Showing posts from 2007

Forever Young

I think I may have found a theme song for the Platinum Years blog and website. My wife Melanie and I were watching a rerun of "The Wonder Years" tonight. The episodes often are very moving for us, having grown up in that era, not to mention the fact that Melanie and I met when we were around 13 years old... You might say she's my "Winnie." Anyway, the episodes always end with a tear jerking song. Tonight, the song was "Forever Young," the Joan Baez version.

This song was long buried in my memory, buy I think this song beautifully sums up the passion I have for all of us to live out our dreams. Here is the imeem link. (What? You don't remember Imeem? See "I Don't Need No Stinkin CDs," posted December 17th).

... and here are the lyrics. Consider them my Christmas blessing for you:

May God bless and keep you always,
May your wishes all come true,
May you always do for others
And let others do for you.
May you build a ladder to the sta…

We Can’t Let This Happen

Here is an article from CBS Marketwatch website by Paul Farrell which predicts an intergenerational battle royal over the next 30-40 years, as we baby boomers age and make more and more demands on an increasingly fragile social security system and other government “entitlement” programs. And sadly, I can’t disagree with his logic.

However, this battle is not inevitable. It can be avoided as long as we baby boomers remember that we should be the mature ones and act accordingly. How?

1. We must be willing to engage in honest discussion of program changes, including benefit changes, retirement age changes, eligibility changes, etc. For as long as I can remember, social security has been considered to be “the third rail of American politics.” (i.e. touch it and die) This can not continue.

2. We need to remember that if there is an intergenerational battle, it is our children and grandchildren who will ultimately pay the price for our intransigence. The simple math is that there are currently…

Authentic Happiness
The Book That Started Platinum Years

In a sense, Authentic Happiness, by Martin Seligman, is the book that started my "platinum years" passion, at least in a third handed sort of way. Authentic Happiness was read and recommended by a financial planner in an article in “Investment Advisor” magazine. When the planner realized how woefully inadequate it was to help people with money issues alone, he totally revolutionized his financial planning practice. He created a seminar entitled “Living the REAL good life,” and started practicing what he was preaching. And a funny thing happened. He began to attract many new clients who shared his balanced approach to “life planning” as much more than “financial planning.” And other existing clients, not as enamored with this approach, began to “self-select” out.

If you click on the link to the right, you can go right to and check out this interesting phenomenon for yourself. You will see that many people just loved this book. And many hated it. Some of the crit…

I Don’t Need No Stinkin’ CDs (or Mp3s Either)

What if there was a radio station that played exactly what you wanted to hear at all times and without commercials. Would you ever need to own your own music? I’ve just been asking myself that question and I’m pretty much concluding, “No, I wouldn’t.” And the reason I’ve been asking it is that I’ve just discovered a new music web site, Earlier this week, I saw a news article about imeem as being the first music website that has agreements with all the major music labels. Understand that it is NOT a free download site, but you can stream just about any song from any PC with an internet connection.

After a simple free registration (name, age, gender, email*, etc. - no address, no phone number), you’re connected. Search on an artist or song and you are presented with search results with info about the song and clickable links to play it. You can create unlimited playlists to organize your music for next time, and you also will be shown the playlists of others that include t…

Exactly When Did I Become “A Man Your Age”?

I just came in from shoveling out our car and part of the driveway. An early snowstorm just dumped 11 inches of snow on our town, more snow than we usually see in the whole month of December. And I should also tell you that I have a driveway that is over 200 feet long. It used to be stone and therefore turned into a real mess if you had it plowed, so over the years I sort of developed a system for keep us “connected with civilization.”

If the forecast was for over six inches I would just bring the car down to the foot of the driveway, just shy of where the street plow throws the snow. Then, when the snow stopped, I would shovel a path down to the car, then around the car, and then clear the last ten feet or so to the street. By then we’re connected to the world, and since I work at home, I could gradually work my way up the driveway, over days if necessary.

Now I pace myself and take breaks, but somehow in my wife’ Melanie’s view, this type of exercise is grossly inferior and more dange…

Web Site Updates and New Book Sections Posted

I spent a few hours on the website tonight, posting some of the recent blog items that are probably going into the book, including Going Down Swinging" and "Rich Dad, Poor Dad, My Dad."

