June 23, 2018

The 3 Worst Things You Can Do in Retirement: How To Avoid Them

Of course, there are all sorts of mistakes we make as we move through the retirement phase of life. I know, I committed many of them over the past 17 years. Some are just irritating or a waste of time. Some are from lack of knowledge until we have the experience to choose wisely.

The three listed below are among the most serious things we can do to sabotage our satisfying retirement. Why? Because they can chew up large chunks of time as you wait for things to sort themselves out.

1) To insist on following a pre-retirement plan, without change.

This is a biggie. I know, I did it. Being a very organized person, I had everything plotted out when my wife and I decided it was time to shut down my business and retire. I had worked on a budget for months. I met with my adviser several times to review where I stood and what I hoped to accomplish. I had no real hobbies or interests outside of work, but figured things would work themselves out. I figured I'd just push the start button and cruise for the next twenty five years.

Well, that was a mistake. Things did sort themselves out, but not for two years. My budget was great, except I forgot to allow for health care costs and increases once I was no longer covered by my plan at work. I forgot about vacations; I'm retired, who needs to take vacations? I underestimated the damage of inflation on my investments. I worried so much my wife offered to find a job, a job she hated, but her income made us both feel a little better. After a year of that, I asked her to quit. Watching her drive off to a job she despised while I sat at home and stewed was worse.

My lack of interests meant way too much time reading, napping, and watching old movies. Not until three years after retiring did I find something that became a lifelong interest. Once that barrier was broken, other passions quickly followed.

I learned that planning is very important, a specific plan is not. Retirement is about constant adjustments, to fiances, interests, needs versus wants, relationships. The two years I forced my life into my pre-arranged plan made things much rockier than they needed to be.

2) To wait for something good to begin.

That isn't the best way to approach your new life. Unlike work where your every move might have been under the control of others, retirement is when you can call most of the shots or simply be open to an opportunity. Waiting for something to develop just means missed opportunities, missed experiences, missed discoveries. 

Here is a good example from my life. Quite out of the blue I was asked to help newly released prisoners adjust to life on the outside. This was something completely outside of my realm of experience. I had never had contact with anyone who had gone through this process. Even so, I was aware that transitioning back into society can be quite difficult.

In any case, I said, yes. That decision lead to a six year involvement with a prison ministry organization. I went inside several state facilities to meet with the inmates before being released, and then was part of their life for at least six months after release. Being open to trying something totally out of my comfort zone lead to one of the most meaningful things I have done since I retired. 

3) To live in fear that your retirement will disappoint you.

If that is how you approach what lies ahead, that fear of disappointment could become a self-fulfilling prophesy. So much of what happens in retirement is under your control that disappointment should not paralyze you from taking steps to explore your potential.  

That said, I am not Mr. Rogers, where everything is sunny in my neighborhood. I am well aware that things can go wrong. Goals you plan for aren't met. Unexpected expenses put stumbling blocks in your path. The life you thought you'd live isn't working out.

First of all, every single one of those mishaps can happen while you are employed. Being alive guarantees problems and challenges. But, retirement is the time of life when you have so much more leeway to adjust and change. Sure, disappointment may (and probably will) occur during the 20 or 30 years of your journey. But, living in fear of what may happen just sucks the joy out of your day. 

If you are smart enough, dedicated enough, and disciplined enough to retire than you are quite capable of overcoming what life may through your way. Or, if the problem is the kind that can't be overcome, then you can adjust. Have faith and keep moving forward.

What do retired people do? They strive to eliminate these mistakes.

June 21, 2018

Preparing For Your Financial Future After Retirement

Click on the highlighted link below to taken directly to the book.

 Preparing For Your Financial Future after Retirement is a guide to the most exciting journey of your life, the one that takes place after retirement. This first in a series of three new booklet-length resources is now available.

Whether you are still working toward this new phase of your life, or already there, Preparing For Your Financial Future should be one of the resources you consult. It is an important step to take before retirement.

Taken from the pages of Satisfying Retirement, I have explored the most important subjects you should understand:

* Knowing When To Retire

* Knowing Where Retirement Income Comes From

* Knowing How Much Money You Really Need

* The Basics of Social Security

* Financial Literacy

* Should You pay Off Your Mortgage Before Retiring?

* Do You need a Professional Financial Advisor?

* What About Insurance? What Types Make Sense?

....and more. 

Available as a Kindle download, this guide is priced at just $3.49. The length is a reader-friendly 43 pages. If there is enough interest, I may also make a paperback version available in the future.

Designed to be part of a three booklet series, Preparing for Your Financial Future After Retirement covers the subjects that concern you most. 

The second booklet, Preparing for Your Active Life After Retirement will be available in July. The third booklet, Preparing To Make The Most of Your Free Time After Retirement will be available in August.

After the success of Living a Satisfying Retirement, I am pleased to offer vital retirement options and retirement advice in this new format. I'd very much appreciate your purchase of this booklet to help support  this blog, and as a resource for you. 

Positive reviews are crucial to the booklet's long term success. If you buy it and like it I'd appreciate a 4 or 5 rating. Any lower rating than that, I ask that you voice your concerns directly with me so I can fix any problems you identity.

Note: Living a Satisfying Retirement is undergoing a revision and is not available for sale at the moment until I am happy with the 2nd edition. In the meantime, please take a look at this new book available today.

June 18, 2018

Taking Care of the Caregiver: This is Vital

courtesy: pixabay.com

The Importance of Taking Care of Yourself

First, let’s dispel the myth that taking the time to take care of yourself is selfish. Self-care is always important, but never more critical than when you’re also caring for someone else. While you may feel that you must put someone else’s needs ahead of your own, neglecting what your body, spirit, and mind need is detrimental to your long-term health and well-being.

Signs of burnout include irritability, moodiness, depression, anxiety, frustration, and anger. If your energy levels dip, you’ve lost interest in hobbies, or find yourself resenting the person for whom you care, step back. Each of these symptoms is your body’s reaction to stress.

Self-care: not a reward, but part of the process

Besides preventing burnout, self-care reduces the effects of stress, and enables you to refocus. 

Increase your awareness of your daily stressors. Identify what causes you stress each day, and your physical and emotional reactions to it. Chart your symptoms for a week. Use that data to create a plan to manage your stress.

Listen to your body. When you’re tired, take a break. Cultivate a support system of family members, church and other community members, and visiting nurses to give you a break and/or provide regular respite care. 

Evaluate your caregiving work. Are there certain tasks that you find more challenging than others? Ask for help, and don’t turn it away when it’s offered. Be specific about what you need. 

De-stress healthfully
Avoid self-medicating with addictive substances, because doing so can put you at risk for serious issues like alcoholism. Stress makes it easy to drink another beer, have more wine after dinner, or reach for a cigarette or something else addictive. Instead, when you’re feeling the stress and know that it’s time to step away for a break, try these suggestions:

Schedule exercise. That’s right—add it to your calendar just like you do doctor’s appointments and other engagements. You don’t have to block out an hour every day if it’s not feasible, but aim for 20 to 30 minutes at least three times a week. Whether it’s a walk or jog around the neighborhood with a friend or partner, a solo bike ride, or a Spin class at the gym, commit to doing this for yourself.

Eat well. It’s easy to grab fast food through the drive-through, drink a mug of coffee and call it breakfast, and guzzle a diet soda for lunch. Whenever possible, though, you should reach for nutritious food that’s high in lean proteins, fiber, and vitamins and low in refined sugars, starches, and carbs. Don’t have a lot of time to cook? Prepare extra food and freeze leftovers for easy, quick future meals. Cultivate a positive relationship with a Crock-Pot or Instant Pot. A balanced diet will maintain your health and energy, and bolster your immune system.

Don’t sacrifice sleep. It’s tempting to come home and jump into the chores you’ve not had time to complete when you’re caring for someone else. But not allowing yourself time to relax makes it more difficult to get a good night’s sleep. End each day with a pre-bed routine, whether it’s reading a good book, soaking in a warm bath, or meditating. Try to unplug at least an hour before bedtime so that your brain has time to unwind, too.

Grow your tribe. Don’t discount the importance of friends. A solid support system is scientifically proven to improve your outlook. Plus, connecting with friends boosts oxytocin, which controls stress hormones and reduces anxiety.

A quick list of more self-care activities

Can’t spare more than a few minutes each day for yourself? You can still make it happen.

● Take a 10-minute walk and let the fresh air rejuvenate you.

● Set the timer for 15 minutes, pop on a favorite show, and put your feet up.

● Treat yourself. Schedule a bi-weekly massage, manicure, or whatever you enjoy that makes you feel good.

● Spend time snuggling with your pets.

● Meditate for a few minutes each day, or do yoga.

● Make time for your hobbies—whether it’s crafting, cooking, or diving into a good book.

Here are more self-care ideas you can adapt and incorporate into your life. 

This is a guest post from Harry Cline, someone with extensive experience in the field of caregiving. He is building what looks like an excellent resource at his web site: NewCareGiver.org. This post is filled with links for more information if you are interested.

Later this summer, he will be publishing a book that should be worth your time: The A-Z Home Care Handbook: Health Management How-Tos for Senior Caregivers.

Harry Cline is creator of NewCaregiver.org and author of the upcoming book, The A-Z Home Care Handbook: Health Management How-Tos for Senior Caregivers. As a retired nursing home administrator, father of three, and caregiver to his ninety-year-old uncle, Harry knows how challenging and rewarding caregiving can be. He also understands that caregiving is often overwhelming for those just starting out. He created his website and is writing his new book to offer new caregivers everywhere help and support.

Satisfying Retirement received no compensation for this post and is not necessarily endorsing any of the sites accessed by links provided by the other.

June 15, 2018

Shocking Retirement Medical Expenses: How Do You Cope?

