August 13, 2018

Are Personal Trainers and Coaches Worth the Money?


We all know the value of regular exercise. The problem for many (that's my face in the mirror) is maintaining any sort of exercise plan. Even if it involves just walking around the neighborhood for 30 minutes three times a week, we are good at finding excuses to skip a day.

Of course, there are plenty of retirees who can't engage in a typical exercise program due to physical limitations or family obligations, like watching a grandchild all day. I understand that occasionally life gets in the way and the best laid plans fly out the window.


For those able to exercise, motivation and commitment are two major hurdles. Certainly, I know folks who thrive on being as physically active as possible. Long bike rides, hiking, kayaking, snow skiing...these people need no extra push to keep their blood pumping.



For the rest of us, with me in the front of the line, maintaining a regular program designed to enhance our fitness and help delay some of the ravages of time, is too easy to abandon. 

I use the excuse that summers in Phoenix are too hot. Of course, that is silly: the gym is 5 minutes away. Or, I get engaged in writing a post and when I come back into focus the time to get physical has passed.


All excuses are very human. So, a reader suggested I ask you about the place a physical trainer or coach might play in the life of someone who needs the extra kick, the kick that comes from paying someone to prod you to do what you know you should. Coaches for improving one's golf game, music lessons, cooking classes...none of those seem unusual.


But, the thought of paying for a session with someone who job is to push you to exercise correctly seems very different. The cost is no more than for any type of lesson or class. If improving physical fitness is a laudable goal, then why not? Is a personal trainer just different somehow? 


My gym offers Silver Sneaker exercise classes that are free with my membership. Someday I may take advantage of what they offer. But, for now, the chair-based sessions or moving at half speed while lifting weights is not what I need. I need to be pushed a bit to achieve some noticeable goals. 


So, I ask you: do you use a trainer? Have you ever paid for someone to help with with an exercise program? Was the cost worth it? Where there any downsides?  Or, should I be able to motivate myself to do what is need to be done?

_________________________________________________





The second in a series of three new booklet-length resources is now available. Preparing For Your Active Life After Retirement is a guide to the most exciting journey of your life, the one that takes place after retirement.

Whether you are still working toward this new phase of your life, or already there, Preparing For Your Active Life should be one of the resources you consult.




August 9, 2018

Warning: How To Protect Yourself Online



Those of us over 65 are active users of the Internet. Estimates are that 66% of U.S. seniors use the Internet on a regular basis. Not unlike younger folks, a fair number of us are connected for a good part of the day, either through a computer or our smartphone, or both. We may not adapt to the latest technology as quickly as others. But, once something proves itself to be useful to us, we are not being left behind.

Of course, that means we are just as vulnerable to all the bad stuff that happens online. The latest figures I could find say that a new computer virus or malware program is created every 4 seconds. The absurdity of people finding new ways to hurt others at such a relentless pace is a subject for another post. This time, I'd like to focus on some practical ways we can protect our online selves.

This list is not exhaustive, but a good start. Please leave a comment with any other hints or warnings you have found to be important. One caution: I will not post any links to web site addresses. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that some spammer would add a link to a post about viruses that turns out to be infected!

1). Buy legitimate software from a recognized dealer or online merchant. This will be more expensive but is a basic safety step to take. While Ebay, for example, is a tremendous place for a lot of things, I would not buy software, new or used, from any merchant listed there. Garage sales? Same rule. 

2) Keep all software updated. Windows-based software is vulnerable to constant attacks. Updates or software patches to correct vulnerabilities are issued constantly. Apple is less vulnerable, but not immune. Keep everything up-to-date.

3). Never click a link in an email unless you are very sure it is safe. Friends can unknowingly pass along computer viruses. Social media links are notoriously risky. A link that takes you from one web site to another may not be what it seems. Look carefully at the computer address you are being redirected to. If it doesn't look legitimate don't click it.

4). Use anti-virus, anti-malware software on all your connected devices, including smartphones.  Keep them updated. Scan all your files on a regular basis. There are several good free programs that will protect you from most threats. For $40-$70 you can get more protection and more piece of mind. Your computer also comes with something called a Firewall. Be sure it is turned on and functioning.

