Senior park pass price to increase on August 28, 2017

Do you enjoy visiting national parks like I do?  If you are 62 or over and don’t have a senior park pass yet, now is the time, even if you don’t know if you’ll use it any time soon.  The price is going up from $10 to $80 on August 28!  Too bad I’m not 62 yet!senior park pass

From the National Park Service Website:

Senior Pass

Retirement decisions

retirement decisions

Getting the most out of your retirement dollars

by Larry Hungerford, Winston-Salem Journal

July 1, 2017

“Given that so many baby boomers are retiring as they age into their 60s, I thought that a column that provides some basic ‘money tips’ for them might be appropriate. Certainly, it is a huge adjustment to give up that regular paycheck to live off of Social Security, pensions and savings.

Of course, the best of all possible scenarios is to retire from a full-time job to work part time doing something enjoyable. It means you don’t need to deplete your savings as rapidly and you still have the opportunity to fund (up to $6,500 per year per person) your and your spouse’s Roth IRAs. (As of last April, 19 percent of Americans age 65 and over were still working, the highest rate since 1962.)

When I discuss the retirement decision with clients, there are always two key questions.

The obvious one is how much income will they have available to maintain their preferred lifestyle? The second question is: Do they still enjoy going to work every day?

If they are in their mid-60s and dislike their jobs, then I argue that we need to do everything possible to make the numbers work so they can retire. It may even mean taking Social Security early — giving up the yearly 8 percent raise (plus cost of living adjustments) as well as scaling back on planned expenditures after they retire. (The usual best strategy for Social Security is to draw on your spouse’s account while you permit yours to keep increasing until age 70.)

The amount of money retirees can withdraw from their savings and the way that is done to pay the lowest taxes possible are the two most crucial financial decisions they must make. Given how little safer investments pay (money markets, CD’s, government bonds, etc.), investing during retirement in the stock market is a must.”

Read more

Contact Larry Hungerford, age 81, at 335-941-3164 or e-mail him at

Are you going broke in retirement?

going broke

Three best ways to go broke in retirement

by Robert Laura,

June 28, 2017

“Nobody heads into retirement with aspirations of filing bankruptcy, becoming dependent on family and friends, or asking ‘why me.’  Unfortunately, some people end up in the poor house for a number of reasons.

One of the fastest ways to go broke in retirement is from medical bills.  I learned this several years ago when I was an approved bankruptcy counselor.  Basically, there was a requirement in my home state that anyone filing bankruptcy had to take a financial management course.

I set up my program with the expectation of being a light for young people who had made some bad financial decisions.  However, I was horrified when my primary audience turned out to be retirees who couldn’t afford their medical bills.  They were not only in bad physical shape, but no amount of financial counseling and budgeting would have or could have changed what happened to them.

In fact, A 2015 Harvard University study showed that medical expenses account for approximately 62% of personal bankruptcies in the US. To make matters worse, studies indicate that seniors are the fastest growing demographic in bankruptcy filings and a whopping 72% of those who filed due to medical expenses had some type of health insurance.

That makes it more important than ever for people approaching retirement to avoid putting off or delaying their plans to start eating better, establishing that exercise routine, and dropping a bad habit.”

Read about two more ways of going broke in retirement

Social Security for exes

Social Security for Exes
Social Security Admin. Poster, 1956

Social Security’s Legacy to Ex-Wives, Kids

By Kim Blanton,

June 13, 2017

“Many women are fuzzy on how Social Security benefits for widows work and even more unclear about the program’s spousal benefits.

I know two of these women. Their situations nicely illustrate how this federal program promotes the well-being of older women and families.

One is my divorced aunt. She was surprised to learn, after my uncle died a few years ago, that her widow’s – or survivor’s – benefit, based on his decades of work as a housing developer, would be double the spousal benefit she’d received while he was alive. Divorced spouses are eligible for the same spousal and survivor’s benefits as still-married spouses, though only if the marriage lasted more than 10 years.”

Read more about Social Security for exes


Supporting your grown children financially?

supporting grown children

Are you putting your retirement at risk by supporting grown children?

By Michelle Singletary, The Washington Post

June 5, 2017

“As the parent of three children — and two college students — I understand that many parents feel responsible to come to the rescue when their grown kids face tough financial times.

Your daughter graduated with a lot of student loans, so you might be inclined to offer to pay some or all of her monthly payments for a while. Your son’s car breaks down so you dip into your savings to help him fix it so he can get to his job.

Or maybe your adult child is just trifling with money. But rather than see him or her go without, you still step in with a bailout.

Recent findings from a Wells Fargo/Gallup survey found that a third of investors are helping an adult child, parent or both. What concerns me is that 61 percent of those who provide financial assistance said their support is affecting their retirement savings.”

Starting the conversation

starting the conversationHow to talk about care options with aging parents

By Cathy Molitoris, Lancaster Online

May 23, 2017

“You know the time has come. Maybe Mom is having difficulty navigating the stairs, or Dad is unable to keep track of his medication easily. It’s time to have The Talk. It’s time to discuss care options for your aging parents.

Adult children may find it difficult to bring up the subject of in-home help with their parents, or suggest the idea of moving to a care facility, but it’s important, says Ray Landis, advocacy manager of AARP in Harrisburg.

There are many signs it’s time to have this talk, he says.

‘Mobility is really the key factor for older people in maintaining their independence,’ he notes. ‘One of the biggest things that adult children of older individuals should be looking for is any problem with mobility.’

For example, are your parents having difficulty going up and down the steps? Have they slipped and fallen?

‘Do an evaluation of where they’re living,” Landis says. “Are there hand grips in the shower or bath?’

Lynn McCabe, information and referral supervisor for the Lancaster County Office of Aging, says increased difficulty in managing activities of daily living — from bathing and dressing, to paying bills, cooking or doing laundry — should be a sign that it’s time to talk about options.”

When it’s time to have the talk, McCabe says unless there’s an immediate crisis, the subject should be approached carefully, respectfully and in gradual increments.

Read more for detailed information on starting the conversation

Considering an annuity for your portfolio?

annuitiesAnnuities are complex investments. Here are 10 questions to ask to protect yourself.

Consider who is selling to you and how they are compensated

By Wendi Strom, The Denver Post

May 28, 2017

“Annuities can be complex and at times are aggressively sold. As a result, many buyers may sign on the dotted line before truly understanding what they are getting into. Since they also can come with hefty price tags and restrictions on withdrawals, knowledge is power. It’s important to arm yourself with the right questions to ask if you’re considering an annuity purchase.

With the help of the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (which has an informational page on annuities at, I’ve created a list. Though it’s not exhaustive, it will give you a good start of things to consider and questions to ask any financial professional recommending an annuity purchase:

  • Who is selling this annuity to you, how did you find this person and what do you know about them?
  • What are the fees you’ll be paying?
  • If you decide you need some of this invested money back in the next couple years, how much can you get without paying an additional fee?
  • What are the risks?
  • What kind of protection, if any is provided to you in this product? And if so, how much are you paying for that protection?

…If used correctly, annuities can be a meaningful component to a broader financial plan. Though they are not the easiest investment to understand, they may fill an important void. You owe it to yourself to understand the features of the product, take the steps to identify if you truly need this in your financial picture, and more importantly be aware of the potential pitfalls so you can protect yourself today and in the years to come.”

Read the entire article about annuities

Wendi Strom is a certified financial planner at Lotus Financial Partners in Denver.  A lifelong champion for women’s financial security, she serves as the president of the Financial Planning Association of Colorado. 

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