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Summer Vacation: Retirement Towns, Adversity and Longevity

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Though I no longer work a regular job, it still feels like a vacation when I break from the usual routine. And, for the past four weeks, we’ve enjoyed a major break from our regular routine. In late July, we left Santa Fe for an extended road trip to the West, Northwest, and Rockies. We saw family, friends, and national parks. Along the way, we visited a dozen potentially appealing retirement towns, and learned a few lessons….

Our first full day on the road, we passed through Flagstaff, Arizona (population: 68,667, elevation: 6,903 feet, average high: 65 F, average low: 36 F, annual precipitation: 18 inches, median home: $244,600), where we grabbed coffee and did a bit of shopping. Flagstaff’s setting high on the edge of the largest Ponderosa Pine forest in the continental U.S. has always appealed to us, though the snowy winters eliminate it from consideration for full-time residence. We’ll keep it as a vacation destination.

From Flagstaff, we made it to Las Vegas, Nevada (population: 603,488, elevation: 2,000 feet, average high: 80 F, average low: 59 F, annual precipitation: 4 inches, median home: $162,400). Though the Vegas club and entertainment scene is not for us, the city has other draws: mild winters, outdoor sports, low cost of living, and some nice neighborhoods.

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Is Early Retirement Irresponsible?

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La Piedra

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New Sponsor, Blog Stats and Summer Travels

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Long-Term Care Insurance: Beyond the Sales Pitch

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The long-term care insurance (LTCI) debate is chock-full of misinformation. Frightening statistics on nursing home care abound: The costs are huge, the odds are high. It apparently adds up to one conclusion: The long-term care decision is critical to … [Continue reading]

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If your savings are growing, you tend to feel safe. And if they're declining, you tend to worry. That's truer than ever as you get older, and the options for replacing wealth via a job disappear. But your money lives in a fickle financial world, … [Continue reading]

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If you are retired or on your way to financial independence, then you have assets. You've stockpiled wealth in some form. But that wealth is embedded in an always fickle, sometimes hazardous world. To preserve your assets, you need to … [Continue reading]

Does Owning a Vacation Home Make Sense?

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It was a crisp, cloudless autumn day in 2004. My son and I set off on mountain bikes from a trailhead in rugged north Georgia. We climbed gradually on an abandoned logging road. It led up through beautiful old hardwood forest to near the summit of a … [Continue reading]

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Readers and friends often ask me about the retirement decision-making "process." How do you prepare, a year out, 6 months out, 3 months out? Do you need a written plan in advance? What about contingencies? Do you just pull the plug, or is there a … [Continue reading]

Financial Simplicity: What is Your Time Worth?

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"Is the oil spilled? Is a little wine stolen? Say on the occasion, at such price is sold freedom from perturbation; at such price is sold tranquility…" --Epictetus Money is a stepping stone to more important things. If you're on track to your … [Continue reading]

Shopping Obamacare: Comparing Plans / Awaiting a Verdict

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Much of my journey to early retirement was carefully planned. I saved a lot, invested carefully, read extensively. But in one area -- health care -- I was just plain lucky. Health insurance is one of the most critical issues in retirement: To live … [Continue reading]

Financial Freedom on a Shoestring

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I'll admit it. I've led a life of some privilege. Maybe I didn't have it easy. But I didn't have it hard either. Simply by virtue of birth, I inherited most of the essential assets for my journey to financial independence…. No, my parents … [Continue reading]

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Roth IRAs are the darling of the financial media. Maybe it's because they're relatively newer. Or because the rules have changed, allowing more people to access them now. Or because, in some situations, they can save you more on … [Continue reading]

My Investment Portfolio: 2015

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What makes a successful investor? Is it getting double-digit returns? Beating a certain stock index? Outperforming the market for years, and making millions? Or is it just growing and protecting your wealth well enough to achieve your lifetime goals? … [Continue reading]

My Favorite Personal Finance Blogs: 2014

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I believe in blogs. In a world where hidden agendas and conflicts of interest abound, personal finance blogs provide some of the most unbiased information available for managing your money wisely. The bulk of my weekly reading comes from blogs, not … [Continue reading]

10 Tips for More Accurate Retirement Calculations

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Retirement calculators are not all created equal. And the differences between them are more than just an academic issue. Why? Because you'll be using these tools to make one of the most important decisions of your life. If you're approaching … [Continue reading]

The Best Retirement Calculators

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What's so important about retirement calculators? Why are these tools of more than just technical interest? Well, they're important because either you, or a financial planner, will use the results from a retirement calculator to make one of the most … [Continue reading]

Should You Be a Dividend Stock Investor?

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Dividend stock picking is the most compelling investment strategy that I've never tried. I've been tempted several times over the years, including recently when we had some new money to invest. The arguments for holding more dividend-paying … [Continue reading]