Mr. Free Spirit: Did You Know? Part 3
By Mr. Free Spirit (July 7, 2016)
Welcome to July 2016. I had a very interesting June subsequent to my last article “Did You Know –Part 2.”
I received an email from a person stating how much he enjoyed the June article, however it was very long. Guess what? I agree it was long. However, it was long for a reason. Let’s talk about education.
Most of us spent at least 12 years or more in an institution of higher learning. The days were long, but most of us came out with some academic knowledge. The purpose of my column is EDUCATION! Therefore, it often takes time to provide knowledge. Many people made comments concerning the lack of knowledge about the taxes you pay in some states when you sell a house and relocate to another part of the country. Another group of people read the article concerning how black people spend their money. They learned that a lot of black folks spend their hard earned money in other communities. Many people didn’t know there are Black Yacht Clubs around the U.S. Again, my articles are slated to provide education. If you are not retired and trying to make your plans it hopefully provides you some planning tools.
With the amount of flying I am currently doing during my transition to my new location, I have had some mind blowing experiences. I have learned which airports offer the perfect conditions for a long layover. I try to provide these kinds of insights because most people don’t even know to think about this level of detail. I also touched on the culture of our communities in the 4 areas within the U.S.
Keep in mind we all have choices, to read or not to read. Please be aware of the term stuck in place. Some people are happy and satisfied with nothing more than a rocking chair and a TV. I don’t fit in that category. I have 7 more months of transition and then I will settle in to watch snow on TV.
Below will be both my June ventures and the continuation for the British Virgin Islands.
Below are reasons that you could retire poor.
How’s that retirement fund going?
If you’re like a lot of workers, you may have doubts about whether you’ll have enough money tucked away to avoid spending your final years living off Ramen noodles.
According to the 2016 Retirement Confidence Survey prepared by Employee Benefit Research Institute, 61 percent of respondents said they were either “somewhat” or “not at all” confident that they would have the money they need for their golden years.
The reasons individual workers have for not being confident about their retirement savings can vary considerably, but if you make these seven mistakes, you’re virtually guaranteed to retire poor.
- You’re too busy keeping up with the Joneses
You can’t spend your whole life pretending to be rich and then think you’ll retire rich, too.
Living within your means isn’t glamorous, but it is smart. And being smart is what will make you a wealthy retiree.
Rather than upgrading your smartphone every two years and your car every three, try being content with what you have. It doesn’t matter if all your friends are remodeling their kitchens, if yours works perfectly fine, leave it be.
Having a realistic budget is the first step toward living within your means. If you don’t already have a budget learn how to create an effortless budget, you’ll stick to.
- You’re not saving enough money
When you’re not spending money to constantly upgrade your toys, you’ll have more money to save for retirement.
With traditional pensions all but extinct, it’s up to you — and you alone — to save up the cash needed to live comfortably in retirement. Don’t count on Social Security either. The average monthly Social Security benefit paid was a paltry $1,341 in January 2016.
Failure to save enough money is a sure way to retire poor. Ideally, 10 percent to 15 percent of your income should be going into a retirement account each month. And if you are behind in funding your savings goals, maybe you should be saving even more.
If you don’t have any extra money in your budget for savings right now, check out these nine suggestions to easily save $100 or more each month. Then, put that extra cash in your retirement fund.
If you start with $100 and save $100 a month for 30 years at an average interest rate of 5 percent, you’ll have around $83,672 extra at retirement time.
- Your savings priorities are all wrong
On the other hand, you could be saving money but have your priorities all wrong.
Yes, college for the kids is important, but not at the expense of your retirement account. The kids can always get scholarships, jobs or even loans if absolutely necessary.
Make your retirement savings a top priority. Again, you should be setting aside 10 percent to 15 percent of your income in retirement accounts. Once you hit that level, you can start putting money in the kids’ college funds.
That may seem like a lot of money to save each month, but that’s why you aren’t keeping up with the Joneses, right?
- You save your money in the wrong accounts
Another common mistake is putting retirement money in the wrong accounts. A typical savings account isn’t going to cut it. Whole life insurance and annuities aren’t fabulous options either.
Instead, put that money in tax-sheltered retirement accounts such as 401(k)s or IRAs. These accounts come with tax benefits as well as stiff penalties for early withdrawals. (Avoiding such withdrawals is an essential component of ensuring your retirement savings are still there at retirement time.)
And by all means, if your employer offers a 401(k) match, put your retirement savings there first. You’d be a fool to pass up that free money.
- You finance everything
Today, retailers make it easy to buy everything – from furniture to a car – on a payment plan. However, you’ll never have money to save for retirement if you finance every purchase.