But there's also a newly posted CHAPTER entitled "End Game." It's a perspective on the Boomer stage of life using a chess metaphor, and it's currently slated to be Chapter 1 of the book. The Introduction is also on the web site, and has been for a while,. Both of these are too lengthy to blog, but here's the first few paragraphs of "End Game":

Platinum Living - End Game
In chess, there is a term called “end game.” By the time you get there, you've been playing for a while. You've captured some pieces and you've lost some pieces, but often the game hangs very much in the balance. You don't have nearly as many options as you did when the game began, but with all those pieces gone, the board is quite a bit clearer, and you still have many wa…

Thought for the Day

I've seen this quote before, but never blogged it. It was on a promo for yet another boomer social networking website. You're going to see a lot of these. I wouldn't even attempt to compete with them. But it's a cool quote:

"Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive well preserved body, rather to skid in sideways, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming, 'Wow!! What a ride.' "

Someday I plan to compile the many many quotes I have collected over the years into a section on ... maybe calling it "Platinum Quotes" or "Platinum Thoughts" or "Platinum Nuggets"

So What is Your Ship Built For?

This is really part 3 of what is turning out to be a series, so if you haven’t read “Going Down Swinging,” (both parts), you should do that first.

As many of you know, I’m a sailor. I took it up as a teenager, and rediscovered it about ten years ago after a thirty year hiatus while I, you know raised a family, built a business, paid for college tuitions and weddings, yada, yada, yada.

In “Going Down Swinging, Part 1, I concluded with a quote that was positioned over my desk for probably twenty years. It said, “A ship in the harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships were built for.” In Part 2, I told you about my dad, who approached life very conservatively, and died before he ever really got the chance to find out what his ship was built for.

All of which begs for the question that I’ve been leading up to. What is your ship built for?

Visit any harbor and you will see a variety of ships. They look very different. And they act very different. Your power boat may go 3-4 times as fast as my …

“Going Down Swinging,” Part 2 - Rich, Dad Poor Dad, My Dad

(The writing slowed down a bit, since as I told you last time, it now appears that we’re building a chapter in the book - I’m so full of ideas, it may be several chapters in a section. Anyway, this topic is at the heart of why I am writing Platinum Living. I’ve been doing some soul searching in this area, and the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad came to mind, which got me thinking about my own Dad - So I wrote this as a continuation of “Going Down Swinging.")

About ten years ago, there was a best selling book entitled Rich Dad, Poor Dad, by Robert Kiyosaki. I do not particularly recommend it because I believe that Kiyosaki’s financial advice is not very balanced, leaning very heavily to real estate and heaping excessive, though on occasion justifiable, criticism at some very good financial strategies and products. But I’m going to share with you what I consider the best part. The author, Robert Kiyosaki, had two paternal influences in his life, his real father and the father of one o…

Going Down Swinging

When I was a kid, probably around 7 or 8 years old, I played baseball in “minor league,” or whatever was before Little League. I don’t remember anything about it, except for this one at bat that was near the end of one of the games. As I recall, the game was in the balance, and I think the opposing pitcher was walking a lot of batters. Possibly he had walked the bases loaded, which wouldn’t have been uncommon in that league (which is why T-Ball is a good idea – but I digress)

Anyway, I must have made up my mind that this pitcher was going to walk me as well, because after the count went to 3 and 2, I took a pitch right down the middle for strike three. Now why, you may be asking, do I still remember this, over fifty years later? Because it bothered me. A lot. Enough for my brain to store it in a priority area and still remember it years later.

It bothered me because I didn’t even swing. I took the easy way out. I didn’t even try to hit it. And I think on some level that day, I decided t…

You Gotta Love The Title!

Here's another book recommendation featured at www.platinum This is the most motivating book I have ever read on any health topic. Read on to see why:Younger Next Year: A Guide to Living Like 50 Until You're 80 and Beyond, by Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge, M.D. - When seventy year old Chris Crowley first went to see his new doctor, Harry Lodge, Chris found Harry's approach to the medical issues of aging so compelling, and challenging, that before long they were writing this book together. And this book is the first (after many, believe me!) that actually has me exercising and, I must say, feeling much better, and a little lighter.Basically, Harry's approach is this: There are two things going on in your body - age and decay. Decay you can't do anything about, but it's the more minor of the two - Weaker eyesight, loss of skin tone, frequent trips to the ... need I go on? The big factor is aging, and most of its effects are preventable and even mode…

What is Your Passion?

