"I stand to inherit a lot from my father, including high cholesterol and diabetes. Oh, and maybe a few Beatles records. Actually, the first two don't sound bad compared to the last," - Jarod Kintz, author and humorist (1982 - ) -- "This Book is Not FOR SALE."
By Julia Anderson
Your grandmother leaves you an unexpected chunk of money in her will. A great-aunt dies with you named as her only heir.
our spouse dies leaving you a substantial life insurance payout. An employer offers you a lump sum pension buy-out. You settle a lawsuit.
You win the lottery!
Coming into a large amount of money, especially if it is unexpected, may at first sound like a wonderful surprise, a good thing. But financial advisers say people often lose their heads when they see dollar signs. They put the new money in a special category and go on a spending spree. Later they may have regrets about how the money was used.
In one case, a middle-aged woman received $3 million in life-insurance money when her husband was killed in an on-the-job accident. She gave money to friends and family, took expensive trips, bought and sold houses and expensive cars. Within five years the money was gone.
Coming into money can happen at any age but women over age 50 will likely be among a large category of recipients. That’s because they stand to inherit 70 percent of the assets that will be passed down over the next two generations. Those assets likely will come from their elderly 90-something mothers when they die or when a long-time spouse passes on. Or both.
Whatever way it may happen, coming into money has psychological implications, says Susan Bradley, author of “Sudden Money: Managing a Financial Windfall.” “People think windfalls are about money. But it’s really all about change and transition…and people need time to adjust,” she says.
Plan ahead, if you can
If you have the slightest hint that you might inherit money, make your plans in advance to avoid bad decisions. If it’s a surprise, establish a money moratorium. Some advise that you should not tell anyone of your windfall…not your kids, not friends.
Do nothing with your money for at least a few months, if not an entire year, advise the experts at Bankrate.com. Put it in safe place such as short-term bank CDs. Get it out of your checking account so you don’t see it every day.
Seek the help of a therapist to sort through the emotional impact of your sudden wealth. Money changes who you are, affects relationships and may create resentments. “Everything a person has spent decades building changes in one fell swoop,” says Dennis Pearne, psychologist and co-author of “The Challenges of Wealth.” “Half the people who attain sudden riches spiral into self-destructive behaviors.”
The advisers at Fidelity.com recently posted an item, "What to do with a big, fat inheritance," They suggest that if you've got a chunk of money that the best strategy is to look long-term with a plan to reinvest for earnings and income in 70 percent stocks and 30 percent bonds. "Focus on creating a portfolio that's right for you,' says Walter Updegrave in the Fidelity post, "but stick to low-cost choices like index funds or ETEs. Half a percentage point a year in fees can boost the eventual size of your nest egg by 25 percent or more."
Set up a team of advisers
If your windfall is substantial, the experts recommend that you weather the storm by setting up a team of advisers whom you trust: a fee-based financial planner, an estate attorney and an accountant. Don’t ignore taxes.
Some windfalls such as an insurance payout are tax-free. However, a large inherited estate could be subject to federal and state taxes. Or if you cash out an inherited (and tax-deferred) individual retirement account you may owe taxes on the entire amount. How to handle these issues requires tax advice.
Meanwhile, don’t quit your day job. Windfall recipients often under-estimate how much money they’ll need to replace their income, says William Hammer in the Kiplinger Personal Finance newsletter. “If you earn $50,000 a year, you’ll need to invest anywhere from $1 million to $1.5 million to generate enough to replace that income, he said.
Those who are retiring already know this from calculating how much they can withdraw from their 401(k) nest eggs.
Geoff Williams, writing at usnews.com says getting rich can be easy compared to staying rich. “Do nothing for as long as possible,” he says. “Don’t spend unusually large amounts of money. The last thing you want to do is blunder into an expensive purchase you can’t return and will soon regret.”
Issues worth thinking about include your current debt, your plans for retirement and taxes, he said.
The experts all seem to be throwing a wet blanket on having any fun from your new found money. But at least one suggested a “small splurge” on say, a trip you’ve always wanted to take. “A small indulgence could reduce the chance that you’ll blow your entire windfall,” said Mitch Brill, a CFP with MassMutual Financial Group.
Let’s face it, a windfall will likely only come around once in a lifetime, so give yourself time to figure out how to make it last a lifetime.
Definition: Windfall – noun. An unexpected, unearned or sudden gain or advantage usually to do with money. The English word windfall originates from the Middles Ages when royalty or lords owned most land and estates and serfs were forbidden to pick fruit or fell a tree. However, if a storm or strong wind blew down a tree, it was referred to as a “windfall” and free for the taking.
