31 August 2008

Boomers and Their Bikes

OHM (ohmcycles.com) brings us the electric bike. Can you see its motor? At 50 pounds, the power assist is a disadvantage on a steep uphill but an advantage on whole. How quickly can resorts stock up for boomers like me? (Please add a great seat, by the way.)

Power can be generated through use of brakes (think Prius) but most users will need to re-charge the battery with an electric plug-in, too. How quickly can park systems install charging stations on long bike trails? Will my city offer free electric outlets on streets?

A boomer woman friend rides a scooter to work and I admire her (and her $4/month gasoline bill). And the last couple of deans I had (also boomer women) rode motorcycles to work. Clearly, our generation is open to bikes of all sorts. I predict we'll adopt the electric bicycle, too.

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as professional, legal, financial, or medical advice. Or education advice. Or marital advice. Or even a tip.

30 August 2008

Post-employment Keys


Leaving an institution means turning in keys. Both my daughter and I turned in keys this month—to different institutions of higher learning—after 7 years (me) and 5 years (her). You can think briefly about which post-employment keychain is whose.

Keys to the kingdom. Access to buildings and offices carries a penalty: you can always go to work. That invites working on weekends and nights. Not necessarily healthy but it sure works for the institution. The electronic version of such after-hours work is VPN, virtual private network. That's the access key to an organization's computer system for working from afar. VPN typically requires special permission from the IT department. Increasingly, institutions put certain parts of the system on the web for wide access to anyone with a password. But VPN actually logs into a computer that is on-site (and with ability to remote-control peripherals such as a printer as long as its power is on). Its the ultimate opportunity to over-work.

When workaholism feels good: I don't criticize over-work over much (colloquialism of the south). There are times when I have enjoyed being a workaholic. When an opportunity presents itself, the sane response very well may be to dedicate all of one's time to the enterprise. When I've been in that mode, I've used keys to the office on Saturdays and Sundays, and VPN from travel locations.

And then there's the time to appreciate turning in the keys: But right now, I'm enjoying my lack of keys. In photo above, set A represents my life after turning in university keys. Set B represents Katy's life after turning in university keys.

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as professional, legal, financial, or medical advice. Or education advice. Or marital advice. Or even a tip.

29 August 2008

Impact of Boomers on the Air Travel Industry


My usual observation around air travel is the changing pace at airports. Not just the slow-down that comes with security lines—but the slow-down in the concourse that comes with an aging population. The conveyance system within terminals is as complex as the one outside on the tarmac. Airports design for our needs today and also for our needs 20 years from now. So, there's vertical conveyance (escalators and elevators) and also the horizontal type: moving walkways. The purpose is two-fold: reduce the distance that aging travelers must walk and also maximize flow throughout a terminal. Airport design also supports increased use of assistive motorized carts as well as the personnel to manage them. The demographics of air travel is clear, regardless of the rising energy costs: more older people will be traveling.

This trip, I noticed another change: increased belt length. That's on the airplane. Yes, the seat belt.


© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as professional, legal, financial, or medical advice. Or education advice. Or marital advice. Or even a tip.

28 August 2008

Kangaroom: Travel Pouch for Technology

Smaller than a make-up case but big enough to hold a power strip. For those of us who would never pack a make-up case, anyway, the Kangaroom is the preferred travel accessory.

Since I started traveling with this pouch, I haven't forgotten my airport (wireless Internet) nor the back-up CAT6 cable. Until wireless connection is universal, they are necessary in about a third of the hotels I frequent.

I try to remain amused, instead of irritated, that the collection of gadgets requires permanent marker notations to keep the accessories straight.

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as professional, legal, financial, or medical advice. Or education advice. Or marital advice. Or even a tip.

27 August 2008

Will Baby Boomers Wreck American Society?

Really wreck society or just Social Security? Forecasting appears dire. If boomers insist on retiring early (or even on time), they will create a shortage of funds for Social Security benefits. Presumably, a nation can fund anything it chooses to, so the U.S. may continue to support retirees even if one fund runs short.

But there's another wreck coming. But it's not just the funding for retirement benefits that boomers will influence. The retirement years of note (2008 and 2011 being most discussed now but there will be more dire years ahead) are those that will deplete specific work forces. On campuses, that's called the graying professoriate. Look around a faculty meeting and count the gray hairs. A new dean may see opportunity to grow a new college; a more experienced dean may dread the upcoming upheaval.

A national treasure: I'm not one to call any generation a national treasure, but the Treasury Department has identified the baby boom generation as crucial to their work force. They hope that as current employees exit (with their federal retirement benefits), other retirees or near-retirees will enter. Through the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service, the Treasury Department hopes to recruit retiring IBM workers for encore careers with the government.

