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So, Baby Boomers, I have a pretty good feeling that after the past 3 days you have a good grasp on working the "ins" and "outs" of your primary Social Security benefits program.

But, everyone’s family life and structure can be a little different, so why don’t we start today by taking a quick look at your "Beneficiaries" and how your PIA (Primary Insurance Amount) is handled in different scenarios.

Let’s see what different eligibility requirements are needed for your loved ones (or maybe not so loved ones in the case of a divorce) to receive your retirement benefits.

Please pay close attention because here is where the system starts to get quite complicated.


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 ***       A QUICK LOOK AT BENEFICIARIES    ***


1. PRIMARY EARNER

  • Can receive 100% of their PIA at full retirement age
  • Can receive reduced benefits starting at age 62+ (+- 75% depending on age) 
  • Can receive increased benefits with delayed retirement (8%/year up to age 70)


2. PRIMARY EARNER’S SPOUSE


  • Can receive 50% of spouse’s PIA at full retirement age
  • Can receive reduced benefits starting at age 62+ (+- 35% depending on age)


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3. PRIMARY EARNER’S WIDOW OR WIDOWER


If you are the widow or widower of a person who worked long enough under Social Security, you can:

  • Receive benefits as early as age 50 if you are disabled AND the disability started before or within seven years of the primary earner’s death.
  • Receive survivors benefits at any age if you take care of the deceased worker's child who is under age 16 or is disabled and receives benefits on the worker's record. 

Note: These requirements get very complicated so I highly recommend that if you are not the primary earner then you contact the SSA directly for a review and support.  In fact, if you are a widow, widower (or surviving divorced spouse) cannot apply online for survivor’s benefits. 


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4. PRIMARY EARNER’S DIVORCED SPOUSE

  • Can receive 50% of ex-spouse’s PIA at full retirement age
  • Can receive reduced benefits starting at age 62+ (+- 35% depending on age)

If you are divorced, your ex-spouse can receive benefits based on your record (even if you have remarried) if:

  1. You were married longer than 10 years 
  2. You have been divorced for at least 2 years
  3. Your ex-spouse remains unmarried until 60 years old
  4. Your ex-spouse is 62 or older
  5. Your ex-spouse is not eligible for a bigger benefit
  6. You are entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits. 


I told you this would get complicated.

Here are more things to note about these conditions of eligibility:

Benefits paid to a surviving divorced spouse (who meets the age or disability requirement as a widow or widower) won't affect the benefit rates for other survivors getting benefits on the primary earner’s record.

If your divorced spouse remarries before age 60, they generally cannot collect benefits on your record unless their later marriage ends (whether by death, divorce or annulment).

The benefit for the primary worker or current spouse is not reduced. 

The same is true if you have more than one eligible ex-spouse. 

Its good news for your ex-spouse if they remarry after reaching the age 60 (age 50 if disabled) because their remarriage will not affect their eligibility to collect on your benefits.

Also, if an ex-spouse is caring for a child (former spouse's natural or legally adopted child) under age 16 or disabled who is getting benefits on the record of the primary earner, they would not have to meet the length-of-marriage rule.

There is a maximum family benefit amount allowed so if you qualify because you have the worker's child in your care, your benefit will affect the amount of the benefits of others on the worker's record.


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5. SPOUSE WITH CHILD UNDER 16 OR DISABLED

  • Can receive 50% of their spouses’ applicable PIA at any age
  • Benefits will not be reduced
  • Benefits can be stopped and restarted based on familial status (remarry, etc.)


6. DIVORCED SPOUSE WITH CHILD UNDER 16 OR DISABLED


If the aforementioned 10/2/60 “Divorced Spouse” requirements are met then they

  • Can receive 50% of their spouses’ applicable PIA at any age
  • Benefits will not be reduced
  • Benefits can be stopped and restarted based on familial status (remarry, etc.)


7. CHILDREN UNDER 18 (19 IF IN SCHOOL AND UNMARRIED)


  • Can receive 50% of the parent’s/primary wage earner’s PIA


8. CHILDREN OVER 18 IF DISABLED


  • Can receive 50% of the parent’s/primary wage earner’s PIA


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Hopefully, this information wasn’t as bad as I first made it out to be.

Sure, it’s a little complicated but, believe it or not, the Social Security website has everything broken down in easy to follow steps that make it easier for you to find answers to your questions.

Again, that website is http://www.ssa.gov/

I trust you will return tomorrow for the completion of our little journey though the Social Security system?

We will look at a quick overview of the different benefits available from the Social Security system beyond just the retirement benefits.

We have already touched on a few high points of “Survivors Benefits” as well as “Disability Benefits” in our discussions already and we will talk about “Medicare Benefits” and “Supplemental Security Income” as well.


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If you found today’s blog helpful, interesting or even funny I bet your friends would to. 

It's easy to tell them about it.

Forward it on to them or just email them my blog link at www.survive55.com.

The more Baby Boomers we can help, the better place we make this world !!!

