August 31, 2016

Forge A New Path

"The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences" – Eleanor Roosevelt

Daryl and Mary are a couple that spend their winters in the Phoenix area. Betty and I have lunch with them a few times each season and enjoy their company. We swap RV stories and have a good time together. The last time we shared a meal, Daryl suggested I write a post using the title you see above. The idea has been on a back burner for several months, so I am past due in following up on his idea. After running across Eleanor Roosevelt's quote, I decided now is the time.

Regular readers know I am preparing to leave on a 2 month RV trip in a few days. We will be heading east to see family and add at least seven or eight states to our RV map. There will be an additional benefit: we will miss September, the last month of 100 degree Phoenix weather. When we return it should be in the 70's and perfect for the next 5 months.

The Forge a New Path thought was spurred by several conversations Betty and I have had about the future of our RVing. With over 133,000 miles on the speedometer and being 10 years old, our current rig is starting to show its age. Within the next two years we will have to spend at least $1,200 on six new tires. The refrigerator is probably nearing the end of its life. The water heater, water pump, and furnace aren't really designed to last much more than a decade. And, we spend almost  $2,000 a year to store, register, and insure the motor home. 

The interior wall paper is bland, the cabinets looking worn, the linoleum flooring should be replaced, the shower needs repairs,  the drapes are seriously sun-faded...in short our beloved rolling home is a lot like its owners: aging. So, the question we have been kicking around is do we buy a new RV, commit to an overhaul and redecoration of what we have, or close out the RV chapter of our life.

A newer RV would come with several benefits. The things listed above would not be problems. A slideout or two would give us much more interior room so we don't feel quite so cramped night after night. Some RV parks will not let rigs older than 10 years use their facilities - a stupid rule but a rule nevertheless.

Of course, that comes with a significant outlay. Brand new, the cost would be somewhere between $80-110,000. Gently used, maybe $45-60,000. No matter how we look at those numbers or justify the benefits, both of us question our sanity.

What about fixing, modifying, redecorating, and restoring the Class C we have now? If we did everything on our wish list, the cost would be a more reasonable $6-$7,000 and could be spread over a few years.  I have been told the Ford V-10 engine should easily survive 200,000 miles if I perform the regular maintenance. 

So, what does this have to do with forging a new path? Well, that has been at the center of our conversations: do we want to shake up and redesign the next several years of our life? What do we want to do with our time and money that will make memories based on shared experiences?

Spending much of our summers away from 110 degrees tops the list. Hawaii would probably be our first choice, but with a dog we love, that is not feasible (see the post about moving to Hawaii)  San Diego would be great, but being in a city with all the traffic and expenses seems counterproductive. That leaves us with the Pacific Northwest or maybe northern Michigan or even New England.  

Of course, an RV is not a requirement, though flying won't work because we won't submit Bailey to the cargo hold of an airplane. But, a car, motels, and a long term condo rental at our destination is an obvious alternative. The overall expenses would be higher than using an RV, but not so significantly to nix the idea completely. 

I guess the decision comes down to how committed we are to the RV lifestyle and for how many more years. Buying a new one would make a statement that this is our one and only vacation option for several years. Trips overseas would not be doable. Fixing up our current RV would still allow sufficient room in our budget for a trip back to Europe and Hawaii and a cruise or two.

Then, there is the option of selling the RV and moving in a different direction for vacations and getaways. The past 4 years have been a lot of fun. The experiences with our rolling home have been wonderful. We have brought back memories (and photos) galore. It is a very convenient way to travel with a dog.

There is no overlooking the fact, though, that an RV vacation is really a working vacation. There are meals to cook and clean up after, food shopping, laundry, sweeping, draining our own black and gray water, finding a gas station that is big enough to handle our rig, hooking and unhooking the car we tow behind us......there is work involved. If you have ever been camping you know.

So, we are likely to spend the upcoming trip as a time to reflect on the pros and cons of the RV choice and what we envision for the next 4-6 years. 

Forging a new path.....a great thought...with several choices of the path we want to forge.


RV travel



August 28, 2016

Ageism in the Work Place: A Problem ?

The interest in having a happy retirement is pretty much universal. While the bulk of my readership comes from America, Australia supplies a healthy percentage of Satisfying Retirement readers. Maybe that is why I was contacted not long ago by a fellow from that country who wanted to share some interesting survey results with me.

David Schneider pointed me to the results of an ageism research project that shows real and pervasive discrimination against Baby Boomers trying to reenter the work place. While I have no comparable study for the U.S. or other countries, I assume there is a similar problem in any developed country.