"If we don't change, we don't grow. If we don't grow, we aren't really living,"
- Gail Sheehy, author of "Passages" and 16 other books.
RULES: Working while collecting Social Security benefits:
Full retirement age for Social Security is 66 for people born in 1943 to 1954 and will gradually increase to 67 for people born in 1960 or later. But Social Security allows people to begin taking benefits with a lower payout at age 62.
If you are under full retirement age but start collecting benefits and continue to work, Social Security will deduct $1 from your benefit payments for every $2 you earn above the annual limit of $17,040 (2018 limit). (For more, visit www.ssa.gov) In the year you reach full retirement age, $1 in benefits is deducted for every $3 you earn above $41,880 this year. That’s only for the months before you reach full retirement age. Once you reach full retirement age, you can collect benefits without deductions even if you’re working full-time. Even better, if you keep working and don’t take benefits, your benefits will increase 8 percent for every year you wait, up to age 70.
BY JULIA ANDERSON
Jean Morris likes her job, likes her clients and could never think of a reason to stop working even though she is well over full retirement age. “The incentives for working are many fold,” said Morris, 74, who is a financial adviser for iQ Credit Union in Vancouver, Wash.
With 44 years of experience in the financial services arena, Morris said she likes her employer and finds her job rewarding. “When people ask me when I’m going to retire, I give them my pat answer…in eight more years. I’ve been saying that for quite a long time,” she said.
Morris is among a growing number of older Americans who are working full- or part-time even though they are at retirement age. For some it’s a financial necessity and helps stretch their savings. For others, working brings stimulation and social rewards.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, workplace participation by Americans 65 and older has reached 22.1 percent for men and 13.8 percent for women, up from 17.7 percent and 9.4 percent in 2000. Increased life expectancy, a rising “full” retirement age as determined by Social Security and a shift away from defined benefit pension plans all are factors, the Census Bureau said.
Experts say that workers at age 65 should have saved seven times their current salary for retirement. For example, if you’re earning $65,000 a year, you should at least have $455,000 stashed in a 401(k) tax-deferred retirement plan. Many people have not achieved that goal, which means working in retirement is a requirement.
“Increased cash flow is an obvious incentive,” Patsy Eby, a Vancouver CPA, said. “Professionals who have expertise in management or sales…accountants who only work during tax season are good candidates for working part-time in retirement. Some people like to keep an active mind. Retirement can be isolating,” Eby said.
Eby’s advice: Keep working and hold off on collecting Social Security benefits as long as possible. “It’s a gamble, but you get more money, if you wait,” she said.
Fear of running out
Many, especially women, who are approaching retirement, have a fear of running out of money in their later years, even if they’ve saved a substantial nest egg. With concerns about the economy, a rising cost of living and swings in stock markets, many may feel that staying on the job or taking part-time work is a good way to go.
Experts recommend retiring in phases. Ken Dychtwald, CEO of Age Wave, a research think tank on aging, suggests:
- Do your retirement home work. Give your retirement a new beginning and a new purpose. Talk to your partner, your friends. Sign up for work shops.
- Make a list of things you have always wanted to do. Rank them and evaluate what’s possible.
- Get fit. Make your health a priority.
- Schedule a face-to-face meeting at your local Social Security office to find out what your benefit options are. Then meet with a financial planner to decide if you can cut back on work without taking Social Security benefits.
- Come up with a new structure for your days…volunteering, church, part-time work.
- Get a new job. It may be something you’ve never done before but keeps your life productive.
Steve Pierce, who lives in Tacoma, Wash., has three “jobs” and one volunteer commitment in retirement.
Since leaving full-time work as communications director of the Washington state Department of Transportation, Pierce, 66, is filling his days by teaching piano lessons, doing yard work for neighbors and driving for the Department of Services for the Blind. He also volunteers for the local Humane Society.
His advice: Don’t wait until retirement to plan your retirement.
Using as a resource the New York Times best seller, “Younger Next Year,” by Chris Crowley, Pierce identified passions that he’s had for a long time.
“I’ve played the piano since grade school and decided to take on my granddaughter as a student,” he said. “Now I have four students. It’s a joy to see them learn.”
By driving for the blind, he’s formed new rewarding friendships. As a driver, he works for the local Department of Services for the Blind Office, which pays $15 an hour for his time.
“I like yard work so I began doing yard work is for neighbors for which I’m paid or in one case, I trade work for a weekend at their beach house.”
