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If we're ER'd, why are we saving?
Old 11-27-2004, 02:42 PM   #1
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If we're ER'd, why are we saving?

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What are you saving your money for????
Conventional wisdom claims that your ER spending should equal or exceed your income. So why could you be saving more than you're spending?

The IRS expects estate trusts to spend at least 5%/year (they actually considered raising it to 6% in 1999 but soon abandoned that idea) and financial advisors widely regard 4% as "safe enough". I understand that some years a portfolio produces excess income and other years it produces less (or even loses value). Regardless of the variation in annual returns, the SWR concept annuitizes a retirement portfolio at some "safe" rate and you hold your annual spending below the annuity amount.

Here's another approach. Bloomberg's Wealth Magazine had an interesting article a couple months ago on funding your liabilities-- because it's no good if your portfolio beats the S&P500 but you can't pay your bills. Their theory is that instead of achieving some conjecturable SWR, you would ensure that your retirement portfolio anticipates every spending contingency and funds it with "safe" assets like zeroes or I bonds. You'd buy them for paying premiums on long-term care insurance, or for replacing roofs & vehicles & appliances, or to fund a fantasy-vacation budget. No doubt this entices many left-handed INTJ engineers to happily debate the nuances of estimating asset lifespans, replacement costs, inflation rates, ad nauseum.

A third approach is living off dividend income. Careful with this one-- you need to not only pile up enough assets to produce your annual expenses, but enough to grow that production at least at the rate of inflation without consuming principle. Good luck predicting future dividend rates, growth rates, and inflation rates.

Fourth, Bud Hebeler's "Analyze Now!" website uses a closed-loop negative-feedback iteration that adjusts the next year's spending to conform to the previous year's portfolio returns. Of course it's more complicated than that but less difficult than piling up a huge portfolio of zeroes or predicting future returns.

And let's not forget the "final" approach-- slashing spending to remain below a diminishing portfolio's SWR. While all of us could probably tighten our belts a little, this is the nightmare cat-food scenario that might even result in outliving our portfolio and having to get a j-j-j-j-job.

So, gee, as Cut-Throat points out, with all of these different retirement withdrawal methods, why would anyone SAVE money?

For some of us it's premature retirement or surprises that lead to inadequate retirement assets. Some can't afford healthcare premiums so they go naked. We can't afford 60 years of LTC premiums so we "self-insure". Or expenses spiral out of control during ER-- property taxes, prescription medications, inadequate mobility, or runaway inflation. Afterwards is the wrong time to point out that the portfolio was underfunded or that not all contingencies can be planned for.

For others, old habits die hard or you have to set a good example. While we don't have to overcome a Depression-era frugality, we can't see the value in dropping a couple large at a health spa. (Heck, I can barely achieve that in Bangkok.) And although I'm trying not to sweat expenses under $10, I'm not foolish enough to flaunt my new "skill" in front of our adolescent money-shredder.

Even if we can afford them, we certainly don't need more material possessions to care for. We enjoy an annual low-key weekly vacation or two, but we're not interested in a PT lifestyle or "extreme adventure" travel.

Another paranoia is recurring expenses. I understand an occasional capital expense but I hate paying perpetual monthly bills if I can eliminate them with an up-front purchase. We probably won't be able to install a well and a septic system on our tiny lot, but we can go solar photovoltaic and experiment with rain barrels or even a cistern. And I'll do the engineer's dance of joy when I can figure out how to meet my family's TV viewing habits cheaper than cable.

Finally, some of the "savings mentality" is a failure to re-evaluate a lifestyle. I've been mitering joints for years with a backsaw and a miter box, but now that I'm doing more of them it's worth the "investment" in a power tool. Electric weed whackers are cheaper but gas ones are faster & more powerful. I can pour concrete, too, but I'll do a lot more surfing if I leave that job to a pro. Computers & electronics are much cheaper, too, so perhaps it's time to upgrade to faster hardware and a DVD player.

Business Week has a good article on philanthropy and I particularly like Pierre Omidyar's DonorsChoose approach. (http://www.businessweek.com/@@41Hb84...8/b3910407.htm for subscribers.) But short of funding a CRT, I can't figure out how much charity to hand out now without bankrupting us in 40 or 50 years...

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Re: If we're ER'd, why are we saving?
Old 11-28-2004, 05:33 AM   #2
 
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Re: If we're ER'd, why are we saving?