Other graying areas: It's not only Treasury that faces a gap in their work force. (Treasury is just one of the smarter entities to develop a strategy to meet their need.) Across all levels of government, we now hear predictions that the most experienced workers will soon be leaving. What will happen then? I can imagine longer lines in government offices, delays in permits and applications for everything, and a general decline in services. Think DMV on its busiest day—every day.

Will government offices make good encore careers? Would you sign on? I can think of some inducements that would lure me for an extra 5 or 10 years of employment: health benefits, flex schedule, option to telecommute half the time, and a cap on total hours of, what, 20 or 25 a week? We'll see what develops.

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as professional, legal, financial, or medical advice. Or education advice. Or marital advice. Or even a tip.

26 August 2008

Applying for Jobs through the Web

Job applications have changed. In the past 6 months I have run across exactly one print form that resembled employment applications of my youth. As I have applied for jobs in the education sphere, I have used online forms and portals to submit my requests. Some have covered a lot of the same items as a traditional application, but some have been markedly different. When the hiring process went to the next step (approved for hire), I had to fill out and submit paper forms for IRS, payroll, and background checks. But notice that employers wait until the hiring decision has been made to process all that paperwork.

New tasks for boomers. I maintain that we boomers are ill-prepared for these new hiring processes. I didn't say we cannot learn them—just that we are caught by surprise. In fact, I found myself repeatedly caught by surprise and stumbling over these new ways until I developed my heuristic, my 75¢ word for "a way to do this."

1 - Preview the application page: When possible (and it isn't, always) I open the online application page and capture what is needed. Methods: copy/paste the page, take a screenshot, write or type a list of the headings. I then close the page and prepare my materials before re-opening for the submission.

2 - Read instructions: As we speed-read web pages, it's easy to skip over anything that looks like an instruction. But many web sites do spell out what is needed in order to make a valid application. They may even specify the type of file required—definitely worth reading. I print out instructions and use a highlighter to check off the requirements as I complete them.

3 - Create a folder on my hard-drive for every potential employer: When I create notes for transfer to an application form, I save the file along with the resume or C.V. that I submit. This means I have multiple folders with the same or nearly the same resume in them. That's OK. Some employers require multiple applications (in my field, maybe not in yours) and I need this historical record of what I've already said.

4 - Update or tailor my resume: Before every application I review my C.V. (curriculum vitae or academic resume) and update it. I keep it current to the month; usually that means I enter a date that a work was published or presented and remove the item from the "accepted" category. In my field, a C.V. is a pretty standard thing but occasionally I do tailor it for a specific job. That might be flipping the order of teaching experience and research supervision. Yep, pretty dry stuff.

5 - Prep resume in multiple file formats: I save the file as both a .doc and a .pdf (file extensions after a sound filename, like Mary-Bold-CV). I intentionally do not use the newer Word extension of .docx because I know that many, many receiving computers won't have the newer version of the software. So, I save the file in the older format and, in fact, I keep my software in "Compatibility Mode" most of the time. I also convert the Word doc to PDF because that's my preferred file type for submission and I like to have it ready in case it will be welcomed. My computer has a PDF distiller built in and I access it by selecting Printer > PDF in Microsoft Office applications. (There are also free web services for this; google "PDF file conversion" for options.)

6 - Prep text for a cover letter: Using Notepad on my PC, I create a plain vanilla text file (carries the extension .txt) with typical phrases that I would use in a cover letter. Some online application pages offer a text field for a cover letter or "message." Having a file ready for every application has a bonus: they serve as a pool of statements that I can re-use and re-fashion for different employers. A .txt file is ideal for copy/pasting to an online form because there is no formatting code being transferred with the characters. For cleanest copy/paste: even if I type in Word Wrap format in Notepad, I turn off that function before I copy/paste the text to another location. (Use the pull-down menu for Format and check/uncheck Word Wrap.)

7 - Prep text for a list of qualifications: On about half of applications I have had opportunity to answer a question such as "What qualifications do you have for this position?" I choose to reply with a list, not a cover letter, in order to provide a highly readable set of factoids. (A paragraph is not necessarily well-read. Anywhere. Which we all know from blog life.)

  • I entitle the list Summary of Qualifications and avoid writing an introduction.
  • I use short phrases that will appear on a single line.
  • If I must use longer phrases, I number the list and hit [Enter] after each entry. (I do not try to create bullets and I definitely do not copy/paste bullets from Word because they often transform into unintended characters.)

8 - Prep frequent entries to avoid typos: Again, using a .txt file with Word Wrap turned off, I create a list of address, phone, email contact, etc., that can be copy/pasted. Thus, I don't have to spend much time proof-reading a submission page.

