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Gary and Pat: These Former Educators Give a Master’s Class on Retirement Planning

Category: Retirement Planning

Editor’s note. This is another in our continuing series of articles exploring actual people’s retirement stories. Thanks so much to Gary and Pat for sharing theirs. See bottom of article for more baby boomer retirement articles.

September 1, 2017 — When it comes to planning out a retirement and then living it to the fullest, this pair of former educators in the Michigan school system could teach the course. Gary grew up on a farm on Lake Michigan, and Pat grew up nearby. Both learned the value of hard work, and both loved living near the lake and exploring it winter and summer in their childhood and working days.

The pair have always been enthusiastic runners, bikers, and tennis players. They met as competitive cross country ski racers, crisscrossing the Midwest in events during their younger days. They raised two boys along the way and now enjoy their two granddaughters, ages 4 1/2 and 10.

Setting up a financial base
Living on teacher salaries is not the usual path to riches. Fortunately Gary’s impressive skills acquired growing up as a farm boy were helpful. Getting the summers off as a teacher allowed him to start a sideline fixing up, renting, and selling houses. That helped them acquire the seed money to live in a beautiful suburban home near Grand Rapids. Gary comments that while is true that the real estate pursuits gave them some modest chunks of money to work with along the way, he would stress that a life of financial level-headedness and restraint (which probably came from being raised by Great Depression Era parents) has been a key ingredient in their success.

Retirement planning begins
The couple really began planning for retirement while in their late thirties. Grand Haven and Key West were in their plan from the beginning; they fully planned to sell the larger GR home where they raised the family as soon as they retired. Their “long term plan” really didn’t turn out to be so long term since Gary actually retired from his day job of public school administrator @ age 56 with 35 years in the system. His last assignment was in Kenowa Hills Public Schools. Pat was 54 when she retired from the Rockford Public Schools.

Gary and Pat on the trail

Pensions and Social Security
When they retired they had each worked long enough to qualify for modest pensions. The decisions regarding the complicated buyout options were difficult and had to be thought through carefully. For example: do you take more money now and not cover the spouse (who in this case has a pension, albeit smaller) or take less and have the pension continue for spouse once you die. Gary is also eligible for Social Security, which he took at age 62 when he was no longer working. Here is his theory about SS: “If you are still working, generating an income, and paying FICA you should absolutely WAIT! WAIT! WAIT to claim! If you are retired and eligible at age 62 and you do not plan to continue paying into SocSec, it takes you roughly 11 years before you begin realizing the “big” payoff of waiting for the “big” SS checks…I’ve tried for many years and continue to try to prove the simple formula wrong but just can’t do it. Of course if you think you’ll live to be a 100 and if you think you’ll enjoy your money more at age 80 than you will at age 62 by all means, wait til you’re 70!” Pat is very much eligible for Social Security and in fact begins collecting this month since she turned 62.

So thinking about retirement, what would they do?
They both love living near the water, which made the decision of moving out of the big house near Grand Rapids easy with the kids gone. They both loved nearby Grand Haven, MI because it is such a pretty town on Lake Michigan. The first of their three houses in Grand Haven came in 1994. Since Grand Haven is a popular destination town in Michigan, they owned all 3 concurrently for a few years and did short term summer rentals with 9 month tenants in the fall/winter/spring seasons. They were their own rental listing agents, maids, maintenance personnel, etc.etc. They seldom stayed in their Grand Haven or Key West properties because it was more lucrative to keep them rented. Gary commented on this decision: “This took restraint and the ability to delay the gratification of vacationing in our own property. But then again, since we were still working in the schools and raising our sons, it did not seem like too much of a sacrifice.”

Their latest Grand Haven home is an adorable but, at the time, needy 2 story home a block from the harbor. Using sweat equity, they proceeded to rip it apart and completely rebuild it (see photo). Their hard work resulted in a charming, comfortable, and airy home.