Thanks for joining me..........................................................


 
 
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Today, Baby Boomers we start to dig into the meat and potatoes of the Social Security system.

Here are a few definitions, requirements and handy tips you should know before we begin. 

Remember, contribution rates, applications and benefits have varied over the years since the Social Security Administration first came on line in 1935. 

The following information is the most current I can offer based on the 2014 requirements.


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Program Purpose:  The retirement benefits of the Social Security System are an insurance meant to supplement the savings, investments and other sources of income in the retirement years of wage earning citizens.

Eligibility:  All U.S. citizens are eligible for Social Security based on their earnings history.  

As we discussed yesterday, credits are earned by paying the FICA tax.  

In 2014, you earn 1 credit for every $1,200 in earnings up to 4 in a year and 40 in 10 years.  

This is officially known as your “Primary Insurance Account” or "PIA.  

Self-employed individuals and military personnel earn credits the same way as standard employees do. 

Insured Status:  “Fully Insured Status” means you have earned the needed amount of credits (40 in 10 years) to receive full available insurance benefits based on your age at application.  

“Currently Insured Status” means you have restrictive coverage and minimum benefits under the program having attained at least 6 credits in a period of 3 years and 3 months ending with death, disability or retirement.

Taxes: 
Employees contribute 6.2% and employers 6.2% of your earnings to FICA.  

If you are self-employed then you contribute the entire 12.4%. 

Contribution Base:  Capped at $117,000 in 2014.

Benefit Amount:  Based on your monthly average of your highest earning 35 years of employment.

Application:  Up to 3 months prior to benefit eligibility month

Payment: Made by direct deposit, debit card or electronic transfer account.


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The official website is: http://www.ssa.gov/

Once you create an account (if you haven’t already) you can find out how much your eligible benefits are.

There is also a retirement estimator tool found at: 

http://www.socialsecurity.gov/retire2/estimator.htm

Most of us baby boomers are interested in the Retirement Benefits that paying into the Social Security System has afforded us.

But, if you remember yesterday’s discussion, I pointed out that there are actually 5 different benefit programs now processed through the SSA.

These are:

  • Retirement Benefits
  • Disability Benefits
  • Survivor’s Benefits
  • Medicare Benefits
  • Supplemental Security Income

They can all kind of tie into each other based on your retirement situation so it is important to take a look at each one individually.

But, how they are administered are all based on the primary retirement benefit program so let’s take a simple step by step look at your retirement benefits first.


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Retirement Benefits

A “full retirement” requires you have a total of 40 credits at retirement age. 

In 2014, the calculation are as follows:

If you were born in 1937 or earlier, your full retirement age is 65.

If you were born between 1938 and 1942 then add 2 months per year after the age of 65.  

For instance, if you were born in 1940 your full retirement age is 65 years and 6 months.

If you were born between 1943 and 1954 your retirement age is 66.

If you were born between 1955 and 1959 add 2 months per year.

If you were born in 1960 or later then your full retirement age is 67.


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Why did the government make it so complicated to figure out when you retirement age is?

Why didn’t they just leave well enough alone?

Well, a couple of things added to the confusion.

First of all, the original Social Security Act of 1935 set the minimum age for receiving full retirement benefits at 65.

In the 1980’s Congress noted significant improvements in the health of senior citizens and increases in average life expectancy.

Since the program first began paying monthly SSI benefits back in 1940,  the average life expectancy for men at the age of 65 had  increased by almost 4 years to the ripe old age of 81.

For women (not to be outdone by men) reaching the age of 65, their average life expectancy had increased almost 6 years to the age of 84.

In 1998, the average retirement age for both men and women retiring was 64.

In 1998, nearly 69% of men and women who retired started taking Social Security benefits before age 65.

Did you think our government wanted to foot this extra expense?

Obviously, the characteristics of the average US senior citizen had changed more than the government had anticipated.


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But, did you know that, if eligible, you can take an “early retirement” with reduced benefits at the age of 62. 

If you retire due to health problems, then disability benefits may also be available. 

If you so desire you can opt for a “delayed retirement.”  

Each additional year of work is an extra year of earnings, which increase your benefit.  

There is an automatic percentage increase per year you delay retirement up to the age of 70 which can be as much as 8% if you were born in 1943 or later.

So, if you were born in 1943 and you delay your retirement benefits until you are 70 you could receive up to 124% (3 years X 8%) of your basic benefits had you applied for retirement benefits when you were 66.


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Some of us Baby Boomers may be considering working as long as we can to rebuild our retirement savings accounts. 

In this case, if you plan on working while receiving benefits you can but some limitations apply.

In the case of early retirees, $1 in benefits is deducted for every $2 in earnings exceeding the annual limit of $15,480 in 2014.

If you are working in the year of your retirement then only $1 of every $3 earned is deducted after the annual limit of $41,400.

There are no limits on the amount of income you can earn starting in the month of your full retirement age.