A few of the results of the study include these sobering findings:

* More than one in three people over-50 (35%) have no choice but to apply for new work or embark upon a career change later in life – half of them because they need the money. So, factoring in what we know about Western culture and its tendency to marginalise those who are no longer in the rosy-cheeked flush of youth, this statistic is all the more of a concern. Why? Because, even at a glance, the results of our survey over whether ageism is a factor in attempting to re-enter the workplace are quite disheartening.

* Perceived or otherwise, nearly half of all Baby Boomers surveyed (47%) feel age discrimination is behind why they may have been rejected for employment. Not only that, but over a third (36%) talked themselves out of even applying for certain roles because they believed they wouldn’t even be in the running. 

* 60% of those surveyed admitted re-employment required overcoming certain obstacles – and in fact, over a quarter (27%) described those barriers as “significant”. 

* Even once Baby Boomers do score that elusive gig, the ageism doesn’t necessarily end there. Nearly a third (30%) report experiencing discrimination over their age while at work. The reasons most cited for this age discrimination is that Baby Boomers are seen as either overqualified (45%), they somehow lack the right “company fit” (30%) or that they aren’t tech-savvy enough (24%). 


The full summary report is located here:Ageism in the Workplace


And, here is an excellent graphic representation of the problem older folks face when trying to re-enter the work force:





Why give you this information? Because there a lot of us who are considering going back to work. Others don't leave in the first place because of the fear of being unable to reenter the job market for the reasons cited in this report.

If you are about to start your satisfying retirement journey, go into things with your eyes wide open. If you believe you can always go back to work if your financial situation weakens, realize that may more difficult than you anticipate.

I am a major advocate of retirement. But, I do caution everyone to be comfortable with where you are financially. If part of your planning includes a simple step back into the full time employment world, that may be wishful thinking.



My thanks to David, and the company Webprofits for this report. Satisfying Retirement has received no compensation from any of the sources of this post.


August 25, 2016

Seven Reasons I Love RV Travel



A Satisfying Retirement is built on a solid foundation of financial, relational, and emotional support. Without enough income, family or friends, and ways to use free time productively, what could be the best time of your life may fall short.

I will add one more element that is often overlooked: vacations. Does that seem odd? After all, isn't retirement one, long, vacation? Well, no, it is not. The responsibilities and hassles of everyday life don't stop when your paycheck does. The need to shake things up a bit, get a fresh perspective, and collect new experiences is just as important after you leave the full time employment world. 

My wife and I enjoy RV travel. While we are on the road only a few months each year, there is a satisfaction and stimulation from motorhome travel that is hard to match. If you are considering the RV lifestyle, let's see if these seven reasons convince you to take the plunge:


1. The freedom of traveling with your home is addictive. Unpack once, bring your pillow, favorite photos, books, and movies. Eat when you are hungry, sleep when you are tired. You are home wherever you are.


2. Pets are welcome on the road. Does putting your pet in a kennel or dropping her off at a friend's bother you? Is your dog part of your family? RV travel is even better with your best friend.


3. Don't fly over the country, rather be immersed in daily, local life. Buy your produce at a farmer's market. Explore a local nature preserve. meet the town characters at the diner. Experience your country in a very personal, interactive way.


4. Being in a small space encourages relationship-building. You learn the art of compromise quickly in 200 sq. feet. 


5. After the initial purchase, vacations are much less expensive. With proper care an RV can last a decade or more. Think of all those motel rooms you are not renting and the restaurant meals you are not buying.


6. Life long friends can be found on the road. RV parks are full of friendly folks who want to share and connect. Several of our dearest friends were first met while traveling.


7. You come home with a new sense of satisfaction. Where you live seems fresh, welcoming, and very comforting. There is no place like home, especially after being gone for awhile.


RV travel is not for everyone. But, for us, it satisfies like no other type of vacation. These seven reasons might convince you to give it a try.



August 22, 2016

5 Things That Successful Retirees Do Well

Successful Retirement

I have never met a retiree who is trying to "fail" at having a satisfying retirement. By fail, I mean spending time worrying instead of enjoying, stagnating instead of experiencing, and second-guessing major decisions. We expect retirement to be the payoff for years of working, commuting, saving, and delayed gratification. Does it always work that way? For too many of us the answer is, "No." 

I believe there are five definite traits and decisions that separate the truly "successful" retirees from the rest of us. While things would run more smoothly if we exhibited these attributes well before the end of our full time working life,   the good news is that any of us can improve the quality of our retirement journey by adopting them now.

1) See retirement as a beginning not an ending.

