Can A Frugal Retirement Be Enjoyable? Mine is

My choosing a frugal retirement is an enjoyable personal success. When you can’t ever see earning a 6 figure salary or having a million dollar portfolio you have to create a unique retirement solution. I chose to strategically make smart balanced adjustments and decrease our lifestyle cost which means less is needed in the bank to retire. Getting our lifestyle cost aligned with our portfolio amount where the retirement calculator said the numbers work became the goal. I’ve seen some frugal retirement naysayers, mostly from people who have never tried it. Now as I’ve already cleared a decade of early retirement I can say that my flavor of a frugal retirement lifestyle has exceeded expectations. 

Can A Frugal Retirement Be Enjoyable? Mine is

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Choosing A Frugal Retirement, What’s Not To Enjoy?

Why I looked for a workable employment liberation answer –

Retirement is constrained by how much money we have. All the talk about being able to replace 80% of our pre-retirement salary for a comfortable retirement is a tall task and I think I’ve proven that notion wrong. For many households including ours, it’s really tough to save a million dollars or more for retirement. With all I had experienced in my tech career that required a relocation, endless cycles of layoffs, reorganizations, etc., my having to survive working into my 60s or later was something I couldn’t stomach as acceptable or even viable. In 1998 at age 40 I decided that I wanted to explore early retirement options and began my 10 year early retirement plan. 

We didn’t let the million dollar portfolio barrier deter us from early retirement. That’s when frugality became the solution. But it had to be done right or not at all. If it was a joyless existence of austerity it wouldn’t be worth it. While some choose extreme frugal practices, ours was uniquely measured to fit us. 

The Fun Stuff – 

I want to clear the air up front and get past notions of a frugal retirement as sitting in a small apartment or RV with a TV as the only entertainment. While some may call that heaven, that isn’t at all close to our retirement lifestyle. We stayed in our 2 story home close to our daughter’s families and have what we call a frugal budget. It not only covers all of our living expenses, but includes our hobbies, entertainment, and much more.

Travel- 

We travel as much as we want to. Other than a Hawaiian vacation bought through Costco Travel a couple of years ago, we usually prefer budget friendly road trips. We have our go-to destinations of the Black Hills SD and southern California where we hunt for and lock-in great lodging deals ahead of time. We also travel yearly to places where we enjoy visiting and staying with extended family. All on a yearly travel budget of $3,500. If we over do something and go over one season we adjust down the next, make other budgeted adjustments, or accept any slight overrun for the year.  

Holidays-

We enjoy making the holidays merry just like anyone else. With grandkids there’s always something going on from Halloween to New Years. We have a $1,500 holiday budget that covers family outings, celebrations, and gifts. 

Dining Out-

We dine out on occasion but we aren’t hooked on going out to eat a lot. In fact, by the time we return from a vacation we get pretty tired of restaurant dining. We do dine out for special occasions and typically try to use a promotional discount or coupon of some kind. I happily admit to useing our advancing age to our advantage and get senior discounts when available. Dining out comes out of my misc budget which also covers other random household, automotive, unplanned but expected non-fixed monthly spending. 

Activities-

When you look you find all kinds of free activities and events. The only cost is getting there and what you spend once you are there. Food trucks and beer vendors are always around. We go with a $40 cash budget in mind for events and it comes out of my misc budget. It’s always easy to stick to. We typically go to events to enjoy the venue, not load up on expensive food or drink. We have a habit of going with a beverage in hand to start things off and have already eaten a meal. I do love a good draft beer and that is always a budget challenger while attending events. 

Coffee Shop-

Every frugal person goes on about ditching the lattes. I do enjoy a good cup of drip coffee or an Americano and frequent an independent coffee shop in my town. It also serves as my daily social outlet. I have gotten to know many people in my town there and have been able to greatly expand my social circle beyond what had only included work peers before retirement. I have a $40 a week petty cash, aka pocket money allowance in the budget that covers this and everything else that’s a small random purchase during the week. 

Movies and TV Entertainment-

We cut the cord years ago and not sending that bill in every month still puts a grin on my face. I installed an attic type antena and used the existing coax cables running through the house to hook up our TVs on every floor that had cable before. Between over the air and online streaming with a Roku or Chromecast dongle we get all the programming we want. For movies we checkout free DVDs from our local library or use a standard $13 a month Netflix.  

Hobbies-

We do have hobbies in retirement. My biggest is an automotive hobby. Although that can be expensive if buying cars, my oldie has been with me since 1993. The hobby cost comes from the events I attend. Like other events, I set a cash budget. Any out of town events are aligned with planned vacations. Car maintenance comes out of my monthly misc budget. I did have a 21 year old Corvette that I gave up this year for a fun but rationally more practical all-season any weather or road condition convertible Wrangler. The difference between the two in the purchase amount was outside our 2020 budget and will be listed as a one time charge off. I had just survived a serious health scare and was ready for a change. It was also about a 45 year bucket list item I wanted to scratch off and it only happened because we had the extra funds to do it. Our frugal retirement allows for the occasional splurge.

Cell Service-

I see people spending way too much for their cell plans. I still use an old $100 a year pay as you go flip phone plan that I never use up all my prepaid account balance. One that brings a laugh from people around me every time I take a call. My wife uses an iPhone on a $10 low cost cell and data plan. We can live frugally and still stay connected to the world as much as we want to. 

Day to Day Lifestyle Cost and Spending-

What we did was push against our frugality threshold. When we went too far we backed off. The idea was to cut costs that didn’t have real happiness values and do so without feeling deprived. As opportunities to improve our frugality came we took them. There are many frugal living decisions we can make. There are just as many frugal living tips to put into practice. We embrace purposeful spending. Seldom is anything bought on whim without thinking first about whether we really need it, getting it will add something positive to our lifestyle, or if we decide to get it, getting it for a better price. We also won’t just settle for cheap. A needed quality product that may cost a little more but will last and do what it is supposed to do is what we target. 

Our 2020 Retirement Budget Numbers

We do not live in a low cost area of the US and live in the house we raised our 3 kids in. The last report I found of the median household income where I live is $121,000 and it’s most likely higher than that today. As almost everywhere else, based on the cars I see in the driveways and the cost of some of the housing around here, most people are living paycheck to paycheck. Here’s a peek at our retirement lifestyle budget figures for 2020. It’s based on the previous year and adjusted when necessary like once we see actual property tax assessments, insurance increases, etc. This should give an idea of what our definition of a frugal retirement that’s sustainable, enjoyable, and that works for us: 

  • Utilities: Water/Sewer/Power/Natural Gas/DSL/Cell/Netflix – $3,500
  • Insurance: HomeOwners/Umbrella/Autos – $4,400
  • Home Property Tax – $2,800
  • Healthcare Insurance: Medical/Dental –  $15,990
  • Out of Pocket Healthcare/Predeductible) – $4,000 max
  • Petty/Pocket Cash – $1,960
  • Misc: Repairs/Maintenance/Dining/Purchases/Gas/etc. – $9,000
  • Grocery/Toiletries/Cleaning Supplies/etc.- $10,400
  • Travel – $3,500
  • Holidays/Christmas – $1,500
  • Federal/State Income Taxes – $3,500

Total yearly budget $60,550

Will we be on budget for 2020? 

We will come in under budget this year. We are not traveling during the pandemic nor having family celebrations as normal. Events have all been a no go. Some things at the grocery store cost more but other expenses have all but disappeared. Just because we have a budget doesn’t mean we have to push against it. Hoping 2021 is a little closer to normal.