Grand Haven home – post fix-up

The downtown is a short walk away, as are the giant dunes criss-crossed with trails (and a wintertime ski hill!) On the lakeshore you will find the wide beaches of Grand Haven State Park, which was voted one of the TOP 5 Family Beaches in the USA more than once in recent years. Municipal tennis and pickle ball courts, along with Grand Haven’s harbor and lighthouse, are just steps away. Gary and Pat both exercise daily with tennis, yoga, biking, and some running for Pat. A recent thrill for Gary was joining his 30-something sons in the 37th annual DeathRide (DeathRide 2017), a one day 129 mile ride with 15,700 feet of vertical climb thru five mountain passes near Lake Tahoe (Markleyville, CA is the locus of the ride.) Says Gary: “It is a ride…it is not a race. Anyone who can finish the course in a day is definitely a WINNER!”

But Michigan winters are cold, so…
Not having to stick around for Michigan’s freezing winters was important to the couple. As Gary points out: “When we were young and nordic ski racers, we embraced and almost thrived upon winter. But we somehow knew that this would not be the case in later life.” Gary’s first trip to Key West was in 1971; his late brother later moved there in 1984. They loved Key West and its vibe immediately. The couple bought their first KW house, a duplex Conch Cottage high atop Solares Hill in Old Town, in 1993. As they set down roots they followed a familiar pattern. Looking for real estate that was run down but in a nice neighborhood, they are now on their 4th home there. They buy, they fix up, they rent, and they sell. They try really, really hard to not live in a property they are renovating since they both hate the disorder and chaos and filth of living in a construction zone. Their current 2 story home in the Meadows section of town, just a few blocks from the harbor and the Bayview Park tennis courts, is ideal. They live downstairs with some room for visiting children, and they rent out the upstairs for income. Your editor met this lovely couple on a tennis court (they are fearsome, but fun, doubles partners!)

Gary trailered a boat down from Michigan a few years ago, which he keeps on a rack. When he is not doing construction projects at home, playing tennis, or riding around town on his antique (70’s) Italian bicycle, a classic Benotto, he frequently takes the boat out to the Reef. He has a knack for finding experts who like to share their secret fishing techniques with him, and delights in catching yellowtail snapper with his new found skills.

Pat helps out with almost all aspects of the renovation process. She also plays tennis at Bayview Park in the afternoons, exercises, as well as keeps in frequent contact with their boys and the young grandchildren.

What we can learn from the Gary and Pat
This happy couple has what we consider a very good retirement. Blessed with small pensions and combining those with a knack for real estate and sweat equity, they lead a comfortable but modest lifestyle. Much of their success we would attribute to “intent”. They thought through what they wanted to do in retirement, and they carved out a path to get them there. Here is their advice to Topretirements Members: “Hopefully the takeaway for your readers will be: plan early, plan midway, plan late…but plan, plan, plan. Not many of us have an unknown aunt that leaves us a million or two, so it’s up to you!”

What’s ahead
We are betting that their current home in the Meadows won’t be their last. A new fixer-upper will emerge, and after turning that one into a charmer they will either live in it, rent it, or spin it off for a profit. As long as they feel comfortable driving they will make the annual trip back and forth from Grand Haven to Key West in their new van, though probably not towing a trailer behind in wintertime! As they age the airlines might be the answer to their annual migration transportation. Once they get even older, they will have to make a decision if living in one place instead of two is still workable, and where that might be.

Comments? Please share your thoughts about Pat and Gary’s intentional retirement planning in the Comments section below.

