Today is Day #35 of a 35-day sequence of tweets about the content of my book, Flipping a Switch. The words “flipped switch” are a metaphor for transitions that people face in the last third of life, and the book describes 35 of them. Examples include spending down savings, taking required minimum distributions, and keeping busy.

The target reader for Flipping a Switch is a wide swath of Americans: older adults in the last third of their life and younger adults who are planning ahead and/or assisting older family members. Specifically, the book can help Gen Xers and millennials better understand their parents’ financial and lifestyle transitions and changing mindsets.

There are 15 financial, 5 social, and 15 lifestyle-related “flipped switches” described in the book, and the #35DaysofFlippedSwitches tweets described each one, along with a suggested action step to address that issue.



Below is a table that summarizes the 35 “flipped switches” in my book, and key action steps for each life transition:

“Flipped Switch” Description

Key Action Step

1.       If You Don’t Spend Your Money, Someone Else Will  

Automate savings withdrawals (e.g., annuities, managed payout mutual funds, bond and CD laddering, automatic withdrawals).


2.       Deciding When You Have Enough  

Try some online savings calculators to determine how much money you need to save to live comfortably.


3.       Creating a “Paycheck”  

Consider purchasing low-expense annuities for guaranteed income and as a longevity hedge.


4.       RMDs: The Mandatory Flipped Switch  

Consult with a Certified Public Accountant ® or financial advisor if you need help taking Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) or investing or gifting money that is withdrawn.


5.       Later Life Investing  

Beware of “free meal seminars” that target older adults and have been linked to fraudulent or inappropriate investments.


6.       Adjusting to Changes in Income and Expenses  

Consider working 1 to 2 years longer if you are a “late saver” to save more money and earn a higher Social Security benefit.


7.       Taxes: It’s Not What You Earn, But What You Keep  

Consult with a CPA® or financial advisor the first tax season after leaving work to get a professionally prepared template tax return.


8.       Becoming a Social Security Beneficiary  

Beware of the earnings limit ($18,960 in 2021) and consider your employment plans before applying for Social Security.


9.       Health Care Transitions  

Take care of yourself (e.g., dietary changes) to stave off chronic diseases and maintain quality of life so aging is not painful and costly.


10.    Transitioning to Medicare  

Review the annually updated publication Medicare and You and reach out to your local SHIP office for Medigap policy assistance.


11.    Setting New Financial Goals  

Automate spending and gifting goals so withdrawing money from investments does not feel like a “loss.”


12.    You Can’t Take It With You: Philanthropy/Estate Plans  

Investigate a charity’s administrative expense ratio and make gifts to charities that spend the bulk of their funds on their charitable mission.


13.    Financial Organization and Simplification  

Make a list of digital assets with a list of user names, passwords, PINs, and other details related to your digital life.


14.    Becoming Fraud Bait  

Recognize “red flag language” (e.g., pressure to act immediately and tell nobody and requests to “verify” your account and delete/hang up.


15.    Achieving Financial Peace of Mind  

Run a Monte Carlo analysis or consult a financial advisor to see if you’ve saved enough money to not have to worry about money.


16.    Answering the “What Do You Do?” Question  

Introduce yourself to others with a new business card that says what you want it to say about your current pursuits.


17.    Changed Relationships With Family and Friends  

Define your boundaries and have honest discussions with family members about your lifestyle and caregiving preferences.


18.    Becoming the Family Storyteller  

Impart values (e.g., hard work and honesty) into family stories so they have a greater impact beyond simply telling the story itself.


19.    Successful Solo Aging  

Consider a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) to receive a continuum of lifetime care as you get older.


20.    Finding Meaning and Purpose with Others  

Give yourself time to develop a new post-career lifestyle. For many people, it is not “on-off,” but a series of gradual transitions.


21.    Finding Fulfillment After Full-Time Work  

Don’t disappear from the workforce for long if you get bored after a primary career. Within two years, you are likely to be deemed “rusty.”


22.    Downsizing and Divesting  

Sort possessions into two piles — keep and discard — when you are downsizing. Take discarded items to thrift shops to “recycle” them.


23.    Get Help When Needed  

Place checkbooks, financial records, and valuables in a safe, locked file cabinet or another secure place when household workers are present.


24.    Disengaging the Past and Engaging the Future  

Mentor others to carry on your work. Talk them through process steps, train them, and share document files.


25.    A New Definition of Busy  

Identify one or more high-priority “big rocks”; i.e., activities that take a big chunk of time. Doing this will provide a daily time structure.


26.    Increased Interest in Accessibility  

“Layer” lighting to reduce safety risks (e.g., falls) by combining ambient lighting, task lighting, and accent lighting.


27.    Should I Stay (Put) or Should I Go?  

Do pre-move research. Visit potential relocation sites during different seasons and follow their local news online via social media.


28.    No More Excuses  

Develop a new “go-to” response to replace “sorry, I have to work” and strategies to filter requests to do things.


29.    Pleasing Yourself Instead of Others  

Make a list of things that you do to please others. Next, consider whether those activities really have an element of choice.


30.    Seeking Happiness in Later life  

Focus on PERMA: Positive emotions, Engagement in activities, Relationships, Meaning, and Achievement.


31.    Green Bananas, ROLE Calculations, and Lasts  

Think about upcoming major purchases and whether items you plan to buy can be expected to last the remainder of your lifetime.


32.    Self-Regulation and Time-Shifting  

Anticipate possible losses in visual, cognitive, and/or motor skills as you get older and adapt personal behaviors accordingly.


33.    Invincible to Vulnerable  

Do all that you can to avoid injury (e.g., falls) and push back the start of age-related chronic diseases such as diabetes.


34.    Handling “Wildcard” Events (Widowhood, Gray Divorce, and Diminished Capacity)  

Provide financial advisors and institutions with the name of a trusted person to contact if unusual account activity or fraud is suspected.


35.    Planning a Good Ending  

Do what you need to do to plan for an uncertain future (e.g., prepare or update legal documents and communicate final wishes to others).


For more information about the content of Flipping a Switchcheck out this webinar that I recently presented.

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