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Why You Should Forget Everything You Think You Know About The Midlife Crisis

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A middle aged man leaves work one day and decides to buy his dream car on his way home. This is the classic story everyone thinks of when they hear the term “midlife crisis”. But what if I was to tell you that midlife crises aren’t even real? I already feel the skepticism from some of you, but give me a chance to explain.

Over the past five years, research on midlife crises has been growing and growing. The shocking insight from all of this new knowledge? The story of the midlife crisis is based largely in fiction.

According to a national study of midlife funded by the National Institute on Aging, only 26% of adults between the ages of 25 and 75 have reported having a midlife crisis. Also, only about half of the people who said they have had a midlife crisis said it was triggered by the turmoil surrounding the aging process. It turns out, half of the people who have said they experienced a midlife crisis, the crisis was related to something that has nothing to do with midlife!

So next time you wonder when your midlife crisis will hit, realize that chances are you will never have a midlife crisis at all.

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Source: The Myth of the Midlife Crisis

4 Ways Investing During Midlife Can Make You a Millionaire

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A survey conducted by Bankrate recently fount that over 30% of people between the ages of 30 and 49 haven’t even started saving for retirement. If you fall into this bracket, the sooner you start to invest, the better! Why, you ask? Because you are also earning the bulk of your income between your late 30s and mid 50s.

How do I start? What should I do? No worries, I’ve got you covered. Here are my top four tips for helping you make the most of investing before retirement.

  1. Set up a financial plan: You can do this yourself or use an advisor, but often advisors can help keep you on track when you would be tempted to buy that new car you don’t actually need.
  2. Invest in the stock market: If you are in your 30s or 40s, invest in moderate risk stocks. If you are in your 50s or 60s, invest in low risk stocks. Also, make sure to diversify your holdings. Don’t JUST focus on stocks. Make sure to also invest in things like bonds and real estate. People who retire with seven or more types of investments have an average net worth of $1.4 million while those with three or less types of investments have an average of about $670 thousand.
  3. Prioritize retirement over college: I want to help my kids pay for school you might say. But let me put this in perspective, you can borrow money for college, you can’t borrow money for retirement. Plus, your kids can also receive scholarships and grants for their schooling. If you want to start a savings plan for your kids as well, go ahead. Just make sure that you aren’t sacrificing your own retirement plan for their schooling.
  4. Switch up your investment goal as you age: When you are in your 30s and 40s make sure that your goal is to grow your capital. You will have a slightly more aggressive approach than when you get older. Once you reach your 50s, you should shift your investment goal to conserve your capital. Start shifting to safer stock options. The last thing you want is to watch the risky company you invested in to go down the tubes.

Ultimately, if you are currently 40, follow the above steps, and invest about $1,500 a month at a 6% annual return you can be a millionaire by the time you reach retirement! It might not be easy, but I believe you can do it!

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Sources:
Bonds at Your Stage of Life
Not Saving for Retirement at 40? Crazy!
The Middle Years

Busting 5 Myths about Sex During Midlife

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There is no doubt that our bodies change as we get older, and it seems as if middle age is the culmination of all of our fears surrounding aging. Estrogen and testosterone decrease in both men and women as they age and this can cause many shifts in our emotions, physical appearance, and viewpoints. It is common to experience changes in appearance, weight, libido, behavior, and sexual response. Because of this, many people end up believing countless myths about sex as they age. Well, today I am here to bust those myths!

1. As you age, you lose interest in sex.

People of every age have a desire to have sex. However, after you make it to midlife your sexual desires change. It usually just takes a time to figure out how your body and desires have changed. To prove this point, a National Aging Survey found that over 70% of people over the age of 60 who were having sex regularly found their sex lives more satisfying than in their 40s.

2. Men lose their ability to get an erection as they get older and women lose the ability to orgasm.

Aging does not cause erectile dysfunction – changing hormone levels do. As men age, they simply need more physical stimulation to become aroused. Also, women’s orgasms actually tend to increase in frequency and intensity after menopause due to the shift of hormonal ratios within the body.

