May 8, 2019 — Chances are you aren’t looking for the most expensive place to retire. Most people are looking for the opposite, a 55+ or active community where they can retire and stretch their savings and social security into a comfortable retirement. But just for fun, here’s a look at where we might retire if we were to suddenly join the ranks of the 1%. Which one would you pick?
We looked around in researching this article and were amazed at how little good information there is on the ritziest places to retire. 55places.com had an article on the topic, but the communities on its list barely approached the mid-range of pricing. The same can be said for a very similar list put out by ThinkAdvisor.com. Our list is by no means complete, but we think it is a lot better. If you know of a super-expensive retirement community, please suggest it in the Comments section below.
July 15, 2019 — Hiring a good financial advisor is a difficult job for most people. Although there is no shortage of solicitations that appear in the newspaper, come in the mail, or through a phone call – how do you know if the person who tells you they are so gifted is really that great? Someone who will look out for your interests, not cheat you, protect your hard earned savings, and actually make your savings grow. After all, your money represents your financial security, which makes making this decision so important and so difficult.
A while back we profiled a number of tips for hiring a good financial advisor (see Further Reading at end). This feature will build on that and provide some tips for how to evaluate the person you hired, or the one(s) you might be considering for the job.
Seven things to look for
Trust your instincts. Your intuitions and first impressions are always important. If you feel like you are being swept along into a decision and little voices tell you something might not be right – stop and listen. Further exploration might clear them up, but never dismiss your reservations.
July 8, 2019 — If you are looking for a place to retire where it is tranquil and beautiful with a cool temperature, you might want to consider Scotland. Topretirements just got back from an enchanting exploration of the country, which definitely lives up to the beauty you have seen if you are a fan of Outlander, Monty Python, the Davinci Code, or Game of Thrones , all of which had important scenes filmed here. A country that is part of Great Britain, Scotland is bigger than you might think, about the size of South Carolina, with 130 inhabited islands. It has a tremendous range of regions where you might want to retire. And even that holds no interest for you, Scotland still makes a wonderful retirement trip!
There are livable cities like historic Edinburgh or Glasgow. Charming market towns like Peebles or Moffat. University towns like St. Andrews. Or you could choose to live in a town like Portree on the stunning Isle of Skye. The areas around the many lochs (lakes) provide idyllic living choices. One of our friends would like to retire in Scotland because he likes its relaxed atmosphere and cool climate. It is also rainy much of the year, which is one reason why everything seems so green and there are flowers – both wild and cultivated – everywhere. But as beautiful and charming a place as Scotland is, there is one great problem – it is very difficult, but not impossible for an American to retire here. But more about that later.
July 5, 2019 — What you drive says a lot about you. And if you live in a big retirement community where the preferred way of getting around is by golf cart, why not drive something that reflects your personality?
That is what is happening in places like The Villages,where many of its 120,000 residents are getting around in golf cars that look like Corvettes, Hummers, and even 18 wheelers. It has spawned a cottage industry that customizes them into all kinds of fantasies. While an ordinary golf cart might sell for $11,000, a specially tricked out version can go for $20,000 or more, some retired couples have two of them in their carports.
June 24, 2019 — Women tend to do more of the worrying than men, at least in the circles we travel in. And for us men, that is usually a good thing for our preservation. When it comes to women’s big fears about retirement, the research primarily focuses on money concerns, but there is no shortage of other worries. We’ll cover the common concerns that we are aware of, but we are eager to hear what yours are in the Comments section at the end.
Top Worries – Money
A study published by the nonprofit Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies reported that 46% of women were concerned they wouldn’t have a comfortable retirement lifestyle. By comparison, only 31% of men had similar concerns.
June 22, 2019 – We have been posting on Facebook about some of the most likely places to retire as we continue our tour of Scotland and a little bit of Ireland. These posts will give you a little hint of what it might be like to retire there, mostly because of the photos.
Very soon we will have a summary feature that covers places to retire in Scotland, how possible it is for non-Brits, cost of living, and more. But in the meantime, follow us on Facebook where you will find posts not only about Scotland, but links to all of our newsletters and other interesting retirement news as well. See our Mini-Retirement Guide to Scotland as well.
June 16, 2019 — Most of retirement age America, with the possible exception of our elected representatives in Washington, D.C., has some inkling that Social Security retirement is facing big benefit cuts as early as 2034. The commonly held reason why is that are too many baby boomers collecting their Social Security retirement checks, with too few millennials and Gen Xers paying into the system to keep it in balance. While that is not inaccurate, there is another, more fundamental reason for the shortfall, which dates back to the beginning of the Social Security program.
