Financial and taxes in retirement
October 18, 2016 — The Social Security Administration today announced a very modest Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for 2017 of 0.3%. There was no COLA in 2016, whereas the COLA in 2015 was 1.7%. The 2017 increase results in a whopping $4 a month based on the average SS retiree benefit of $1350.
The government measures changes in the cost of living through the Department of Labor’s Consumer Price Index (CPI-W). Since the CPI-W did rise this year, the law increases benefits to help offset that inflation. As a result, monthly Social Security and SSI benefits for over 65 million Americans will increase 0.3 percent in 2017.
Other changes will also begin in January 2017. For example, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security payroll tax will increase to $127,200.
Information about Medicare changes for 2017, when announced, will be available at www.Medicare.gov. For some beneficiaries, their Social Security increase may be partially or completely offset by increases in Medicare premiums.
Posted by Admin on October 18th, 2016
By Betty Fitterman
Note: This is Part 3 of a 6 Part series that Betty Fitterman was kind enough to contribute way back at Topretirements’ beginning. Here is a link to Part 1, Parts 4-6 are at Tips & Picks Section/Adventurous Retirements (we will eventually move all of them into the Blog so people can Comment on them).
If the idea of mobile living, with its cost savings and opportunities for travel, appeals to you, my advice is take it easy. Try before you buy. Don’t rush headlong into a major investment before you sample the lifestyle. Remember that like any vehicle, an RV will lose significant value once you drive it off the lot.
Fourteen years ago, we took a vacation in a rental RV. You can rent RVs (more…)
Posted by Admin on October 14th, 2016
Financial and taxes in retirement
October 11, 2016 — We just read a bunch of articles on how to “maximize” your Social Security benefit from some of the top experts in the field. Did we get enlightened? Actually we ended up more confused than ever. In fact we got so tangled up by the explanations that we almost think that one SS guru did it on purpose to sell his Social Security software. And we didn’t feel any better after reading that the same expert believes that employees at the SSA are not permitted to give out certain information (like breakeven points for various claiming optoins), and often give incorrect information to their clients.
This article provides 5 reasons why we think taking your Social Security retirement benefit is nowhere near as simple as you might think. We will also give (more…)
Posted by Admin on October 10th, 2016
Home and Garden
October 14, 2016 (NOTE: If you are a snowbird heading south in mid October, 2106 be advised that sections of I 95 are closed because they are under water due to Hurricane Michael. Consider an alternative route and check conditions before you leave!)
As our snowbird friends say goodbye to summer up north, it’s time we link to the “Snowbirds Leaving for the Winter Checklist” that we originally published in 2010. Every year we add to it in different ways, based on our own experiences and suggestions from Members. We hope you find it helpful. We link to the original article because there have been so many helpful and interesting Comments added by our members over the years.
Here is the link to the original (but updated) article, “Snowbirds Leaving for the Winter Checklist”
For further reading
How to Find a Great Snowbird Rental for the Winter
Our Ideal Snowbird Pairings (Summer and Winter)
Sandy’s Adventures Part ii: How to Find a Great Snowbird Location for the Winter
Posted by Admin on October 9th, 2016
Active adult communities
October 6, 2016 — Our new list of the 100 most popular 55+ and active adult communities at Topretirements for 2016 is here, and there are surprises and new faces galore. There is also plenty of consistency – most of last year’s top 10 communities are back. We think that looking at the kind of communities that our visitors and Members are most interested in is valuable – particularly to see the types of 55+ communities that generate interest, and where they are located.
Speaking of our top 100 list, we want to stress that these are not necessarily the “best” 55+ communities – however someone might determine that. Rather, The top 100 communities were chosen on the basis of visitor popularity at Topretirements during the period January 1 to September 30, 2016 as reported by Google Analytics. The communities whose listings were viewed by our visitors the most were determined to be the winners. Please see the end of article for more details (more…)
Posted by Admin on October 5th, 2016
Retirement Real Estate
September 28, 2016 — This website absolutely gets so many great article ideas from our Members and visitors. A perfect illustration was the suggestion which we had from 2 different members, huntley61 and janeAnn, to explore the idea of retiring in a pocket community. Thanks to all!
What is a Pocket Neighborhood?
