Some people approaching retirement worry about the process of applying for Social Security.  They think it's complex, time consuming, and intimidating.  Let me assure you, it is not! My wife just filed for her benefits, and I shortly followed suit by applying for a spousal benefit, but postponed to claim my own until age 70.  We had both created our own secure "My Social Security" accounts by going to www.SocialSecurity.gov.  

It took just a few minutes to set up our own secure account, and we can view our earnings history, estimated payments, and apply for benefits from there.  It took less than an hour.  The next day, and agent called to confirm that this is what I wanted to do, and she gave me the exact amount I'll receive and when it would arrive.  She also confirmed the deductions for the Income-Related Monthly Adjustment Amount (IRMAA) for my Medicare. 

So, after you and your financial advisor have completed your retirement planning projections and you know when you want to start claiming benefits, just go for it.  It's easier than you think.

I'm pleased to announce that this blog was named by Credit Donkey as one of the best retirement planning blogs for 2017 for its advice about Social Security and more.  In the words of the reviewer, "It should come as no surprise that The Confident Retirement Journey is a blog that's all about helping readers plan for a safe, secure retirement, with tips on saving, Social Security, and more...While this blog has plenty of great retirement advice, it's the Social Security tips and explanations that make it a real standout."

Low interest rates hurt savers on fixed incomes, particularly retirees. But low rates hurt retirees in another way. One of the reasons why interest rates are so low is because inflation is low. When inflation is low, annual Social Security cost of living increases (COLAs) are also low or non-existent.

 

That shouldn't be a problem if inflation was even for all items and COLAs matched the reality of what people purchase in different stages of their lives. That certainly has been the case for retirees with higher medical and prescription drug costs, which have increased 75% over the past 16 years. COLAs, meanwhile, have increased benefits by just 36%. According to a 2016 survey of senior costs conducted by the Senior Citizens League (TSCL), Social Security beneficiaries have lost 23% of their buying power since 2000, based on 38 key items in a typical retiree's budget. Put another way, for every $100 worth of expenses seniors could afford in 2000, they can afford just $77 today.

 

My team and I have run more Social Security retirement projections for clients than we can count.  When we do, we incorporate many assumptions about longevity, interest rates, spousal benefits, inflation, work history, taxes, other assets, and more.  In some cases, there are some valid reasons for starting benefits at age 62, such as a loss of employment or not enough assets to supplement an early retirement.   However, in a vast majority of cases—especially those with good health and normal life expectancies, it simply makes more financial sense to delay taking benefits if possible.  Andy Landis, shares five bad reasons to claim Social Security benefits early. I agree, and could probably add more, but he explains them very well.

I've worked with many widows and widowers over the years. Some are spouses of existing clients; others came to us from lawyers, accountants, clients, and our website. No matter what, it is a sad and stressful time for them, impossible to imagine unless you have personally experienced losing a spouse yourself. Some widows and widowers seem to do better than others, especially on the financial side of things. The thing they have in common is that they made an effort to learn about family finances ahead of time. Iv’e written about this before and we mention these items in client meetings. Here are some really good tips fromHelen Uzelac, in her article published in NextAvenue.org, entitled I Planned for a Life as a Widow, but Got a Lot Wrong.

The Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) recently released its 26th annual Retirement Confidence Survey.1 The 2013 report was the inspiration for me to write The Confident Retirement Journey. The good news is that workers in 2016 are more confident about retirement than they were in 2013. However, people are still ignorant of just what their retirements will cost.  Here are some of the results:  

Perhaps the title of Chapter 4--"What's Your Number?" should be changed to "What's Your Paycheck?"  Many people approaching retirement want to know how much of a nest egg they will need to support their retirement goals.  "What's my number?"  is a typical question, and one I walk readers through in Chapter 4.  

 

However, once people retire, some of them are reluctant to drawn down the sum of money they have accumulated for the purpose of providing retirement cash flow.  Others go the other direction and spend too much because they feel rich with a huge amount of money burning a hole in their pockets. 

Perhaps the better question to ask is this:  “What’s my paycheck?"  That is, they should be looking at the income they’ll be getting, rather than how they’ll be drawing down the lump sum they’ll been accumulating. This helps those worried about drawing down their nest egg to focus more on enjoying retirement with a predictable "paycheck" each month, rather than focusing on their account's value.  It also forces the big spenders to budget their big ticket purchases and trips, just as they did while still working and receiving a monthly pay check. 