For many of us, what we do for a living defines us. Our job or career controls how we think of and describe ourselves. "What do you do" is the first question virtually anyone asks of a stranger. A successful retirement requires that we celebrate our working life, are proud of what we contributed, but see the future as a new and exciting stage of life. Retirement is the beginning of what can be the most creative, productive, and fulfilling part of life. It is not the end of our relevancy.


2) Believe retirement can be the best stage of life.

I will quickly qualify this sentence, with my belief that a happy life means we think of each stage of life as the best. Each holds joys and experiences that are usually unique to that time in our lives. It should not be the case that we simply exist until retirement. But, retirement brings with it a freedom to experiment, to adjust, to focus on what makes us happy and satisfied. Those with this attitude will prosper.


3) Prepare financially and emotionally but don't over-think or second -guess decisions.

Think of it like skydiving. Once you leave the plane it is a little late to worry if you rolled the chute correctly. As you fall at 120 miles per hour, wondering if your training was really complete isn't likely to cross your mind. Retirement isn't that dramatic, but the point is a valid one. Once you leave the working world behind, the preparation you completed beforehand should be sufficient. Adjust with change, yes. Second-guess everything you did to get where you are today, no. 


4) Believe attitude makes all the difference.

 "Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference." I agree with Winston Churchill. Our attitude determines how happy or unhappy we are either for a moment, or a lifetime. It is completely under our control. Even under the most trying of times, how we react to that stress determines its power over us. Abe Lincoln said something about how we either see the thorns on the rose bush, or the blooms. A satisfying retirement tends to recognize the thorns but keeps its focus on the blooms.


5) Want to leave a legacy that empowers others.

When all is said and done, we want to leave something behind. While a legacy might mean money for your family, I tend to think of it as warm memories, an example of a life well-lived, compassion for others, and a faith that nourishes and supports us and those we love. My parents left me and my two brothers a financial cushion that has smoothed out any rough spots in our future, and for that we are eternally grateful. But, even more important was the example of a 63 year marriage, concern for others, and a desire to do no harm. One of the important choices we can make during our retirement journey is the legacy we are leaving behind. 



August 19, 2016

An Open Letter To My Grandkids



My Darling Grandchildren,

Much of what I want to tell you in this letter won't make much sense to you yet. You are still young enough that everything is made safe and right by your mom and dad, brother or sisters. You have two sets of grandparents who live nearby, see you often, and love you very much. You have an aunt who would give her life for you. An uncle and your cousins are frequent visitors. God loves you and has your future well in hand.

Things that happen in your world all make sense. You have food to eat when you are hungry and a bed to sleep in when you are tired. You have favorite toys and lots of books. A swimming pool keeps you and your family cool in the summer. Your days are free of danger and fear. You are very lucky and blessed to have this time in your life. Many other little boys and girls around the world do not have what you do. They are not bad or less deserving but have a much tougher time growing up to be happy and healthy.

As you grow, things will start to change in your world. Mom and dad, grandparents, cousins, and your aunt and uncle will always love and protect you. You will never be abandoned or made to feel unimportant. But, the sad truth is that some of the things in the world and some other people will not care as much for you or protect you.

Some will be mean to you and try to make you feel small or wrong or unimportant. Some will try to get you to do something you know in your heart is wrong. Some will try to take away things that are yours. Some will call you bad names. Some may even try to hurt you.

What I want you to know is that all those bad things in the world do not have the power to change you. Who you are today and the very special person you will grow to become cannot be harmed by the bad parts in the world, unless you lose faith in God, those who love you, and faith in yourself. You will have the strength to say "No" to anything that wants to make you into something else.

There will be times in your life when you will make mistakes. You will choose to do something that you shouldn't. You will say mean things to other people. You will be tempted to do something you know isn't best for you and others. 

When these things happen, and they will, I want you to remember that you are just a human being. You are not designed to be perfect. You are not built to never make mistakes or wrong choices. So, don't feel you have failed. Don't make a mistake worse by trying to cover it up. Don't allow something you did wrong today affect how you act tomorrow. 

God has already forgiven you. Those who love you deeply will never, ever stop loving you totally and completely. They may be disappointed when you make a wrong choice, but will never walk away from you or make you feel unworthy of their love and care.

Honor your parents. You will not always agree with them, but they deserve your respect. Make your word be your bond. When you promise to do something, do it. Protect the environment. We only have one earth. Defend your brother or sisters, both verbally and physically, if need be. 

The world is a tough place to live. You will need strength in your character and convictions every day. But, I know as strongly as I know anything in my life, that you will never fail to live a life that makes the world just a little bit better because you are in it.

