Expectation v. Reality

I get a fair amount of opportunities to discuss retirement with people.  The opportunities arise because retirement is a topic that interests me and because a lot of my friends and acquaintances are close to retirement or retired.  When we discuss retirement ages, the younger (late-40’s to early-50’s) group tends to think they will retire relatively early (say in the 54-57 range).  The older group tends to be aiming a little later, even up to age 70 to maximize savings and Social Security before hanging up the spurs (or in reality, the PC and Excel…).  My opinion is that the younger group is over-optimistic, primarily because of what health care would cost them for a decade prior to Medicare.  I was not as sure on the older group.

Survey says

As it turns out, the older group may be overestimating their staying power. smartasset® , in their analysis of data from the US Census Bureau found that 63 is the average retirement age across the US, with state variations (find your state using the link).

working paper from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College suggests that 41% of retirees retire earlier than they had planned, with health (fact, we’re getting older and nobody gets out of here alive) and involuntary job loss as the leading factors.

bike lunch

Since at least one of my readers likes pictures, here’s a picture of one of the lunches we enjoyed as part of a Netherlands bike and barge back in 2013.  The cardboard box in the lower right is chocolate sprinkles, which are popular to the point of being a staple in the Netherlands.

I’m not planning to retire at 63

But I was planning to retire at 54!  My original plan, at a large firm covered by a defined benefit plan and retiree healthcare had me retiring at 54.  That plan disappeared in 1999 when I changed jobs.

Now, I’m not planning to retire at 63, but the averages say I might. How do you deal with that uncertainty in your retirement income plan (RIP)?  My RIP has multiple tabs with plans starting immediately and at ages 63, 64, and 65.  Those plans all show how our retirement income would fare at the various ages. Starting earlier leads to lower incomes at higher ages, but sometimes you don’t get a choice.

RIP is serious business

The RIP is serious business, because as you age your ability to improve the nest egg or re-do Social Security will be extremely limited.  Once you retire, you are your own payroll department, unless your only income is Social Security. Since most people will be taking a look at their finances at this time of year because it’s tax season, this would be a good time to review (or create) your RIP, with at least one tab for age 63.

Here’s a link to the RIP template.

Actions you can take include:
-Update or create your personal RIP.  Own it!
-Check yourself – What’s your retirement goal?  How are you tracking toward that?  What is your plan if you have to retire early?
And if you have not seen the “Why you should read this blog…WIIFY” post, it’s here.

Questions, comments, or suggestions for retirement surprise areas you want to know more about?
-Leave a comment
-Use ‘Contact’, above, to send an email.

What was I thinking?

The other day I said to myself, “When I retire, I’ll spend more time on exercise and flexibility.”  What was I thinking?  If you want your best retirement, why would you not make the investment in your health well in advance.  (I know I’m probably not telling you anything you have not heard before here…).  In my case, and I am not a model for physical fitness, I am gradually upping my exercise goal from 30 minutes four times per week to 1 hour four times per week.  I already do strength and cardio and I will add in flexibility.  This will also go into my Retirement Activity Plan (RAP)!  Reviewer’s note – Mrs. NoSurprisesRetirement notes that a) the road to hell is paved with good intentions and b) not everyone will be able to keep this schedule.  She’s not wrong.  I’ll let you know how I do.

One part of my goal for being in better shape is to support the more or less standard flow of retirement; go-go, slow-go, no-go. The other part is to help me keep living, working, and travelling now.

Speaking of travel, here’s a picture of me, morphed with the other 13,500 or so visitors to the Kunsthal Rotterdam that participated in the digital image exhibit a couple of years ago. (Off season, literally had the place to ourselves!) In modern art museums you can frequently become part of the art.

Rotter - modern IMG_0279-cropped

Go-Go, Slow-Go, No-Go

Michael Kitces, the financial planner, in his blog , notes, “Michael Stein, author of “The Prosperous Retirement” first popularized the concept of a three-phase retirement: the Go-Go years, the Slow-Go years, and the No-Go years.  The approach was relatively straightforward: early retirement is represented by the “Go-Go” years and is characterized by an active phase, that may include a continuation of a lifestyle similar to pre-retirement, but with more time for spending and “extra” activities like travel; the  “Slow-Go” years are when health and energy begin to decline a bit, resulting in some spending reductions as the budget for activities like travel or even just eating out begin to decline; and the “No-Go” years are characterized by an almost total shutdown of activity-related spending, as consumption decreases to just the core expenditures necessary to maintain the household itself.”