Hey Nords, you can do "the engineer's dance of joy"
right now. Cancel your cable and use an antenna.

We were just forced to deal with this as our old
antenna was raining down in our yard whenevr we got a good wind. The reception was getting worse and worse. Choices:

Cable
Dish Network
New antenna
No outside TV, just DVD/VCR

We opted for the antenna. Cost is about $300 which will give us the 4 major networks plus PBS. No monthly
charges, so dollar-wise I am ahead in less than one year. In the summer we watch very little TV and In the colder months there are lots of other things to do
(remember reading?)

John Galt
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Re: If we're ER'd, why are we saving?
Old 11-28-2004, 06:18 AM   #3
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Re: If we're ER'd, why are we saving?

THere is a lot of Free TV on satellite also but you have to be look for it a bit. Some superstations on both C and Ku bands and a ton of network feeds, 3 or4 PBS You can set up for about $600 for Ku band. This would include the rotor for changing satellites.

Do a search on ebay for free to air but watch the systems that are intended to bootleg dish net and expressview

See this web site for what is available. There is a lot of non english programming but if you look you can find a lot of english.

This site lists a lot of programming.

http://www.lyngsat.com

Bruce
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"Free" TV
Old 11-28-2004, 07:40 AM   #4
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"Free" TV

John, if it wasn't for spouse & kid I'd never turn the @#$% thing on. (Well, OK, except for the occasional PBS program & Star Trek.) I have our $50 broadcast antenna in the attic but I haven't routed the feed to the four VCRs yet. (That's how many are required to keep up with spouse programming requests, and that's just the broadcast networks.)

I usually sit reading next to spouse while she watches the TV; at least she uses headphones. I've noticed that very few network programs actually need a soundtrack. I can lipread most of the punchlines.

Thanks again for the link, Bruce, I never thought of chasing satellites (from on shore, anyway). We're right at the footprint's ragged edge (158W) but $600 is only about 20 months of CATV or Dish bills. (My parents-in-law swear by their Dish subscription.) Now if I could just get some family cooperation on the Disney/HGTV addictions... I need to research this and see what local signal pirates are doing.

But as you've pointed out, Cut-Throat, what am I saving for?!? Your sister-in-law must be saving, what, $200K/year of her income?
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Re: If we're ER'd, why are we saving?
Old 11-28-2004, 11:15 AM   #5
 
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Re: If we're ER'd, why are we saving?

HI Jarhead. When I had little kids at home, it seemed somebody was always " kicking, hitting or throwing
something"

John Galt
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Re: If we're ER'd, why are we saving?
Old 11-28-2004, 01:57 PM   #6
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Re: If we're ER'd, why are we saving?

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Actually she probably only saves 5%, if even that. The Brother in-law pulls in about $150K. Together they easily make $400-$500 K. They spend like it too. Live in a $1 Million house with pool, tennis courts on 6 acres. Have a 40 foot boat. More toys than, time to play with it.

Get this they still have a mortgage. House only cost $300K about 12 years ago. - So nice appreciation there.
They both work at companies that have pensions. Will draw the Max SS. They are doing everything wrong, but still will come out smelling like a rose.
Cutthroat: Sounds to me like they are doing everything right
The one thing I noted though, with their income, a $300,000 mortgage is way too small. They should probably trade in their $1,000,000 home for one in the area of 3 to 4 million.
Seriously, with that kind of income, unless you do something seriously wrong, (Drug habit, like the rock stars, or sports figures), you are going to be alright with
simple inertia.
Was only half-kidding about the 4 Million dollar house. If they did that, depending on their age, they would probably have more equity in the house alone, then most folks would have in their entire portfolio when it came time to retire.
Nice problem to have.
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Re: If we're ER'd, why are we saving?
Old 11-28-2004, 02:07 PM   #7
 
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Re: If we're ER'd, why are we saving?

Hello Cut-Throat and Jarhead (Semper Fi).

Well, I did almost everything wrong and still came out "smelling like a rose". It took some creativity and
a gut-check though.

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Re: If we're ER'd, why are we saving?
Old 11-29-2004, 10:17 AM   #8
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Re: If we're ER'd, why are we saving?

