June 12, 2021

Publication Has Ceased



While Satisfying Retirement has ceased publication, the blog with the archives of all past posts will remain here for your use.

The comment function has been turned off. If you would like to reach me, use the link above for my email.

I have plenty of ideas for ways to allow me (and you) to interact again. I will take a few months off and see where my thoughts take me.

Thanks for all the comments and support over all these years.

My very best to you and yours,

Bob



June 7, 2021

Know When To Fold 'Em

It started with a need. As I struggled through the first phase of my enforced retirement, I was looking for help...help in the form of guidance from someone who had been down this path before and could tell me where the pitfalls were, how to manage life without work, and what made retirement worth it.

After several years of figuring it out for myself, I realized there were very few resources for someone like me. Plenty of websites would help me with financial decisions and choices. But, to learn about managing my time, strengthening important relationships, managing my money without obsessing over it, finding hobbies and interests, and making where and how to live choices, there wasn't much available.

After nearly a decade, I figured I had some thoughts and cautions to share. Plus, writing was something I loved and wanted to do every day. So, Satisfying Retirement was launched in June of 2010 specifically to fill that need for all aspects of retirement information from someone who was living it, as he wrote.

Nearly 4 million views, 1100 posts, and 30,000 comments and questions later, apparently that need was legitimate. With five books, co-authorship in four others, and a profile in a national magazine, I have been privileged to spread the message that retirement is the stage of life that is only limited by your imagination and creativity.

It has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life, certainly for me, and I hope, for many others.

Like everything in life, change occurs. A path chosen begins to lose its way in the forest—the drive to do something fresh forces a look for new challenges. What once was fulfilling begins to feel too much like an obligation. 

When a journey has taken someone to the logical end of the road, it is essential to accept reality and find a new path. As the song says, you've got to know when to fold 'em.

When one accepts life's limits, that means we know the number of opportunities for making a difference and accepting challenges is not endless. To continue to trek along a path out of habit is against everything I have been writing about.


All of that leads me to this: with this post, I am ceasing publication of Satisfying Retirement. The website will remain active for the time being, so you can come back and read any of the 1100+ posts from the past. Also, I want to protect the Satisfying Retirement name from being taken over by someone else, someone who isn't interested in what was built here. The email address will continue to work.

Thank you for the support and warm words. My decision may be a bit of a shock and disappointment, but I trust you understand. 

A Satisfying Retirement is completely within your grasp. Go out today and give it all you've got.


All my best,

Bob



June 3, 2021

RVing in Wine Country" What a Tremendous Trip

Even though we sold our RV five years ago, Betty and I often think about the trips we made with very fond memories. Seven years ago we visited a part of California famous for its wines and beautiful countryside that had avoided our attention before that. 

With the travel season upon us, vaccines available for many of us, and Covid restrictions starting to ease, it seems like to good time to revisit that trip with pictures and experiences. Now that things are opening up again, maybe it will give you a destination to add to your list for this summer. 



As part of our satisfying retirement, we have been to California wine country before, at least the area most people think of when someone says wine and California: the Napa Valley and Sonoma. This is where the big boys play with wineries like Robert Mondavi, Beringer, Inglenook, and Chateau Montelena (Think the movie, Bottle Shock). 

But, there is another California wine country that is very different in attitude and scale; the area around Paso Robles. With near 200 wineries within a thirty-mile radius, this is the home of the smaller operators, the smaller vineyards, and the less pretentious tasting rooms. 

 It is also home to stunning views and great wines at very reasonable prices. The rolling hills and the rural setting remind me much more of the Tuscany area of Italy than the Napa Valley. 

Here are some photos we snapped in this part of wine country 



Tasting Room at Tobin James Winery


Robert Hall winery tasting patio

San Antonio winery



We stayed in the appropriately named Wine Country RV Park. Not surprisingly, there was one tasting room within a three-minute walk of our parking spot, and another twenty within a 15-minute drive. While Betty and I are not big wine drinkers, it was fun to see the various types of tasting rooms, sample some of the local products, and check out the small gift stores that came attached to each.




Betty at one of the spas at the RV park.


Downtown Paso Robles is very attractive  Around a large, grassy, town square are dozens of restaurants, antique stores, and wine shops. Bailey found all sorts of new places to sniff and new people to greet.

She may be making progress in this area. Instead of acting scared of people and barking whenever someone new came into sight she either ignored them or allowed herself to be petted and have her big floppy ears scratched.  



As has happened on all of our recent RV trips we had the chance to meet another person who has become a virtual blogging friend and a frequent commenter,. She lives in Paso Robles and suggested we meet. Over hot chocolate and a Danish Betty and I had a delightful time sharing life experiences. 


The weather turned cool with rain showers for our last day in town but that didn't stop our having a tremendous time in the area. Then, we were off to Morro Bay and Bailey's first chance to experience the ocean.


At 575 feet, Morro Bay Rock dominates the view from almost any part of town, along with the three towering smokestacks of the largely unused power plant built near the rock.

With the summer crowds gone, Morro Bay was quiet. On a Friday afternoon, the waterfront area looked almost deserted, a few tourists looking for an open place for lunch and some locals making deliveries and painting a wall.



 Morro Strand RV Park is basically a parking lot, across the street from the city waste treatment plant and the power plant.

Pretty it is not but being only a block from the ocean made up for the obvious shortcomings. Bailey had plenty of places to sniff and roam and become friends with all the other dogs in the park.

Actually, we ended up with the best spot in the small park up against the back wall with shade and privacy. With most of the RVs in the park being much larger than ours we also benefited from plenty of shade when we wanted to use the chairs or picnic table.

There is a town bus pickup at the front entrance so we were able to "be local" and catch a ride to and from the downtown area.


Sunday morning we packed up and headed home. We have allowed ourselves five nights so we will take a leisurely route home, through Barstow and along the Colorado River near Parker, AZ before picking up the Interstate back to Scottsdale.

The highlights of the trip? Betty and I had the time and solitude to have some important conversations and sharing about our life together and how we wanted to enjoy our blessings to the fullest. And, Bailey gained new experiences and self confidence, making her less nervous around other people and situations.

For us RV travel is a chance to explore the country and deepen our love and relationship  And that makes it priceless.







As I reread this post, it brought back of flood of RV-oriented memories and reminded me of what an important part of our satisfying Life that 30-foot vehicle of fun was. And, how important Biley was in our lives and adventures. She left us last October but will be in our memories forever.


May 30, 2021

A Summer Challenge With The Grandkids - I Can't Wait

Our three grandkids are now out of school for a few months. While the family has some trips and other activities planned, I know their mom and dad would appreciate something to keep them occupied and excited during the time when they are stuck inside by the temperatures. After all, you can only jump in the pool so many times before a new activity is needed.

Problem solved by Gran and Grandad. First, here is the backstory. These three reading machines introduced me to a series of young adult books based on the hobby of book scavenging. The young heroine and heroes discover a real aptitude for solving puzzles and riddles, even ancient ciphers and learning about documents written with invisible ink.

A famous fiction author and local bookstore owner befriend them and soon these three kids are scouring the city for clues that lead them to locations of hidden books and finding buried treasure after following long-forgotten historical clues. Think of it as geocaching for books.

Well, this is right up my alley! Gran and I are hiding some books the kids have identified as ones they would love to own and read. Each book will be discovered only after following clues, figuring out the secret code to read where to go next, and then finding the prize.

At the moment I am discovering dozens of different ciphers and ways of hiding a message behind codes and letter substitutions, all of them geared towards the grandkid's age level. I am learning about the Ogham, Pigpen, and Atbash ciphers, the Ceasar shift code, and letter substitution puzzles. There are hundreds of websites that explain these and many other ways to making a simple message become a brain-teasing exercise in decoding. 

Betty and I scouted out nearby hiding places a few weeks ago. Now  I am busy writing clues in code! Their mom will join us as we let the grandkids direct our route to find what is not in obvious sight.

I emailed the author of the books to let her know of our plans, using her novels as the genesis of the activity. Within hours, she responded with excitement and obvious joy that her efforts were spurring such an inventive way of taking her fictional ideas and making them come alive. She has offered to send personalized Book Scavenger bookmarks and other materials to hide along with the books to make it all extra special. They arrived just in time!