It's time in our extended family to make out the Christmas lists for the rest of the family. With email this is a lot easier than it used to be. One member of the family, my brother-in-law, started his own tradition a few years back by including a Christmas poem with each year's list.

This year, instead of a Christmas poem, he included this short "Testament of a Fisherman," which I appreciated because, to be honest, I just don't "get" fishing. I've often asked fisherman friends what it is that they love about it, and I really listen, but I still don't get it. Of course, many of them don't "get" the attraction of sailing... How can they be so blind? :-)

Anyway, this post isn't really about either fishing or sailing. It's about passion. Passion is integral to "platinum living." Why do we have passion for some things in life? How do you find your passion(s)? And then how can you live them out?

I will have lots to say on…

When Should I Start Drawing on my IRA, 401(k), or 403(b) Plan?

I just finished this article for the web site. I probably won't post it until tomorrow, when the other two pages that link to it will be ready. But YOU can read it :-).

This question is, in my experience, the hands down winner as the most popular question asked of a financial planner. And it's no wonder, because what it really translates into is, "When can I get at all that money I put away for all those years?" And the answer to that question, "When CAN I..." is really any old time. But the answer to "When SHOULD I ..." is usually age 70 1/2. And here's why...

First of all, let me simplify the terminology a bit by calling all of these plans by their generic name, "qualified plans." They earn that name because they "qualify" under IRS regulations for pretax contributions and tax deferred growth. In other words, the contributions to these plans are made in pretax dollars, either because you can deduct the amount contribute…

My #1 Favorite Book

Within days after beginning the work on Platinum Living, I discovered Chasing Daylight: How My Forthcoming Death Transformed my Life. I was just finishing work on the Introduction for my book. I was making the point that it would be great to prioritize our living in the 15-20 good years that we have left with the perspective of those who don't have as long. As they say, "Nobody on their death bed ever wishes they had spent more time at the office."Shortly after I wrote those very words, I discovered Chasing Daylight, which is the autobiographical story of a man who had to deal with that very issue, having been given a three month "death sentence" by his doctor. For more about this book, the original review is below: Chasing Daylight: How My Forthcoming Death Transformed my Life, by Gene O'Kelly - You must read this book. In April of 2005, at the age of 53 and in the prime of a high powered career as CEO of a “big four” accounting firm, the author Eugene O&#…

Website Update - New "Platinum Finances" Section

When I began tackling the social security issues, I knew it would mean I'd have to get the "Platinum Finances" section of up and running. So that will be this weekend's project. At a minimum, I'll be writing a welcome/summary/background page, and specific pages on the "when to take social security" decision, and the "when does it make sense to withdraw money from a 401(k), 403(b) or IRA Rollover," because that accessibility occurs even earlier, at age 59 1/2. That's a question I've gotten very frequently over the years, and people are usually surprised by my answer. Stay tuned.

But while I'm busy doing that, I thought I'd post over here some of my book reviews that I wrote when I first opened up the test web site. I doubt thay've been read by many people, and I just began going public with these sites this week. It'll give you something to read while I'm busy with the website. I'm al…

Quick Quiz – What % of Boomers Plan to Work During Retirement?

It was probably Jim Arnold and his great attitude toward career change (see link in previous post) that inspired me. But in any event, I figured I might as well introduce what I consider a key statistic toward the achievement of our mission – Helping you get the best out of the rest of your life.

You see, when I first started studying boomers facing retirement, it was from the perspective of a financial planner. And I have to tell you, it was pretty depressing looking at all the statistics that illustrate how woefully unprepared we are for what I am now calling “the life stage formerly known as retirement.” But then I came across this very heartening little statistic. A full 79% of all boomers expect to work in some capacity during their retirement!

Now this is not entirely great news because these work plans are not all voluntary. Many of us are making these plans because we know we have to. Which is still fine, because I’m convinced that this need is a huge blessing in disguise.…

60? Must be Time for a Career Change

I run across articles like this so often that I'm tempted not to link them. But not everybody has been reading on this topic for months.