When the program started in the 1930’s there was an intrinsic problem. Half of the working population at the time was at least halfway towards retirement age. Yet because the program was new, no one had yet contributed anything into the system. It was decided that these Depression-era workers would be given full benefits anyway. Enough money was being collected that benefits could be paid as these workers retired. So they essentially had a windfall – they collected far more than they ever paid into the system. The benefits paid to them would ordinarily have been paid into the trust fund reserves, forever reducing the trust funds. In retrospect, it might have been better to have funded the shortfall from the general treasury at the time.
June 9, 2019 — America’s seniors are a little bit healthier than they were a few years ago, even though obesity and excessive drinking are on the rise. America’s Health Rankings; put together by the United Health Foundation, an affiliate of UnitedHealth Group, and the Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association, rated the states with the healthiest people over 65. Some of the states that ranked the highest were a bit surprising.
Top ranked for the healthiest older people ranged geographically all over the country: Hawaii, Utah, Connecticut, Minnesota, and Colorado. States in the South brought up the rear: Mississippi, Kentucky, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and West Virginia. Rhode Island earned most improved honors, going from #30 to #7. Going in the unhealthy direction were Kansas and Nebraska, which both fell 10 places, from 18 to 28 and 13 to 23.
June 2, 2019 — The number one Google search about retirement is “How much do I need to retire”. Or, phrased slightly differently, “how much can I spend in retirement”. It is a tough question, dependent on a lot of factors unique to you. The short answer is: “a lot more than you thought”.
We liken the problem to a maxim our old friend Ralph came up with on a fall camping trip. After a night when the temperature dropped, the fire died down, and we ran out of firewood well before bedtime, he came up with the solution for the next campfire. Before it gets dark go out and collect about as much wood as you think you will need. Then go back out and gather at least that same amount again…. now you will probably be OK!
Here in this article we will address how to identify how much you need to retire comfortably. We want to stress that people usually underestimate two related things: how much is needed, and how long they will live. To be safe, keep Ralph’s maxim in mind. We will also explain the major withdrawal techniques, and provide a list of the situations that cause people to underestimate their needs.
How much do you need – the budget
The lifestyle you plan to live will determine how much you need. Step 1 is to figure out how much you are spending now, and estimate how that might change once you retire, including estimates for future medical expenses. You probably won’t spend a whole lot less than you do now, particularly if plan to travel a lot. If you make big changes to where you live, those expenses might go down a lot.
May 29, 2019 — We are grateful to Brigitta for suggesting this article on the pitfalls to look out for when buying a home in the Southwest. Here is what she wrote a while back:
“I’ve been receiving your newsletter for a couple of years. However, I don’t think I’ve ever seen an article about the differences in building practices in different areas of the country. By that, I mean as someone who has lived my entire life on the east coast, I am quite familiar with how homes are/were built going back to the 1700s when my area was settled. I’m also familiar with the types of “pests” and environmental issues, i.e., radon, asbestos, buried oil tanks (for heating) that that NJ homeowners look for. Now, I am interested in purchasing a home in AZ and I realize I don’t know ANYTHING about typical building practices- pro/con, types of homes that one might want to stay away from or might WANT to consider, pests typical to the area, environmental issues, etc as I do about the east coast. ”
Thanks Brigitta! It is such a good question we will expand this “pitfalls” article to the Southeast and Florida as well the Southwest, since these are the most common places for retirees to be moving to, and where they tend to lack buying experience. As always, we are hoping for additional Member Comments to make sure we address all the important risks to worry about.
The desert and mountains present inherently different hazards to those found in the Southeast. The Southwest’s powerful sun and high temperatures present other differences. This first section will discuss the home buying hazards that can exist in the Southwest. Although many problems in a home can be corrected if you spend money and time, but it is always nice to find a property that doesn’t need work.
Flooding is possible in the Southwest, especially in areas of low elevation and along large rivers. Geological hazards, including avalanches, earthquakes, landslides, and rockfalls, also occur throughout the Southwest, especially where there is rugged, mountainous terrain. FEMA maps can help alert you to those areas.
May 25, 2019 — The Democratic lead House of Representatives passed a bill this week, the Secure Act of 2019, that would make major changes to 401(k) plans. If it goes into law those changes could have a very positive effect on retirees and people who hope to retire someday. Since neither the Senate nor Pres. Trump seem to have any major objections, the bill seems to have a very good chance of becoming a reality.
The law has come into being as a reaction to a number of factors including a recognition of the growing importance of 401(k) plans, as well as the increasing longevity of Americans dependent on those plans for their financial security. Here are some of the many changes in the Secure Act of 2019, which passed by a whopping 417-3 margin:
Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) not required until age 72 (currently required at age 70 and 1/2)
Granting companies with 401k plans permission to offer annuities as an investment option
Employers must disclose on 401(k) statements the amount of sustainable monthly income the employee’s balance would support
Part time workers would be allowed to participate in 401(k) plans
Unaffiliated companies could band together to offer 401(k) plans