5. Use pop-up ad blockers. Chrome, Edge and Firefox have add-ons that block a lot of the ads that appear on your screen. If they are not there you won't be tempted to click something that might be dangerous.

6. Use strong passwords. It is amazing how many of us still use passwords like, "12345" or "password." Even obvious choices like your birthdate or old phone number are simple for a bad actor to crack. A combination of upper and lower case letters, interspaced with random numbers and punctuation marks is best.

7. Back up important computer files regularly. It is best to use an external hard drive or cloud-based storage system. If you only back up files directly to your computer and it becomes badly infected, your stored files will do you little good.

8. Never, ever, take an online poll or answer questions about yourself on a social media post or smartphone app, like "answer these 10 questions to find out where you should live." You are giving away private information that could lead to a malware attack. At the very least, you are helping advertisers target you with a constant barrage of ads. One exception: I will occasionally add a poll to this blog. That one is safe!

9. Don't leave your computer connected to the Internet when you are not using it. That allows for the potential of someone entering your computer through your router and leaving something nasty. When you are finished using it, delete all your browsing history and shut it down---not just let it go into sleep mode, but turn it off.

10). Use the alert service offered by your banks and credit card companies. If your balance falls or an unusual charge is made with a credit or debit card, you will be instantly notified. That could be your first sign of some type of computer virus that is allowing others to steal your financial information.

11. If you do suffer a ransomware attack, do not pay. There will be no end to the demands and no guarantee the person will actually remove the damaging software. Immediately try the Control-Alt-Delete action to go to the Task Manager. Try to shut down the offending software. If that doesn't work, unplug your computer from the wall.  There are some things to try if you are computer savvy, but they are beyond the scope of this post.

Once you have calmed down, take the computer to a repair service, like the Geek Squad or Data Doctors. They may be able to wipe the offending ransomware from your system. 




We live in a strange world where very smart people spend their lives trying to make our lives unpleasant or dangerous. The best we can do is take precautions that will make the job of the bad people tougher.



August 6, 2018

Financial Sharing With Adult Children: How Much and When?


A few weeks ago a regular reader asked for some feedback on a question that was bothering her and her husband: 

"We are happily retired, and my husband & I know that we need to talk financial specifics with our adult children, but we seem to keep putting it off. And, yes, we know that *not* doing this will complicate their lives if we were to both die without doing it. So I would love to see a post & comments from others about how to handle this important conversation — when, how, what specifics and how much to disclose."



I have written about the need for spouses or life partners to share financial  details, duties, and information with each other. Since one half of a couple usually handles most of the money stuff, the other person could be in a terrible bind after the death or incapacitation of the "financial" person. If you haven't read one of the earlier posts, please start with Protecting your Partner's Financial Well-Being. The subject is much too important to put off until another day.

For this post I am going to shift my focus to the question asked by the reader. What about a couple's offspring: their adult children, through birth, adoption, or a blended family...what financial details should be shared with them? When? How? How specific? That is a great question I have not dealt with before. But, I have no fear in writing about it since I know your comments will be the ultimate guide.


From my perspective, I think the answer hinges on a few key realities:

1) How is your relationship with your grown children? (GC)

This may be the toughest question to answer because it is really asking about trust. Do you believe your adult children will do what is best for you if any of them have to handle your finances? Can you have productive conversations with your adult children about subjects other than finances? 

2) What are their financial situations at the moment and long term?

I would guess the financial stability of an adult child could enter into your consideration of how much you feel like sharing. Is there a chance you will be using some of your nest egg to help your children sooner rather than later? If so, they would probably feel more comfortable accepting your help if they knew you wouldn't be hurting your own retirement. That would require at least enough of an overview to raise their comfort level.

3) How old are your GC? 

Personally, I'd share less information with a GC in his or her 20's or early 30's than someone older. Why? A younger adult has to learn and experience some of the basics of financial decision making before being able to fully understand more complex arrangements. Of course, this really depends on the maturity level of the person in question. There are some young adults I'd trust to understand what I was explaining or how to handle my finances if I were unable to. But, that may be the exception.

