What the Heck is the Difference Between a Baby Boomer, a Gen X and a Millennial?


Do you know the difference between a Baby Boomer, a Gen X, and a Millennial?

I didn’t. I wasn’t sure when each generation started and ended, so I did some research. It was pretty interesting and nostalgic.

The weird thing is there are no firm definitions of any of the groups, but what follows seems to be the consensus.

I also listed the movies, TV shows and music popular during these generations, although there are many choices that are popular with all three generations.


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Best Places to Retire

Photo by Philip Taylor PT

In my last blog post I wrote about determining how much you need to save before retiring LINK.

What about where? Are you lucky enough to live in an area that meets all your requirements? Have you thought about your requirements? Even though it is still far away, the time will go by quickly and I’d rather think about this topic now and plan for it. Think about where you were ten years ago. Me? I was running the Accounting department and my youngest was in grade school. It seems like just last year. I’m sure I’ll be saying that about today ten years from now.


I’ve thought long and hard about what I would require and what my wife would want. Here’s some of the questions we asked.

1. Where will the kids be and how close do we want to be to them?
2. Do we love the change of seasons and the cold winters or should we head south?
3. City or country?
4. Culture shock from north to south?
5. Cost of living; taxes, medical, house prices, utilities?
6. By the beach, by the mountains, by the forests…?
7. What will we do for fun; golf, save whales, teach english, run a small business…?
8. How good is the government? Will they go bankrupt? Make bad deals? Use coal instead of natural gas?
9. Do I need to be close to major interstates, or an international airport?
10. Will I find places to meet my cultural needs; concerts, education, plays, restaurants, churches…?


There are a number of resources to assist you.
AARP Ten Best States to Retire LINK

CNN Best States for Retirement LINK

Kiplinger State by State Guide to Taxes LINK

Forbes Ten Best and Worst States for Retirement LINK

Five Best Retiree Tax Breaks LINK

Twelve States Without Pension or Social Security Taxes LINK

Huffington Post Best States for Retirement LINK

CNBC Best States for Retirement

My Requirements

1. Be reasonably close to my children…rules out Thailand!
2. Great local geography…I want to be close to water or mountains.
3. Reasonable distance to a major airport (plan to travel a lot).
4. Close to a major university (want the culture and stable economy).
5. Good cost of living (cheaper than Illinois!!).
6. Great government (after Illinois any state is better).
7. Warm or mild weather.


Here are the finalists that my wife and I picked.

1. California – wife likes it for weather and ocean. Cons – expensive, terrible government
2. Florida – makes me laugh to think about retiring to Florida
3. Hawaii – we’ll never be able to afford it, but hey we can dream.
4. North Carolina – we’ve been here before and liked it; always a plus.
5. South Carolina – need to take a vacation here and check it out. I’ve been there but it was a while ago.
6. Tennessee – my dad’s family moved there years ago. I don’t think any of them are still alive.
7. Virginia – another state we need to explore
8. West Virginia – and yet another to explore


I’d love to hear from anyone else if they have thought about retiring to another state and what you found to be the best places to retire, or from someone who has actually done it. Please comment below if you have.


How much do I need to retire?

watching sunset

Most people I know my age are starting to talk about retirement. Specifically they are talking about when they will retire and where they will retire.

Since I am also thinking about retirement, I will devote a couple posts to this topic. Today’s post focuses on how much do I need to retire.

How to Determine My Annual Income and Expenses?

Everyone is different. What I will need annually when I retire will be different than what someone else will need, but the method to arrive at that number is the same.

1. Start with how much money are you spending annually today. Group your expenses into the following categories; housing (mortgage, taxes, insurance, repairs, utilities), living (food, medical, life/medical insurance), entertainment (vacations, hobbies, going out), auto (loans, insurance, maintenance, licenses), and charity. I track this once a week (saturday mornings) by logging on to the online banking, reconciling my checkbook and entering the expenses into the above categories. You are much more apt to keep your money under control when you have some system to watch over it. I don’t track every penny; the above categories are fine for me. If you don’t know your totals, track it for one month and multiply by 12 (make sure the month you are using isn’t missing any expenses that only fall a couple times per year like car insurance, repairs, vacations, real estate taxes…)

2. Now using the totals from step one determine how much you’ll need in each category when you’re retired. I want to retire when all of my debts are paid off. So my mortgage payment and car payments will decrease. My kids will be grown so I won’t be saving for college. Our insurance for medical and auto should go down as empty-nesters. Our expenses may increase for items like medical, vacations, and hobbies. So adjust these as necessary. Make sure you don’t skimp here. If you want to be a world traveler, enter a large number in your living expense category. If you love to eat don’t enter $1200 a year for food.

3. Determine how much income you will receive yearly.

Social Security – yes I know this is a big “if” but use the following link LINK to figure out how much you will receive.

Pension – if you are lucky enough to be one of those who will receive a pension from your employment, find out from your human resources department how you can estimate your annual pension amount.

Part-time work
– one of the best retirement advice I have heard was to develop a skill that you can use in your retirement years to earn some money. This will take the strain off using your savings and give you something to do so that you don’t spend your days peeking out the window waiting for the mail carrier.

Add these three numbers together.

4. Compare your total from step three to the total from step two. If you’re lucky your income will exceed your expenses. However if you’re like most people you will have a shortfall. This difference will have to be made up from tapping into your savings. Note this difference as we will use it below.

How much do I need to save?