All my love,




Grandad







August 16, 2016

Retirement and Hawaii-Bound

Hawaii

How many of us dream of packing up our belongings and moving to Hawaii? The lure of endless sunshine, warm temperatures, seeing the ocean every day, and living close to nature are powerful pulls.

How many of us actually make that change? Blogger Laura and husband Brett are one couple that left rainy and chilly Portland for the perpetual summer of Kauai. After a few years of diligent research, serious downsizing, and a willingness to make major lifestyle adjustments, they made their dream a reality.

Laura is a regular reader of Satisfying Retirement. I asked her to share her story. She graciously agreed and has provided me with a wealth of information. Her own blog, The Occasional Nomads, provides a fascinating glimpse into all aspects of living over 2,600 miles from the mainland.

With her permission I am going to take parts of her past posts and e-mails to me and reproduce them here. I will add some of my own comments to her narrative. Some of what she has to share is what I expected: expenses are high but the climate is spectacular and worth the adjustments.

Her experiences also tell of having to undergo changes in diet, learning to make do when needed, living within the limits of an island environment, fitting in with the local culture, and give serious thought to bringing pets along.



Hawaiian cove
I will admit to being a lover of all things Hawaiian. I have been to all five of the major islands, both on business and for pleasure, at least 15 times. When I step off the plane I immediately feel at home. The softness of the air, the smells, the friendliness of the people, and the slower lifestyle have very strong appeal to me.

Several times Betty and I have toyed with the idea of relocating for at least part of each year.

I was excited to learn all about Laura and Brett's adventure and now, to share it with you. Even if you have never thought of such a move, many of their experiences can be applicable to any relocation or major lifestyle change.


Here is Laura's story:


I recently wrote on my blog about how and why we chose to retire to Hawai'i: The Occasional Nomad. We're different from many retirees who dream of Hawai'i because we chose it from a purely analytical standpoint versus having come here on vacation (although both my husband and I had both been here, but not together or on a family vacation).

Living in Hawai'i is very different from vacationing here. The transplants I know that have been successful have spent long stretches here versus basing their move only on positive vacation experiences.

If you want to come, research, research, research what it's actually like to live here and then research some more. So You Want To Live In Hawai'i by Toni Polancy. I don't know how recently it's been updated, but there is still lots of solid information on living here, choosing an island, as well as a chapter specifically about retirement. 


You can find out what things cost here - read the local food circulars; sign up for forums to discuss Hawai'i issues. Again, living here is different. If you still want to come, then start planing, planing, planing. And keep researching. A move overseas to Hawai'i is great motivation to downsize and get rid of the flotsam and jetsam in your life. Less really is more here.


Do I Have To be Rich To Move To Hawaii?


You don't have to be wealthy to live in Hawai'i, but you do need a steady, solid retirement income. You have to be adaptable and be prepared to live in a different way than you did back on the mainland. Be prepared to change, from how you live to what you eat to how you interact with others. The LAST thing anyone, local or otherwise, wants to hear here is, "well, back in xxx, we did it this way." Talk to transplants and locals about what they love about living here, and what they see as positives and negatives. Here is another post I wrote that discusses how we manage to live in such an expensive place on a fixed income: How We LIve In Such An Expensive Place. Again, less really is more here.

Do you want to rent or buy in Hawai'i? Almost everyone advises that you rent for at least a year before purchasing a home here, to make sure you want to stay before making the huge commitment of a home purchase. Besides being very expensive, homes here require LOTS of maintenance ("salt never sleeps"). We have been renting since we arrived, and currently have no intention to buy. We are enjoying the freedom from worry and other issues that renting has brought, and our housing needs will change again in a couple of years when our youngest daughter heads off to college, so we're glad to not currently be owning anything.


How About Fitting Into The Community?


Be prepared to have it take a while to make friends here. Locals have been seeing transplants come and go for years (most transplants don't last a year), so they take their time and make sure you're going to stay for the long haul before they open up (they're still very friendly and helpful in the meantime). We've made friends with other transplants/retirees.


I know our situation is a bit different from many: military retiree, older parents, etc. but our move to Hawai'i has been very positive for us. We can't imagine living anywhere else now.


How About Our Dog. Can We Bring Her?


Sadly, we relinquished our pets before we moved. It was NOT an easy thing to do, and might seem heartless to some, but it was the right thing to do for our pets. We knew from our research that it would be very difficult to impossible to find a rental here if we had a pet, so that was part of our consideration. Neither of the two homes we've lived have allowed pets, and we consider ourselves fortunate to have gotten chosen as renters for each one - the rental market here is very tight (I highly recommend that people start reading the Craigslist housing list daily once they think they want to move here - it's a real eye-opener on costs, what's available, and how few properties allow pets).

