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Showing posts from April, 2008

New Platinum Link - ReBootYou

It is both encouraging and discouraging that there are so many boomer blogs and websites. It's encouraging because you know there are needs out there and people are trying to fill them. But then it can be discouraging because there are so many "fluffy" blogs and websites, many of them loaded down with ads, filled with 60s reminiscences or anti-aging beauty tips. Now I have nothing against this sort of thing per se. It's just that I don't think that anybody on their deathbed is ever going to say, "I wish I had reminisced more," or "I wish I had found a better anti-aging cream."

Lest I seem too callous, let me remind you that last week, I recommended the irememberjfk site to you, and about a month ago linked you to a 60s video retrospective. I like that stuff, really I do. But I don't want to get "stuck in the past" as I get older, as so many older folks do. I want to keep pursuing my passions and checking things off my "…

New Platinum Links Posted
... and Why I Have a Website

As promised during last week's review of PC Magazine's top ten boomer websites, I have completely revamped and expanded the Platinum Links page on our website. It was long overdue and therefore a pretty big project, but it's done - or at least done enough to post... Is anything on a website ever really done? ... but I digress.

For you newcomers, let me explain the relationship between this blog and the website. This blog, like most blogs, is sort of a stream of consciousness flow of writing. Many articles represent fleeting thoughts that stand alone. But sometimes, you get on a topic, you think about it, you write an article, then maybe a part two. You get some comments, you write some more. Then when you have thoroughly beaten a topic to death, um, I mean, covered it exhaustively, it sits there in chronological pieces on your blog.

But if you really have covered a topic to a conclusion, you may want to massage it into something coherent for posterity. That, to me, is…

“Retirement is Not Biblical”

“Retirement is not biblical”

So said my Pastor and friend at Sunday service this morning. Actually, I must confess that he got that from me. He and I have discussed it several times over the years in terms of our own lives and futures. I don’t think it’s even controversial biblically. No one ever retired in biblical days, and God seemed to delight in calling people to great tasks at advanced ages – Moses and Abraham spring to mind immediately.

The context of this morning’s comment was in reference to a 79 year old mutual friend and mentor named Dow Robinson, with whom we just had contact. Dow maintains a schedule of teaching, learning and mentoring that could only be described as “whirlwind.” I’m not sure I could keep up with him, even though he is 18 years my senior. I remember the last time I was with him, I was relating my plans to start Platinum Years, and told the story of platinum wife Melanie always coming home from her job conducting sightseeing tours and telling me “we h…

Final Reviews of Top Ten Boomer Web Sites

Tonight I'll cover the last three of PC Magazine's top ten boomer web sites. I probably shouldn't have let myself cherry pick the list earlier in the week, because tonight I was left with the sites that interested me the least. But I slogged through, so that you, dear reader, won't have to.

Well, that's not exactly true, because the jury is still out on several of these sites. It's hard to tell in a quick visit, but one, and maybe two, of tonight's sites piqued my interest.

Let me start with an easy one. Easy for me anyway, because BoomerGirl is obviously a site for women. I looked around for a while, but in all honesty, I am incapable of evaluating it. There's lots of stuff there. I'll show it to the Platinum wife when she gets home from her current business trip, but she's not much for web sites and blogs (except of course for mine :-) So ladies, go for it. And let me know if you think it's worth recommending and why. One of you can…

Tonight's Reviews:
"Retired Brains" and "Boomer 411"

Tonight I visited two more sites in our continuing review of PC Magazine's top ten boomer websites I'll take the easiest first.

"Retired Brains" is a very helpful site - provided you are looking for another job. My impression is that this site is much more for people who NEED to keep working or want to avoid idleness, as opposed to say a site like www.encore.org, that is more geared to helping you give back to your community or pursue a passion. The expressed mission of "Retired Brains" is "Helping Older Workers Find Jobs." There are also links to general information about government programs, health issues, retirement planning, etc., that you may want to check out, but I won't be recommending it except for people who are actually in the job market.

Tonight's other site is "Boomer411," whose expressed goal is to "help people access Trusted and Relevant content related to baby boomers quickly." And they do a great j…

Review of "TeeBeeDee" and "I Remember JFK"

As promised, we're checking out the top ten boomer web sites this week. I already gave two thumbs up to BoomerTowne. Eons and AARP are already on my list. So tonight, I visited two new sites, "TeeBeeDee" (www.tbd.com) and "I Remember JFK" (www.irememberjfk.com)

TeeBeeDee, as they call themselves, stands for the letters TBD, as in "To Be Determined," which is an apt description of the rest of our lives. The description at PC Magazine led me to believe that it was more about finding a new career, something like www.encore.org, but it comes across as a pure social networking site.