Are you thinking that our retirement budget isn’t very frugal?

There are plenty of frugal living stories of those living an enjoyable life spending less than we do. I love reading about what other people do and get great ideas but I don’t compete in frugality games. Here’s why I feel confident about considering our retirement lifestyle as frugal.

  • Our retirement lifestyle budget is just under 50% of our town’s median household income. We get to live here and enjoy all that it offers at a discounted price.
  • That 2020 budget figure comes in at 42% of our actual, not inflation adjusted 2009 household joint tax return AGI. That AGI was eleven years ago when I retired. Sure beats that 80% pre-retirement salary recommendation some experts throw around. 
  • Our yearly budget is the equivalent of us both earning $15 an hour at a full time job. An amount recommended as a dignified minimum wage.
  • When looking at the budget breakdown, our living expenses are fairly low at nearly $40K if it weren’t for ridiculously high healthcare costs. Health insurance and its associated out of pocket represents a full third of the total budget. In 3 years we will see a big part of that cost decrease when we are Medicare eligible. That along with my eventual Social Security that will also reduce our IRA withdrawals, lowering our taxable income for less income taxes.

Frugality Is Personal, Make Sure You Can Enjoy Yourself

We have been more frugal in the past when we needed to be and we still make adjustments to stay in our frugal living sweet spot. Our frugality isn’t defined by anyone else’s definition of frugal living. It’s based on what makes sense to us while still meeting our financial sustainability goals. All of this became the model for our frugal retirement lifestyle. What’s not to enjoy about that? 

I won’t nor can tell anyone what they should cut to live a sustainable and enjoyable frugal lifestyle. That has to be figured out by each individual and their unique circumstances. Everyone’s frugality threshold is different. Living a life feeling deprived is not an enjoyable way to live if you can do something about it. 

I want to give a shout out and a thanks to Feedspot’s top 10 frugal retirement sites that rated Leisure Freak at number five for 2020. Check out their list if you want to find sites that can provide ideas for successfully living your own frugal retirement lifestyle. 


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Six Tips for Pursuing Homesteading in Retirement

Homesteading in retirement

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Homesteading makes an excellent hobby, no matter your age. But for retirees, it offers a perfect opportunity to slow down, connect with friends and family, and enjoy a sprawling property instead of spending your golden years in a stuffy condo. Here are six tips you need to know to make the most of your homesteading experience.

   1. Plan Early (And Revisit Often)

Knowing where you want to be in five years is essential no matter your age. But when you’re approaching retirement, it’s even more crucial. Planning for your homestead years in advance is a smart way to approach this significant life change.

Of course, a conventional retirement at age 67 (or older) may not be for you – and that’s understandable. For advice on retiring early, visit Leisure Freak for expert opinions and perspective. You might find that your dream of retiring to a homestead in your younger years is more realistic than you expected.

   2. Choose the Right Size Home

Downsizing is a common trend among seniors these days. But that doesn’t mean you have to follow the crowd. Many retirees are also “rightsizing,” a housing trend where they choose the property type and size that’s right for their future.

With homesteading, ensuring you have room for your hobbies and passions is more important than a square footage measurement. Selecting an amount of acreage involves knowing what you plan to grow (or raise), too. Estimates range from three acres to 13 or more – all depending on the type of animals, crops, and house you want.

   3. Know Your Home Loans

Perhaps you’ll be cashing out retirement or pension money to land your ideal homestead. If not, you’ll need to determine how much of a payment you can afford and the available mortgage options.

For example, choosing a conventional mortgage means low costs and variable down payment options. Referencing PennyMac current rates can give you an idea of your loan’s cost, whether it’s adjustable- or fixed-rate.

   4. Recognize Your Limits

Your budget may be one limit, but your personal preferences and physical capabilities can also be a help or hindrance. You want a home you can afford, but you may not want a property that needs a lot of work.

Knowing when to enlist help with moving house is another instance when recognizing your limits is vital. Injuring yourself while moving is totally avoidable – though many retirees are reluctant to hire help. On a homestead, there may also be tasks you can’t DIY, and planning for those instances is prudent.

   5. Adjust Your Vision

When you imagine homesteading, you might picture a rustic property complete with a barn and free-range chickens. But homesteading is (and looks) different for everyone, so learning how to start depends on a variety of factors. You can even homestead while living in a city – so it’s not all about location.

Think about what you hope to accomplish while homesteading. Greater financial and economic independence may be a priority. Or time – and space – to spread out with the grandkids might top your list of must-haves.

   6. Prepare Your Finances

Financial planning is essential whether you’re aiming for retirement or a working homestead. But some financials will change once you move to your new property.

For example, as Smart Asset explains, you may qualify for a homestead tax exemption when filing your taxes. Additional deductions may apply, too, especially if you’re growing or making commercial products.

 

 Homesteading as a retiree is much different than starting out with a young family or as a single person. Fortunately, there are just as many benefits as there are drawbacks – as long as you know what to expect. With these tips, you can better prepare for the adventure before heading out.

 

This informative article was contributed for Leisure Freak readers by Bob Shannon

Bob Shannon created SeniorsMeet along with his wife, Mary. Their goal is to create an online meeting place for seniors like themselves who thrive in the community. The site offers information and resources that are helpful to seniors as well as ways to keep in touch.

 


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Common Anti-FIRE Mindset Trap: It’s Harder Now Than Eras Before

Do I owe my early retirement success to the era I was in? This might be a touchy subject. There are certainly unprecedented events that we’re dealing with today that are very challenging. But I’m going there anyway. Putting the pandemic aside, if you still have your career intact is it harder now than it was in earlier decades to reach FIRE? Does believing that it’s harder now become an anti-FIRE mindset trap holding people back? I bring this up because of a recent reader’s comment to one of my FIRE journey posts stating that my lifestyle and path to FIRE is outdated, the result of luck and the era I was handed. 

I do get where they are coming from. There were many times when I felt the same way when I was younger and financially struggling to get ahead. I saw earlier generations and believed they caught all the breaks. Better benefits, higher pay scales in newly tiered pay systems, etc. It’s natural to go negative when things are difficult. There are certainly a lot of outside influences and changing dynamics that can hold us back. When experiencing setbacks, immediately faulting ourselves for our own decisions and actions isn’t the first diagnosis we enjoy coming to. When it comes to personal finance FIRE goals, the issue with having a then vs. now era thinking is it’s always an apples to oranges comparison. It offers no help, only excuses that won’t improve our situation.

Although things are different over time and eras, what remains common is the financial discipline needed to reach FIRE. 

That said, I wanted to take a snapshot to crunch some numbers during my financial journey to early retirement to get a feel for then vs. now. Just a simple attempt to quantify some of the differences and challenges. Also pose the question: Do other’s FIRE success stories and their efforts taken to get there have any merit or should their FIRE journey during a past era get all the credit?

Common Anti-FIRE Mindset Trap: It’s Harder Now Than It Was Before

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Are Generational Era Comparisons Valid Or Just An Anti- FIRE Mindset Trap?