The most common characteristic of a pocket neighborhood is a small group of homes and other type residences sharing a common, open space area. That space might be for gardens, pedestrian walkways, shared yards, or something else. The idea is to promote a close knit sense of community and neighborliness with an increased level of contact. Instead of a sterile parking lot as a common area, these usable public spaces belong to everyone who lives in that neighborhood. While the name and the communities are new, the idea is old and traditional – villages and city neighborhoods in Europe and New England (think homes clustered along the green) have had the same thing going for centuries. Pocket neighborhoods exist in a variety of environments – rural, in cities, or even the suburbs. Another aspect of pocket neighborhoods is that they are small scale – maybe 12 homes max (although many pocket neighborhoods might be linked together by walkways). Homes are usually smaller and closer together than in existing towns and suburbs. The movement is in some ways an extension of residential cluster housing, where a group of homes might be built on fairly large piece of property, but the homes are close together to create large common spaces.
Are pocket neighborhoods good for retirement and those 55+?
While we are aware of only a few pocket neighborhoods built expressly for those 55+, many baby boomers are interested enough in the idea to move into one. One attraction is the idea of living next to and relating to people of all ages, not just older people. In these shared settings neighbors get to know one another; children learn to (more…)
Posted by Admin on September 27th, 2016
September 23, 2016 — By Betty Fitterman
Note: This is Part 2 of a 6 Part series that Betty Fitterman was kind enough to contribute way back at Topretirements’ beginning. Here is a link to Part 1, Parts 3-6 are in our Tips & Picks Section/Adventurous Retirements (we will eventually move all of them into the Blog so people can Comment on them).
As we approached retirement, we realized that the failing economy had done a real job on both our savings and our businesses. Up until now, money had not been (more…)
Posted by Admin on September 26th, 2016
September 23, 2016 — By Betty Fitterman
Note: This is a 6 part series that Betty Fitterman was kind enough to contribute way back at Topretirements’ beginning. To see the other 5 parts go to our Tips & Picks Section/Adventurous Retirements (we will eventually move all of them into the Blog so people can Comment on them).
While millions of baby boomers are starting to check out active adult communities, college towns, and cities as their retirement destination, a sub-set of young-at-heart retirees has a much more adventurous approach. These folks have adopted a mobile lifestyle, and for them, the entire continent is their community.
We’re talking about the permanent and semi-permanent RVers, many of whom have sold everything – homes, condos, cars, furniture and all – to live as turtles, as one friend described it, carrying their homes on their backs for as long as they enjoy it.
It’s not an easy decision, especially when it comes to (more…)
Posted by Admin on September 22nd, 2016
Best Retirement Towns and States
September 20, 2016 — So maybe you have been thinking about retiring in The Palmetto State – but wondering where are the best places to retire in South Carolina. Here is our 10 Best Places list, formed from 10 years of experience in evaluating places to retire across the world.
As always, it is important to recognize that this is our list with our criteria – your ideal list of SC places to retire might not be the same. Here are our criteria:
– High “Popularity” ranking on our annual “100 Most Popular Places to Retire” list
– Be an interesting place to live in retirement – is it pretty, have an interesting history, or have a vital downtown?
– Things to do there – are there a lot of activities, restaurants, or cultural resources?
– How about places to live – are there different neighborhoods or communities suitable for a retirement lifestyle?
Should you retire in South Carolina
SC is increasingly a popular choice for retirement, and for many good reasons:
– Mild winter climate
– Varied places to live – from beautiful beaches to lakes to the Blue Ridge Mountains. Charming little towns and some interesting mid-sized cities
– Lower cost of living and taxes. South Carolina is a very tax-friendly state with the 9th lowest tax burden in 2011 according to the Tax Foundation. Social Security is not taxable, and people over 65 enjoy favorable tax status (see our Guide to Retiring in South Carolina).
Our Top 10
Here is our list. All of them made our annual Top 100 list – 6 of them were in the top half (ranking on that list shown in parentheses). Most of these towns have at least 10 active adult or 55+ communities to choose from. To see all of them check out our SC 55+ and Active Adult Community Guide. (more…)
Posted by Admin on September 19th, 2016
September 13, 2016 — Maybe the most fun thing about being retired is the chance to do all the things you have been postponing for so long. Now that your boss has to get along without you, the kids are out of the house (we hope!), and (maybe) you have to money to do something with all your free time, you have the green light for new experiences.
One of the suggestions we’ve heard is to give more emphasis to activities and experiences in retirement. To that end we would like to develop a “Best of” article for all kinds of categories, but we need your help to do it. Could you please pick of a couple of your “Best of” experiences in retirement and a quick description in the Comments section below. We promise to take what we get and try to arrange it in a readable fashion for a future article. Your item doesn’t have to be a luxury extravaganza, in fact simple (more…)
Posted by Admin on September 13th, 2016