 

The key, of course, is to find the sustainable paycheck to match your "number."  Applying the 4% Rule in my book is a quick way to see what your "paycheck" might be with a given nest egg; however, engaging the services of a qualified financial planner can help you do that with more accuracy.

Following nearly two decades of flat premiums, holders of long-term care insurance policies are being faced with premium increases of 10-35% or more.   One company recently petitioned the State of Oregon to raise its rates on existing policies by 114%, but the Insurance Commission denied it, reducing the increase to 35%.  Why is this happening, and what can you do about it? 

 

I discuss the concept of psychological retirement readiness in my book just as much as I do financial readiness.  NextAvenue.org, a service of select PBS affiliates around the country, publishes articles on retirement, including excerpts from my book.  Here is an interesting five-question quiz recently posted to the site see if you are psychologically ready to retire.  Enjoy!

In my November 2 post (which has been updated as details became known) I discussed how the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 will change two popular Social Security Claiming Strategies.  All those words probably don't explain it as well as this decision tree chart I prepared for my firm, The H Group, Inc. in Salem, OR.  Please use it in combination with my November 2 post, to get a better understanding of these complex changes.  

It is now going to be more difficult for couples to maximize their Social Security benefits.  On November 2, President Obama signed into law HR 1314--named the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015-- which raised the debt ceiling and averted a government shut-down and bond default.  Included in Section 831 of the legislation were provisions that eliminated the so-called “file and suspend” and the “restricted application” strategies employed by married couples.  Many of the details need to be worked out by the Social Security Administration over the next few months, but here is what you need to know and do for now:

(A lot of interesting items have crossed my "desk" since my last post.  Now that summer and some extended camping/road trips are over I'll resume more frequent postings. ) 


The Confident Retirement Journey has a useful Retirement Readiness Process (tm) worksheet for your countdown to retirement.  But are pre-retirees in some states better off for retirement than those in others?  While I disagree with the quality of life results for my beloved State of Oregon, this new study by financial services firm LPL presents a new way of looking at retirement readiness on a state-by-state basis.   What is the state of retirement readiness in your state?

 

Nice shout-out from my friend Thomas Klobucher in Chapter 3 of his new book "Retirement--the Best is Yet to Come!"  He says "...in Kelemen's fine book, we encounter the refreshing idea that retirement is a journey, not a destination.  That book is a marvelous piece of work, and I urge you to take a look at it."

I subscribe to several retirement planning blogs and Twitter feeds.  Having done so for quite awhile, they all seem to blend together and/or I get the feeling of "Yeah, I know or knew that."  But every now and then I come upon across an excellent article about retirement that is unusual and insightful.  This is one of them by Joe Hearn with Intentional Retirement.com, and it was published in Next Avenue.org, a service of Twin Cities Public Television and select PBS stations around the country.  (Next Avenue has also published some of my writings as well.)

 

Entitled Seven Retirement Decisions You Won't Regret, Joe talks about important non-financial decisions that can make the rest of your life better.  Having worked with retirement-focused clients over the past 34 years, I can see that the really happy ones are those that made some of the big decisions Joe mentions.  So what are the seven decisions?  Please read his explanations of them, but in a nutshell they are the decision to:

  1. Decide
  2. "Cut the Branch"
  3. Do Less
  4. Improve your Marriage
  5. Bury the Hatchet
  6. Bet some Chips
  7. Get Healthy

 

 

Well, it finally happened, and I'm surprised that after so much fact-checking, 18 months in print, and so many copies sold that it took so long.  A colleague in our Portland office found a one-sentence substantive error on page 77 regarding the "File-and-Suspend" Social Security strategy.  Somehow that sentence survived our fact checking and I had forgotten that it was still in the manuscript.

 

I discussed how John, age 66 could file and suspend his benefit, and his spouse Mary could collect a higher spousal benefit based on John's higher earnings.  Then when John turned 70, he could claim his much higher benefit and Mary could continue to receive the spousal benefit which was higher than if she had filed on her own (lower) earnings record.  That part is still correct and is a valid strategy, although there is talk in Washington of closing that strategy down.  (So far, it's only talk and nothing more.)