More baby boomer retirement stories:
Kelly and Demaris: Innkeepers
A Retirement Community Chaplain Shares What He Learned on the Job
My Big Southern Retirement Adventure – Jeff Alden
Jay Michaels Hops on the Retirement Tour Bus – 5 Years Later (a Series)
Jane and Jack: Retired in Place, But Mighty Busy
Sandy’s 8 Year Adventure with Active Adult Communities
The Seafaring Couple Start an International Literacy Non-Profit

Posted by Admin on August 31st, 2017


  1. Gary agree 100% on taking SS when you stop working. Quality of life is when you are younger. It might also depend on the amount of your SS check. Some people may only have a small check like $750 a month at age 62, others may receive $1900 a month at age 62. I took mine at 62 1/2 because I knew by waiting another 6 months I would receive an amount I could live with. Hub retired at age 63 and his check is bigger than mine. With the two SS checks, a small pension and small withdrawal from our IRA’s, we are doing very well. We do need to pull out a little from savings from time to time for those unexpected expenses. I am glad SS allows people to choose when they want to collect it as early as age 62 to age 70. Everyone has different needs.

    by louise — September 1, 2017

  2. I guess I’m very curious about Gary’s formula for calculating that it was better for him to take SS at age 62 rather than waiting. He said he’s tried for many years to prove the simple formula wrong but just can’t and that it takes you roughly 11 years before you begin realizing the “big” payoff in SS checks if you wait. If you/he can provide the details for me to figure out my situation that would be great.

    by Joe — September 6, 2017

  3. Hi Joe:

    I am glad that you mentioned that. I am going to be 63 this month and I would love to know more about Gary’s formula. My job is being phased out and I hope to find another one….but if I do not SS may have to be drawn early.
    I also would love to hear more from those who are single, retired now who may have faced the same situation at 63–not ready to retire, but may need the money from SS.


    by Jennifer — September 7, 2017

  4. Jennifer, click on this link to see the break even points for ages 62, 66 70.

    by louise — September 7, 2017

  5. Joe/Jennifer, here is another link, basically the same but the break even chart is a little more clear and the example afterwards is interesting.

    by louise — September 7, 2017

  6. This comment came in from Lori:

    Read Gary& Pats story. We might be able
    To build us a place on key west with a little
    Wine bar….imagine and dream

    by Jane at Topretirements — September 7, 2017

  7. For me the difference from filing at 62 or at 67 was a difference of $77 monthly if I want it to last to the age of 88. Usually if you are on the lower income range you are better filing early, because if you file at 70 you actually lose money…..

    by mary11 — September 7, 2017

  8. Hi Mary 11–

    The difference for me is about $300.00 if I claim benefits now at 63 vs 66 which is my full retirement age. If I want until 70 it is an almost $800.00 difference per month.

    by Jennifer — September 8, 2017

  9. Jennifer , when trying t calculate when to retire you also need to average in for how many years you will be needing SS. Just by going with their reports of differences of 62, 66, or 70 is not the best way of determining what the correct amount will actually be. I home care my mother and couldn’t work after being layed off at tge age of 58 and had to claim early to help out with the expenses . I have the option to suspend when I’m 66, but in my case it wouldnt make much of a difference.

    by mary11 — September 8, 2017

  10. The graph showing taking SS at different ages (62, 66 & 70) illustrates that no matter when you take the money you will end up with the same amount up to the break even point. Once the break even point is met, which is somewhere around 78-82 years old, it shows that the longer you live the more you will receive from SS. The earlier you take it the less money you get per month but for a longer time. The later you take it, the larger the check.

    Age 62-82 approx. 20 years to break even point
    Age 66-82 approx. 16 years to break even point
    Age 70-82 approx. 12 years to break even point

    by louise — September 8, 2017

  11. Sorry but I did not find much of interest in this blog! Home flippers have a different idea of retirement and Pat and Gary seems to be just that.

    by Ron — September 8, 2017

  12. Good point Louise! ! For me I’d rather enjoy the money when I’m younger.

    by mary11 — September 8, 2017

  13. Another issue for some people to consider is where the money is going to come from if you defer taking Social Securitiy. If you have to take money out of savings to live on in lieu of using social security money, then that amount is removed from your savings and your account forever. For ex., if I retire at 62 and need to use $25,000 from my savings to live on until full retirement age instead of using Social Security…that $100,000 (plus lost earnings on savings) are lost from my accounts/estate.