Still, even if we had planned to bring our dogs, two elderly pugs, the strong recommendation from our vet (who had lived in Hawai'i) is that we did not move them as either the upfront requirements or quarantine would have been very hard on them. And, it turned out we most likely couldn't have brought them anyway, at least at first, because many (if not most) airlines would not accept the breed for transport. We were gratefully able to re-home our beloved dogs into loving families using a rescue organization. It was more difficult to find a new home for our 11-year old cat, but one of our daughter's friends stepped forward and she also sends us pictures and videos - Lily adjusted well to her new home and is happy and doing well.

A period of quarantine is still required, but you can now take care of everything up front before you move, and your pet will be checked at the airport and released if all is in order. It's still very expensive - people we know have paid on the average $1000 per pet to get them admitted (you also pay for quarantine - it's not cheap either). Again, this is an area where people need to do their research and decide what they want to do.



Do you ever get island fever - The need to get off island?

 So far we haven't suffered from 'island fever.' One thing that you discover when you live here is that each part of the island is very unique, and has its own microclimate and culture. And, you become accustomed to driving shorter distances. So, a trip up the north side feels very far away and different from how it is where we live (on the east side, in Kapa'a). Same for heading down to the south or west sides. It makes the island seem a whole lot bigger than it really is.

We usually get in 2-3 trips off island every year though. This year we went to the Grand Canyon/Sedona during spring break (so got to do some driving then), then made a short visit over to Oahu in June, and later this month I'm taking my daughter back to college in Massachusetts (so far from home!) with a stop in Denver on the way back to visit my mom. Last year two of our daughters and I went to Japan in the spring, and then my husband took our oldest daughter to college in Oregon in the fall followed by a road trip with his sister down the California coast to Los Angeles which gave him his 'driving fix.' Anyway, so far we've never felt 'trapped' here, and have discovered there's nothing like coming to Kaua'i and knowing you are home.

Brett spent 22 years in the navy, and we did a LOT of traveling then, back and forth across the country. He said he's gotten his fill of driving, but I could see us doing some RV travel, maybe in a few years. We've talked about renting an RV and seeing some places we missed when we lived on the mainland (national parks, etc.).

______________________________________________
A heartfelt mahalo to Laura and Brett for sharing their experiences. The ability of middle class folks to successfully relocate to the islands might encourage others to consider the move. But, Laura makes it clear that lots of research is required, as well as some basic changes in living and consumption habits. I urge you to check out her blog and read the posts for more details.

For Betty and me, the deal breakers are both the distance from family and the pet situation. We could be separated from our family for two or three months a year, since we already do that while on RV trips, but not as full time residents. And, for us there is no way we could give Bailey away or put her through the air travel or quarantine system. So, an occasional two week escape to Hawaii remains our option. 

How about you? Does this post give you any ideas? Do you see yourself living the island lifestyle? I look forward to your comments.


Hawaiian waterfall

In the meantime, Aloha!

August 14, 2016

10 Tips for Pet Owners to Save Money & Prepare For Emergencies



This is a guest post from Kendal Perez that first ran four years ago. The information remains relevant and helpful as our retirement planning must include our beloved pets. Please add fresh comments to the end of the post if this helps you.


According to a recent article in USA Today, Americans spent over $50 billion on their pets last year, up from $10.1 billion just four years earlier. That's a lot of money for Max or Fluffy, but still nothing compared to the unconditional love they shell out for you every day.

As the proud owner of two Labrador-Australian Shepard mixes, I'm no stranger to the rising cost of pet care. In addition to frequent exercise and annual check-ups, my husband and I save hundreds of dollars on pet care by adopting the following savvy strategies.


1. Create an Emergency Fund

There are at least nine reasons for an emergency fund, according to Kiplinger, including the ability to offset a costly vet bill should your beloved animal need expensive treatment. When my dogs were just 12 months old, one choked the other during aggressive play and -- $1,700 later -- we had a very tired but recovering puppy. Our savings account kept this traumatic experience from creating a financial hardship.


2. Don't Skimp on Food

Food is likely the most expensive necessity next to vet visits, but that doesn't mean you should opt for low price over quality. By purchasing healthy food, you're enhancing your pet's quality of life and ultimately saving yourself from costly vet bills down the road. Purchase discount gift cards to PetSmart and other stores from sites like GiftCardGranny.com to nab some savings.