9 - Prep URL links to my web pages: Using full addresses (starting with http://), I provide links to pertinent web-published materials. I prefer to use only the URLs that I maintain myself so that I know they will remain active. Sometimes I provide a link to a publication or presentation on a journal or organization site—but only if I am confident that the link will be alive for a long time.

10 - And what I would do if I didn't have a URL to share: I would make one. In today's world, job applicants are checked out on the web. You can conduct your own "vanity google search" of your name to see how/if you are represented on the web. You can create a web presence pretty easily, either with a profile page on LinkedIn or a web page of your own making. You don't have to enter personal contact information and, in fact, I don't recommend it. (Your purpose would be to provide samples or representation of your work with the URL you provide in the job application—so you will have already provided contact information on the employer's web form.)

  • User-friendly web page creation: Google Sites accessed with a free Google account. You can create a one- or multi-page website in just a few minutes. Before you share it with a potential employer, ask a friend or colleague to test the link and also proofread the text. While you may feel an impulse to populate it with graphics, resist that urge. Think staid and formal. Treat the web page as a business document that looks a bit like a resume but without the personal data.

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as professional, legal, financial, or medical advice. Or education advice. Or marital advice. Or even a tip.

25 August 2008

Retirement Planning: A Deficit Model


If you are feeling deficit right about now, that's probably because the conventional wisdom maintains that boomers haven't earned enough, saved enough, or planned enough for retirement. That's a common trend for humans: assume the worst. And the trend is actually a good survival instinct.

The pragmatics of retirement planning are correct: advisers plan for extremes because no one can predict the future. So, the standard assumptions are for high medical costs over a long life span with a need for 80% of your pre-retirement income. Hence, the dire calculator results of You may run out of money at age 78... or 89... or 94.

In order to moderate these predictions, resist the standard expectation that you will need 80% of your income in retirement. (Granted, health costs may be dramatic in the future but even in those terms, don't awfulize.) Instead, try building your retirement budget from the ground up.

My favorite retirement calculator is at Bloomberg.com because I can try out multiple scenarios, including setting "percent of income at retirement" at anywhere between 50% and 150% of current household income. Boomer women should also play with the checkboxes for "If you are married" and "To include Social Security."

On a personal note: Using the Bloomberg calculator, I like to play with predictions of pre-retirement household income that are below my current salary. I also check on what will happen if I make no more contributions to retirement savings...and no salary increases. ~ Lida

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as professional, legal, financial, or medical advice. Or education advice. Or marital advice. Or even a tip.

24 August 2008

Grocery Budget: The Cart Approach


The dual-basket shopping cart used to irritate me. I avoided it whenever possible. But now the compact model is my friend—it is my budgeting strategy. If I purchase only what's on sale, and use my loyalty card besides, I can fill the baskets for a mere $61. And since I go to the store only once a month, that's a great budget technique.

I cannot pretend that this single cart feeds the household. Tom Bold makes a weekly trek to Walmart for his preferences and the household staples.

One more comment:
The photo above displays my favorite style of parking lot cart storage (at Tom Thumb in my town). It's low profile and maintenance free. Kind of what I'd like my whole life to be....

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as professional, legal, financial, or medical advice. Or education advice. Or marital advice. Or even a tip.

23 August 2008

Affordable Travel in Retirement

The boomer advantage in travel is that either we're approaching retirement and have a generous number of vacation days, or we're already retired and can claim any day as a vacation day. That flexibility is key to making travel affordable.

  • Travel in the off-seasons, or at least enter "dates flexible" when booking your flight or hotel online. This Fall, I'm using this strategy for a beach resort and "off" doesn't even involve hurricanes.
  • Especially at resort and city center hotels, you'll see different rates for prime days, so check rates by date, not just an average for the nights you specify. I look for Sunday or Monday check-in's that are post-weekend rates.
  • Some cities are on sale over the winter holidays. If there's a hotel that typically serves the convention market, there's a good chance it will have affordable rates when conventions are not scheduled. This has been the case for us in San Francisco during Christmas week. But we've never found discounted lodging at Tahoe over Christmas or New Year's, and I don't care to divulge what we've spent on Thanksgiving in New York.
  • Check for extended stay hotels, often the best buy in metropolitan areas. For New York stays of 2 weeks at a time, I have cut lodging costs by 65% and enjoyed a one-bedroom apartment with full kitchen and in-unit laundry.
  • If you are near a state line, check on differences in taxes that can impact your hotel bill.
  • Camp in a national or state park: buy a senior pass or travel with someone who can.
  • Learn to love the motels on the Interstate
  • Stay at a hostel or Y. OK, granted, I've never gone this route.
  • Swap homes through an exchange service. Something else I haven't tried but The Holiday certainly made Los Angeles and the UK look promising....
  • Couch surf on craigslist. (If you don't know what this is, you absolutely must not do it.)
  • Look for a "package" from a timeshare resort (ask your friends to "refer" you). My friend The Artist is trying this out...right now.
  • Rent a house with other families (related or not) and split the cost. We've done this for stays at a lake in Oklahoma as well as trips to the Colorado mountains. It is important to select co-families with complementary talents. I only did this when there were good cooks on board. I cannot imagine what they thought I was contributing.