My takeaway from the above is:
-understand the phases
-understand what your budget can support (a trip up North v. an 83 day around the world cruise or something in the middle)
-think about not only your cash budget, but your energy requirements in each phase and see what your personal ‘energy budget’ will support.

There is some argument about the timing and applicability of the three phases, but it seems like a useful model.  (Old saying, “All models are wrong, some models are useful.”). We have planned for go-go years until about 71, then the budget supports slow-go and no-go until ‘end of retirement…’

I know we watched the in-laws move through the three phases, some faster than others. Re-reading this before I posted it reminded me of the favorite saying of another friend, “Don’t postpone joy.” Genes, luck, and your version of the supreme deity will have a big say in the timing of each of our phases. We’ll likely return to look at the phases more in detail in later posts.  In the meantime, think about your RAP and what you’ll do in the go-go years.

Do as I do?

In the Free Stuff post post I mentioned taking classes from providers such as  FutureLearn and edX . I signed up for FutureLearn , but it’s for the past, the Cold War.  I enrolled in “From World War to White Heat: the RAF in the Cold War.” taught by a professor from the U of London and a PhD from the RAF Museum.

Actions you can take include:
-Check yourself – are you doing what you can to be in your best shape for retirement?
-Take a look at the free education resources, including YouTube.  An esteemed consultant once taught me, “We reserve the right to get smarter.”

And if you have not seen the “Why you should read this blog…WIIFY” post, it’s here.

Questions, comments, or suggestions for retirement surprise areas you want to know more about?
-Leave a comment
-Use ‘Contact’, above, to send an email.

Singin’ in the rain, or travel in the off season.

Dave and I

Here’s a picture of me posing with Dave, aka David of David and Goliath.  Dave is Michelangelo’s ‘David’ in Firenze (Florence) Italy.

Me and dave - cropped-2

There are a couple of things you can’t see in the picture.  First, it’s a very famous statue, but there is not a huge crowd and second, I’m wearing what I refer to as my formal fleece.  The lack of crowd and the fleece indicate that we’re travelling during the off (or off-to-shoulder) season. This post, we’ll talk travel.  Since statistics say many retirees want to travel, this post may help mitigate some surprises on the price of travel.

Off season travel

My formal fleece is the black polar-fleece jacket I use for sightseeing and as a (poor) substitute blazer when dining on vacation, because Mrs. No Surprises Retirement and I usually take our major sightseeing trips in the off season (or really close to the off season). Rick Steves suggests that in Europe shoulder season is April to mid-June and off-season is November through March.  As you might guess, this means that the weather is not always warm and sunny, so we pack for cool and potential rain. Overall, we’ve been lucky with the weather and it was only really cold and wet once and we were prepared for it.

Pluses

The pluses to the off-season include savings from lower air fares and lower hotel prices. There is little competition for trains, ferries, restaurants, or attractions. Walking down streets there are no tourist crowds, mostly locals with just a few tourists.

The best part of the deal for us is the lack of crowds.  We were almost alone on Omaha beach, reflecting on the sacrifice of the Allies and the French Resistance on D-Day. We have found that the museums we visit almost feel like we have private reservations, because there are so few people visiting. In major cities and major attractions (Louvre, British Museum), you’ll still find crowds in the off and shoulder season, but they will be smaller than high season and they will include a lot of school groups. Note that British children wear those fluorescent construction vests when out in school groups.

A plus for us is the weather. Cooler weather (40’s-60’s) is much more conducive for us to tour than the hotter summer season.