Do you have to pay taxes on your benefits?

Not if your sole source of income is your social security benefits.

However, if you have other substantial income such as wages, self-employment, interest and dividends that must be reported on your tax return in addition to your benefits.

If you file a Federal tax return as an “individual” with a combined income (earnings and SS benefits) between $25,000 and $34,000 you must pay income tax on up to 50% of your benefits.

This can rise up to 85% if your income exceeds $34,000.

If you file a joint return and you and your spouse have a combined income between $32,000 and $44,000 you may have to pay income taxes on up to 50% of your benefits and up to 85% if your income exceeds $44,000. 


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So, are you feeling a little better prepared for how you are going to utilize your social security benefits?

Tomorrow we will continue our discussion on the remaining benefit programs and hopefully answer some of your questions like:

Am I eligible for spousal benefits?

Can I collect benefits from an ex-spouse?

Are my children eligible for benefits?


If you found today's blog helpful, interesting or even funny I bet your friends would to. 

It's easy to tell them about it.

Forward it on to them or just email them my blog link at www.survive55.com.

The more Baby Boomers we can help, the better place we make this world !!!

Thanks for joining me..........................................................


 
 
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Baby Boomers…Did you get a chance to read yesterday's opening blog on Social Security Benefits made easy?

How did you do on the AARP quiz?

I told you things were not as simple with our Social Security System as we had hoped.

So, do you have any idea where the whole thing started?

Are you even interested?

Well, just in case you find yourself cornered in a high-brow conversation at a cocktail party with several other boomers discussing the history of social welfare and government reforms, here’s a quick overview of the birth of our wonderful federal program.


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A small scale version of Social Security insurance was developed as a program during the Great Depression of the 1930's.

Strangely enough, the economic scenario our country was much the same as the mid 2000’s we just lived through.

The great stock market crash of 1929 had destroyed the value of many Americans' retirement savings.

IRA’s dwindled, banks failed and personal financial futures became despondent overnight.

All that was missing was a major housing bubble collapse, huh?

In 1929, the poverty rates among senior citizens exceeded 50 percent.

Things did not look good for the future of senior citizens in the U.S.

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President Franklin D. Roosevelt became the first U.S. president to advocate federal assistance for the senior citizen demographic by signing into law the  Social Security Act in August, 1935 as part of the “New Deal” program.

The Act was a part of Roosevelt’s plan to combat the growing instabilities in the modern American culture, including advanced aging, poverty and unemployment.

The SSA provided health and financial benefits to retirees and the unemployed including comprehensive insurance payments at death.

These payments to existing retirees were to be funded by a payroll tax on current worker’s wages, half as a payroll tax and half paid by the employer.

The act also gave money directly to the states to provide financial programs and assistance to senior citizens in the form of unemployment insurance, aid to families with dependent children, maternal and child welfare, public health services and services for the blind.


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Believe it or not, The Social Security Act (SSA) was only 37 pages long when first approved.

It has blossomed some over the years hasn't it?

The very first social security cards were issued in 1937. 

Some 20 million were issued in first year .

In 1939, the funding for this program was restructured and handed over to the Internal Revenue Service and renamed the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA). 

Social Security payroll taxes are thus often referred to as "FICA taxes."

If you want my opinion, I think the Internal revenue department owns everything and runs everything in this country (and a few small third world countries as well).

In 1940, the first monthly benefit check was issued to Ida Mae Fuller for $22.54.

Sorry, but she looks just like my Grandmother?

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There have been other updates over the years to keep up with the growing pains of the program.

Benefits increased and regular cost of living adjustments (COLAs) were established in 1950.

The first attempt at a disability program was added to Social Security in 1954

The early retirement age was lowered to age 62 with reduced benefits in the early 60’s.

In 1965, Medicare health care benefits were added to the same program.

Over 20 million senior citizens signed up for benefits in the first three years of the new program so a Medicare tax of 0.7% was added to pay for increased Medicare expenses. 

In 1972, the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program became a federal program and was assigned to Social Security Administration.

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So, now that you know everything that is important to know about the formation of the Social Security system, there are two things to remember for your next cocktail party conversation:


1.   The Social Security benefits that you are entitled to receive are actually a form of insurance that you pay into the system through your FICA taxes.  

  • You become eligible to receive these benefits by accumulating credits by paying FICA taxes.  
  • You receive one credit for every $1,200 of earnings in a calendar year.
  • You can earn a maximum  4 credits a year.
  • You need at least 40 credits to be eligible.
  • The number of credits you need to be eligible for benefits depends on your age and the type of benefit.


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2.   There are actually 5 different benefit programs under the umbrella of the Social Security program.

      Each has its own qualifications, requirements and benefit structures.  

      These include:

  • Retirement Benefits
  • Disability Benefits
  • Survivor’s Benefits
  • Medicare Benefits
         and
  • Supplemental Security Income

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Hopefully, this is not all incredibly boring to you because it is a very important program to understand and can play a very important role in your retirement financial plans.

