October 8, 2019 — The results are in from the 555 people (so far!) who took the Medicare IQ test. We are thankful to all those intrepid souls: we are impressed with your solid grasp of most Medicare essentials. The test represents good timing, because this year’s Medicare Open Enrollment period begins next week (Oct 15) and runs through Dec. 7. During this time you can freely change plans without losing coverage. Didn’t take the quiz yet – here is the link to the Medicare IQ Quiz.
For learning purposes here is a question by question review of the quiz, along the scores by question. We arbitrarily set a passing grade of 60%, but the average score was just over 71%. Almost everyone understood the basic questions, such as the difference between Part A and Part B of Medicare. But three questions in particular tripped up about half of the people taking the quiz. Those questions involved the fine points of when you can sign up for Medicare (Question 10), which Medigap or Medicare Advantage Plan has the smallest deductible and copays (Q 11), and what events are covered under a Special Enrollment Period (Q 12).
Question 1: At what age are you eligible to Medicare on your own earnings record?
Some 82% answered correctly that the age to do this is 65. Wrong answers were 62 and 66.
October 8, 2019 — Stopped at the intersection, the light turned green. Your editor pushed on the bike pedals, ready to pass the tourist couple in front, who were wobbling to a start on their tandem bicycle. Except there they went, quickly gaining distance and fading away. Puzzled, I finally figured out they were on an eBike – a new category of bikes assisted by a battery powered motor. These new products are rapidly attracting a whole new group of people to biking.
Electric bikes have several big advantages:
Great for people who live in hilly country or on a big hill. They have just enough assist to make you not dread starting out your ride or finishing with a monster climb.
More fun for everyone. Our friend Brian and his wife just got back from a trip to Boulder, Colorado. With power assisted electric bikes their rental bike outings were fun for both of them – she could keep up without becoming exhausted, and he could pedal as hard as he wanted. Routes with big hills, which before they would have tried to avoid, were no problem for either of them.
Commute without getting sweaty. If you are working or going to a social event in hot weather an eBike can get you there without you needing a shower once you arrive.
October 2, 2019 – Many baby boomers might not know exactly where they want to retire, but they probably have an idea of what region or state they prefer. So if the Southwest is on your retirement radar, here is our 2019 list of the 20 most popular retirement towns in that region. In the coming months we will be providing similar lists for the West and Southeast.
The 20 most popular towns in the Southwest are almost all recognizable. This year Prescott, a former cowboy town that celebrates that image, is a close favorite for baby boomers looking for a relaxed southwestern lifestyle. It narrowly beat out last year’s winner, Green Valley (AZ).
Medicare can be awfully confusing. Take this quick quiz and you’ll find out just how much you know about this powerful benefit. You’ll get a score and the right answers, plus in the next few days we’ll have an article with a detailed explanation of all of the answers.
September 24, 2019 — The skies are starting to get busy with birds and butterflies headed south on their winter migrations. And soon Interstates like 25, 75, 95 will be crowded with baby boomers on their way to similar retirement destinations. To help you get ready for those trips we re-publish our popular “Snowbird’s Leaving for the Winter” Checklist every year. This year we also have a new article with tips for making your snowbird experience as wonderful as possible. Note that most of these tips will apply even if you are one of the many counter-snowbirds: folks who live north in the winter and elsewhere the rest of the year.
Anyone who has had the snowbird experience quickly learns it leads to a very different lifestyle than what they experience living in only one place. Your snowbird life will be a little more complicated, probably a bit more expensive, and if done right – more enjoyable. Here are some things to consider as you embark on this lifestyle.
September 21, 2019 — Our friend and long-time Member Ed Lafreniere was kind enough to send us some of the articles he has written for his new website, RetirementHumor.net. They take the form of a funny, but pertinent question, and an equally amusing but useful answer. We chose this particularly useful one as a great follow-up to our recent article on “How Different Retirement is from Every Other Lifestage”. Meanwhile, you might enjoy Ed’s lighthearted approach to retirement over at his site! Thanks Ed.
My husband retired six months ago and is experiencing a huge void in his social life now that he’s no longer working. He misses the lunches, the camaraderie, and, I believe, the respect and status. Over 45 years of work in the auto industry, his ego grew like a balloon – not a massive Macy’s parade-sized balloon, but one that was of reasonable and respectable size. Now it’s been punctured and he’s feeling deflated. We have moved to Florida and he has a lot of time to reflect, since all the distracting tasks involved in a 1,400-mile move have ended. He’s getting more than a little down, as if he’s been abruptly cut off from his known world, and his disappointment is driving me nuts, though I try my best to be understanding and supportive. He calls former co-workers, or emails them, but they often don’t respond. And when they do, the replies seem politely perfunctory, and hubby senses (correctly, I think) that he’s being patronized more than a little bit – they’ll treat the old codger with due dignity given his long tenure, but that’s about it. Short of my sticking a bicycle pump in his ear and blowing his ego back up, how can we get him out of this funk?