Minuses

On the minus side is the weather and access.  Weather in the shoulder season is somewhat unpredictable.  It can be comfortable one day (50 and sunny) and the next day less so (35, wind, and rain).  Layers, umbrellas, and rain jackets are lifesavers.  Access in the shoulder season can be a problem for some venues that simply can’t afford to be open year-round.  If one of those is your special favorite, perhaps shoulder season won’t work for you.  Also, at least in Europe, you will be at higher latitudes which means that daylight will be much more limited than during the high season.  We’ve experienced sunrise at 8:30 AM and sunset at 4:30, so you have to be comfortable navigating streets in twilight. (It’s safe, you just can’t see things as well.)

If you are empty nesters like we are and you like to travel on your own, we recommend the off (or near off) season for the price and the lack of crowds.  Also, you may want to Google ‘european school holidays’ before scheduling your trip to determine if you’ll be in the midst of a mid-term school break which can make attractions crowded and hotel prices increase.

Pick one, be first

Remember the picture of Dave and I, above.  That was part of Mrs. No Surprises Retirement ‘pick one, be first’ philosophy. Pick the most important attraction of that day’s itinerary and be the first ones there when it opens.  That prevents Mr. No Surprises Retirement from getting too much sleep. When you’re the first ones into one of the more important venues, you’ll have 15-30 minutes to really enjoy the major exhibits before the crowds start to clog things up.  That’s why we had breakfast as soon as the hotel breakfast room opened and were walking several blocks to the Accademia in Firenze (Florence) to be there at 8:00, 15 minutes before opening, to see the David unobstructed.

Actions you can take include:

-Think about the pros and cons of off (and near off) season travel and see if the pros make travel in retirement more affordable/achievable for you.

And if you have not seen the “Why you should read this blog…WIIFY” post, it’s here.

Questions, comments, or suggestions for retirement surprise areas you want to know more about?
-Leave a comment
-Use ‘Contact’, above, to send an email.

When does 70 ½ equal 2?

A picture!

Since a reader asked for pictures, here is this week’s photo and a question for you.  What is the furthest away license plate that you have seen driving near home?

Truk

Yes, you are correct, I got a picture of a license plate from Truk of the Federated States of Micronesia right here in Minnesota.  Truk is in the Pacific, north of Papua New Guinea and SE of Guam.  Anyone seen one from farther away near your home?

When is 70 ½ equal to 2?

We will be discussing RMDs here – Required Minimum Distributions.  RMDs are what the government requires for you to generate taxable income (and, likely, taxes!) on the untaxed income you put away in your IRA/401(k)/etc.  At some point (70 ½) they require you to take money out (or for most of us, we need to take money out…)

Remember that No Surprises Retirement’s goal is to help you not have bad retirement surprises.  A key element of many people’s retirement income plans is the use of funds from IRAs/401(k)s, etc.  Frequently those will be rolled into an IRA, so we’ll just use IRA as the example here. As always, please seek professional advice when you need it, because there are some wrinkles with defined contribution plans v. IRAs.

70 ½ equals two when you are required to take two RMDs in the same year!

As it happens, I will (hopefully) turn 70 in one calendar year and then (again, hopefully) turn 70 ½ in the year following.  I was planning to take my first RMD, by April 1st of the year following 70 ½th year (that April 1st thing is the ‘Required Beginning Date’), which is also my 72st year. Confused?  I sure was; it reminded me of algebra class.  Then I remembered a CRPC class I had taken which noted that in some cases two RMDs may need to be taken in the same calendar year!  Yikes, that has the potential to affect the taxation of Social Security benefits in the RMD year as well as Medicare premiums in the following year!

I went to my friends* at the IRS who have this covered.  They have a website that explains it all and it’s easy to understand, mostly.

Here’s a quote from the IRS RMD site (I added the bold italic underline):

“Date for receiving subsequent required minimum distributions

For each subsequent year after your required beginning date, you must withdraw your RMD by December 31.

The first year following the year you reach age 70½ you will generally have two required distribution dates: an April 1 withdrawal (for the year you turn 70½), and an additional withdrawal by December 31 (for the year following the year you turn 70½). To avoid having both of these amounts included in your income for the same year, you can make your first withdrawal by December 31 of the year you turn 70½ instead of waiting until April 1 of the following year.

Example: John reached age 70½ on August 20, 2013. He must receive his 2013 required minimum distribution by April 1, 2014, based on his 2012 year-end balance. John must receive his 2014 required minimum distribution by December 31, 2014, based on his 2013 year-end balance.