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as professional, legal, financial, or medical advice. Or education advice. Or marital advice. Or even a tip.

22 August 2008

Portable Home Theatre


High tech homes may come with home theatre, but most of us put the pieces together one at a time, to our benefit. A data projector that is portable can display movies on the living room wall but also travel to vacation locations. (One holiday at a resort, we projected the image of a Christmas tree on the wall.)

A serviceable projector costs $600. Professional quality display will more likely be more than $1000. The sort that is highly visible in a day-lit room will be more than $2000. (Compare lumens.) I have a preference among current technology, for DLP projectors, but I remind myself that we will see these products continuously improve and it's not smart to marry any one variety.

Replacement lamps are expensive. Mine cost almost $400 and still hasn't been used in 4 years. (It does provide great peace of mind but if you don't have a concern about quick replacement, this is a purchase than can be pushed off.) The cost you won't be able to avoid is the computer to provide images for the projector. I have a particular laptop I like for this purpose because it has easy-to-set-up speakers.

Before you buy a projection screen, take the projector home and try it out on various walls. (I actually prefer display on a white or off-white wall, even with the occasional light switch as part of the movie.) Even if you later decide to purchase a screen, you can use the try-out period to determine what dimensions will suit you best. Then, you can shop on the Internet for great prices.


I had help from my friend The Artist in locating a widescreen version through a supplier specializing in sales to churches. The supplier didn't mind a bit that I wasn't a church. I use that screen only outside my home (presenting seminars) because I really do prefer to watch home movies on my home wall.

Little appreciated factoid about data projectors:
In winter, they warm the room for you.

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as professional, legal, financial, or medical advice. Or education advice. Or marital advice. Or even a tip.

21 August 2008

Emu Oil: Not Medical Advice

Not medical advice. Would I give medical advice to anyone? Of course not. I have no medical training and I only suffer from maladies. And yet I feel compelled to mention one more time my fascination with emu oil.

Doctor's nonchalance. I was prepared to do whatever was necessary about my painful knees. Physical therapy, surgery, medication. Write me up, Doc, I'm ready. The doctor was not impressed. He assured that the knees felt and sounded normal for my age—and would only get worse. He suggested over-the-counter analgesics.

Boomers demand better. Baby boomers, as a generation, demand a lot more than OTC meds. We want improvement, preferably the transformational kind. What we don't like hearing is that something is "only going to get worse."

Emu oil: As I have mentioned before on this blog, it was a masseuse who told me about emu oil in the form of Blue Emu. (I don't own stock.) And about 2 weeks later, my friend The Sociologist told me that a woman on a treadmill next to her talked about the same product. This means that so far I have heard only boomer women talk about emu oil. (No doctors.)

So, not medical advice: I'm not saying emu oil will help your creaky knees. And I'll acknowledge that it did nothing for The Sociologist's elbow. But I use it twice a day and I felt a difference when I stopped. (I now stock up and travel with it, too.) ~ Lida

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as professional, legal, financial, or medical advice. Or education advice. Or marital advice. Or even a tip.

20 August 2008

Personalized Social Security Statement

In yesterday's mail, I received my annual "Your Social Security Statement" from the Social Security Administration (SSA). I decided it would be the year to understand the formula by which our Social benefits are figured. Of course, I was not able to achieve that. On a positive note, our government does not hide the formula—you can track it down on SSA websites. The important conclusion is that the formula protects citizens with lowest incomes and progressively decreases the benefit reward for citizens with highest incomes. (That's proportionate, of course. Maximum contributors to the system still have higher benefits in dollars.)

What I was able to achieve was a comparison of projected benefits according to different income levels. In other words, I was able to estimate benefits in case my income drops, stays the same, or increases over the next few years. (The estimate in my Paper Statement is based on my "current earnings rate" and does not consider other possibilities.) I also made age comparisons using 62 for early retirement, 65 for retirement in my Medicare eligibility year, 66 for "full" retirement, and 70 for delayed retirement. I did all this through the website that my Paper Statement directed me to (www.socialsecurity.gov/mystatement). I had used the online calculators before but today I took time to record all the steps.