Frustrated in Florida
First of all, The Sage would not recommend a bicycle pump, as you can readily purchase an air pump made for the express purpose of blowing up balloons. But you don’t really want to risk an invasion of your home by OSHA inspectors arriving with sirens blaring after you misuse portable power equipment, do you?
Your husband’s issue is far from unique. Post-career adjustment difficulties are common, especially for those who have not planned for change in their social lives and who instead have assumed that as soon as they leave their retirement party, they will put that chapter behind them and proceed head-first into retirement as if cliff-diving in Acapulco. Problem is, many people don’t know how to swim in these new waters, let alone land safely.
September 17, 2019 — A special Retirement supplement in the New York Times was filled with sage advice about baby boomer retirements. The Sept. 12 section had articles on topics like finances, the new retirement, finding purpose, etc. ( See link at end, you might also find it in your library). The experts and retired people interviewed there (some quoted below) sparked a whole raft of new thoughts about retirement. Particularly, it made us realize how retirement is such a different experience from any other phase of life. Retirement might even be harder, mainly because it requires a great deal of self-initiative to do it right. Here are some of our new thoughts on the retirement process.
No ritual. The founder of consulting company Age Wave, Ken Dychtwald, points out that there is a ritual associated with most of the events in our lives, but not retirement. When you started school your mother probably took you out to buy clothes, and the whole family waited for the bus to pick you up. The process of going to college meant you took tests, visited campuses, got counseling, and if lucky, had parents who gave plenty of advice. Graduations were fraught with ceremony. But on the day you retire, you might be lucky to go out for drinks with colleagues. The next day all the trappings and structure of 40 years of working disappear.
“In retirement you are in a class of one; it’s a life test with no text and no teacher”
September 8, 2019 — As promised, our series on Medicare continues with an analysis of the competing forms of Medicare: Original Medicare + Medigap insurance vs. Medicare Advantage (Part C). This seems like a particularly good time for it, since the Medicare Open Enrollment Period begins on Oct. 15. We are grateful to Tom Cretella, CLU, an insurance broker with almost 50 years of experience and know-how in this field, for answering these frequently-asked questions. You can find the other articles in this series listed at the end. As always, we welcome your comments and questions on this complex and important topic.
Q. What is the significance of the Open Enrollment Period (AEP) which begins Oct. 15 and runs through Dec. 7?
A. The Annual Open Enrollment Period happens each year from Oct 15- Dec 7. During this time people can change coverages without fear of pre-existing conditions not being covered. If they have a Medigap plan and original Medicare they can change plans or elect a Medicare Advantage plan. This enables a Medicare beneficiary to buy a plan that suits their utilization habits and pocketbook. All changes become effective on January 1. On Sept 30 each plan is required to send a Notice of Change to Medicare Beneficiaries outlining any changes for the following year. More Blog articles like this…
September 4, 2019 — A constant question that comes up about retirement, and one that produces hundreds of comments, is “Is it a good idea to retire near my family”? Whether family means parents, children, grandchildren, or siblings – the question has many complex and potentially conflicting elements. In this article we will go over some of the pros and cons, as well as a short checklist to help you determine if retiring near family should be in your future. We also look forward to your comments on this topic about your preferences and experiences.
Pros of Retiring Near Family – Ability to help new parents as they juggle careers and child-rearing – The chance to see your family members often – Be part of the lives of your grandchildren as they grow up – Support for your parents or siblings as they age or need help – Support for adult children who need it – Support and companionship for you as you age – Built in social network MORE Blog articles like this
September 3, 2019 — Lately we have had a mini-avalanche of comments and questions about Medicare. They are mostly to do with which is the best plan to choose – Regular Medicare, or one of the many choices under Medicare Advantage? With plans ranging from A – N, it can all be downright confusing. So, to help you prepare for the upcoming Medicare Open Enrollment period (starts October 15 and runs through December 7), we are fortunate to have a Q and A article with a real Medicare insurance expert (now available). Tom Cretella of Cretella and Belowsky will try to answer many of the questions we have seen come up on this issue. Stay tuned, it should be very helpful! (Also, see list of related articles in our Medicare series at end)
New Medicare Comparison Plan Tool Announced by Medicare.gov.