February , 2022 — Depending where you live, you might be familiar with the concept of a Chautauqua community, those seasonal assemblies dedicated to four pillars: the arts, education, recreation, and religion. As such they offer the perfect snowbird retirement for people who love culture.
Chautauqua assemblies expanded and spread throughout rural America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They were part of an adult education and social movement in the United States that brought speakers, teachers, musicians, showmen, preachers, and specialists of the day to communities. Lakeside Chautauqua on the shores of Lake Erie was the first assembly in 1873, followed the next year by the Chautauqua Institute on western New York’s Chautauqua Lake. Although at one point there were several hundred Chautauquas, these two are among the few independent Chautauquas that persist in the 21st century. The drawback to a Chautauqua retirement is that they are seasonal – after summer ends you need to find a place to live the rest of the year.
For culture loving people – you can’t beat a Chautauqua retirement
February 23, 2022 — We have heard many people fantasize about home sharing like in the popular TV show “The Golden Girls”, which featured four older women having a ball sharing a home and life together. NextAvenue.com had a great article and discussion about home sharing recently. This arrangement can be financially and socially beneficial solution for many retirees, whether they are single or in a relationship.
February 21, 2022 – Two demographics are more likely to move than any other. The group with the highest tendency to migrate is highest is young adults, who tend to move in search in jobs and fortune. At retirement age (commonly around 65), there is another big spike in migration. Although both groups have a propensity to move, the places where they move tend to be very different, according to Brookings.edu.
Studies of net migration show what areas of the country are experiencing the greatest population growth. But looking at the big picture alone does not tell the whole story about who is moving where. Census data shows that the top regional magnets for young adults (ages 25-34) are very different from regions that are attracting baby boomers (ages 55 and older).
February 15, 2022 — Everybody knows some things about Social Security, the benefit that changed retirement for the good when it was signed into law in 1935. Unfortunately, some of the items many people think they know either aren’t true, or are just plain wrong. This misinformation could have a serious and negative impact on the decisions they make, and their ultimate retirement well-being. One of the sources used in this article are the results from our 2020 Social Security IQ Quiz , where we looked at the answers that people tended to get wrong the most.
How many years you work doesn’t really affect your Social Security benefit that much.
Only 49% of people who took our 2020 quiz got this answer correct. The choices for how many earning years are used to calculate your benefit were 25, 30, or 35 – and the correct answer is that Social Security calculates your benefit on your highest 35 earning years (adjusted for inflation). While that might not seem that important a detail, it is, because every year you had no earnings counts as a zero!
February 13, 2022 – A group of Connecticut would be homeowners and investors is greatly disappointed about the demise of Rocky Corner, a planned co-housing project in Bethany, CT. It was to be Connecticut’s first collaborative living project, but ultimately failed because it took too long to develop and costs grew too high.
After years of planning the group that sponsored it finally broke ground in 2018. Group decision making sometimes added difficulties to the process. Then it took years to get the co-housing community approved by the town’s planning authorities. Rock ledge was discovered which greatly added to the costs. Claudia Ruffle, a retired teacher and secretary, was one of the early home purchasers. Unfortunately she and her friend, who sold their home to buy one in Rocky Corner, were two of many who lost all of the money they put into it, and are now struggling, according to a story in the New York Times.
Feb 15 – Feb 22 is heart valve disease awareness week.
As many as 11.6 million Americans are estimated to have heart valve disease, and each year around 25,000 people die from the disease. Fortunately, valve disease can usually be successfully treated in patients of all ages.
On a personal note, last March your editor’s heart valve disease became very serious. Although I knew I had a leaking mitral valve, it was always a someday, maybe, kind of problem. Then during some exercise my heart began racing, and went into atrial flutter. Long story short, after some superb medical care I had a mitral valve repair via robot, minimally invasive. Today it is almost as if nothing ever happened. But I was lucky. Please be aware that this problem does affect millions of people. When you get your medical checkups, pay attention to anything pointing to this disease. Follow your doctor’s advice. And if you experience symptoms – get help fast!
February 8, 2022 – If you ask Kevin Hubbard what he does to stay active, grab a railing, you are about to get dizzy. A collector’s collector, the retired executive of a Fortune 500 manufacturer of industrial products has some of the most fascinating retirement interests of anyone we have ever met. Those include visiting presidential history sites, major league baseball stadiums, and his latest – U.S. National Parks. In a recent conversation Kevin was kind enough to share some of his interests. (Don’t miss the companion piece to this, his wife Susan’s hilarious account of his recent retirement).
