buying another somewhere we might potentially retire. But as I noted in a recent article, we’ve never been able to settle on where that would be. We were also constantly thinking we were going to move or be moved away from the Houston area,
MY WIFE VICKY AND I have lately been discussing—yet again—when to claim our Social Security retirement benefits. We’re fortunate to have multiple sources of retirement income, including a defined benefit pension, traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs and two health savings accounts.
To date, we had assumed we’d both delay claiming Social Security until age 70, so we get the largest benefits possible. Until then, we’d planned to live on my pension, any consulting income I earn,
THREE YEARS AGO, I wrote an article suggesting I had 7,000 days to go, at least according to the Social Security Administration’s life expectancy calculator. The 1,000 days since then represented a significant 14% share of my remaining actuarial life.
The good news is, the Social Security calculator now estimates that my life expectancy is about 6,400 days. I’ve enjoyed 1,000 days of life but only used up 600 days of life expectancy. That’s like a 40% return on life over the past three years.
COPING WITH FINANCIAL complexity as we age can lead to major problems—and denial isn’t the solution. What to do? One HumbleDollar commenter, in response to a recent article, recommended a book, What to Do When I Get Stupid, by economist Lewis Mandell.
The book has two main themes. First, we should try to create a guaranteed stream of income, preferably one that’s linked to inflation, to cover our core retirement expenses.
YESTERDAY EVENING we went under contract to sell our home of the past 10 years, by far the longest I’ve ever lived in one place. In our neighborhood, the average time on the market is currently 33 days. We’d been on the market for one day and the offer was over asking. We credit this to taking good care of our home, and having a sharp listing agent and staging consultant.
This experience, and what we learned from it,
IT’S A QUESTION FOR the ages—or perhaps the aged. Since the day the first pension was promised, someone has wanted to know the answer. If you look hard enough, I’m sure it’s referenced in the Bible.
I’m writing this article not to help you answer the question, but to help me answer it. You see, my old employer, Exxon Mobil, has offered me a “onetime lump-sum opportunity.”
I have the option to take a single lump-sum payment of $335,641.85 starting Nov.
MY WIFE RECENTLY ASKED me if there was anything I wanted for my 65th birthday. She was racking her brain for a special gift, but was coming up empty.
I thought for a while, but couldn’t think of anything I really wanted. We have all the stuff we need. We’re blessed with a wonderful family, we live in a great beach town and we have enough assets for a comfortable retirement. We’ve spent 2022 working on our health and fitness,
CAROL IS MY COUSIN. Long divorced, she raised three daughters on her own. Now newly retired, her life is one long adventure—tackled with an incredible attitude. Some people approach retirement with trepidation, but not Carol. She was out of the gate with gusto.
Carol retired from Medtronic in November 2021, after 22 years. She’s a registered nurse who assisted doctors with the insertion of medical devices. She has a pension—Carol became eligible just before the company stopped offering them.
SEQUENCE-OF-RETURN risk has long been a major concern among retirees—and it’s a real danger right now for those who just quit the workforce or soon will. Also known simply as sequence risk, it refers to the chance that the market declines sharply, forcing retirees to sell investments at depressed prices to generate income.
Wade Pfau, a leading retirement researcher, published a paper highlighting the danger involved. As he makes clear, a few years of market losses coupled with portfolio withdrawals can decimate savings,
IN MY FIRST ARTICLE for HumbleDollar nearly four years ago, I said I’d claim Social Security benefits at my full retirement age of 66 and two months. By claiming mid-way between 62 and 70, I intended to hedge my bets, because I couldn’t know such relevant variables as my lifespan or future tax rates, inflation rates and investment returns.
And I did indeed claim Social Security recently, though—full disclosure—it was nine months after my full retirement age.
WHEN I RETIRED IN 2009, I had two main goals: I wanted to buy a used Volkswagen van—and I didn’t want to touch the money in my tax-deferred retirement accounts. Instead, I wanted to let that money compound for as long as possible.
What was so important about the VW van? When I was growing up in the 1960s, those vans were a symbol of freedom. While I was in college, I remember a friend spending most of his days surfing.
WHEN SHOULD YOU start drawing Social Security? If folks want to maximize their lifetime benefit, I think the answer is fairly straightforward.
Maximizing lifetime Social Security income isn’t always the goal, of course. Some people need Social Security to meet basic needs. These people usually claim benefits as soon as they reach age 62, the earliest possible age.
Others view Social Security as longevity insurance. They want as much monthly income as possible in the event they or their spouse live a long time.
INFLATION CROPS UP in almost every conversation I have with friends and acquaintances. Everyone’s getting squeezed by higher prices. Folks complain not only about where prices are today, but also about how quickly they rose.
Prices today seem shocking compared to last year or the year before that. But how do they compare to prices from 10 years ago? To find out, I calculated the average annual inflation rate over trailing 10-year periods using the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U).