Once a week I get an e-mail from a reader asking for my advice about something. It could be financial or relational, or maybe a how-to question. I try to answer the best I can and hope my input has been helpful. Then, a few times a month I will get a reader suggesting a particular topic for an upcoming post.
I love both kinds of e-mails. The first allows me to share my experience, while the second often gives me a great idea to write about. Honestly, coming up with thirteen new posts every month is getting harder. What haven't I written about several times? So, every new idea is more than welcome (hint, hint).
Regular reader and commenter, Jane, (not her real name), sent me such an e-mail a week or two ago. She asked if I thought three specific concerns of hers might be turned into a post for feedback from everyone. Absolutely!
Question: Membership Clubs
One of her questions concerned the advisability of membership in stores like Costco or Sam's Club. After downsizing, the gigantic sized detergent or pickle jar became a storage problem. The second freezer didn't make the move so stocking up on meat was no longer viable. She found herself overstocking with six month's worth of paper towels and other products.
At the same time, Costco or Sam's Club often have attractive prices on clothing, automotive tires, carpeting, and appliances. The Costco near me has an excellent wine selection. Photo services and eye glasses are also very competitively priced.
So, she wanted to know what others have done after downsizing. Do the savings in some areas make the yearly membership in these membership clubs worth while? Or, are you tempted to stock up on things you don't really need but the price is hard to pass up?
Question: Where do you go for vision care and exams?
Along the same lines, she wondered if most retirees go to more expensive eye doctors for exams and eye wear, or are the services at Walmart, Sears, or Costco just as good? Many health plans will cover services at these national chains while not paying for an expensive ophthalmologist.
For me I choose the more expensive route. My family has a history of eye problems. It is important to me to catch anything like macular degeneration early. While I may be kidding myself, I trust the doctor more than the person in the mall. But, I may be wasting money based on a perception and not reality. What do you do?
Question: Family-Owned Business and Retirement
Finally, is an issue that many retirees struggle with: when one partner is ready to retire and the other isn't. The retiring half of the equation wants to travel or move or start enjoying life away from the job. The still-working half has decided he or she can't afford to quit now, or enjoys working over retirement.
Jane's question actually asked about this from an interesting perspective: a family-run business. Both spouses are important to the success of the company but one is ready to walk away. However, if he or she does retire now the business will suffer. The partner who still wants to work thinks another two years of keeping the company going would be best. Jane notes that her spouse is supportive of her desire to stop now. But, she is feeling guilty knowing the costs and the strain on her husband if she leaves. Training someone to do her job would take the better of two years so that's not a real choice. What to do?
OK, now your turn. Please help "Jane" and all of us with your thoughts on one, two, or all three questions. If you are part of (or were part of) a family-owned and run business your input would be especially helpful. I imagine there are lots of folks in her situation. Work and keep the business chugging along when you are burned out, or step off the train and potentially harm your long-term retirement. Big dilemma.