    by Kate — September 9, 2017

  14. Right on Kate! ! I figured all that in and actually it was better for me to claim early than use my savings to live off of. Unless you’re working at least part time it’s not the way to go.

    by mary11 — September 9, 2017

  15. Exactly Kate! You can will your savings, you cannot will your Social Security. I have no heirs but others do and it is a concern for some. Plus, by hub and I taking SS early we are barely touching our investments. If you have your savings in good investments your money should grow at a similar rate as SS does over time. People have to analyze their own lives. Someone may have a large amount of savings and no debts. They may have the ability to retire at age 62. Some people are working at minimum wages and have no savings. Letting SS grow till age 66 or age 70 may be the only solution to keep their head above water. Each of us has a different situation.

    by louise — September 9, 2017

  16. Kate and Louise:

    Very good points. If I am not paying into SS because I do not find a job, then my benefits will go down–should I try to use my savings, whereas in that scenario I should collect my SS benefits soon as I realize the situation. I am alone and do not have a partner with a second income which many here do. Two social security incomes alone would be better than one. I have much to consider. I have a home which has a large amount of equity and no heirs.

    by Jennifer — September 9, 2017

  17. Jennifer, Your SS benefit is based on your highest 35 years of working. If you should leave the workforce before you have accumulated 35 years, they factor in zero’s. So say you worked 30 years and never go back to work, you will be credited with 30 years and then they add in 5 years of zeros. They average those years and those years with the zeros drag down the monthly benefit you receive. It might be best to take a job doing anything to make income rather than have those zeros. Contact Social Security or visit your SS account on line.

    If you had a spouse for 10 years you could be eligible to collect on ex spouse SS and wait for yours to grow. Or if you are a widow, same thing. You can collect on your deceased spouses SS if marriage lasted 10 years. You can collect as early as age 60. Contact Social Security to determine what your benefit might be.

    You could consider a home equity loan or an Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) for purchasing a new home. You sell your current home and with the HECM for Purchase you only need to put approx. 50% down on a new home and can bank the rest. You NEVER have to pay back the mortgage, the 50% you put down is all you ever pay with exception to your taxes. If you leave the house you will need to pay it back or basically lose all the equity. If the home you buy is $300K you put down about $150K and you keep the rest of the money from the sale of your current home.
    The rest of the money you could invest it and buy annuity to pay you a monthly or yearly stream of income. You should see a financial advisor to discuss pros and cons of this. You have no heirs so you should consider using the equity to help make your life more comfortable and worry free.

    These are just ideas, so see a professional to guide you.

    by louise — September 10, 2017

  18. Jennifer, another option is to downsize to a smaller home or rent, or you could do a reverse mortgage. We are looking to purchase a home that would qualify for one and then in our later years do the reverse mortgage and enjoy the money from the equity. We also do not have any children so that’s not an issue.

    by mary11 — September 10, 2017

  19. Women who are currently married should plan their finances incase they lose their husbands income in the future. Losing that additional income makes a big difference. I know now that if I had to go it alone my income would be enough. ….

    by mary11 — September 10, 2017

  20. Mary11:

    I have downsized to a one bedroom apartment which I own in a co-op. The mortgage is not the problem–it is the co-op fees which seem to escalate. The fees here do cover all expenses except for Cable TV (I do not have cable –use an antenna), and telephone. I pay $20.00 a month to Republic Wireless for unlimited date 4g. I would have to go to a studio which would not be feasible as I bought my apartment 20 years ago and it has a large amount of equity. I have a car which is paid off, a 2008 VW jetta with only 10,600 miles on it. We are lucky to be able to walk to many things in the area of Washington, DC where I live.

    by Jennifer — September 11, 2017

  21. If you don’t have a pension or any savings for retirement I think it would be better to wait to collect SS benefits. Even if you have a “future” inheritance or have your home paid off, wait. The big question is can you live on the amount at 62, vs the amount at full retirement vs your health

    by William DeyErmand — September 11, 2017

  22. Jennifer, you would likely benefit from seeing a fee-for-services financial advisor. Probably just a couple of hours with one would give you a lot of good guidance and advice on your particular situation. It would be well worth the fee. I only see mine for an hour or so each year. I use an advisor with Garrett Financial Network, and they have a number of advisors in the DC area.