Now that you know the amount of money you will need to pull out of your savings each year we can determine how much your total savings will be.

5. You should only pull out 3%-8% of your savings each year. This will leave the bulk of your savings in investments that will continue to earn for you. Also by withdrawing a smaller amount you won’t have to worry about inflation as much. You will want to be conservative with your investments so your overall return will be lower than when you were younger. Keep seven years of expenses in ultra-conservative investments and the remainder in quality stocks, bonds, and rental property. If you keep seven years of expenses in ultra-conservative investments you will be able to ride out any major stock market crashes. I chose to use 5.5% as my goal for withdrawals as it is right smack in the middle of 3% to 8%.

6. Now take the income shortfall you calculated in step four above and divide it by the percentage in step five. This gives you the total amount you need to save for you to retire.


Let’s run through a quick example.

Step one: You determine you are spending $80,000 per year on expenses.
Step two: You estimate when you retire that your expenses will drop to $60,000.
Step three: Your income from social security, pension and a part-time job will be $32,000 per year.
Step four: You calculate you will need to pull $28,000 per year out of your savings ($60K – $32K).
Step five: You only want to tap 5% per year from your savings.
Step six: You calculate you will need $560,000 in savings till you can retire ($28,000 divided by .05).


Play around with the numbers above. You will find you can change the total savings you need a lot by cutting expenses (eliminating debt before you retire or other expenses) or by increasing your income. Don’t cheat yourself by cutting your expenses so low that you will worry every day about the cost of prescriptions and gasoline… You don’t want to spend your retirement years worrying. Enjoy those years doing what you love and spending time with those you love. Keep these numbers handy and up to date. Having them visible to you will make them more likely to be achieved.


Good Books to Read

Reading Glasses
Photo By Patrick Feller

Why I Find Good Books to Read

Today I am going to start a new “resource” page. One of the things I want to put on here are the books I have read that have been really good; both fiction and non-fiction.

I am a fairly big reader. I shoot for reading 52 books per year or on average one per week. I am on pace to read about 60-70 this year.

I have many reasons for reading.

1. My writing skills are average. I want to learn to write better by reading really great authors. There are reasons that many of the books I read are classics; great stories, characters, beautiful descriptions…I hope by exposing my neurons to the prose of these writers that it will rub off on me one day.

I am always amazed to hear about writers who didn’t go to college and become English majors, or they dropped out of school. Authors like; Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut, Harper Lee, Jack London, Leo Tolstoy, and William Faulkner. They all had a love of writing and worked hard at it. If they didn’t learn the trade from school they must have learned it from reading other great works and consciously or subconsciously picked up on what made a piece wonderful.

I did not like school when I was young. Now that I am over 50 I love learning. I purchased the English grammar book I used back in high school and I am working my way through it again. The books is “Warriner’s English Grammar and Composition.” I found a used copy for $.99 at Half Priced Books LINK

I also found a free website for grammar lessons that I use daily LINK

Here’s one I use daily for vocabulary words LINK

But really I learn the most from reading these great books.

A lot of the books that I read are read on my Kindle (actually my daughter’s). One of my favorite features on it is the ability to highlight a word and look it up in the dictionary and immediately see the definition. So much easier than having a dictionary by you and having to take the time to look it up.

2. Not all of the books I read are classic literature. The majority are non-fiction books that I read to learn about something. I can never read just one book at a time. I usually have three to five books going at once. For example I am currently reading “The Brothers Karamazov” by Dostoyevsky, “Options Trading for the Conservative Investor” by Thomsett, “Psycho-Cybernetics by Maltz, “Gentleman’s Guide to Grooming and Style” by Roetzel and the book of Jeremiah in the bible. Not all of the books I read are great, but I do try to read books that others have recommended. It is difficult to retain all of the knowledge from every book I read. What I try to do is write down a few key important facts and write them down in a journal that I keep. A lot of books could be summarized in a few pages and these are the books that I speed-read and note the key points.

3. I have a fetish for lists. Last year I watched all top 100 greatest movies of all time and the top 100 funniest movies from the American Film Institute LINK and for the last several years I have been working my way through lists of the best books ever written. I suppose it is a sense of accomplishment to complete a list, but it is also fun to watch Jeopardy and know the answer because you’ve read the book they mention. I have many lists from various sources on best books to read. A lot of them have the same books on them. These are the books I have been reading.

4. Life has a lot of stress. Reading, for me, is a way to escape that stress and unlike drugs and alcohol, it is not harmful to me. I can spend hours reading and that whole time I can be absorbed into the world of the book and totally forget the project that is due in a month or the person in my life that is giving me a lot of grief. Lots of people pay big money to doctors, psychiatrists, yoga retreats…to reduce stress when just spending some time with a good book would do it better for free.

5. Ever have those nights when you just can’t fall asleep? Or on occasion you wake up in the middle of the night and you can’t fall back asleep? Well, since reading when I go to bed I have had zero days when I couldn’t fall asleep. I have a rule where if I wake up in the middle of the night and toss and turn for more than 20 minutes, I flip on the flight and start reading. It may take 30-60 minutes to return to dreamland but my sleep is better and the time spent reading wasn’t wasted.

So as the Fall of 2013 begins, I will add a new resources page with a list of books I recommend reading. I won’t do a detailed review of the books and I won’t list books I’ve read that weren’t a benefit to me, as they might be to someone else. The list will be a work in progress. So check it periodically.

Let me know if you have a favorite book that you recommend to others in the comments.

Thank you for reading!