Have you made any significant financial mistakes over your lifetime? Are you willing to admit them? Apparently lots of middle class Americans would answer “yes” to both of these questions, at least in an anonymous telephone survey.
I recently wrote about our plan for yet another refinancing of the mortgage on our “largest” home (the home we will be selling as a final downsizing step.) On Friday, we closed the new loan. I am happy about the final numbers.
Millions of boomers have resigned themselves to working longer – age 70 or later – so that they can eventually afford to retire from the work force. Is this wishful thinking? Recent research from the Employee Benefit Research Institute suggests that it may be. I don’t bring this up to make folks feel more depressed than they already are. Rather, it is better to face reality now than to be surprised then crushed by it later.
I am in a state of transition in my political views about economic issues. For many years, most of what I wrote and said about national economic matters would have put me squarely in the “fiscal conservative” category. But some of that is changing. I wonder if it is changing for other baby boomers?
If your mind often pulls you into daydreams about your retirement future, I have a suggestion. Pull your mind back to the present, then ask yourself some questions, as a reality check. I can make this recommendation because I am doing something similar. I am now reading a book called The Retirement Maze which presents challenging questions of its own, based on surveys of retirees.
Is it wrong to have intense curiosity about retirement planning mistakes made by fellow baby boomers? I think not, if you approach it as a learning tool and not as an opportunity to gloat or criticize. I am occasionally guilty of the latter but I am getting better at not judging others.
The popular press is referring to upcoming changes tax law changes as a “fiscal cliff.” That’s putting it nicely because it suggests that its a natural disaster. The fiscal cliff is actually a function of intransigence on behalf of those who write the laws. They can’t agree on what is the right thing to do so they instead concentrate on (a) getting themselves re-elected and (b) consolidating power for their respective political parties. At this stage in my life, my general interest in politicians and their election-year shenanigans has waned. I am more concerned about how they place our economic and retirement futures in jeopardy and what to do about it.
I am on a Social Security roll this week. I hear this a lot: ”I am claiming Social Security as soon as I turn 62 so that I can get my retirement benefits before the government takes them away from me.” There are several different ways of assessing this argument. None of them have persuaded me that this alone is a sufficient reason for claiming at age 62.
Bill Keller is a columnist for the New York Times. He recently wrote a column challenging his fellow baby boomers to support cutbacks in “entitlement” programs, i.e. Social Security and Medicare. He referred to boomers as the “entitled generation.” I dislike use of the term “entitlement” in this context because so many of its users throw it out as a pejorative against those who receive the benefits. Keller supports some form of Social Security “means testing.” Let’s talk about that for a moment.
We are re-financing our mortgage again. In 2010 we refinanced to an adjustable rate mortgage at 3.875% for 7 years with a 30 year amortization. Recently I began investigating improving this because market rates continued to fall. This investigation has paid off so we are now going through another refinancing.