January 13, 2014

What Topics or Concerns Should I Address in 2014?


With 2014 only a few weeks old now seems likes a good time to ask what subjects or concerns you would like me to address in the coming months. As you know, I have made two changes to Satisfying Retirement this year: a broadened focus to include more than just retirement-focused topics, and a  change to twice a week posting.

Since, I don't feel quite as restricted with my topic choices, I am really looking for your thoughts. While I will continue to avoid some subjects that seem to generate more heat than light, I want to cast a wider net. After all, once someone is retired, he or she thinks about all sorts of things. Our lives are chocked full of activities and interests, as well as questions and concerns.

As long as a post appeals to my general market target of those 50+, retired or moving that way, almost anything that interests you might be fascinating to others.

So, fire away. What would you like to read about? What problems or questions would you appreciate me addressing? What is important to you and your life that has never been dealt with by me on these pages?

I want to explore travel, relationships, RVing, hobbies and passions that you have that might light the fire of others, books, music, and movies you love (or hate), the hassles of aging, moving to a smaller home, or an atypical housing choice (a yurt?), simplifying and frugality, changes in your life brought about health issues, or changes in your spirituality.......anything and everything that is part of the world of a 50+ person, moving through this journey we call life.

In a week or two I'll recap all the suggestions and give you an idea of what might be on the horizon.


39 comments:

  1. Bob, I'm a new reader, so it's possible that you have already addressed this question. How do the costs of RVing compare with staying in hotels/B&Bs? Hubby and I are about 4 years away from being retired and both sets of our parents had RVs (10-20 yrs ago), but so much has changed since then. Thanks for your commitment to helping all of us who are trying to learn about how to live well in retirement...I find your posts very interesting. You asked for suggestions, so I'll put my vote in for ongoing info about finance, and I love hearing about the "real truth" of downsizing/relocating/etc. Thanks, again, for being dedicated to helping us to thrive during this period of life!!

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    1. Good topics that I will continue to explore!

      To answer your question about RV travel expenses, there are probably folks who have spent more time than me, so they may have different figures, and what type of RV or trailer you have makes a big difference.

      I attempt to keep the cost just below $60 a day. That includes the cost of the campground and food, sightseeing. etc. It does not include the cost of gas, which is a major expense. The most expensive way to travel with an RV is to change campgrounds every night or two because of the gas to get to each new site. If you stay in one location for a week or more, you will spend much less on gas.

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  2. Bob, Your articles and books have really helped me adjust to the idea of retirement. The topic I'd really like to see you cover is how does a person deal with the guilt of living one's life when a parent is still living but not able to travel or participate fully or you have close family members who can't participate because of financial considerations. I've phrased that poorly but I feel like I'm putting my life on hold to a certain extent. I haven't done the traveling I could or participated in local activities because often it's not something I could do, enjoy myself and bring mom along. And I could go to concerts, do hobbies my sister and her husband can't afford themselves and I can't pay for all of us, then I feel guilty. I actually retired the first time when I was 50 because I was burned out of a fast paced career that took me all over the world for 25 years, was eligible to retire with a pension and because my father and mother were ill. My father passed away and we moved my mom to be closer to my sister and me. Now, ten years later, Mom has rallied, lives by herself and my sister is her primary care taker. I have a very flexible contractor job that I work from home that utilizes the connections and skills from my first career. I know I am very fortunate. However, I'm beginning to feel like I have put my life on hold and time is slipping away. Thank you again for your blog. T

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    1. That is a question I face every day. My dad will turn 90 next week. Since mom passed away three years ago, Betty and I are really his only regular visitors. He has no interests and rarely leaves his apartment except to eat meals in the dining room. The highlight of his week is when we come to have lunch with him.

      So far, the longest we have been away is 3+ weeks. He handled it OK, but we do worry about our intention to be gone for 2 1/2 months this summer. He lives in a retirement community that provides various services, and people to check on him, but we still feel guilty leaving him alone for that long a period.

      Betty and I have discussed this a lot and have come to the conclusion that we must take advantage of this time in our life when we are healthy enough to travel. He is well cared for. If there is an emergency that requires one of us, that person will fly home to deal with it.

      The overall topic of dealing with family, budgets, and guilt is important, and worth its own post at some point.

