#23 7 Ways to Screw Up Your Retirement [Podcast]

The cost of a financial misstep in retirement can be devastating. During retirement it is hard to “earn” your way out of poor decisions. Poor planning or a big loss during retirement can ruin your financial security. In this episode I discuss the most common retirement “screw ups” I’ve seen and how you work to avoid them.

Uh Oh

7 Ways to Screw Up Your Retirement

Having unrealistic return expectations for your investment assets (too high in 1990s, too low in 2007-08)

Crazy as it sounds, in the 1990s people retired thinking they could earn 15%-20% per year and take 10% from their assets for retirement income.

Today, we see the opposite extreme. After 2008-07, people aren’t so optimistic about retirement. In fact, they are down right pessimistic.

Not sticking to a spending plan and reviewing it annually

When you  retire it is essential that you become more intentional about your spending. In retirement your earnings power diminishes. You’ll have less opportunities to earn your way out of poor spending choices.

Set a spending plan and review it annually. This will allow out adjust as your situation changes.

Falling in love with an investment or investment strategy

Real estate; Gold; Rental houses; Tech stocks; Dividend stocks. I’ve seen it all over the last 23 years. Just because you’ve had great success with a particular investment or strategy doesn’t mean it is the be all end all.  Managing assets during your retirement years is more about consistency and protection than stellar returns. The past is littered with “sure thing” investment that have gone bust. Just look at the list above.

Financially supporting/enabling adult children

I’m not sure where the line is between occasionally helping a child out and enabling them. We’ve seen retired parents destroy their financial security by bailing out their children from there poor choices. A good litmus test is to ask yourself: Are you preparing your children for the path, or the path for the child?

Starting or investing in a small business

Starting a business or investing in a new venture is exciting. Be careful. They all sound exciting at the start but most small businesses fail. Retirement is not the time to invest a lot of money in an entrepreneurial dream.

Buying expensive lifestyle toys (vacation home, R.V. or land)

Go ahead and dream big but be careful about spending big money on your retirement toy. It’s very common to see older retirees saddled with debt on an expensive R.V. or vacation lot that isn’t used and worth a fraction of the loan amount.

Sticking your head in the sand when it comes to your financial life

Not being aware and willing to address the financial realities of your retirement is a sure way to screw it up.

Retirement Tip of the Week

Complete your estate plan. Yeah it’s boring and can cause some uncomfortable conversations, but get it done. Please

Tips to getting the estate planning questionnaire done:

  • Don’t try to do it at home
  • Set an appointment with your spouse outside of the house to complete
  • Have your advisor or a trusted friend interview to complete it

Tips for Keeping it up to date:

  • Review it once a year with your spouse and trusted advisor
  • Review the same time each year (like a holiday or annual family gathering)

#22 Invest Wisely: LPL’s Investor’s Almanac: Mid-Year Outlook [Podcast]

This week I speak with Burt White, Chief Investment Officer of LPL Financial. Burt and I discuss LPL’s mid-year outlook Titled: The Investor’s Almanac.

SpringBurt and his team do a great job simply communicating the economic and investing environment.  Their Investor’s Almanac is a great tool to help us invest wisely.  No bold predictions or market calls here, just easy to understand insights you can use to make better informed investing decisions. If you’d like a free copy of their Investor’s Almanac you can access it in the Retirement Answer Library.

In this episode we discuss:

  • how to use investment outlooks to Invest Wisely
  • where the U.S. is in the economic cycle
  • where they see potential risks and opportunities
  • how international markets are not in sync with U.S. markets
  • why you should consider harvesting high quality bonds
  • possible alternatives to traditional fixed income
  • places to find income
  • super themes that should provide a benefit the U.S. economy
  • the importance of turning off the worry factory of financial media

Retirement Tip of the Week:  Designating a Trust as a Beneficiary of an IRA

Last week a client called requesting the beneficiary of his Individual Retirement Account (IRA) be changed to a trust. This planning strategy has become more popular over the last few years. This strategy for IRAs can has some benefits if the ultimate beneficiary is:

  • a minor child
  • someone with special needs
  • a spouse from a second marriage
  • a spendthrift with poor financial skills

The trust can help protect the inherited assets and better control how those funds are used by the beneficiary of the trust.

Be careful using this strategy though. Done incorrectly, the strategy could conflict with IRS rules and possibly create big tax problems. It is important the attorney drafting the trust be familiar with certain aspects unique to inherited IRAs.

Some things to consider are:

  • Make sure the beneficiaries of the trust are people. They cannot be non-persons (like a charity)
  • Consider adding language specifically prohibiting distributions to non-persons
  • Make sure it is a Conduit Trust. It should include language that requires the distribution from the trust to the beneficiaries of the Required Minimum Distributions coming from the inherited IRA.
  • If there is more than one beneficiary, consider having a separate trust for each. This will also each trust beneficiary to use their own age for required minimum distributions

Find the podcast valuable?

