It’s that time again…time to recap “nuggets” from recent webinars and conferences that I attended. Below is a list, in no particular order, of insights, facts, and recommendations that stood out to me as being original, significant, and/or useful:

New Definition of Retirement

The word “retire” does not necessarily mean “stop working.” Instead, it means “not having to work.” Retirement is not a uniform experience for everyone. Ironically, people with the most capacity to choose leisure are frequently choosing labor. Many people stick with activities that they are comfortable and competent with.

Inflation Rate

Annual inflation rates reached four-decade highs during the first half of 2022. The core inflation rate strips out food and energy but includes housing, used cars, airline tickets, and more. Inflation is measured by the consumer price index (CPI) based on data from household spending surveys conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Federal Reserve is increasing interest rates to slow down the economy in an effort to combat high inflation.

Lack of Retirement Planning

Many people spend time planning meetings that last an hour, weddings that last a day or a weekend, and higher education (4-5 years). However, when it comes to planning what they will do over what could be a 30-year retirement, many people “just show up.”

A benefit of planning is increased likelihood of a desired outcome.

Life Expectancy

On average, retirement has almost tripled in length and can last 20, 25, even 35 years for some. In 1935, if you lived to age 65, you had a life expectancy of 6 years. In 2018, the life expectancy of a 65-year-old was 17 years. The needs of 60-something retirees are very different from those in their 80s or 90s. There are a lot of nuances.

Retirement Stages

There are six distinct stages of retirement, although not everyone experiences every stage, depending on their lifestyle. The stages are:

  1. Euphoria (new-found freedom from…and checking off “to do” items)
  2. What, That’s It? (a disillusionment when unstructured time becomes unfulfilling)
  3. Re-engagement (figuring out how to spend time)
  4. Grandparenthood (a new center of attention)
  5. Adult Caregiving
  6. Widowhood (loss of someone’s “co-pilot”)

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Bitcoin Basics

According to algorithms laid out in a 2008 white paper by Satoshi Nakamoto, there will be a finite number of bitcoins. Only 21 million bitcoins will ever exist, and one estimate is that the year 2140 is when all bitcoins will be in circulation. Advantages include user anonymity, accessibility, and high return potential (albeit with high risk). Bitcoin disadvantages include extreme volatility and no government regulations or support in the event of a loss.

Blogging Tips

Bloggers should post at least once a week and use keywords (for easier searchability) and graphics (to attract users and keep them online longer). They should also try to get backlinks, which are external links that lead to a website.

Backlinks are an important factor for high search engine optimization (SEO) rankings.

Blogs should also include a disclaimer stating that posts are for educational purposes only and do not constitute personalized advice.

Financial Literacy

This is one of few topics today that crosses political party lines and has bipartisan support. As of May 2022, 13 states have financial education mandates. An increasing body of rigorous research with randomized control trials has found clear evidence of positive effects  (e.g., increased credit scores, lower loan delinquency) of financial education on financial behaviors.

An understanding of personal finance is a key to success for a person’s entire life. Three key points: financial education is good for students, parents want it, and teachers are prepared to teach this subject.

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Decision-Making

If someone does not make a decision due to procrastination, an inability (or lack of interest) to narrow down options, fear of making a mistake, or any other reason, a decision has still been made. To quote a phrase attributed to Harvey Cox, “Not to decide is to decide” because someone has still made a choice.

Money Conversations with Children

Many parents want to have money conversations with their kids but don’t know how to get started. Experts recommend using “life as it happens” (e.g., a shopping trip or a visit to a bank) to talk about financial topics (e.g., using coupons to save money and compound interest) .

It does not have to be a special time.

Sequence of Returns Risk

This is a stock market downturn late in someone’s working years or early in retirement. If money is withdrawn during this “fragile” time, asset value can be difficult to recover. To avoid this risk, older adults are advised to build a cash cushion (2-3 years of expenses above guaranteed income) to avoid having to sell securities.

Financial Stress

It is not just a high level of debt that causes people financial stress. It is also the absence of protection when bad things happen. This speaks to the need to boost financial resiliency through savings, insurance, community resources, and other methods. COVID-19 showed that people hit the hardest by negative events had the fewest resources.

Tax Diversification

Ideally, retirees should have savings in tax-deferred, taxable, and tax-free accounts (e.g., Roth IRAs and municipal bonds or bond funds). Each has a different type of tax treatment. Tax diversification provides an opportunity to strategize to manage taxes better in retirement. For example, to manage taxable income so it is below the limits for the IRMAA Medicare premium surcharge for high earners and the 3.8% net investment income tax (NIIT).

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