    by Clyde — September 11, 2017

  23. Mary 11 I am not understanding about losing a husbands retirement income in the future. My mother collects my father’s full retirement since he passed. I moved in to take care of my mother and took over the loan on my parents small retirement home. I had to quit my full time job, and take a part time job. I will have this place paid off soon and am considering early retirement. I am a widow myself and I thought I would have SS from my late husband too.

    by DeeDee — September 11, 2017

  24. To Gary, Pat and John Brady:
    Since all of you live in Key West, after things settle down and settled in, perhaps a future article about the experience and thought process and emotions of evacuating an impending hurricane. The reactions when coming back and seeing the hurricane’s effects would be meaningful to us. Also, a self evaluation of what could have been different to make things better can help others like me.

    Your insights and advice are valuable for those like me that are considering moving to Florida for retirement. Instead of an imaginative dreamland fantasy, I want to have both eyes wide open to fully understand the consequences of such a move into a Florida life. A question for those that have lived though it: is living in Florida worth the hurricane trade-offs?

    by Alan E — September 11, 2017

  25. DeeDee, my mother also received my father’s SS amount after he passed. ….but it’s never the same as when 2 people receive 2 checks every month. Sounds like you’re doing a good job with your expenses. …we live in a condo in Sandiego and thats why we will eventually be moving because the HOA and the extra money they want keeps going up. William…not everyone can afford to wait and better to get the money while you still can….why do you think than more than 50% collect it before 66…

    by mary11 — September 11, 2017

  26. Mary11, I think DeyErmand is trying to say if a person is still working, has no pension and will rely mostly on SS benefits once retired, they should consider retiring later at Full Retirement Age (FRA) 66, rather than taking it at age 62. Depending on some people’s benefit it could mean an extra $300-$400 a month. Of course if you have to take it early or can afford to take it early so be it. The SS check will be further reduced when Medicare B, Part D (Prescriptions), or Medigap plans are purchased.

    by louise — September 11, 2017

  27. Mary 11, It gets tight on a part time pay, but my late husband and I never bought a home, choosing to rent instead. We saved for retirement and I am determined not to touch it. My late father had the home in his name along with the loan, and mother couldn’t get the bank to work with her, I guess because she was a full time housewife her whole life. No credit. Mother’s medical expenses are outrages. We manage, but collecting early would be more enjoyable.

    by DeeDee — September 11, 2017

  28. Sorry Mary … only meant financially it depends on whether the person can afford to retire early, and if they are healthy enough to still work. I believe people make out better waiting until 65-66 than collecting earlier or later than that age. Yes I know that a little over 2/3rd of all retiree’s collect early and I am willing to bet it has to do with health reasons and being laid off from work due to age. A person will find a way to manage no matter what in the end.

    by William DeyErmand — September 11, 2017

  29. Louise, I would get $300 more if I wait but that is less than my house payment. And by the time taxes come out of my part time check, my income is less a month than my Social Security check would be… Medical will be the issue until I am 65 and am eligible for Medicare. No Cobra medical when I stop working. I may keep working until then, just not sure with the govt changing things…

    by DeeDee — September 11, 2017

  30. For those with more interest in the Social Security side of this article (which was a minor point but the one that generated the most interest!) we recommend you go to one of the previous articles we wrote on Social Security, and which have generated lots of comments (with links to more)

    by Admin — September 11, 2017

  31. Thanks Alan E, that is a most interesting question. The natural disaster risk associated with many parts of the country and how to cope with them are definitely worth considering. While we were not there for this one (or any FL hurricane), we have lived through 3 bad Connecticut hurricanes (Gloria, Irene, and Sandy) and do have lots of friends who have experienced really bad ones in FL. We will definitely consider an article on that topic. In fact this week’s newsletter article will explore one piece of that topic – renting vs. buying.

