How prepared are you for the day when your employment or business income ends?
Don’t worry, this is not another lecture on the importance of saving for retirement, we all know it’s important, our parents and financial advisors told us. For most of us, our minds occupied with raising a family, paying a mortgage and building a career it was easy to forget about preparing for retirement. Pension plans and annuities were the last things on our minds.
The problem is that those years from being a busy 30 something year old parent, home and career builder to a 50 something empty nester fly past like the wind. Suddenly we wake up to the fact that 65 or whatever retirement age we are facing is just around the corner.
The wise few amongst us will have been investing over the years. Others may be entitled to a pension from a business, commercial employment or government service. Many others, through circumstance, poor planning, lack of financial discipline or plain bad luck will suddenly realise that we are unprepared for the day that our incomes from our regular employment or business activities stop.
Many of us who did make some attempt to prepare for our old age have become victims of inflation and currency devaluation. I have personal experience of this and I know that huge numbers of baby boomers could tell similar tales.
When I was in my early 30′s and employed by a large company in South Africa, I sensibly started paying in to a Retirement Annuity plan. This had tax advantages comparable to a Canadian RRSP or similar retirement plans in other countries. On leaving the company after over 10 years service, I was entitled to receive my contributions to the company pension fund. To prevent losing a large part of this to tax, I invested the lump sum into my Retirement Annuity plan.
At the time, conservative growth estimates indicated that after the large lump sum injection, this plan would provide an income sufficient to finance a moderate lifestyle from age 60 and obviously a slightly better income if I delayed the maturity to 65 or 70. The income would be even higher if I could continue my monthly contributions.
Now 35 years later, the South African currency has devalued to one tenth of what it was. Inflation has eroded purchasing power in most countries and in my case, I moved to North America with its higher cost of living. In real terms, the annuity I bought at the maturity of that plan gives me less than 10% of what I had originally expected. Although it is totally inadequate to live on, it still gives me a good feeling when the quarterly transfer arrives in my bank account. It makes me realise the wisdom of investing that lump sum in a good pension plan instead of sacrificing a large part to income tax and squandering the rest on consumables. Which is exactly what I would have done then!
Inflation and currency devaluations are facts of life. They will occur whether we save and invest or not. We have some flexibility in choosing where we live and where we retire which may either reduce these effects or even take advantage of them. As my experience shows, we are still better off by investing and saving for our old age than using inflation as an excuse for spending all our income.
My experience also shows the security of investing in a retirement plan with and purchasing an annuity from, a reputable insurer. Despite the chaos and uncertainty in the “new” South Africa, because my annuity is with one of the largest insurers, my investments keep on generating a return and my payments keep on coming.
Wishing you a secure and prosperous life.
We had an unexpected windfall last week.
When we moved to Canada in 2004 we began to get used to the mixed blessings of the “free” health system – absolutely wonderful for life-threatening or very serious health problems, but unbelievably frustrating and worse in many ways with longer waiting times, than 3rd world Zimbabwe for less serious procedures. There was no longer a need for medical insurance (medical aid) cover, so we cancelled the relatively inexpensive but good cover we had paid for in Zimbabwe. As we were self-employed, we did as a precaution take out a hospital policy that would pay out if either of us were hospitalised or disabled though accident or illness.
After my heart attack in 2010, we remembered the policy, claimed and received a useful payout. We then forgot all about the policy. In 2011 Sue needed surgery, spent a few days in hospital and was unable to work for a month. Because it was a planned procedure, not an emergency we did not think of claiming on the policy. A few weeks ago, the insurance agent called on a routine visit, she asked how our health was and we told her about Sue’s hospital visit. She then asked if our claim had been processed efficiently and if we were happy with our payment.
We were more than surprised, we had not thought to claim.
Fortunately, we were inside the 12 month window to submit a claim and last week we received a useful cheque. This incident also reminded us that we had cover on another hospital type policy which our bank had persuaded us to take out for Sue some years ago. We submitted a claim on that one too, but have not received a payment yet.
