Showcase Listing

Few towns in the Southeast offer more gracious charm than Aiken, South Carolina.  Take a relaxing stroll through Aiken's tree-lined ...

Showcase Listing

Embrey Mill® is an all-ages master-planned community located in Stafford, Virginia, just north of Fredericksburg, and offers a totally st...

Showcase Listing

Cresswind Georgia at Twin Lakes is a new, gated 55+ community in the metro Atlanta, Georgia area. With a focus on fitness, relationships,...

Showcase Listing

Birchwood at Brambleton is an exciting new community for active adults 55+ located in the heart of Loudoun County, and is intentionally d...

Showcase Listing

Wendell Falls is a new, all-ages community located just minutes from downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, and features an eclectic, walkable...

Showcase Listing

Cresswind Charleston is Charleston-area's BEST active adult lifestyle community. Cresswind inspires active adults to live life to the ful...


Your Suggestions: Retirement 101 Course

Category: Retirement 101 Course

January 23, 2019 —   We had so many wonderful suggestions (48 comments in all!) on the future direction of our Retirement 101 Course (Module 1) – thank you! They were so helpful that we felt it important to summarize them here. This is a list of all the current “Retirement 101 Training Modules“.

We had proposed 17 different potential modules for the course. The idea was that people could take as many as they felt they needed for their retirement planning preparation. The comments contained solid endorsement and/or additional ideas on six of our seventeen. But even better, you suggested seven topics we hadn’t thought of, and all of them were interesting. Another way to look at these suggestions is that they are a great reflection of people’s concerns about retirement – the topics that keep people up at night!

The new topics that got the most interest were “retiring without a lot of money”, “being single in retirement”, “loneliness and social relationships in retirement”, and “the family bind/sandwich/family relationships”. Interesting that so many have to do with the social aspect of retirement, a topic that gets overlooked in retirement planning. We have selected some of the representative suggestions below (and as you will see, they were great!). Of course, we welcome more ideas for the series too!

Since retiring without a lot of money was the number one topic mentioned, that was the be the first new one we tackled (see Module 2: Retiring on Less Than $1 Million).

Representative comments:

Retiring on a small budget. Clemmie:Financially I would love to see more about retiring without a million dollar portfolio or even half that saved. Is is possible to live and retire in let’s say Florida without a high income or savings. Jennifer: Also a module on single retirement with less that $400,000 (or less). Richpb: Many of the “retirement modules” discussed assume a level of preparedness pending retirees simply don’t have. For example, it’s easy to talk about where to move or whether or not to stay near family, but what if the only means for any change of location is walking or hitchhiking? If you want to “retire” with only whatever small Soc Sec or perhaps $10K or $30K and no assets, what are your options? Truly for those at least one option is “never retire”. Panhandling?

Jennifer: Singles.How about addressing ways to retire as a single person after divorce. So many seniors are divorcing , that the best retirement plans in the world don’t apply anymore. Life happens. Is retiring well only for couples who remain together for life?

Katie: Loneliness in retirement.I’d be interested in a module about loneliness in retirement. Whether single, divorced or through being widowed, this is something that many of us will face as we retire from our work lives. Many of us spent work lives with people at work and then spent any free time with spouses, children or other family. Friendships may have been with neighbors, our kids’ friends’ families, spouse’s work friends, etc. With retirement, children launched, parents deceased, and perhaps in a new retirement location, retirees can find themselves alone. Yes – we all know the tips about taking a class, volunteering, joining a church, etc. Some of us may have retired to 55+ communities where there are lots of clubs. Surely there are other good ideas and stories from people who have gone through this. Jean: It seems to me that loneliness can be a sign of depression or grief stemming from the loss of a spouse/friends/ loss of independence, loss of control of one’s life, fear of missing out, etc. A person who feels lonely even when around others might find benefit from discussing those feeling with a mental health professional. Therapy / medication are effective and for those who prefer a more natural approach, research has shown that regular outdoor activity (walks, gardening, etc.) and eating a lot more vegetables and fruit can improve depression.