Tomorrow we will begin to dig a little deeper into these different benefit programs, how you qualify and what resources are available to you.

If you found my blog helpful, interesting or even funny I bet your friends would to. 

It's easy to tell them about it.

Forward it on to them or just email them my blog link at www.survive55.com.

The more Baby Boomers we can help, the better place we make this world !!!

Thanks for joining me..........................................................



 
 
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Baby Boomers……..I know we are not old enough yet to benefit from the Social Security System but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't be already planning for how to best utilize what this system has to offer when we do need it.

There is no better time than now to get prepared for what will be a major contributor to our post retirement income stream.

Are you as confused about the Social Security system as I am?

When is the last time you checked out the website?

Did you know that this system is revised and updated almost every year?

Did you know that some major changes affecting your benefits were put in place in 2014?

There is a free handbook you can request from the Social Security administration which will guide you through the system.

The handbook has 27 chapters and 2,728 separate rules governing its benefits. 

Do you have your reading glasses handy?

And a pot of coffee?

Not clear on what each of these rules mean that control your benefits?


Well, if that's not enough "light" reading then you can dive into the Social Security Program Operating Manual (otherwise cutely known as "POMS")  which has thousands of in depth explanations of those rules which provide the proper guidance on implementing those 2,728 rules. 


Hey, I'm growing old just thinking about all of that reading.


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Last week I attended a free seminar called "Social Security and It's Benefits" hosted by AARP as part of their “Community Educators Program.”

I found the announcement on the AARP website just by clicking on my state tab.

While I am not a huge advocate of the overall effectiveness of AARP, they do offer a variety of useful benefits that the average Baby Boomer can use that more than pays for the cost of their membership.

I live in Surprise (yep, that’s what it’s called), your basic non-descript master-planned suburb Northwest of Phoenix, Arizona.

You bet I was “surprised’ when I saw this little event being held at the local Senior Citizens Center smack dab in the center of our sleepy little community.

Being that the event was scheduled for lunchtime on a Thursday I didn't expect much of a crowd in attendance.

To my “surprise” there were over 30 senior citizens and they ranged in ages from their 50’s to probably the mid 70’s. 

Even more “surprising” was the fact that almost 75 percent were women.


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I came to this event more as an objective observer hiding behind my “reporter” status for my blog.

I had never been to an AARP event, let alone one targeted to a senior citizen topic like social security.

I was curious how professional the presentation would be and who would be interested enough to attend.

Being that I am only 57, I didn't think there would be any value in the topic for me.

Well, let me tell you, I was completely wrong.



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The presentation (although only 45 minutes long) was insightful, easy to understand and full of important information that even a younger audience would find useful.

In fact, upon leaving the presentation I was wondering to myself why there aren’t any classes at the high school or at least college levels to instruct our younger generations about the social security system and prepare them for their future.

It seems like the government has always just left it up to each individual taxpayer to decide when they felt it was important enough  to dedicate their time to become acquainted with the benefits and try to figure out how to navigate their best course of action.

Unfortunately, this usually happens too late for the average senior citizen to totally grasp the intricacies of the entire system.

It is a government program after all and that automatically means that it will be complicated and difficult to navigate by nature.

2,278 rules to understand. right?


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Anyway, I am going to dedicate this week to helping you, my baby boomer followers, get a head start on the Social Security System so you can prepare to make the best decisions on how you want to use your well-earned government assistance (insurance) to help finance your retirement.

Are you ready to start today with a quick quiz to see how much you already know?

Although there are several different quizzes on the AARP website I found this one to be the most eye opening.


http://www.aarp.org/work/social-security/info-11-2011/social-security-benefits-quiz.html

It’s a simple 10 question quiz touching on the basics of the program.

Strangely enough, I have been researching social security pretty extensively and I really did listen attentively at the seminar last week and I still only scored 8 out of 10 on the quiz.

Let me know how you do in the comments section below and let me know if there any particular questions you have so I can cover them over the next few days in our discussions.

Tomorrow, we’ll start digging in to some fun basics about how the Social Security System is funded and how the 5 different benefit programs work.

Hopefully there will be plenty of good "surprises."


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If you found my blog helpful, interesting or even funny I bet your friends would to. 

It's easy to tell them about it.

Forward it on to them or just email them my blog link at www.survive55.com.

The more Baby Boomers we can help, the better place we make this world !!!

Thanks for joining me..........................................................


 
 
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I think it was David Lee Roth of Van Halen fame that said:

"Money can't buy you happiness but it can get you a yacht big enough to pull up right alongside it."


Well, money can make you do some silly things.

What a better time, here on this "Silly Saturday" to display some extreme silliness brought on by having extreme amounts of money.

And there is no better place to look for extreme,e amounts of money or extreme amounts of silliness than in the country of Dubai.

If you didn't already know, Dubai is part of the United Arab Emirates located on the southern edge of the Persian Gulf.

