“Too frail to work, too poor to retire”

Ted Siedle, a former SEC lawyer who now runs Benchmark Financial Services, pointed to a “woefully unprepared” U.S. population.

“In the decades to come, we will witness millions of elderly American’s, Baby Boomers and others, slipping into poverty.”

This is because pensions are underfunded, a pervasive problem made worse by their inability to reach performance targets, which is typically set around 7%.

I read about this topic too often and it’s disturbing. The possibility of pension funds not being able to keep their promises to pay former employees would rattle anyone’s retirement. And if this affects the performance of the financial markets in general, then we are all vulnerable.

When planning for your life-sans-paycheck, your pension is one of the stools you rely on. Social Security and investments are two others.

None of us know the future, and we cannot prevent Life from bringing us challenges or change.

What can you do if your pension fund goes under, or severely cuts their payouts to you?

My purpose for bringing this up to you today, is to show you how you can take control of your future, regardless of your pension or what the markets might do sometime in the future.

In our books and on our website we discuss the 4 categories of highest spending in any household. I have been discussing the most expensive category – and that is Housing.

The 2nd most expensive category is Transportation, followed by Taxes and Food/Dining/Entertainment.

We have control over all of these categories through the choices we make. We can modify our choices to protect ourselves from future financial disturbances, and to give ourselves more financial room, should we find ourselves in a situation that becomes too expensive to maintain.

Do you know your Cost Per Day for your Housing category?

Paring down to a smaller home, moving to a state that is tax-friendly, moving overseas where cost of living is more manageable, renting out a room, a section of your home or a casita can bring in extra cash should you find yourself needing to supplement a pension that has gone sour.

Considering a roommate, or perhaps joining financial forces with your children to have an “in-law’s unit” built as part of their home so you have a place to live that is close to your family are also alternatives.

Living on a boat, utilizing an RV as your domicile, or choosing your Active Adult Community manufactured home as your chief domicile are also more affordable options than a 4-bedroom, brick-and-mortar home with the maintenance costs, insurance and high property taxes.

We’ll talk about the other categories of expense in the future, but the most important thing is to have your plan B – and to start thinking about that NOW, instead of having a disintegrating pension blow you out of the water.

Don’t limit yourself.  OPEN yourself up to your options. There are more of them than you think.

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What’s YOUR Favorite Excuse?

‘’I never knew a man who was good at making excuses who was good at anything else.’’ Benjamin Franklin

To attain goals, to move forward with our lives, to make necessary changes, we must drop our excuses.

Here are a couple of common excuses that keep us from attaining our dreams.

I’m too old…
I have more planning to do to get this done.
I don’t have the “right” tools to…
I don’t know how, I’m too busy, no one else has done it before…

Recognize any of these?

What’s YOUR favorite excuse?

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We had a spectacular housing situation, but my eyes refused to see it

When we retired in 1991 for a lifestyle of travel, our first stop was a 9-square mile Caribbean island named Nevis. Billy and I had an opportunity to help open the Four Seasons Resort there on that tiny island nation, and part of the deal was that we would have housing.

We found ourselves in a 4 bedroom, 2 bath house that belonged to the Mayor’s brother. Painted white on the outside, the front terrace was a blistering orange. When I walked up the steps and turned around, I had a view of 3 islands.

Our front porch overlooking the Atlantic Ocean

Sounds fabulous, right?

Except we weren’t renting the house romantically by ourselves, we shared it with other employees of the Four Seasons. Although we were only 38, most of the other employees were in their 20’s and seemed like spoiled kids to us.

The importance of housing

Ours was the smallest bedroom in the house but we had the privacy of our own bathroom, which was a plus. There were donkeys tied up right outside our bedroom window and they brayed at sunrise each morning to wake us up. And because the back door of the house opened to the sugar cane fields of Nevis’ jungle, we had cane spiders coming in to say hello from time to time.

These rust-colored, hairy spiders were the size of my fist and they had the unique talent of being able to jump a couple of feet of distance at a time!

This hadn’t been what I expected.

From our shaded back porch, Nevis volcano

But I was learning an important lesson which we would modify to perfection with the more practice we had and that is – Manage your housing costs and you can live just about anywhere in the world.

Buck up and quit complaining

The cost of housing is one of the biggest expenses in any household. While this particular setup might not have been my first choice, our portion of the rent was affordable and we had spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean from the front porch and of Nevis’ volcano from the back. We had color TV, ceiling fans, all kitchen appliances, maid service and hot water in the showers.