Help others discover it by subscribing in iTunes and leaving a review.  I would consider it a great favor.


#21 How to Accept the Worry and Start Planning for Retirement [Podcast]

“I worry”


I talk to a lot of people about retirement. Not only clients but most everyone I meet over age 50.  I’ll always ask them what their #1 thought is on retirement. I’ve learned a lot from this exercise. The most important thing I’ve learned is that people worry about retirement….alot!.

They worry about:

  • all the uncertainty
  • living without a paycheck
  • inflation
  • running out of money
  • maintaining my standard of living
  • my health and healthcare costs
  • being a burden to my children
  • long-term care costs
  • losing money in the markets
  • the economy
  • my country

In this episode, I’ll show you how to come to terms with your worry and the uncertainty about retirement. Once you’ve done that, you’ll be free to build a system to manage through the uncertainty in your life. I discuss:

  • Market uncertainty
  • Economic uncertainty
  • Uncertainty in your life

How to begin to manage it by:

  • Scheduling “little conversations”
  • Using checklists
  • Making lots of little adjustments as your life unfolds during retirement

Building this structure is really what this blog, the Retirement Answer Library and podcast is all about.

Retirement Tip of the Week

The importance of tax diversity on your balance sheet as you near retirement. If you’re within 5 years from retirement, why it may make sense to significantly lower the amount you save in your 401(k) retirement plan.

Resources Discussed

Enjoy the Podcast?

A big THANK YOU to Dean for sending me your kind note, thanking me for the podcast and Retirement Answer Library. So glad it’s been helpful to you. It really means the world to me.

#20 Unwrapping Medicare: The Basics [Podcast]


“How do I understand Social Security and Medicare?”  This is a question I hear most often from people planning for retirement. Social Security and Medicare benefits will play a big part in your retirement. 

In this episode we begin to unwrap both and start to build a framework for you make decisions about your Social Security and Medicare benefits. I say we “begin” intentionally. In future episodes, we’ll continue to improve your understanding of your Social Security and Medicare.

Timeline for Retirement Planning


  • If you enjoy the podcast, I would consider it a great favor if you subscribed in iTunes and left a review. This helps others discover the show.
  • Last week I announced my Retirement 2.0 project. This is my initiative to redesign the retirement planning process to serve you better.  To help, go here and share your thoughts on retirement.

Retirement Tip of the Week

I suggest you visit and explore our governments Social Security website. It is an easy to navigate useful resource to help you manage your Social Security benefits. YES, I just said “useful” and “government” in the same sentence. They did a great job designing the site.

 You can easily:

  • Apply for benefits,
  • Check the status of an application
  • Set up direct deposit
  • Estimate your Social Security
  • Estimate your spouse’s benefit
  • Sign up for your Social Security benefit
  • Set up direct deposit
  • Access their Retirement Toolkit (a great PDF document that outlines key dates for Social Security and Medicare)

Unwrapping Medicare: The Basics

This week I talk with Misty Kimbrough, a local insurance expert about the basics of Medicare. She outlines the basic parts of Medicare and the 3 most common missteps people make when planning medicare benefits for retirement.

Part A “major medical” coverage covering health care costs at hospitals 

Part B Covers the costs of health care outside of a hospital. Doctor visits, outpatient procedures, x-lab test and related services

Medicare Supplements (Medigap)

Part C Medicare Advantage Plan

Part D Prescription Drug Plan

3 Common Medicare Missteps 

Resources Discussed

Enjoy the Podcast?

Help Me Create Retirement 2.0

Baby Boomers are Changing Retirement

Over the next 18 years, every day 8,000 baby boomers will turn age 65. That’s almost 3 million baby boomers per year.  Just as baby boomers redefined, politics, parenting and work, they are beginning to redefine retirement.

Help Create Retirement 2.0

Retirement for baby boomers means:

  • Living longer
  • Discovering more
  • Spending more
  • Being healthier
  • Being more active
  • Being more mobile
  • Working more
  • Earning more
  • Serving more
  • Giving more
  • Wanting more

The problem is, the retirement planning process most professionals use hasn’t kept up with the way baby boomers are redefining retirement. Retirement planning is still focused on “income investing” and short-term “safety.”  Important topics, but far from the biggest concern most baby boomers have in retirement.

Help Me Change Retirement Planning to Serve You

Next week, I am going to Washington (the state) for 4 days to focus on creating a better process to meet the retirement planning needs of baby boomers. This will be an intense endeavor and, with your help, we can transform retirement planning to better serve baby boomers.

My goals for this retreat are simple.

