September 7, 2020

Are you really ready to retire? Mapping Out a Fulfilling Retirement

Thanks Kim Blanton, author of The Squared Away Blog for these posts. Check out

"A big part of retiring is letting go of what can be a strong identification with work, and people are reluctant to give that up." Here is some help...

Boomers typically must go through four tasks as they transition to a satisfying retirement:

Decide to retire. Mapping Out a Fulfilling Retirement:

Detach from work. Retirement is Liberating – and Hard Work:

Explore a new life structure.
the adjustment to retirement can be a difficult period.  the typical baby boomer comes to retirement with no more than an idea or two about how they might spend their time.

Consolidate a new life structure. Putting together the pieces of a satisfying retirement life requires setting priorities and following through on them with determination. 



DIGNITAS - To live with dignity - To die with dignity

DIGNITAS - To live with dignity - To die with dignity, is a "Swiss self-determination, autonomy and dignity group. We are a not-for-profit member’s society which advocates, educates and supports for improving care and choice in life and at life's end. Our advisory concept of combining palliative care, suicide attempt prevention, advance health care planning and assisted dying offers a basis for decision-making to shape life until the end. Since 1998, we are the spearhead for the worldwide implementation of ‘the last human right’" Check out their website:

August 25, 2020

10 Social Security Rules Everyone Should Know

 Check this link for 13 slides explaining Social Security. Thanks to Emily Brandon writing for US. News and World Report.

Calculators to help you decide when to claim Social Security retirement benefits

 "One of the most important retirement decisions you will make is when to apply for Social Security. Several retirement calculators have been developed to help you determine the optimal retirement age to start Social Security payments." (Thanks to Emily Brandon writing for US News and World Report).

Here are 10 Social Security calculators worth trying:

"These calculators can help you begin thinking about what you can do to maximize the amount you will receive from Social Security in retirement." 

Take note! "When out to maximize the benefits that both spouses collect, that's different than maximizing when each person claims their own benefit," says Wei-Yin Hu, vice president of financial research at Financial Engines. "It turns out to be quite important to look at both spouses in a household together, because there are some interesting interactions about when the two should claim benefits in terms of both spousal benefits and survivors benefits playing a role in the picture."

Read the full article for more information about these calculators:

August 11, 2020

Misisng your stimulus check?

 Thanks to Michelle Singletary, financial writer for the Washington Post, for this helpful info. Lots of Americans may have thrown out what looked like junk mail but really contained not a stimulus check but a stimulus debit card. The cards were sent in May and June from MetaBank and came in a plain envelope with no governmental IRS or Treasury markings. Just another glitch in these trying times. 

So the Treasury is sending out reminder letters with a return address: Economic Impact payment Card, PO Box 247022, Omaha, NE 68124-7022. The letter provides instructions to call customer service: 800-240-8100 to report the card lost or stolen or to get a free replacement card. 

Your financial path to college graduation

 The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) offers lots of help for college students.

Check out:

 "Your financial path to graduation"

This tool can help you:

  • Understand your financial aid offer
  • Plan to cover the remaining costs
  • Estimate how much you’ll owe and if you can afford that debt
  • Compare offers from different schools
  • Decide what to do next

Keep coming back as your plan evolves.

For many students, planning how to pay for school is complicated. It may require multiple conversations with family, advisers, and the school financial aid office to get more information. As you figure out your best options, come back and update your plan as many times as you need!

This tool does not save your personal data. Learn how we got the numbers and guidelines for our calculations.

To start, you will need:

  • Your financial aid offer(s)
  • An idea of how much money you and your family can put towards school
  • A private loan offer (if you have one)
  • The phone number or email address of someone in the financial aid office – it’s their job to answer your questions!

You may want to use this tool with someone you trust who can help you weigh your options.


July 7, 2020

New Data Reveals Hidden Flood Risk Across America

No one wants one more thing to worry about but... it would be wise to check out your home's risk for flooding, recognizing that damage from floods is specifically excluded from homeowner's policies. New data on flood risks across the U.S. reveals that the risk of flooding has increased substantially and that many homes at risk of flooding are not included in flood maps. 

"Across much of the United States, the flood risk is far greater than government estimates show, new calculations suggest, exposing millions of people to a hidden threat — and one that will only grow as climate change worsens."

"That new calculation, which takes into account sea-level rise, rainfall and flooding along smaller creeks not mapped federally, estimates that 14.6 million properties are at risk from what experts call a 100-year flood, far more than the 8.7 million properties shown on federal government flood maps. A 100-year flood is one with a 1 percent chance of striking in any given year." 

"Federal flood maps, managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, have long drawn concerns that they underestimate flood risk. Part of the problem is keeping the maps up to date, which is not only costly and labor intensive, but further complicated as climate change has worsened the dangers."
"In addition, FEMA’s maps aren’t designed to account for flooding caused by intense rainfall, a growing problem as the atmosphere warms."