A short walk to the end of the street brought us to cheap public transport and we could go anywhere on the island for less than a dollar.

Why was I complaining?

Looking back, we had a spectacular setup. I was simply shell-shocked from the massive changes to my personal life that I had gone through and I had yet to train my eyes to see the advantages of my surroundings.

GOR-jus tropical Nevis blue skies

Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation where your “eyes don’t see” the stunning opportunity you have in front of you?

Do you find yourself complaining instead of jumping into the adventure?

What kind of unique housing have you enjoyed?

Write to me about your experiences or make comments to TheGuide@RetireEarlyLifestyle.com

 

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I want to retire and travel, my wife and child do not. Suggestions?

Q&A from a Reader

Hi Billy and Akaisha,

I’m looking for a bit of guidance for myself and my family of 3.

I’m 39 and pretty much retired. My goal from the age of 20 was financial freedom and I’ve achieved ‘budget’ financial independence.

My wife on the other hand has different goals. She wants to continue her work at a non profit and my daughter of 6 goes to school in our town.

Walking the malecon in Chapala, Mexico

I have two main issues that I’m tackling at the moment. The first is not having a large goal anymore (mid life crisis) and the second is my wife and child are extremely happy staying in our town and are not really interested in a more nomadic life.

My possible solution to this is to go on mini adventures for a month or two each year to see if that satisfies my craving for adventure. Would you have any other suggestions or ideas in this regard?

Ancient Mayan wash basins, Antigua, Guatemala

Also, I’m looking for a town or city with an excellent racquet club (tennis, squash) where I can meet like minded competitive friends. I have my eye on Antigua, Guatemala as a potential option. There is a club there. The ideal location for me is affordable, warm sunny weather, lots of cheap restaurants and bars, hiking and a racquet club. I’m completely willing to learn a fourth language if necessary. Could you recommend a few places?

Thank you so much for reading this. I really enjoy your work and reading about your lifestyle.

David

Santa Catarina Arch, Antigua, Guatemala

Hi David,

We’re so excited for you and your retirement! And let us just say that you have so many options available to you right now.

First, relax about the “mid-life crisis.” This just means that you are ready for the next great thing. You just achieved a huge life goal of retirement, so naturally, there is this “big space” wanting to be filled. Please, just relax about that, because…

When you begin to travel a bit, it will shake loose the cobwebs and old patterns in your mind and you will be able to put new information into your life experience. At some point, all that new information, the new perspectives and possibilities will begin to gel into something very exciting for you for your future. Just stay open and allow the information to come in.

Wine tasting in Antigua, Guatemala

When you visit other countries, you will see other ways of people and places and you’ll just automatically tuck those perspectives into your own new lifestyle and incorporate them. Your life will expand.

Opportunities will open for you. You may or may not want to pick up a side hustle, or volunteer or who knows what? Get involved in a new passion of expression. The world is now  open to you.

Allow your wife and child their own bliss and enjoyment in their own chosen lifestyle. If you are happy and they are happy, what more could you want? Share that happiness together. It’s only when we “need them” to do  something in order for us to be happy that things get tight and uncomfortable. Happiness is a good thing.

Guanajuato, Mexico

And, today, you have FaceTime, Skype, Facebook, email, What’sApp, etc. to keep in touch with phone calls, videos, photos and such. It’s so easy. Bring them into your life. Share. And enjoy their lives too.

Now… about traveling.

There are LOTS of cheap, affordable, sunny places with restaurants and bars. Hiking and tennis may narrow the search a bit, but don’t dismay. There might be other exercise alternatives like a gym, volleyball, biking and such.

I’m not sure what you consider affordable, as the US can be expensive compared to Mexico, Central and South America, Asia and even some below-cost-of-living locations in the States.

Antigua has lots of restaurants and bars, and things to do – but it is considered high priced as compared to Panajachel at Lake Atitlan.

Chapala, Mexico has great weather, LOTS of activities like hiking, biking, tennis, volleyball, restaurants, etc. (See our Chapala Guide.) Chapala is also a super place to travel FROM. It has an international airport, and you can also get great inter-country deals to the beach or Colonial towns, or college towns like Guanajuato.

Cathedral at night, Guanajuato, Mexico

Lots of people enjoy Panama and you can have mountains or beaches, cities or towns. However, to be honest, it was a bit too rainy for us.

All of these places above are easy to get to, are basically on the same time zone as the US (say, as compared to Europe or Asia) and have expat communities already in place.