Go to http://www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator

Look for the page titles alongside the SSA logo.


Page title: About the Retirement Estimator

Click red button, Estimate Your Retirement Benefits, or at bottom of page, click Continue button.

Page title: Acknowledgement For Online Services

Click on the I Agree button.


Page title: Information We Need

Enter identification factoids (including your Social Security Number)
.
Click Continue button.


Page title: Verify Your Information

Click Confirm button.


Page title: Create Your Retirement Benefit Estimator

Enter a number for last year's income
. (Don't fret about an exact figure—this page just gets you into the estimator. Suggestion: round your current salary to a user-friendly figure such as 40,000.)
Click Create Estimate button.


Page title: Your Retirement Benefit Estimate

The information probably looks a lot like the usual estimate in your Paper Statement from SSA.
Now, for the powerful part of this online tool, look to bottom right of screen for the next step.
Click
Create Additional Scenarios button.

Page title: Retirement Estimator

Step One: Select an age (to get started, use 62 or 66).

Step Two: Enter an average salary; to get started, use the same salary as before (such as 40,000).

Click the Create Scenarios button.


Page title: Your Additional Retirement Scenarios

Finally, you reach the best of the estimator!
Mid-page, enter figures for additional scenarios—change the age, change the average salary.
To get started, add a lot of contrast:

.....Age 62 at average salary $20,000

.....Age 62 at average salary $40,000
Click Create Scenarios button
.

You will then see all 3 scenarios listed at bottom of page. You may need to scroll down, depending on the width of your screen.

You can continue entering new figures in the mid-page section called Create Additional Scenarios. Each time you make a change, click Create Scenarios button.

(You can also back up to the Scenario 1 page by clicking on the Previous button at bottom of page and re-setting the first estimate. Then proceed as before with Create Scenarios.)

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as professional, legal, financial, or medical advice. Or education advice. Or marital advice. Or even a tip.

19 August 2008

Boomers and Their Finance Advisers

What our financial adviser said (continued from yesterday's blog). When I disclosed that I was retiring from a public university and not seeking a similar position anywhere, our adviser said, "You'll never make it!" She knew that my early-retiring husband's salary would end in 2008, and that the expected course was to rely on my income for the next 11 years. (That means pushing off any withdrawals from 401K and IRAs in order to protect them for the long term, that span of retirement that will be 25 to 30 years.)

Who is this nervy adviser? Well, it's a family member. The professional advisers at the investment companies were quietly respectful and merely said, "What accounts do you want to move where?" The in-family adviser fretted a little and fumed a little and finally started to make the projections I needed to justify this change in career. (I'll still be in education, just not on a campus.)

How many advisers does a boomer woman need? Obviously, I need more than one. (Itemization is below.) What I've determined from this recent round of career decision-making is that I like having one in the family. An in-family adviser knows my real habits, not the ones I posture for the outside-adviser. She also knows when I'm serious ("I can stop buying clothes") and when I'm not ("I can give up travel"). Most important, she is my most-motivated adviser. If my career and investments fail, she'll have to support me. Fidelity hasn't made that promise to me.

Advisers of everything. Under one big umbrella of "finance adviser," we variously mean financial planner, investment adviser, stock broker, and maybe even retirement counselor. The terms become crucial if we intend to talk to an adviser who is certified, registered, or somehow regulated. A good online resource to check is the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards; the site has a concise list of descriptions of Financial Professionals.

Being assigned an adviser. Most of us don't select an adviser. We are assigned one by the firm we contract with. I've had two personal bankers, two personal stock brokers (before switching to discount brokers), and three investment advisers. Of that number, three have visited my home and a fourth even visited my classroom (to give a lecture, not to consult with me). That's a lot of personal contact, so you would think that I would put more effort into the choice of adviser. But my association with them has been accidental. Of course, the in-family adviser might make the same argument.

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as professional, legal, financial, or medical advice. Or education advice. Or marital advice. Or even a tip.

18 August 2008

Choosing a Retirement Year


Boomer investments not booming. While not necessarily the best year to retire (market wise), some boomers "on the cusp" will make the move in 2008 or 2009, anyway. That's because they are 62-ish. The first of the baby boomers were born in 1946 and this is their year to qualify for early Social Security benefits. Depending on how you like to "do the math," you may decide that the best pay-out comes with early retirement. But here's an assumption: you have some investments to draw from. (If you retire with only Social Security benefits as income, you are likely to do some serious budgeting in order to survive.) But what if your investments are not in great shape?

