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Showing posts from June, 2008

What Have You Done Lately to Pursue Your Dreams?

I don't generally watch shows like American Idol, and I don't like opera very much, but I love seeing someone pursue their dreams, and I love it even more when they achieve them. So when I came across this video of 36 year old British mobile phone salesman Paul Potts' appearance on the "Britain's Got Talent" TV Show, I was mesmerized.

This clip is a little over a year old, so I apologize if this is old news to you. And Paul is not a boomer, either, although he is the type of underdog character that almost everyone loves to root for. You can easily see by the reaction of the judges, when Paul tells them what he's going to do, that their expectations are VERY low.

But then, a miracle happens. Paul begins to sing, the audience is transfixed, then moved to tears, and the audience erupts by the time he's finished. If you love the underdog as much as I do, you'll be fighting back tears. And no doubt you'll also want to see how it all turns out i…

It's Unwise to Compare - But It's Human Nature

One of my former mentors was fond of using that expression - "It's unwise to compare." And I believe that using it as a guideline has helped me retain a positive perspective and outlook. Because within me, and probably all of us, is a nagging feeling that someone is doing better than I am, someone is getting an advantage, someone is luckier, etc.

The examples above are all examples of "comparing up," that is, comparing ourselves to someone doing better than we are. And this common human trait contains within it the seeds of jealousy and envy, the drive to "keep up with the Joneses" in the pursuit of material wealth, and the uneasy feeling that "the grass is always greener in the other fellow's yard." There is even a common phenomenon called "schadenfreude," a German expression meaning "happiness about the misfortune of others." Why else would shows like Cops or Jerry Springer be so popular, or why would we enjoy wat…

I Don't Have a Care in the World
(And Neither Do Most of You!)

I've been thinking about death today. Not by choice. It was placed in front of me. Twice. And I've found that when that sort of thing happens, it's best to pay attention. So I wanted to write down some thoughts and share them with you.

I generally really enjoy Saturdays, but today got started on the wrong foot. I had to set the alarm to get up early for an appointment, but as it turns out, the other person didn't show up. And then other impediments kept popping up which seemed to be conspiring to keep me from accomplishing ANYTHING on my Saturday "to do" list, so by noontime, I was in full "annoyance mode."

And then I got the news of the death of a man with whom I had just started to do some business. I can't say we were friends or anything, but in our few business dealings, I liked and admired him. He was about 50 years old, and had been in perfect health until about six weeks ago, when he started to experience some symptoms of fatigue an…

"Number Schmumber"
Here's Why I Don't Like Retirement Numbers

My regular readers may recognize that "Number, Schmumber" phrase in today's title, because I've mentioned before that there's a tentative chapter called "Number, Schmumber," in my book-in-process, Platinum Living. My feeling is that one's retirement "number" is a moving target at best, and coming up with one requires a lot of static assumptions at a time when retirement itself is becoming more and more of a dynamic proposition.

To underscore my skepticism, here's a link to a June 9th article from Yahoo Finance entitled, "Is $1 Million Enough to Retire On?" I have recommended several Yahoo Finance articles in the past, but this is not one of them, except as an example of how narrow retirement thinking can get. Yep, this one really set off my "Retirement Hogwash Detector."

For example, the first heading has the scary title, "It's probably not enough," in bold, followed by a quote from the author, Michael F…

BoomerTowne Update - I'm Rich!

A while back, I reviewed the top ten Boomer web sites, and at the time, it turned out that my favorite happened to be PC Magazine's #1 rated site, BoomerTowne (see my review of April 19).

I can't say that I visit ANY of the others with any regularity, but BoomerTowne has stuck as a fun site to visit, play games and trivia contests, read jokes and quotes, etc. I used to play some of the games at Yahoo Games, but these are just as good, so now, when my brain is fried, I head to BoomerTowne games instead.

There was one other feature of BoomerTowne that intrigued me. They give BoomerTowne points for just about all the things you do there. Play a game? 10 Points. Rate a joke? 3 Points. Identify the song in the weekly contest? 100 points. They even give you 35 points for your first log in each day.

The reason that I'm bringing this up now is that I thought I'd see how long it took me to get to the threshold where the points had actual cash value. For me, that was a couple of d…

Four Legal Ways to Boost your Social Security Check

There’s an article in today’s Personal Finance section of Yahoo Finance called “Secret Ways to Boost Your Social Security,” so naturally, it caught my eye. The author, Mary Beth Franklin of Kiplinger.com, outlines four strategies that do just that. For you faithful Platinum Years readers, the first one will sound very familiar, since it involves paying back your social security to obtain a higher monthly benefit, a topic we covered in a series in February, most notably here, here, and here. Franklin does a good job explaining it, though, so it's a good refresher. There's also an interesting example of someone who took out a second mortgage to repay benefits and is using the increased payment to pay back the second mortgage.

There is also a clarification of the tax consequences of paying back your social security. If any of your social security benefits that you pay back were taxed along the way, you can get a refund, either through a tax deduction or a tax credit, whichever wor…

Retirement Hogwash

I saw an article tonight that reminded me of the reasons why I started Platinum years. It was on MarketWatch.com and was entitled, "How to Spot Retirement Hogwash." The article wasn't new, but it's basically about core principles that do not change. And it includes this warning from author Robert Powell about being careful to discern what we really want out of life:

"The retirement industry wants to define your retirement for you," said Nelson. "Instead of choosing a way to live, they want you to buy a lifestyle. Instead of reflecting on your values, they want you to value consuming the right investments, the right insurance, the right real estate, the right travel, the right retail goods and the right anti-aging products. Instead of discovering your identity, they want you to simply identify yourself as a consumer. They want images of products and services dancing in your head so that you make acquiring them the goal and the purpose of your retirement.…