So here is another boomer who's ready to take on life's new challenges at 60.

When to Take Social Security – Revisited

I knew this was going to happen. Now that the first boomers are reaching age 62 and can begin to take social security, social security is in the news.

I really don’t want to look like a traditional retirement site, but while it’s in the news, there are lots of good articles on the subject. Here’s the best I’ve seen, and not just because it agrees with me :-)

I think what I’ll do is synthesize these into the first topic of a financial advice section on – I guess it’s appropriate to tackle the first decision about social security that every boomer will have to face.

It Was the Best of Times, It was the Worst of Times

I’m a big football fan. I have been for years. I’ve been a fan of the New England Patriots fan ever since they were formed as the Boston Patriots many moons ago. And I've been a Notre Dame fanever since the 60s, when I attended there. I was the third of three sons who all went to Notre Dame. Both of my daughters later went there in the 80s and 90s, and they both married Notre Dame students. So you can imagine how obnoxious we all are during a “normal” football season.

But this is not a normal football season. As I write this, the Patriots are 10-0, and arguably the greatest pro football team ever. And Notre Dame is having possibly its worst season ever, at 2-9. But this article is not about football. It’s about the need for challenges in our lives. Because I find that I can’t really get into rooting for either of my teams this year. I have yet to watch a full football game this season.

Why? Because the Patriots are so good that they are blowing everyone out in the first half, and th…

The Dream

The previous blog entry, WWTPGD, reminded me of a dream I had in February. It was when I was just testing out the blogging sites. Around that time, I had a very vivid and I think meaningful dream that is very apropos of the general idea of breaking out of your comfort zone. So while we’re on the subject, I thought I’d tell you about the dream. Check it out by clicking February 2007 (There are only two entries during that “test” month.)

WWTPGD (What Would That Platinum Guy Do?)

A few years back, there was a popular movement, especially among Christian teens and 20-somethings, to ask one another, “What Would Jesus Do?” at times of decision. There was even a fad of wearing bracelets with the initials “WWJD?” as a reminder of this standard.

When I started to write Platinum Living, the first words that spilled onto the keyboard were, “I write this book as a challenge. A challenge to you the reader, and to myself as I write this.” That is still my prime motivation as I continue to write, both book and blog.

So I wanted to get this out, in the early stages of blogging, and encourage you that if you take the challenge seriously, you CAN change your life for the better.

On three different occasions this year, I have had situations pop up where I had to make a decision. One of the choices was inside my comfort zone, and the other was outside my comfort zone. And all three times, the thought popped into my head, “What would that Platinum Guy Do?” That may seem strange t…

Don't Do It!

Even though I am a financial planner by trade, I don’t expect that this blog or the Platinum Years Network will spend that much time discussing financial topics. There just isn’t that much of a correlation between wealth and “authentic happiness.” And I’ll give you the stats on that some day. All in due time…
But this recent news item just begs to be commented on:
“At an event hosted by Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security, the nation's first Baby Boomer, Kathleen Casey-Kirschling, today filed for her Social Security retirement benefits online at Ms. Casey-Kirschling, who was born one second after midnight on January 1, 1946, will be eligible for benefits beginning January 2008.”
Commissioner Astrue went on to gush about Kathy’s “personal milestone – she has made the transition from the workforce to retirement.”
Now I know a social security commissioner has to say such things as a matter of public relations, but if at the end of my life, I cou…

Let's Roll

Today seems like a good day to officially begin, although I’ve been at it off and on for a couple of years now. I turn 61 today. Over the past two years, I have greatly simplified my life. I sold off some property I had been managing, and transitioned my stock brokerage and financial planning practice so that I am now an independent contractor without the complications and regulations of running a corporate broker/dealer.

A generation ago, I would now be telling you that I’m looking forward to “retirement,” perhaps moving to Florida, where you could find me on the nearest golf course. But that does not have any particular appeal to me. Nor does it have any appeal to about 80% of my “baby boomer” brethren, who have no intention of retiring in the same “drop out of life” fashion that our parents did.

