The Benefits of Retiring in a College Town

MusingsIf you're considering a retirement relocation, it makes a lot of sense to consider a college town. The benefits of living in a college town are significant for retirees, among them:

  • Because of the student population, the town is bustling, lively, and youthful.
  • Restaurants, retail, and consumer services targeting students can be attractive to retirees as well.
  • College and university campuses are often cultural centers, featuring music, dance, theatre, lectures, museum exhibits, and excellent libraries.
  • Larger universities may have first-class hospitals and medical centers that provide quality healthcare.
  • Educational institutions often allow seniors to audit classes and sometimes enroll at no charge or a reduced tuition. Seniors can often make use of campus facilities as well.
  • Some institutions have OLLIs on campus. (OLLI is the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, an educational program for seniors; find a complete list of OLLI locations here: http://www.osherfoundation.org/index.php?olli_list). I can tell you from personal experience that OLLI is a great resource for seniors, both in terms of stimulating courses taught by your peers and social interactions and activities.
  • And, as retirement expert Kerry Hannon points out in her blog post, "Great Retirement Jobs in College Towns," colleges offer potential retirement job opportunities, such as adjunct professor, career center counselor, adviser, etc. Hannon notes that, out of the Forbes list of the twenty-five best places to retire, nine of them are college towns.

Thinking of a retirement relocation? Maybe you should think about a college town.

 


When Should You "Really" Retire?

MusingsI've written a lot about how Boomers are redefining retirement, often transforming it into a time of "rewirement" during which they turn the whole concept of retirement on its head. Rewirement might mean taking a new job unrelated to one's previous career, starting a business, doing part-time work and volunteering, or something else completely different. For many Boomers, working through their 60s and possibly their 70s is desirable; for some, it is financially necessary. As a result, the very meaning of retirement has changed dramatically from previous generations.

Still, even if retirement has been redefined, it certainly indicates a time when Boomers are often going through some sort of significant change that could be related to the loss of a career, adult children leaving the nest, and a new perhaps less secure financial situation.

Wrestling with the basic question, "When should you 'really' retire?" is difficult without putting your hands on some basic data. To help in that regard, retirement expert Mark Miller addresses some key issues in his article for Reuters. He discusses financial considerations, health insurance, and such intangibles as lifestyle.

In his article, Miller references a helpful checklist of questions concerning when to retire published by the Society of Actuaries. (Now that's a group that probably knows a thing or two about making financial projections!) You can download a copy of this checklist at the link below.

Download When to Retire


Freelancing at Any Age

OnYourOwn"Older but wiser" is an old adage that Boomers could put to good use when it comes to establishing a freelance career. Often, your background and experience can be a plus in freelancing, unlike in the traditional job market, where younger employees are sometimes favored over older ones. Freelancing is essentially a form of self-employment in which you offer your services on an hourly or contracted job basis, directly to a client company, or via "resellers," who provide you with work on behalf of their clients. You may have heard this referred to as the "gig economy," (working on specific assignments rather than as a part-time or full-time employee) but that's just a contemporary term for freelancing.

There are several attractive aspects to freelancing. Freelancing offers you the ability to be your own boss, set your own rates (although they must be competitive), and enjoy a flexible work schedule. Contrary to popular belief, freelancing is not just for creative types; it used to be that a freelancer typically was a writer or graphic designer, but these days, companies are looking for freelance workers with a wide variety of skills. There are, for example, freelance software engineers, legal assistants, accountants, marketing project managers, and so on.

Carol Tice is an "older" freelancer who worked in banking and law for more than three decades and transitioned into a full-time freelance writer. She has some great advice for Boomers who may want to consider starting a freelance writing career in an article on her blog, "Make a Living Writing." When I read it, I was impressed by the fact that Carol's counsel could just as easily apply to any older freelancer, not just a freelance writer. The five steps she suggests are:

  1. Take stock of your skills
  2. Step up your marketing efforts
  3. Keep learning
  4. Manage your time
  5. Plan ahead.

You can read the entire article here: http://www.makealivingwriting.com/older-freelance-writing-career/


What "The Vietnam War" Should Mean to Boomers

MediaI've heard a number of reactions from Boomers to the Ken Burns-Lynn Novick film, "The Vietnam War," currently playing on PBS television stations. Some folks are watching it with a sense of deja vu. Others feel uncomfortable investing the time in a documentary that revisits a painful chapter of their lives.