There must be hundreds of these type of policies quietly gathering dust in filing cabinets and desk drawers around the country because people have forgotten about them. The monthly premiums are not high enough to be a constant reminder that the policies exist. Most premiums are paid automatically by bank debit. While serious and emergency hospital visits might be sufficient triggers to think about insurance policies, minor and scheduled visits in our case, were not.
A good reminder of the importance of reviewing insurance policies regularly and claiming the benefits when possible. Especially for baby boomers who might have started policies like these many years ago.
Here is a reminder about another type of insurance many of us overlook – insurance for antiques or collectibles. Don’t assume that these items will be adequately covered by a normal house holders or house owners policy. Here is a link sent by Shanna Houston, a visitor to the blog who thought it might be useful to other readers.
I got a painful reminder that as baby boomers we are no longer as flexible as when we were teenagers or twenty somethings.
One of the ways I try to stay fit and get exercise is to ride my horse Magic Penny 2 or 3 times a week. Between bad weather and business commitments, I don’t always ride as much as I would like. Some weeks I have to settle for a Sunday ride.
Magic Penny has a bit of an attitude, although one of the smallest horses I have owned, he is one of the most difficult. Much more so than many of the Thoroughbreds I rode in Africa.
One of his most frustrating habits is that he fidgets when ridden, it is difficult to keep him to a steady pace or prevent him throwing his head around. I know he would be a much better behaved horse if I spent more time working with him, but there are only so many hours in a day.
For all his other faults, he does stand still when I get on him which was fortunate last Friday.
I discovered that he is much calmer if I ride him bareback in the paddock than with a saddle. The saddle is not the problem, I have checked carefully. As a way to get more time on his back and to ride him more frequently, this summer I have been getting on him bareback a few mornings a week when we lead the horses out in the mornings.
Because I am not as agile as I used to be, I do not vault on him from the ground when there is no stirrup to use. I stand on a large section of log about 60cm (24″) high that we use as a mounting block.
Last Friday, Magic Penny was bouncing around a bit more than usual and I was in a hurry. Hurry and excitable animals are not a good combination. I was finding it difficult to get him to stand still next to the block, on about the third attempt to get him close enough, I threw my right leg over his back. Before I could spring on, he moved away, stretching me out like a ballet dancer doing splits. To avoid falling between the horse and the block, I gave a huge push with my left leg and felt an agonising tearing sensation inside my left thigh.
The push was enough to get me on the horses back, thank goodness he stood still as a rock because I was in no condition to control him. I felt like someone had stuck a knife into the inside of my upper leg and was turning it like a corkscrew. It was so severe that I felt nauseous, almost as bad as when I broke my arm and foot in another horse accident. I lay on his neck for a while until I had recovered enough to slide off him, let him go and hobble to the house. I did not think to ice the leg which would have been the best thing for it.
Fortunately no serious damage was done, I was very sore for a few days but able to resume my 2 or 3 km morning walks after 2 days. It is an injury that sprinters, rugby players and long jumpers get. It is a result of the muscle unable to stand the force of explosive acceleration. Distance runners do not experience it. No doubt in my case it was as a result of old muscles and unusual movement.
It was a very painful lesson for me. A reminder to be a bit more careful next time. Fortunately I do not seem to have done any permanent damage.
Hard for us to accept that we do lose flexibility as we get older and all the more reason keep doing some exercise and staying as active as possible.
If you have found your way here and missed my last post explaining that I have had to put this blog on hold for a while, you might be interested in some of the posts on my other blog, Peter Wrights Blog or my business blog with social media tips – Focused Prosperity
Here is the link to a recent post on Getting rid of a bulging Stomach where I wrote about various fasting diets.
Wishing you success
It is with horror that I realise I have not published a post on this blog since the 4th of July.
