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 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 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…)
November 26, 2018 — Thanks to the almost 700 members who generously contributed their insights to last week’s “Snowbird” poll. We appreciate you sharing! As promised, here in Part 1 is our first detailed report on the summary for each question. Part 2 features a compilation of the most popular snowbird pairings (where our Members say they want to snowbird to, and from where), along with how they get there and other details of their migrations.
Your input confirms many of our pre-conceived opinions, along with some surprises. For example, it is not news that the top snowbird destination states are Florida, Arizona, and South Carolina – in that order. But we were surprised by how many people have a reverse migration pattern; they pack up and go somewhere cooler in the summer. One Member called himself a “sweatbird”, “shadebird” might be another handle! (more…)
October 31, 2018 — A provocative question we hear from time to time is, “Where do you think you’ll be, and what will you be doing, when you turn 80 and move toward 90?” Forward thinking helps insure that you arrive at the place that you want to be, ready for the challenges that might be there.
The purpose of this short article is to solicit brief answers from our Topretirements community on this question – how will your lifestyle differ from what it is now in your 60s or 70s? Please refrain from saying you will probably be dead – half of us will live into our 80s – and we need to understand what we should be (more…)
September 25, 2018 — We love your Comments to the Topretirements.com Blog! Our Members consistently say they are one of the most valuable features of this site. BUT….one of our regular contributors made yet a great suggestion that might make this feature even better. He is frustrated with some Comments that he believes get in the way of a helpful flow of information. A pet concern of his are replies that turn into long-winded 2 person chats, to the exclusion of the rest of us. In the end, he and others tune out of the Blog because of the resulting conversational chit-chat, which deprives the rest of the community of their useful insights.
To that end we have put together this short piece of Blog how-to’s. Our goal is to accentuate the positive, rather than set out a rigid list of rules.
Six great ways to post to our blog 1. Stick to the topic. Nothing kills a good conversation quicker than when somebody makes a comment to a Blog post that has nothing to do with the featured topic. If, for example, the post is about when to collect social security, don’t add a comment about IRAs. If the topic is about retiring to Florida, don’t ask someone to comment about Arizona. 2. Keep the wider audience in mind. Please realize that thousands of people might read your comments, hoping to get a valuable exchange of information from them. If you try to use the comments as a one on one chat room, you are wasting everyone else’s time. Worse, valuable contributors will be turned off and go away, depriving the community of valuable insights. If you do want to share with another member, see end of article for suggestions on how to do that. 3. Stick to the facts, or frame your comments as an opinion. Far too many times we see people posting either fringe theories or just plain mis-information. For example, the government has NOT stolen your Social Security, and members of Congress ARE part of the Social Security system. If you make a factual statement, check to make sure it is a fact (snopes.com is a good place to find out if something is true or not). You are entitled to your opinion, but don’t state it as a fact if it is really only what you believe personally. 4. Keep it to YOUR experiences. If your brother-in-law lives somewhere, try to avoid reporting it unless you have experienced it yourself. Our Members especially like to learn about places where others have retired, but only from the people who have actual experiences there. 5. Be polite, be specific, and avoid generalizations. Treat people the way you want to be treated. Sarcasm and criticism is not appropriate. Don’t generalize – For example, calling individuals or a class of people a redneck, snowflake (or worse) is not helpful. People are not generalizations, we are all unique people with foibles and strengths to spare. 6. Tread carefully over politics and religion. Everyone has their opinions. In today’s highly politicized environment you are not going to change anyone’s mind, no matter how skillfully you think you are making the argument. So please spare us all the pain and agita that gets stirred up with your blistering critiques of the other party. This site is about retirement, and we want to concentrate on that, and get along in the process.
A few more
For your safety we recommend that you not post your email address or phone numbers in your posts. Spammers have programs that can scrape websites to harvest phone numbers and emails, and spam you. If you would like to contact someone who is posting on Topretirements and have a one on one conversation, send us an email. We will try to contact the other person, and if they want to get in touch with you, that is their option.
If you don’t follow our rules and suggestions
Here is where you can find out Site Rules (there is a link to them at the bottom of every page). Please don’t post irrelevant items, are hurtful or generalize, tell your life story over and over, promote fact-less arguments, speak to only one person, or make some other violation. Since we are a free site we don’t have the resources to spend a lot of time policing violations. So if you abuse our rules and common sense we will delete, edit, or move to a better, more relevant post – if worthy.
We hope you find this post helpful, rather than stern. Other sites encourage or permit a more raucous discussion, but that is not our why we are here. Our goal is to make Topretirements as useful as possible to people who want to have a great retirement. And so far you have done a great job in helping us do that!
Comments. If you have suggestions on how to keep our Blog discussions helpful please feel free to add them in the Comments section below.
By Bob Stacy
National Institute of Transition Planning
September 15, 2018 — I am consistently amazed when conducting my NITP “Transition to Retirement” sessions when I ask participants a very simple question: “Do you know how much you spend each year?” The answer is almost universally “no”!
Retirement income should be easier to calculate
In preparing for retirement you should know approximately what your income will be. If you are a federal or state worker or you are employed by a larger company, you can visit your HR department and have them provide an estimate of your annuity or pension, which will probably be your main source of retirement income. Then you can add other possible sources of projected income such as 401Ks, Social Security, investment income, TSPs, part-time work and maybe even inheritance. If you don’t have a pension, it will probably be slightly easier to estimate your income.
No matter how much income you may have forthcoming, no one should retire if you don’t know what you actually spend each month. Running out of money in retirement is one of the worst things that can happen to you. So I suggest that you not consider retirement until you know your (more…)
August 6, 2018 — In addition to death and taxes, you can add one more to the list of things you can’t avoid. Whether you call it decluttering, ridding out, or downsizing – the job has to be done, sooner or later. Sooner…. if you plan on moving to a different home in retirement. Later… even if you die without emptying out your basement, attic, garage, overflowing closets, and countless drawers – your children or heirs are going to have the thankless task of getting rid of everything you managed to hoard all these years. And the job is even harder if you plan on moving to a tiny home, boat, or RV.
Last year we surveyed our Members to find out how they are doing at downsizing. The answer is (more…)
July 25, 2018 — Note: Last week we reported on the statistical results from our 12 question poll about where members want to retire, and why. (See” When It Comes to Where to Retire, Climate and Weather Rule“). This week we are reprinting a sampling from the hundreds of comments you made to the survey, which reveal a fascinating depth of detail on retirement choices and reasons. We hope you enjoy them as well as find them helpful!
We have arranged the comments into themes where they seemed to fit. The major themes are: Reasons for choosing a retirement area, Particular states/regions chosen and why, and type of community. Each “–” indicates a new comment from a different person. There were (more…)
July 16, 2018 — Thanks to the more than 750 members who took the time to contribute their valuable insights to last week’s “Where You’ll Live and Why” poll. We appreciate you sharing! As promised, here is our first detailed report on the summary for each question. Within the next few days we will publish a second article which will feature the fascinating comments the poll generated.
Your input confirms many opinions we hold about retirement preferences in general, along with some surprises. For example, it is not much of a stretch to bet that most of you are interested in retiring to a warm weather clime, with the Southeast (Florida) and Southwest at the top of your preferences. We did not expect to see the level of interest there was in a suburban environment. (more…)