Bearing with bear markets: You may decide to continue working for another year or two (until the bad times pass). This means pushing off Social Security, too. It is the safest strategy. It may also be the most frustrating. To make bearing with bear markets more bearable, you re-frame the delay as an "adjustment period" during which you intentionally change your pace, days off, travel, and spending/saving to approximate what you expect to do after you retire.

Risk outliving your investments: Or you may decide to bite the bullet and start drawing from investments, anyway (in addition to starting Social Security benefits). This is the risky strategy, of course. You start drawing from your 401K when it can least support that. The eventual consequence (20 or 30 years hence) is that the money is gone before you are.

Rely on younger spouse: The middle ground is the cusp boomer who takes early Social at 62 and relies on a younger spouse for income, pushing off the day to start drawing from investments. For the couple, this scenario means lower income, of course, and the household budget must adjust. The goal becomes to delay drawing on 401K/IRA as long as possible.

On a personal note: Oh, that's us. Does anyone see the inherent risk of my retiring this summer at the same time my cusp-boomer husband retires? Only a woman of the boomer generation would just assume that things will work out. Tomorrow: what our investment adviser said to us. ~ Lida

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as professional, legal, financial, or medical advice. Or education advice. Or marital advice. Or even a tip.

17 August 2008

When Travel Is Measured In Trash Days


I don't expect everyone to relate to this.

After several decades of marriage... there comes a time that a partner's absence is measured not in days of travel but in number of trash days.

The other side of the coin... is that when you rely on that same partner to fill the car with gasoline, you're ready for the return even if you could use another trash day.

Luckily, the Prius is holding at 51+mpg, so I tolerated Tom's east coast trip very well. Still, 2 weeks is 2 weeks and I did have to fill the tank once. He'll get home tonight and be back on the job.


© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as professional, legal, financial, or medical advice. Or education advice. Or marital advice. Or even a tip.

16 August 2008

Frozen Blueberries


So, frozen is more affordable.
These 16 ounces cost $4.59, which puts boomer health at a better price point. (I wouldn't care to debate the quality issue per my last blueberry post.)

Eat slightly frozen. Even the plastic pouch advises that you thaw the berries only a little before eating them. I think it was our generation that figured out the superiority of frozen fruit. Grapes in childhood were room temperature. By my early adulthood (in the '70s), we were freezing them for best snacking. A real chef reads this blog. She'll know.

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as professional, legal, financial, or medical advice. Or education advice. Or marital advice. Or even a tip.

15 August 2008

Registered (Air) Traveler

Check locations before you get your hopes up. The TSA web site explains a process whereby travelers can be pre-screened for faster processing through airport security. The web page lists current participating airlines and airports; start at bottom of that page to locate your options. More than 20 airports are now listed, and you apply for the screening through the local airport.

Expanding soon. Press releases on the TSA site explain some of the glitches but also indicate upcoming opportunity to expand (and elimination of the $28 fee).

Changing URLs: I hit a snag or two locating the right page after I read about the program. If the link above changes, you can go to the www.tsa.gov site and perform a search for "Registered Traveler."

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as professional, legal, financial, or medical advice. Or education advice. Or marital advice. Or even a tip.

14 August 2008

Health Insurance By State

Diversity among the states. That health insurance is a complex matter goes without saying. Add to the complexity with 51 different versions as documented on Georgetown University's website dedicated to the topic.

healthinsuranceinfo.net is a hard-to-read noun string but once you get to the Georgetown website, the reading becomes easier. Use the clickable map on the homepage to access information by state.

The Georgetown guides do a good job of distinguishing between Group and Individual options. I especially like the site's links to recent press clips, most of which apply to baby boomers. Read below the map for these and other updates from the University's Health Policy Institute.

On a personal note: I will leave my employer's group plan in a few weeks and start COBRA coverage. Tom Bold is already on COBRA but is enjoying paid premiums for a spell. As our COBRA premiums become known to us, I will report on them here. I already have some dissonance: my employer's HR Department told me one thing, the State retirement office told me another thing, and just this week I uncovered text from my original hiring paperwork that presents another COBRA story. I have promised myself that I will keep a log of time spent on health insurance issues. I think a complexity measure is called for, too.

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as professional, legal, financial, or medical advice. Or education advice. Or marital advice. Or even a tip.

13 August 2008

Boomers on Facebook


Friending on Facebook.
Did you notice the fine print? "Mary has no friends." That's what happens when you visit your Facebook account just a few times in many years, never tell anyone about the account, and refrain from friending other people. Well, of course, it is also possible that I might not have friends for other reasons.