My oldest daughter just turned 37 and after our lovely socially distanced backyard get-together I was triggered to consider this topic. Like most people today, she and her family have financial challenges. Especially now in a world full of uncertainty during the Coronavirus pandemic. I began to think where I was on my 37th birthday. A time as a father of three where I was struggling to make ends meet, three years before I contemplated what is known as FIRE today. It was 1995 and even back then the world chose winners and losers where life was turned upside down with uncertainty. It also marks a time in my life that brought many work and financial decisions. Hardly being handed a “then” lucky era of benefits. 

Work and Career

I was near my 17th year of a telecom career at a regional Bell Operating company in 1995 at the age of 37. My employer had a 14 state footprint in the west and midwest. It took me 13 years to climb the ranks from service representative to top level technician. Reaching this technical milestone was a long-time goal from the moment I started working there. I took a lot of evening college classes, correspondence courses, and company qualification testing over the years. Finally reaching a place where I loved my job, the work, and especially its good pay scale. 

I was only a few years into my dream job when in 1995 my company decided to go through mass centralization. Instead of having organizational presence in every state, they would be centralized in 2 locations. I was in Salt Lake City UT, now my job was moving to Denver CO. Because of seniority issues and how the centralization employment matters were worked out I either had to follow my job which meant moving my family from our home where all our extended family and support system was, drop to a lower paid non-technical position if one opened up, or face lay off. At that time good paying jobs were scarce in Salt Lake City.

I was not a fan of Denver. Neither were many people impacted from non-Colorado states. Many employees decided not to follow their jobs. That low acceptance rate created promotion opportunities and I was instead offered an engineer position to relocate. We reluctantly accepted given the job uncertainty of staying in our home. I spent my 37th birthday alone like many days and months that year in our near empty Colorado house while my family stayed behind in Salt Lake City until the end of our kid’s school year. 

An era handed benefit? I would disagree. 

It was a risky and life altering decision. Would I do it again if I went back in time and know what I know now. Not a chance. However, it did work out financially as far as my early retirement goes. My younger sister who also worked at the company chose not to follow her mid-level position and instead stayed in Salt Lake City. She ended up in a clerical position and was stuck at that lower paying level for the remaining 15 years of her career. That ultimately resulted in far less for her retirement. The era was not overly kind to her to overcome her decisions. Our decisions and actions during challenging times will impact outcomes.

The era money side comparison of this decision- 

I did some 1995 to 2020 money value conversions to show if I received any better era provided benefits. 

In 1995 after a decade plus slow slog to becoming a happy technician in Salt Lake City I was making $36,000 a year. That converts to $61,205 in 2020 dollars. A great salary in Salt Lake City, not as good in higher cost of living Denver. I was given a salary increase around 10% for accepting the engineering position to $40,000 which equates to $67,663 in today’s dollars. I would have most likely only landed a mid-range non-technical lower salaried position of around $28,000 ($47,364 today) had I not followed my job. These numbers are either seen as great numbers, mediocre, or bad. It’s all subjective to where you live, how you live, and what you do for a living. It does provide a snapshot of career and financial decisions from a past era. 

Then vs Now Housing Numbers

We never considered renting in 1995 after relocating. We had spent 17 years in our first starter home located in a less desirable part of Salt Lake City. It was 980 square feet and I had finished the basement to double that living space over the years. We sold our Salt Lake City home in 1995 for $85,000 which converts to $143,784 today. We bought our nearly same sized Colorado home for $157,000 which when 2020 dollar converted is $265,578. 

I never bought our homes as investments but more a hedge against inflation.

For the first years of our home ownership the house payment ate an entire paycheck. As time goes and pay increases the house payment remains nearly the same while hopefully income increases. Rent over those years certainly did go up. However, both homes did appreciate as an investment and appraise today for more than the 2020 converted dollars calculated above. 

Era handed benefits? I not only paid more for a house, but the biggest hit came in monthly payments.

Our inflation hedged home in Salt Lake City was $321 a month or $543 in today’s dollars. Compare that to our Colorado home’s $1,180 payment which converts to $1,996 in 2020 dollars. That and other higher living costs ate a big chunk of my 10% increased salary. I was once again where my house payment took an entire paycheck.

We had an 8% FHA loan that we began in 1978 in Salt Lake City. New mortgage interest rates were even higher in 1995. We used some of our home sales money to buy down points to get the Colorado loan at 8% too. That’s where apples and oranges come in. Houses do cost more today. As mentioned, my own home is valued higher than straight dollar conversions. But payment wise things are more aligned with today’s era. 

Today’s Interest Rate Smoothes Some Era Housing Differences

My youngest daughter spent the pandemic lockdown with her daughter and 2 dogs in a 2 bedroom rented townhome at $2,100 a month. Once the lockdown lifted she took advantage of the 30 year <3% mortgage loan rates and just bought a home for $383,000. Her payment is $2,200 which includes tax/insurance/PMI. Nearly equal to what she was paying in rent. But it also tracks fairly close with my converted 1995 era monthly house payment amount of $1,996. Even her salary tracks closely to my 1995 to 2020 dollar converted engineer salary. 

Yes, one can say that I benefited from a slight era advantage in housing of around $200 a month. And that doesn’t include any of her cost to handle any repairs. Hardly enough to support the it was easier then than now anti-FIRE mindset trap unless we go down the higher loan payoff numbers. But what I see is that in this era, my daughter hopefully has an appreciating asset for about what she paid in rent. With keeping nearly the same monthly housing cost she also has the opportunity to continue saving and investing for the future.

This Era’s Advantages – Now vs Then

All I wanted to do when I started what turned into a 31 year telecom career was to get a job as a technician working alone high up on telephone poles. It never happened, I still ended up a tech but on the software side of things. I started as an entry level service representative answering phones and before I knew it, as opportunities for advancement opened up, I realized the importance of a 30 year pension and retirement health benefits. A definite benefit of the era I was in. But even a lot of that disappeared because I was on the tail end of that era. It became more and more age and service restricted with every executive change. What was first promised and a key point for sticking it out was diminished over the years. The rules and reasons for decisions changed.

Those who started in the era just before me had all the guarantees and protections. I did think that they caught all the breaks but didn’t let it hold me back. It required adjusting my plans within the confines of what my era provided and do what I could to meet my financial goals. I see many opportunities in this current era, not less. But they are only opportunities if taken.

Disappearing Retirement Benefits- Healthcare

The hardest thing I ever did in my life was force myself to stay at my company over 3 decades just to get promised retirement benefits. I put up with a lot to keep going after so many years invested. Later when new hires were paid more than us we were constantly reminded that our pay was lower because of that benefit. In the end they either diminished or they ended them. It was definitely a golden handcuffs situation and the company knew it. There was a lot of dirty corporate crap pulled on people of my era. 

I retired early at the age of 51 in 2009. I depended on getting retirement health insurance so that I could finally do my thing. There was no Obamacare-ACA then. Now one could carefully structure their retirement portfolio to produce income below the ACA income thresholds and get affordable health insurance. Seems like a benefit of this “now” era as long as ACA supporting people continue to get voted into office. I am still allowed to buy into my ex-employer’s health plan. For the year 2020 retirement health benefit I pay $1,334 a month.  

The all and powerful Internet

In 1995 as I reported to work at my relocation work cubicle I saw what was to be the internet for the first time. But it was the Intranet then. All within our own servers. Even if you wanted to go outside into the big www world there was mostly only porn. 1995 was a time when it was the only business model making money with it. Although one could access the internet from home, 1995 was still a slow going dial-up modem era with limited content available.

Centralization and relocation is far more limited now with the internet.