To be sure, there are forums where you can discuss second careers, but this is one of about thirty discussion groups.

"I Remember JFK" is actually a blog, although the line between blog and website is pretty blurred by now. And I really didn't expect to like it, because there are so many "reminiscence blogs" written by boomers, but I can see why th…

Top Boomer Websites...
Let's Check These Out Together

Are you ready for some serious surfing? PC Magazine has just come out with a list of the top ten web sites for boomers. Actually, "just" is a relative word. It was actually about three weeks ago... I don't know how I missed it.

One of them, the AARP site, is already a "Platinum web site," and another, www.eons.com, is already a "Platinum Link" on our own website, www.platinumyears.net.

So what about the other eight? I have only gotten to check out one of them, BoomerTowne, which is a social networking, news, game, and resource site. It was number one on PC Magazine's list, and that's as far as I've gotten, since it mesmerized me for over two hours with games, jokes, news, articles, etc. In that respect, it is similar to eons.com, but BoomerTowne's menu choices and its "Main Street" layout seem easier. And BoomerTowne has something eons doesn't have.

For as long as you're navigating around BoomerTowne, you're…

Top Ten Boomer Myths Exposed (Part 2)

As promised yesterday, we continue the countdown of common myths about the Baby Boomer generation that were exposed in the AARP's Third Quarterly Boomer Report released on April 15th at www.aarp.org. The report, “How Well Do You Know Boomers? Counting Down the Top 10 Boomer Myths,” identified and investigated the top myths associated with Boomers in order to separate fact from fiction. My comments are in italics:

Myth #5 - Boomers are all wealthy

Collectively Boomers are the wealthiest generation in history, but only 9% are truly affluent (defined as having pre-tax incomes of $150,000 or more if working, or $100,000 or more if retired). In fact, one quarter of Boomers have no savings or investments at all. (It is for the other 91% that I created the Platinum Years Network... "Life planning for the rest of us.")

Myth #4 - Boomers are winding down with age

Actually, they are quite active, as the typical Boomer regularly participates in an average of 10 activities and the p…

Top Ten Boomer Myths Exposed

A number of common myths about the Baby Boomer generation were exposed in the third Quarterly Boomer Report released on April 15th at www.aarp.org. The report, “How Well Do You Know Boomers? Counting Down the Top 10 Boomer Myths,” identified and investigated the top myths associated with Boomers in order to separate fact from fiction.

“Boomers are redefining age and changing the way business is done” said Howard Byck, VP Corporate Development for AARP Services. “Contrary to many common assumptions, Boomers are making retirement obsolete, are very savvy about advertising, and are experimenting with new products.”

The report revealed ten myths to be untrue. Let's take #6-10 today (with my comments in italics):

Myth #10 - Boomers are retiring early

"Contrary to much of the attention given to the first Boomers turning 62 this year and being eligible to take Social Security benefits early. In reality very few Boomers are planning to stop working entirely when they reach retirement a…

Let's Move Election Day to April 15th!

I just filed my taxes... I was pretty early this year for me... 7:30 PM at the Providence, RI post office.

I've made it something of a tradition to go there on April 15th. I used to go later, around 11 PM, to see the live TV remotes, enjoy coffee from the free Dunkin Donuts coffee wagon, check out who's protesting what, etc. One year they had a three piece band, and on a few occasions, the postal employees would wear Uncle Sam costumes.

Lately though, it's been much more mundane. Maybe somebody was offended by the party atmosphere. It's so somber now.

Which led me to an idea. Let's get some taxpayer value out of this somber-ness. Let's move Election Day from November to the middle of April, maybe even April 15th. I'll bet we'd end up with a much leaner and meaner government. What do you think? :-) Bob

I Think Warren Buffett Would Like this Situation

Wednesday I blogged on the virtues of “benign neglect,” which is my cute way of saying that we should take a long term view of our investments. I used Warren Buffett as an example and closed with some appropriate quotes from him about investing for the long term. Now by definition, good long term opportunities don’t pop up every day, but one did so just this morning so I wanted to share it with you. I have to emphasize, in keeping with my general policy and disclaimer, that this is just an example to illustrate my point, and not an offer or a recommendation to purchase.