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Seriously, with that kind of income, unless you do something seriously wrong, (Drug habit, like the rock stars, or sports figures), you are going to be alright with
simple inertia.
"I used to have a drug problem, but now I make enough money to afford it."
-- David Lee Roth at the height of his Van Halen career
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Re: If we're ER'd, why are we saving?
Old 11-29-2004, 01:37 PM   #9
 
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Re: If we're ER'd, why are we saving?

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Conventional wisdom claims that your ER spending should equal or exceed your income. So why could you be saving more than you're spending?
First, your ER income is not the same as your working income. Your monthly working paycheck is deposited with welcoming and predictable frequency into your checking account (let's discount the possibility that you maybe fire in the next two months due to outsourcing or incompetency). Your ER income ebbs and flows with the tide of the market. Don't know about you but my portfolio goes from staying afloat with inflation plus cost of living to +5% above that in the last 90 days. Am I going to spend the extra 5%? Ofcourse not. If I'm still working and I get a raise or or bonus that is 5% above what I'm expecting, one of the things I would consider is how to spend the extra dollars.

Second, even a balanced and conservative fund such as DODBX, a proxy for a balanced quity and bond allocation, took a 20% or so loss in 1974. If that happens, and assumming the following life circumstances: an ER portfolio of 1M - 1.5M, in your 40s/50s, no other guaranteed supplemental incomes (ss, pension, working spouse), one probably would consider going back to work, cash out, suffer insomnia, or all of the above.

So my take is that you either need to have way way more than the conventional wisdom claims that you should have or you need to continue to save and pay even closer attention to your investments during ERs.
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Re: If we're ER'd, why are we saving?
Old 11-29-2004, 02:32 PM   #10
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Re: If we're ER'd, why are we saving?

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So my take is that you either need to have way way more than the conventional wisdom claims that you should have or you need to continue to save and pay even closer attention to your investments during ERs.
Yeah, all that is reasonably well understood by most here (you don't want to eat all the gains in the portfolio because you'll need some of them for the down years). The original question about saving in retirement was by myself and CutThroat to another poster (not Nords) who has a $2+ million portfolio from which they take nothing and still save half of their pension income (which is at least as "guaranteed" as any job income). If they can save half the pension and have such a big nestegg that they apparently don't need then why didn't they retire earlier? Were they just way too conservative in their planning? Did they really love their jobs and not want to retire?
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Re: If we're ER'd, why are we saving?
Old 11-29-2004, 03:27 PM   #11
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Re: If we're ER'd, why are we saving?

Like Errol Flynn said, "Any man who dies with $10,000 is a failure."
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Re: If we're ER'd, why are we saving?
Old 11-29-2004, 05:21 PM   #12
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Re: If we're ER'd, why are we saving?

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Agree with Hyper here. It's all about balance.

You read about folks everyday that lived like paupers and died with $2 Million.

These are not folks to be emulated in my opinion. They are misers at best. They spend their lives worshiping money and it pains them to spend a dime. They are only satisfied when the pile grows bigger. Sad, Sad, Sad.
I know people like this, but I've decided that for them, saving money and living poor is a hobby (and not a very expensive hobby at that!) and that when they die, their heirs and the Feds/State will get a lot of $ to fund social programs with, so overall, it is a relatively victimless crime. I honestly think that for this type of personality spending money is really uncomfortable, so I say to each his own.

On the main thread, I think that building in assumptions that subtracting: Market Return - SWR - Inflation - Fees and Trading Costs should leave you with at least 1% to keep some sort of forward momentum on the real portfolio value if the plan works at its norms. I think of it like steerageway on a boat -- you need some movement or you are dead in the water. Running a portfolio that simply keeps up in real terms (knowing of course that there will be lots of vacillation along the way) seems fine if you are already 70+ (heck at 90 I'd say go ahead and start spending down the principal), but at 40-something, I think you need to build in some real appreciation to be on the safe side, to account for rising standards of living and just feel like you are getting somewhere during decades of not working. In chess, running a game of perfect 'defense' is a way to lose games: the aggressor always finds a way to punch through. In investing, doing everything perfectly to keep real portfolio value merely stable feels too passive and defenseless against unknown challenges of change and opportunity to the perfect theoretical defenses. Maginot Line anyone?

