A Retirement Plan and Medicare Disability: What You Should Know

Jane Brown

Retirement is something quite easy to forget and brush off, especially when you are young and still enjoying a good salary. You don’t want to imagine that a day will come when you will be of age and leave your beloved career. Well, it’s a sad reality, and the earlier you start planning for your retirement, the better for you. Let’s have a look at some benefits you might reap from planning your retirement as early as now.

Factor in the unexpected

Aging comes with a bunch of problems, especially health issues. When planning for retirement, you can consider such unforeseen events. You think about the best medical options to use should you develop a chronic disease. Along with this, you start sourcing for a suitable home for the elderly when the time will come for you to be admitted in one.

One such eventuality that would never cross your mind is a disability. Sometimes life gets into the way of our most carefully organized plans. An unfortunate accident or a severe illness can quickly shatter your retirement dreams. There are so many questions you could ask when disability comes knocking at your door just before your retirement. For instance, will the disability affect your social security benefits? Will it eat up all your life savings? Does Medicare cover disabilities that occur during retirement? As long as you are already receiving your Social Security Disability benefits, you are eligible for the Medicare disability coverage.

Some of the disabilities that qualify for Medicare coverage include:

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
  • End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD)
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Mental illness
  • Alzheimer’s Disease

Mostly, anyone who qualifies for the cover should receive it. But this is not always the case. People with certain conditions as those mentioned above are at risk of being denied the coverage. If the care recommended by a doctor for these long term conditions meet the Medicare criteria, then the person is entitled to coverage.

If coverage is unfairly denied, you can seek help from your medical doctor. Better yet, you can find legal assistance from an experienced disability lawyer. The lawyer will help you sail through the stormy process of claiming the coverage. There are plenty of law firms practicing Social Security disability law today. You want to make the best choice of such a lawyer to ensure adequate and successful representation. So, what qualities should you look out for in a disability lawyer?

  • Experience – When it comes to matters of Social Security disability benefits, you need to be represented by someone with a wealth of experience below their belt.
  • Specialization – Avoid dabblers and instead look for someone who handles explicitly Social Security disability claims the majority of their time if not all.
  • Local or regional presence – It is essential to be represented by a lawyer who understands the Social Security laws, local courts and judges.

More time, more savings

The common thing about all kinds of investment is that time is needed for them to grow. By planning early, you will save up enough money to actualize your aspirations during your retirement. If you want to own and run a farm during your retirement, start saving now. Is it a dream adventure you want to have? Yes, it can be made possible by early planning.

Peace of mind

This is one of the most significant benefits of planning early for retirement. Planning eases the transitions from employment to retirement. Stress can arise when there is a cloud of uncertainty about your next stage in life glaring at you. You can avoid this by planning ahead.

You can make sound decisions

Early planning gives you ample time to decide on the retirement plan that will suit you best. It not only enables you to make wise career-related decisions but also general financial choices. For instance, will an extra degree be of any help during your retirement? Is it better to start your own company or remain in your current organization? Planning for retirement early in your career will enable you to put into place necessary structures to make your retirement as smooth as possible.

 

Posted in All Things Financial, Health, Legal Matters | Leave a comment

Choosing to Move Forward – What Is Your Style?

When we realize that we have a choice in the style of moving forward, it makes all the difference in our world.

I was raised in the “pain and suffering” style and decided to choose something kinder for myself. What an opening of perspective!

How about you?

 

 

Posted in Adding Pizzazz to Your Life, Health, Heart Song | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why You Want to Do the HeartMath Breathing Method

Have you heard of HeartMath.org?

HeartMath scientifically researches the chemical and electromagnetic link between our hearts and our brains.

In their extensive analysis, the scientists who work at the the Institute have found that the heart sends more information TO the brain than it receives FROM the brain. 

The research can be complicated, but simplified, when we are in a “coherent state” with our hearts, it is easier for our brain to function at optimal performance.

That means when you learn how to self-regulate your emotions with their very easy coherence exercise, you are less inclined to feel anxiety, fear, and anger. Your brain is much calmer and clearer to facilitate making decisions, to remember, or to take a test. This is a great technique to practice before attending an event that is stressful or before you want to have “that talk” with someone and it has you nervous.

Teaching our children this simple technique can also help them with athletic performance and to remain calm when needing to take an exam.

Here is a link to many of the HeartMath videos if you’d like to find out more intriguing information. HeartMath.org also offers courses, training and memberships.

 

Posted in Adding Pizzazz to Your Life, Health, Heart Song, The Power of Words | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

“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.

Posted in All Things Financial, Health, Housing | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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?

Posted in Adding Pizzazz to Your Life, Heart Song, The Power of Words | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

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

 

Posted in Adding Pizzazz to Your Life, Heart Song, Housing, Travel Tips and Insight | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Posted in Adding Pizzazz to Your Life, All Things Financial, Heart Song, Q & A From our Readers, Travel Tips and Insight | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

 

Posted in Adding Pizzazz to Your Life, Health, Heart Song | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Guest Blog Posts, Health, Housing | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment