What exactly is an early retirement? After twenty years serving in the military retirement is an option. Most who take it quickly pursue a civilian career. Many believe a retirement before age 62, the birthday at which reduced Social Security benefits are available is early. Retiring on only the age 62 Social Security benefit without a pension or substantial savings would likely be living below the poverty level. Others believe retiring before Medicare eligibility at age 65 is early. Anything prior to age 65 leaves most with an unaffordable bill for private health insurance; granted, there are folks who are disabled or fortunate enough to have their employer continue health insurance for their families but in general most pre-65 retirees are stuck with the bill.
Having moved beyond the intellectual confines of my career in finance, I now have time to ponder the great questions of our time. Like for instance, why do people overuse the word ‘so’ so darn much? Do they not realize in conversation it makes them sound like ignorant hillbillies from Kentucky or West Virginia- or perhaps Idaho? I mean seriously why must you be so sorry or so happy or so sad? Just be sad or sorry or for God’s sake be happy.
A few years back I was on a consulting engagement visiting a co-op in a very rural area of the Missouri Ozarks. The town only had one motel and I’m being generous calling it a motel. It was a fishing camp on a river and its marque board advertised water-beds in every room. I didn’t check into it, but I believe they might have offered an hourly rate.
As it turned out, the motel was one of the few things the town had going for it. The town was so small not only did it lack a stop-light, it had no restaurant either. So what’s a traveling consultant from the city supposed to do? Fortunately my planned stay was just one night. After a day of consulting the client offered to take me to dinner. I said, “Where are we going, there’s really nothing here?” Continue reading
There exists a distrust of the financial system among certain ethnic and cultural groups in this country. If your parents or grandparents immigrated from Eastern Europe or Asia this is something you may want to pay attention to. Some people hide money rather than entrust it to a bank. In the fast paced financial world of today, this behavior is largely confined to the elderly. I recognize there are substantial amounts of cash locked out of the legitimate banking system due to the illegal nature of the activity producing it. But this story is about the elderly and their hard earned savings Continue reading
Before writing, family history passed from generation to generation through complex storytelling. Thousands of years ago it was easy enough to tell your children not to throw stones at the lion. Much more effective was the passionate telling of a story, around a camp fire, of what terrible things happened to the little boy who threw stones at the lion. Through storytelling not only would the child understand the cause and effect of such behavior, he would also be provided a tool to instruct his own children when the time came. In current times we have plenty of opportunity to learn through books and film that a certain behavior will have consequences. Yet, storytelling remains an important part of passing a family’s culture and experience through the ages.
One Christmas during the time our family was living in Japan my father bought two handmade porcelain china dolls for his brother’s two pre-teen daughters. The dolls were fairly expensive and unique. He lovingly packed them in shipping boxes and mailed them to his brother’s home in Oregon along with a letter to each niece. My parents were excited about the gifts they had sent their nieces for Christmas and hoped the girls would appreciate and enjoy them.
During the 1980s I was visiting my aunt and uncle in the LA area. My uncle told me about his fiftieth reunion which had taken place a couple of weeks prior to my visit. He said, “Betty and I got all dressed up and headed toward the nearby hotel where the reunion was being held, but as we turned into the parking lot I looked at her and told her I didn’t want to see those people. I wanted to remember them the way they were, not the way they are now. We turned out of the parking lot and went to a restaurant and had a quiet dinner.” This was surprising to me as they had been a power couple in high school and had attended all prior reunions – and enjoyed the events.
Yet, that’s how I feel about my class. In the early 1970s we were young, fresh, full of life, and the opportunities lying before us were unlimited. I want my memories to be of a bunch of fresh-faced seventeen-year-olds graduating from a brand-new high school. When speaking to my wife I still refer to that building as the new high school. My memories of the school are stuck in 1973 and perhaps it’s best for me to keep its people confined there as well. Continue reading
Rolling into the Lookout Pass, Idaho parking lot at just past eight one Sunday morning I was startled by how few vehicles were there. It felt as though I had traveled back in time and was arriving at Mt Spokane for a day of skiing in the late 60s. Back then Mt Spokane had just two lifts and only the original old lodge number one.
I wasn’t sure what sort of experience this day was going to bring. The lift ticket I had purchased in Coeur d’Alene was only $34, about one-third of what I am accustomed to paying in Colorado. When I purchased it the vendor had apprised me that Fridays are Boomer Fridays and if you are past the age of forty you ski for $26. Now that’s got to be one of the best ski bargains in the country! Continue reading
I can’t think of a greater gift from a parent to a child than the gift of an education. By gift what I mean is helping to matriculate a child through college; coming out the other end debt free. Continue reading
In the last installment I discussed what a terrific investment Microsoft ended up being for my family during a 20 year, and counting, holding period. I really do attribute much of that success to the risky behavior of youth and pure luck. But as has been said in the past, “I’d rather be lucky than smart.”
In this post I will describe some income tax strategies I have used for my family in the past. As a CPA and retired Certified Financial Planner I have more expertise than most in these areas; however, this post is not income tax advice which should be sought by you from an expert prior to trying any of these techniques. Continue reading
Can you save too much in your tax deferred retirement accounts? The short answer is, yes. The longer answer is perhaps, but most Boomers will never have to worry about it. The press is full of stories detailing the sad state of retirement funding for the Boomer generation and how they are woefully unprepared for what once was a distant retirement and is now upon them. Only recently have I started picking up on articles dealing with the equally serious problem of families who have saved too much, or at least too much in tax deferred accounts. Continue reading