Monday, April 30, 2012

Book Review

I'm on another tirade! 

I’m reading a book called The Clash of Generations, by Scott Burns and Laurence Kotlikoff.  It’s about how broken our country is, and the politics that has put us in this position.  I like this book because it supports my view, that Congress is a bunch of crooks looking out for themselves and supporters.  It’s not just another book complaining about everything (well it does), but they have solutions to the problems, that make sense.

I want to offer a few excerpts of the book that I find useful to retirement minded folks.  This section talks about our choices at retirement, and how we can stretch our fixed incomes.  You’ll have to read the book to get the whole story, but here are the options in a nut shell.
            1.  Work longer
            2.  Own your home vs. renting, vs. RVing!
            3.  Investing
            4.  Move out of the country
            5.  Costs of our drugs
            6.  Senior Spending
            7.  Death
These are all personal choices we have the power to plan for.

Since I like RVing, I want to share what they have to say about that.  So, you retire, and say your house is paid off and is worth about $250k.  You’ve been working and earning about $65k a year and your wife has worked some during her career, bringing your total Social Security benefits to about $25.5k a year.  Oh, and you have about $250k in a 401k plan.  Sounds like you’re sitting pretty good, doesn’t it? 

Now your house is a little older and is going to need a new roof in a few years, appliances will need to be replaced/updated, and what about that kitchen remodel you’ve always talked about?  Using some financial software, Scott Burns came up with housing expenses should average out to be about $15k a year.  The same software says you should expect to live on $15k a year for everything else. 

What are your options? 
1.                            Stay in the house and mow the lawn for the rest of your life, and pay to keep up the house, having about $15k to spend. 
2.                            Or, you could sell-and rent a house; that would increase your available spending limit to almost $29k a year.
3.                            Or, you could sell, buy a used, nice sized RV and tour this beautiful country of ours!  After expenses, Scott figures you’ll have $39k a year spending power.  WOW!
4.                            If you can’t do that, then you could still save a bundle by moving to another part of the country where cost of living is lower and save between 20 and 50 percent from what you are paying now.  See Where to Retire magazine for broad overviews of the economic benefits and liabilities of moving to a different region. 

What have you got to loose?  Do you really have deep roots where you are now?  The kids have all grown and scattered like seeds in the wind, why can’t you?  This book explores these topics more in depth, and how to fix Social Security, Bank problems (we are no way out of the woods yet), investing, income tax reforms, and health insurance for all.  This is from a pure economic point of view, completely non-partisan (other than Washington has really screwed things up).     

I encourage you to read the book, and let your Congressman know how you feel.  Vote Purple!  (you'll have to read the book to know what that means)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Ronald Reagan Library

We had a few days off so we went down to Oxnard CA, with the intentions of checking out Santa Barbara.  Oxnard was just the closest place we could find and use our Hilton Honors points for a hotel.
We stayed at the Embassy Suites right on the water.  The first couple of nights were kind of cold, but it did warm up where we could get down on the beach some.  

Anyway, Santa Barbara was kind of a bust.  We walked around downtown for a few hours, but it just didn't grab us like we thought it would.  

The next day we went a little further north to Solvang, a small Dutch settled town.  Now, we did enjoy that!  It was a very quaint town with Dutch influences, you know, windmills and such.  With lots of bakery's to choose from and some different kinds of shops, not the usual junk you find everywhere. That is worth a day trip if you are in the area, very friendly folks.

Today as we were heading home.  We decided to hit the President Ronald Reagan Library.  I wanted to see it because it has Air Force One from Reagan's years (B707).  I wasn't sure Sandy was going to like it, but she sure did!  She's not much for museums, and I've dragged he through the Smithsonian quite a few times, but she really connected with this one, as did I.  I think because we can remember this part of history as we were reading about all the displays.  They had AF1 and VVM1, of course; part of the Berlin Wall, Cowboys,  Reagan's touring all of the world, and just so much more.  I remember bits and pieces of these things, but it really comes back to you as you get to reading some of the stories.  Like in the gift shop, they had a CD of his jokes he told at each Press Conference.  I remember those jokes!  He always told a joke or two at each Press release, it was his signature.  And do you remember Jelly Beans?  That was another Reagan signature, he always had them on his desk.  

The Library is up on top of a hill, but through a winding road.  Now how did they get this B707 up here?  Inquiring minds want to know!

Well, they took it apart and trucked it up here, then built the building around it.  In front of the airplane is a wall of windows looking down in the valley.  The plane is sitting at the proper angle of attack, where a good gust of wind could set that thing flying right down the mountain!  

We spent several hours in there, just soaking it all up.  He was just an ordinary guy, who became President.  But one thing that happened; changed the world for him, and for me.  The whole world stood up and took notice when he told the Air Traffic Controllers to return to work or be fired.  They didn't, and he did; fire them all (1981).  Right then and there, the whole world knew what kind of man President Reagan was.  A man of his word.  He was to be tested several times after that, but he said what he meant and did what he said.  Hot spots like Cuba, Granada, Korea, and Russia.  He built up the Air Force, Navy, Marines, Army, with hardware and bodies.  If somebody was going to call his bluff, then he was going to be ready.  

Those were the good ol' days, when the President and Congress had their differences but worked them through for the good of the country.  Not like today, when everybody is out for themselves like a bunch of thieving  SOB's.  Oh, sorry, did that just slip out?

One last photo op with the President showing me around his ranch.  It was a great day............