    BTW, thanks to the many people who expressed concern for us in Key West. Fortunately we were not there and our home is not damaged. We are lucky, and are touched by your concern. All of the Keys have been severely affected and life will not be normal there for quite a while. We feel for all of the people affected in Florida, TX, and elsewhere whose lives have been upended by natural disasters.

    by Admin — September 11, 2017

  32. I lived in Florida in the 80s but only experienced 1 hurricane the 10 yrs we lived there….just lucky. I loved living there until the thunderstorms and humidity got to us. Things now have changed and the storms come more frequently. Recently read an article saying fewer people are choosing to retire there and many will be relocating out because of Irma. Cost of living has gone up as well. Sorry to say but you’re much safer living on the west coast. …

    by mary11 — September 12, 2017

  33. DeeDee, after being layed off and having to retire early to take care of my mother I qualified for the medicaid version of Obamacare. It’s pretty good and no out of pocket costs .
    Everyone only living off of SS…l have a friend who lives in Oregon and she receives $900 monthly and now lives in a nice Hud apartment building for seniors and also receives food stamps with Medicare being paid too There’s always a way to get by….
    MY husband and I lived on less than $2000 a month for years in Sandiego and didn’t have to go without anything. And we will be living on $16000 in retirement. It all depends on where you choose to retire to and if you need a big home. We would be happy in a small home with fewer expenses and less upkeep….

    by mary11 — September 12, 2017

  34. mary11–I like your train of thought. Where one chooses to live makes a big difference. It appears that where one lives and the cost of living is not factored into SS benefits. Choosing an affordable part of the country would make a big difference. Some people can live like kings on very little and be happy about it. Downsizing is the key and only spending on necessities for the most part and not wants. You should start a You Tube channel showing other Seniors and retirees how you will do this. It would make an interesting Vlog.

    by Jennifer — September 13, 2017

  35. Mary 11. in my State a person doesn’t qualify for any type of benefits with more than $947 a month from any source, even a withdrawal from a savings account or 401K is considered income. HUD housing has a waiting list determined by income / poverty need but I have a home. Thank you.

    by DeeDee — September 13, 2017

  36. Thanks Jennifer! ! I would love to do the Vlog but wouldn’t have the right equipment to do it though. ….Anyway, like we were saying you have to thoroughly research the state you want to retire to not only concerning weather but utility costs, taxes, what the state offers for govt benefits, senior centers and hospitals nearby, crime rate and interesting things you can do in your spare time and decent job market if you’re planning to work parttime. I was a researcher for many years and enjoy doing that for fun. I’ve noticed that many people don’t do Alot of research concerning SS before claiming it. I started doing that when I was 57 and now my friends come to me for guidance. I tell them it’s not difficult, but it is time consuming.

    by mary11 — September 13, 2017

  37. We moved some comments made about Oregon and senior centers to our dueling retirement states article comparing WA and OR –

    by Editor — September 14, 2017

  38. I have argued with some of my friends about when to take SS. It just seems to me that, unless you absolutely need it, let it grow. Where else are you going to see an 8 per cent increase annually? I also think if your health history is poor, you might reconsider. I took mine at 66 as will my wife, who’s still working.

    by Jim — September 14, 2017

  39. My husband and I will be taking Social security at age 66. We have also lived through 3 hurricanes with several days without power here in Connecticut. I love to vacation in Florida but did not feel it was the right place to live due to the high humidity and crowds and overly beach oriented. I am planning to retire in either San diego or Asheville depending on what we can afford. I have lived in Connecticut for 25 years in a remote area with very high property taxes and lots of snow and am looking forward to living in a sunny walkable neighborhood with little snow and friendlier people. We have no children so we are free to move wherever we feel like but will remain in the US and probably buy a house as my husband loves to garden and we don’t want an HOA controlling our lives.