So, later this week the kids will become book detectives, solving ciphers, following clues, and being rewarded with a book they want to read and own. Each week a different grandchild will be in charge of decoding and sleuthing.

I can't think of a better way to spend part of their summer break.


May 25, 2021

Medical Expenses - Even With Medicare

 


It probably comes as no surprise that a top concern of retirees is the unknown cost of ongoing and future health issues. Even with Medicare or Medicare Advantage, private insurance through a former employee, or some other way of paying for health costs, many of us are not fully prepared. We may be in for a rude awakening over what lies ahead.

Recent studies tell us that up to $300,000 in costs are is possible for those over age 65. Don't we assume that with Medicare, a Medigap policy, an Advantage option, and drug coverage, that can't possibly be right? 

Unfortunately, the most expensive parts of our health costs aren't covered by those policies. Moving into an assisted living facility can easily cost $4-$5,000 a month. A nursing home might be closer to $7,000 every 30 days. Medicare covers your residence in such a facility for only a limited period of time each year.

When my mom went into such a facility,  I remember she had a change rooms from a Medicare-covered to a non-covered room after just a few months. If you elect to stay in your home, you will still need expensive on-site nursing and custodial care that can cost about the same as being in a facility. Research shows 70% of us will need either short and long-term care at some point.

True, you can buy a long-term insurance policy, but they are quite expensive and usually have a waiting period before payments start. They are dependent on the insurance company staying in the long-term care business, not a sure thing as costs outstrip their ability to generate sufficient return on their investments. You could face either large premium increases every year or the company leaving that segment of the insurance market completely.

Vision and dental care are expensive and not covered by traditional Medicare. True, some Advantage policies offer these services but usually require visiting a tightly controlled network of providers. Hearing aids? Not covered by Medicare. These three expense categories can add up quickly. 

A part D drug coverage policy does make the expense of many prescription drugs reasonable. But, there are still co-pays and deductibles. Newer drugs aren't necessarily covered right away. And, because Part D coverage is provided by private insurance companies, they can assign certain drugs to the highest cost category or deny filling a prescription without an appeal process and approval. 

More than half of us fear falling victim to Alzheimer's or dementia more than any other health issue, even cancer, heart issues, or stokes. Another study tells us that most retirees fear medical debts may overwhelm their finances, with up to a quarter of us already in trouble due to medical bills.

The good news in a not-so-good scenario is that Medicare does cover a good portion of both the in and outpatient costs of dealing with these debilitating diseases. 

So, why am I detailing these scary numbers and scenarios? Because being prepared and facing reality are our best weapons. To have a satisfying retirement, a position of denial is not going to work. Facing the financial possibilities of health costs down the road now will help you if, and when, it occurs.

Remember that $300,000 cost cited earlier for a typical couple after age 65? Well, assume an average life expectancy of twenty more years, and your budget must cover $15,000 a year, and that does not include nursing home costs, long-term in-home care, or long-term insurance.

Obviously, we must do our part to stay as healthy as we can as long as possible. Medicare or Advantage plans offer plenty of free or deeply discounted ways to stay on top of our health and take steps to short-circuit problems. Too many issues we face, however, cannot be avoided just by doing extra situps or laps around the track.

A line item in our budget must include reasonable projections for future medical costs. Forgoing some present pleasures may be necessary to help with future expenses. The health care center won't offer much sympathy when you tell them you can't pay their bills because you took a month-long cruise down the Amazon or have a vacation home in Vail.

The health care system in the United States is unlike any other developed country. We have a for-profit approach to health care. While that provides for the potential of the best medical care possible, it brings with it financial hardships or even ruin if someone isn't prepared.


After several years of Medicare, a Medigap policy, and drug coverage, I am pleased with the large reduction in my medical costs compared to previous years. 
 We are both relatively healthy and have avoided expensive problems or costly drugs. 

However, even with those policies in place, we still spend over $9,000 a year in health care costs, and that figure will only increase. Thinking even ten or fifteen years down the road I wouldn't be surprised if we see our yearly costs almost double. I am aware of what may lie ahead and am doing my best to protect Betty and me from a rocky financial future.

I'd rather spend the money on something else, but health care savings have become part of our life. That is our responsibility.