Check out the article and map in The New York Times June 29, 2020 by Christopher Flavelle, Denise Lu, Veronica Penney, Nadja Popovich and

June 29, 2020

Millions of homeowners face flood risks without realizing it, and climate change is making it worse

By 2050, 16.2 million properties will be at ‘substantial risk’ of flooding in a given year, report finds.

And it's not just properties along the coast or near rivers. 

"When Hurricane Harvey struck Southeast Texas in 2017, it provided a real-life stress test of the plans for flood risk in a highly vulnerable region. Southeast Texas failed that test. More than half of the homes engulfed by floodwaters were located outside city- and federally designated 100-year floodplains."

"Nationally, there are at least 6 million households that are unaware they’re living in homes that have a 1 percent chance of flooding in each year — putting them within a '100-year' flood zone. This is nearly 70 percent more homes at substantial risk of flooding than are within the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Special Flood Hazard Areas, a designation that determines eligibility for the National Flood Insurance Program."

"This count is set to grow substantially in coming decades due to the effects of climate change, including sea level rise, which will make hurricane storm surges more damaging, as well as precipitation extremes."

"The report, from the nonprofit flood research and communications group First Street Foundation, is aimed at leveling the playing field between buyers and sellers, and democratizing specialized flood risk analyses that insurance companies and consulting firms are producing but charge hefty sums to access."
Now, a prospective buyer can see a property’s flood risk score, which First Street calls the “Flood Factor,” along with a map showing flood information, for 142 million properties in the Lower 48 states.
First Street is providing property-level mapping free on its website.
As reported by The Washington Post

Check out your property at: 

How is the financial health of Americans changing over time?

If you are facing challenging financial stress due to the coronavirus, you are not alone. Even in 2019, before the virus, most Americans were not financially healthy according to research by the Financial Health Network
"In a year-over-year analysis, the second annual U.S. Financial Health Pulse report reveals that the majority of Americans are still not financially healthy, despite an economy that has continued to grow" based on 2019 data before the virus.

"The 2019 Trends Report presents findings from the second annual U.S. Financial Health Pulse consumer survey, including:
1. Only 29% of Americans are financially healthy, despite a booming economy.
2. Financial health disparities based on income, age, gender, and race have persisted since 2018.
3. Financial health changed for millions of Americans from 2018 to 2019, often dramatically.
4. People who had changes in their employment and physical health saw the largest year-over-year shifts in their financial health."
Keep in mind that these data and conclusions are from 2019 before coronavirus.

Taking the Nation's Financial Pulse in Uncertain Times

"Millions of Americans were struggling financially, even before the Covid-19 crisis." 

"The U.S. Financial Health Pulse shows that only 29 percent of Americans were financially healthy in 2019. Just over 70 percent of Americans were not financially healthy and may be unprepared for changes in their income, financial shocks or an economic downturn. These figures were roughly the same as 2018, but likely to change as the coronavirus outbreak takes its toll on the economy."

"The U.S. Financial Health Pulse led by the Financial Health Network, is a landmark study designed to capture a more holistic picture of the financial health of Americans. The Pulse follows a large group of the same respondents year over year. It also combines survey data on spending, saving, borrowing and planning to devise a FinHealth Score™ that gives a detailed and realistic picture of how Americans are doing financially. Respondents fall into three categories: financially healthy, financially coping and financially vulnerable."

While the Financial Health Network is primarily geared to professionals in pubic policy, finance, and social networks, the knowledge that you are not alone if you are experiencing financial problems is key to taking action rather than blaming yourself. This blog is designed to for self-help and awareness of how to change one's behavior and resources for improving financial well-being.




June 22, 2020

Beware for-profit colleges!

For-Profit Colleges, Long Troubled, See Surge Amid Pandemic

"The coronavirus shutdowns have made online learning more attractive. But students at some schools say they have been taken advantage of." Writing for The New York Times, Sarah Butrymowicz and

As this blog has warned before, online colleges have a track record of charging high tuition, making unrealistic promises about employment and pay, while taking advantage of students. Remember Trump University? Strayer University, Ashford, Grand Canyon and Capella universities have track records of abuse causing them to pay fines but they stay in business, making profits off unsuspecting students.

"Online for-profit colleges like these have seen an opportunity to increase enrollment during the coronavirus pandemic. Their flexible programs may be newly attractive to the many workers who have lost their jobs, to college students whose campuses are closed, and to those now seeking to change careers. The colleges’ parent companies often have substantial cash reserves that they can pump into tuition discounts and marketing at a time when public universities and nonprofit colleges are seeing their budgets disintegrate."

"Few of the largest for-profit colleges operating primarily online have track records to justify the optimistic advertising pitches. Some have put students deep in debt while posting dismal graduation rates amid a history of investigations by state and federal agencies, including many that have led to substantial financial settlements."

"Eileen Connor, the legal director at the Project on Predatory Student Lending at Harvard Law School, said she was worried by the prospect of a resurgence for online, for-profit schools."

Students: Beware of for-profit universities!

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