Sure, corporate headquarters will still move and force employee relocation. But I know that my job could have been done remotely. Some of my peers were even allowed to remote report before I retired and most do today within that same organization. Even if stung with the same relocation circumstances today, the internet would make finding a new job easier if I had decided to stay put. Our house search was a pain without the internet as we know it now. Finding a Job, house, research, you name it, all relied on getting hard copy paper by newspaper, a book, or sent materials. More information and data means being able to make better decisions.

The internet era has also provided the ability to invest without having a huge portfolio with a broker.

In 1995 we were only a couple of years into 401K investment options beyond the limited investment choices of cash or our employer’s company stock. For most of my working era it was a single 401K savings choice. There are so many investment opportunities from research to actually investing available today.

Education is expensive

I grew up low-income. Without a scholarship I was unable to afford college after high school. As soon as I turned 18 I had to start paying rent. Even if qualified, my parents wouldn’t consider cosigning on a student loan. I was a high school honor student and college was just financially out of reach. I worked and used work related tuition aid to attend night classes when I could. All course studies had to be aligned with my employer’s work related qualifications. 

Many people of today’s era start out in the hole.

They go right from high school to University degree programs. Then student debt rides their backs for decades if not managed or never attaining a suitable salary to manage it. I’m sure this is where a lot of the anti-FIRE mindset trap of “it’s harder now” comes from. Student debt is a real problem of this era. But it’s even more a problem for people with huge student debt and a degree that doesn’t offer a higher paying career worthy of it. 

In my era I ran into the same high education costs dilemma although I know they were smaller numbers. I haven’t any cost examples because I could never afford to pull that trigger without incurring heavy debt. Debt during a high interest rate era wasn’t something I could do. I also had little time to commit to it. Once we started having kids, the era shared condition of childcare costs made it cost prohibitive for my wife to work. I worked 2 jobs which lasted 13 years. For me, my era and socioeconomic status only offered the slow slog of work gained experience, university night classes when I could, and correspondence courses.

Every Era Has Its Benefits and Challenges

It doesn’t matter what era we are in, FIRE is not going to be easy. One era isn’t necessarily easier, they’re different. I’m sure nothing I detail here will change many folk’s minds regarding whether it was easier then vs. now to reach FIRE. Especially anyone going through job loss, severely high student debt, or lives in an expensive region of the world. Every life’s era has its periods of uncertainty and the impacts of decisions we made earlier. What matters is what we do about it. I read something in the book The Wealthy Gardener that stuck with me- You either change what you are doing or accept what you have. 

Being able to reach a chosen level of financial independence is and has been hard during any era. That’s why so few get there automatically. It takes concentrated effort. Ditch thinking that other people’s FIRE success stories are outdated era handed lucky paths to financial freedom. They are valid examples of strategies that worked for them. Their stories were never intended to be a solution but to generate FIRE ideas that will work for you in this current era within your unique situation.


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The Pros & Cons of Investing in Physical Gold

It is no secret that gold has been historically valued from ancient times until today. Just by describing why people appreciate it, you will already see the pros of this precious metal.

People used gold in trading for a long time, and today, people are storing metal as a valuable investment.

A lot of us agree with experts and investors that it is an excellent store of value. We can buy gold and save it like typical savings but in a more secure and higher-rising-value form.

The Pros & Cons of Investing in Physical Gold

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What can I use Gold for?

You can buy gold now and slowly add more of the metal until you grow your collection. Then, when you retire, you can sell it for cash and live a beautiful vacay life. Or, you can pass it on to your heir. Your recipient can keep the collection and add more to it or exchange it for money to use for education or business.

However, there is a reason why experts say that not only your Portfolio but also your precious metals inventory should be diversified. While gold is well-rounded and can even protect you from inflation, there are things that it cannot do for you.

There are situations that this metal cannot help you. While they are minimal, it’s still valuable and useful knowledge for you to learn the disadvantages.

Here are the PROs and CONs of your gold investment.

On Value.

PRO: Everyone values gold organically.

Gold is treated by society like it treats religion, and because of this, governments and institutions put value in it. For millennia, humanity’s attraction to this precious metal is evidently significant. We have been using it as a symbol of wealth, power, and status.

There are gold items that you can collect that are valued more by their sentiment and historical merit like commemorative coins. Some gold items indeed have raised values because of their added novelty.

CON: It can lose its novelty.

Nobody knows when this will happen, but when it does, gold owners will suffer loss. Humanity’s millennia-spanning crush on gold is emotion-based. Once we have a leap in knowledge, we might see it for its practicality. However, experts believe this will not happen just yet. We can still trade gold for centuries to come. Good for us, this con’s possibility is almost impossible to happen.

On Utility

PRO: Aurum has many uses.

Aside from being jewelry, medals, and statues, which are more novel uses, gold is used in dentistry, electronics, and computers.

It is the best filling for cavities because it doesn’t corrode and doesn’t react when mixed with other metals. Its ductility makes it very easy to shape, and nobody is allergic to it.

Gold is one of the best conductors. It can be used in small portions for smartphones, TVs, and GPS devices. It also helps in the speeding up of data transfer in computers.

CON: It’s too expensive to use practically.

It is impractical to use Aurum in technological industries simply because it is too expensive for its working value. Companies have no reason to use gold substantially when there are cheaper alternatives like silver and copper.

Just take, for example, the use of gold in food. It isn’t added to the fancy dish because it makes it taste better or more nutritious. The gold flake topping is just there to make the food look “fancier,” and so it can sell at a higher price.

For now, the use of gold for investment is mostly based on people’s “placed” value in it. It is expensive because we think so and not because we know it is useful.

Gold Exchange Traded Funds (ETF)

PRO: You can own gold digitally.

You can sign up and exchange your money for digital gold. There are online companies with physical reserves of Aurum, and you can own a part of that stock. When the market situation is perfect, you can buy more shares for lower values or sell your stocks for an excellent profit.

CON: You don’t actually own that gold.

When you sign-up for an ETF, you have shallow control. You have no access to the physical reserve, and all you have in your hands is a sheet of paper.

If the company you are partnering with fails in its system, you can say goodbye to your stocks.

Physical gold

PRO: You have full control of your gold.

When you collect gold physically, you have your investment in your hands, and you have full control of it.

You can add to it, sell part of it, and do anything that you find will bring your financial advantage at once. 

This is the classic no-frills proven way of owning gold, and many experts endorse this way of investing more than any method.

CON: Security costs.

Owning high-value items in your house is a risk for crime. You will have to fortify your storage with all the security technology that you need to mitigate theft.

Security devices can be costly, but you have to buy them, or else you risk your investment and the lives of your family and you.

Should I invest in Gold?

Yes. Yes, you should. Most of the cons of gold are just threats to the security of value, control, and storage, and they can all be mitigated by investing the right way.

Experts highly recommend that you own physical gold. And the good news is that there are sites that make it easy and safe for you.

You can own gold with a touch of a finger and, even more than that, you can have other items like silver, platinum, and copper in all forms. You can get precious metals in the form of Bullion, coins, numismatic, commemorative, bars, rounds, fractional coins, and others.

Find the right subscription for you. There are sites offering Bullion boxes or monthly mystery crates that are pre-curated by experts. With this service, you will be able to grow a collection that will give you many opportunities to profit.

This informative post was contributed to Leisure Freak by Charles Stevens of Bullion Box. 