If John receives his initial required minimum distribution for 2013 on April 1, 2014, then both his 2013 and 2014 distributions will be included in income on his 2014 income tax return.”

Now you know! Also, that’s why you should save your year-end statements and Form 5498s’.

Now that we all know the rules, we can plan on when we will take that first required distribution from our plans that require RMDs.  Good news, it won’t be a surprise.

Actions you can take include:

-Review the IRS RMD site and update your retirement income plan.

-Check out Volunteer Match https://www.volunteermatch.org/ for a volunteer opportunity that fits you.

And if you have not seen the “Why you should read this blog…WIIFY” post, it’s here.

Questions, comments, or suggestions for retirement surprise areas you want to know more about?
-Leave a comment
-Use ‘Contact’, above, to send an email.

*  –  Seriously, I work with a number of IRS people when volunteering and they have all been professional and try very hard to get everything right for the taxpayer.

Potpourri for $100 please, Alex.

This week’s post is a potpourri of things.

You may remember a reader suggested more personal anecdotes and pictures.  The picture is below a couple of sections. The anecdote is that the budget tracking is going well. We did discover that I left off my wife’s health club dues, so those got added in.  Plus, I had some bagels and leftover pork roast, so I brought lunch to work instead of eating out three days last week. Saved money (no entries on budget tracking for those!) and enjoyed some fantastic roast pork from the Showtime rotisserie.  Remember that you can still comment below or email nosurprisesretirement.com with suggestions for content.

Time management

I usually try to publish a No Surprises Retirement post on Sundays.  This weekend was a time management problem as I had about 14 hours of tax classes and tests for my volunteer gig. I volunteer at an organization that does free tax preparation for low-income people, mostly families and very small business owners. So, No Surprises Retirement took second place in terms of completion.

Volunteering

RAC - star UL

I place volunteering on the Activity-Social quadrant of the Retirement Activity Plan Compass, so if your RAP is lacking there, volunteering may be an opportunity. I had an Aunt, Mildred W. of Sun City, AZ, who was volunteering at the local hospital into her late-80’s. Don’t let yourself be limited by age if you don’t have to.

I found my volunteer organization about 20 years ago through the IRS, the happy way – I contacted them. You may want to try a volunteer position or two in pre-retirement to see what fits for you.  If you’re looking for a volunteer position, check out Volunteer Match. You can put in your zip code and key words and find the volunteer opportunity that’s perfect for you. Last week I looked up some opportunities for a young lad, who is between IT jobs, to help keep his skills fresh and there were plenty of opportunities out there.

Memento mori*

It was a great day until I got the mail. I received a memento mori* from Globe Life today:

IMG-7248

A reminder to us all, I guess. Now that it’s the new year, you might want to revisit, or draft your first, living will (aka advanced directive).  Make it easier on those who may have to make decisions for you when you cannot.

Actions you can take include:

-Check out Volunteer Match for a volunteer opportunity that fits you.

-Memento mori yourself – create or update your living will.  Your local hospital or library will likely have forms for you for free.

And if you have not seen the “Why you should read this blog…WIIFY” post, it’s here.

Questions, comments, or suggestions for retirement surprise areas you want to know more about?
-Leave a comment
-Use ‘Contact’, above, to send an email.

*  Memento mori is the medieval Latin Christian theory and practice of reflection on mortality, especially as a means of considering the vanity of earthly life and the transient nature of all earthly goods and pursuits. (Wikipedia)

Oops, or New Year Fiscal Fitness

Oops!

One of our readers suggested more pictures and personal anecdotes, so here is an anecdote:

Last week Mr. and Mrs. No Surprises Retirement compared our actual spending to our proposed retirement budget.  Oops – there were a number of areas where we were way over budget!

The picture, below, is of me looking at the results of the comparison!

IMG_7256

The good news is that we’re not retired yet, so we weren’t overspending our ‘real’ retirement spending plan.  There’s still time to tune and track better.