Take a look at our Relocation Page for all sorts of ideas of places to visit, and for lots of Expat forums.  These forums are free to join, and you can ask many questions of members for specific locations there.

Remember, the world is now open to you to explore and to expand yourself and your ways of interacting within it. It’s a very exciting time for you. You can have the best of both worlds – your loving family and the world of travel.

Dock at Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Congratulations!

Feel free to write any time with your questions and  concerns. And thank you for your kind comments!

Best,

Akaisha and Billy

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We Are Supposed to Change

Do any of you find that there are loved ones – friends and family – who unknowingly seem to want to pull you back from changing your life (for the better)?

Perhaps they are intimidated by your choices or don’t understand them. Maybe they are afraid of change themselves. Or it might be that they are fearful that your changes will leave them behind, and they will no longer matter to you.

What do you think?

Let me know by writing to me at TheGuide@RetireEarlyLifestyle.com

 

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Preparing for Financial Independence – The Importance of Housing Costs

Whether you are currently retired or saving up for your new lifestyle away from work, it’s essential to realize that housing is one of your biggest capital outlays.

Home Sweet Home

If you can modify this area of your retirement planning, you will have more cash to put towards other valuable areas of your life, perhaps pursuing a passion, putting aside money for grandchildren or freeing you up for longer travel stays.

If you have never considered this area of your household budget before, this simple exercise will help clarify this for you.

How much is your housing budget?

In order to figure out how much – per day – that your home or lodging is costing you, add up your mortgage payment, your house insurance, and your property taxes for 12 months.

Add to that figure, the amount of any upgrades you have made to the home in this past year or 12-month period (new flooring, new paint, new draperies, kitchen/bathroom re-dos, new rugs, new sheets, towels, extra sets of dishes and flatware, tree pruning, yearly flower plantings, housekeeping services, gardeners, pool services, maintenance and repairs, the new deck you just added on, … etc.)

Yep, all of it.

Total that annual expense number then divide by 365 days. That figure is what your current housing situation is costing you per day.

Insurance, property taxes, and maintenance costs add up!

This is very valuable information to you because – if nothing else – it puts this category into perspective for you.

Lots of Options Available

Fortunately, there are many different housing choices in retirement or you can make this decision earlier in order to save money for your life of Financial Independence.

Smalling up, downsizing, renting an apartment/condo, doing an AirBnB room or section of a home for added income, taking on a roommate, moving to an Active Adult community, house swapping for travel, house sitting for travel, moving to a tax friendly state, living on a sailing vessel or houseboat, or choosing to RV as a housing choice are ALL options open to you.

Did your Housing Cost Per Day surprise you?

Feel free to write to me at TheGuide@RetireEarlyLifestyle.com and let me know your thoughts!

Posted in All Things Financial, Housing | 1 Comment

Making Room for Your Overnight Guests

Jane Brown

Having guests over leads many to enjoyable moments, unforgettable events, and not enough room. Yes, you heard it right, this is when people find out just how tight things are at their home. You have found the best place to live for seniors, but now you must deal with making sure you have enough room for the holidays as well as family sleepovers.

Don’t worry, you weren’t the only one to run into this dilemma. There are ways to deal with the headache and find an answer. You’ve spent years working hard, and probably still are, but today the turn is ours. Sit back and enjoy the results of our work.

The obvious solution, sleeping arrangements in your living room

Now don’t go thinking this is a bad decision right out the gate, there are partitions to solve that. Yep, just get some simple room dividers like Martha Stewart and you’ll be set to go. Put it up when you need it, store it easily when you don’t. This provides a better experience when it’s time to sleep over at your place. Plus, it’s a great solution when you need access to your TV and recliner when they’re asleep.

Air mattresses have been enhanced and the possibilities are amazing

You could even go as far as getting an inflatable couch, which comes in handy if you just need somewhere to chill and relax. For a single person or even a kid, it’s awesome too. Some inflatable couches even come with cup holders built in. Yup, it was made to party. No alcohol required, unless you want to. Don’t forget we have the classic air mattress approach as well.

Air mattresses are a popular option, but make sure you opt for the electric pump to make things easy right out of the gate. Depending on how much space you have, as well as the guests you’ll have, there are various sizes to choose from. They’re easy to put out and even easier to store tightly when not in use.

Your home office into a suitable sleeping arrangement could be a fix

If someone is coming into town and you usually work out of a home office, consider hitting the local coffee shop to get the work done. Or even take some time off, if you can afford to take a little bit of time off, to focus on the company that you have. Either way, letting them use your home office to sleep in is welcoming and helps expand the possibilities on the size of the family gathering that’s possible.

Grab a sleeper chair and just call it a day. Yup, they have those, believe it or not. Everyone gets surprised when this is brought up, and it’s no joke when it comes to opening the possibilities. These chairs are great because of their size, making them extremely comfortable during the day and serving an added purpose for your overnight guest at night.

Maybe you just need a hotel for times like these

This is a popular option among retirees as it doesn’t invade their personal space and it provides the best level of comfort possible for guests. It could be like a motel or a hotel room that is close to where you live. Sometimes this is nice for the guest, also. They can have their privacy and comfort at night, while visiting with you during the day and evening.

Finally, streamline everything and enjoy the time together

This is what it’s all about. Sitting back, relaxing, and enjoying the company of those around you. Being able to spend the holidays together and not have to worry about the upcoming year at work. Get prepared for the extra usage of your home, arrange things to be convenient for your guests, and put a plan of action to use. You’ll be the success of the party and everybody will be wondering how you were able to pull it off.

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The Power of Words – What If…?

Many of us don’t realize that the mind is an obedient companion and it looks for direction.

The purpose of The Power of Words threads is to help you “manage your perception” so that your experience of Life is more supportive, more FUN and less stress-full.

You will find that being more mindful of the words you use on a daily basis will change your life.

I think it would be safe to say that we all have lots of experience in using the two words, “What If…?”—  except we tend to use it to our detriment.

For example:

What if I get sick?

What if I run out of money?

What if I don’t get that job?

What if I’m old, alone, and have no money?

Ok… What would happen if you turn the use of those two words around? Use them for your benefit to open up your mind to find things to support you? As in…

What if… there’s an answer here somewhere, I just don’t see it yet?

What if… this isn’t as hard as I have been telling myself?

What if… I don’t have to be locked in by this diagnosis?

What if… I looked at this differently?

What if… This isn’t as bad as I think?

What if… This is a GOOD thing?

What if… I could learn something here?

What if… I didn’t respond with anger this time?

What if… I didn’t take offense at that comment?

What if… I actually HAD enough money to do “X”?

What if… I got the support I need?

What if… This works out for me?

What if… It’s easier than I think?

What if… I could find common ground with this person (whom I don’t like)?

What if… This current health challenge I face isn’t “The BIG One”?

What if… I get everything I need, in an easy manner and it all falls into place for me?

Asking yourself an open-ended question with a positive direction allows your mind to focus on something favorable. You will be surprised at how the stress and anxiety about a conundrum you face just falls away, and creative energy flows in, instead.

We are already skilled in using “What If” in a negative way. Turn it around to your benefit.

What if… I OPENED up to the situation here?

What if… I had FUN with this instead of stressing out?

What if… I don’t have to be perfect?

What if… I’m really ok?

Billy and I use “What if…” as a way to open up to solutions when we feel stuck. It really works!

Let me know about your experiences using “What if…”. Feel free to write to me at TheGuide@RetireEarlyLifestyle.com

Susan: Great advice, Akaisha! When you are confronted with a scary medical diagnosis, for example, some of these questions can be very helpful, but hope, optimism and MOXIE! also figure into the equation.

Akaisha: Absolutely, Susan. Our mental attitude and perception have much to do with how we see the world, and our interaction within it.

Things can be an “ordeal” or an “adventure. Something can be a “challenge” or a “gift.” How we choose to view makes all the difference in the world.

Susan: Well said, Akaisha!

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The Power of Words – OPEN

OPEN is GREAT word to work with, and another one which will change your life.

If you have followed the thread about the Power of the word FUN!, you will realize that your mind will look for what you program it to find.

In our day-to-day lives, we are bombarded with negativity. When the economy is good, it COULD get bad or it won’t last long, and if it’s bad, it’s going to get worse. There are possible wars, politics, and end-of-the-world scenarios of one sort or another almost every day.

This barrage of stuff – most over which we have no personal control – tends to make us close down and feel constricted.

Constricting feelings in our lives express as depression, lack of joy, anxiety, fear, loneliness, frustration, anger or even headaches, stomach aches, and insomnia!

Yikes!

OPEN is a word we can say to ourselves as a gentle reminder “Open. Open.”- or as a chant “Open, open, open, open” or even “OHHHH-pen. OHHHHHH-pen. Deep breath in, then out…. OHHHHHHHHH-pen.”