  1. Identify the core issues facing baby boomers in retirement (that’s where you come in)
  2. Create retirement 2.0.  A better planning process to address the issues you face
  3. Outline the resources I can create to help you PLAN WELL and INVEST WISELY

Okay, maybe that’s not so simple. BUT,  I don’t doubt that, with your help, it will be a great start to a journey we can all benefit from.

 Here’s What I Need From You

Share with me YOUR thoughts about retirement.


  1. are you worried about?
  2. are you excited about?
  3. is most confusing to you?
  4. is most surprising?
  5. have you found most helpful?
  6. have you found most harmful?
  7. do you picture as  your ideal retirement?

Want to Help?

Just share your thoughts in the form below. If you’d like to remain anonymous, just make up a name. Your genuine feedback is all I ask.

After I return, I’ll share what was learned and the outline for a better retirement planning process for you.

First Name
Tell Me About Your Retirement Planning Experience

#19 Hate Keeping a Monthly Budget? Here’s an Easier Way [Podcast]

I Hate Keeping a Monthly Budget.

Budgets SuckYes, I know that keeping a monthly budget is personal finance 101.  Over the years I’ve tried, repeatedly, to track every expense in a monthly budget. Each time I failed after a few months. It’s just too much work. I have better things to do than be a part-time bookkeeper.

Do You Hate to Keep a Monthly Budget?

Tracking all your expenses is easier than ever. Programs like Quicken and Mint have powerful accounting tools in simple to use packages. Still…most of us don’t track monthly expenses or keep a monthly budget for one simple reason; We have better things to do with our time.

In this episode, I walk you through my budget system which gets you 80% of the benefits of detailed budgeting, without all the work. In just four easy steps you can take control of your spending and capture the excess income as savings.

I Call It the Cash Flow Bucket System.

The advantages of the Cash Flow Bucket System:

  1. You don’t waste time tracking every transaction.
  2.  You have less stress deciding how to spend money each month.
  3. You don’t spend money just because it’s there.
  4. You easily capture (save) excess income as savings.
  5. You can make smarter decisions on allocating savings.
  6. You maintain flexibility for unexpected expenses.

Try It and Stop Feeling Guilty About Not Keeping a Monthly Budget

I’ve added a worksheet to the Retirement Answer Library to walk you through the process. It’s free, just sign up here.

The Retirement Tip of the Week

I give you Sammy’s 5 secrets to living a happier retirement. These are worth listening to!

Here’s Sammy. Doesn’t she look happy?Sammy

Enjoy the Podcast?

How Summer Camp Can Be a Great Investment for Your Retirement

A key part of my retirement plan is to raise our children to be INDEPENDENT.

One thing I see too often in my practice are parents helping support their adult children. Supporting them, well beyond just helping out. A recent NY Times article says 60% of all young adults receive financial support from their parents.  Contrast that with the 1960s when most 20-somethings were financially independent.

My A.I.T.s (Adults In Training)

Not only can this be a major financial drain on retirement savings, it can teach the wrong lessons to our kids.  I’ve witnessed couples literally decimate their financial security for the sake of “helping out” their children.

Prepare the Child for the Path, Not the Path for the Child

I’m determined that our children will grow to be independent adults. Now, don’t think I’m fooling myself. I KNOW that we’ll help them out from time to time. And I certainly indulge them a bit now. However, I’m doing my best to equip them with the life skills to make smart decisions and most importantly the wisdom to make quick adjustments as their life unfolds.

For the last 8 years our children, Spencer and Emma, have attended the Camp Fire camp, El Tesoro. It has been one of the best decisions we’ve made. El Tesoro is no country club camp. The cabins are not air conditioned (remember this is Texas), the bathrooms are communal and the activities are old school (no ski boats here). “El Tesoro coordinates activities, cabin assignments and camper ratios based on camper ages. The format allows for increased independence at each level of the camp experience. Regardless of the camper’s age when they start their El Tesoro journey, be assured they will be challenged appropriately at each stage.”

The experience has taught them valuable life lessons. Like how to:

  1. manage money–We give each of them a set amount at the camp store that must last the entire summer. Each has made the mistake of buying too much too soon and suffered for it.
  2. follow rules–They’ve had to adjust over the years as the leadership of the camp changed and the rules along with it.
  3. help and support cabin mates–Together they’ve consoled, encouraged, disciplined and supported each other.
  4. give a helping hand–Each cabin has an “inclusion” (special needs) camper  that is always part of the cabin team.
  5. take care of themselves–There are somethings our kids just won’t learn at home. Not having us to lean on (or step in) has allowed them to make their own decisions.
  6. clean up after themselves–Okay, let’s be real, this lesson has yet to be learned.
  7. make friends-They have a special bond with their camp friends. Each year they have grown along side each other and formed a special bond.
  8. lead–Each year, their responsibilities at camp have increased. This year Spencer is a counselor, in charge of a cabin full of 7 year olds. Emma is in the counselor in training program. This has given each the opportunity to learn to lead others.

