January 18, 2019 – The good news is that the vast majority (90%) of Facebook users do not pass along articles that represent fake news. But the bad news is that people over 65 are seven times more likely than younger people to post about articles that are not factual.
The study was done by a group at Princeton University who studied the 2016 election campaign. They found that the Facebook users who shared the most fake stories were much more likely to be over the age of 65, and to be self-declared Republicans.
The authors of the study concluded that, just as older people are more likely to fall for financial scams, so they are open to manipulation by groups that publish stories on the web that are just not true.
What can you do? Regardless of party, the vast majority of people do not want to encourage or pass along false information, whether it comes from Russia, China, hate groups, or political partisans. We encourage you to have a critical eye towards everything you read online. Ask yourself, is this published by a media outlet that employs trained journalists committed to the truth, or on a website with little or no editorial oversight? Just about every news organization has some degree of bias, but bias is a lot different than publishing false information. So if you read something that seems sensational, give it the sniff test. You can use fact checking websites like snopes.com and factcheck.org to help you detect if something is true or not.
January 16, 2018 — Late in 2018 we published a series of Best Places to Retire lists for four U.S. regions. They were based on popularity – the 20 towns and cities in each region that had the most online visits at Topretirements. To kick off the new year we are picking the “2019 best of the best” from those 80 – the 10 retirement towns that we think are the best places to retire. While the original 80 made it because of popularity, these 10 represent our subjective best places selections. Some of the factors we weighed were cultural and recreational opportunities, climate, expense, taxes, the quality of the downtowns, and beauty. Obviously, your personal criteria might make for a different list. (Note that we did not include active adult communities on this list, which meant that places like The Villages did not get included).
1. Asheville, NC Asheville is a prosperous small city of just over 75,000 in the Blue Ridge mountains of western North Carolina. The downtown is filled with cafes, restaurants, and art deco buildings. Because it is in the mountainous part of the state it tends to have 4 seasons. The surrounding area has other towns popular with retirees, along with a huge number of 55+ and active adult communities.
2. Sarasota, FL. Some consider this thriving city midway down the Gulf Coast to be the cultural capital of Florida, after Miami. Sarasota has a great downtown with many interesting neighborhoods. An impressive array of cultural facilities is available in Sarasota. Barrier islands like Siesta offer great beaches and developments where retirees can put their feet up.
(Note: this is the first of a 2 part series on Costa Rica. The second will focus on expat retirement in the country. ) January 13, 2019 — Does your retirement include a bucket list trip to Costa Rica, one of the world’s greatest ecotourism destinations? This Central American country, situated north of Panama and south of Nicaragua, has an incredible array of attractions that bring in tourists from all over the world. But unlike more traditional vacation spots where the places to visit are fairly obvious (think Paris or Normandy in France) Costa Rican tourism is complex. The choices of where to visit can be difficult to figure out. This article will tell you what to expect if you go, what your options are, and how to plan and book your trip.
Costa Rica snapshot Costa Rica (CR) has long coastlines on two sides – the Pacific on the west and the Caribbean to the east. The country has a very stable democratic government and a prosperous economy based mainly on tourism, technology, and agriculture. It has no army; that was abolished in 1948. The climate is tropical with a rainy season from mid-September through December. The terrain is quite mountainous with peaks over 10,000′; it can get quite cool in those areas. The terrain goes from very dry areas on the west coast to cloud and rain forests further east.
January 1, 2018 – What better time of the year to think about this project than the first day of a New Year. Josh Walker over at NextAvenue.org wrote about their 2016 Facebook challenge to create a very short memoir. The challenge was to write down in six words or less a phrase that summarizes your life or philosophy. While a touch narcissistic, is a very good way to reflect on who you are right now, what you have accomplished, what and who you care about. Better than that, it is a chance to mindfully consider how you want to change.
January 1, 2019 — We’ve heard it said before that new babies shouldn’t be released to their parents until they have passed a child rearing class. Something similar might be said for retirees – retirement is far too important a project to undertake without some education and training. With that said we are undertaking a multipart class on retirement preparation. As we imagine it, this course will be good for people to take years before they actually pull the retirement trigger. We also hope is that it might provide refresher training for those who are already enjoying their retirements. Please let us know what you think of the idea!
At this point we are not sure how many modules the course will contain – that will determined by your reactions. The course will have several elements that we hope you find fun and helpful. For example, the Comments sections will include some discussion questions. There might be some simple assignments like filling in checklists, or drafting a note to your partner outlining some part of your retirement dream. And there will be at least a couple of quizzes you can fill out online and check how well you are doing. If you complete the course you can send us a note and we will send you a “Certificate of Completion” for your edification.
December 24, 2018 — (this is a continuation of our “Time to Retire Retirement” Series.) Part 1 of this series starts with the idea that since people are living active lives much longer than what used to be retirement age, the idea of retirement might need to be reconsidered. In this edition we want to focus on the difficulties that older workers have if they decide to take up on that idea – postponing or maybe never retiring. An article from the Wall St. Journal, “Booming Employment Market Can’t Fill the Retirement Shortfall“, has some very sobering information on older people who would like to remain in the workplace.
The number of older Americans are out of work or stuck in low-quality jobs is large, almost 8 million. Over 5 million of those do not have health insurance. Adding to retirement savings or improving their earning record for Social Security in a meaningful way is difficult for them. Even for those who do manage getting another job, their earnings after a period of unemployment will likely suffer. Whereas workers under (more…)
December 19, 2018 — Retirement is not always perfect, even for the people who are the most prepared for it. Our Member surveys indicate that most of the people who visit this website are very satisfied with their retirement, but there is almost always room for improvement. So when saw a recent survey from Global Atlantic that listed the top three retirement regrets, we were curious. Particularly, we wanted to compare the regrets in that survey with the results from our own surveys, asking about retirement satisfaction. After you read our comparison we hope you will all provide us comments about your retirement regrets and concerns (as well as what is great about it)!
