Debunking 5 Common Retirement Myths

Written by James Clarke

While Americans know full well they have to save for retirement, many have some mistaken assumptions that could end up costing them money when they’re older. When it comes to crucial aspects like healthcare, for example, most couples don’t realize that they’ll need over $280,000 in retirement savings for healthcare costs. Beyond healthcare, there are many other retirement aspects that Americans are uninformed about and here we’ll cover 5 of them.

My Social Security and Pension Will Be Enough

Banking on your social security and pension to be enough to support you in retirement is a terrible misconception. When looking at the numbers, Social Security provides a third of the monthly income for most retirees at about $1,471. Despite this, 21% of retired couples and 45% of retired singles still depend on Social Security for 90% or more of their retirement income. You shouldn’t count on your pension too much either as both public and private pensions are in trouble. While some are at risk of going under, others have billions in shortfalls and won’t be paying as much as originally promised.

I Don’t Need to Plan for Retirement Just Yet

While most people know they have to start their retirement planning early they tend to put it off. CFP and financial educator, Joe Catanzarite warns that people don’t start retirement planning until it’s too late or something happens that sends them scrambling. This can lead to costly mistakes and reactionary buying of financial products that they may not need and don’t help create a plan for the future. Therefore, Catanzarite recommends you start planning early, listing your priorities and goals and seeking advice from a qualified planner.

Borrowing from My 401(k) is a Good Idea

Borrowing from your 401(k) should only be as a last resort. Investopedia notes that you could lose investment earnings on the money you’ve borrowed and repay the loan with after-tax dollars. Should you lose your job you’ll also have to repay the loan faster, during your next tax return. Thus, it’s a good idea to consider other avenues like short-term loans, or a title loan to avoid the headache of borrowing from retirement savings. With title loans in Ohio having only minimal requirements for borrowers such as a vehicle title for collateral, it’s a comparatively low-risk move compared to borrowing against your 401(k). Online options are available depending on the state, with loaners Highway Title Loans, for example, servicing borrowers in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Utah, among others. With a short-term loan, you’ll also avoid potential penalties and tax implications associated with borrowing from tax-deferred investments.

I Won’t Have as Many Expenses

For mysterious reasons many Americans believe that their living costs will magically decrease by half when they retire. In fact, they could go up. You’ll still be paying for your home when you retire, and although your mortgage may be paid off, you’ll pay for insurance and property taxes. You’ll also need transportation, food, utilities and communications. Sure, you’ll spend less on fuel because you no longer have a daily commute but your car will still need insurance and possible repairs. As we mentioned above, healthcare could even make your living costs increase. Plan for maybe a 20% to 25% reduction at most.

I’m Going to Work After Retirement

Many people expect to continue to work during their retirement and two in three expect that work will be a major or minor source of income, based on a survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI). In reality, only half of those can do so and the rest leave the workforce due to job loss, and disability, among others. Therefore it is important to plan to retire 3 to 5 years before you think you will and delay taking Social Security benefits for as long as possible.

Call Me Grandpa

Three months ago my daughter proudly announced the arrival of Lucas – her son and therefore my grandson. He is her first child and more importantly our first grandchild! A cute little dude with big eyes and a smile that is going to get him into trouble when he grows up. He is already discovering the finer points of flirting.

It is hard to believe that little gremlin I used to carry in a backpack as we walked Capitola beach now has a gremlin of her own.

My daughter and her family live two hours south of us which is the perfect distance – close enough to reach via a moderate drive but not so close as to be easily accessible for short notice babysitting. Needless to say with the new addition we will likely head south more frequently – gotta be part of those memorable baby pictures.

It is exciting to be a grandpa. Years ago my wife and I talked about having grandkids. “Sometime down the road it will be wonderful.” Well that road has now been traveled and here we are.

As a novice grandpa I look forward to sharing new experiences with Loo, seeing the world through his eyes and being part of his excitement at all things new.

Sharing first time experiences

Loo (currently four months of age) recently visited Target for the first time and was pretty much overwhelmed – in a good way. The sights and sounds and smells, the chattering people – all interested in getting a closer look at him – and the bright colors, everything new and everything  exciting. I am sure his little heart was fluttering at full speed as he tried to take in all the stimuli. And we are only talking about a visit to Target!

I imagine his first visit to the zoo and the amazement he will feel with so many crazy and diverse and noisy critters to see.

What about his first taste of cotton candy? A gossamery wisp of sweetness that melts as it touches your tongue.

Something as simple as feeding a bluebird in the backyard will be an adventure for the first time feeder.

And his first pickle! Pickles are a tradition in our family. It is not unusual to see any of us comfortably seated in front of the TV whittling away at a massive dill. I await his expression when he first chomps into a juicy gerchin.
I believe seeing new experiences through the eyes of my grandson will allow me to appreciate the little things that much more. Everyday occurrences that become mundane can transform into miraculous events when realized from the perspective of a novice. Thank you in advance Loo for setting me straight.