I Love My Children

Spencer and Emma are truly unique and wonderful young adults. I’m so proud of how they’ve grown. Each has struggles and it is hard to coach but not fix as they have failed and tried again. Preparing them to deal with the obstacles that await them on their path, however, is the greatest gift I can give them as a parent.

Oh yeah, AND the greatest retirement investment I can make :-)

#18 Deal with Death By Celebrating Life [Podcast]

Deal with Death By Celebrating Life

Last week, I wrote about my sister’s passing and her wish that her family have a “Celebration of Life” picnic (you can read it here).

In this podcast, I share my thoughts on my sister’s choice and one way you can deal with death by celebrating life.

Woman with her arms wide open

How to Overcome New Car Fever

New car fever is a difficult bug to beat. Everyday, driving, you window shop as you drive, imagining yourself in the car models you see whizz by. Once you’re bitten, the fever typically ends in you in a shiny new car.

  1. Remember your priorities
  2. Detail your car at least every other month
  3. Pay for a complete car wash once per week
  4. Buy a some key accessories to refresh your cars look

A Useful App to Help You Identify Spending Habits

Once every two months you should track your spending habits with an app like Expensify to:

  1. Create an opportunity to discuss spending habits
  2. Reconcile your spending habits with your stated financial priorities
  3. Identify wasteful spending habits
  4. Keep you and your partner accountable to each other

Want to Win a Free Book?

I’m giving away a free workbook to help you write your life story. Be the 20th person to submit a review in iTunes and you’ll receive Donald Miller’s Storyline 2.0. When you complete the Storyline process, you’ll have a life plan that will give you clarity and direction for living a great story


Resources Discuss

How My Sister’s Death Became a Celebration of Her Life

Over the last four weeks Barbara’s health took a turn for the worse. She’d known for awhile that her cancer diagnoses was terminal.  It had spread too quickly in too many areas. But in the last four weeks its effects had accelerated.

June 7th she died.

Barbara, me & Joanne

Barbara, me & Joanne

Barbara was my big sister, my step-in mother, friend, counselor and caretaker.  I loved her. Growing up my sister Joanne and I depended on her. Barbara watched out for us through the divorce of our parents, my rebellious teenage years, the death of our mother and even during her illness.  She had a keen sense of the emotional state of those around her and the tenderness to address it.

Rather than a traditional funeral or remembrance event, Barbara insisted on having  a “Celebration of Life” picnic. This made perfect sense. Barbara had always been the “glue” of the family. She wanted to use her passing as a way to reconnect family and friends that had drifted apart. In this last wish she brought us together, not to grieve, but to celebrate her life and each other. 

Barbara’s choice reflected how she chose to live her life. Upbeat, proactive, intentional, loving, connected.  It was a wonderful gift to all of us.

How You Choose to Be Remembered is Important.

Decide now and write it down. Share it with your loved ones.

Here are Seven Tips for a Celebration of Life Service:

  1. A festive location—A picnic is a great setting. If that is not your taste, consider renting an arboretum, zoo, water park or fancy restaurant.
  2. Loose, fun format—Rather than a solemn affair, create space for attendees to mingle and reconnect with family and friends they haven’t seen in years.
  3. Story time—Invite attendees to standup and share fond or funny stories about the one being celebrated. At my sister’s picnic, I learned about aspects of my sister that I had not known. Let people know you’ll be doing this when their invited.
  4. Games, games, games—If it’s appropriate, make it fun. My sister insisted on a balloon animal maker (her brother-in-law did his best), bubbles and cards for euchre. Play lifts the spirits of everyone and can help the young ones embrace the celebration.
  5. Keep it casual–No black suits at Barbara’s picnic. Everyone was casual and relaxed.
  6. Have a memory board for attendees to sign—Buy a big canvas and invite everyone to sign or write a short message about the impact the deceased had on them.
  7. Make it a family reunion—It is a sad fact that people often feel too busy to organize or attend a family reunion. In our case, Barbara’s picnic created one. I reconnected with family and friends that I had not seen in over a decade. It was wonderful to hug and hear about their life’s journey.

As you grow older, you need to decide how you will handle the death of those around you.

Will you focus on the loss and sorrow? The pain? Or will you view each loved one’s passing as a hard tap on the shoulder to remind you not to waste your life?

STOP and think before you answer. Your choice will define the rest of your life.

I choose to embrace my sister’s death as her last lesson to me to celebrate life and live more intentionally.

What do you choose?