Rather than spend your money on interest, flex your self-discipline muscles and wait until you have enough saved up before buying whatever it is you want. If you keep yourself out of debt, you’ll be amazed at how far you can stretch paychecks. Then, you can live comfortably now and bank enough to live comfortably in the future.
- You’ve let your credit score go
If you do need to finance something — houses and cars are the usual suspects — you’ll want to have excellent credit to get the best interest rates and terms.
Otherwise, you’ll end up paying sky-high interest rates and sending precious money to your creditors that could be used to bolster your retirement account instead.
Neglecting to maintain your credit score by making timely payments is a major mistake that can lead to destitute retirement years. If your number is on the low side, use these tips to bring up your score quickly.
- You’re a chicken when it comes to investments
Finally, “no guts, no glory” can apply to your investments.
Sure, you don’t want to be dumb about your money. Placing 100 percent of it in volatile stocks a few years before retirement is a good way to land in the poor house. But at the same time, you want to be aggressive enough with your allocations to ensure your returns at least outpace inflation.
That means diversifying your retirement accounts. If you’re feeling a bit lost about how to do that and which funds to choose, read this article about how not to stress over your retirement account. While the article refers to 401(k) funds, much of the same advice applies to IRAs as well.
Staying Busy All Day
How will you stay busy all day? The point seemed to resonate with many folks. Some have great plans and never expect a dull moment, others are clearly worried that the close of their working days will mean the end of mental stimulation. This article focuses on how lifelong learning programs help retirees keep their minds sharp while learning all kinds of interesting and useful stuff.
We were surprised recently by a group of commenters who took umbrage at the notion that you can work and also be retired. Their more traditional view was that if you are retired, you don’t work, period. A few even quoted dictionary definitions to support their case. But an increasing body of evidence points to an overwhelming trend in the opposite direction – that retirement is often going to be anything but traditional or predictable. It is more likely to be a transition than it is stopping work. Instead of just cashing pension and Social Security checks and having morning coffee or golf with the guys, it might mean a change of career or a part time or volunteer job. The trend is toward more of a highly personal, and very customizable living is more attractive to most retires.
Do Baby Boomers Look Forward to 50th Reunions?
We now have a much fuller idea of your intentions and attitudes towards these impending celebrations.
There will be a LOT of baby boomers getting invitations to 50th high school reunions in the next few years. In fact, the first parties happened last year, when the class of 1964 got back together again. That group, which launched the baby boom with their arrival on the planet in 1946, is demographic proof of the return of American GIs from WWII. Those born in 1947, the class of 1965, will have their reunions this year. Interestingly enough the last birth year for baby boomers was 1964 – the same year the first contingent graduated from high school! Those baby boomer youngsters will blow the lights out on the baby boomer reunion party bonanza in 2032. I had the pleasure of attending a 50th school reunion in June 2016 in a city that was not home for me and I found it very interesting. It was a vast array of different mind sets. The coke bottle shape was no longer in vogue, the guys that were the jocks now needed a cane and the new thought patterns of the people focused the current illness. However, the yearbook was fantastic, there was the picture of the person the year of their graduation had another picture of them during the current year of 2016, sitting next to it. Not only was it unique it was mind blowing to see the difference. I met some interesting people, and I made some conclusions. Those who moved away for their home locations to other geographical locations had a different outlook on life. I met a person that was retired but was very focused on continuing to contribute to the education of others and he even approached me about writing for the magazine. Home base for this person was Oakland Ca. additionally, I met a couple living in Ga. Near Atlanta that really understood retirement, they decided to leave the reunion and drive to those States that they have never visited before returning to Ga.
A lot of people have big plans for the exciting things they are going to do when they retire. Undoubtedly many of these will be memorable experiences and a source of pleasure. Now a new study puts a different perspective on that pursuit. The study looks at the kinds of experiences – ordinary vs. extraordinary – that creates long term happiness. The biggest finding was this – as we age we tend to get just as much satisfaction from ordinary experiences as we do those extraordinary ones.
Now that you are retired you probably have a little more free time to pursue the interests you always wanted to. You probably also have a desire to re-connect with old friends and family. The Internet and it’s so called “social media” sites like Facebook could be a great way to fulfill both of those desires. However, I disagree, I don’t want to know what your Grandchild had for breakfast this morning.
There are other easy to use tools can instantly and effortlessly put you in contact with family, friends, acquaintances, old school mates, military buddies, long lost lovers, etc. They can also help you pursue hobbies and interests with like-minded folks in a most enjoyable way. Unfortunately, they have downsides too. Used without some common sense precautions, social media can be destructive to relationships, dangerous to you and your property, or just plain annoying. This article will first discuss the concept of social media and then outline our list of the worst mistakes retirees can make in social media.
