A MOTORCYCLE JOURNEY

Wayne Flick

Last year, my brother Wayne and I motorcycled the full lengths of Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway, visited some museums and rode the Cherohala Skyway between North Carolina and Tennessee. We spent 7 nights together, 4 in tents, and the weather was good throughout. It’s been the longest time I’ve had alone with a brother in many years.

The best parts of retirement are often adventures we never had time for in middle life. Both Wayne and I motorcycled in our youth, then we gave it up because of the risks and costs. Retirement offered us each a few years when we could again experience the constant accompaniment of wind as we rode with somewhat modest abandon through mountain roads. Continue reading

How To Save Your Family From the U.S. Decline

Last week the Federal Reserve published a study that made the news: between 2007 and 2010, Americans experienced a 39% decline in median net worth and an 8% decline in median income. The report is one of a series going back to at least 1989, but the new report shows an unprecedented decline in economic well-being.

Although the data are dismal, there is a lesson for Americans willing to fight: it’s time to return to the working and saving habits of American mythology where strong families work together toward common goals. Families will want to pull together into larger, more integrated economic units to help those affected recover and move forward.

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What Do You Do When You’re Ready to Retire, but She’s Not?

What Do You Do When You’re Ready to Retire, but She’s Not?

Some of you may have seen the Wall Street Journal special report on retirement earlier this week. Several topics were covered, and while we definitely plan to discuss a few of them, one article in particular grabbed my attention. A lot is written about where and how to retire, but this piece talked about a decision many of us take for granted… when to retire.  Continue reading

Building Soil, Building Families

Much of the eastern United States has been cultivated or otherwise used in agriculture at one time or another. The land was used roughly by our ancestors, though they may not have known how to use it better. Soil conservation ramped up after 1930, but by then the eastern U.S. had endured up to 300 years of untutored soil use, causing great amounts of erosion. Creating new soil is an act of reparation, requiring dedicated work and patience.

Building soil may be like building families, especially for grandparents. Grandparents often work quietly, at odd moments, maybe in the background. Continue reading

Offering Responsible Help

The last post related how emergencies can put a retiree’s living standards at risk. Now the discussion turns to thinking and working through emergencies in ways that manage the risk appropriately.

If retirees pay regular living expenses from their investment portfolios, and then spend some of those investments to resolve emergencies, they put future withdrawals at risk. It’s different in middle life when living expenses are paid from salaries or wages, and savings are commonly used for emergencies.

Some Financial Approaches

One solution is to set aside a portion of a retirement portfolio for emergencies. A retiree with a $500,000 portfolio could set aside $100,000 for emergencies, using only $400,000 for ordinary living.  If the withdrawal rate is 4 percent, the retiree would withdraw $16,000 annually for ordinary expenses. The $100,000 emergency fund would be left alone.

In addition, retirees have other options:

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