A couple over 65 will spend at least $260,000 on medical care during the rest of their life. Even with Medicare and Medigap coverage that mountain of money is always on our mind. How is that for a figure guaranteed to disrupt your thoughts of a satisfying retirement?

My wife and I have been relatively lucky. While the American health care system is an absolute mess and not likely to get better in the near term, we have avoided big bills and debilitating problems. Betty has a series of medical issues she deals with by pushing through them, adjusting parts of her life to accommodate them, and waiting for Medicare coverage next year to proceed with some likely surgery.

I had a minor heart issue while on vacation three years ago, the normal number of colonoscopies for someone my age, an occasional bout of acid reflux which seems to be stress-related, and stiff knees and fingers. All in all, for a couple in their late to mid 60's, we have not been faced with medical issue or expense that we couldn't handle. 

What I am interested are your experiences. I have friends who are facing much more serious problems and more uncertain futures than we are. I know several of the blog readers have lived through some major medical issues that  caused real problems. My youngest brother had to go through a serious bout of colon cancer a few years ago. He is now 3 years cancer-free but that was a scary and uncomfortable time for him and his family.

What have you had to face? How did it affect your life? What adjustments have you made to your retirement? Have costs of medications or procedures forced you to ration care?

How is your attitude? What helped you get through the trials of whatever you faced? How has any of this affected your family?

What can you share to help the rest of us if we are faced with a serious, potentially life-threatening issue? 

June 13, 2018

Feeding Your Hidden Creativity [We all have it]

When I asked for new topics for this blog in the post, Where Does This Retirement Blog Go From Here?, a few suggested more about creativity. I'd venture to guess that few concepts are as misunderstood as creativity. So, let's see if I can clear up some misconceptions as well as provide a way to satisfy your desire to be more creative.

Wikipedia defines creativity as the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work. To most of us that means the ability to paint or sculpt, play or compose music, sew unique clothing, build a beautiful wooden bookcase, write a novel or a book of poetry. The key part of the definition we latch onto is the phrase, "especially in the production of an artistic work." 

Certainly, the examples listed above are creative. Each involves a specific talent, either one we are born with, or one we study and perfect. Most of us think of being creative as a full time pursuit. A good musician, writer, painter, or chef doesn't spend 30 minutes a few times a week to at their skill. Rather, maybe a few hours a day are required. 

That's great for those of us driven to carry a certain type of creativity to its full potential. But, what about the rest of us? We don't have those skills or abilities. So creativity isn't for us, right?

Not so fast. 

Read this explanation of creativity from the web site, Creative Something, written several years ago by Tanner Christensen:

"Being creative means solving a problem in a new way. It means changing your perspective. Being creative means taking risks and ignoring doubt and facing fears. It means breaking with routine and doing something different for the sake of doing something different. It means mapping out a thousand different routes to reach one destination. It means challenging yourself every day. Being creative means searching for inspiration in even the most mundane places."

The author of this inspiring piece argues that creativity is not restricted to certain activities or certain skill sets. If I am reading his thoughts correctly, creativity can involve virtually any part of anyone's life.

You substitute or add an ingredient to a favorite recipe just to see what will happen. You find a new place to leave your car keys so you are less likely to forget them. You re-purpose an old bookcase into an entryway display case  with a mirror. You find a quicker way to a favorite bookstore. You fix a broken lampshade with clear tape and a few decals to cover the split.

Each of those examples, and thousands more we could think of show a type of thinking that certainly qualifies as creative. They describe someone solving a problem in a new way, or breaking with routine. No Frank Lloyd Wright,  Georgia O'Keeffe, Jackson Pollack, Picasso, or Ella Fitzgerald talent required.

Rather, the ability to solve a problem comes from allowing your mind to try a different path. It isn't necessarily coming up with something brand new. Rather, creativity is often just combining experience and what is known to trigger a new way to solve a problem or generate a fresh approach to something.

Huffpost had a fascinating article, Ways To Be More Creative, that should give you plenty of ideas to try. Among some of the suggestions: generate ideas based on everyday tasks, think of unusual uses for everyday items, engage with people who are different from you, become a beginner at something.

I found Creative Something to be a tremendous resource for all sort of ideas and motivation on the subject of creativity. There are hundreds of blog posts on all aspects of creativity that should inspire you to look for a new way of doing something, a new way of satisfying yourself.

I will leave you with one thought: every single one of us is creative, in hundreds of different ways. Even if you don't think of yourself this way, if you have ever figured out how to get a broken light bulb out of a lamp, found a substitute for Cumin in a recipe, used a staple remover to add something to a key ring, a bread clip to identify various cables to your audio or TV setup, put together a costume for your grandkid's school play, or figured out how to poach an egg without overcooking it, you are creative.

The engine of creativity is always working in your life. All you must do is allow it to push you to look for a new solution to an old problem, decide to perform a routine task differently, and not be afraid to experiment. 

Give it a try. I think you will be surprised at how creative you really are.