    by Jasmine — September 14, 2017

  40. Jim, you are 100% right. These days you cannot get 8% very many places. However, there many different scenario’s in people’s lives. In my case my hub and I have significant savings and our Social Security checks are way above average. I lost my job and was on unemployment for 73 weeks (2011) and could not find a job. Then my Mom passed (2013) and I inherited her house, savings and IRA. My hub was burned out at age 63 and had a two hour commute each day, one hour each way. He retired and took SS at age 63. I took SS at age 62 1/2. Our house and vehicles are paid off and we have no debt. We have a great financial advisor and our investments are making very good money. One year after my hub retired he was diagnosed with cancer and had surgery. Then 8 months later 39 rounds of radiation. We are praying he will be in remission and will have tests at the end of the month to determine if that has happened. So, I am glad my hub retired ‘early’ and has had time to deal with all of this. He has been beyond stressed. However, he has calmed down due to the wonderful people at the hospital. The other ‘expensive’ thing we did was sign up for Part F Medicare supplement. That was the best thing we did! The radiation treatments cost a lot of money and we have not seen ONE bill. Anyone considering a supplemental plan should consider Plan F as it will be phased out to new recipients after the year 2020. Those who already have it at that point can be grandfathered. It is expensive but a good feeling to get no bills! So my point is, each of us has a different path to follow. For us, financially it has worked. For people who have low income, no or low savings, or need to keep working to get 35 working years in to SS, then it is best they work till Full Retirement Age.

    by louise — September 14, 2017

  41. I have learned so much reading this site for 3 years or so. My parents always were about saving for tomorrow, and I saved weekly for retirement at an early age. Still until I started taking care of my mother, I never thought about things like health issues, medical bills, insurance costs after retirement. I am not the type to go flipping houses, or continue to work after 65. I had a job traveling for years and know different areas cost more, due to medical, taxes, homes, etc. I do think about moving to another area, more senior friendly.

    by DeeDee — September 15, 2017

  42. Dee.. It is wise to look at the costs of medical expenses for the elderly. like nursing homes, long term care insurance, and your choice on medical insurances. I think it is wonderful when anyone takes care of their parent. But it also curtails your saving for retirement. Don’t retire until the house is paid. I know a few people who got into selling cars,real estate, life insurance etc, “desk” jobs less physical, after being retired for a year or so.

    by William DeyErmand — September 15, 2017

  43. Just wanted to mention about long term care insurance. I bought LTC through a previous employer probably 17 years ago for me and the hub. The policy pays $210 a day for a nursing home. In CT, a nursing home my Mom was in, back in 2013 was $395.00 a day. My aunt is in a nursing home in TN and it works out to $197 a day, another relative was in a KY nursing home for the same money.
    I spoke to my insurer and they said my policy was good in any state. So looks to me my policy would pay 100% in TN or KY. The insurer said I would have to pay the difference if the daily charge was over $210 a day. So the difference between $395 (in CT) and $210 is $185. $185 times 365 days a year is $67,525 a year I would have to pay. The maximum my policy pays lifetime per person is $420,000 or about 5 1/2 years.
    So my point is, if you have LTC insurance you might think about how far you can stretch your LTC bucks in whatever state you decide to retire to.

    by louise — September 16, 2017

  44. One thing we learned the hard way is to go into retirement as debt free as possible. We finally paid off a home equity loan 2 years into retirement and now that that payment ( which we made a large as possible) is finally gone it’s made a huge difference in our finances. Would have been nice to have it paid off before we retired and left our jobs and that income.

    by Staci — September 17, 2017

  45. I am always ‘thinking’ about moving ‘somewhere’ in retirement but have not really found the ‘it’ place. Since we have so many readers here, can some of you tell your story on why you want to leave the State you currently live in. If it is to leave a cold weather state, do you think you can tolerate hot, humid temperatures or hot dry temperatures? Seems there is some culture shock for some moving from the East Coast to the South. There are not many stories of people moving to Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, the Dakota’s. Any input from people who live there or plan to move there?