The money, he said, is secondary to the rewarding experiences.
“Money can’t be the focus, but if you’re passionate about certain things you might be surprised that there’s a revenue stream from it,” Pierce said.
In his book, “The Confident Retirement,” author Ron Kelemen observes that “some people view retirement as a solution to their unhappiness at work. They are running away from something instead of to something.”
He suggests making a list of what you like and what you don’t like about your job. Then he recommends (if possible) changing your work situation so that it is more sustainable and enjoyable. Kelemen, an Oregon-based financial adviser, has seen clients develop a new attitude toward their work by tweaking the job they have. Thus, delaying real job loss.
“And, of course, their retirement became more financially secure as a nice side benefit,” he said.
Clueless in retirement
Many people are totally wrapped up in an all-consuming job and are clueless about what they might do with their time if they leave that job. Planning the final third of your life might take work and will likely evolve over time.
“People who retire may need to pull some layers away to get at what they might find rewarding, Pierce said.
Both Morris and Pierce advise those who want to work full- or part-time in retirement to do their homework for what makes sense both financially and emotionally.
“I know a retired school principal who now works at a hardware store because he gets to talk to people all day,” Morris said. In her job, Morris estimates that she manages about 600 clients and handles 60 or more phone calls in an average week.“I don’t consider this working in retirement but just working,” she said.
Pierce left his state job with the full knowledge that he would find a new life in retirement.
“My advice is not to wait but start thinking ahead about what you’re passionate about and whether there’s a way to make some money doing it,” he said.
HELPFUL WEB SITES:
“Younger Next Year,” by Chris Crowley
“The Confident Retirement Journey,” by Ron Kelemen.
“Roadmap for the Rest of Your life,” by Bart Astor
“Can I Retire?” by Mike Piper, CPA
“How to Retire Happy,” by Stan Hinden
“Working After Retirement for Dummies,” by Lita Epstein
"One must live as if it would be forever, and as if one might die each moment. Always both at once," - Mary Renault, English author of "The Bull from the Sea," and others.
BY JULIA ANDERSON
After checking out the seaside town of Agios Nikolaos on a sunny warm day in October for a couple of hours, we settled into an outdoor table along the city’s waterfront. The menu was inviting, prices reasonable.
Deep-fried anchovies, ummm. A tasty bowl of shrimp in cream sauce and a salad with fresh tomatoes, egg and feta. Culinary magic…a moment to savor among many during our six days on the island of Crete.
Since childhood (for me it was reading Mary Renault novels about the ancient Minoans and Greeks) both of us have been fascinated with the Mediterranean. When we first met, we discovered that traveling to the region was No. 1 on both our bucket lists. After signing up for a Rick Steves’ Best of Turkey tour in mid-October, we thought a few days on Crete would add to our adventure. Here’s how we did it:
Getting there and getting around: We flew from Portland, Ore. to Athens, did three days in Athens, then flew from Athens to Heraklion International Airport located on the north-central coast of Crete. Just over an hour’s flight. Dimitris Kopidakis met us at the airport with our rental car. Check out AutoRentalsCrete, which is recommended as an efficient and honest rental company. Getting around was easier using our iPad with an International GPS link. Even when we were momentarily lost, we knew where we were.
Thankfully, most road signs are in Greek as well as in English lettering and sometimes even in English. Driving was not a problem and made the trip more interesting. In terms of our limited time on the island, having a car made things efficient and flexible.
Accommodations: Exploring all of Crete in six days would be a challenge since it is a big island. Instead we focused on the central region offering many important museums and ancient Minoan sites. Using Villa Kerasia bed & breakfast as our base for all six nights was a great decision for its central, but rural location and lovely setting.
Owner-operator, Babis, provided helpful advice that made our stay more rewarding. His evening meals were great fun for the wonderful collection of people at the dinner table…Finns, Israelis, Brits, Germans. Surrounded by olive tree orchards, Villa Kerasia in a restored rock farm house with just seven rooms. There’s a pool and paroramic vistas both east and south.
DAY ONE: Flew to Crete from Athens. Got our rental car and traveled out of town, south to Villa Kerasia. Dinner out off the hillside at a nearby town of Vlahiana.
DAY TWO: Explored south by car to the Minoan ruin of Phaestos (dating from the 15th Century B.C.), then onward for a few hours on the beach at Kommos. It’s easy to understand why the Minoans built Phaestos on this hilltop with its magnificent views south and southwest. This Bronze Age ruin has been extensively excavated and provides a good first opportunity to learn more about the Minoan culture. Habitation here began in 4000 B.C. and peaked about 1500 B.C.
Beautiful location and well interpreted with labeling in Greek and English make this site a must for visitors to the island.
We found plenty of charming small towns where an outdoor lunch was an inexpensive and fun stop. You won’t believe how much feta cheese goes on their salads.
DAY THREE: Destination Agios Nikolaos. We headed north from Villa Kerasia toward Heraklion and managed on the first attempt to negotiate the right hand exit that put us on the well-traveled highway east to Agios Nikolaos. Formerly a fishing village, the city is now a major tourist destination. Quaint streets, gorgeous water, lots of history here. This filled our day. We stopped at Malia on the return to check out the Minoan ruin there.
DAY FOUR: Palace of Knossos and Heraklion Archaeological Museum. The partially restored Palace of Knossos is over-run with tourists (many off of cruise ships or from nearby beach resorts) but is a must, if you go to Crete. The elaborate Bronze Age complex with its stunning frescos and fascinating history provide a context for how civilization started in the Mediterranean. The Minoans were much earlier than the Greeks and the Romans. This stuff is old!
We could have spent more time in the Heraklion Archeaeological Museum. The place is filled with exquisite jewelry, pottery and frescos (See the frescos on the top floor first)! The Cretans know what they have with this collection and show it off beautifully with modern well-lit glass displays and helpful interpretive labeling. This is world-class.
DAY FIVE: Our favorite beach experience began with a hike through the Ayiofarango Gorge to Ayiofrango Beach. The hike-beach experience starts just out of the town of Sivas on the south coast. We drove out of the town to an unpaved rocky parking area where we left the car and walked (1.8 miles) through a beautiful, deep and somewhat shaded rocky gorge to a small pebble beach. The walk was mostly flat with plenty of sights including free-roaming goats along the way. The highlight was the Aghios Andonios Church which dates from the earliest Christian times. The pebbly beach is protected from the wind. Clothing was optional for both sexes.
DAY SIX: A car trip to Hania (or Chania), west of Heraklion on the north coast. This town takes you deep into another epoch of Crete’s complex history. Starting in 1252, the Venetians established a trading center on Crete with Hania as their administrative center. The town still looks Venetian with brightly painted waterfront buildings, imposing brick warehouse structures and a massive breakwater meant to protect the harbor from pirates and the Turks. The Venetians stayed until 1669 despite repeated rebellions by locals. Rebellions continued under the Ottomans.
Exploring Hania Old Town was a treat with its charming back streets and small restaurants that offered better menu selections at more reasonable price than the tourist-trap watering holes on the waterfront.
WHAT WE LIKED MOST: Our lunch-time meal in Agios Nikolaos was one of our most memorable but certainly not the only fabulous food experience while exploring the island.
One of the most healthful diets in the world, Cretan cuisine embraces olives, seafood, greens, delightful cheeses, potatoes in all forms, herbs with plenty of personality and wines. Considering that people have been making wine on the island for several thousand years, you know it is good.
Crete offers ancient ruins with mythical stories from the very beginning of recorded history, landscapes that sweep to the horizon and villages little changed from hundreds of years ago. Our visit was in October toward the end of the tourist season, so beaches that would be teaming with tourists were pleasantly quiet.
TIPS: Villa Kerasia, about 30 minutes south of Heraklion, is a gem. Send email directly to Babis to make a reservation. We paid 60 Euros a night including breakfast. Dinners were additional, so was the wine. But all reasonable.
Renting a car at the airport from Dimitris Kopidakis of AutoRentalsCrete gave us freedom and easy access to most everything we had time for. Roads are surprisingly good. Driving is a bit hectic because slow traffic moves to side to allow faster moving vehicles the non-existent center lane to pass. Take an iPad with GPS. It's a miracle.
Let’s make something clear: We’re active travelers, not beach people. We like to explore, to visit historical sites and learn about local culture by talking to the people and eating their food. But having said that, the beaches in Crete are great. On any beach you will meet plenty of Europeans, especially Germans (who take their clothes off) and Russians, people from throughout the Mediterranean as well as lots of locals.
The people of Crete have a certain energy. Their olive orchards and farms are well-kept Their customer service is excellent. Roads are good (better than in Greece, proper) and the food is extraordinary in terms of fresh ingredients and presentation. All of this at a price well below that of Italy or England, for instance. We would go there again and explore more of the island, both east and west.
I meet women all the time who face job and money transitions and who want to do them right. It’s about building confidence and taking charge of the future. This is your money. No one cares more than you do!
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