Anne: Making New Friends. When we move, change status or lifestyles, we need to make new friends and become new friends. Its often hard to ‘break into’ the established groups. It helpful to participate in the activities we enjoy to meet people. A discussion and tips on how to initiate conversations and develop friends from acquaintances would be helpful.

LS: Downsizing – getting rid of the kid’s stuff and everything else that won’t fit the new house/apartment. Selling the house – what needs to be renovated and how to go about it

The Boomer bind – caring for elderly parents and unlaunched children when you want to relocate out of town. Being near children, grandkids, parents or living out your retirement in a dream location. Diane: The “Boomer bind” is huge. It’s the one that I’m stuck in. I have a mother who will soon turn 89. My brother who lives close to her is moving out of state to be close to his son and grandchildren. His wife has a mother in a 24/7 care facility who will be left behind with a sister to make final plans when their mom passes. She has no plans to return until the funeral. So yes, the “Boomer bind” is a topic that I’m personally interested in as well as others I’m sure

LS: Having the talk – how to reach agreement with a partner on what’s more important. Chris:  As a person who was really planning for the future, part of the challenge is to be on the same page as a spouse.

Jennifer: Interpersonal. I would like to see a module on how interpersonal relationships within the generations affect those that retire and how close or far one chooses to be from family.

Edith: Buying vs. renting. Maybe some more considerations of buying vs. renting in retirement. We seem to know more about what we Don’t want in retirement than do. Housing is a big decision maker. 

Richpb: “Sudden Retirement” would be helpful. As some have said, whether you were planning retirement or not, sometimes it is forced on you — and maybe not recognized right away.

NancyC:  Money saving tips. I would add a module on money saving tips like coupons, dining out, movies and groceries. See comments to this article on Members’ “Suggestions for Saving Money” – (over 100 Comments!)

Vicki: Social Security and Medicare.I think I’ve planned well, but would like to become more knowledgeable on Social Security and Medicare. Modules on staying busy and avoiding scams sound like good subjects. I hope there can be a section on buying Medicare supplements, where you get them. And how it works to buy them in the middle part of the year, as I plan to retire in July.

ljtucson: Visiting active adult communities. Possibly add a systematic approach to reviewing/visiting active adult communities. 1. what to consider (size/location/costs/amenities/age/etc…) 2. what questions to ask – do your homework 3. what to expect as takeaways (financials/CC&Rs/rules/fees) 4. how to get “vibe” of community (how would I fit in) 5. how to find out more about the community.

David: Tax Planning . Under the Managing Your Money module, you may want to add an optional section on Tax Planning. When we are fully retired, many of us have choices on when to withdraw funds from our retirement accounts. Little things, like taking money out in January vs December can impact your tax situation. Rather than just paying taxes, there may be value in PLANNING your tax situation to help you have more money to spend in retirement. This could be very technical, and may not provide value to some people…that is why it should be an optional

Jean: Younger generation. I’d add a bonus module that can be sent to children, grands, nieces and nephews. The module would have 2 parts – first the importance for them to start saving and investing for retirement as early as possible (set up IRA or contribute to 401K as soon as they start their FIRST job and continue throughout their working lives and the second part would be how to help (or at least not hinder) their parents and grandparents retirements.

For further reading
Retirement Planning 101-Introduction?
Affordable Places to Retire on the Waterfront
Most Tax-Friendly States for Retirement

Please add your comments and suggestions below!

Posted by Admin on January 22nd, 2019


  1. Another module idea is the Internet, good and bad. The bad parts of course are the scams and identity theft crimes, wrist and neck problems from too much computer time, etc. Pointers on how to avoid and what to do if you suspect you are a victim of one of these would be good. But the many great ways to use the internet to enhance our lives and ideas on how to keep up with the latest would be great.
    Besides researching retirement places on this site and reconnecting with high school and college friends on social media the net offers opportunities for learning, wonderful (and free) pod casts that cover every subject imaginable (one of my favorites is Tides of History on, patient portals offered by many doctors, the ability to stream local radio from our old home towns when we move, great mapping that show routes and times from one place to another, etc.