    Here is another idea that is a little out there but has anyone ever considered living in a hotel in retirement? Here is an article on the advantages of it:

    The Eugene Hotel Oregon. Prices and amenities. Interesting lifestyle!

    by louise — September 18, 2017

  46. Louise…thanks so much for the article. The Eugene Hotel looks great but not sure if hubs would want to join on all those activities so probably not cost effective for us. Actually Eugene has a lower cost senior apt complex that offers you some of the same amenitiesbut much cheaper, it’s called Landsby. Rents are around $725 for a 1 Br with free breakfast and van transportation and some activities included.

    by mary11 — September 18, 2017

  47. I just want to clarify that if your husband or wife dies, you can only receive one Social Security check. You would choose of course the one with the highest amount. Both my husband and I had to retire on Social Security disability due to cancer 6 years ago. He died in 2013 and I chose my Social Security check because the amount was higher. We prepared for his death since we knew that he was terminal by selling our house in NY and using the profits to buy a small Condominium in a 55+ community in Florida with all the amenities. I don’t have to worry about any of the house stuff since I just need to keep up with the interior. Plus, I am able to enjoy life and have made many friends. I just walk out my door when I want company.

    by Joan — September 19, 2017

  48. It’s too bad there’s not a registry that people can sign up on to look for roommates. Of course the registry would have to do background checks on those who want to join. Many of us are single and want to move out of our long time environment to a more affordable retire locale. It’s a hard decision. …. From Vickie

    by Admin — September 20, 2017

  49. Please don’t forget about this very helpful blog page on TR:
    On it I learned about “Restricted Benefits” through SS.

    How it works for us is that I, the slightly older spouse who also happens to have lower SS benefits, file for my benefits. When DH turns 66 he will file for spousal benefits from my SS, meaning he’ll receive monthly checks for 50% of my benefit amount. We plan to allow his benefit to continue to increase by 8% per year until he turns 70, at which point he’ll file for his own monthly benefits.

    In practical terms for the first six years of SS this is what will happen:
    Year one my SS check for $1600 per month (DH aged 65 – no SS check for him because we must wait until spouse turns FRA of 66 as required by SS to claim these benefits.)
    Year two through five: DH age 66-69: two SS checks that total $2400 per month (my full and his 50% spousal)
    Year six and beyond: two SS checks that total $4450 per month

    Presuming one of us predeceases the other and does so after DH turns 70, the widowed spouse would get the higher amount of $2850 per month for life. While we may not both live into our eighties, it’s a reasonable bet that at least one will, and that $2850 check will go a lot further than the $1950 if he files at 65.

    Until he turns 70 we’ll use funds from part time work, savings and investments to supplement our income. Planning to draw that much from savings during the early years of retirement is the truly scary part.

    The SS publication that explains this strategy:

    Admin Comment: Good suggestion JCarol, thanks for reminding us. We intend to use a similar strategy on our own account. Just remember that Restricted Benefit is not available to anyone born after Jan. 2, 1954. If you were born after that once you file you are deemed to file for that benefit and it won’t change (e.g.; if you file for spousal benefit you can’t postpone filing for your own benefit – instead you will get the highest benefit you are eligible for at the time of filing, spousal or your own)

    by JCarol — September 24, 2017

  50. Thanks Admin…Alas since I was born in 1955 we don’t qualify. Also I am 9 yrs older and the higher earner so if we are lucky we will earn $1300 per month together. I had to claim at 62 for financial reasons so we will have to live off the savings of the sale of our home to live more comfortable in our retirement. And if my husband waits to claim until 70 he actually loses money. I can suspend my benefits at 66 and reclaim at 70 but that would only give me an increase of $77. You have to really research what your best option will be…

    by mary11 — September 25, 2017

  51. Yes, DH and I made it only slightly under the age wire!

    Just as I stumbled over that personally helpful post on TR, there are tricks and suggestions others may glean from the trove of TR blogs and comments.

    There’s always something to learn from people who are willing to share their own experiences and strategies.

    by JCarol — September 28, 2017

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