As a piece of film-making, "The Vietnam War" is monumental -- 10 episodes, 18 hours. It took over 10 years to complete. I for one find it quite compelling, less so because of the inevitable violence and gore of war. Some scenes leave me sickened and, I admit, make me hesitant to continue viewing additional episodes. Still, I find the behind-the-scenes story of the war fascinating, as told via previously private presidential tapes, excerpts from hearings, and reporting on the growing war resistance movement. Perhaps most of all, the personal interviews woven throughout the film (including rare commentary from North Vietnamese soldiers), along with the vignettes of those who participated in the war, have a lasting impact. The story of "Mogie" (Denton) Crocker, for example, a young patriot who, despite being underage, joins the Marines and eventually gets killed, dramatizes the very personal and devastating effect of the war on American families.

The Vietnam war was the war of the Boomer generation. It was also the first war that invaded our living rooms on a nightly basis. Whether you were for it or against it, whether you served in the armed forces or were a committed protestor, the war remains inextricably linked to our lives as Boomers. For many of us, the war upended our lives when we were the most vulnerable. For some of us, it ended our lives prematurely.

Yes, "The Vietnam War" is a film that may cause a considerable amount of discomfort as you relive it on television. But it is an important moment in history we cannot and should not forget. It has an eerie relevance to the war in Afghanistan, and also to the lack of faith we continue to have in the leaders of government. When one looks around our world today, there seem to be plenty of Vietnam-like conflicts that remain. As Edmund Burke said, "Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it."


"Redeployment" isn't Just a Military Term

OntheClockRetirement expert Kerry Hannon writes frequently about working past the traditional retirement age. She recently told MarketWatch that, when it comes to switching jobs in your 50s or 60s, "The truth of the matter is a lot of what you can do is redeploying skills you have." She suggests promoting skills you already have on a resume and says for older job switchers, it's about "being resilient and being flexible."

I think the concept of "redeployment" is a solid way to view the all-too-common dilemma of seeking new employment. If you're a Boomer who has lost a job you had for many years, or you're simply burned out and want a new opportunity, you will likely be faced with age discrimination. While you cannot overcome this basic bias completely, you can represent yourself and your skills in the best possible light. Marketing what you really have going for you can make a big difference.

It pays to ask yourself some serious questions about your competency in various areas and make sure your expertise in these areas is emphasized on your resume, in your cover letter, and at an interview. "Soft skills," such as listening and communicating well or being analytical, could also be viewed as very valuable by a potential employer. Hannon says such skills can be advantageous, regardless of the field you're in. "What a lot of employers look for if they want you to be a part of the team is if you have social skills."

So think about it: How could you redeploy your current skills and experience into a brand new job, potentially in a new field of interest to you? Is it possible to leverage your professional background, your specific expertise, and your soft skills so that you look like a very distinctive and attractive job candidate? In addition, in redeploying your abilities, do you recognize that you may have to be more flexible in accepting a new position in terms of managerial level, hours worked, or compensation?

"Redeployment"of your skills and abilities could be a key strategy to finding the right "second wind" opportunity.  


Can You Market Your Passion?

OnaWhimOnce we've reached Boomer status, many of us already realize what we're passionate about. The challenge in this second phase of life is being able to market your passion. Wouldn't it be great if you could actually turn your passion into part-time retirement income instead of working at a random, unrewarding job?

Nancy Collamer's recent article for NextAvenue.org, "How to Turn Your Passions Into Retirement Income," spotlights some Boomers who have done just that. One of them, a food lover, now works as a part-time guide for a food tour company. Another retiree who loves dogs gets dog walking jobs online. A third Boomer who has a passion for painting is selling his artwork online. Nancy suggests four possible ways to turn your passion into retirement income:

  1. Find a related part-time job
  2. Apply for contract work or "gigs"
  3. Sell your creations online
  4. Teach what you know online.

I can tell you from personal experience that marketing your passion works. During my professional career in advertising, I always loved to read business books. Now I've retired from advertising, but I still read business books -- and I also get paid for writing reviews of them. I have combined my love of reading and an ability to write into part-time retirement income.

What is your passion? Is it something you can market? You might be surprised to find out that you really can turn your passion into retirement income.


The Leisure Retiree

OnYourOwnOne of the ways we Boomers are redefining retirement is by combining work and leisure in the pursuit of happiness. While not every Boomer is in a position to pursue this creative concept, it is certainly worth considering if you can make it a reality.