Now as for the original couple with the big pensions that they only spent half of, and 0% SWR, I guess they liked their jobs - now they either sleep really really well or they get to fund their grandchildren's college and first home. Or maybe they'll move to Austin and discover a taste for high taxes and art collecting or somesuch.

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Re: If we're ER'd, why are we saving?
Old 11-29-2004, 06:10 PM   #13
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Re: If we're ER'd, why are we saving?

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You read about folks everyday that lived like paupers and died with $2 Million.
These are not folks to be emulated in my opinion. They are misers at best. They spend their lives worshiping money and it pains them to spend a dime. They are only satisfied when the pile grows bigger. Sad, Sad, Sad.
Interesting observation Cut-Throat. I would say that probably many people here on this board, except probably you, Jarhead, and maybe Galt have some degree of this motivation.

I know I do. I didn't save anything for years; I always wanted to close out each year even. But once I started saving, I developed a strong desire to see my stash grow. Actually, this force wasn't new for me. It was a revival of a trait I had as a little boy that I lost in adolescence. If I didn't enjoy social life and stuff so much, I think I could get real friendly with a miser lifestyle.

There is an interesting book by an Italian Nobel Prize winner, Elias Canetti that deals with this as well as other psycho-social factors. The book is called "Crowds and Power". He devotes quite a bit of space to what he calls "increase heaps", and finds antecedents of what we might see as miser behavior in very early agricultural societies.

I found the book quite interesting for what he says about heaps and about crowds.

Mikey
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Re: If we're ER'd, why are we saving?
Old 11-29-2004, 07:13 PM   #14
 
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Re: If we're ER'd, why are we saving?

Yeah, I agree with Cut-Throat on this. What are you saving it for? I have to be extra careful since I retired
with very little cushion. In fact, I would suggest that many experts would have told me I could not do it
with the assets I had. But, tracking and worrying over every dime is not for me. I do pretty
much as I please. If I remain convinced this can
continue, I will be quite satisfied.

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Re: If we're ER'd, why are we saving?
Old 11-30-2004, 11:50 AM   #15
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Re: If we're ER'd, why are we saving?

[quote]

Interesting observation Cut-Throat. I would say that probably many people here on this board, except probably you, Jarhead, and maybe Galt have some degree of this motivation.

Mikey: Most of the posters on this board are either newly retired ER's, or interested in that "position".
Many are very young. 30"s, 40's, etc.
Cuthroat and John Galt both have working wives.
I am age 67, and drawing soc. sec., and in 4 mos., my wife will also be eligable for soc. sec.
We do pretty much what we want, within reason.
Just see no valid reason to save, so I can spend more in 13 years when I'm 80.
As far as having a problem with anybody that dies with a large net worth, I agree with the previous poster, that's a personal decision, and will probably have a very positive effect on their heirs.
The last time (and it will be the last time), I gifted my adult children, and they were settled down after being excited, I explained to them that our goal was now to live long enough to be a financial burden to them
Regards, Jarhead



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"Saving it for your 80s" vs LTC.
Old 12-01-2004, 08:26 AM   #16
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"Saving it for your 80s" vs LTC.

Several responses have implied that our expenses will drop once we're in our 80s.

Don't get me wrong. *I agree that energy & stamina may decline as we "mature"-- another reason we're not saving sex for old age. *But I'm not convinced that life in your 80s is cheaper.

Some of you are considerably closer to that benchmark than I am, and many of you have parents in that bracket (not me). *So I'm not convinced that my spending in my 80s will necessarily be lower than it is in my 40s. *Pushing the kid out of the nest will lower our expenses. *Paying off a mortgage will lower our expenses. *Less travel will lower our expenses. *But I don't see total expenses dropping just because we're older.

I wouldn't debate the point if we hadn't chosen to self-insure for LTC. *Maybe in 20-30 years I'll feel comfortable with a LTC policy-- but today the premiums are too high, the benefits too low, and actuarial demographics too fluid to make it seem worth paying 40+ years' worth of premiums. *I'm not happy with any of the options, but today the "least risky" choice seems to be self-insuring. *I'd sure regret spending a large hedonistic chunk of my assets in my carefree 40s, needing long-term care in my 80s, and spending down my spouse's part of the estate to qualify for Medicaid.

Another bogey is medical care & prescription costs. *Even if you avoid LTC, this could sure rack up the expenses as you get older.