4) Should any or all of the GC be actively involved in your finances now?

If yes, then certainly that person needs to know what you are working with. If you think you or your partner's ability to handle your investments and basic financial duties may be slipping, the amount you share could be substantial. If you are doing just fine, then there is no reason to put that extra responsibility on an adult child yet. Share enough to make him or her feel trusted and part of the long term plan, but don't cede control too early.


The legal paperwork involved in having someone execute your desires and to protect you should be in place, even if you choose not to share too many details right now. Power of Attorney and Living Will documents are usually the foundations of a solid financial plan. They give someone the legal right to manage your affairs and make decisions about your care before your death. Both can be modified or terminated at any time by you.

Having a Will prepared for after death is also crucial to avoid some probate issues or have a court decide how your financial affairs will be handled. With these in force, your grown children will need to have the details about not only what you want to happen but what resources you have to make all that happen.


Now, your turn. If you have faced the questions posed by the reader please tell us how you handled this situation. If you have grown children but haven't shared much, what is your thinking? Do you plan on bringing them into the loop in the future?

This is a fascinating area for discussion. It impacts you, your adult children, their children, your relatives' children..all sorts of folks will be impacted by how this situation is handled. I am really hoping for all sorts of feedback and guidance.

And, if this post raises some additional questions in your mind, leave them as comments and we will see what we can do together to come to some answers.



August 2, 2018

How To Decide When To Start Social Security


The Social Security Administration says that 21% of married couples and 43% of single seniors depend on Social Security for 90% or more of their income. 59 million Americans receive a monthly check, either for being over 65 or for a disability claim.

Those numbers tell the story: Social Security is important, or very important, to a large number of us. That leaves one of the key questions before the deposits start appearing in our checking account: when to start?


As I have written in earlier posts, there is no simple answer. Because there are so many variables no one can give you a fail-safe answer. Your best approach is to understand the factors that help you make the decision that right for you.


Let's start with the basis:



1. If you have worked at least ten years you are likely to qualify. The actual requirement is 40 credits, which occur at the rate of four for each full year of employment. Those 10 years do not have to be in a row, they just have to occur before you can claim benefits.


2. Your actual monthly benefit is based on your highest 35 years of earning. As point #1 above states, you don't have to work 35 years to qualify, but the amount you receive will be based on the highest income you earned if less or more than 35 years. This means lower earnings when you begin your career are usually replaced with higher earnings later in your employment history.


3. If you never worked, or not enough to get 40 credits,  you may still qualify for Social Security payments, either as the spouse of an employed person who does receive benefits, or because you qualify for disability payments. 


4. Deposits to your account run one month behind. When you sign up to start receiving payments, your first deposit will come the following month. Exactly when you receive your check each month is based on your birth date.


5. Social Security no longer sends physical checks through the mail. You must make arrangements for direct deposit. The other option is for your funds to be deposited into a special debit card that can be used like any debit card for purchases or to get cash at an ATM. 



Now, on to some of the fine print:


A. When you start receiving payments is up to you. The earliest is when you turn 62. The first payment will arrive the next month. Staring at 62 will reduce your monthly check by about 25% from what you would receive if you waited until you reach your full retirement age (FRA). For most of us that is 66. The FRA varies by your birth year, moving up two months for every year after 1954. So, if you were born in 1955, your FRA is 66 years and two months.


B. You can start receiving payments at any time after your 62nd birthday until age 70, at which point your check will be approximately 30% higher (depending on your exact FRA). There is no reason to wait past 70 since benefits do not increase after that date. You are just leaving money with the government that you will never get.


C. You lose $1 in Social Security benefits for every $2 you earn if you start before your FRA, continue to work, and earn over $1,420 a month. There is a different calculation in the year you reach your full retirement age that lessens this penalty.


D. After your full retirement age, there is no reduction in Social Security payments regardless of how much you earn.


E. Social Security benefits are taxed depending upon your total income and marital status. If you exceed the rather low minimums set by the government, between 50% and 85% of your Social Security income will likely be taxed. And, yes, your Social Security counts as part of your total income to determine if it will be taxable. 