Dubai was nothing more than a vast sand wasteland with oil until 20 years ago.

According to a Vanity Fair article I read:


"Then Dubai grew........very fast. 


The plan was money. 


The architect was money. 


The designer was money and the builder was money. 


And if you ever wondered what money would look like if it were left to its own devices, it’s Dubai."

Check out the little slide show I found showing 25 really silly things you have to put up with if you have way too much money and you are living in Dubai.

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If you found my blog helpful, interesting or even funny I bet your friends would to. 

It's easy to tell them about it.

Forward it on to them or just email them my blog link at www.survive55.com.

The more Baby Boomers we can help, the better place we make this world !!!

Thanks for joining me............................................


 
 
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I have always considered myself a bit of a music snob.  

And this being a "Fervid Friday" is there anything you are more passionate about than music?

I think all Baby Boomers will agree that we grew up in the greatest music era ever.

And this statement is made giving complete props to the music lovers of the early 1800's knowing full well they listened to the such greats as Beethoven, Rossini, Strauss and Mozart.

Yes, we experienced the birth of rock and roll but there was so much more.

We lived through such an incredible array of diverse sounds, styles and blends of music quite unlike any other generation.

Just think of the incredibly different sounds of the bands we loved:  the jazz inflected heavy metal of Led Zeppelin, the progressive symphonic art of Yes, the primal funk avante garde rhythms of the Talking Heads all the way to the folk poetry of James Taylor and Carole King.  

There was even the techno-electronic strains of Kraftwerk, the psychedelic blues art rock of Pink Floyd, the pure metal of Motorhead and the southern fried country sounds of the Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

And through the past 40 years there has been Steely Dan.

The music snob's primal band.

Well, I got a chance to scratch another item off my bucket list last Tuesday night when I saw Steely Dan perform live at the Comerica Theater in Phoenix.

In 40 years I can't believe I never had the chance to see them live but it all made up for itself Tuesday night during their 2 hour show.

PictureDONALD FAGEN and WALTER BECKER
Those who know Steely Dan, are aware that there are no gimmicks, no flashy pyrotechnics and no elaborate laser light displays at their concerts just straight forward incredibly talented music.

To give a simple historic description of Steely Dan is to call them an American jazz rock/rock band founded by core members Walter Becker and Donald Fagen

The band's popularity was highest in the 1970's and early 1980's and their seven albums over that period of time blended elements of jazz, rock, funk, R&B, and pop.

Rolling Stone Magazine has called them:

"The perfect musical antiheroes for the Seventies."


How about a short history?

PictureSTEELY DAN CIRCA 1970'S
Donald Fagen and Walter Becker first found each other while attending Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. 

As rumor has it, Fagen was walking through the student union (or a local cafe called The Red Balloon), he heard Becker practicing on his electric guitar.

In an interview, Fagen retells his experience: 


"I hear this guy practicing, and it sounded very professional and contemporary. It sounded like, you know, like a black person, really."

He introduced himself to Becker and, as they say, the rest was history.

Discovering that they had almost reciprocal tastes in music and common interests in jazz, blues, and even contemporary literature, particularly the "beat" genre referred to as "Black Humor", they begin collaborating on songs which they performed in various pickup bands.


They spent this time writing songs for other performers and even played in the touring band of a popular act I'm sure you will all remember: Jay and the Americans.

Certainly you remember their hit remake of the Drifters song "This Magic Moment?"
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In 1972, Walter and Donald put together the first of their multitude of incredibly talented backing bands and decided to record their first album.  

As a result, an adventurous new sound is created and "Can't Buy A Thrill" is released under the band's adventurous new name  "Steely Dan" which, if you didn't already know,  refers to the infamous family of dildos described in a steamy sex passage in the William Burroughs' novel, "Naked Lunch."


The original charter members are: Denny Dias (Guitar), Jeff "Skunk" Baxter (guitar), Jim Hodder (drums) and David Palmer (vocals).

PictureSTEELY DAN CIRCA 2012
Steely Dan recorded 7 platinum albums between 1972 and 1981 including the groundbreaking "Aja" in 1977.  

They have sold more than 40 million albums worldwide and truly created a major part of the soundtrack of the '70s with hits such as:


  • Reelin' in the Years
  • Dirty Work
  • Do It Again
  • Rikki Don't Lose That Number
  • Hey Nineteen
  • Black Friday
         and
  • Babylon Sisters.


All of their albums have been recorded with a revolving cast of incredibly talented session musicians including such greats as Larry Carlton, Jeff Porcaro, Michael McDonald, Royce Jones, Wayne Shorter and Lee Ritenour.

They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March 2001.


PictureWALTER BECKER
So what makes Steely Dan's music so different and why would I consider myself a "snob" for loving it?

Steely Dan's music is very complex, built on multiple layers of jazz-influenced counter point structures and revolving brass and vocal harmonies. 