I could come up with a whole lot of excuses, but the truth of it is that I have been finding it necessary to concentrate on things that produce revenue (this blog does not generate any income).
That means Internet Marketing, writing for clients and my other two blogs, some off-line stuff.
For a while now, this blog has been like Cinderella, only getting crumbs of attention left over from my other two blogs.
As much as I agree that consistency and frequency of posting are important ingredients for a successful blog, I am also aware that there is little point in publishing posts just for the sake of it.
To be honest I also have difficulty in thinking like a baby boomer or even to try and write stuff that would be interesting to other boomers. How are we supposed to think? What are we supposed to be interested in? I still think like I always have, still do most of what I have always done, sometimes a bit slower or more carefully.
I have a few ideas for the future direction of this blog, but I am going to put it on a back burner for a time while I develop those ideas.
My Peter Wrights Blog gets 3 or 3 posts a week on a variety of subjects including marketing, business, politics and my business blog: Focused Prosperity gets updated with social media and business posts.
Thank you to all readers who have visited these pages over the last 18 months.
Wishing all my USA readers a Happy Independence Day this 4th July.
Here’s hoping the fires in the Rocky Mountain states are quickly extinguished and that the power is soon restored in the East.
On my other blog, I wrote about how as a new Canadian and a baby boomer, I am puzzled by the prevalence of an anti-American attitude here. I also wrote about how someone who has seen his own country’s independence brutally destroyed is seriously worried by the onslaught on individual rights and personal freedom that appears to be spreading in the West.
Here is the link PeterWrightsBlog.
Wishing you a wonderful day and an independent future.
I am as guilty as most of our generation of baby boomers in thinking that a) we had it tougher than youngsters today, and b) we were generally better behaved, had better manners and a stronger work ethic than is now the norm.
A huge generalisation I know and the fact that there are many exceptions gives me some hope for the continued survival of our species.
Of course we had our share of eccentrics, like the older gentleman in the photograph here, irresponsible people and outright crooks.
The recent appalling episode when a grandmother was severely abused by a group of teens on a bus is the latest in a number of incidents that indicate to me that there is something fundamentally wrong with our Western Society.
The “softening” of society, lack of consequences for bad behaviour, rewarding of mediocrity, tolerance of awful behaviour in public, awarding passing grades for failing students in schools are all part of the problem. As are the obsession with criminalising any activity with the most tenuous connection to racism or minority group rights and the increasing persecution of law-abiding people protecting themselves and their property. Particularly if they happen to be or are suspected of being, legitimate gun owners. The ever-expanding tentacles of big brother government now controlling so much of what we can do or say, handicaps the law-abiding, responsible majority while protecting and excusing the bullies and criminals.
Time to bring back the cane or the strap for immature youngsters who want to terrorise grandmothers on buses and stop persecuting ordinary people who may inadvertently mention a person’s race or express disapproval at the attacks on the societal norms of religion and behaviour that contributed to the success of our Western societies.
Hard to believe how badly wrong we have got our priorities over the last few years, a case of the tail wagging the dog.
Let’s hope we get a swing back to common sense before it is too late.
The silver lining on the dark cloud of the abused grandmother story is that as of today $545 000 has been raised for her. A wonderful show of support and kindness and perhaps a sign that I am not alone in my concern at how bad things have become.
With a bit of luck, the authorities might be shamed into punishing her tormentors, a public flogging might be a suitable wake up call and a deterrent to others.
As a Baby Boomer and blogger I spend more time reading than watching TV. I follow a number of blogs, some I like, some I don’t. I agree with the views of some, disagree with others, but I generally learn something from most of them. Of all the blogs I visit frequently, I have the most ambivalent feelings for the Huffington Post.
I find its liberal bias in almost every political article and its attempt to introduce a slice of liberal propaganda into articles with no or little political content, irritating. Its portrayal of Wisconsin Governor Walker’s recall election win as a disaster instead of a vote of confidence in a policy that may have a chance of turning around the states economic decline is a prime example.
