February 25, 2015

Another "Eat Your Vegetables" Article about Retirement

The title grabbed my attention: 10 Ways to Live Frugally. In the section on retirement, this article in USA Today listed ideas for cutting back spending during retirement.

Unfortunately the author used an approach I refer to as "Eat Your Vegetables," meaning the information is so basic, so much common-knowledge, it is like telling someone to stop smoking, exercise, and eat more fruits and vegetables to improve his health. There is nothing new, nothing that hasn't been suggested a million times before.

A sampling of the 10 Ways included:

* Plan carefully if you are thinking of moving
* Plan your meals for the week
* Review your cable bill
* Be a savvy grocery shopper
* Check out discounts and freebies

I am a little surprised that the list didn't include, don't walk in front of a bus, and close the windows when it is raining.. OK, that is a bit snarky. But, seriously, the best this national newspaper can come up with is review your cable bill and look for dining discounts?

Sometimes I think folks who write retirement articles are all in their 20's or 30's and look at us as if we have lost the ability to think. They present ideas as if their target reader is a class of 2nd graders. They have no clue what our life is like or what steps we have already taken to insure a satisfying retirement.

A thoughtful article on ways to cut expenses during retirement is always welcome. Cutting out waste and evaluating where our money goes are important. A recent national survey of those 65-74 suggest that we spend 43% of our money on our home and house-related expenses. 14% for transportation, 13% on food, and 11% for health costs (thank you Medicare!). 

If those numbers are accurate, nearly half our money each year goes to keeping a roof over our head and in good repair. Logically, there are substantial saving possibilities in that category alone. Everything from freezing property taxes for those over 65, or getting help with utility bills if your income is low enough to qualify, to the potential savings from installing energy efficient windows, solar panels, new siding or LED lights are worth exploring. 

My bottom line is simple: articles in national newspapers and magazines that target retirees should be putting more effort into the content. We are not simpletons that need to be told to look for coupons to save money when dining out. Give us meaningful, actionable information that isn't a simple repackaging of hackneyed, trite, and obvious material. 

Does this qualify as a rant?

36 comments:

  1. Yeah, I think that qualifies as a rant and a very justifiable rant at that. I like most seniors have been exposed to thousands of those types of books during my 15 years of retirement. It is kind of like junk mail, most of it is garbage but you most scan through it to find the good ones. I am getting pretty good at that. Your blog was one of the jewels among the junk. Keep telling us what we need to know and not what is insanely obvious to even a twenty year old.

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    1. "....insanely obvious" is the key. As Suzanna notes, someone gets paid to spend about 60 seconds thinking up those ideas.

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  2. And to think, they probably PAID someone to write that.

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    1. It's a national newspaper but it's a rag. Most of what they have is syndicated, so if they paid someone it was not much. I worked for Gannet for 2 years, at the News Journal in Wilmington, DE. USA Today isn't worth the paper it's printed on.
      b

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  3. Freezing property taxes for people over 65 ... what a great idea!

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    1. Arizona does that for your limited property valuation (which base property taxes are based on) if you are of moderate income and have lived in your home for at least two years. It is good for three years and then must be revalidated.

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    2. Revalidating that one is above 65? Didn't know that when you do it once that it has a chance of moving backwards on you. :)

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    3. It would be nice if that were possible!

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  4. Yes, it qualifies as a rant but a completely justifiable rant. I usually scan the articles and see if there is anything I can use--usually not, but every once in a while. Thanks for the smile this brought me this morning.

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  5. Yes, it qualifies as a rant, but it made me smile the first thing in the morning! Thanks Bob! As always, you are right on the money about the writing (or lack thereof) that goes into most of those retirement articles.

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    1. Retirement is a subject that requires more thoughtful consideration - I think we are all of the same mind.

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  6. Yes its a rant but that's just fine. Most retirees are intelligent people who already know how to cut out the "low hanging fruit". Hopefully there was no mention of the giving up of lattes in the bunch.

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    1. Lattes were probably on that list somewhere! "Low hanging fruit" is a good way to categorize these articles.

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  7. Social media has an insatiable appetite for content just like broadcast media. This demand is increasingly precluding "thoughtful consideration" your blog provides in favor of sensationalism. The journalism content quality bar is falling fast. Rant away Bob! A little intelligent indignation once in a while is good read.