3. Consider Pet Insurance

If you're the type of pet owner who will spare no expense for veterinary care, consider signing up for pet insurance. The number of pet insurance carriers has increased significantly from just ten years ago, and most offer several levels of coverage. Visit PetInsuranceComparison.org for information on available policies, reviews and questions to ask providers.


4. Take Advantage of Clinics

Some veterinary practices offer free clinics one or two times a year, waiving appointment fees that compound the cost of annual visits. My husband and I always schedule check-ups and vaccinations during these times. If your vet doesn't offer this service, check with your local Humane Society or animal-control unit for recommendations.


5. Research Your Options

When facing a hefty vet bill, you might assume your only option is to throw down a credit card and pay off the expense over time. However, there are other sources for financial aid, including state programs and breed-specific organizations. Consult this article from the Humane Society for more information.


6. Buy Discount

I shop discount retailers like TJMaxx and Ross for clothes and housewares, and always peruse their pet-care aisles for deals. I've found great pet beds, bowls and toys for much less than pet-store prices, though I avoid treats and food items since I'm not familiar with the brands. Ultimately, new pet owners can score serious savings by stocking up on discount supplies.


7. Be Loyal

PetSmart and PetCo each have free loyalty programs that offer discounts and, in the case of PetCo, 5-percent cash back on purchases. You should also sign up to receive email notifications about upcoming sales and exclusive discounts, and stock up during these specials to tide you over until the next promotion.


8. Order Meds Online

Most pet owners know medications purchased directly from the vet come with a hefty price tag. Unless it's an emergency, request the prescription information and shop online at sites like 1800PetMeds.com. I save 34 percent on our dogs' heart worm medication by ordering online and using the generic alternative.


9. Fix for Less

Neutering or spaying your pet is crucial to avoiding the exponential expense of caring for a litter down the road. The average cost of the service from your local vet is between $200 and $300, but many organizations offer this service for less to curb the number of homeless animals. Consult ASPCA's Low Cost Spay/Neuter Programs page to find a provider near you.


10. DIY

Though I wouldn't attempt to clean a cat's teeth, there are several services you can administer at home to save money. Brushing, ear cleaning and nail clipping are just a few necessities you can likely handle without the assistance of a professional. In fact, your vet will happily share with you the best techniques for at-home care, as they'd much prefer to spend time on more specialized services.



_______________________

Kendal Perez is a self-proclaimed frugal fashionista and bargain shopper who helps fellow shopaholics find hassle-free ways to save money.  For savings tips and more information, visit HassleFreeSavings.com. 

Satisfying Retirement have received no compensation for using this post.

August 12, 2016

Satisfying Retirement: Thank You For Your Help!!


The support, ideas, and cautions have been heard loud and clear. After the post last week, you have stepped up with your thoughts on what you like and what you aren't fond of from Satisfying Retirement, what I should add, and what changes I should make to the blog.

Obviously, I am very happy with the strong support that shines through the comments. It appears that the reasons I started the blog continue to be attractive and fulfilled.

I appreciate the cautions about the appeal of certain topics. Betty is tickled with your interest in more of her thoughts and photos. As her projects permit, she is anxious to be a more active partner on these pages. 

In summary, my response to your feedback:

1. I have absolutely no plans to discontinue Satisfying Retirement. The focus will remain on retirement in all its phases. Since there are 10,000 new retirees every single day in just the United States, and tens of thousands more around the world, the pool of new readers should be constantly refreshed.

2. To appeal to these new retirees, or those preparing to leave the workplace, I will probably revisit some of topics a little more often than regular readers may prefer, but that is necessary.

3. Financial-oriented posts are part of that mix, but you have made it clear that fewer is better. There are thousands of other retirement blogs that spent all their time on money issues. I should not.

4. Political topics or reactions should be avoided whenever possible. Occasionally, I may feel compelled to "rant" a bit. But, that will be the exception to what readers find here.

5. The sharing of parts of my personal stories, warts and all, are enjoyed and instructive. The mistakes and successes of my retirement decisions are helpful to you as you fashion your own journey. Maybe a series of posts on a single topic would be enjoyable. 

6. The civility and helpfulness of reader comments are key highlights of the blog. 

7. My wife's photos are enjoyed. Her thoughts and the female perspective on our 15+ years of retirement might be a nice addition to the blog.

8. Many readers have told friends about this blog, added it to their blogrolls, and helped "spread the word." For that I am eternally grateful. 

9. Using guest posts is something I have generally avoided in recent years, figuring readers came here for my thoughts. But, soliciting articles from other bloggers or readers could bring a freshness to the blog and some new ideas. The responses are mixed on this idea. I will tread lightly and see how an occasional guest post is received. 