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    2. Yes, please..this would be quite an interesting topic. Both my parents (86 and 88) are now in assisted living, and my husband will retire in 15 months. We would so love to be snowbirds in AZ, to get away from the Colorado weather, but what about dad and mom? My sister works full time and would have to take off to take them to appointments, etc. Plus they REALLY rely on me for a lot of their decisions, their checkbook/finances, etc. Do we go and do what we would really like to do, or do we stay and help take care of my parents. Would be so interesting to see how others feel about this.

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  3. I've always found your posts and readers' comments to be informative and thought provoking. Suggestions for future posts: relationships with adult children and their spouses; finding balance in life; how to reply succinctly to the question "What do you do?" in retirement; staying healthy in the later years and health trends; the hobbies that we get lost in; book and movie reviews.

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    1. I am reading a book right now that has an excellent chapter on the issues involved with adult children and retirees. Look for the review sometime later this week.

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  4. I am interested in more money related articles! I am a dividend investor in Canada at 71 years of age.

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    1. Thanks, Keith. I will continue to keep financial concerns right in my sights.

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  5. Bob, I always enjoy the give and take around finances in general. If you want to be more specific then the group could talk and debate particular areas to invest in, what has worked over time (not just the short-term) for some, what hasn't, and so on. I have found many people are really in need of help in this area, and all of us may be able to contribute in some way or another.

    Alternative living arrangements, whether here in the US or overseas, would be of interest as well. The growth of networks like HGTV certainly would indicate people are looking at lots of options, more so than prior generations.

    Travel, whether the actual arrangements made/used or the destinations, will also get peoples attention. Many of us can contribute in that regard; others might just get a kick out of reading about others adventures.

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    1. I like the idea of concentrating on specific areas, like the different types of annuities or 401(k) use and abuse.

      There are some interesting new developments in travel , like couchsurfing and all sorts of tremendous travel-oriented apps that I could explore. Great ideas, Chuck.

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  6. I have always been interested in communal living arrangements and would love to hear form some retirees who live successfully in the few that are sprinkled throughout the country.Maybe also a story from someone for whom this did NOT work out! I'd enjoy reading about very conservative investors with no stomach for risk. Also,I am one of those people who does not have a huge sense of wanderlust.I don't particularly feel the need to cross the pond, although I have enjoyed nice tropical vacations with Ken,snorkeling etc.. I am feeling like I'd like to see more of my own USA..a lot of my retired and older friends think I am "provincial." Does EVERYONE who retires want to "TRAVEL!!!???" I do, a little, but not really a lot. a week here and there in a tiny Rv will suit me..any other homebodies out there??

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    1. Interesting question about traveling versus being a homebody with occasional trips for a shorter period....that might be worth exploring.

      I don't work out much...except for 2-3 mile walks a few times a week. Does that qualify?

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    2. My opinion, for what it's worth- travel, particular travel outside of one's comfort zone, forces us to look at the world differently. In the words of Mark Twain, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”

      I can tell you that I now see and hear the news very differently having explored some of the corners of this amazing planet. Being exposed to both developed and still developing countries has changed the way I feel about my own country. I'm more appreciative of what we have here, more compassionate, more tolerant, and more invested in preserving this planet as a result.

      Traveling has taught me that I really know far less than I thought I did . . . a good lesson for all of us I think.

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    3. Fabulous insight to share, Tamara. Thank you.

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    4. Madeline, you are in no way provincial, lol. For years I wanted to TRAVEL with a capital T (and was blessed to be able to do that because my husband's job is in Europe). Now, like you, I want to travel a few times a year (mainly to other climes) and be at home the rest of the time. give me, say four trips a year each with two to three weeks and I will, generally, be a happy camper.

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    5. Barb, I tried to go visit your site just now and got a big popup telling me your site had been infected with malware!! ?? Not to open it.. ??

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    6. Madeline, I just went to Barb's blog twice using two different browsers, clicking from both her link above and her blog listing on my blogroll and had no problems. There is a chance something may be infecting your computer or some cookie type app has been triggered.

      Thanks for the heads up, though. We all have to look out for each other.

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    7. Thanks Bob--will carefully look at my hardware!! I've got a mac and rarely have issues.. ?? Will get super-techie son to check it all out!

