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Retirement Gifts: My Favorite Toys…

This blog is usually about serious financial topics — saving, investing, retiring, real estate, health care, insurance. So it’s time for me to lighten up! Given the season, I thought I’d review some favorite “toys” from my early retirement years. Many of these also make great retirement gifts…. We have spent some money in retirement. …

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Comparing the 2 Leading Social Security Calculators

It was a mystery. I’d spent the morning sifting through results from the two leading Social Security calculators. I was running my eye down the column of numbers generated by the 2nd well-respected calculator. They summed to more than $700K in lifetime benefits. That seemed reasonable enough. But wait, it was only half what the …

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New Social Security Rules: Do You Need a Calculator?

The only constant is change. Do a little retirement planning, and you’ll soon bump into that truth. Earlier this month the U.S. government gave us another reminder: The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 made some of the most significant changes to Social Security benefits in years. Lawmakers unexpectedly tacked the changes onto an emergency measure …

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Are You Feeling Lucky? The Two Schools of Retirement Income…

Are you feeling lucky? That’s how the debate between the two schools of retirement income often shapes up. Do you keep your retirement assets in the stock market, where you’ll have more flexibility and better odds for long-term financial growth, along with a chance of failure? Or do you go the safe, secure route and …

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A Short Course in Investing

You can commit a large chunk of your life to becoming a better investor, if you want. You can read articles, devour books, and enroll in classes. Some people, myself included, will take that full plunge. But in the end, most experienced investors arrive back where they started, with just a few simple principles in …

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Running Low in Retirement: Income Strategies

Running out of money before you run out of life. It’s the biggest fear many retirees face. And, for baby boomers and succeeding generations without guaranteed pensions, it’s not just a night terror — it’s a realistic concern. Without adequate savings, a prudent lifestyle, and regular financial checkups, running low in retirement is a very …

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Running Low in Retirement: Expense Strategies

What can you do if you’re running out of money in retirement? Even those fortunate enough to have a comfortable nest egg could find themselves feeling financially squeezed at some point. If that happens, what should you do? At the simplest level, there are two solutions: (1) reduce your expenses, or (2) increase your income. …

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What to Do When the Market Tanks

It was a Monday morning in the fall of 1987. I was young software engineer immersed in a technical project. The older guys in the office were talking about a crash in the stock market. It would become known as “Black Monday” — the largest one-day percentage decline in the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) …

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Traveling in a Small RV

Travel is a key part of retirement for many. And traveling in a small RV can be a fun, flexible, and economical solution. Our Class B camper van has been fundamental to our retirement lifestyle. We’ve spent hundreds of nights in it, and can’t imagine retired life without our small RV. In a series of …

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Summer Vacation: Retirement Towns, Adversity and Longevity

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 …

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Is Early Retirement Irresponsible?

Retirement is an invention of the last half century. Thanks to social welfare programs and longer life spans, more people could look forward to life after a career. But now it’s possible for some dedicated and fortunate workers to put together the assets for financial independence years earlier. Traditional retirement typically starts at age 65. …

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The Ideal Retirement Location – Will we stay in Santa Fe?

I awake at dawn and glance out our bedroom window. A rosy glow, mixed with a scattering of monsoon clouds, is taking shape over Santa Fe Baldy to our east. The rocky peak rises to 12,622 feet, anchoring the Sangre de Cristo range in our backyard. Another day begins in Santa Fe…. After breakfast, I …

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Why You Need Multiple Sources of Retirement Income

The weather is unpredictable in the high mountains. We carry special clothing for sun, bugs, wind, rain, and cold. There is no single garment that works for all conditions. In generating retirement income, you need diversity too. There is no single income source ideal for all conditions. Some types of retirement income are good for …

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Socially Responsible Investing: Worth the Price?

Most of us want to be “socially responsible” — however we define that. We don’t want to trash the planet for our children and grandchildren. We don’t think corporations should exploit their workers or their communities. And we don’t intend to profit from the misery of other human beings. Yet most of us also need …

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Long-Term Care Insurance: Why We Aren’t Buying It

For us, the debate over long-term care insurance (LTCI) is finished. We aren’t buying it. In my last article on LTCI, I explored the pros and many cons of this complex product pitched at baby boomers. LTCI does leverage your money in some health-care scenarios. It has some tax benefits. And it can ensure that …

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Long-Term Care Insurance: Beyond the Sales Pitch

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 avoiding bankruptcy in your retirement. At least, many financial planners and insurance salespeople would like you …

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Financial Security in an Uncertain World: Protecting Your Wealth

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, subject to a variety of risks. Your tools for reducing …

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Financial Security in an Uncertain World: Assessing the Risks

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 understand the variety of financial risks. Then, you need to prioritize them. Every risk has …

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Does Owning a Vacation Home Make Sense?

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 stately mountain. We leveled out, then began the …

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The 6 Crucial Questions to Answer Before You Retire

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 more systematic way? When is it really safe to leave? …

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Financial Simplicity: What is Your Time Worth?

“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 financial goals, you may not need to manage your wealth so tightly. …

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