10. A suggested topic about grandparents helping their adult children and grandkids sounds like a good topic to explore. Look for it. 

11. Another suggestion was to write a few posts on unconventional approaches to retirement: low income situations, unusual housing or living arrangements, and situations like the suggestion just above where retirees find themselves raising grandkids or still helping adult children. I'm on it.

12. I have always felt it important that I respond to all comments. If a reader takes the time to leave one, I will take the time to read it and respond. Frankly, the comments are one of my favorite parts of blogging. The interaction with others and the sense of community are important. 

13. Posting every 3 days seems to be about right. There were no complaints about that is too infrequent, which is good! That frequency fits my schedule well.


Again, thank you for your concern and support. Together we will continue to meet on these pages for inspiration, an occasional chuckle, and the experience-based advice you expect.

August 9, 2016

Who Inspired You To Have An Exceptionally Satisfying Retirement?

I can do anything
When you think of inspirational people, the list is probably pretty long. It might include your parents or grandparents. A brother or sister is certainly a possibility. How about a favorite teacher or pastor? Folks like Martin Luther King, John Kennedy, Teddy Roosevelt, Helen Keller, Will Rogers, Nelson Mandela, Winston Churchill, Mother Teresa, or Abe Lincoln may make your list. 

Inspiration is one of the most important forces that keeps us moving forward through life. An inspirational person is one who possesses certain qualities and traits we appreciate. 

They may include humility, honesty, courage, selflessness, a vision of what life can be, often a projection of happiness or contentment, and certain principles that are not compromised.

With this post, I'd like you to give this question some thought and then share the names of some of the people who make your list (and why, if appropriate). This "honor roll" of inspiration is likely to be different for each of us. The people who influence us changes over time, but the essence of what puts them on the list remains constant.

The purpose of this exercise is to focus on some positive influences that continue to play an important role in your life. By thinking about inspiration you may be reminded of a powerful, even life-changing influence that someone had on your life, and probably still affects you. You may be motivated to thank someone for what their inspiration has meant to you. At the very least, this exercise will put a smile on your face and a warm glow of in your soul.

I promise to add my inspirational people to the comment section. but, for now, I'll not "influence" any of your choices with my thoughts. 

Looking for some "inspiration" to inspire you?  I have read and like this book: Chicken Soup for the Soul: 101 Inspirational Stories.

So, who inspired you to have an exceptionally satisfying retirement?


August 6, 2016

Retirement Travel: 2 Month RV Trip Coming Up

In just a few weeks Betty, Bailey, and I will embark on a two month, 5,000 mile satisfying retirement journey trip back east to see family in Kansas and Tennessee. Along the way we will explore areas not yet experienced during an RV trip, as well as stop by places we have visited before and liked enough to see again. At least eight new state map decals will be added to the U.S. map on the side of our rolling home.

When we return in late October, the temperatures at home will finally be more reasonable. The winter lawn will have been started and it will be time to replant all the pots for a fall and winter time of color. The outdoor dining room will again be usable for most of our lunches and dinners. Football season will be well underway, meaning family Sunday gatherings at our house for TV and meals.

While this doesn't include all our planned stops, this should give you a general idea of our upcoming adventure.



We will head east from home through New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma before heading north to Kansas. Then, we will continue southeast until reaching Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee and western North Carolina before turning back toward home. A family visit in the Nashville area, then through Memphis, Little Rock, Waco, and San Antonio before a revisit to one of our favorite small towns, Fredericksburg, Texas. 

From there we head across the windy, wide open spaces of West Texas before crossing through southern New Mexico and re-entering Arizona.

I plan on continuing to blog during this trip, though probably not on the same 3 day schedule you may be used to. Postings will be a bit more sporadic. Expect lots of photos from Betty, some reactions to what we see and the highs and lows of the journey. 

Preparing the RV and the house, plus working on our packing list begins in earnest in a few days.

How much fun!


August 4, 2016

Satisfying Retirement Needs Your Help

retirement planning, retirement blog

As I look ahead to the future of Satisfying Retirement for the rest of this year and beyond, I wonder what steps I should take next. Six years is a long time for a blog to exist. But, readership and comments tell me there remains an interest in what is on these pages.

What I don't want to happen is that Satisfying Retirement becomes boring, uninteresting, or stale. With a staff of one (and occasional input from my wife), it is important I am constantly open to new ideas that don't just come from me.