The survey from Global Atlantic was concerned mostly with financial regrets. Our surveys were broader than that, exploring all types of concerns and worries, not just financial. Note that there is a semantic differences between regrets and concerns, although both have negative connotations. Regrets seem to be about the past, and concerns/worries are more present and future.
Regrets – Financially speaking
Global’s survey came up with these top 3 regrets from retirees:
• 36% Did not save enough
• 20% Relied too much on social security
• 12% Did not pay down debt prior to retirement.
Our Member Concerns
The last time we asked our Members about their biggest retirement concerns other issues came up besides money. Topping the list was where to live and having enough money.
Deciding where to live
Having enough money
How to occupy my time
Health related issues
When to retire
When we asked for details about their regrets, the major issues boiled down to two categories:
– Financial. People mentioned that they waited too long to start saving/didn’t save enough, they were too aggressive about stocks, or they took social security too soon. – Planning . Typical comments included waiting too long to start planning, buying a 3000 sq. ft. house in their 50’s, rushing into buying big ticket item like RV or second home, picking the wrong neighborhood, retiring too early, or locked themselves into location based on children/grandchildren.
Worst Things about retirement. We also asked about the worst things in their retirements. Number one on the list was “Nothing”, which was great to hear. After that, the next highly ranked “worst” things were: – Live too far/near from family and friends – Poor health or medical care – Not having enough money – Not having enough to do
Other worries. In the write-in comments we saw the complexity and diversity of retirement experiences that exist among our members. People worry about getting good health insurance that is affordable, running out of money, if they picked the right place to live, that they are too close to (or too far away from) their children or grandchildren, their retired (or unretired spouse), the economy, children’s college bills, being a caregiver, etc. In brief, there is a lot to worry about!
We are happy that so many people are satisfied with their retirements, but we also hope that all of us, particularly those who haven’t yet retired, can learn from these common mistakes and missteps. The most important conclusion we see from this research is that the best way to have a successful retirement is to start planning early. Bad luck can always get in the way, but the earlier you start thinking about and preparing for it, the better the odds are that everything will work out.
Your regrets, worries, and concerns. Let us know what keeps you up at night concerning your retirement. Please share them, along with the best things, in the Comments section below.
December 12, 2018 — This is Part 1 of a 2 Part Series. Part 2, “Older Workers Face Bleak Employment Prospects“, describes the problem along with some strategies to overcome them. Back when the concept of retirement became institutionalized, our live expectancies were nothing like what they are now. When Social Security came into being in 1935 the retirement age was set at 65, but the odds were that if you made it that far you wouldn’t be collecting long. During the Great Depression of the 1930’s life expectancy for men was 59 and 63 for women: for people born in 2018 the expectancies are 83 and 86.
Although not everyone over 65 is healthy, vigorous, and mentally sharp, millions of us are. Which leads many experts to propose that in the face of a tightening employment market, employers should consider putting the whole idea of retirement on hold. This excellent article in Nautilus, “Retiring Retirement: A Growing Portion of the Elderly Look Anything But”, explains the growing phenomenon of people who are not acting their age, and the reasons why they should be more gainfully employed.
The authors give some wonderful examples. One of their fathers-in-law, a 97 year old retired Air Force Colonel, is posed in (more…)
December 11, 2018 — December 31 is the deadline for taking a Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) from your 401(k) or IRA if you are older than 70 and 1/2 (but if you turned 70 and 1/2 this year you have until April 1). Fines for not doing so are steep – 50% of the required distribution not taken. Because it might take several days for your financial firm to handle the distribution, it is definitely time to make sure you do this now!
Tax savings available
For people with substantial income and retirement saving balances, the taxes on an RMD can be significant – because it is treated as ordinary income. If you already have pension, investment income, and Social Security income, the RMD could tip you into a higher bracket. But there is an easy way not to pay taxes on up to $100,000 of your annual RMD.
You can take a Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) by directly transferring funds from your IRA custodian to a qualified (more…)
December 5, 2018 — This is Part 2 of our report on our recent Snowbird Survey. Part 1, “Florida is Favorite Snowbird Destination“, contained the detailed results on the survey’s first 9 questions. This installment is mostly made up of verbatim comments detailing where people snowbird to, and how they get there. Because these are actual comments from real people on this issue, we think you will find it a great source of ideas and comparisons to your own thoughts and experiences.
This article has three sections: Section 1 will start will overall observations, Section 2 is a sampling of 351 overall comments made to Question 10, “Anything More to Say”, and Section 3 has a link to all 166 comments made to Question 8, “How Hard Was It to Find a Place to Snowbird”.
Section 1: Observations Driving vs. Flying. More people drive to their snowbird destination than fly; the ratio is about 3 to 1 in favor of driving. Top reasons for driving include: having a car at the destination, more room for stuff, taking pets, and visiting/exploring on the way are . Avoiding a multi-day, long drive is a top reason for flying. Many people who fly either keep a car at the destination, or have the car driven down.
East vs. West snowbirds. As is usually the case with Topretirements surveys, the majority of our audience is east coast based, mostly from the Northeast or Midwest. Although there were some folks who cross the Mississippi to either (more…)