3. Women lose their desire to have sex because of the psychological and emotional factors surrounding menopause.

Usually, the physical factors outweigh the emotional and psychological factors when it comes to decreased sex drive for women. When going through menopause, the decrease in estrogen can cause vaginal dryness. If sex is uncomfortable because of vaginal dryness, simply speak to your doctor and find a solution that works for you.

4. Middle-aged people are done exploring their sexuality.

Baby boomers are reporting a surprising willingness to explore their sexuality in many different ways. They are exploring tantric sex, taking retreats surrounding sexuality, and reaching out to sex therapists and coaches.

5. By the time you are in midlife, your sex has become boring and you’ve lost your desire to be sexually adventurous.

People who are in middle-age are very interested in learning new ways to pleasure each other (since the way they are stimulated often changes due to hormone shifts). They are reading books, watching videos, and attending retreats to learn new skills.

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Sources:
The Truth About Sex After 50
Busted! 5 Myths About Sex After 50
Sexual Issues in Midlife

Midlife Exercise – Is it Important?

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Many people have the viewpoint that once you hit “midlife” working out and staying fit is no longer important or a priority. Of course, they have their excuses:

  • “I’ve had two kids and your body never really comes back from that”

  • “No matter how much I exercise, I’ll never look as good as I did when I was young”

  • (and my favorite) “My life is way too busy right now, I simply don’t have time”

Do any of these excuses sound familiar? Well, I’m here to tell you that exercise IS important, even if you are “too busy”. Studies suggest that even if you’ve never been one to spend time exercising, being or becoming fit in midlife can completely re-shape your aging process. People who don’t bother with fitness in midlife are more likely to develop heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s (among other diseases). This doesn’t mean that if you exercise, you won’t get these diseases later on. However, those who exercise tend to have these diseases for maybe the last five years of life while those who don’t exercise tend to have their diseases for the last 10 to 20 years of their life!

I don’t know about you, but I would rather be healthy until the age of 80 instead of being chronically ill at the age of 65.

So what do we do about this? We get fit! Here are some tips for getting started:

  1. Realize that you don’t have to work out constantly. You need only 2.5 hours a week of moderate activity or 1.25 hours a week of vigorous activity. That means that you only have to exercise moderately for 22 minutes a day or exercise vigorously for 11 minutes a day! Where did your excuse about being too busy just go? And here are some bonus tips:

    • When you work out, make sure that you exercise for at least 10 minutes at a time (so you can increase your heart rate).

    • Also, exercise first thing in the morning. By the end of the day it is much easier to say you don’t have the time or are too tired from your busy day. First thing in the morning, you don’t have any excuses yet.

  2. What does “moderately” and “vigorously” really mean?

    • Here are some exercises that fall under “moderate” exercise: dancing, bicycling (less than 10 mph), brisk walking, tennis, and even gardening!

    • Here are some exercises that fall under “vigorous” exercise: jogging or running, swimming laps, jumping rope, bicycling (more than 10 mph), and hiking uphill.

  3. Use it or lose it! Make sure you spend a least two days a week working on strengthening your muscles! This can help you gain strength, minimize joint pain, and boost your mood!

So how about you? Can you find 11 to 22 minutes at the start of your day to improve your health for the rest of your life?

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Sources:
Eight Secrets of Boomers who Exercise Regularly
Getting Fit, Staying Fit During Middle Age
The Benefits of Middle-Age Fitness

10 Unbelievable Facts about Baby Boomers

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We are the baby boomers. So when someone told me that I didn’t know about the Baby Boomer generation I was skeptical to say the least. But, after a little more research, here are the top 10 facts that will make you proud to be a baby boomer.

  1. Baby Boomers will inherit $15 trillion over the next 20 years

  2. The peak age of vehicle buyers has shifted to the 55-64 age range

  3. Baby Boomers own 80% of all money in savings and loan associations

  4. Baby Boomers are twice as likely as millennials to plan to start a business in the next year and started 24% of all new businesses in 2013

  5. 33% of all tablets are owned by people over 50 and over 40% of Apple products are purchased by them

  6. Baby Boomers watch 63% more hours of TV than millennials

  7. Baby Boomers are responsible for 80% of all luxury travel spending

  8. Baby Boomers spend about $7 billion per year online

  9. Boomers outspend younger adults online 2:1 on a per-capita basis, and they spend more than other generations by an estimated $400 billion a year.