    by Jean — January 23, 2019

  2. I’d like to see a discussion about how to get a sense of the political climate and diversity (or, lack thereof) of particular communities since realtors are not allowed to answer those questions and give pat answers about geographical or age makeup. As a person of color, I’ve gone to school, worked, and lived where I’ve been in the minority — some of those situations have been uncomfortable, others not. In retirement, my husband and I desire to live where there is mutual respect for people of all political, cultural, sexual, and religious persuasions.

    by Joyce — January 23, 2019

  3. We have a 25 year old disabled son who lives with us. Part of our retirement plans had to involve research on the Medicaid Waiver programs in different states and how long the waiting lists would be. It might be interesting to have a discussion for parents with disabled adult children who live with them and some of the important issues to look at prior to even visiting an area. I called the head of disability programs for different states to get a more detailed view on what the process would be like to start all over with services since our son was in the Waiver since birth. Each state in our country deals totally different with their Medicaid dollars.

    by Brenda — January 23, 2019

  4. Jean, your thought about the good and the bad of the internet is a good one. And quite frankly, it grows more important as we age. I don’t think I’ve hit that point yet, but I can tell the various circumstances of my daily life that make activity on the internet a little less safe than other times. Add inattention, encroaching dementia, ill health and physical/mental stress and things could become rather dicey.

    On your thought of wrist/neck issues from too much time with a mouse and keyboard, I can offer an option that really helped me and might be worth including in such a module — use of a trackball instead of a mouse. My extensive work/personal computer use (easily 10 or more hours daily) before retirement was beginning to cause me significant wrist pain/stress — I feel sure it was encroaching carpal tunnel. I decided to try a trackball and have never gone back. It may take some getting used to, but trackball control comes from your fingers/thumb rather than you wrist. 20 years later I can only be thankful I elected to try it out. (Unfortunately, there are not many good options since the mouse is the favored screen control device. And some options may work (or not) only for some people.)

    by RichPB — January 23, 2019

  5. The structure of Retirement 101 might work if it was written backwards.
    Start be considering end-of-life decisions and locations, ie. where will you be when you pass away. This includes the kind of care you might need, financial considerations like Wills, income and expenses, the experiences of others.
    Working backwards still, what kinds of things would you like to be part of your retirement picture when you are at an age where the ‘active’ retirement is not exactly what you are looking for. Is there travel on your mind, how has your social life been going, any health assistance needed?
    Next is the sort of things Top Retirements is always talking about for new retirees, like where to live, what activities are there, does the place suit your needs and personality?
    End the book with advice and topics for those still working and considering retirement.
    The reason for this backwards approach is so that the readers can consider the longer view of retirement, rather than focus on whether your proposed senior living complex has a swimming pool or not.
    The bigger picture and longer view might factor into decisions that the next cohort of 55-year olds might make.

    by Frank Ryan — January 25, 2019

  6. Frank Ryan, Well stated!

    From Admin: We agree!

    by Jean — January 26, 2019

  7. We started to get some very specific suggestions/comments about healthcare. To keep from distracting our focus here on what should be in our Retirement 101 series, we moved them to a Healthcare post.

    by Admin — January 28, 2019

  8. Admin – link posted above for health issues doesn’t work.

    Admin, thank you, should work now.

    by Jean — January 28, 2019

  9. I have another suggestion, based on some recent experiences. I hate to say it, but retirees are apparently big targets for various frauds and manipulation. In addition to the nonstop phone fraud calls that we all are getting, I have recently had experiences with a contractor who tried to misrepresent a scope of work (he assumed I was an elderly woman who was ignorant about construction when I actually know a great deal about it LOL). A cleaning lady I had just hired immediately offered to drive me to my doctor appointments, my bank and help with anything else I wanted “as my friend”?!? I’ve noticed lots of articles in the paper about older people falling for scams, from financial planners with nonexistent “investments” to grandkids allegedly in jail who can be released by purchasing gift cards. It would probably be a good idea to have a module that alerts retirees about scans that target the elderly.

    by Kate — January 29, 2019

  10. Would like more help finding affordable 55+ housing for people whose income is too low for the large entry fees on east coast and too high for subsidized communities

    by Agnes — February 3, 2019

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment