Boomers, Markets & Money

A Down-to-Earth Discussion of Financial and Lifestyle Information for Baby Boomers

What is Your Legacy?

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I enjoyed an AAII presentation given by Robert Powell, a well-known writer and editor on retirement topics. Or as he calls it “The most depressing job in America.”

He gave a lot of useful information on the usual retirement themes. But one point that stood out for me was the importance of passing on your values and the lessons you learned to your family.

A Young Woman

A Young Woman

Here are links to two articles he wrote on the subject that I think you will find interesting:

For this post, I’ve included some photos of a scrapbook my mother-in-law, Augusta, put together decades ago. (Click on a photo to see a slideshow.)  I enjoyed hearing the stories associated with the treasures in the collection. It helped me understand some of her experiences and those of her peers.

Below is a transcript of the some brief remarks I made at my father-in-law’s celebration of life service. This was my attempt to pass along some of his life experiences and values to his grandchildren. There were a lot of lessons to be learned from the way he worked his way through college in the Great Depression, and medical school. And as soon as he finished his internship, he was off to serve in World War II as a battalion surgeon on Okinawa Island. I hope you find it interesting.

Joseph J. Lambiase, M.D. Celebration of Life

Like many of you today, I can tell you many stories that illustrate the kindness, empathy, love, and humor of my father-in-law, but I figured you would hear enough of those today.

What I want to share is a very short tale, of a young man who pulled himself up by the proverbial bootstraps. Joe never bragged about what he did but I found his stories of the past so interesting that I would often ask him about his experiences. His life and values, like the rest of his generation, were colored by the struggles of the Great Depression where he learned to work as a teenager and give his wages to his mother to help the family.

I remember I once asked him how he decided to become a doctor and he told me, “My mother told me to be a doctor.” I thought that was kind of funny since you don’t hear of many young men who listen to their mothers. So, the first step to becoming a doctor was to go to college. He went to Brown University. One important reason he went there was that he could walk there because affording carfare was out of the question. He worked during the summers to afford tuition. When he ran out of money, he’d take a semester off until he could scrape together tuition money. The challenges didn’t stop him from graduating with honors.

I found his stories of his medical school training in Washington, DC the most fascinating. To cover room and board during this time, he worked through the night at the hospital every other night after doing his regular duties during the day. He said, “That covered room and board, but if I needed cash for something, I’d sell my blood.” He had a pretty, young sweetheart in Rhode Island for whom he bought a string of pearls by selling his blood.

I remember his stories of being sent out as a medical student into the apartments of poverty-stricken women of Washington, DC to delivery babies while rats scurried across the floor. He told of the streetwise nuns who worked in the emergency rooms “who really knew their stuff.” The sweltering heat of Washington DC summers nights led to many sleepless nights, where he would walk to the river in a futile attempt to find respite. He never complained or bragged about these experiences but just stated them matter of fact manner when he was asked.

Later, he and his sweetheart Augusta married, and together, with old-fashioned values of hard work, frugality, sacrifice, and love contributed in countless ways to the well-being of their family. In the interest of time, I won’t go into detail. But I just want to say how utterly I was affected by kindnesses shown to me by both Joseph and Augusta and how grateful I am that they are the grandparents of my children.

As Malcolm Gladwell stated in the book Outliers, we are who we are, in large part, because of the sacrifices of those who went before us. We never accomplish anything truly on our own. It is easy to overlook a quiet, modest person like my father-in-law, who went about doing the difficult but not very glamorous work of day-to-day life. But all the good, long-lasting things in life are a result of the sacrifices of ordinary people who choose to live an ethical life. As we take time to honor the life of Joseph John Lambiase today, I would like to conclude by asking his grandchildren to follow in his footsteps and live lives dedicated to hard work, sacrifice, humor, dedication to family, and love.

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Book Review: “What if…Workbook: Give the Gift of Preparedness to Your Loved Ones

Now that fall is here, many of us are dusting off our neglected to-do lists. For those interested in organizing their financial information, Gwen Morgan has put together a handy fill-in-the-blank guide to “putting your affairs in order.”

A ceramic mother mallard duck followed by two ducklings

PUT YOUR DUCKS IN A ROW! (Click to Enlarge)

The workbook guides an individual or family as they assemble their important information in one place. This helps us by:

  • Making it easier to find information when we need it
  • Helps someone forced to take over in an emergency

After losing her mother to Alzheimer’s, Morgan realized she didn’t really know how her mother wanted her to handle many decisions, including planning her funeral service. She thought a guide would help loved ones carry out a person’s last wishes.

I like the workbook and think it has value even if a person isn’t ready to record all of his or her “last wishes.” Even people who are more organized than usual will appreciate the prompts for information.

A Ceramic Mallard Duckling Sitting on Grass

Take Care of the Little Ones (Click to Enlarge)

Space is provided for:

  •  A page to rip out to send to two people to tell them where your workbook is.
  • Personal Information
  • Contact information for loved ones
  • Contact information for household matters such as utilities, attorneys, medical and friends. There’s even a section for important information on dependent children.
  • There are pages for financial accounts such as banking, brokerage, mortgages and other loans, insurance, document storage.
  • Family medical history. This is helpful to an individual in an emergency. But it also can be helpful for the rest of the extended family to have a record of medical conditions that run in the family.
  • Personal Last Wishes.  A lot of space and suggestions are given for detailed instructions.
  • Gifts for loved ones. This can save a lot of family arguments!
A Ceramic Mother Mallard Duck with a Duckling on Each Side

Gathering Together Important Information Helps the Whole Family (Click to Enlarge)

You can find information on the guide at http://www.whatifworkbook.com


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Summary of “Boomers and the Great Recession: Struggling to Recover”

AARP also recommends that older workers keep up-to-date with the latest job skills.

AARP recommends that unemployed workers receive government help with job training. (Click to Enlarge)

Here is a summary of points in a 131-page report prepared by the AARP Public Policy Institute on Baby Boomers experiences during the Great Recession and soon after.

Study surveys found:

  • 47% of Baby Boomers who were unemployed gave job loss as the reason for not working.

What the unemployed perceived as significant job search barriers:

  • The struggling economy.
  • One-third to one-half felt that age discrimination was a factor.

Feelings of the recently reemployed:

Fewer than 50% felt they were on target for their financial goals.

Reasons why they felt this way:

  • Pay at the new job was lower and savings were depleted.
  • Debt levels were too high.
  • They were hired as temps.

How Boomers surveyed coped with financial setbacks

  • Most commonly, they cut expenses.
  • They withdrew money from savings accounts.
  • Some postponed medical or dental care or stopped taking medications.

Researchers wrote “More than half of the Boomers surveyed stated that they were less confident of having enough money for a comfortable retirement than they had been before the recession started.”

Biggest worries for Baby Boomers:

  •  Cost of health care and long-term care.
  •  Inflation
  • Unable to leave an adequate inheritance
  • Unable to live in their own home.
  • The surviving spouse might not be able to maintain their way of life.

A selection of the report’s public policy recommendations:

  • Encourage older workers to take advantage of employer training programs. AARP advises employees who are close to retirement to continue to participate in training. They may be forced to stay in the workforce longer than planned or to re-enter the workforce after retirement.
  • Offer financial assistance to cover training costs for unemployed workers. Government data on job skills needed and areas of demand needs to be timely, accurate and easy to obtain.
  • Increase monitoring and enforcement of age-discrimination laws.
  • Let older workers know about government and private programs that offer advice on entrepreneurship. Information should be available about the suitability of considering this as a primary or secondary source of income.
  • “As traditional pensions decline, Social Security remains the only major stable retirement income source. It is critical that this program be protected.”

Source:

SURVEY METHODOLOGY  (Click to Enlarge)

SURVEY METHODOLOGY (Click to Enlarge)

“Boomers and The Great Recession” By the Public Policy team at AARP Public Policy Institute. September 2012. You can find a ink to the PDF of the 131 page report in this article.

Related Posts on Boomers, Markets & Money

Resources for Baby Boomer Entrepreneurs

Summary and Link to Interesting Video on Recent Retirement Study

Review of PBS Frontline’s “The Retirement Gamble”

Resources to Help You Decide When to Take Social Security

A Critical Step in Preparing for Retirement

Save Money and Enrich Your Life at the Library


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How to Keep a Second Home Fun by Realistically Planning Future Expenses (Second in a Series)

Dreaming of that ideal vacation spot? Captiva Island. (Click to Enlarge)

Dreaming of that ideal vacation spot?
Captiva Island. (Click to Enlarge)

Realistic planning of future expenses is very important to keep your second home an escape from the stress of your day-to-day life. Who needs a huge financial obligation that wrecks retirement plans or adds worry to our lives?

This post will include a list of expenses we have encountered in maintaining our home. (Yes, I can be a drag sometimes.)

Each homeowner will have different expenses depending on the part of the country they live in, whether it is a condo or single-family home, etc. But here is our list, which can help you start your planning process:

  •  Homeowner’s Insurance is a big one and can be higher than your primary home insurance. Our home in Southwest Florida requires three types of insurance: dwelling x-wind, flood insurance and wind insurance. Find out what is required in your area.

“5 Questions to Ask Before Buying a Vacation Home” by Melissa Neiman discusses factors that affect insurance rates.

  • Perhaps you want to enjoy the sun and the sea while fishing.

    Perhaps you want to enjoy the sun and the sea while fishing.

    Real Estate Taxes. Check to see if rates are different for state residents and non-resident homeowners.

  • Utilities. Telephone, cable TV, Internet, electricity, water, sewer, etc.
  • Homeowner’s Association Fees. Yard maintenance may be additional for single-family homes.
  • Furnishings. Furniture, Dishes, Linens, etc.
  • Surprises (large and small.) Appliances will need repair and replacement. Then there are the really fun ones like roof leaks and bursting pipes.

    Taking a Dip in the Beautiful Waters of Blind Pass. Between Sanibel and Captiva Islands. (Click to Enlarge.)

    Taking a Dip in the Beautiful Waters of Blind Pass. Between Sanibel and Captiva Islands. (Click to Enlarge.)

Since you won’t be occupying your second home all year, there may be expenses that you don’t have at your primary home:

  • Home watch service. A good idea and sometimes required by mortgage companies.
  • Contracts for pest control, air conditioning, and heating maintenance.
  • We choose to offset some expenses by renting our home part-time. We find it convenient to use a rental agent, which leads to a 20% commission and small monthly marketing fee.

Despite the expenses, we’ve enjoyed our new home. One way to keep expenses down is to avoid buying an expensive trophy home. After all, if you are on vacation, you want to be outside enjoying yourself anyway.

Please enjoy some photographs from Sanibel, Captiva, and Useppa Islands in Southwestern Florida.

Do you like to walk and enjoy the vegetation?  Useppa Island. (Click to Enlarge)

Do you like to walk and enjoy the vegetation? Useppa Island. (Click to Enlarge)

In our last post , we talked about the quality of life issues that Baby Boomers should consider when purchasing a second home. “Lifestyle Considerations When Buying a Second Home”

I’d like to thank my much older brother Jim for suggesting the topic of this series.
Please write in your suggestions for post topics in the comment section.


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LIFESTYLE CONSIDERATIONS WHEN BUYING A SECOND HOME

Many Baby Boomers are using the real estate downturn as an opportunity to buy a second home.

Kayaking the East End of Sanibel

Kayaking the East End of Sanibel (Click to Enlarge)

Quality of life features should be considered before making such an important decision.

We have all daydreamed about living in an exotic location that we’ve seen in a movie or a National Geographic special. But if you want to enjoy your vacation home as long as possible, you need to consider practical details as well as dramatic scenery.

What to Look For in a Vacation Community

An Environment that Encourages Physical Activity

Research has shown that regular exercise is key to a vigorous old age and good mental and cognitive health. Exercise that has a social aspect to it encourages people to get out. Many boomers are enjoying kayaking and biking clubs, as well as recreation centers. A mild climate helps.

Kayaking Sanibel Canals

Kayaking Sanibel Canals (Click to Enlarge)

Opportunities for Intellectual Growth

The average lifespan is increasing, creating opportunities to learn new things. It also helps us stay adaptable in a world that is changing rapidly.

Purpose in Life

Research has shown that people live longer and have less depression if they pursue an activity that is meaningful to them.

Patrica Boyle, PhD, a neuropsychologist with the Rush University Medical Center found that people with a higher purpose in life had lower mortality rates among older adults. Research has even shown that volunteering has a positive impact on health.

A Curious Site While Kayaking on a Sanibel Canal (Click to Enlarge)

Opportunities for Social Interaction

People often find that they have to make more of a conscious effort to see people after they retire. Check out the availability of clubs and activities. Of course, if you want the grandchildren to visit, make sure there are fun activities for them, too.

Easily Accessible, Good Quality Healthcare

Let’s face it. We are going to need to visit the doctor more often and you never know when an emergency will happen.

Reasonable Travel Times and Cost

Keeping travel costs and distances as low as possible ensures that you will use your new home more.

Some Baby Boomers are choosing traditional warm weather vacation spots. Others are choosing to purchase second homes in college towns. College communities provide recreational and educational opportunities. Small college towns may also have an intergenerational atmosphere that many find appealing .

Keep an eye out for a future post on financial details to consider when buying a second home.

Sources

“Under the Microscope: Purpose in Life May Protect Against Alzheimer’s Disease” Rush University Medical Center

“During the holidays and beyond, helping others will also help you stay healthy” Rush University Medical Center

Nemo Found Rhode Island

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According to this morning’s Providence Journal, National Grid announced 187,000 homes lost electricity in Rhode Island.  We wish these residents the best.  Many people are working long hours  in uncomfortable conditions to get electricity services up and running.

Here’s a short post I wrote when I lost power when hurricane Sandy hit.  SANDY: Homeowners Insurance Coverage for Food Spoilage.

Enjoy a few pictures of the snow and birds in our yard today.

 

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Save Money and Enrich Your Life at the Library

Shell Display at the Sanibel Library

Shell Display at the Sanibel Library

Libraries are using technology to enrich our lives in surprising ways.

While on vacation, I spoke to Sanibel Island Public Library Director Margaret Mohundro who graciously offered ideas on ways to save money at the library.

Each library has unique offerings so she recommended consulting your local library to see what is available.

Convenience has increased as well. Many services can be accessed right from your home with an Internet connection and a library card number.

Savings and Shells at the Sanibel Island Library

Savings and Shells at the Sanibel Island Library

Here are just a few of Ms. Mohundro’s suggestions:

Museum Passes. Most libraries have passes to local museums, which you can check out for free. You can even do this when you travel. You usually can get a visitor library card for about ten dollars—“It’s a steal!” Some museums will offer passes to the whole family.

Learn a language for free with Mango. You can learn about forty languages at the library or online at home.

Research using online subscription services. The Sanibel Public Library offers subscriptions to Morningstar Investment Research Center, Weiss Financial Ratings Series as well as many others. The Florida Electronic Library provides free magazine articles. This information is from trusted and vetted sources.

Check out free audio and eBooks. You can check out books for your electronic devices such as iPhones, e-readers, and MP3 players. Not all publishers sell electronic books to libraries but many good titles are available.

Dramatic Shells From Around the World

Dramatic Shells From Around the World

• Author lectures and book discussion groups are a good way to stay informed.

Take out puzzles or Scrabble.

You can use the Wi-Fi and computers. And libraries are always a nice place to relax and read a book or magazine.

Resources are available for all age groups. Ms. Mohundro told me about R.E.A.D. which stands for Reading Education Assistance Dogs. Children sit with therapy dogs and read aloud to them as they work on improving their reading skills.

Bouquet Made with Shells

Bouquet Made with Shells

Check out other libraries in your regional system to see if they have different museum passes, events, and services. For example, my local library in Rhode Island offers Universal Class, which offers over 500 online non-credit Continuing Education courses.

Sanibel Island is well-known for its shells.  The library has a beautiful collection of shells from around the world.