  10. 82% of baby boomers belong to at least once social networking site.

How many of these facts did you already know (or could guess)? Which one was the most shocking?

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Source: Jami Oetting, “The Ignored Generation:25 Stats Brands Should Know About Marketing to Baby Boomers,” http://blog.hubspot.com/agency/baby-boomer-marketing-stats#sm.001sbqxz0zxvcxe11vv1ke3a29kpj, (December 16, 2015).

Why being “Old” is the BEST

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Earlier this week, I stumbled across an amazing video and message.

Our society shuns the idea of aging. No one wants to get old, and the negative connotations surrounding that word are seemingly endless.

Old.

Elderly, senior, infirm, broken, bygone, outdated, inactive, past your prime, senile, decrepit, not long for this world, aged, gray, impaired, grizzled – and those are just some of the synonyms that pop up when searching the word “old”!

No wonder there is such a negative connotation surrounding aging. No one wants to be any of those things!

Recently though, there have been movements to change that mindset. Most recently is the video and article created by Allure Magazine. Titled “How to Age Gracefully”, this article is exactly what our society needs to hear. The women in the video re-define “old”. Here are just some words they use to describe themselves.

Beautiful, competitive, recognized, fascinating, blessed, truthful, healthy, wise, peaceful, empowered.

Now, these words are quite different from the “synonyms” for the word “old”. Maybe it’s time to change the definition. Maybe it’s time to prove that being “old” is an AMAZING thing!

See the video here!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zsBs63E4Txw]

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You Won’t Believe This New Retirement Craze!

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Call it what you like – phased retirement, gradual retirement, or flexible retirement – but this craze is only just beginning!

In one of my previous posts I talked about the trend of staying in the workforce longer (Read it here). Basically, I explain that the historical concepts of retirement are becoming more and more out of date. The most obvious reason is the fact that, in the past few generations, the average life expectancy has increased by almost 30 years!

With people living longer, healthier lives, it’s no wonder why they are choosing to stay in the workforce longer. Since we are living longer, the money we save for retirement has to last longer. This causes two effects. One, we need to save more money. Two, we need to work longer. Usually, our solution includes a mixture of those two options.

This is what leads us to the new craze in retirement.

Phased Retirement as I call it (although you may call it whatever you wish), is how the world is evolving to change the historical concept of retirement to meet the needs of this age.

Let me walk you through this relatively new concept that is changing how people, companies, and our government is thinking about retirement.

There is currently a process that people go through when they choose traditional retirement, or “cliff retirement”.

For about 3 years before retiring, you are extremely excited about the concept (especially if your current job is stressful). The first year of retirement is extremely stressful. Once you make the plunge you realize that your new schedule lacks in some key areas. Your built in social network from your job is now gone, your previous identity tied to your career is also gone, not to mention that you often feel as if your new life lacks structure and purpose.

However, the next few years of retirement get better. You find yourself in the “honeymoon phase” of retirement when you find new activities and social groups to become a part of. After the honeymoon phase wears off, you will begin feeling like your routine is boring. Finally, after your discontent wears off, you become content with your retired life.

If this doesn’t sound ideal to you, you’re not alone!

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This is why phased retirement is becoming so popular. Very few people want to sit around and watch TV all day after they retire, it’s partially what is pushing so many people to continue working long after the standard retirement age.

Phased retirement gives you the ability to relieve some of the financial burden of retirement, reduce the stress of retirement, enhance your personal fulfillment, and keep ties with your social network through your job, while still giving you time for retirement activities like traveling and spending time with family. Ultimately, phased retirement gives you the time you need to prepare for retirement both financially and emotionally.

