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How Much Should You Leave to Your Kids?

How do you feel about legacy giving? Chances are, you see the issue differently from your own parents. We’re experiencing a generational change in views on inherited wealth. Parents of today’s baby boomers, having lived through a World War and less prosperous times, were usually excellent savers. In their retirement years, their investment assets are …

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Mountain Vacation Towns of the West

Even once you’re retired, you’ll still probably go on vacation from time to time. What is a vacation but a change of scenery and routine from everyday living? And you still need that stimulation and respite occasionally, even when you are no longer working at a full-time career. Everybody has their own idea of the …

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Staying Fit in Retirement

Use it or lose it. As my wife and I ease into the back half of our 50’s, our house has gradually transformed into a gymnasium. It seems like every spare corner and surface holds exercise or physical therapy equipment now. I’ve been into fitness since college, never letting myself get seriously out of shape. …

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A Surprising Contender for Tax-Efficient Retirement Saving…

Samuel Foote, famous British comedic actor of his time, was chatting with a member of the royal court. The entitled aristocrat complained bitterly of having been thrown out a second-floor window for cheating at cards. Foote’s advice? “Don’t play so high.” One secret to successful retirement saving, in addition to getting started, is to avoid …

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Maximizing Retirement Spending: Is That Really What It’s All About?

Mainstream retirement planning these days is all about maximizing your spending in retirement. And that seems sensible, on the surface. The theory is you want to spend as much as possible in retirement, subject to the whims of the stock market. So, if the market is down, you cut back. But if the market is …

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My Retirement Income Taxes: 2016

On April Fool’s Day I completed and filed my returns for the 2015 tax year. Normally I’m proactive about financial matters. But, for taxes, I wait until a few weeks before the mid-April deadline. That reduces the chances that a late-breaking 1099 will force me to file an amended return. Taxes are my least favorite …

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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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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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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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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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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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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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Financial Freedom on a Shoestring

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 weren’t wealthy or powerful. I wasn’t given money or land or …

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Roth IRAs and Roth Conversions: Who Needs Them?

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 taxes. Whatever the reason, there is a pervasive belief that Roths are somehow a better place …

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Do-It-Yourself Estate Planning

Benjamin Franklin famously noted that “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Death and taxes. Two of our least favorite topics — also two of the most inevitable. In keeping with the generally upbeat mood at this blog, I rarely focus on either of these morbid subjects. But, …

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My Income Taxes: 2014

Are taxes going to be your single biggest financial concern in retirement? A ravenous velociraptor stalking your financial security? Many pundits say so. Or, are taxes just another expense, and by no means your largest one? Despite their scary reputation, I don’t worry about taxes much. I laid out the reasons why — my political …

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Frugal Home Renovation: Kitchens, Bathrooms and More…

Home expenses might be your single most important decision variable on the road to financial freedom. Buying and maintaining a home that’s bigger or more luxurious than you need, is one of the most common detours along that road. The amount of money typically spent on a large trophy home, especially if you must hire …

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Having Kids vs. Retiring Earlier

How does raising children impact the journey to financial independence? If you choose to have a family, does that mean you’ll be working forever? Does electing to have no kids, or fewer kids, supercharge your way to wealth? And, should the desire for early financial independence even play into decisions about if and how many …

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Renting vs. Buying: The True Cost of Home Ownership

Rent or buy? We’re about to choose a new home in a new location. So the question of renting vs. buying has come to the foreground for us again. Whether you’re newlyweds starting out, a middle-age couple downsizing, or seniors contemplating retirement communities, you too will likely need to evaluate the economics of renting vs. …

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Short-Term Housing

I’ve always been leery of owning two homes at once. I’ve heard too many stories of people stretched thin between two properties — trying to sell their previous home while setting up life in the new one. The costs of maintaining a second, empty residence can be punishing. So, when we put our house on …

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