If you listen to the words you will soon discover that Becker and Fagen write highly satirical lyrics bent at poking fun at the basic mores of life that surround them including the music industry, drugs, love, relationships, and human behavior. 

A quote from a biography written by Stephen Thomas Erlewine says it best:

The music of Steely Dan is "cerebral, wry and eccentric."

It is highly noted that Walter and Donald are also very well known not only for their musical talents but for "their notorious, and near-obsessive perfectionism in the recording studio" as well.


For example, during the year it took to record the album "Gauchoin 1980, Becker and Fagen used at least 40 different studio musicians and 11 different engineers.

That's perfectionism at it's finest.

PictureDONALD FAGEN
So, I consider Tuesday night as an evening spent with two of the greatest musicians alive.  

I bet a lot of fellow Baby Boomers from the Phoenix area feel the same way too.

This tour is called the "Jamlot Ever After" tour and it lives up to it's billing.

They playfully worked their way through 2 hours of their greatest hits starting the show off with a "Cubano Chant" before Donald and Walter joined the band on stage to kick everything off with an intense version of "Black Cow."

It was amazing how many hit songs they dug out of my memories.

The highlight of the evening, for me at least, was a ridiculously tight and extended version of "Bodhisattva."

Obviously, both men are showing their age and at times Donald struggled with some vocals and Walter struggled with some guitar riffs but both were professional enough to understand their limitations and they intelligently worked around them.


Their band was stellar especially Keith Carlock on drums and Jon Herington on guitar.


Both of these guys play like they are still 18. 


Fagen and Becker repeatedly emphasized that this was the "greatest" backing band they had ever played with.

It looks like the band is heading East and up to Canada for the rest of the tour which will run at least through September.

If you consider yourself a "music snob" like me then don't miss the chance to see them.



PictureWALTER BECKER

Here's a few spontaneous reviews of the concert I found on Facebook:

  • "Best show in ages!"
  •  "Haven't missed a tour in the last 15 years and this one was the best. Excellent work tonight members of the Dan!"
  • "Best concert I've seen in a long long time... My first SD concert and it was AWESOME!"
  • "Pretzel Logic tonight for first time on this tour"
  • "Great show, thanks for hitting the road and sharing the brilliance! The songs may have originated in the 70's but they sound timeless to me. Any of us would be happy to turn out a "Black Cow" or a "Babylon Sisters" today. Or even 50 years from now!" 
  • "Great show!!! So glad I got to go. One of the best shows I have ever seen. Love Steely Dan.... xxoo"



What more can I say?



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If you found my blog helpful, interesting or even funny I bet your friends would to. 

It's easy to tell them about it.

Forward it on to them or just email them my blog link at www.survive55.com.

The more Baby Boomers we can help, the better place we make this world !!!

Thanks for joining me..........................................................


 
 
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Baby Boomers.......

What is your money doing right now?

Do you know how much you owe on your credit cards?

And how does your budget look?

Budget, what budget?

OK, it's time to get a handle on your personal finances.

Sounds good but you don't have the time, expertise or the finances to buy an elaborate planning program to control how much money you have or where it's going.

What if you could find some expert yet easy to use programs on line that do all of the work for you (almost all) organizing and categorizing your savings, spending and bill paying?

What if they were absolutely free?

I bet you would say, "Jay, you are a genius."

Well, today is your lucky "financial planning" day.

Below are what I think are 5 of the top financial planning websites/programs available today on the internet and the best part is that they are all free.

Now there is no reason for not knowing where every penny you own is accounted for.

If you have read any of my blogs in the past you know that all great financial wizards (multi-billionaires) get that way by sharing the same 3 attributes when it comes to how they treat their money:

1. They start small
2. They think big
3. They watch every last cent



Today, Baby Boomers, you need to start getting a handle on your finances.

Once you do you, I promise, you will begin to make financial decisions you feel good about. 


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Mint.com

Mint.com is probably the most highly-regarded and most popular online personal finance software.   There are over 10 million users already.  They are highly endorsed and are a Money Magazine Top pick as well award winners from Kiplinger's and CNN Money.  

Mint is targeted toward people who are just starting to get a grip on their finances.

Here's what they offer:


1. Quick and secure sign up.  Mint permits you to register all of your bank and savings accounts, credit cards and investment accounts in one place. You can securely track and monitor all of your transactions.  They use 128-bit SSL encryption – the same 
security that banks use – and all data is protected and validated by VeriSign and TRUSTe. Plus, since the Mint platform is read-only, no money can be moved in or out of any accounts.

2. Mint automatically organizes your spending into categories like rent, gas, clothing, entertainment and visually explains where your money goes in easy-to-understand charts.  There are a multitude of planning applications that help you create personal budgets, weekly spending reports and set easy to follow financial goals. 

3. Mint offers professional advice, automatic reminders and even encourages you with ways to stick to your budget with simple click-through steps.  You control what you want to accomplish with your financial plan. You track your progress with email and mobile alerts, bill reminders, and more.