At this point you might be thinking, “this is sounding like a great idea, but how do I even start?” Well that’s the thing. While phased retirement also helps employers combat the shortage of employees once boomers start to retire and while the IRS is considering regulations to establish guidelines for creating and administering phased retirement programs, only 6% of companies currently have formal phased retirement systems in place.

However, don’t fear, because I have some tips and tricks for negotiating a phased retirement with your company regardless of if they have any systems in place.

Phased Retirement Helps Your Company

By phasing out of your company, you are giving your supervisor plenty of time to find needed replacements. You are also helping your company cut costs while keeping your unique knowledge at their disposal. Here are a few tips for negotiating a new phased retirement schedule with your supervisor:

  1. Offer to work during busy times for your company or when the workload is heavy. Depending on your job, this might be seasonal, during peak hours each day, or on certain days of the week.

  2. Offer to mentor younger employees. The last thing your company wants is to lose all of the knowledge you have gained over the years working for them. By mentoring a younger employee (potentially to take your place) your company can be ensured that your eventual retirement will be a smooth transition.

Before Talking to Your Supervisor, Research These Things!

Don’t run into your supervisor’s office before doing your research. Look into the topics below so that you can come up with a solidified plan before reaching out to your supervisor.

  1. Watch out for pension/retirement fund problems. Make sure that decreasing your salary won’t adversely effect your pension. If your pension is based on your income over your last five years of work, cutting your salary isn’t the best idea. If this is how your pension is set up, consider “retiring” from your current job on schedule and picking up a new part-time job to transition into retirement.

  2. Check the minimum requirements for full health coverage for your company. If you are under the age of 65 (aka, you don’t qualify for medicare) you want to make sure that you will still be working enough hours to receive your full benefits.

  3. Look into Social Security withholdings. This is the most complicated step, but don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. First of all, it is important for you to know that you can work and still receive Social Security benefits! That being said, if you are making “too much” for your age bracket things can get a bit more complicated. Before getting into the details, let me give you one extra tip. You will need to know your “full retirement age” according to the Social Security Administration. Click here to calculate your “full retirement age” now. Now that you know your “full retirement age” look below to see where you might fall when you retire and how to best utilize your Social Security Benefits:

    • If you are shifting to phased retirement between the ages of 62 and your “full retirement age”: you can earn $15,720 in 2016 without being penalized. If you are making more than that, it isn’t necessarily a cause for alarm. For each dollar you make above that maximum, Social Security will withhold 50 cents.

    • Once you reach your “full retirement age”: you can earn up to $37,680 per year. If you are making more than that, your penalty goes down to 33 cents for each extra dollar earned.

    • Once you are above your “full retirement age”: you can earn as much as you like with no more penalties or withholding’s.

Now, here is the really good news. If you fall into one of the situations where part of your income is being withheld by the Social Security Administration, you will get it back once you are above your “full retirement age”! Once you reach that age, your social security check will be recalculated to give you credit for all of the previously withheld payments! (If you have any more questions about how your Social Security is effected when you start to retire, their website is full of useful information!)

Now that you have done your research, you are ready to talk to your supervisor.

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  1. Choose your responsibilities carefully. Make sure that you aren’t just “giving up” the responsibilities that you don’t enjoy. Think about which of your responsibilities are the most important for the company. Also, which responsibilities currently need to be required during times when your new schedule might not have you at the company. Set up a schedule to slowly start giving up responsibilities (starting with the ones that require the least extra training for whoever takes those responsibilities over). This is made easier if you are mentoring your eventual replacement.

  2. Settle on fair pay. Keep in mind that you are working less. You might have to give up some of your full-time perks as well as some of your income. Don’t be shocked if you’re asked to give up your parking spot right in front. Remember that you are trading your extra income and perks for more personal time to do what you enjoy. Think about what perks are the most important to you as well as how much you should be compensated for your new schedule.

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Now you are ready to start your phased retirement journey! The only thing left to do is decide how to enjoy your extra time off!