Author bio- Charles Stevens, Chief Operating Officer of Bullion Box Subscriptions.Charles oversees operations at Bullion Box Subscription, an industry-leading precious metal retailer, curating gold, platinum and silver bullion and coins.

Leisure Freak received no payment for this contributed article nor any commissions if readers decide to use Bullion Box services.


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How Trading Can Help Contribute to Early Retirement 

Early retirement is without doubt not happening overnight. Jump starting this process can entail quite a few challenges and among those, a reduction in your monthly income, at least in the beginning. Developing a reliable long-term income strategy is therefore essential for a successful early retirement. 

The main problem we are all facing is that, with the passing of time, we will lose the purchasing power of our savings if we don’t put them to work. But what if we could find a profitable way to turn our savings into more? Learning the foundations governing the financial word is key to ensuring our purchasing power over time and to generate an extra source of income to increase the value of our portfolio.

Added to discovering the beauties and complexities of the financial market, we would have a more comprehensive view on what is happening to our current economy following the Covid-19 outbreak, and have the opportunity to expand our horizons both personally and professionally.

What is Trading?

Trading is the activity in which transactions, such as the buying and selling of stocks, commodities, currency pairs and other instruments, are carried out with the goal of profiting from the financial market. 

To maximize their returns, traders engage in multiple small operations daily to collect steady profits over time. There are a variety of trading styles based on time availability, making trading extremely flexible and versatile. 

By having complete control over the operations and the strategies behind them, the opportunities to secure a profit are endless in this market. Dedicating even a fraction of time to this activity, can guarantee a second income source to contribute to early retirement. The advantages? Trading can be carried out comfortably from your home computer, at any time of the day and for however long it suits you. 

How to Start Trading?

Diving into this new activity can seem frightening and challenging but with the right attitude and training, even something as complicated as trading can be broken down and made easy to understand. A leading academy comes to mind when deciding to enter this word with no foundation whatsoever: Trading from Zero.

Trading From Zero is an online trading academy focused on bringing together all aspects of theoretical and practical knowledge with the goal of empowering individuals to be autonomous in the decision-making processes and have the ability to freely trade in the market without the need for intermediaries.

By learning the foundations and the tools used to face the markets in combination with the work of our professional traders, you will have all the knowledge necessary to make more conscious investing decisions and increase your chances of retiring early. Put simply, by learning how to trade, you can generate an extra income to retire early.

The Trading From Zero Team prides itself for being constantly learning and always updated in terms of knowledge and operations, significantly facilitating student’s learning process. The combination of detailed theoretical classes with the exceptional practical component, makes the entire course very valuable in terms of quality and usefulness.

How Trading Can Help Contribute to Early Retirement 

Trading From Zero Course Outline

Beginner’s Course

This is an intensive 4-week course to lay the foundations of trading. No prior knowledge or experience is required. The course’s 10 live theoretical classes explore concepts such as the difference between operating through a third party and on your own, all there is to know about technical analysis, what are the most commonly used trading styles and much more. There is an entire section dedicated to time management that has proven very useful for early retirees as well.  

There is also the possibility to download a free demo software where all the knowledge gathered can be put into practice. In case any sessions are missed, all the classes can be viewed on the website along with additional materials and practice exercises. Access to content is lifelong. To take advantage of an 86% discount on the course for Leisure Freak readers, click here

Can you Live from trading?

It’s certainly possible.

Depending on your risk profile, your training and your time availability, you have the chance to reach financial freedom and retire early.  

Trading From Zero can offer you clear theoretical classes along with the essential practical experience. Our courses are led by professionals who stand by each and every student at any time, so that everyone has the chance to learn first-hand the effort and discipline required to ensure a serious and professional management.

Learning to invest in the stock market today, and living from trading tomorrow, is possible and can become your reality as long as you receive the necessary preparation.

This article on how trading can help in early retirement was written by a friend and Leisure Freak reader Federica Longi who is currently working at Trading from Zero in Madrid, Spain.

Leisure Freak received no payment for posting this article nor any commissions when readers enroll in Trading from Zero courses. Post author Federica Longi and Trading from Zero has graciously offered a large discount to Leisure Freak readers who choose to enroll in their trading course. The discount applies by using the special “click here” link in Beginner’s Course section of the article provided above.


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Retirement Travel Budget & Nowhere To Go? Pandemic Daytripper Tips

This is certainly the year for the summer day trip. We had a full year of vacation travel scheduled and budgeted for this spring through fall season. Events we attend have been rightfully cancelled. Places we enjoy staying for a week of leisure are partially open but are now COVID-19 hot zones. No thanks. As hotels and restaurants are doing their best to be safe, too much is still unknown. That’s why we have taken to day trips. Our plan is to take at least 2 day trips a month. Here are our pandemic daytripper tips for those who are itching for a little fun while doing your best to be safe.

Retirement Travel Budget & Nowhere To Go? Pandemic Daytripper Tips

 

Pandemic Daytripper Tips For a Little Fun as Safely as Possible

Obviously the safest thing to protect us from the virus is to stay at home in isolation. We have all been doing that and for some of us it’s getting a little old. According to health officials we also should socially distance and wear a mask when in public. Unfortunately not everyone is willing or able to do that. Judging from the massive infection and hospitalization upticks around the country, this virus obviously remains a viable threat.

What we decided is that we can have fun day trips and take necessary precautions to do so without too much viral worry. The pandemic daytripper tips being shared here will hopefully give you ideas of your own to get out of the house and have some feeling of a normal but different travel season.

Pick a destination and do a little research before you travel

How Far To Travel

First thing I did was decide on how far we day trip. I decided for now that we would pick a destination that allowed us to get there and home on a single tank of gas. Roughly a 300 plus mile round trip. So far that has been plenty to get us where we want to go, allow for some casual exploration once there, and get us home with plenty of fuel left to spare.

There are cases of COVID-19 in our county and town but so far very few compared to bigger urban locations. So picking a gas station close to home that’s away from a freeway to fill up is a virus avoidance decision. As always these days, I avoid fueling standing directly in front of someone on the other side of the pump. When I have clorox wipes available I pre wipe the gas handle. If not, I use the paper towels most stations supply as a hand to handle barrier. I then always use hand sanitizer after fueling. I never touch my face until after I get home to thoroughly wash my hands. These are good refueling pandemic daytripper tips if you have to fuel up anywhere, especially in a viral hot spot or heavily trafficked gas station.

Where To Travel To

In our case there are nearby rural and mountain recreational type counties we have spent little to no time in other than driving through them to go somewhere else. We have often seen smaller towns, their exit signs, and other points of interest and thought it would be fun to check them out.

I do a quick online search (XYZ county/city/etc. COVID-19 case numbers) to research their county’s coronavirus numbers and whether there are restrictions in place. Such as mandatory face masks, full closure or limitations of restaurants, etc. so we can be prepared and decide whether we want to visit. I never want to go where I won’t be welcome or have no safe reason to go.

In one destination that we day tripped to they only had one county counted COVID case so it was of little surprise to see not one person in that rural town wearing a face mask. Even so, we did wear ours out of respect when in public because we traveled from somewhere else. Another targeted day trip destination was dropped after reading they had a large spike of cases and some of the infected refused to cooperate with contact tracing efforts. Virus drama I would just rather avoid.

Know Your Route before You Go

Like any road travel it’s best to pre plan your route. I like to go online and check for any major construction zones and even check the weather for where we are headed. I even prefer to see if there are alternate routes so we can go one way and return a different route.