 

The error is when I stated that while John was suspending his benefits he could receive a spousal benefit on Mary's account.  That is not true.  If one spouse is suspending a benefit he/she cannot take a spousal benefit at the same time.  Here's more info on it directly from SocialSecurity.gov.   

Hopefully readers thinking of using this strategy followed my advice in the next paragraph to seek competent advice first.  

Much has been written about planning to retire and being retired, including what I have written for The Confident Retirement Journey and other articles.  However, until now I have seen little about actually making the tricky transition between announcing your retirement and actually retiring.  Nancy Collamer, the Work & Purpose Blogger for NextAvenue.org has some very insightful comments in her post entitled Top 10 List:  Lessons From Letterman's Retirement.  Dave retired from his late-night talk show after a 33-year run, and here are some pointers she gleaned from his interviews and recent shows.

My four favorites are listed below, but it is definitely worth reading her full article and the explanations that accompany all 10 items. My top four:   

 9.  Acknowledge that your role at work will shift after you announce your retirement.

 8.  Respect your successor's lead.

 6.  Get ready to answer those annoying "What's next?" questions.

 1.  Trust in your future.

   

The Confident Retirement Journey isn't just for those eligible for AARP cards.  In fact, some of the best comments I have received have been from those who are much younger.  As I point out in Chapter 5, procrastination is very costly.  Now, a new report by the Employee Benefit Research Institute adds more weight to the argument about why it is important to start saving now.  

In the EBRI's words:  “A single male age 25 earning $40,000 with no previous savings would need a total contribution rate (employee and employer combined) of less than 3 percent per year until retirement (age 65) for a 50 percent chance of success. A 6.4 percent contribution rate would achieve a 75 percent success rate and a 14 percent contribution rate would achieve a 90 percent success rate. But if a male earning $40,000 were to wait until age 40 to begin saving, he would need a 6.5 percent total contribution rate for just a 50 percent chance of success and a 16.5 percent total contribution rate for a 75 percent chance of success; a 90 percent probability of success would be impossible even with a 25 percent contribution rate.” 

Are women different than men when it comes to investing and financial planning? The answer? Yes, no, and it’s complicated. From my perspective it is more important that both partners in a relationship be more equally engaged in the planning process. How can couples make this happen? Here are some suggestions and some new research that challenges the conventional wisdom about the investing differences between men and women. 

What's it like to be 64, 84, or even 94?  The song, ”When I’m 64,” has been playing over and over in my this week of  my 64th birthday.  Paul McCartney wrote it for his father’s 64th birthday at age 15 when the Beatles were preforming in nightclubs as the Quarrymen.  Little did he know what it was like to be 64, and I doubt the Beatles did later when the song was released in 1967 on the iconic “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album. For more on this, and some cool photos, please check out my latest blog post from Ron & Kathys Mid-Life Adventures. 

One day shy of 64

Ever since the 1994 ground-breaking paper by William Bengen in the Journal of Financial Planning, the  so-called 4% Rule has been a thoroughly discussed topic by financial advisors and academics.  I explain the concept in Chapter Four and provide references for the key papers on the topic.  Basically the 4% Rule is a guideline about how much a retiree can safely withdraw from a portfolio each year to avoid running out of money over a 30-year retirement.  It is based on the starting value of the portfolio adjusted for inflation, and not the annual value assuming a portfolio of 60% stocks and 40% bonds.

 

Some commentators are now saying that we are in a "New Normal," because bond yields are so low and  the stock market may slow down or go down.  Because of this new normal, they question whether or not the 4% rule is too generous and should be lowered.  Michael Kitces, one of the financial industry's brightest thought leaders, sheds more light on this topic in this very interesting commentary.  The bottom line is that the 4% Rule is for the historically worst-case scenarios for the start of a retirement, not the average-cases.  Also, because the annual withdrawal is adjusted each year for inflation, a period of low inflation means that stocks and bonds can have lower returns. 

 

The bottom line?  The 4% Rule is still valid, but use it with caution and revisit your withdrawal amounts every year. 

Not everyone hates his or her job and can't wait to retire.  In fact, many of them actually like what they do and would prefer to work longer if they could.  Mitch Anthony, author of The New Retirement Mentality, defines work as "adding value to others while adding meaning to your life."  I discuss working longer in Chapters Two and Five.  Here is a really fun and short video that explains why working longer could be a good thing if you still like what you do.  Enjoy!

Apparently my five questions about financial independence and retirement are getting around. Forbes.com just picked up the article I wrote in early November, much of which is based on Chapter Two of The Confident Retirement Journey. Rereading the article reminded me that I must also constantly ask those same questions for myself.

This article publication comes shortly after I wrote a piece on my personal blog about why my wife and I like to read obituaries.  Last week we had attended an impressive cremation procession in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.  Only after reading the obituary and the eulogy of the deceased prince did I realize his accomplishments and vision, which are what my five questions are all about.  You can read my commentary at Ron & Kathy's Midlife Adventures, on the December 10 and 16 entries. 

The retirement planning community has known for a long time  that women tend to think differently from men about retirement.  While they may share the same retirement aspirations as men, they have more anxiety about it.  

 

A new world-wide study spanning 16,000 respondents in 15 countries  by AGEON, sheds new statistics about their retirement hopes and fears, and expectations:  

  • 24% of women associate the word “retirement” with “insecurity”
  • 18% associate retirement with “poverty”
  • 20% believe they are on track to achieve  their required retirement income
  • 54% expect their partner will be a very important source of retirement income
  • 36% expect their partner will be important as a backup plan if they can't work anymore
  • 58% expect some form of work after retirement. 

 

"Today's women are better educated and more likely to find paid employment", says Marc van Weede, Head of Strategy and Sustainability at Aegon. "As a result, women are in a better starting position to save for their retirement than previous generations. However, women are still faced with major obstacles in their career. "It is fair to say that the responsibilities of family life often still fall primarily on women, which makes it difficult for them to adequately prepare for their retirement."

 

This was a world-wide survey. More specifically, how prepared are American women?   According to the AGEON Retirement Readiness Index American women scored a 5.8 out of a possible 10.  Canadians scored a 5.9.  Surprisingly, Indian women were among the highest, with a score of 6.9.  Japan was among the lowest at 4.4.   

 

 

 

We all have opinions about whether or not money can buy happiness because we see real examples of it all around us. We read about wealthy celebrities who are miserable, yet we know lower income people who seem to be happy.  Yet, as the saying goes, "It's better to be miserable with money than  miserable without it."

 

Although past research shows that those with more money are usually happier than those struggling to get by, new academic research in the social science field is giving us a new twists to the answer.   The results from several studies are summarized in an excellent article by Andrew Blackman in the November 10 Wall Street Journal.  In summary, here are the findings: 

In October I had the honor of presenting a 90-minute workshop to members of the Marion-Polk Dental Society.  Much of my presentation was adapted from the first four chapters of The Confident Retirement Journey.  Here's a review of my presentation in the October newsletter of the Marion-Polk Dental Society by Chris Finlayson, DMD, Immediate Past-President.  In my mind, she did an excellent job of summarizing my comments.

One year ago this week the books rolled off the presses.  Over 200 news organizations posted the press release, including Worth.com.  It was a slow news day, so Reuters posted my photo on its building in Times Square.  Looking back, it’s been quite a year.  Sales were slow at first, but they picked up dramatically after favorable reviews in the press, especially the Wall Street Journal.  Sales remain steady, far exceeding what I thought would be possible. 

 

My big disappointment with The Confident Retirement Journey has been getting the brick and mortar stores to carry it.  However, other financial advisors, law firms, repeat purchasers, an educational retirement foundation, and online retailers have more than made up for it.  Amazon, for one, has been an amazing partner.

 

Will there be a new edition?  Maybe, but not just yet.  I’m still recovering from the First Edition, often wondering how I pulled it off.  Other than a handful of non-material updates of statistics, the concepts remain timely and valid.  Thanks to everyone who has helped me make the Confident Retirement Journey a success.

Would your rather be financially independent or retired?  Would you rather have retirement cash flows or retirement income?  There is a difference.

 

One of the financial advisory industry’s best thought leaders these days, Michael Kitces, successfully argues that the term “retirement” should be banned from financial advisors’ vocabularies in lieu of the term “financial independence.”  In his words, the “point of financial independence is simply to recognize that, once sufficient assets are accumulated, the decision about whether, where, and how much to work, can be made independent of the financial ramifications of the work itself.”

 

However, it goes beyond just what you will do in that retirement phase of life.  It is a transition of replacing income from work with cash flows from assets and other sources.  This opens the door to having a part-time or lower-paying “financial independence” job you enjoy that still generates retirement cash flow and adds meaning to your life.  This may mean a lower “number” calculation (from Chapter Four) than the “cold turkey” model of conventional retirement thinking. 

 

In the Confident Retirement Journey, I explain the concept of “financial independence assets” and I use the phrase throughout the book.  In fact, I even include them within the Confident Retirement Journey Balance Sheet. ™ However, I now realize that I used the word “retirement” too many times.  Nevertheless, my book strongly argues for the mindset of “financial independence” and “retirement cash flows,” especially when Chapter Two (What is Your Retirement Vision) is taken seriously. 

 

Who wouldn’t want to be financially independent with good retirement cash flows?  That sounds a lot more fun, liberating, and secure than plain old retirement and retirement income!

The purchase of a timeshare — a way to own a piece of a vacation property that you can use for a block of time each year — is often an emotional and impulsive decision.  To help you navigate this question, here's an article I wrote  for the Marion-Polk County Medical Society and our firm's newsletter.  It has since been picked up by Next Avenue.org, a service to select PBS stations around the country.

As a follow-up to my August 19 post about the ABCs (and D) of Medicare, it's only appropriate to talk about its long-term solvency.  Rising medical costs and the wave of baby boomers approaching retirement are gong to have an impact on the program.   It is expensive and there have been many dire warnings about how it could totally swamp the Federal budget.  But things aren't as bad as once predicted. This new study, as reported in the New York Times, shows that Medicare costs are trending down.  Let's hope this trend continues!

I touch on Medicare in several places in the Confident Retirement Journey.  However, because I wanted to take a high-altitude view of retirement by touching upon the many things that affect it, I didn't go into great detail about all the parts and some Medicare planning strategies.  Hopefully this article I wrote, Understanding the ABCs (and D) of Medicare, will give you a better picture of Medicare, its parts and key dates, and some income-planning strategies to minimize premiums.

Try taking a retirement test drive. Here are some pointers from the GoBankingRates.com newsletter. I elaborate on some of them in more detail in The Confident Retirement Journey.  

The Statesman Journal (Salem, OR) just published an interview about my book and the process of writing it.  You can find it here. 

In Chapter 7 of The Confident Retirement Journey, I discuss several detours that can sidetrack you in retirement.  One of them is financial noise, and I present "Ron Kelemen's Financial Noise Filter" as an antidote.  With my permission, NextAvenue.org., a service of select PBS stations around the country has excerpted my financial noise discussion and my noise filter.

In Chapter 8, "Beyond the Horizon," I discuss digital assets in detail.  The appendix includes a worksheet to make it easier for your loved ones or estate executor to find and deal with your digital stuff like bank accounts, social media accounts, etc.  Here is a follow-up article  that explains the situation and discusses legislative and company changes in this rapidly-emerging topic.

Plenty of paperback copies of the Confident Retirement Journey are now back in stock at three Amazon fulfillment centers.  So, thanks to those who waited.

Readers have told me that the paperback edition lends itself very well to the worksheets and questions I ask in the book.  If you wish to purchase a Kindle version, you can order it directly on this website from this page. 

Some readers who use the Nook might have better technical results by going directly to the Barnes and Noble site.  We have only two reported problems with iPad iBooks.  If you are concerned, you can order your copy directly from the iTunes store.  

While being #1 is almost always better, #8 has a nice ring to it, especially if it is for Amazon's list of top selling retirement books for the week of June 28.  Hopefully more copies will be back in stock by June 30.

I always thought the "Colbert Bump" would be a good thing to have, but I must admit the Wall Street Journal Bump has been very nice. The June 23 review called it "...a terrific book...All in all a valuable road map." (The full review and many others is posted on the Reviews tab of this website.)  You can also find it here.  The bump was so nice in fact, that three Amazon fulfillment centers were completely out of stock 36 hours later. More books are on the way, hopefully back in stock by June 30. Fortunately there is an unlimited supply of digital versions available here, Amazon, or at your favorite digital book retailer. Thanks for your patience!

In Chapter Seven, Dealing with Detours, I discuss the growing trend  of boomerang children and the financial impact they may have on pre-retirees and retirees.  We see the retirement-planning consequences of this all the time with our clients.  Like any issue, there are two sides of the story.  This article from the New York Times Magazine explores the issue in greater detail.  As the article points out, it's not just hard on Mom and Dad.  It's hard on the newly minted graduate with mountains of student loans working at low-wage jobs.  If you are in a boomerang relationship, Chapter Seven offers several tips to help you navigate this difficult situation.

I've previously discussed the 2014 Retirement Confidence Survey from theEmployee Benefit Research Institute.  The 2012 Survey was my inspiration for writing this book.   Now we have the 2014 Retirement Readiness Survey results by Aegon, a world-wide financial services company.  In addition to just looking at the United States, this survey looks at the state of retirement readiness in 15 other countries.  This year, the Aegon survey reports that the U.S, ranks fourth out of 15 countries in retirement readiness (a “medium” score, behind India, Brazil and China and ahead of the UK and Germany.  Over half of Americans (51%) think that future retirees will be worse off than those currently in retirement.  One of the key findings is that workplace flexibility will be the watchword of the day, with 56% of the respondents expecting to do some form of work after “retirement.”  For some really cool and informative infographics, be sure to see the diagram with this post and then go to http://www.aegon.com/Home/Investors/News-presentations/Image-Gallery/Retirement-Research-Infographics/ 

 

 

Many quotes have been attributed to Albert Einstein long after he died, even though he never actually made some of them.  Perhaps the most famous of those is "Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the universe."  Regardless of who said it, compound interest is truly amazing as I point out in Chapter Five of The Confident Retirement Journey.   Unfortunately, investors often fail to see the long-term benefit because there is no immediate effect in the earlier years.  It's kind of like driving a car with a turbo charger.  There is a slight lag before the turbo kicks in, but when it does, it's exhilarating.

 

 

A recent article by Jeff Parsons, CFP in the Journal of Financial Planning puts a small twist on this, breaking the curve caused by compound interest into two parts, an early period when the growth of wealth isn’t very noticeable and a later part when the compounding effect becomes much more dramatic.  The lesson here for younger investors--or even early retirees with a 30-year retirement ahead of them--is to be patient.

 

Many people approaching retirement have a false sense of security that their health insurance will be covered by Medicare.  However, a new study by Health View Services shows that a healthy couple retiring a decade from now will need 98% of their Social Security benefits to cover their Medicare premiums and other health care costs.  Two decades from now that could soar to 127%.  The Health View Services’ data shows that for a couple retiring next year, retirement health costs will amount to $366,600 in today’s dollars.  This is considerably higher than the periodic Fidelity Benefits Consulting estimate of retiree health care costs, which I cited in The Confident Retirement Journey.  Last year, Fidelity estimated the cost to be $220,000, down from $240,000 in 2012.  Either way, those are big numbers that need to be factored into your retirement forecasts.

This is college graduation season and there seems to be no shortage of advice being offered to graduates.  Last week I heard about a graduate with a nice job offer who was advised to pay off student loans before participating in the company 401-k plan.  While striving to be debt free is a laudable financial planning goal, I strongly disagree.  Here’s why:

Today’s graduates have something that their parents don’t have—time.  Once missed, one can never get back the lost employer match, the tax deduction, and the tax-deferred growth.  Assuming an 8% hypothetical investment return and a $100 company match, $100 invested each month into a 401-k plan can grow to $117,800 in 20 years.  If you waited for 10 years to get started, it would take an extra $444 per month plus the $100 company match to catch up.  Meanwhile, you will have missed out on the income tax savings, which actually lowers the cost of your monthly investment.

So yes, chip away at your debts and don’t squander money.  More importantly, don’t squander the time you have available to save for the future.  Most people are good about eventually paying off debts, but fewer are good about paying themselves first. 

 

    Share

 

By middle age, most of us have spent some time in the dental chair and the experience of paying for it.  My Colorado sister-in-law cracked a molar last week and experienced the same painful extraction and bone graft that that I had experienced in January.  At almost the exact time she was having her procedure, I was in a Salem oral surgeon’s chair having a dental implant from his January bone graft.  This time, it didn’t hurt much, except for financially.  That was just the implant.  The crown will be another major expense later this summer. 

