Showing posts from May, 2008

Doing Well by Doing Good (and Giving Back)

Whatever happened to the "Me Generation," the not-too-flattering description of the supposedly self-centered baby boomer generation? It turns out we're not so bad after all, according to an article in yesterday's Rochester Democrat & Chronicle:

"Though sometimes referred to as the "me" generation, research is exposing boomers as "we" activists with a humanitarian focus. Sixty percent of boomers believe that work in retirement should help the community, according to a 2005 survey by Princeton Research Associates. Boomers name education, health care, youth, arts and culture and the environment as issues to tackle. Women in their 50s are especially mission-driven, with 70 percent saying it is very important that a job in retirement "give you a sense of purpose."This is not news to us or our regular readers, but I just thought I'd mention it as a followup to my article on "paid volunteerism." - Bob

Paid Volunteerism -
An Oxymoron Whose Time Has Come

One of the main tenets of the "Platinum Years Network" is that the onslaught of boomers into their the so-called "retirement years" will have a huge impact on our culture. Many of us still have a lot to contribute, and a lot of us are a little short in our retirement funding. Both of these factors contribute to the statistic that I often repeat here, that over 80% of boomers do not plan to retire in the way our parents did, and many of us do not plan to ever retire in the traditional sense.

Now comes an article from Yahoo Finance via the New York Times that illustrates one of the first cultural changes brought about by boomers. Entitled "For Love and a Little Money," this article describes a rapidly growing trend toward "paid volunteerism" that I predict will snowball into a cultural norm. In many cases, such volunteers need some compensation to make up a retirement income shortfall, or perhaps build a war chest against the time when work will be…

Embrace Those Senior Moments
Studies Suggest They're A Sign of Wisdom

Many of my friends began joking about having "senior moments" a few years ago. I generally joked back that I've been having them since my teaching days, which allowed me to use the convenient "absent minded professor" excuse. But today, the New York Times website carried an article, "Older Brain May Be a Wiser Brain," that suggests that senior moments may actually be a sign of wisdom. This has to be wonderful news for all of us who sometimes walk into a room having forgotten why we made the trip, or my personal specialty, beginning a sentence and forgetting where I was going with it.

In fact, according to a new edition of a neurology book entitled "Progress in Brain Research," what actually happens to adults as they age is a "gradually widening focus of attention that makes it more difficult to latch onto just one fact." I think this is true of my mid-sentence blankouts, as I tend to talk too often in parentheticals (something …

How Much Do You Need to Retire?
It's a Moving Target

Last night marked the second segment in the Nightly Business Report Series, "Getting Your Finances Ready for Retirement." As promised, I am monitoring this series for you, and I was particularly interested in tonight's topic, "How Much Do You Need to Retire?"

This, of course, is the question on everyone's mind as they look ahead toward retirement. It is even the topic of one of our Platinum recommended books, The Number: A Completely Different Way to Think About the Rest of Your Life, by Lee Eisenberg. I'm pretty much of a skeptic when it comes to the obsession many people have toward their number. Why? Because it is such a moving target.

In tonight's show, Jonathan Pond, prominent financial planner and author of "You Can Do it," opined that in calculating your number, you should be able to maintain your lifestyle on about 65% of your work income. Following this, another financial planner, Patricia Houlihan, insisted that you really need 100…

Shocking News About Social Security Solvency!

“Reports that the Social Security system will soon run out of money
have been greatly exaggerated.”So begins an amazing article from the Yahoo Finance Retirement pages. I say “amazing” because it contradicts what has become conventional wisdom about social security. I was lucky to find this analysis by Dr. Irwin Kellner, chief economist for and Capital One Bank. It is dated April 19th on Yahoo Finance, and supposedly came from, although I cannot find the original there.

I am always interested when I read a credible analysis that goes against conventional wisdom. It reminds me of Galileo daring to venture that the earth might not be the center of the universe, or more currently, almost any scientist who dares to risk his or her job by even questioning the popular global warming dogma … but I digress.

The conventional wisdom that Dr. Kellner is challenging is, of course, that social security is “running out of money,” and “will be broke by… (fill in the…

A New NBR Series
Getting Your Finances Ready for Retirement

The only TV Show that I can honestly say I never miss is "Nightly Business Report" on PBS. My DVR is set to record it when it comes on every weekday evening at 6:30 PM. It is a great resource for my business, as it very ably summarizes the day's activity in the financial markets, and elaborates on "what went up and why." And even when each day's show is winding down, I usually leave it on until the Grandfatherly cohost Paul Kangas closes with his trademark double entendre, "wishing all of you the best of goodbyes."

On Monday night, NBR kicked off what they say is going to be a year long series for Boomers preparing for retirement. The series is cosponsored by U.S. News & World Report and is called "Getting Your Finances Ready for Retirement." It began on Monday's show with a segment called "Your Retirement Lifestyle." These segments will run weekly, so I suspect that I'll be sharing with you when there's a t…

How Long Will You Live? Just Click Here!

I just came across a short blog article on the Seattle PI web site that it turns out was written by one of our Platinum recommended bloggers, Rita Robison. I recommended Rita's blog, The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide, in an article on March 19th.

The title of Rita's article was "I'm going to live to be 97. How about you?" You can probably see how that caught my attention. Rita has found a website with a very neat "life expectancy calculator" that asks you a series of questions as it calculates your life expectancy.

One of the neat things about it is that it does these calculations as you go along, so even if the ultimate estimate is not accurate (it seems a little generous to me), it's very instructive to go through the exercise. There's nothing like watching your life expectancy drop as you move the slider down to "light exercise" from "moderate exercise," or admit to higher stress levels, how much alcohol you drink, et…

Is “Retirement” becoming a Dirty Word?

If you’ve been around here for very long, you know that I’d just as soon retire the word “retirement” from the dictionary, even though we haven’t really come up with an acceptable substitute yet. But make no mistake about it, we are witnessing a cultural phenomenon that is rapidly changing the way we view the final 1/3 of our lives. Today’s piece of evidence is blog article from Contemporary Retirement called “Has retirement become a dirty word?” which in turn refers to a New York Times article, “Whatever You Do, Call It Work.” Both the blog article and the Times piece relate how uncomfortable many people already are at referring to themselves as “retired.”

In the past, it was fairly normal for such changes to take a generation or so, with holders of the old ideas literally having to die off in order for the new to take hold. Our attitudes towards such things as smoking and alcohol consumption, sexual mores, political ideas, etc. take years to work their way through the culture. Bu…

When Will I Get My Stimulus Check?

Having been through, um, "several" business cycles over my 40 years in the securities business, I can tell you that the rule of thumb is that by the time Congress does anything about a recession, the economy is already rebounding and the help comes too late. Occasionally, the help has come so late that, if anything, it probably has contributed to subsequent rounds of inflation and overheating.

I have to say, though, that this time seems different. Congress acted pretty swiftly (could the fact that this is an election year have had anything to do with that?), the President signed just as speedily, and direct deposit payments began going out this past week. They will continue through May 16, and the first cycle of paper checks will be mailed starting May 9.

The IRS will continue to issue the payments of up to $600 ($1,200 for married couples) plus $300 for eligible children younger than 17, through July 11, for all those that filed their taxes by April 15. If you are not a d…