Fiscal fitness

The goal of No Surprises Retirement is helping you avoid bad retirement surprises.  One of the worst retirement surprises is overspending in the early years and then running out of money in the later years.  Almost every TV show now has a lot of fitness and weight loss advertising (like every late-December through early-January).  This post will help you with improving your fiscal fitness in 2018.

Corporations and non-profits are experts at fiscal fitness (at least the ones that stay in business are!) They use budgets, income statements, and balance sheets to manage their business.  We may talk about income statements and balance sheets in some later post, but for this post we’ll focus on the budget.  The key parts to budgetary fiscal fitness are:

Budget – know what you plan to spend monthly/annually (and that the spending fits within your income).

Tracking – track your spending to the budget and determine where there you are going under or over, and why. (In corporate speak, we call these ‘variances’.)

Adapting – adapt to variances by adjusting future spending.  For example, if you spent too much on medical because you went to the ER, you may need to cut out movies for the rest of your life a few months.

Just like the stretches you’ll do in the three times a week aerobics class that one month you go to the gym, budgeting is something you need to pay attention to frequently (at least bi-weekly) but unlike the gym, you need to do it all year.

Tools for you to manage your budget – spreadsheets

Since we had the budget surprise, I decided to upgrade our budget capability by finding a better spreadsheet than we are currently using.  I decided to stay with a spreadsheet because I don’t need all the features of a personal finance software package and don’t want to maintain my finances on a website. I also decided to download (and don’t forget to virus scan!) because apparently a billion people have already shared their budget spreadsheets  online and this way I could start without having to reinvent the spreadsheet the wheel!

As usual, Google helped out with the search and I ran across ‘the balance’.

There are a number of budget spreadsheets reviewed and linked to on ‘the balance’ site, so you’ll probably find one to use and like.

I liked a couple:

It’s Your Money! in their ‘Free Budgeting Spreadsheets’ has a number of budgeting spreadsheets.  The IYM Spending Plan Spreadsheet looked promising.

Vertex42 also had budget spreadsheets.  Their Family Budget Planner looked excellent.

‘the balance’ also has a section for Google Docs Budget Spreadsheets. I think we’re going to try the cleverly named Best-Personal-Budget-Planner.  I downloaded it and converted it to Excel, but it looked very usable in Google Sheets as well (and if you don’t own Excel, Sheets is free.)

Most of the spreadsheets suggest budget categories.  Another excellent source for retirement expense budget categories comes from BlackRock.

Actions you can take include:

-If you’re not already using one, pick a spreadsheet or some software to track your expense budget.

-Put your 2018 budget in the tool and start tracking and analyzing!  Good luck!

And if you have not seen the “Why you should read this blog…WIIFY” post, it’s here.

Questions, comments, or suggestions for retirement surprise areas you want to know more about?
-Leave a comment
-Use ‘Contact’, above, to send an email.

Dear Reader, please share your genius!

First, a thank you!

Thank you! From the visitor counts, apparently a lot of people stopped by to read one of No Surprises Retirement’s blog entries in 2017.  I hope they were entertaining and helpful.  Entertaining is sometimes a challenge with financial topics as they can be dry and directive, or, as some people call it, ‘boring’.

Share your genius

Please let us know what your favorite posts (post?, anything Bueller?) of 2017 were. Then, please think about topics you would like to see from No Surprises Retirement in 2018. Leave me a comment (click on ‘leave a comment, below) or send an email to nosurprisesretirement@gmail.com

What, me blog?

Think about perhaps doing your own blog in 2018 – maybe you have expertise or opinions to share on fishing, travel, dining, or something else.  A basic WordPress site is free.  Think of it as part of your Creative-Social Retirement Activity plan!

RAC - star LL

Actions you can take include:

-PLEASE – leave us a comment or send us an email on what you like, don’t like, and want to see in 2018!

-Check out WordPress and start blogging.

And if you have not seen the “Why you should read this blog…WIIFY” post, it’s here https://nosurprisesretirement.com/2017/07/09/first-blog-post/

Questions, comments, or suggestions for retirement surprise areas you want to know more about?
-Leave a comment
-Use ‘Contact’, above, to send an email.

A Christmas 10%, 15%, 25% or more short term return!