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  7. Great idea to throw this out for discussion. I'm sure you'll get a lot of feedback. I'm one who wants to travel, go back to Italy, etc. and we also have my father-in-law who's 95 and in an asst. living apt. So I understand the question about leaving to enjoy your retirement while concerned about elderly parents. Hot topic, I'm sure. I trust your curiosity. You'll come up with great topics.
    b

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    1. This is a great example of how varied people are: look at the comment from Madeline just above yours...she doesn't want to travel to Europe and you are all set to go back to Italy.

      The topic of balancing family responsibilities with the need to live your own life is certainly a hot button one, but one that needs a look.

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  8. So many of the commenters have addressed topics that I would also like to see addressed. We are gone part of the year and have a large social circle of social interaction then. However, being rural for our home base, I would like to see addressed how to branch out and create a wider base for interaction in our rural community. I also liked the article you did on volunteering and would enjoy more of that or even how to start an organization to benefit a cause yourself. I would enjoy more info on hobbies....especially ones that are not a large amount invested to begin. Also of interest would be the experience others have had taking college classes just for pleasure.....to expand the mind but not with a degree as the aim. Cooking, gardening, health, etc....anything that expands my and others lives would be nice.
    Bob, you always come up with wonderful topics.....but I also applaud you as you are always so attune to writing to meet our needs. That is so perceptive of you and I thank you.

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    1. There are enough good topics in this comment to keep me going for months. Thank you Linda.

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  9. Wow, lots of good suggestions. I second the idea of discussion of balancing family responsibilities with your own desire to enjoy retirement.

    We're a long ways away from this, but eventually we likely will settle into a CCC. What are all the issues to consider when choosing a CCC? We decided a long time ago to forego LTC insurance due to a number of companies bailing out, with no recourse for those who faithfully paid premiums. Also, there is no control over the increase in the premiums. If they are eventually priced out of your reach, then you are out of luck! We decided to use the $ that would have paid for LTC insurance and invest it for a more certain return.

    The other area of interest is the concept of "Nursing Home Without Walls". In upstate NY, there is one county that provides services to allow people with skilled nursing needs to stay in their own homes. The theory is that it is cheaper (and better quality!) to provide these needs in one's home as opposed to in a nursing home. However if you cross over into another county, this is not an option.

    As noted, we are a very long way from needing this type of care. However it is never to soon to plan ahead for these kinds of needs. I think we all hope that when we die, it will be sudden and pain free. It almost never works out that way. Chronic illness sets in, and most people live the end of their lives with some type of disabling condition.

    On a happier note, another topic for discussion is the pursuit of a healthier lifestyle that can improve the quality of our life now, and also improve our odds for a healthier old age.

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    1. The balance between self and "responsibilities" is going to be an interesting post to research, write, and watch the comments.

      CCC vs. other options makes sense, too. That decision will affect most of us at some point. The plan you mentioned in upstate NY sounds interesting. I will see what I can find out about it.

      Thanks, Carole.

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  10. Agree with Madeline, constant travel is not for everyone. It would require me to give up too many activities that for me are more meaningful and satisfying. But I do enjoy your travel blogs. You seem to have hit on a good balance for travel and at home time. Finances and health are important subjects for retirees but there are so many sources out there for that kind of information. I would prefer more lifestyle blogs. Balancing self and responsibilities is a great topic. Maybe goal setting as your timeline shortens. Sorting out all the "choices". Go deep in one thing or shallow in many. And music, books etc. are great topics. Maybe hobbies or activities that are a little different. Personally I would like to go to summer camp...where they feed me three meals a day in the dining hall. Where I can swim and canoe and do crafts and sing by the campfire at night.

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    1. You've given me several good ideas to consider, Judy. I am more comfortable with the lifestyle posts, though occasionally the financial or health elements must be included.

      See my response to Suzanne's comment below regarding summer camp!

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  11. Bob, I got a chuckle out of Judy's comment about summer camp. I actually researched the possibility of getting a job at one. There are opportunities out there, but I think I will just stick to cruising. Same sort of day...minus the campfire.

    Posts regarding aging parents and parental responsibilities to adult children usually get my attention. But, mostly I read your blog for the "lifestyle" content.