Ok, so now that you have a grasp of the basis, when should you start taking the monthly benefits? Here is what to consider:


1. Do you need the maximum amount of payment to make your financial picture work? Do you have enough other income, or will you keep working until at least 70? If so, it is suggested you start Social Security when you turn 70. Your benefits will be at their highest level for the rest of your life. 


2. Do you need income now to keep things afloat or as additional income while still working? Start at 62 or any year after that until 70. Your check will be permanently reduced, but maybe not enough to make up for the loss of cash now. For example, I began taking payments at 64. Waiting until 66 would have meant only $132 more per month which didn't seem worth it. 


3. Spousal benefits require another calculation which is beyond the scope of this post. Basically, you can get an amount equal to half of your spouse's check, or your own amount if that is higher. Social Security will figure out the proper combination to insure your monthly check is the maximum allowed. Obviously, this benefit is not available to single folk.

4. If married and your spouse dies, there are other provisions to provide benefits based on the amount your partner was receiving. I have provided some links below if you'd like more details.

5. Divorced? There are rules for that, too. See the link below.


When your start your Social Security payments takes some thought and planning. Frankly, though, it is not as complicated as some financial experts like to make it. Start when receiving that monthly payment fits your current needs, situation, and future projections.

Any questions? Leave a comment or drop me an email and I will try to clear up any confusion!


Spousal Benefit Regulations

Widow/Widower Survivor Regulations

Divorced Regulations


July 30, 2018

Home Modifications For The Visually Impaired - A Complete Guide

While everyone's situation is a little bit different, here are some simple, low-cost changes you can make to the spaces your visually impaired loved one spends the most time in.

If their vision is gradually diminishing, you can start making these changes ahead of time for added convenience. If the vision loss is sudden or you have a child that is visually impaired, there are adaptive techniques you can learn to help your days go by smoothly.

Home Modifications for Those With Low Vision


If your loved one is living with visual impairment you will want to outfit your home in a way that will make life more efficient. Thankfully, many of these modifications are low cost and can be fairly easily implemented. It’s just a matter of knowing the basics and planning.

Adjust the Lighting

You will want to provide plenty of light in the areas of the home that are used for recreation, reading and socializing. Light should always be aimed at the point of focus, i.e., where you will be doing work, not at the eyes. Tips to help provide adequate lighting around the house include:

     Adding floor and table lamps around the living room, dining room, kitchen and bedroom. Clip-on lights can be placed strategically around the house for added convenience.
     Use lighting that is 60-100 watts. Replace burned out bulbs regularly so that you are able to see better.
    Allow for natural light throughout the home by using adjustable blinds or sheer curtains.
     Experiment with lighting to find out which works best for your individual needs. There is halogen, fluorescent, incandescent or flood lighting and most people will prefer different ones. It’s worth noting that fluorescent light does bother many visually impaired people.
     Make sure light is uniform throughout your entire hallway to more easily identify where it curves or ends.



Eliminate Safety Hazards

Feeling safe inside your own home is important. There are a number of things you can do to prevent falls and other injuries—and most of them are quite simple. You can:
     Keep desk and table chairs pushed in and train your family to do the same. All of the time. No exceptions.
     Use non-skid, non-glare products to clean and polish your floors. Avoid waxing floors, which can make them slippery!
     Remove low-lying objects that might be trip hazards such as coffee tables and end tables.
     Ensure there are no cords in any of the pathways so that you don’t trip.
     Make sure electrical cords are removed from pathways or taped down securely.
     Tape down any area rugs you have and replace any worn carpeting or floor coverings.
     Keep all floors dry and wipe up any spills immediately.
     Install grab bars or safety rails in high-slip areas like your bathroom or on the stairs.
     Mark step edges with yellow reflective tape so that you can easily identify them.
     Always keep your fire extinguisher and first aid kit in the same, easily accessible place.
     Make sure all exits are marked with a bright, contrasting color in case of emergency.
     Have smoke and fire alarms checked often, and ensure they are loud enough that you can hear them in all areas of the house.