I forked over

I paid my 2018 property taxes early and I will net at least 15% on the deal!  My county made it extremely easy to go on their website and eCheck the 2018 payment.  I reviewed our 2016 Schedule A and our deductions were less than the 2018 tax year standard deduction ($24,400 for a married couple). I roughed in 2017 and it looked like the same case for what I’ll be filling out here in a month or so, still below the 2018 limit. Poof – easy choice to accelerate my 2018 payment, so then I went and found the money to put in checking to pay it (less poof there!).

Disclaimers, always disclaimers

Again, no, not a scam.  This may actually be an opportunity for you.  The latest tax changes have passed and will take effect in 2018 (mostly).  We noted some tax planning opportunities in the “Urgent money opportunity!” post. Still acting quickly, there may be another 2017 tax planning opportunity with property taxes for you that could be the equivalent of a 10-25% return (or more depending on your marginal tax bracket).  We’re providing general advice here, please check with your tax adviser for your specific situation.  And by act quickly, that means by 12/31/2017.

Facts, again

Tax rates – generally going down next year, meaning that deductions are worth more this year than next.

Standard deduction – going up next year, meaning you need more deductions to obtain any benefit from a Schedule A deduction.  Also, your state and local tax deduction (property and income taxes) will be limited to $10,000.

Property taxes

The facts above may add up to a planning opportunity for you this year with property taxes.

Hypothetically, maybe you are a retiree or near retiree that has paid their 2017 property taxes and you itemize on Schedule A and your Schedule A deductions exceed the standard deduction.  The 2017 property taxes will be part of your Schedule A deduction.

You may be able to prepay your 2018 property taxes, on or before 12/31/2017.  If you do, you will also include those on your Schedule A and the tax ‘reduction’ from that additional deduction should decrease the tax you owe by your marginal rate, 10 to 25% or more.  That’s kind of like getting a CD paying a huge rate – something you likely don’t want to pass up.

Example

As an example, let’s say your 2018 property taxes are $1,000 (easy round number) and your marginal rate is 15%, and the extra $1,000 deduction does not move you into a lower marginal rate – that’s an extra $150 back as a refund.  Or, like getting a one-year CD with a 15% return.  You’ll have to pay the tax anyway, why not make it a little less painful.

In this example, we assume that in the 2018 tax year (the one you file by April 15, 2019) the $1,000 is ‘buried’ in the standard deduction and there is no ‘additional’ tax benefit.  You only get an explicit deduction and bigger refund if you accelerate the payment to 2017.

If, based on your tax advisers’ analysis and your state/county/city allowing it, you make your 2018 property tax payment now, you may get a bigger deduction (and lower taxes/bigger refund) on your 2017 return.

How to from WUSA

Here’s a piece that WUSA 9 in DC did to help people understand how to prepay.  They mention mortgages where taxes are escrowed.

Actions you can take include:

-Call your tax advisor and analyze your 2017/2018 planning opportunity.

And if you have not seen the “Why you should read this blog…WIIFY” post, it’s here https://nosurprisesretirement.com/2017/07/09/first-blog-post/

Questions, comments, or suggestions for retirement surprise areas you want to know more about?
-Leave a comment
-Use ‘Contact’, above, to send an email.

Urgent money opportunity!

No, not a scam.

This may actually be an opportunity for you.  The latest tax changes have passed and will take effect in 2018 (mostly). If you act quickly, there may be some 2017 tax planning opportunities that will save you more money this year than next!  (We’re providing general advice here, please check with your tax adviser for your specific situation).  By act quickly, that means by 12/31/2017.

Facts

Tax rates – generally going down next year, meaning that deductions are worth more this year than next.

Standard deduction – going up next year, meaning you need more deductions to obtain any benefit from a Schedule A deduction.

These two may add up to a planning opportunity for you this year.

Charitable scenario

Hypothetically, maybe you are a retiree or near retiree that has charitable goals or commitments. You’re trying to make the world a better place, but you don’t want to squander cash. If, based on your tax advisers’ analysis, you make your 2018 gift now in 2017, you may get a bigger deduction (and lower taxes/bigger refund) on your 2017 return, and the charity likely won’t care if they get the 2018 gift a little early.