Growth and Use
Social media is one of the fastest and most pervasive developments of all time. Facebook, the first and by far the biggest social networking site, was only available to students at Harvard University when it began in 2004. That handful of users has exploded to over a billion today.
Marketers have been salivating about baby boomers since the time we started overwhelming kindergartens in 1951. Developers are still excited about our huge numbers (76 million); today they are eager to supply us with real estate for our “golden years”. Yet, just as when we were in our teens a lot of companies couldn’t connect with us, many of the people trying to market to us today are hopelessly young, and they don’t always get what makes us tick either.
One constant is that baby boomers will never think of themselves as old. Our bodies might not look much like what they did when we got naked years ago, but, attitudinally, we still tend to place ourselves in our late teens or 20’s.
When does Old Age begin?
When you were in college or just out of school, did your parents seem old to you? Mine were in their mid-50’s then, and they seemed a little bit old. Funny how mid-50’s feels awfully young these days. A lot of baby boomers feel the same way – the median age is now starting at 70, with a quarter going a lot higher, about 80. Younger adults, however, seem to think 60 represents the start of old age. The results among baby boomers make sense to us!
Here Are 4 Things You Should Never Pay For
It’s common sense that there’s no need paying for something if you don’t have to. But many times, there are things that hit our wallets and we shrug them off just as a normal way of doing business. On matters of finance, every coin counts. Here are four things you should never pay for.
Once in a while you need a little cash to go through your day, meaning you’ll need to check into the nearest ATM. But have you thought about those costly surcharges? Are you aware that, on average, you’re paying $4.52 for an ATM withdrawal that’s out of network? There’s a way out of this unnecessary expenditure, and the easiest one is to only use your own bank’s ATMs. Most banks have smartphone apps that will help you locate the nearest ATM. There are also some online banks and credit unions that refund out-of-network ATM charges per month – Check Ally Bank and Alliant Credit Union as examples.
Your credit report
Ever paid for your credit report? If so, you might have been a victim of a scam. Every client is entitled to a free credit report every 12 months from each of the 3 main credit monitoring bureaus: TransUnion, Experian and, Equifax, thanks to the Fair Credit Reporting Act. And remember Annualcreditreport.com is the only website that’s authorized to fill orders for the free credit reports. So beware of scammers who might try to charge you for your credit reports that you’ve got the right to receive for free.
Your checking account
Though you must have been taught that you should get free checks and that you shouldn’t be charged for your checking account, if you are using checks to make payments, remember that there are hidden costs you’ll incur. A survey by Bankrate found that only 37 percent of banks offer free checking with no strings attached. So before you use that check, find out whether you’ll incur some expenses.
Foreign transaction fees
Want to go on a vacation abroad? Check your credit card policies. If you use your credit card in other countries, a foreign transaction fee will be added to your monthly bill. It’s usually equal to 3 percent of the charge amount. To avoid this fee, it is advisable to use a credit card that doesn’t charge extra for foreign transactions. For example, the Discover It Miles card and the BankAmericard Travel Rewards card have no foreign transaction charge and no annual fees. Please keep I mind I am not promoting either of them, just providing information.
Now Onto the Fun Stuff
The publisher of Black Men In America.com.com talked to me today and asked if I would be available before I leave for the British Virgin Islands for an interview? One thing after my travels around the U.S. for the last 4 months I have gained a great deal of knowledge. Some of the cities and towns I have visited and some of the people I have met the knowledge I have gleaned has been wonderful.
I will be traveling light with no PC. The pictures I take will be with my phone, I won’t even take a camera. I have already received the emergency contact paperwork to fill out for the trip. That was a bit unnerving because it won’t be needed, I will be coming back.
Let’s talk about Foxy’s in the BVI:
Foxy’s Bar & Restaurant – Great Harbour
The British Virgin Islands and Jost Van Dyke in particular, would just never be the same without Foxy Callwood. This affable man with a major aversion to footwear, delights in strumming his guitar and entertaining restaurant guests.
Foxy’s mini empire sprang from humble beginnings, just down the beach from its current location, beside the quaint little Methodist Church in Great Harbour.
In anticipation of the BVI harvest festivities, Foxy saw a need for libations to be served for those giving thanks for another successful harvest. He built a cement slab and erected what has since become a typical beach bar seen almost everywhere on Jost Van Dyke.
The temporary bar remained in place for two years. In January of 1968, after he’d already made a positive impression, he moved to their present location, expanding a little at a time as finances permitted …. and the rest is history. He now has 2 restaurants. The second one (Foxy’s Taboo) is located beside Diamond Cay in East end.
Foxy’s wife Tessa, runs the charming Foxhole Boutique which is very well stocked with nice clothing and beachwear at surprisingly reasonable prices.