Try breathing the word OPEN in and out of the center of your chest area, as if from your heart. This can be VERY effective.

Of course, you can always sing one of these words that I suggest. Sing it to one of your favorite songs! Dancing to OPEN is also super. Get Silly!

We as humans are built for movement and for growth. Constriction is painful – emotionally or physically. So, saying the word OPEN can relax your mind, body and emotions. Your mind will get into the place of “allowing” wonderful things to come to you.

Say OPEN when you are feeling overwhelmed or emotionally tight. Say OPEN when the line in the grocery is long, or the traffic is stuck. Say OPEN when you are angry or afraid. Say OPEN the first thing in the morning as you begin your day. Say OPEN when you are waiting for the next shoe to drop.

OPEN to new ideas

OPEN to the possibilities all around you

OPEN to a suggestion someone is making

OPEN to a different way of seeing

OPEN to a solution instead of conflict

OPEN to forgiveness

OPEN to a new way of expressing yourself

OPEN to finding a hidden talent

OPEN to making new friendships

OPEN to moving on

OPEN to letting go

OPEN to your personal growth

OPEN to Personal Peace

OPEN, OPEN, OPEN!!

You can also say to yourself: “My world changes in all sorts of beneficial ways and expressions. I am OPEN to Flow and Grow! Everything always works out for me, because I am OPEN to change.”

Let me know how this word OPEN works for you. I just love using it, as wonder-filled surprises always come to me when I do.

Tammy: Very Very good! I love this!

Akaisha: Thanks! Hope you try using this technique. It will literally OPEN your world!

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Getting Older and Staying Mobile

Jane Brown

For most people, their goals and aspirations consist of losing weight and to be healthier. It seems almost effortless when you say it out loud. But saying you will do something versus what you will do are two very different things. To accomplish these small feats, it takes discipline, time, hard work and the decision to start immediately.

Even now, as the obesity rates are skyrocketing throughout the western world, nutrition and exercise are the main focus for people of all ages. Many doctors and nutritionists agree that people should start when they are young so that good habits are already ingrained into a person as they get older. So by the time a person gets to their late years, they already know the dos and don’ts of how to live out their life comfortably because they took care of themselves when they were younger.

When a person gets to be a certain age, like in their 80s or 90s, they have seen it all. It has taken more than pure luck to get to that age. They have apparently taken care of themselves or had some help from their spouse, children, or even grandchildren. They have probably kept in relatively good shape by continuously working out, either by small walks or strength training with low weights. Working out is always beneficial, and small increments will head lasting results for the rest of anyone’s life.

Eating right should stay with people for as long as they are alive. Eating a well-proportioned and balanced diet of mostly vegetables, lean proteins, small carbs, nuts and legumes, and a small amount of fruit is what all people should have in their diet every single day. Staying away from sugar, processed foods, and large portions of carbs is the best way to keep the body trim and at optimum health.

There are plenty of reasons why anyone can have mobility problems when they are getting older. Medications can have side effects which impair balance, which can lead to a fall, diseases that attribute to bone and joint disease, malnutrition can affect muscle deterioration and add more concerns as people age. Home factors, like having a set of stairs, or having to get in and out of the bathtub can make life at home miserable and exceedingly tricky or even dangerous. Eye disorders and the loss of eyesight in people can have a considerable impact on depth perception and, in turn, could cause an accident for the elderly as well.

As we get older, joints, bones, and muscles are not what they used to be. Body parts are sore; the muscles start to thin, and bones become more brittle. People do not have the same body that they did years and years before. If there does come a day when going outside for a quick walk proves to be too complicated and there are mobility issues, not all hope is lost. You can still have your mobility thanks to a motorized wheelchair or scooter.

When someone is older, they still need to exercise and workout. If they are limited to the use of a mobile chair, they can even do some strength training. They are still able to go outside and be in the fresh air. Going out for a walk reduces stress, and the sunshine is good for the skin in small quantities. They can continue to do arm exercises and, if they can walk, even slowly, they should stretch and walk, but nothing to overdo it to where they are in pain.

There are plenty of scenarios to keep moving about when you or someone you care about is getting older. There are portable chair options they make getting around much quicker and still allowing that person to have their freedom. A cane should be used for support if someone is struggling to get around on their own. In-home therapy is an excellent resource to make sure that they can get some exercise and stretch for their overall well-being.

As everyone ages, there is no sense in making what can be a frustrating and hard time even more so. Make it easier for you and everyone else by taking care of yourself. Eat right and move more. Your body will thank you.

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