There’s just too much to do! I have a million ideas, and lots of potential adventures on my “Things To Do Before I Die” list (Do you have one of those?) One of those ideas is to create this b…

10 Steps to Reforming Baby Boomer Retirement

In my "book in process," Platinum Living, I make several recommendations as to how our government could reform the social security system, but they boil down to this. Only 20% or so of all "baby boomers" are planning a traditional sort of retirement. This represents a great opportunity for our government to "save" the social security system. And boomers, for our part, must be open to such changes, getting past the usual "How does this affect ME right now," analysis and looking at the effect on our country and our children.
In other words, boomers must take the lead in eliminating the idea that social security reform is the "third rail of American Politics." Meanwhile, I came across these interesting, if more traditional, proposals from Kiplinger at

Boomer Stock Market Crash? I Doubt It!

... so does financial planner Jeff Bogue, in Maine Today, and he makes some good points, at:

How To Manage Older Workers

Whether you're the manager or the "managee," if you're still in the corporate environment, here are some good tips on the care and treatment of older workers:

New Book Review: My First "One Bar" Rating

New Book Review: I hate to give bad reviews to a book, but you need to be warned. I added this, my first "one star" rating, to today:Leap!: What Will We Do with the Rest of Our Lives?, by Sara Davidson - When I first envisioned a book review section for this site, I thought it would be cool to give ratings from one to five, and use platinum bars rather than the usual stars. But then I started arguing with myself (don't you ever do that?), reasoning that I'd never use the "one bar" rating because I wouldn't waste the time reading such drivel.
Well I was wrong. Leap earns my very first, and I hope last, one bar rating. Do not waste time or money on this book. Where do I begin to tell you why? Well, for starters, the title itself is false advertising, for it doesn't even attempt to answer the question of "what will we do with the rest of our lives," which is what duped me into attempting to read it in the first place. The…

New Link to Boomer Blog

I am adding a new "Platinum Link" to today. It's called "The Boomer Blog," the combined effort of four women. Lots of good stuff, mostly for the ladies, but much applicable to everyone. Check it out at


Taxes are done! In the past year, I have liquidated two businesses, so this year's filing was a major bookkeeping project, to say the least. But it's all part of the long term plan. It's a practice called "downshifting," something many of us 50 and 60-somethings are involved in. And as we do it, we are freeing up time to probe a little on what we want to do with the rest of our lives. In my case, one of the things I'm probing is this blog and my web site,

My current plan is to blog here and organize these random thoughts on the site. Not every blog entry will be posted (this one won't), but when I see something worthy of the site, a new article, book recommendation, a link, a quotable quote, reader comments, etc., I'll let you know where on the site they'll be posted.

We'll see how that works out in the long run. Seems logical for now.


I Have a Dream ... well, I Had a Dream

The other night I had a dream. It was one of those "falling" dreams, you know the ones that they say that if you don't wake up before hitting the bottom, you're dead. But don't worry, it wasn't scary. And that, ironically, was the scary part. Let me explain.

The whole dream probably lasted just a few seconds. In the dream, I was in a nondescript, dark place. The only sound that could be heard was a kind of moaning chant. Over and over, I heard voices chanting, "Old... old ... ooold." The next thing I knew, I was falling. I don't remember jumping or being pushed, but I was falling... and someone, or something, was holding me.

Now here's the strange ironic part. I expected to be scared, but I wasn't. I remember thinking, "this isn't so bad." It was very restful, peaceful even. Nothing required of me, no obligations... Just listen to the chant and fall ... "Old... old... ooold"

But wait! This isn't …


Welcome to the Platinum Years Network! I'm Bob McDonald. I was born in 1946. Last year, George W. Bush, Willian Jefferson Clinton and I all turned 60, along with several million more of you who are in the advance guard of what was once known as the "Post War Baby Boom." Now, we are simply known as "boomers," and we are well known as a generational group. Our generation, in fact, has influenced many cultural changes as we progressed through our school and work years, and there is no doubt in my mind that we will also revolutionize the stage of life that has heretofore been known as "retirement."

A few years ago, in conversations with family and friends, I began to notice something about my contemporaries as they looked ahead toward their so called "golden years" of retirement. It sure didn't seem like many of us were looking at the good ol' do nothing, golf playing, "drop out of society" retirement that was once the norm. Lat…