Use Contrasting Colors

Keep the color principles top of mind as you prepare your home. Know that bright colors are often the easiest to see since they reflect light. Solid, brighter colors such as orange, red and yellow are more visible than their muted counterparts.

     Use brightly colored vases, lamps or sculptures to help identify where key pieces of furniture are.
     Avoid upholstery and rugs that are patterned. Stripes and checks can create confusion for some people who are visually impaired.
     Use color to indicate changes in surface level (such as on the stairs).
     Use contrasting colors to warn about places that may be hazardous or require extra attention (such as fluorescent tape on the inside of doors or cabinets that may be ajar).
     Color-code household items you use often or bills and documents you may need to work with. (Brightly colored post-it notes work great!)
     Use dark, solid colors as borders around white or light objects (such as a light switch). This will help it to stand out.
     Place dark objects (like chairs) in front of lighter colored walls which will also help these items to stand out.
     Avoid using clear glass dishes and cups, as they are more difficult to see.
     Paint door knobs and door frames a bright color so that they are easier to see.
     Use a different color of paint on the ceiling than the walls.
     Use solid (non-patterned) rugs to help you identify different areas of the home.




Create an Organized Environment

If you keep your home organized it will be easier to find things when you need them. It can also eliminate any tripping hazards and reduce frustration when doing everyday chores. Here are some tips to help you say organized:

     Label, label, label. Label everything in your home, from reusable bottles to hangers for clothing to on/off switches. You can even label cabinets!
     Use drawer dividers and closet organizers to separate clothing.
     Label clothing with the letter of the clothing color on the tag.
     Develop a system to keep food and toiletry items organized. Always keep these items in the same place and label them as necessary.
     Always keep chairs and other easily movable furniture in the same place.
     Use large numbered devices for telephones, timers, calculators or anything with numbers that need to be seen.
     Train family members to respect the organizational system you’ve developed. Explain to them why and how it helps you.

Home adaptations for visual impairments are meant to enhance your home and make it easy for you to do the daily tasks you need to do. We hope you found some of our ideas helpful and they make a positive difference in your life.
____________________________________________

This post was provided by Hireahelper.com a web site designed to help you locate and arrange for moving services. Satisfying Retirement received no compensation for this post nor does its publication imply endorsement of any of the companies included. 

July 27, 2018

What Was The Smartest Thing You Did to Prepare to Retire?


This is logical follow up to the previous post, What was the Dumbest Thing You Did in Your Retirement Planning? After admitting a mistake or miscalculation, let's turn our attention to what worked so well we'd like to brag a little about it.

I will start the ball rolling with what allowed us to retire after my business failed and then transition into a satisfying retirement. It was a decision that seemed difficult to accomplish at the time. But, without it, I might still be living for a paycheck.

When I married my wife, Betty, I was 27 years old and not making much money working for a radio station in West Virginia. She had a job that paid about as poorly, but with careful budgeting we were doing OK. 

The "smartest thing" was to start a savings plan in our very first year together. Frankly, I don't remember how much we set aside though I am sure it wasn't substantial. What was important was establishing the habit of paying ourselves first. We bought mostly zero coupon bonds which were quite popular then and provided for tax-free growth. As my income grew so did the contributions.

Regular investments continued for the next 24 years. Starting seven years after our marriage  I also set up an IRA account. The two large companies that employed me had defined benefit retirement plans. Too bad I didn't stay long enough at either job to have it make much difference.

When I started my own business I began a Keogh plan. Later, my company contributed to a retirement plan. Importantly, that IRA had its last contribution in 2001 but I have yet to start taking any of the funds that have been growing for 35 years. The Required Minimum Distribution law will force me to start withdrawing money next year when I turn 70.

That means that from 2001, when I retired, until Social Security payments started in 2011, Betty and I lived off the savings account we began in 1976. As I noted, we haven't touched the IRA money at all. Inheriting some money from my parents starting in 2015 certainly helped delay the start of the IRA drawdown. But, that had no effect on our ability to live for 10 years strictly on our savings. 

Did we skip some of the "toys" that those around us were enjoying? Sure. Old cars, smaller TVs and vacations in tents or a small popup camper suited us. We were cautious by nature and determined by decision. 