Stock loss scenario

Also hypothetically, maybe you are a retiree with some stocks that have losses. If, based on your tax advisers’ analysis, you sell and take a 2017 loss, that will mitigate more taxes than the same action in 2018. And, your tax adviser may tell you that if you really love the stock that had a loss, you can buy it again after 60’ish days. Or, your tax adviser may tell you that it will give you the cash to make that charitable gift (above). So, give your tax adviser (and you!) a holiday season gift by calling them tomorrow!

Actions you can take include:

-Call your tax advisor and analyze your 2017/2018 planning opportunity.

And if you have not seen the “Why you should read this blog…WIIFY” post, it’s here https://nosurprisesretirement.com/2017/07/09/first-blog-post/

Questions, comments, or suggestions for retirement surprise areas you want to know more about?
-Leave a comment
-Use ‘Contact’, above, to send an email.

Free stuff!

Who doesn’t like free?  This post should help you on the Creativity-Social area of the Retirement Activity Compass.  You will probably want to update your personal Retirement Activity Plan (RAP) when you’re done reading!

RAC - star LL

Remember back to the “Pre-retirement or retired, why not RAP?” post?  We focused on ‘creativity’ to help keep our retired minds sharp and ‘social’ to help keep us connected to each other and the community.   One way to get a toofer on that is to learn something new by taking a class – a free class.

Free #1

Mrs. NoSurprisesRetirement has completed a number of classes on various aspects of the history of the United Kingdom from her favorite free e-learning site, Futurelearn.  A couple her favourites (British spelling of favourites, get it?  Ha!)  were ‘A History of Royal Food and Feasting’ and ‘England in the Time of King Richard III’.   I looked at Futurelearn today and they have pretty much everything from anatomy to writing fiction.  Classes are available both anytime (Beginning Dutch, anyone?) and scheduled. Mrs. NoSurprisesRetirement likes the scheduled courses because of the interaction available when you comment on the content or questions.  Futurelearn is Mrs. NoSurprisesRetirement’s favorite e-learning site because of the diversity in class formats and the international audience. People in her Richard III class lived within a few miles of the key historical sites and provided really interesting comments.

Free #2

If you’re like us here in the frozen northland Minnesota and you are 62 or over, you can audit (sit in on the class for no grade, but it’s OK this time) classes at the U of M and MNSCU’s universities, colleges and technical colleges.  If you’re someplace warmer else your state likely has something similar to the Minnnesota benefit and you can find out here at A SENIOR CITIZEN GUIDE FOR COLLEGE. This is a really good way to learn those things you always wanted to but did not have the time/money before now.

But wait, there’s more!

You can go to Harvard, MIT, or the Sorbonne with edX  This is Mrs. NoSurprisesRetirement’s other favorite e-learning site and, similar to Futurelearn, edX has a wide span of classes. Introduction to German Opera from Dartmouth, The Rise of Superheroes and Their Impact on Pop Culture from the Smithsonian, and Urban Design for the Public Good: Dutch Urbanism from TU Delft are just some examples.

Don’t stop there – check the library

My local public library provides two different language learning programs, one of which is from Rosetta Stone.  They also provide Lynda (now from Linkedin) which has classes on just about everything, including Microsoft Office for that new computer you’ll get for Christmas and photography for that DSLR you got last year.

Sample Retirement Activity Plan template – free!

I put a RAP template out on Google Drive for you to download and modify to personalize as needed.  It’s in Word format, but let me know if you need one in Google Sheets format. Copy and paste this link:

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/13rGYZR8yl5IwXciqzp7WuUOGNWX8_auP?usp=sharing

into your browser (I primarily use Chrome) and you should be able to see them and download.  Let me know at nosurprisesretirement@gmail.com if you have a problem.

Actions you can take include:

-Develop and/or update your RAP.

-Don’t forget about the social aspects of retirement – reach out to a friend and re-connect, especially now in the holiday season.

And if you have not seen the “Why you should read this blog…WIIFY” post, it’s here https://nosurprisesretirement.com/2017/07/09/first-blog-post/

Questions, comments, or suggestions for retirement surprise areas you want to know more about?
-Leave a comment
-Use ‘Contact’, above, to send an email.