A good example of the leisure retiree, writes Claudia Dreifus for The New York Times, is Dr. John Siebel, a retired oncologist. Siebel decided at age 64 that he wanted to continue to see patients, but only part-time, and he wanted to find a way to combine that with his love for adventure and the outdoors. Dreifus reports that "Dr. Siebel’s answer was to become a kind of oncological 'temp,' covering for vacationing doctors with practices in interesting places — including Alaska."

This is how it works, according to Dreifus: "For up to three months of every year — the limitation is Dr. Siebel’s choice — a medical employment agency books him for short stints in remote parts of Alaska, California or Idaho. He will only accept assignments near wilderness areas.

Weekdays, he sees patients. On weekends, he heads to the mountains and explores."

Dreifus shares other examples of leisure retirees in her excellent article.

The point, I think, is that an ideal rewirement (I use the term to replace mere "retirement") is one that leverages your career skills into a flexible part-time position so you can pursue leisure activities as well. In order to do this, certain conditions must exist, of course:

  • You need to have sufficient retirement savings/income so that you can work part-time rather than full-time.
  • Your skills must be in demand, at least to the extent that you can achieve the kind of attractive work/leisure balance as did Dr. Siebel.

I have taken a slightly different but similar approach. I was a direct marketing professional who had started a direct marketing agency, and I also authored a number of marketing and business books. When I left the profession, I struck out as a part-time marketing consultant/part-time business writer. Nowadays, I write more than I consult. I combine that with volunteering for non-profit organizations, as well as enjoying some leisure time. In my case, the three-way balance of part-time self-employment, volunteering, and leisure work just fine. Perhaps that would work for you, too. 


Hail the Boomer Consumer

MediaDisregard for the Boomer consumer runs rampant in American advertising. There is a good reason for it: Many advertisers and their agencies believe the future is in youth. The rationale is that it pays to invest marketing dollars in reaching younger generations who will hopefully become long-term customers of a brand. In addition, the demographic shift has just put Millennials ahead of Boomers as the largest segment of the population.

Still, studies indicate it is Boomers that have the most collective wealth and the most disposable income in America. That fact is not lost on at least some marketers. In an intriguing commentary for MediaPost directed to marketing professionals, Mark Bradbury writes, "There is a noticeable momentum shift in the marketing of mainstream brands to Boomers." The reason is that brand marketers now see "a significant loss of Boomer consumers that has not been made up for in the acquisition of new Millennial brand users. Having believed that Boomers’ brand loyalty was set in stone, many had hyper-focused on Millennials, only to learn that Boomer customers were more than willing to migrate to competing brands." Bradbury points to research to validate the claim: "Recent trend research from GfK MRI indicates that literally hundreds of CPG brands have lost 20% or more of their Boomer business over just the past five years."

Brands that have been systematically avoiding advertising to Boomers are now paying the price. You would think a demographic segment as large as Boomers (currently over 76 million) would warrant at least some attention. We are not unaware of brands that ignore us, and we are just as capable of switching brand loyalty as a Millennial or younger consumer.

Bradbury cites three examples of brands that not only appeal to Boomers, but also embrace Boomers in their marketing campaigns. Read his article to learn about these brands. We can only hope that they will teach a lesson to a marketing industry that has mistakenly and prematurely tended to cast aside the Boomer. 


5 Steps to Help Ensure Adequate Retirement Income

Guest Post by Merilee Kern

MusingsWhile plenty of people are duly committed to saving for retirement through 401k, IRA or other nest egg-inducing personal finance plays, however devotedly and even over many years, it turns out several may actually be suffering a false sense of security. 

“For many years, financial planners have espoused general formulas for determining the amount of income retirees will need, the most popular being the ‘70 percent rule’ that suggests that retirees will need to replace just 70 percent of their pre-retirement income to provide for their living needs in retirement,” notes Ray LeVitre, CFP, author of 20 Retirement Decisions You Need to Make Right Now; and founder/managing partner at Net Worth Advisory Group — a firm specializing in retirement financial planning

“That may have been an effective guideline a few decades ago when the rule was established; however, for many retirees, relying upon it today may be fraught with financial peril."