The end result was a savings account healthy enough to retire when we did, and an IRA account that will take care of us from next year forward.

How about you? What was the smartest thing you did to prepare to retire? If you are still working, what have you done to get ready? It certainly doesn't have be financially-oriented. Maybe it was earning an advanced degree. Or, maybe you decided to skip college and run with your great idea. Who knows? The "Smartest Thing" can be almost anything that worked for you.

Let's share our ideas and successes so everyone can learn.


July 24, 2018

What Was The Dumbest Thing You Did In Your Retirement Planning?

Am I restricted to just one mistake, one dumb decision? Well, for purposes of this post I will hold myself to just one of many dunderhead moves.


Who forgets to plan for health care costs?  Me

The dumbest thing I did in my retirement planning was forgetting to allow for health costs. For someone who is dedicated to budgets and paying attention to finances, this was a very large boo-boo.

For the twenty years before retiring in 2001, my company paid for our family's health care. One of the pluses of being a corporation is the ability to have the company pay some of the expenses of the employees and their families.. The costs are treated as an expense by the corporation and are not taxable to the individuals. 

In my defense, even though I was the corporation and wrote the checks every month to pay our family's health care costs I wasn't paying close attention to yearly increases, which were modest compared to today's situation. Plus, I was so used to not thinking about health insurance, I left it out of the retirement budget!

Within 6 months, my oversight became painfully obvious. I was receiving a bill that had no money allocated to pay it. The costs for me, my wife, and two college age daughters was high and ratcheting up every year. The future trend was clear even then: a for-profit health care system meant rates would only increase, along with all the other expenses of health care.

Because we were buying insurance on the individual market I had to find $500 a month in 2002 and almost $600 a month in 2003, just for the premiums. When our daughters graduated from college the costs dipped by a few hundred a month, but then started climbing again, eventually topping out at 25% of our income for health costs.

What could I do? Since I was living off investments and savings, I had one logical choice: cut expenses. Three cars became two. Meals out several nights a week became once every seven days. Yearly trips to Hawaii ended. A reassessment of wants versus needs took place. I squeezed the budget to make room for health care costs.

Everything worked out. We discovered we liked a simpler, pared down retirement lifestyle. I learned my lesson and made sure health care was in every budget from that point forward. Of course, the insane increases of the last several years made me readjust again, until Medicare relieved some of the pressure when I turned 65.

Even now, 18 years later, I can look back at the first year's budget and get the shudders. Missing something that obvious was really dumb.


Your turn. 

Your retirement planning oversight doesn't have to be as major as mine to share, though if it is I might feel a little better! It doesn't have to be financial, either. Maybe you moved because you thought you'd love the mountains, and learned the thin air gives you a permanent headache. Or, maybe you thought you'd love to be close to the family....until it became clear they had their own, very full lives without a lot of time for you.

What is on your retirement wall of goofs?  

_______________________________________________


The second in a series of three new booklet-length resources is now available. Preparing For Your Active Life After Retirement is a guide to the most exciting journey of your life, the one that takes place after retirement.

Whether you are still working toward this new phase of your life, or already there, Preparing For Your Active Life should be one of the resources you consult. I'd appreciate your support.






July 22, 2018

The Loss Of A Loved One


An unpleasant reality for many of us who are married or in a long term relationship will be the likelihood of facing the death of a spouse or partner. Women tend to outlive men so we usually think in terms of widowhood. Interestingly, recent longevity studies show a chance in this accepted pattern: men are closing the longevity gap.

A study released a few years ago on trends in the United States reports that over a ten year period expectancy for males grew by 4.6 years while the predicted lifespans for women rose by less than 3 years. Women still live, on average five years longer than men, but that gap is narrowing. The point is becoming a widow or widower is a life experience that may confront just as many men as women in the years ahead.

I have been asked to address the topic of losing a loved one. It is a subject fraught with intense emotions and life altering consequences, but one I don't feel adequate to address on my own. A guest post submitted a few years ago continues to resonate with me. It deals with this subject from the perspective of a person who can speak about it from first-hand experience, I have posted it here for you to read and consider.