4. Mint can also save you money by notifying you of spending irregularities, hidden, late and overdraft fees, and credit card rate changes.


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Moneystream.com

This software uses a different technology platform to track and disseminate your financial information. at work.

  1. MoneyStream detects your bills.  MoneyStream connects securely to your accounts and their "Smart Technology" analyzes your spending history and finds any repeating payments.  Again, setup is easy and secure.  All you enter is your online account credentials.
  2. All of your info is organized onto a calendar.
  3. Moneystream helps you see a picture of your money in advance by updating the  amounts and due date of upcoming bills so you can easily see your income and bills for the month to see how much extra money you have.
  4. MoneyStream alerts you of anything unusual.
  5. The program charts past spending and future cash flow.

If you are worried about security Moneystream uses 256-bit level encryption.


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Buxfer

Buxfer manages expenses and group finances in a similar fashion to Moneystream and Mint with a stylish and easy to use interface. 

There are a few things that set Buxfer apart.  One is the ability to sign in using an existing Google, Yahoo or Facebook accounts.

You also have the ability to text transactions to your account. That is handy if you are an on-the go type of person.

Buxfer also allows you to import transactions and information from other software like Quicken, Excel or MS Money if you already have your finances set up in those formats. 

This feature helps you save time and effort to move information from your existing online financial software to Buxfer, 




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moneyStrands

Like the previous platforms, moneyStrands gives you the ability to import your credit cards, bank accounts, and personal or business loans online into one location. 

moneyStrands seems to be a little more comprehensive in it's calendar and current snapshot looks at your finances than the other web apps.

It is always a matter of personal preference and some people will find this site easier to use and more in depth in the ways you can look at your finances.  

But, moneyStrands seems less focused in it's ability to help you budget and forecast with your finances. 

It’s great at giving you a current view of your finances and spending, but it doesn't have enough detailed analysis to help you create long term budgets.




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Personal Capital

This web app is more focused on the investing side of personal finance including retirement, asset allocation, and taxes.

So, if you already have some money working for your future then this site can be very helpful with your planning.

Personal Capital is targeting aspiring financially stable people whose net worth is from $100,000 to $2 million in liquid assets.

Personal Capital has a ton of great of features like:

  • 401(k) Fee Analyzer – This feature tells you how much your retirement plan is costing you in fees, transaction charges and maintenance. 
  • Investment Checkup – This tool analyzes your investments and makes recommendations to your portfolio make up.  By determining your risk profile, Personal Capital will recommend an asset allocation that's right for you.
  • Asset Allocation Target – Analyzes major equity categories.
  • Fund Costs – Reviews and highlights your fund expenses.

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Right now I have two recommendations for you:

  • If you are not utilizing any personal financial programs to track and analyze your fiscal behaviors then you need to start using one today.
  • If you find one of the suggestions I made above to your liking then use it......Don't wait.



 If none of these sites seem intuitive to you then please spend some quality time searching the internet for one that does.



There are other popular sites including Voyant, E$Planner, Mvelopes, Geezeo and HelloWallet


Finding the best (free) online personal financial software for you may take a little time, but, in the end it pays for itself immensely in the amount of time and money you will save in the long run.

I cannot identify the best option for you.

My suggestions above are based on multiple reviews from noted and respected finacial institutions but remember that "best" is a relative term, meaning different things to different people. 

Find what works for you.


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If you found my blog helpful, interesting or even funny I bet your friends would to. 

It's easy to tell them about it.

Forward it on to them or just email them my blog link at www.survive55.com.

The more Baby Boomers we can help, the better place we make this world !!!

Thanks for joining me..........................................................


 
 
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You may not realize it, but you have a lot of bad habits.

OK, sorry I said that but it had to be said.

All Baby Boomers have bad habits.

I have bad habits.

You can't go this long in life without having developed some imperfect patterns and impulses in your decision making.

Admit it, the ways you approach negotiations and politics at work have become second nature.

You have become comfortable with your decision making and compromises
with your wife, family and friends.

When you have been doing things as long as we have it just natural to fall back on trusted behaviors that we have used for years in order to reduce stress and anxiety that comes with day to day decision making.

But are your behaviors always the best for modern day diplomacy.

Things have changed radically in business, personal and social environments.


Have you?


Maybe your built in decision making mechanisms and bargaining conventions are no longer serving you efficiently from a financial standpoint.

Maybe your gut feelings and ingrained choices are costing you
money.

Let’s see if any of these 5 habits below have crept into your personality and how we can reverse them.


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5 Baby Boomer Habits That Are Costing You


1. Are you a perpetual finger pointer
?

Do you spend a lot of time pointing out and blaming external factors for your own shortcomings?

Is it always "something else" that causes you to miss opportunities or lose a deal?

Is the grass always greener somewhere else?

If you are constantly seeing the bad side of life then maybe you need to take a good long look in the mirror.

You may have become a constant complainer that can't see the real opportunities around you.

Your too busy making up excuses for your failures rather than planning for your success.