A Grandpa’s responsibility

Parents have a tough job when it comes to raising children. Their job is 24/7. The child’s safety and future is in their hands. The person they will become is hugely determined by the example parents provide. Likes and dislikes, hopes and aspirations, prejudices and beliefs, all will be mirrored in the little person, that chip off the old block.

As a grandpa I survived the day-to-day stresses that come with providing for a family. Free of that burden I can focus on what matters most – at least in my opinion. I would share three wisdoms gleaned from my 61 years on this Earth:

Treat others the way you want to be treated – an oldie but goodie and applicable to all things. You are never too young to start living this.

Find something you love and follow it – in the end it is better to look back on a life spent doing what you are passionate about rather than tallying your bank balance. My son has worked his butt off for the past seven years to get a full time job caring for animals in the zoo. He majored in zoology and in a very competitive job market has shed blood, sweat and tears working for free or close-to-free to get his foot in the door. He recently secured a full time job at the Oakland Zoo and we are all ecstatic. It’s not just about money – it’s about getting up each morning looking forward to your day. Loo, take a lesson from your uncle and follow your dream.

Listen – with your mouth shut and your ears open it is amazing what you might learn. Chief Luther Standing Bear said,”Silence grants a space before talking was done in the practice of true politeness and regardful of the rule that thought comes before speech.” You cannot listen if you are talking.

We have been grandparents for four months. As a newbie to the game I can say that the experience is all we could have hoped for and imagined. Each smile on that little face brings an immediate smile to this old mug. To me there is no sweeter sound than his cooing whispers after a good meal, living in the moment without a fear in the world. It may have taken a while to get here but grandparenthood is good. We look forward to sharing what tomorrow brings in the everything-new never a dull moment life of our first grandson.

Tips for Improving Your Memory

Written by Stephanie James

You might start forgetting things as you grow older. It can be very frustrating because it reduces your level of productivity during the day. Fortunately, it is possible to change your situation.

With the brain’s neural plasticity and synaptic pruning, you may strengthen the necessary neural connections. This means that you can improve your cognitive skills and memory even as you age.

Below are natural and simple ways that you can use to do it.

Practice Mindfulness Meditation

Meditation comes with extensive benefits that include enhancing one’s memory. Whenever you meditate, your brain’s cerebral cortex thickens because blood flow to the region increases. Consequently, it improves your learning and concentration abilities; enabling you to remember important things more often.

For starters, here are some meditation tips that can help you get better at it:

  • Create time to meditate
  • Find a calm meditation space
  • Close your eyes and detach from your thoughts
  • Make it a routine

Make Time for Exercise

Physical activities are essential not only for maintaining a healthy body weight but also for your mental health. Exercising increases the amount of oxygen in your brain and strengthens the effects of useful brain chemicals like acetylcholine. It also facilitates neuroplasticity. Therefore, heading to the gym more often or jogging in the morning can help to improve your memory.

The following are some efficient ways to make sure that you don’t skip your physical exercise:

  • Always drink water to stay hydrated
  • Exercise whenever you feel ready
  • Look for an exercising partner or trainer
  • Set your fitness goals

Cut Back on Alcohol

Minimizing the amount of alcohol that you drink can improve your memory. Research shows that drinking a lot of it comes with neurotoxic effects on your brain. It might even destroy the hippocampus; the brain’s part that is involved in learning and creating new memories. Therefore, refrain from excessive alcohol consumption to maintain a healthy brain and prevent forgetfulness.

Are you looking for ways to avoid going to your favorite bar every day? Here are some basics:

  • Keep yourself busy whenever the urge to drink kicks in
  • Stop keeping alcohol in your room/house
  • Avoid friends who encourage you to drink
  • Set a limit on the amount of alcohol you consume weekly

Get on a Regular Sleep Schedule

Getting adequate sleep is also a practical tip for improving your memory. It allows for memory consolidation. Hence, your short-term memories become stronger, and you can remember them for long. People who don’t sleep well have poor memories. To avoid being one of them, you can:

  • Try to have consistent sleeping and waking times
  • Avoid consuming a lot of caffeine especially later in the day
  • Stop having long daytime naps
  • Refrain from eating late at night
  • Shower before you sleep

Eat More Fruit; Berries are Highly Recommended

According to a study done by Harvard researchers, eating blueberries and strawberries prevents memory loss that comes with aging. A blueberry is rich in flavonoids which strengthen your brain pathways. They have even been recommended for people living with Alzheimer’s disease and those who want to lower their risk of dementia.

Be Mindful of the Level of Sugar Intake

Poor memory has been associated with taking a lot of sugary foods. Eating a lot of sugar is known to worsen conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. This is because it reduces your brain volume; lowering your capability to store short-term memories. To boost your memory, avoid taking foods and drinks with a great deal of sugar.

Regardless of your age, it’s always a good idea to get ahead of memory loss and work on ways to improve it! Don’t remember what you had for breakfast yesterday? The tips that we have provided above can help your memory improve and ultimately improve multiple areas of your life.