The main reason I continue to tolerate the irritation, is that sprinkled throughout the leftist political bits there is a lot of good stuff. Too much for one person to read. There are some real nuggets hidden in there, but you have to dig for them. Technical advances, social media, business successes, small business rags to riches, human interest and health stories are all there. So too are thousands of words on arts, celebrities, food and many other subjects. Something for every one. If you want enough reading material for weeks, subscribe to the Huffington Post.
One article that made me sit up and take notice last week was an article by Dorothy Sander: “The Caregiver’s Silent Burden” It is a well written account of the effect her husband’s heart attack had on her and their lives. She describes the burden of suddenly being thrown into the role of caregiver.
As a heart attack survivor myself, I know only too well what a burden, physically, emotionally and frequently, financially, the care-giving spouse has to carry.
Severely aggravated when as in both Dorothy’s husband’s case and mine the one being cared for was a solo entrepreneur or small business owner. Yes we all know that we should have sufficient death and disability insurance cover to take care of the financial burden. For a whole range of reasons from neglect to shortage of funds, many do not.
As baby boomers we have to expect that sooner or later either our partners or ourselves are likely to become care givers or cared for.
It’s something we avoid thinking about, but we should. A little planning now when we are healthy and relaxed can save a lot of anguish and stress when we or a loved one are suddenly unable to do what we have always done. Something as simple as checking how each credit card company’s card holder insurance pays out in the event of death, or disability from accident or illness can save sleepless nights later. We found out that there are big differences between the different card companies and between the issuing banks. I wrote about it on my other blog in December 2010: Credit card insurance tips.
When I was lying in the critical care section at our hospital after my heart attack, I was more worried about how Sue would manage to do everything that needed doing on the computer, than I was about my own survival.
Take a few minutes to think about suddenly having to be cared for or to care for your spouse or partner. A little planning now could save a lot of worry later.
This has to be the easiest way for baby boomers or anyone to get involved in a home business that only needs a few minutes a day, a very small initial investment but one that can provide a very useful income. I have been in it for 2 months and am very happy with the return on my original investment and that it only takes me 4 minutes a day to simply copy and paste an ad.
Check it out here. (affiliate link)
I rarely spend time watching television and almost never during the day except for an occasional news bulletin. It was quite out of character for me to sit glued in front of the set for 3 hours on Sunday watching the Thames River Pageant, part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
It was an amazing spectacle, I was enthralled for the whole 3 hours, the organisation (3 years of planning) the attention to detail and the estimated 1 million people lining the banks for the river were unforgettable.
Yesterday, I saw a little of the concert and today parts of the carriage parade.
The Jubilee celebrations will be reported at great length in the media, I am not going to try to compete here.
I did publish a post on the river pageant on my other blog Peter Wrights Blog.
I have gone from a young child waving my Union Jack on the streets of London at the Queen’s coronation in 1953 (So I am told, I was only just walking then) to thoughts that the Royal Family had outlived its usefulness in my young adult hood. Then a period of acute dislike of everything British for the way the country betrayed thousands of its sons and daughters and former WW2 allies, by sacrificing us as Rhodesians in the late 1970′s. Forcing a terrorist government and the name Zimbabwe, on us despite us having convincingly beaten the terrorists, unaided, in the bush war. An action that led to thousands of people being murdered, displaced and reduced to poverty by Mugabe – still continuing after 32 years of misrule and the country now a basket case.
After leaving my country and moving to South Africa, I was indifferent to the antics of the Royal Family, I could not get excited about Princess Diana and her well publicised troubles. For years, the only time my interest was aroused was if there was coverage of parades featuring horses, carriages, cavalry units in ceremonial dress. For all their faults, the British do pomp and ceremony better than any other nation.
After leaving England for Rhodesia at the age of 5, then a short visit at age 10, I did not return for almost 40 years until the late 90′s when my elder son who had moved to the UK, got married.