What to write about, products or services that I could offer that would fill a need, changes in the look of the blog...all the building blocks of a blog that is growing and not just marking time. These are the types of questions that keep me reading books and web sites to help me stay fresh.

Of course, the best source of information is you, the reader. You know what you want when you click over to this blog. You know what you like and maybe some things you don't like. So, the most logical step for me is to ask for your feedback.

Here are a few questions that I would appreciate your answering. Best would be to leave your answers in the comment sections so others see what everyone thinks. If there something you'd like to share with me a bit more privately, then by all means send me an email. I am open to new ideas or approaches, so please be open with your thoughts and feedback. 

 Answer any or all of these questions. Your input is deeply appreciated:



1) Have you ever recommended this blog to a friend, family member or coworker?

2) What is your favorite thing about this blog?

3) What is your least favorite thing about satisfying retirement blog?

4) Are you ever upset or unhappy about anything you see or read on this blog?

5) If you owned this blog what changes would you make?


I am anxious to read your responses and make the improvements that you recommend.

A sincere thanks,

Bob

August 1, 2016

How Much Money Do I Need To Retire?

retirement planning, financial planning

$825,375.

It would nice if I could give you the exact amount of money you need to retire. Achieve that figure and walk away from your job. Stop worrying about the stock market, what the Fed is doing, or who says what in Washington. Hit your number and go.

If you type the search phrase, How Much Money Do I Need To Retire, into Google, you will get something in excess of 43 million links to that question or a close variant. Isn't that amazing? A question that is very personable still has 43,000,000 places you can consult.

That dollar figure above is probably incorrect for you. The amount of money you need to retire is based on these five factors:


What your goals are for your retirement


Do you want to spend the first several years traveling the world, visiting your adult kids and grandchildren, remodeling your home, or splurging on the RV you have always dreamed about before settling down? Or, are you really looking forward to staying close to home, being with family and friends, spending more time reading, relaxing, volunteering...simply enjoying your freedom?  

The answer will determine one of the most important questions about money and retirement: the type of lifestyle you want to live. While it is normal for after-retirement living expenses to drop anywhere from 25-50%, it is entirely possible to spend more while you are fulfilling lifelong dreams and aspirations. 

How much you have saved to this point


The average 55-64 year old American has set aside just over $100,000 for funding his or her retirement. That is around $300 a month spread over a typical life span. Add an average of $1,300 in monthly Social Security, minus the cost of Medicare, and that person will have to make due on about $1,500 a month, or $18,000 a year. That is not enough.

Most reports I consult say that an absolute minimum of $600,000 is necessary to provide a decent lifestyle in retirement, and that assumes two people receiving Social Security and with no major health issues to pay for. The most common figure given today on some of those Google pages is $1,000,000 or more. Even at that figure, your retirement will not be lavish, but with careful planning you should be good for the rest of your life. Does being anywhere near these goals seem completely out of your reach? Then the next factor becomes critical:


 How much more you can save before you want to retire


Are you willing to change your spending habits now to achieve your retirement goal? Can you figure out a way to put 20% or even 30% of today's income into your retirement investments? Can you move from instant gratification to delayed payoff? While the answer should be obvious, too many folks don't make the proper choice. 

But, it is a simple math question. What you have in savings and investments plus what you add to those accounts = your retirement nest egg. One plus one is two. There is no way to finesse a different result. Unless you don't want to retire until much later in life, you must sacrifice now to make tomorrow happen.


 How your health or family situation will affect retirement


The average American will spend around $250,000 in medical expenses after age 65. Even with Medicare and a good supplemental policy plus drug coverage,  you must plan on about $12,500 in year in medical costs. With a major health challenge, that figure can easily double. If you are already living with a serious health concern or two, plan on the higher figure.

Are you likely to have to care for one or two aging parents? When you or your spouse or partner needs assisted living or nursing care, will you have the money to pay for that? Will family members be willing to pitch in? Add those projections into your needed money totals.


 How long you will live


If you thought the first four factors were tough, I have saved the best for last. None of us like to face our own mortality, but the question becomes quite important as you run numbers through your retirement calculator. If you come from a family that has many members who make it into their 90's or beyond, then you should probably be on the safe side and assume you will live that long, too. 

If you take care of yourself, watch what you eat, and are generally happy, statistically you are likely to live longer than someone who believes pizza is one of the major food groups. Of course, any one of us could be hit by a car tomorrow. But, prudent planning cannot assume anything.


A previous post, Retirement May be Bad For You, suggested retirement isn't the best choice for everyone. If that is you, pass this information along to a friend. Otherwise, I hope these five retirement planning factors help you work through some tough questions.