Along with this it’s a good idea to see what towns and rest stops you might pass and any services offered or restricted. Nothing worse than having to go and there’s no place to stop. When we do stop, we prefer stopping at a local grocery where we can also buy a cold beverage or treat, like an ice cream bar on a hot day.

What To See Or Do Once There

Some of the places we go have a point of interest. Others are a gateway to BLM or other outdoor recreation. We have either already heard about it or we do an online search to find out. Others are just in a beautiful place. We go because we have never been there before and want to see it. Other times it’s all about the drive. The destination is just a place to stretch our legs and have lunch. 

Not knowing exactly what we will find in the way of eateries, we pack a small cooler with drinks and lunch. Although there may be cafes or restaurants open, they may hit their safe service capacity.  Aside from that, even as restaurants are doing their best to be safe, we’ve decided that for this travel season we will avoid indoor dining. We do love a nice outdoor spread out seating experience. Especially a food truck parked next to a craft brewery. If we do find our lunch someplace then we just eat our packed lunch for dinner once home. 

One of our pandemic daytripper tips regards going to destinations where we know we will be eating our packed lunch. For example, a mountain lake or hiking trail. We schedule that day for dinner leftovers that evening. That way after a long day having fun on the road we don’t have to worry about a lot of work cooking dinner once home.

Pandemic Daytripper Checklist 

Have a basic tool kit, flat tire essentials, auto maintenance up to date, owners manual, etc. Treat any day trip like you would a normal year’s road trip preparation even though your travel distance is far less. The same kinds of travel mishaps can still occur.

Make sure cell phones are fully charged before leaving. I use a flip phone that holds its charge a long time while my wife’s marvelous smartphone needs daily charging to remain topped off. Nothing worse than finding out when you need your phone for a photo, call, or data search that it’s dead. 

Always have a face mask with you for any public interaction. Even if your destination is remote or there are no plans to leave the car. Bathroom breaks, auto breakdown, an adventurous decision to explore the wonderful creations of a food truck, etc. can put you in close proximity to others.

Carry hand sanitizer and even your favorite sanitizing wipes. Necessary handwashing won’t always be available. We carry small refillable pocket hand sanitizer and also have Clorox wipes in the car for our day trips. 

Make sure to pack food and water or other favorite beverage. Do this even if your plans are to pick something up at your destination. You never know if there are last minute shutdowns or capacity issues. We encountered a convenience store on our first trip that had some out of state licence plates in the parking lot and was full of non-socially distant maskless folks. We decided we wouldn’t join in the fun.   

Let someone know of your plans. Especially if traveling to a remote location where there may not be cell service. Anything can happen and if it does you want to be missed sooner rather than later.

Print out good directions and having a map is even better. Relying solely on your cell phone or a garmin for directions can lead to mishap.

Do a quick online weather check for your route and destination before leaving. A prediction of heavy thunderstorms means possible travel, leisure, and safety issues. Take appropriate clothing for the conditions you are traveling through and to. 

Making The Best Of What We Have Now

We enjoy our little daytripping adventures. It breaks up what has been a bit of a rut in our pandemic lifestyle as I’m sure most can agree gets a little old. However, it’s nothing like our normal vacation season and we still miss it. 

One thing for certain is that we are spending far less money this year because of it. Keeping that in mind, we over tip in full appreciation when we have the opportunity to enjoy a good meal out. Our retirement travel budget excess is being set aside for when things hopefully return to normal in the future. It will be then that we’ll make up for this lost travel year. 


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Retiring Overseas: How to Cut Down International Money Transfer Costs

About 8.7 million Americans now live abroad and over 400,000 of them are retirees. That last number is growing rapidly as more and more Baby Boomers choose to move countries. The reasons for this vary from financial benefits to the freedom of enjoying life in exotic countries. However, for all the joy of living out your retirement in some tropical paradise, there are some issues you’ll have to face. One of the biggest among them has to do with finances. Retiring abroad doesn’t mean you aren’t tied to the US. In fact, you’ll have to use an international money transfer service and exchange foreign currency regularly. The good news is that there are money transfer service providers today that make these financial operations affordable.

Retiring Overseas: How to Cut Down International Money Transfer Costs

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Challenges of Retiring Abroad: Expensive Foreign Currency Transfer

There are quite a few important things you need to consider when retiring abroad. One of them is a matter of international money transfer services. You’ll need to pay taxes and, possibly, make other transfers to your former home country. You’ll also need to receive social security, salary, or other payments and exchange the currency to the one in your new country of residence.

All in all, you’ll need to use foreign currency exchange (FX) services regularly. And you’ll lose a lot of money in the process.

The main sources of your monetary loss will be:

  • Money transfer fees
  • Foreign currency exchange rate margins

If you choose to transfer your money via banks, every single transaction may cost you between 3% and 7% of the total transfer amount. International money transfer services are expensive in banks because they both charge high fees and use very unfavorable FX rates. The cost might be even higher. This will depend on the currency and destination of the transfers. There are still some places in the world where transfer costs go above 10%. But these are few and mostly restricted to Sub-Saharan Africa. 

Moreover, bank wire transfers take a while. The duration of the transfer can be anywhere between 3 and 7 days. If you need to complete an urgent transfer, the cost will be exponentially higher.

Because of how expensive bank wire transfers are, digital money transfer services are steadily replacing them. PayPal is a leader among international money transfer service providers today. However, PayPal transfers are also expensive. Therefore, if you aim to be frugal, it’s not a money transfer service you should be using.

Cheap International Money Transfers: How to Do It?

An alternative to both banks and digital payment platforms like PayPal comes in the form or foreign currency transfer platforms. This industry is growing fast, so there are many of those today. You’ll need to choose the best services for international money transfers by studying reviews and comparing their offers carefully.

Top money transfer service in the industry today are:

  • Moneycorp
  • Currencies Direct
  • TorFX
  • OFX
  • WorldFirst

Please note that the foreign currency transfer industry is growing fast. Therefore, new companies appear quite often and many of the “old” ones start offering new services. Also, it’s important to know that FX rates offered by the majority of these services change constantly.

The change in rates is understandable because they are tied to the international foreign currency exchange market. Currency values there are in constant flux. They are also highly volatile today because of the COVID-19 crisis.

However, many companies also change their FX margins. This is the additional charge foreign currency transfer services add to the mid-market FX rate. Only a few companies, like WorldFirst, which was recently purchased by Alibaba, offer fixed margins.

Due to this lack of certainty, you should monitor FX rates offered by all top companies in your region. This will allow you to choose the best option for every transfer you need to make.

How to Choose the Best International Money Transfer Company

When you are comparing international money transfer companies, you should consider several factors:

  • Fees.
    The majority of foreign currency transfer companies make their money off the volume of transfers they process. Therefore, unlike banks, they charge very low fees. In fact, many of these companies won’t charge any fees at all per transfer. However, even if there is some fee you need to pay, it shouldn’t be your main consideration.
  • FX rates.
    The biggest part of the money you lose on foreign currency exchange is taken by FX rates. Therefore, it’s imperative to see who offers the best rates of the day. Moreover, you need to think long-term and study FX forecasts. This way you’ll be able to see when it’s best to make big transfers and when is the time to use hedging tools to avoid huge losses.
  • Additional services.
    The best international money transfer providers will offer hedging tools, like forward contracts, at the minimum. They should also offer foreign currency exchange counseling that will help you determine when to use those hedging tools. These services will allow you to get FX rates “fixed” at a specific level or use other financial tools to minimize your risks. The selection of these services is the most important factor to consider when choosing a money transfer service. They will allow you to save more money in the long run.