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    1. Her comment made me think of the move of several years ago, Indian Summer, where adults return to their youthful summer camp. Things are a bit different than they remember and much more complicated. I'll leave my memories of Camp Okanickon in New Jersey alone.

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  12. We used to "do" those camps when we were young. We would play all day and then our parents/grandparents seemed to play all evening.
    I, too, am interested in the guilt and relationships- especially when traveling.
    I am also interested in small housing. Not Condominium- but small interesting housing that I can care for well into my 90's. Easy floor design and someone who is willing to build them. Since I no longer see my final house as something I have to sell---I need to build something that I will enjoy living in without heating/cooling rooms that I never use…. Any ideas on that? Of course- if it could be on a beach somewhere- without the outrageous cost of beachfront property- there would be a bonus prize.

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    1. It is rather obvious that a post about the balancing act needed between family and self needs to be high on my list.

      Housing is also a hot topic, not only for you, Janette, but for Betty and me, too. We have decided to speed up our timetable for moving from our present house, from 7 years in the future , to more like 3-5 years. Our 30 year old home is starting to require some costly repairs and upgrades that are only likely to get worse over time. Both of us are tired of the yard work, both in labor and cost, and we feel we need to shake things up a bit.

      Tell you what - if I find a way to live on a beach somewhere without the obscene cost, I'll let you know. The only requirement is it must be in the U.S. I am not willing to move to someplace in Central America or the South Pacific. That is just too far from family.

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  13. I'd also love to see posts on balancing family & enjoying retirement; lifestyle examples are interesting to me. Some posts on finances would help me; not necessarily investing, but how folks are dealing with finances in general. There are other websites out there dealing with that topic, but I feel a connection with you & your readers so I value information here; because I've read posts from the contributor before, I can put the financial comment into perspective.

    I noticed that when you first posted, I didn't have many suggestions, but when I checked back to see everyone else's comments, I had all kinds of ideas. I guess that's why you are the interesting blog writer & I am the avid blog reader!

    pam

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    1. A post on trying to maintain a balance between your needs and those of family will be here on the 23rd. I am anxious to read everyone's comments.

      Finances, and particularly investments, is a somewhat tough subject for me to handle because there are other blogs that do it so much better. But, I do seem to get good reaction if it deals with some financial path Betty and I are following.

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  14. How about addressing (again?) what I call the "live to 100" trap that I often see in the media. I know that numbers are quite appealing, but the real issue is the quality of life that one is pursuing. Living to whenever means nothing (to me, at least) if there is no positive level of mental and/or physical functioning. All of which ties into the "carpe diem" mentality that I often (over)state to my friends and family (and on which you have often written). It's like the financial retirement numbers bandied about: there's a whole lot more to it than putting a number or financial formula to the retirement issue.

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    1. Living just to keep breathing is a subject that is important. The effect on family and financial resources can be profound. But, we certainly aren't a society (I hope!) that follows the guidelines of the movie, Soylent Green, where citizens are used as food for the younger generations. How to make the most of our time on earth and then exit gracefully when we have no more quality of life is a debate for other blogs!

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  15. Looking forward to this new year of your writing Bob, seems like lots of ideas abound.I am in the less/minimal travel camp.I have worked and been away from home much of my adult life working so for me being able to stay home and actually enjoy my home always seems like a vacation when I have time off like at Christmas or New Years.My hubby however is anxious to travel hmmm sounds like a compromise will be needed.We were lucky in that I am always planning planning (maybe too much) but 33 yrs ago I thought buying a small house(1200sq ft) with an acre paying off@ 50 yrs old would give us freedom and choices.I did not see the 2008 stock market and now the great recession happening but always being the planner thought this is what we could handle " no matter what".So we do not have to downsize and we are so far managing, still working and doing the best we can.I love the idea of suggested topics like the "squeeze" between generations senior parents and adult children.Discussion on people's "tricks" to manage for those with less finances to more resources.

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    1. I am going to have to set aside a full day just to go through all the comments and see what topics are most requested and which fit the blog's direction.

      Planning ahead? I am booking our RV sites for July and August already!

      Managing finances when they are tight and still enjoying a satisfying retirement is one that is near to my heart!

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  16. I think just about anything you want to write about will be OK with the rest of us, Bob.

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  17. I like the diversity of opinions on your site. Whatever your topic, I'll be interested in the responses.

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