Social networking is for boomers, too. Our generation popularized instant friendship (witness the very close relationships that emerged at sit-ins and love-ins), so you might say that baby boomers set the stage for online networking. If you are GenX or GenY you might not say this and I understand fully. Facebook and earlier networks like Friendster were popularized by young people and were long the domain of youth. Today, Facebook serves all ages with the sub-title, a social utility that connects you with the people around you.

tbd AKA TeeBeeDee = to be determined: Another concept is advertised at www.tbd.com specifically for people over 40, Sharing Experience to Thrive. Notice that a reason is provided: don't just connect, thrive.

Or start your own. The next development is to put networking software into our hands, as www.ning.com does. That's not just an opportunity to start a group—it's actually programmable software whereby you create a social network. Groups at ning are impressive: a firefighters group with 22,000 members. An ASCPA community with almost 12,000 people. These are numbers that professional organizations would do anything to garner (and perhaps they should do something as simple as establish a presence on ning).

On a personal note: This week, I asked my daughter if she had emailed a birthday message to her cousin Nicholas. She told me, I put a message on his Wall; you can do that, too. But how would I leave a message on his Wall? Well, you just friend him, and then you put a message there. Oh, I'd never do that. Nicholas is a nice kid who would think he had to befriend me, out of politeness or respect for an old aunt. I would never force that on someone. Ah, I am not well suited to social networking. (Remember, I'm the passive poster to LinkedIn.) ~ Lida

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as professional, legal, financial, or medical advice. Or education advice. Or marital advice. Or even a tip.

12 August 2008

The Job Search: Getting Found

View Mary Bold's profile on LinkedIn

Job searchers must get LinkedIn. At least, that's the conventional wisdom for boomer-aged job searchers. If a resume on monster.com is akin to tossing a resume out of an airplane at 30,000 feet, then what is a profile "in," meaning in LinkedIn's network of 25 million registrants? Presumably, the status of being "in" means being connected to known or recognizable contacts by which your reputation is enhanced.

Profile. Making connections in the network requires creating a profile and then getting found. The profile-making is not so difficult if you've already been writing cover letters to potential employers. You've already established the best 10 or 15 words to describe your interests and skills. LinkedIn is simply one more place to input those words.

Getting found: This is the part that requires more decisions. Should you let the website search your email contact list for matches on LinkedIn? Should you manually enter email addresses for a similar search? Should you seek or accept recommendations, introductions, connections, and InMail? Should you "work the network" and join groups, send InMail, make recommendations?

On a personal note: I don't mean to minimize the effort required to publish a profile on LinkedIn. There are many steps. The screens are busy and require re-reading to catch all the details. And I required 3 attempts to produce the URL to my profile (button above) and it still doesn't always link on the first try. But it is free. And it does permit a non-interactive approach, which suits me. That's in contrast to Facebook, on which I also feel compelled to comment—tomorrow. ~ Lida

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as professional, legal, financial, or medical advice. Or education advice. Or marital advice. Or even a tip.

11 August 2008

Boomer Women's Worry

Longevity: A Hard Thing to Appreciate. According to the Society of Actuaries, boomer women nearing retirement are worried—and they are more worried than men. Setting aside the possibility that men and women just naturally worry differently, the Society's 2008 survey concludes that the concern is about longevity and widowhood.

15 Years. For a male-female couple, the gap in longevity is 15 years. That assumes a traditional age difference at marrying and another difference for age at death. Those differences will probably change for younger cohorts as marrying ages are already very different from previous generations. For now, the women in the upper range of the baby boom expect to outlive males by about 15 years.

Another Financial Shift: Boomer women's worry is not characterized as being upset about living alone. The worry is that widowhood will present another change in finances and it won't be a positive one. About a third of boomer women will live to age 90, so a widowhood change in finances could occur at age 75. Forget that we are all prepared to keep working—we weren't planning to do that at 75.

Planning for Longevity: Just to add to the worry, stir in reluctance to talk about it. Americans are not known for open communication about death, so we're not necessarily planning well for such events. "Planning for longevity" doesn't have quite the punch as "planning for widowhood," but it's probably as close as we'll get to addressing the worry out loud.

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as professional, legal, financial, or medical advice. Or education advice. Or marital advice. Or even a tip.

10 August 2008

Where to Retire

Search tools online. My most recent test was with AARP's Location Scout, an interactive tool that collects your preferences, then recommends retirement locations. A few years ago, a similar retirement locator recommended New Mexico environs for me. With some family members' having worked at the labs at Sandia and Los Alamos, I had a good idea of what life would be like in that state. This weekend's trial came up with a very different locale: Jackson, Mississippi, on the Natchez Trace. I don't know the town well but I've driven the Parkway several times. What a contrast from New Mexico!