It all started with a fascination with presidential history that began in the first grade. That love of everything having to do with U.S. presidents continues to this day. It includes the homes where they were born (museums, or sometimes just a sign on the road), gravesites, and the homes where they lived. His passion also includes presidential museums. The modern era for those started with President Hoover, but before that there were more informal ones – sometimes only a room in a library. He has visited all of the key sites for presidents from Washington to Reagan, and has read biographies for all of them. To keep track of all of this collecting Kevin keeps detailed spreadsheets. We asked him about his favorites, and he suggested Hyde Park, New York. There in one place you can visit FDR’s home, the FDR Presidential Library and Museum, the Eleanor Roosevelt National Historical Site at ValKill Cottage, plus stop in at the Culinary Institute of America.
February 3, 2022 — Chances are that for most of your life it was drilled into you that home ownership is the road to economic security. Pay off that mortgage, count on rising property values, and someday you will have accumulated substantial equity. But now that you are approaching your retirement, it might be time to re-think that belief.
Our friend Ray brought to our attention a thought provoking article in the NY Times that makes the case that renting a home can be more appealing than owning one. Renting means giving up the prospect of investment gains, but more than makes up for it with hassle free living and not having to come up with big down payments and closing fees. Younger people like millennials might not have much choice in the matter, due to soaring costs of real estate, the difficulty of funding down payments, or qualifying for a mortgage. But many retirees are attracted to the rental option for a variety of reasons, which we will explore here.
February 2, 2022 — When people retire they (and their friends and spouses!) wonder how the new retiree will fill their day. Will they just shuffle around the empty house, rearranging the tools in the garage, and counting the hours until they can crank up the riding mower? Or will they be so busy playing golf and pickleball, travelling around the globe (not so much of that lately), or putting in countless hours volunteering at some worthwhile cause like the library or food pantry, that they pine for the carefree days when they were working? This article will explore some of the ways people in retirement spend their time when it comes to fun that is game related. We hope you will supply more in the Comments section at the end, and fill in your favorite games and pastimes in the quick poll embedded in this article.
Even if you haven’t become addicted to them, it is a safe bet that you have been seated next to someone (not just a teenager) who is riveted to a game on their phone. Some, like Candy Crush, solitaire, and Call to Duty, you have probably heard of. Other popular ones like PUBG Mobile, Garena Free Fire, and Mobile Legends: Free Fire have millions of downloads but are unknown to us. Obviously not all of these games are for people like us of a certain age.
Word games might be better suited for some baby boomers. The most recent fast growing phenomenon is Wordle, recently acquired by the New York times. In this game you write in your 5 letter word and try to guess what the word of the day is. If your word(s) contain a letter that is somewhere in the word of the day, that letter will turn yellow. If the letter is in the correct position it will turn green. You get 6 tries to guess. Your editor failed to get yesterday’s, a disappointment. Currently Wordle is free, but we suspect it will probably become part of The Times Games package or be advertising supported in the near future.
Another that has millions of fans is Spelling Bee, also from the NY TImes. A free version lets you play for a while, but to try for Genius level you have to subscribe to the Games package. In this game you try to guess words with at least 4 letters from a circle with 7 letters in it. Each word must contain the center level, and letters can be repeated. The panagram (a word using all 7 letters) gives you extra points. We know many people who will not start their regular day or go to bed without hitting genius level (not that easy!). Words with Friends, a Scrabble like game, continues to have millions of fans competing against each other, and Bananagrams is another that has many fans.
The pandemic caused a resurgence in board games of all types. Facebook has been filled with images of happy puzzlers smiling next to their completed, and often gigantic and complex, jigsaw puzzles. Board games like Monopoly, Scrabble, etc. are still popular, but newer ones like Scythe, Small World, Anomia, Gyro, Seven Wonders Architects, and Hunger are listed as some of the more popular ones for 2021.
Solitaire is an extremely popular game online, with many versions available to play on your phone or tablet. Some people enjoy playing with physical decks of cards, including the pinochle version. But online bridge games like Bridgebase.com really took off in the pandemic, allowing people to play against real and virtual opponents who can be very far away geographically. They are so much fun and easy that many people now find it hard to play with actual cards.
Take the poll!
What is your favorite game? We have undoubtedly overlooked many popular games that you enjoy. Please share with everyone your favorite game of pastime. Whether it is a new one or an old one, we would all love to hear what you enjoy spending time on. Do you spend more hours on it since the pandemic started, or fewer?