Just this morning, General Electric announced poor quarterly numbers, and lowered its guidance for fiscal 2008 by a few cents per share. The poor performance was partly the result of some subprime exposure, but according to CEO Jeff Immelt, “We could have done better in several areas.” The stock is being pounded today, especially because as recently as a month ago, Immelt was quite optimistic. Remember a point I’v…

Your Best Investment Posture? Benign Neglect

Many years ago, probably some time in the 1970s, I read one of those “How I Made a Million in the Market” books that changed the way I look at the stock market, very much for the better. To tell you the truth, the book wasn’t even very good, but its overall premise was compelling. It contained a lesson that is even more important today than it was 30 years ago.

It seems that the author, who had never done very well in the stock market, was a journalist who was sent to Indonesia on assignment for an extended period of time. As a result, he had very limited access to investment information, and could only communicate with his broker by cable on a quarterly basis. This forced him to take a macro, big picture view of economic conditions and, in the end, made him a much better investor, and eventually a millionaire.

For years, my business partner and I have joked about the truth behind this scenario, calling this market posture “benign neglect.” And I believe that this is the important …

New Platinum Link - WiseBread

A lot of blogs have blogrolls, links to blogs they read. Those can get really long, making it hard to check them all out. I don't think I’ve ever gotten through a whole blogroll, despite my good intentions. It’s just too easy to start “chasing rabbits,” but then again, that’s the fun of it. So I decided a while back that I won't blogroll individual blogs, though I often mention their specific articles, with links to that specific blog.

But you may notice over there ( --> ) in the right column that I do have a blogroll, called “Platinum Blogs,” with four links in it. What gives? Well, these are all blog compilations of various types.

The first is the blog carnival. I currently link to just one of these, the Carnival of Personal Finance, which includes about 80 articles per week, including articles from here about half the time. I have been looking around for other carnivals that may be worthwhile to get involved with.

Then there is the MultiContributor Blog, An exampl…

Go Ahead... Search My Blog!

Every so often, I get the urge to leave Blogger and move on to greener pastures. I wish it was easier to categorize blog articles, for example, as it is with some of the other hosts. The majority of the blogs I read regularly, in fact, seem to use other hosts.

But there are workarounds for most of Blogger’s deficiencies. And it does have some redeeming qualities, not the least of which is that it’s free. And Blogger continues to improve, even in the few months since I began blogging in earnest. I wonder if this has anything to do with the takeover by Google.

But there is one apparent advantage that may also be related to the Google connection. It is very easy to search a Blogger blog. I was only vaguely aware of this benefit until recently. It was up there in the Navigation bar, but who really looks at navigation bars? Then one day, I was trying to find one of my own articles where I used a certain phrase, and it wasn’t at all obvious from the title. So I typed the phrase int…

A Free Market Proposal for Medical Reform
– Part 2

“Perfect competition assumes standardized products and services, free entry and exit, and complete information.”

The above partial definition of perfect competition surely doesn’t fit the medical field very well. But there are some aspects of medicine that do fit the definition, and others that could be made to fit better. And that is the topic for today.

As I was thinking about this topic, I asked myself, “Why don’t I shop for medical goods and services like I do for other kinds of goods and services. There are basically two reasons. The first is that prices are practically invisible to me. The second is that even when they ARE visible, they often don’t effect how much I pay out of pocket. So here are my proposals. They are fairly simple steps that would improve competition. And they wouldn’t cost very much either.

First, providers of medical goods and services should be required to post prices. For services, some standardization of categories would be required. My dentist woul…

A Free Market Proposal for Medical Reform
– Part 1

In my last article, “Prescription Follies,” I concluded that we all should probably pay more attention to medical costs, as we are destined to be consuming more and more of the ”product” over the rest of our lives. I don’t see this as being in conflict with my policy of not boring friends and relatives with talks of our aches and pains. It’s just being a smart consumer.

And it’s not easy being a smart consumer of medical services. Not that there isn’t a lot of information out there, especially for internet-savvy types like you and me. But most of the information is about medical problems and the products available to remedy them. There is very little information about costs.

I should emphasize here that I’m writing this articleas a fellow consumer of medical services. I am surely no expert in medical matters... but I know a thing or two about economics and free markets. And I am a big believer in competition. Generally, the purer the competition is, the better and fairer the d…