If you plan to travel with us for the BVI reunion in 2017, let me give you a tip from my last visit. Lobster dinner may not be something you want to try.
There’s no comparison, Maine lobster is far tastier however, I enjoy Caribbean lobster as long as it’s fresh and not overly cooked. As others have pointed out Maine lobsters are usually more tender. Since Maine lobsters are extremely rare in the Caribbean (and non-existent on most islands.
In closing let me share this: “The past is a place of reference, not a place of residence.”
Want to make a comment? Scroll down below and share your thoughts.
The Bridge: He Who Laughs…
By Darryl James
It has been said that he who laughs last, laughs best.
When it comes to laughing at African Americans and ignorant Black comedy, we have to seriously ask ourselves: “Who’s laughing last? Who’s laughing best?”
I’m not certain that it’s us.
Let’s take, for example, Chris Rock’s famous quip: “There’s a difference between Black people and Niggers and I hate Niggers.”
The “Niggers” who laugh may think its funny, I thing that the white racists who are laughing are laughing best and last. After all, Rock’s quip is merely a re-hash of the old school racist delineation between the race they loved to hate and the few amongst that race they considered “safe.” Racists would often proclaim someone to be other than a Nigger when they liked that person.
The most common defense people offer up for the demeaning Black comedy is that we need to laugh at ourselves. That is neither new nor interesting and disrespecting me for disagreeing will only get you ignored or cursed out. How funny is that?
Tough talking assheads slammed me for criticizing Black men in drag, but while they defend demeaning comedy, the world is turning upside down. And damn, if defense of degrading comedy is now your revolution and if dogging me out is the best revolutionary tactic that you can muster, then your worthless life is the real punchline.
Since critical thinking is dead, allow me to offer background on how we got to the point where many of us feel all too comfortable laughing and how we have come to expect laughter even when there really is nothing funny.
In America, the people have become lazy. And because of our laziness and dumbing down, we expect to be entertained at every turn.
Advertising is delivered in song, but much of it is delivered in humor, even when dealing with serious products or services.
Corporate meetings have to be quick-paced, and conventions must be laced with entertainment to keep the attention of the ADD masses.
Morning radio shows are no longer simply music, news and traffic–the pressure is on to make the audience laugh.
And, even the most serious of presentations, the morning and evening news, is now delivered in most cases with humor. They must compete with entertaining shows and other entertaining newscasts, because, in this society, the fear is that people will tune out. We know the people won’t fight, so the fear is that they will switch.
Politicians can no longer focus on messages and promises, however empty. They must focus on being entertaining, good looking and engaging. Neither Lincoln, nor Washington could be successful politicians today, unless, of course they learned to juggle. Witness the complaints lodged against Al Gore–that he was stiff and boring. Or how about the attacks on John Edwards for his excited utterance that surely occurs with regularity deep in suburban white America?
Our schools have to take special care to keep the lesson plans moving swiftly, competing with the pace set by television and computer games, even if the message is a bit cloudy or missed by the majority.
Where previous generations of children were given age appropriate entertainment for children, today’s youth are bored stiff with entertainment designed for them. They are given access to entertainment that is violent and sexual beyond their years, while the purveyors of entertainment argue that times have changed and children have evolved. There is no real evolution, only overexposure.
In previous times, the average citizen placed primary needs above entertainment–the need for assistance, freedom, education and enlightenment and the need for a cure for the most threatening disease. Now, we fear being bored more than we fear death or destruction of our way of life. And while some factions push for the eradication of our most threatening disease, too many of our mushy-minded citizens would rather point accusing fingers at the victims of AIDS or create ghostly villains who mysteriously promulgate the disease.
Not too long ago, the standard forms of entertainment grew old and could only hold attention for a short time. Everyone is looking for the next level of entertainment–the next thrill.
Amusement parks build faster, scarier and more dangerous rides, while the people line up for them, ignoring the crash test dummies that fell apart or got necks snapped during testing. Reality television shows promise to present real people in real activities, from eating bugs and pig intestines, to risking life or at least limb, in risky stunts, but that has nothing to do with real life.
We talk about keeping it “real,” but very little is actually real. Very little exists because it exists. Much of what we do, think, wear and say is developed for corporate benefit, even as we imagine that we have individual thought and freedom of expression. Even most of the people’s politics and religious views are shaped by mega-corporations, while the people defend beliefs they don’t really understand with tooth and nail.
Next Week: “Who’s Culture?
Darryl James is an award-winning author of the powerful new anthology “Notes From The Edge.” James’ stage play, “Love In A Day,” opened in Los Angeles this Spring and will be running all Summer. View previous installments of this column at http://www.bridgecolumn.proboards36.com. Reach James at firstname.lastname@example.org.