When you miss opportunities, you inevitably lose money.

Going forward, look at every new discussion and negotiation as an opportunity to create a "win-win" outcome.

Make it a point to accept the fact that your decisions and their outcomes are up to you and only you.

You decide your future so take control.





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2. Do you prefer not to negotiate?

Even the best Baby Boomer business tycoon can become complacent from time to time just to make life easier.

Your older, more financially secure and sometimes feel like you don't have to win every hand of cards.


Don't let that happen to you.

Don't lose your competitive edge.

Everything can be negotiated.

Sure, you almost always bring your "A" game when engaging in big ticket deals like buying a new car or re-negotiating your salary but don't underestimate how much you have to lose in your day-to-day transactions.

Don't let your skills fade during the myriad of common agreements you are part of daily.

Always be looking for an add-on benefit, a discounted cost or something for free.


Pull out that old "Karrass" book on negotiation and sharpen up your skills.

You will definitely benefit from it financially.




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3. Do you buy things without a solid reason?

Next time you head to the store to buy something ask yourself:

"Is this something I want or something I need?"


Again, as we have gotten older we have become more financially secure so it is easy to find ourselves trying to "keep up with the Jones."

First, you have to understand why you are making a purchase.

Then you have to decide if there is a better course of action.

How many "things" that you thought you really needed are now collecting dust or are being stored in the garage?

Save and use your money wisely because you never know how long you going to be around and need it.




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4. Do you think short-term rather than long-term?

I know you are saying to yourself that "There really is no long term anymore." 

It's not like you have to worry too much about the affect of your financial decisions 50 or 60 years down the road.

Well, baby boomers are living longer now so we really do need to take into account what consequences our decisions will bring over the next 20 or 30 years at least.

Is it the right decision to buy a vacation timeshare now?

Are you too busy at work to get your aching back looked at?


Do you really need that new Corvette and motorcycle?

Make sure you think a little about the future when making decisions today.

Always keep this old adage in the back of your mind: "Failure to plan is planning to fail."




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5. Do you sell yourself short?

Do you have business opportunities that interest you and you ignore them because:

A.
You don't think you have the expertise to pull them off
B. You don't think you have the finances to make them happen
C. You are afraid of failure

All I can say is "DON'T."


Don't underestimate yourself.

You have been on this planet for 50 odd years and have done some pretty incredible things.

If you are unsure of your skill set then educate yourself.

The resources online are endless.

If you think finances are an issue find alternate sources of help.

You can work out loans with family, tap into your social circles or even try crowd funding.


Be confident and follow your passion.


The longer you’re stuck on “can’t”, the more you’ll be losing money.


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If you found my blog helpful, interesting or even funny I bet your friends would to. 

It's easy to tell them about it.

Forward it on to them or just email them my blog link at www.survive55.com.

The more Baby Boomers we can help, the better place we make this world !!!

Thanks for joining me..........................................................







 
 
Attention ARIZONA Baby Boomers and Seniors !!!

Here are some great upcoming events designed specifically for you!

ALL events are FREE to attend.

These events are run by "Lovin' Life After 50."

According to their website:

"Lovin' Life After 50" is the Southwest’s leading senior publication recently celebrating its 30th anniversary serving its dynamic readership – the 50+ market. 


"Lovin’ Life After 50" has served the Phoenix metro area since 1979 and the Tucson area since 1984. 


"Lovin' Life After 50" is the No. 1 ranked free circulation publication in Arizona! 

Each 50+ Senior Expo is an event that's a unique hybrid of information, resources and entertainment, all geared toward satisfying and enhancing your life and/or those of your loved ones. 


At the expos, you can spend the day socializing, becoming better informed, and having fun!

Hope to see you there.
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If you found my blog helpful, interesting or even funny I bet your friends would to. 

It's easy to tell them about it.

Forward it on to them or just email them my blog link at www.survive55.com.

The more Baby Boomers we can help, the better place we make this world !!!

Thanks for joining me..........................................................


 
 
Attention Southern California BABY BOOMERS and SENIORS !!!

Here are some upcoming fun, informative and engaging events designed specifically for you!

Bring the entire family!

There are no admission fees.

ALL events are FREE to attend.

Parking is also FREE!

Each Event Runs from 10am to 3pm.

These events are run by "Golden Future Expos."

Southern California's Premier Lifestyle, Health, and Active Aging Expos ........For Baby Boomers & Seniors Who Are Celebrating Life After 50!

Each 50+ Senior Expo is an event that's a unique hybrid of information, resources and entertainment, all geared toward satisfying and enhancing your life and/or those of your loved ones. 

At the expo, you can spend the day socializing, becoming better informed, and having fun!



Picture
If you found my blog helpful, interesting or even funny I bet your friends would to. 

It's easy to tell them about it.

Forward it on to them or just email them my blog link at www.survive55.com.

The more Baby Boomers we can help, the better place we make this world !!!

Thanks for joining me..........................................................