If you are single you might find some value in the author's words, too. You undoubtedly have friends who are married. These suggestions may give you a little guidance in helping a friend through this process. 



4 Practical Ways To  Prepare for the Loss of a Spouse
Denial Won’t Do, Warns Author-Widow
The sound of silence was the most haunting for Thelma Zirkelbach on her first night home after her husband’s death. “I’d lost my husband, but I hadn’t lost his voice, I told myself,” says Zirkelbach, who had spent so many nights the previous year at hospitals with her husband Ralph, who died not long after being diagnosed with leukemia.

 “I picked up the phone and there was no dial tone. If the phone was dead, Ralph’s voice would be gone forever.” Through her panicked daze, after having sunk to the floor with her spirits, she realized the phone jack was unplugged. She plugged it in and heard his voice one more time through the answering machine. It would be the first thing she fixed around the house without Ralph’s help in decades.

“There were many moments like that in the year after his death. One of the things I had to learn was to find help from many people, whereas for most of my adult life I had the help of many in one man,” says Zirkelbach, author of “Stumbling Through the Dark,”  a memoir about an interfaith couple facing one of life’s greatest spiritual challenges.

Loving couples wince at the thought of losing their spouse and may even deny the idea despite a terminal medical diagnosis, but accepting the possibility helps in preparing for the years that follow, says Zirkelbach. She offers the following tips for doing that:

 Consider the best way for all loved ones to say good-bye: Ralph’s family comes from an evangelical Christian background, whereas Thelma is Jewish. Memorial services are designed for the surviving family and friends, and Zirkelbach held a service at her synagogue, which was filled with friends and colleagues. “Make sure you do all you can to best say goodbye in your own way, which may include your religion or some other ritual,” she says.

 Take stock of the necessary services you’ll need to replace: In many ways, Ralph was an old-fashioned Midwesterner who was a handyman around the house, moved heavy boxes, dispensed with unwanted critters like cockroaches, and acted as a one-man security system. He also provided smaller services in which a companion can help, such as fastening necklaces. Since Ralph’s death nearly eight years ago, Thelma has hired her current handyman, air conditioning technician, accountant, financial advisor and attorney. 

 No matter how independent you are, accept the fact that you may need emotional support: Soon after her husband’s death, Zirkelbach joined a support group for widows and widowers and found solace in the company of others who had loved and lost. At one point, the group leader connected with members by saying they were blessed to have loved someone enough to mourn them. “His statement turned grief on its head,” she says.

 Nurture your spiritual life: “I have become ‘more Jewish’ during my widowhood,” she says. “When I was a child, Judaism was part of the background of my life, like the Muzak you hear in elevators but don’t really listen to.” Now, however, religion has moved to the forefront of her life, and she adds she is thankful for the strength her faith has given her. “Yes, in spite of loss, I have still found joy in living,” she says.


Author Thelma Zirkelbach has been in private practice in speech pathology, specializing in young children with speech, language and learning disabilities, for many years. She began her writing career as a romance novelist. Her husband’s death from leukemia in 2005 propelled her to creative non-fiction. Her web site is Widowsphere: A Circle of Hope.
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Satisfying Retirement received  no compensation for this guest post.

July 20, 2018

Now Available: Preparing For Your Active Life After Retirement







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

Whether you are still working toward this new phase of your life, or already there, Preparing For Your Active Life should be one of the resources you consult.

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


* Preparing for Your Active Life After Retirement

* How Do You Know When To Retire?

* Why Do We Make The Choices We Do?

* What’s Best: Aging in Place or a Retirement Community


* The Best Place for You to Retire

* Searching For Your One Great Passion May Be a Mistake


The Best Place for You to Retire

* Making Peace With an Aging Body

* The One Thing No One Tells You About Retirement


....and more.

Available as a Kindle download, this guide is priced at just $2.99. The length is reader-friendly and just over 40 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 Active Life After Retirement covers some of the subjects that concern you most. 

The third booklet, Preparing To Make The Most of Your Free Time After Retirement will be available in late summer.

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.


NoteLiving 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 these new booklets available today.