 

We know other aging--but otherwise healthy--boomers and retirees who are also experiencing the same kinds of dental costs.  That leads us to think that one major “missing tooth”  of most people’s retirement planning is the large, unpredictable, and often uninsured costs of dental procedures as we age.  It’s a good idea to budget for an extra $200 to $400 per month of retirement expenditures that can be set aside and used for these kinds of dental expenses.  Hopefully you won’t need to tap into this reserve, but if you do it could make those procedures a little less painful.

Social Security is frequently mentioned and discussed in The Confident Retirement Journey because it's a big part of the retirement-planning puzzle.  One of our bigger challenges with clients approaching retirement is to convince them that—in many cases—it makes sense to delay taking Social security benefits.  A recent article on CBS MoneyWatch discusses how words used to describe benefits can significantly influence decisions.  Behavioral scientists call this phenomenon "framing."    

 

 Maybe instead of saying “You can file for early benefits at 62” (who wouldn't want an early benefit of any kind?), we should be advising “You can file for reduced or the lowest benefits at 62.”  Or instead of “Consider delaying your benefit to age 70,” it should be phrased “Consider filing for your maximum benefit at your maximum retirement age of 70.”

 

 Regardless of the Social Security terminology, the decision of when to file, suspend, and take benefits is a complex with lifetime consequences.  Sometimes claiming early does make sense, but you won’t know until you’ve considered the BIG picture.  Your Social Security decision needs to integrate spousal age differences, projected benefits, work, other assets, health, earnings history, and more.  Seek advice from a knowlegeable financial adisor.  Absent that, I hope that The Confident Retirement Journey will help you put your decision into context.

"...The real concern for your retirement portfolio as an investor, not a trader, is having the right mix of asset classes at approximately the right time over time...." 

People often ask me "Why did you write the book, and what was the inspiration for the title?"

It all started when I read the 2012 Employee Benefit Research Institute's 22nd annual Retirement Confidence Survey. I was surprised by how pessimistic--yet naive--respondents were to what it takes to retire with confidence. I wanted to give people who have prepared a thumbs up, but I also wanted to wake the vast majority of people up. I elaborate on the 2013 report in Chapter Three.

As in the past, this year's survey is a good news-bad news report. The good news is that the confidence level is up for those with higher incomes and retirement plans. Eighteen percent are now very confident (up from 13 percent in 2013), while 37 percent are somewhat confident.

The bad news? The respondents are still fairly clueless about how much money it takes to retire. Of those who have saved for retirement, 22% said they saved $100,000 or more, but 38 percent report savings of less than $25,000. That’s not a bad number for young people, but it is a potential disaster for those above age 50.

Perhaps these numbers are so low because only 19% of the respondents reported getting investment advice from a professional
financial advisor? 

Want to read something more fun than The Confident Retirement Journey?  Then how about our blog entitled Ron & Kathy's Midlife Adventures? Although it covers some of our recent travels, I also talk about some of the issues mentioned in the book, such as dealing with an aging parent and just getting older.  Today's Statesman Journal excerpted some of it about our recent Peru trip

You can also find all entries and links to photos at www.rwk777.blogspot.com.  Enjoy!

 

Due to last-minute space considerations the Wall Street Journal is postponing the publication of a feature of The Confident Retirement Journey until 1 May. Encore is a special supplement regarding retirement planning issues. It usually comes out right around the first Monday of every month. So watch for the review in about four more weeks.

But Why wait?  If The Confident Retirement Journey made the cut to be featured in Encore, why not get your copy now?

Exciting news--The Confident Retirement Journey will be reviewed and featured in the Monday,March 31 Wall Street Journal Encore section.  

Required minimum distributions (RMDs) from retirement plan accounts have been the law of the land for many years.  In recent years the rules have been simplified and made more taxpayer-friendly.  For 2014, those subject to RMD requirements need to pay special attention. 

A lawyer in her mid-40’s recently asked if making the maximum contributions into her firm’s 401-k plan would be sufficient to enable her to retire in 20 years.  We gave her our favorite answer (a favorite of many other professionals as well) which was “that depends.”  As the book explains, there are six drivers that help you arrive at that number.  A summary of them are in our latest newsletter, as well as in the newsletter for the Marion-Polk County Medical Society and for the Lane county Medical society. 