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Sources:
The United States Social Security Administration
WKOW 27: “Gradual Retirement” Growing Across Wisconsin
The Gazette: The “New Retirement” and Why to Try It
U.S. News Money: How to Retire Gradually
AARP: Phased Retirement and Flexible Retirement Arrangements

 

Find Your Bliss

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When we are young we are asked what we want to be when we grow up. When we are a little older we are asked to pick a career. Then life happens. We find a job, work our way up in the company, raise a family, get settled in our routine – and get stuck.

When was the last time you thought about what you enjoy doing? Even more importantly, how often do you do something to make YOU happy? Chances are you don’t focus on your own happiness nearly as much as you should and, at this age, you SHOULD!

Maybe you’re thinking, “It’s been so long since I’ve been selfish and just done things for me, I don’t even know what I want to do!” If this sounds like you, have no fear! I’m here to help.

So how do you find your bliss? Start by just sitting down (with a pen and paper) and thinking about it. What did you used to love doing? Reading? Writing? Creating art or crafts? What have you always been interested in trying, but have never seemed to have the time? Yoga? Skydiving? Meditation? Water Skiing? Traveling?

Make a list of all of these things, and then try them! “I don’t have time” you start thinking.Make time! Schedule an activity for yourself in your calendar. Just do one activity a month if you have to, but start exploring your interests and find what you love.

Once you find something that makes you truly blissful, don’t stop! Make sure that you keep going. Slowly start scheduling it more and more often until it becomes a habit. But don’t stop there. I’m sure there is more than one thing that causes you bliss – keep looking! The more activities you find that make you blissful, the happier you will be.

Just remember to always be open to new opportunities and experiences. Never stop being curious of the world around you. Be willing to try new things and appreciate the joy they bring you. Don’t get too stuck in your routine, be proactive and schedule the time you need to find and follow your bliss. Step outside of your comfort zone every once and a while. And, most importantly, trust that everything will work out. If it seems like everything is going wrong, it just means you haven’t reached the end of your journey. You have the ability to live your bliss, now go find it!

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Aging Parents – What Should I Do?

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Aging parents.

It’s a topic that no one likes to think about, let alone talk about. Our parents have always been the strong ones, the ones in charge, the knowledgeable ones. However, as we ourselves grow older, we are forced to come to the realization that our parents are growing older as well.

Sometimes we realize it all of a sudden, we go to visit them and suddenly they seem weaker and more frail. Sometimes it is a slow realization; they start forgetting things, walking becomes more difficult for them, they seem less energized, they become more irritable. However we come to the realization, it is never easy for us. As their children it is natural that we feel sadness, concern, anxiety, fear, and even anger at this realization. It’s normal and it’s okay. The important thing to focus on is the next step.

Depending on if you live near your parents or live far away, there are different options. Below I have created a couple links for you to start exploring your options. Helping your parents through the aging process is never easy, but there are ways to make it easier.

Although this process is full of anxiety and sadness, don’t forget that there is always the opportunity for fun as well. “How can this be fun?” you ask. Just check out these photos by Tony Luciani who is the caregiver of his mother. Click here to see the whole article!

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Who Says You Have to Retire by 65?

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Retirement.

You get married, raise a family, work to support your family, and then you retire. That’s just the way it is. Right?

Wrong. Actually, retirement is a fairly new concept; and the concept of retiring in your sixties is even newer.

During the Industrial Revolution, many aging factory workers refused to stop working, even as their ability to work slowly started deteriorating.¹ It wasn’t until the 1930’s that the concept of making people want to retire was born with the Social Security Act. Since then, retirement has continued to evolve and change, but a bigger change is on its way.

According to a new AARP survey, over 50% of people surveyed believe that they will continue working past the age of 65. Now, that doesn’t mean that we never want to retire², instead, we just believe that we still have plenty to contribute to society. We still are skilled at our jobs, actually with all of our knowledge we have gained over the years, we probably know more than we ever have before.

Gone are the days of hitting 65 and expecting our life to be almost over. In the past few generations, the average life expectancy has increased by 29 years and shows no signs of slowing down.³ These days we know that we can still contribute to society, we can still help make the world we live in a better place, and, most importantly, we aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

¹The History of Retirement
²AARP Life Reimagined Survey
³Life Expectancy in the USA

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