So does anyone have any direct experience or "real" numbers to contribute? *Are total expenses in your 80s truly lower than in your 40s? *Is a year of LTC in a good environment cheaper than a year of perpetual travel?
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Re: "Saving it for your 80s" vs LTC.
Old 12-01-2004, 10:41 AM   #17
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Re: "Saving it for your 80s" vs LTC.

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So does anyone have any direct experience or "real" numbers to contribute? *Are total expenses in your 80s truly lower than in your 40s? *Is a year of LTC in a good environment cheaper than a year of perpetual travel?
My parents spent much less as they got into their 80s, until they both needed LTC. Then it went way up. I think some feel that if you have bad luck, you may hardly know it, so eat, drink and be merry...(for tomorrow we may be vegetables)

I really don't know where I stand on this. Overall, I think the idea of spending money that I scrimped and saved, giving up real pleasure, on doctors and the generally hateful places we call LTC facilities might make me homicidal.

Nelson Rockefeller had the best technique.

Mikey

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Re: If we're ER'd, why are we saving?
Old 12-01-2004, 12:13 PM   #18
 
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Re: If we're ER'd, why are we saving?

Retired parents in early 60s. Their current living expenses are approximately doubled my own ER expenses mostly due to health related problems. They're still living at home so potential alternative care costs are still incremental should those be needed in the future. We get to see the numbers because they need our help financially. Their situation may not be the norm (?) but there are 20+ years for me to get there and probably 20 more to go. Will the same thing happens to me then or before then? Who knows?

Say you're in your early 40s and ER with 1M, the magic but barely marginal number. SWR is 40,000. You only need 32,000. Do you save or spend 8,000? Given this scenario, before ER, I would spend 8,000. Early in into ER, I would spend half, save half. Now I'm would save 8,000. OTOH, with xM (tbd) or getting that regular pension income now instead of 12 years from now, I may change my mind. No doubt, my parents' situation give me pause on spending because 1M-1.5M is right on the edge but I've developed spending reservations before knowing about it. I recognize the fact that it's all depended on your finances (ie. 2.4M+pension vs. 1.5M) but how many boomers would ER with 1M-1.5M without any regular supplemental income and not continue to save?
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Re: If we're ER'd, why are we saving?
Old 12-01-2004, 12:28 PM   #19
 
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Re: If we're ER'd, why are we saving?

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but how many boomers would ER with 1M-1.5M without any regular supplemental income and not continue to save?
AGuest,

If you don't have any regular income, you cannot
Save! - You may and should spend less than your SWR for a margin of safety.

But if you are getting a pension, have a very Large Egg, and are still saving half of the pension. You have to wonder why?
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Re: "Saving it for your 80s" vs LTC.
Old 12-01-2004, 01:40 PM   #20
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Re: "Saving it for your 80s" vs LTC.

Quote:

Another bogey is medical care & prescription costs. *Even if you avoid LTC, this could sure rack up the expenses as you get older.

So does anyone have any direct experience or "real" numbers to contribute? *Are total expenses in your 80s truly lower than in your 40s? *Is a year of LTC in a good environment cheaper than a year of perpetual travel?
Nords,
My parents spend 60k a year in their 80s, about the same as in their 60s if you adjust for inflation. *They live in a continuing care facility, though, which they bought into *for 150k or so for the right to live in a (nice) condo on the water in St. Pete, but when they get too frail, to be moved into partial care and then nursing care facilities on the property or nearby. *The thing that makes it great, though, is that if they did run out of money, the place has to continue taking care of them for whatever Medicare will pay them.

For this they pay an ongoing fee of about 35k a year, which includes a meal a day in a dining hall and cleaning/maintenance of the condo. I understand that for a place of decent quality this is pretty much of a bargain

You/we might find these options continue to be available when we get to that point in our lives. *I think of it as a sort of annuity that only pays out if you really need it, and as their kid, I am very glad they have it. *(or I would always be holding something in my Portfolio in reserve as contingency if my folks were ever destitute.)

Anyway, my LTC ace-in-the-hole now is Yoga and a healthful lifestyle, good diet, no extra pounds and an effort to live a de-stressed life. *That creates a problem in that I need new models for long/perpetual SWRs, but I am hoping it will also allow me to sidestep a host of medical problems later. *Then again, it may just postpone the same litany of expensive degenerative diseases. *Who ever knows?

ESRBob
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