During a chance encounter at a local eatery, someone a recent retiree who had purchased my book came up to me to congratulate me and ask how I was doing.  "Well, I said, "other than the fact that I cracked a molar last week, pretty good."  

"I feel your pain, as my wife and I have had our share of dental issues since we retired."  He suggested that for the next edition I add some comments about dental expenditures in Chapter Seven, Dealing with Detours, or even in Chapter Three about estimating retirement expenses.  Now that my bills for the procedure are starting to arrive, I can see that he had an excellent point.  As my dentist said, as we age, our teeth and bones become more brittle. And the worst of it is that most retirees don't have dental insurance.

Now at a college level financial planning course near you: The Confident Retirement Journey is being used in the senior seminar on financial planning by guest lecturer Larry Hanslits, CFP.  But don't let the word "textbook" scare you away.  As you will see on the reviews in Amazon, it is very accessible and easy to read.

Here's the latest 5-Star review posted on Amazon.com:

A wonderfully easy read with lots of practical and helpful information. I am in my 40s and everyone says to save for retirement, but how much? How do you balance lifestyle today with that savings? The book provides not only the practical part of just how much I ought to save, but made me analyze what I want to do in retirement. Time is precious and this was time well spent.

The Associated Press just published a very good article about retirement entitled, The World Braces for a Retirement Crisis.  The theme is that workers will need to postpone retirement, save more, and/or have a reduced lifestyle in retirement. But will you need to do so? The Confident Retirement Journey can help you answer those questions as they pertain to your own unique situation.  As the Amazon reviews are showing, the future isn’t so scary when one is prepared for it.  Why not start 2014 armed with the knowledge you need to face the future with confidence? Order your copy today.

The business school at Oregon State University has just selected The Confident Retirement Journey as the text book for its BA406 Financial Planning Seminar class. 

But please, don't let the word "textbook" scare you away.  As you can see by the reviews the book is getting on Amazon, it is a highly conversational and easy read packed with useful information for students, pre-retirees, and those already retired. 

On another note, our best sales are coming from other financial advisors and allied professionals who are buying boxes of them as gifts for their clients.  These experts must be on to something.

Between 125 and 150 friends, clients, and supporters helped us celebrate some good things going in in our practice, and of course, book.  We moved a lot of books and even more wine.  Best of all, everyone seemed to have a fun time.  We are launched!

 

Great News--Our first shipment to one of three Amazon filfillment centers arrived yesterday.  That means that you can now buy The Confident Retirement Journey directly through Amazon.  Because of Amazon's outstanding logistics and service, all purchases of the paperback from this site will be fulfilled by Amazon.  The digital version should be available through many outlets by November 10. 

We are still working to get the paperback book into traditional book and mortar outlets, but that is more work than I could have imagined. Any help or lobbying would be greatly appreciated!  If you live in or near by Salem, please feel free to stop by during normal business hours and we'd be happy to sell you one--and I'd love to autograph it if I am in the office.  We are located at 500 Liberty Street SE, Suite 310 (the Water Place Building, across from City Hall).

It takes more than just boxes of books to be a published author.  It also takes things like business cards, promotional flyers, and our new banner for the November 5 book launch.


The books are off the presses!  The digital version is going through a final revision.  Arrangements are being made to ship them to Amazon.  Until then, copies are available at Ron's office, or through this website.  Over 200 news organizations posted the press release, including Reuters, which ran this photo in Times Square.  Be sure to RSVP for our launch party on November 5.  503-371-3333.

The eBook version was just uploaded today.  Hopefully it will be available soon.  We just approved the cover yesterday.  It will be a gorgeous matte-satin finish.

Checking the proofs

 

 

The book is being printed at this time and will be available in late October, 2013. Watch for an announcement on Facebook or Twitter.  Or, please send an email to info@confidentretirementjourney.com and we will let you know when it is available for purchase. Thanks!

 

RSS feed

Purchase the Book


Purchase Paperback $9.95


Purchase eBook $9.99


Download Worksheets

This PDF requires a password.
Password hint: The first word in Chapter 2

Follow Me

Facebook -- https://www.facebook.com/confidentretirementjourney Twitter -- https://twitter.com/RonKelemen