According to LeVitre, modern-day aging cost considerations include:

  • A male turning 65 years old today can be expected to live another 19 years versus 11 years in 1970; for women, they can expect to live another 23 years

  • The chances of retirees or an elder family member requiring some form of long-term care is 7 in 10.

  • Many of today’s retirees are carrying some form of debt into retirement, including mortgages, consumer debt and student loans.

  • Although inflation has moderated somewhat since the 1970s, lifestyle costs, such as housing, food and transportation consume a larger portion of a retiree’s budget today.

  • Although health care cost increases have slowed, the rate of cost increases continues to be well above the general rate of inflation.

I asked LeVitre what baseline, foundational steps those within 15 years of retirement can do to enhance lifetime income sufficiency. Here’s what he had to say:

  1. Track your expenses now. You should begin to track your living expenses and gradually adjust your budget to smooth out your consumption between your living requirements now and your requirements in retirement.

  2. Start living like a retiree now. Taking it a step further, you could take the approach of changing your lifestyle now to reflect how you expect to live in retirement. That might mean downsizing your home now, reducing your leisure travel, driving more efficient cars, and generally adopting a more frugal mindset.

  3. Increase your savings. Any combination of the first two steps should generate steady increase in excess cash flow which should be saved for retirement. Pre-retirees within 15 years of retirement should target a minimum of 15 percent of their earnings for contributing to their retirement.

  4. Start exploring your Social Security options. Retirees who are able to postpone their Social Security benefits until age 70 can significantly boost their lifetime income; and additional Social Security planning for spousal benefits could increase it further.

  5. Don’t invest too conservatively. Although the natural inclination is to reduce your exposure to risk-based investments like equities the closer you are to retirement, reducing your exposure by too much, too soon could stunt the growth of your capital. To ensure lifetime income sufficiency, today’s retirees should always have some exposure to equities. A broadly diversified, well-balanced portfolio of equities, bonds and cash offers the best opportunity to maintain the necessary growth of capital needed while minimizing volatility over the long-term.

LeVitre also underscored that, regardless of your planning method or process, it would be a mistake to succumb to standard formulas or a generalized approach to retirement planning.  

“Right now, your retirement vision—formed by your specific needs, wants, attitudes and beliefs—rests in your mind, and it will undoubtedly change as your outlook and priorities change,” he says. “But, you should always base your income needs on realistic assumptions.” So it’s time for America’s aging population to do a collective fiscal-future reality check. 

Merilee Kern, MBA, is an influential media voice and communications strategist. As the Executive Editor and Producer of "The Luxe List International News Syndicate,” she’s a revered consumer product trends expert and travel industry voice of authority who spotlights noteworthy marketplace change makers, movers and shakers. Merilee may be reached online at www.TheLuxeList.com. Follow her on Twitter here: http://twitter.com/LuxeListEditor and Facebook here: www.Facebook.com/TheLuxeList.


A Real Solution to Workplace Age Discrimination

OnaWhimAge discrimination in the workplace is a threat to Boomers in the United States, as I mentioned in my previous post. But in South Korea, age discrimination is so culturally ingrained that companies routinely force workers over 60 into retirement.

An enterprising Korean, Chung Eunsung, has come up with a terrific solution to rampant ageism: He started EverYoung, a technology company that practices a different kind of blatant discrimination: The company hires only workers who are 55 years of age and older, many of whom are former engineers and mathematicians. EverYoung's oldest employee is 83.

Chung told Tech Wire Asia, “I believe by employing seniors, we help to improve their quality of life and welfare. Korea is aging and the phenomenon is accelerating, so we believe their participation in our economy would, in fact, revitalize it, as well as breathe some life into the aging society.” The company requires its employees to take a 10-minute break every hour, and the work is performed in 4-hour shifts. Benefits include a stocked pantry, sofas and books in a break area, and use of a blood pressure machine.

Kim Seong-Kyu, a manager at EverYoung, said the company's older employees, unlike younger employees, are detail-oriented and they work diligently without being distracted. The employees monitor blog content, among other things. "They are full of passion," Kim said. "The time they have, and their interest in this work, are primarily why they come to work."

Just imagine if one or more American companies were able to follow such a model. It could revolutionize the way American business operates, solve senior unemployment, and change attitudes toward aging, all in one fell swoop. I'd love to see an American entrepreneur have the guts and wisdom to create an EverYoung look-alike in this country. Of course, the irony is that such a company here would probably be sued for discriminating against younger employees! Still, we can dream, can't we?