In Conclusion: Retire Abroad Without FX Pressures

Retiring abroad can be a great idea for many people. It’s an especially good one if your goal is to enjoy yourself to the fullest somewhere with a low cost of living. However, no matter where you’ll go, you are sure to face the problem of costly foreign currency transfer services.

The solution is to use an international money transfer company that will keep those costs to a minimum. Platforms like Moneycorp, Currencies Direct, TorFX, and OFX all offer a cheap way to transfer money to nearly every country. All you need to do is to choose a money transfer service that covers the regions you need and offers low FX margins along with little to no fees. Also, pick a company that provides hedging tools as well. Those will help you avoid losing money on volatile FX rates in times of global economic crisis.

 

This detailed and informative article was contributed to Leisure Freak by Kate Bregovic

Kate Bregovic contributing author Leisure FreakBio: Kate Bregovic has been working in the financial planning and investment services industry for over 10 years. Now being a freelance writer, she is well equipped to provide advice on a wide array of areas. Follow her on Facebook!


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Three Retirement Expenses to Avoid at all Costs

If you are reading this blog you are already considering retiring, and you have put into place or are putting into place your plan for being able to do so. This post will set forth three expenses that you should avoid in retirement if you are to be as comfortable and secure as you wish.

This might be considered advice along the lines of “tough love,” but if you are not going to hear it here, who else will tell you? Know that as you approach retirement you are going to be perceived as financially-secure, and you might be approached for financial help by family members. Of course, de minimis gifting is always appropriate – it is the large financial commitments we want to avoid.

Three Retirement Expenses to Avoid at all Costs

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Do Not Cosign Student Loans

If you have children or grandchildren hoping to attend college and needing to take out student loans, do not offer or agree to cosign those loans. Why? Because student loan debt is the only debt you can not get rid of, through bankruptcy or any other means, and if your child or grandchild later defaults on the loan, that debt will haunt you for the rest of your life.

Of course, the student has the best intentions when taking out loans to attend college, but the economy and job market are in flux right now and there is no guarantee that he or she will be employed and able to make student loan payments when they fall due. Your loved one may fail to make student loan payments as agreed through no fault of their own.

If this happens, and unfortunately it often does, the lender will surely pursue you as well as the student for payment. Penalties will accrue if payments are made late, and if you refuse to pay, the lender can garnish wages and social security payments and can levy on your bank accounts. The lender can even place a lien on the home you are working so hard to pay off!

Nothing can derail your plan for a financially-secure retirement more than a student loan in default. You must think of yourself first and if you don’t take care of yourself, who is going to? It  is difficult to say no to a loved one, but you must explain that you don’t have the resources to back up a promise to pay if the student fails to pay. Again, tough love. 

Affordable Ways to Help a Loved One with College Expenses

We are not saying you can’t help a child or grandchild attend school, just that you shouldn’t put your financial well-being at risk by co-signing student loans. There are alternative ways to help your loved ones attend college or post-secondary training if you wish, that involve less risk to you. 

What you might offer instead of co-signing for loans, if you can afford it, is some financial contribution to education expenses in an amount that matches the student’s earnings over the summer. Or, you might offer cash incentives for achieving a certain GPA. 

If you are planning to contribute to a child’s college expenses and you have some time to save, explore the possibility of opening a 529 college savings plan. A 529 plan is a state-sponsored tax-deferred account that allows you to save money for college, for yourself or someone else. The money may later be used to pay any and all qualified higher-education expenses, including room and board.

While a 529 plan does not offer any tax break for you, as contributions are made with post-tax funds and are not tax-deductible, it grows tax-free and will not be taxed to the student when withdrawn. If you start saving while a child or grandchild is very young, even small contributions will grow over time and provide a tidy sum when the child is ready to attend college.

Of course, you can and should help loved ones attend college if you can afford it, but you should help in a way that is prudent, responsible, and in keeping with your retirement plan.

Do Not Support Other Family Members Financially

Again, this is tough, especially as the pandemic has the economy in a downward spin and so many are out of work.

In emergent times, such as sudden illness or unexpected job loss, it is natural for parents and grandparents to want to help their loved ones. We are not suggesting that you withhold all help, rather, that you carefully consider how much assistance you can afford, and that you avoid providing so much assistance that you are actually supporting that person or family unit.

Providing financial support is a slippery slope. Unfortunately, family members come to rely on and expect that support if it is given regularly and in a significant amount. And needs seem to always increase, not decrease.

Tips for Helping Loved Ones in Times of Financial Crisis While Avoiding Risk to Your Financial Security

Of course, you can and should assist your loved ones when they fall on hard times, if you are able. Here are some tips to help you give only what you can reasonably afford, and to manage your loved ones’ expectations:

  • Do not allow family members to move in with you. It is very difficult to get them to move out if you do. Offer instead to help with the rent or mortgage if you can afford to.
  • If you fail to take this advice, a resident loved one should contribute to household expenses from whatever income or benefits they have, and should do chores around the house and perform errands for you. Be clear that this is a temporary visit, that way all parties involved will be able to enjoy it rather than resent it.
  • Be sure to tell loved ones that whatever you give them is all you can afford, on your fixed income. Be firm and consistent about this.
  • Rather than giving cash, buy them groceries, or pay their electric bill, or put gas in their car. This ensures whatever assistance you can afford to give is spent on necessities.

Avoid Taking Out Life Insurance You Don’t Need 

If you are nearing or have reached an age where you can retire comfortably, you may also be thinking about what legacy you can and will leave for your loved ones. That is admirable, but you must be careful not to fund your legacy goals to the detriment of your current and future financial security.

You probably had term life insurance when you were a young family, to provide income-replacement for your spouse and children should something happen to you. This was relatively inexpensive at the time, but as you got older, premiums necessarily increased because the insurer’s risk of loss increased. 

Having a life insurance policy when your children are grown and independent and you have enough saved for retirement is only necessary if your spouse requires income-replacement. Otherwise, a small inexpensive policy providing for funeral expenses is all you need. 

Your legacy will be whatever is left of your estate and retirement funds when you pass, and even more valuable, the lifetime of prudent financial modeling you provided to your family. 

This informative and well timed post for today’s environment was contributed to Leisure Freak by Veronica Baxter

V Baxter Leisure Freak Contributed Post About the Author

Veronica Baxter is a blogger and legal assistant living and working in the great city of Philadelphia. She frequently works with Chad Boonswang, Esq., a life insurance lawyer in Philadelphia.

 


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Milestone Reached: Entering New Early Retirement Phase

When I decided to retire early I always considered my plan to be one of phases. Where milestones would be reached and planned financial strategies would become available to implement. Each early retirement phase brings decisions that would need to be made based on relevant current data and the realities of real time. We’ve never had a million dollar portfolio to draw from so planning is essential. In my wife’s and my early retirement we have just reached another early retirement plan milestone. We have now both enjoyed our 62nd birthday. Here’s a glimpse at our early retirement phase approach.

Milestone Reached: Entering New Early Retirement Phase

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Using An Early Retirement Phase Approach

Early Retirement Age to Age 59.5 Phase

Key to early retirement is how to fund your new lifestyle. Once the paychecks stop the money has to come from somewhere. In our case almost all of the money was in tax deferred retirement accounts. For our situation we rolled our 401ks into IRAs.