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    1. True journalism suffers at the hands of a non-stop 24 hour cycle needing a barrage of fresh material. Too often what is cranked out is more space filler than thoughtful material.

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  8. Not a rant at all, Bob; more like a reasoned response to an inane article. I have had USA Today as the home page on my PCs for years. Their material has done nothing but go downhill for years, from the horrible writing and editing, to a large number of grammar and spelling errors. I am not sure if this is due to what we are turning out in the schools nowadays, or just the general "don't give a darn" attitude that seems to be prevalent in society.

    Anyone who is not practicing what the article stated, retired or not, is an idiot. Your point is correct - most writings that masquerade today as help for retirees are so boring and tedious as to not be worthy of the effort to read them.

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    1. With so many baby boomers joining the ranks of the retired every day, you would think those in the media would focus more on giving folks a reason to keep reading rather than simply shoveling pap. But, that isn't the case.

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  9. Instead of ranting, why don't you just write a better article? You are certainly capable of it and I'll bet you could get it published.

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    1. I like being able to post my thoughts here, free from some editor at some publication editing my material to the point of uselessness, just so it appeals to the lowest common denominator.

      Your are correct, Judy. It is easy to criticize. But, the trend is so pervasive I am protesting against all the articles on all subjects that are no more than fillers.

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  10. So true! I can't think of the last time I read a useful article on retirement saving. I would like to see some innovative ideas, like pooling resources... Sharing tools or rotating cooking or groups that were able to achieve services benefiting the community. We didn't get here by being airheads.

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    1. Maybe I will do as post that just opens up the doors to any inventive ideas on any topic, just like your thoughts, Jane.

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    2. If you do, don't be surprised to see the inventive ideas copied and pasted into the next USA Today article ;)

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  11. It would be interesting to see the ages of the authors of the "Captain Obvious" pieces on retirement included with the yarns. I'll bet a martini that the majority are under 50.

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    1. I would guess under 35. I was that age once but didn't pretend to offer advice to those 35 years my senior.

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  12. Loved the rant. I've been known to do them myself from time to time. Comes from having a few years under our belts. So keep 'em coming!

    BTW, time for a lunch again. Rants are even better in person. :-).

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    1. We may be moving to the SE valley so will have to hold off for awhile...rather bust right now!

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  13. Bob, do you ever read the Wall Street Journal? I can only speak for the print version because I rarely look at the online version, but they have some pretty good articles for retirees. Some are quality of life articles, but many are more practical. Of course many relate to investments. I will agree with you most sources are useless. I like Jane's suggestions. More community involvement satisfies more than just material needs.

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    1. The Wall Street Journal and the NY Times usually offer article with much more substance than USA Today.

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  14. Bob you dont need any help managing retirement. Thanks for looking out for those that need help.

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  15. Love your blog.There is USA Blogger(quite nasty looking)that writes frugal blog.She suggested selling blood.eating food if you find on the rod,giving pathetic advices and she makes living out of it.Must be morons out there.

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  16. Enjoyed the rant.....&, as always, love the blog! I have to agree with the folks that skim the articles looking for one useful piece of info in the "stuff" --- but there is occasionally ONE useful tip (often something I've forgotten & needed reminding about)

    I also enjoyed your blog about the new experiences for the year. We've been ill & then we lost a bathroom to dry-rot (we're working on fixing that!) so I didn't get to comment, but the changes sound so good for both of you. I've also expanded my health horizons (the area that I secretly worried about but never did anything about) Now that I am actually doing something about my weight & health instead of just talking about it and worrying about it, life is much better (and the interesting part is that I felt life was great before.) I didn't realize how much a subconscious fear was holding me back. I actually purchased something that is helping me; not that retail therapy is always necessary; but in my case, after MANY MANY years of struggle, I may have found something that fits me & my life.

    Maybe, just maybe, one of the "eat your veggies" comments will catch someone's attention & they will change something in their life to make it better.

    Does that mean we need all 9,000 of those articles? Nope, I don't think so. Thanks for providing an adult, sane set of ideas (& being interesting enough to have a great set of readers who post thought provoking comments!)

    pam

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    1. Bathroom dry-rot - not fun. We are fixing up our house for a potential sale and the fix up and delayed maintenance issues are a pain.

      Interesting how you have figured out the effect of fear on moving in a direction you wanted to go. Good for you. When Betty and I see you this summer we'll do a power walk around the neighborhood.

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