I was in awe of the history of Great Britain, I visited relatives in Salisbury, Wiltshire and they took me to Salisbury Cathedral, 400 years old and with a 400 foot steeple. All the old buildings in London and some of the other places we visited, left me with a feeling that perhaps my British roots were important after all.
That visit re-awakened an interest in history, subsequent visits enhanced it. I paid more attention to British news and even got over some of my intense dislike of the British Politicians responsible for abandoning their Rhodesian kith and kin, most of the politicians from that era were dead by then. I suppose age mellows us, I began to see how the Royal Family and the Queen in particular was such an important part of Britain.
The terrible period from 2000 when farmers in Zimbabwe were being murdered by Mugabe’s thugs, our farms taken, many of us illegally thrown into jails and our lives irrevocably changed, did not lessen my new regard for the Queen. My subsequent move to Canada, where the Queen is (generally) held in high regard and the availability of the BBC World News television channel has kept my interest alive.
I have to confess that the sight of the cheering crowds, the flags, the boats in the procession, the sound of God Save the Queen, but above all, the sight of the Queen and Prince Philip standing for the entire 3 hours of the Pageant was deeply moving. A reminder of what made Great Britain great, ruler of the greatest empire the world has known. A passing sadness for what has transpired since those days, while a lot of things have got better for many people, it seems that the world is a far less certain and well-ordered place than it was then.
Perhaps the lessons the Queen gives us from her 60 years on the throne are the importance of endurance and duty. Performing thousands of official functions for 60 years has to be one of the biggest tests of endurance imaginable. Standing for 3 hours on a cold wet day at the age of 86 is surely a lesson in dedication to duty that is all too rare in the current age of entitlement.
I don’t regret the 3 hours spent watching the spectacle.
Wishing you a prosperous life.
p.s. Promoting Penny Auctions might be the ideal part time business for Baby Boomers needing to supplement their retirement income.
Check out Zeek Rewards it only takes 4 minutes a day. (affiliate link)
Free images from FreeDigitalPhotos.net
One of the blogs I enjoy is the Drayton Bird Blog. Drayton Bird is acclaimed as one of the best copywriters and marketing geniuses ever to have practiced either craft. His crisp writing, irreverence and total lack of political correctness are like blasts of fresh air in the suffocating fog of bland writing and blander opinions we are subjected to.
Being as distrusting of the ever-expanding tentacles of big government as I am, I really enjoyed this post of his:
Meanwhile, Paul Dooley sent me this. It is called the Dead Horse Theory. I’d seen it before, but a surprising amount of the content reminded me of the current Euro chaos.
The Dead Horse Theory
The tribal wisdom of the Plains Indians, passed on from generation to generation, says that “When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.”
However, in government more advanced strategies are often employed, such as:
1. Getting a stronger whip.
2. Changing riders.
3. Appointing a committee to study the horse.
4. Arranging to visit other countries to see how other cultures ride dead horses.
5. Lowering the standards so that dead horses can be included.
6. Reclassifying the dead horse as living-impaired.
7. Hiring outside contractors to ride the dead horse.
8. Harnessing several dead horses together to increase speed.
9. Providing additional funding and/or training to increase the dead horse’s performance.
10. Employing consultants to do a productivity study to see if lighter riders would improve the dead horse’s performance.
11. Declaring that as the dead horse does not have to be fed, it is less costly, carries lower overhead and therefore contributes substantially more to the bottom line of the economy than do some other horses.
12. Rewriting the expected performance requirements for all horses.
And, of course…
13. Promoting the dead horse to a supervisory position
If you enjoy reading British English you will enjoy the Drayton Bird Blog.
Wishing you a prosperous life.
p.s. One very un-dead horse that I am flogging is Promoting Penny Auctions by spending just 5 minutes a day simply copying and pasting an on-line ad.