AARP's search criteria now include...broadband Internet access. Would it make a difference in where I locate? Yes. Would it matter to most baby boomers? Yes, else AARP wouldn't be asking.

What makes Jackson extra attractive...Median house price under $160,000.

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as professional, legal, financial, or medical advice. Or education advice. Or marital advice. Or even a tip.

09 August 2008

Last Day of Teaching

Stats Class. Yesterday was the last day of my online Stats class, which also marked my last day of teaching for a state institution. It was actually just a long day of a testing room open for the final exam. The day was more about filing grades than teaching.

Ending a teaching gig. There's no easy way to exit a teaching institution. I've known professors who told us "I'm interviewing" (meaning elsewhere) and hoped for a leave-taking and then stayed, after all. On the other extreme were the folks who left quickly and were "Just gone. He's just gone!"

Giving notice. There's a good reason for "two weeks' notice" being two weeks. Not too long, not too short. In higher ed, two weeks is a fraction of the planning year. So, I gave six months. It helped the institution with already announced classes, and it helped students as they adjusted to new research advisors. Good reasons for a long notice. But it does drag things out.

Will the encore career include teaching? Could be. I may go get trained in new systems and teach online. But right now? Some time off Blackboard is OK.

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as professional, legal, financial, or medical advice. Or education advice. Or marital advice. Or even a tip.

08 August 2008

Organic Blueberries

Organic never looked so good. Organic produce is presented so expertly that you are tempted not to read the price tags. I got stuck on the blueberry prices.

Organic $5.99 for 6 ounces

Plain old fresh $5.99 for 1 pint

As any boomer knows, blueberries are the new purple grape. At least, in terms of slowing declines that come with aging. Now, how to make them affordable....

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as professional, legal, financial, or medical advice. Or education advice. Or marital advice. Or even a tip.

07 August 2008

The Neighborhood Effect

What do Chipotle Mexican Grill and Tesla Motors have in common? Killer shipping costs that are making them establish regional suppliers (for lettuce and other produce) and in-country manufacturing plants (for cars intended for the American market). Fuel costs are driving the neighborhood effect, whereby we all look for ways to cut costs and find them in shrinking our world.

Cost drove globalization decisions, too. Cost of labor, cost of fuel—it's the total cost of an operation that dictates location, of course, but sometimes we humans have difficulty tracking the parts of the big picture. So, we focus on one aspect (labor or fuel, most famously) and forget that we're watching what is only a trend. Over time, there will be shifts.

Ecological levels: Baby boomers have witnessed the expansion of our "levels of interaction" in larger spheres of society and globe. Many of us grew up knowing a relatively small neighborhood. By adulthood, we were part of a mobile society that not only changed neighborhoods but also redefined what we considered community. But the basic processes of these ecological levels—interaction and dependence—make it possible to retreat from globalization, or at least shift to "lower" levels for some functions. The local food movement, which you may or may not consciously be a part of, is example. Chipotle and Tesla represent the corporate version.

On a personal note: I'm not one to bemoan the de-personalization of our immediate neighborhoods. While social commentary often goes in that direction (people don't know their neighbors anymore!), I look to the reason. When your neighbor was your main social contact because you didn't drive out of the neighborhood much, you knew your neighbor. Quite possibly, you depended on that neighbor for economic purpose as well as social contact. Today, most people juggle dozens or hundreds of personalities through their work or social sphere. Visiting with that neighbor down the street robs precious retreat time, the alone time that many of us need to recharge our batteries before we go back into our local society. ~ Lida

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as professional, legal, financial, or medical advice. Or education advice. Or marital advice. Or even a tip.

06 August 2008

Very Cool Hearing Aids

You've thought of it, too. Why not a hearing aid that looks like bluetooth cell phone? Better, why not the hearing aid integrated with the phone? Happily, there's a tech community exploring all this: Hearing Aid Hacking at LiveJournal.

When commercially viable... Like many technologies, this one will mature when it can clearly make money. That's where the baby boomers come in. Some boomers already use hearing aids (HAs). Some should be using HAs. And at least half of us will eventually use HAs. Half of all boomers. Oh, my. What a market.

Technology in place: Bluetooth devices already serve people with cochlear implants (there's an external unit that communicates with the implanted unit) but the cost is in the thousands. New bluetooth-enhanced HAs start in the hundreds of dollars. We're sure to see a range of prices as the technology advances because there will be a lot of options. The bottom line is that bluetooth devices will outperform traditional hearing aids just in time for a market that is accustomed to custom ordering its purchases.

And we will look very cool, too.

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as professional, legal, financial, or medical advice. Or education advice. Or marital advice. Or even a tip.