For my retirement at age 51, penalty free pre age 59.5 IRA withdrawals required my using the SEPP 72t loophole. I would use that until age 59.5 for monthly distributions to cover my part of our split budget. Because these distributions are meant to be uninterrupted for the longer of 5 years or age 59.5, when doing my “retire early and often” thing I would reinvest any retirement job earnings back into our net worth. I retired during the great recession and this went far better than anticipated. My earnings reinvestment included mortgage payoff, taking advantage of 401K opportunities, and adding to our Roth holdings. 

My wife retired on her 58th birthday after meeting her 20 year work anniversary. She received a couple of small perks for hitting that 20 year milestone from the local bank branch she worked for. Instead of using age 55+ 401k penalty free distributions she simply set aside enough cash in a savings account to cover her part of the budget until reaching age 59.5. This way she could avoid retirement account taxes/penalty issues for the first 1.5 years of her early retirement.

Age 59.5 to Age 62 Phase

In this early retirement phase my SEPP 72t would end and we both could then freely establish a monthly penalty free distribution rate from our IRAs based on budgetary and actual real time portfolio numbers. This phase still requires 100% reliance on our portfolio to continue funding our early retirement lifestyle and takes us to the age of Social Security availability when new decisions would be made. 

Age 62 to Age 65 Phase

This is the early retirement milestone we both have recently reached, my wife last December and myself this June. When to start Social Security benefits takes the consideration of financial, longevity, legacy, and emotional issues. We don’t know how long we will live, how solvent Social Security will be long-term, or whether financial markets will act historically. 

Based on what we know today and running our numbers through both a retirement calculator and Social Security calculator we decided to start my wife’s early age 62 reduced Social Security benefit. As the top wage earner between us and the way survivor benefits work, my plan has always been to wait until at least my full retirement age of 66.7. With my wife being the lower wage earner, starting her Social Security now allowed us to reduce her monthly IRA distribution by 66%. The smaller IRA distribution and her Social Security together covers all of her budget. I continue funding my part of the budget from my IRA distributions.

Age 65 to 70 Phase

With the age 65 milestone early retirement phase comes Medicare. For our entire retirement I’ve had to pay for retirement health insurance costing me in the 30% to 35% of my overall budget. Our Medicare should greatly reduce my budget and retirement funding needs. At this point I feel we will no longer be early retirees and just traditional well practiced and experienced retirees. 

This is also a phase where I will make my own Social Security decision. Either take it at full retirement age or delay until age 70. My FRA Social Security estimate would cover 75% of my budget as it is today and my budget should actually be lower after Medicare. Once beginning Social Security I will need much less dependence on my portfolio for lifestyle funding. 

Depending on portfolio performance we will also begin financial planning that looks at looming RMDRequired Minimum Distributions during this phase to have time to strategically prepare in advance. 

Age 70 and Beyond Phase

I can only hope to have RMD problems in our last early retirement phase. Meaning there is a good sized portfolio left after decades of retirement. When this time comes we will do as we have done. Evaluate the reality of the real time and deal with it strategically. If still in our current home we will also start to consider what’s next. Our 2 story home sitting on a quarter acre in Colorado at 6,200 feet in elevation might be more than we will want to stay into older age. This is a phase where the reality of our own aging will play a major role.

It All Seems So Simple Now

When we were still working and planning for early retirement it sometimes felt scary. We get conditioned after decades of employment and paychecks. There can be fear of walking away and giving it up, even for the freedom that early retirement offers. All of the unknowns and cautions thrown at us can be intimidating. Especially when looking at it financially covering 20, even 30 plus years of our lives. But by chunking our retirement plan into retirement phases it makes it easier to mentally visualize and financially plan for. At least it has for us. 


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3 Must-Have Insurance Policies at Any Age and How They Can Benefit You in the Long-Term

Whether you’re in your 20s, 30s, or 40s, there are several types of insurance policies that everyone needs—even if you’re young, single, childless, or don’t have many assets to protect. While it may seem redundant to insure your home, life, and health when you’re young, healthy, and occupying your home as a tenant rather than a homeowner, these policies can benefit you in more ways than you’d expect. To explore the many benefits of purchasing health, life, and homeowners insurance policies at just about any age, read on!

3 Must-Have Insurance Policies at Any Age and How They Can Benefit You in the Long-Term

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1. Health Insurance

Health insurance may seem unnecessary if you’re young, single, and healthy, but this type of policy will keep you from paying thousands of dollars in medical bills if you’re in an accident, need surgery, develop a severe health condition, or require ongoing medical care for any reason. Plus, even the most basic health insurance policies cover everything from doctor’s appointments to preventative care services—including screenings for HIV, alcohol misuse, depression, and certain cancers. 

 

Moreover, the dangers of not having health insurance are vast. If you don’t have health insurance and can’t afford to pay for your medical services out of pocket, you may stop seeking medical attention altogether—which could result in a serious illness later in life. If you do receive medical attention, you could end up with thousands of dollars in medical debt—which may harm your credit and affect your ability to buy a home or obtain other types of financing. 

2. Life Insurance

Like health insurance, a good life insurance policy can benefit you at any age—even if you’re young, healthy, single, and expect to live well into your 70s, 80s, or beyond. However, accidents and illnesses can happen at any age—and it’s important to be prepared in the event that you die prematurely. If you support friends or family members, for instance, your life insurance policy will provide your surviving loved ones with the financial support they need in the event of your early death. Once you marry and start raising a family, you can name your spouse and children as life insurance beneficiaries as well. 

 

While the type of policy you purchase will depend on your financial obligations and personal needs, Mint.com recommends the following life insurance policies for singles:

 

  • Term life insurance. 
  • Disability insurance.
  • Long-term care insurance. 

 

Moreover, final expense insurance is another type of life insurance policy that protects your surviving loved ones when you die. While the benefit amount is typically lower than that of a standard life insurance policy, final expense insurance provides your surviving loved ones with an immediate payout in the event of your death. As such, this benefit amount can be used to cover the cost of your burial, memorial service, outstanding bills and debts, and other funeral-related expenses. 

3. Renters or Homeowners Insurance

Whatever your age, it’s also important to have a good renters or homeowners insurance policy in place. Renters and homeowners insurance policies pay for damages to your personal belongings due to theft, vandalism, fire, and water damages, and they offer other benefits such as personal liability protection and medical payments coverage. Unlike renters insurance, however, homeowners insurance also offers dwelling coverage. 

 

While a renters or homeowners insurance policy is vital whenever you rent or own property, it’s important to select the right deductible for your policy. In most cases, a high-deductible policy will be best for lowering your coverage costs and helping you to save money in the long term. 

 

Even if you’re young, unmarried, and child-free, these three insurance policies can save you money now, in the near future, and once you do get married or start raising a family. However, it’s important to consider your options carefully and take the time to find the right policy for your current budget and lifestyle. As time goes on and you become a parent, spouse, or homeowner, you can always modify your insurance coverages to fit your evolving needs.

 

This informative post was contributed to Leisure Freak by Brittany Fisher-

Brittany Fisher has spent more than 20 years as a CPA. She runs her own site, Financiallywell.info where she shares her knowledge about taxes, personal finance and general financial literacy hoping to help anyone who may benefit from it.


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