Travel and jumping out of airplanes top bucket lists

Where does the idea for a bucket list originate? Is it something that a retired couple brings up one day before the beginning of their golden years? Is a bucket list something that you start when you’re young?

A recent survey of 2,000 seniors nationally reveals that a large percentage of people start their bucket list when they get to a certain age. Other reasons include being influenced through media, illness or death in the family, and a recommendation from a family member or friend, among others. Only 4 percent of survey respondents said they didn’t have a bucket list.

Without a doubt, the most popular experience on someone’s bucket list had to do with travel—and 77 percent of the survey respondents indicated that they had some sort of travel goal on their personal lists. Following travel, 71 percent had financial goals on their bucket list, the same percentage had personal development goals, and the rest were family goals (67 percent), health goals (55 percent), hobby goals (47 percent), career goals (42 percent), spiritual development goals (40 percent) and volunteer-related goals (27 percent).

The most desired specific experiences on people’s bucket lists included skydiving and winning. And the least desired? Getting arrested, breaking a minor law, and trying online dating.

The top countries on people’s bucket lists were Australia, Italy, Ireland, Japan, the United Kingdom, France, Greece, the Bahamas, Egypt and Germany. The top 20 cities are Honolulu, New York, Las Vegas, Anchorage, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Seattle, Austin, Boston, Denver, Atlanta, Portland, Washington, D.C., Miami, Chicago, San Diego, Anaheim, Orlando and Albuquerque.

Source: Provision Living, an operator of senior living communities in the Midwest and southeast regions of the U.S.

Measles, a highly contagious respiratory virus that causes a distinctive rash and puts virtually everyone at risk, continues to appear in the news in Washington. Clark County, located in southern Washington, is experiencing a measles outbreak with 53 confirmed cases as of Feb. 14. One case has also been reported in King County.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency Jan. 25.

Despite this outbreak, measles is still rare in the United States thanks to the large number of people who have been vaccinated against the virus and are protected.

Measles is spread through the air and causes fever, a runny nose, cough and a rash all over the body. It’s a serious disease and can also cause problems such as diarrhea, ear infections, pneumonia and permanent brain damage.

The measles virus can remain in the air for several hours, and is so contagious, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), that 90 percent of the people close to a person who has it will likely get sick, unless they are immune.

Although often described as a “childhood” disease, anyone can get sick from measles. According to the national Centers for Disease Control (CDC), all adults, including the 50-and-up age group, should talk to their healthcare professional about whether they might need a measles vaccination. CDC recommends that adults 19 years old to 65-plus get the vaccine unless they’re advised otherwise by a doctor.

Complications are more common in children under five and adults older than 20. Measles can be especially severe in people with weak immune systems.

In severe cases, measles can result in pneumonia, or cause other complications requiring hospitalization. Pregnant women who get measles are at a higher risk for premature labor, miscarriage and low-birth-weight babies.

Source MultiCare Health System

When you envision your retirement lifestyle, do you picture yourself relaxing in a hammock, or do you want to hit the open road in an RV, seeing as many sites as you can all over the country? Do you plan on retiring early, or do you have a job that you love and want to keep as long as possible?

To find out the answers to these questions and more, In October 2018, Provision Living, an operator of senior living communities in parts of the U.S., surveyed 2,000 Americans to ask them about their dream retirement. Respondents revealed everything from their ideal retirement age to where they’d like to be living when they retire.

Dreaming about retirement.

52 percent of Americans think about retirement four or more times per week—undoubtedly triggered by stressful commutes and long hours at the office. But at what age do Americans expect this daydream of retirement to become a reality? The survey reveals that the dream age to retire for baby boomers is 64, while millennials, the much younger generation, have a dream retirement age of 56. And a staggering 78 of the survey respondents said they preferred to stay in the U.S., while an adventurous 21 percent said a dream retirement means moving abroad.

Place and space.

There’s a reason why warm, sunny places are a cliché for retirees. Not only is the weather great, but they also provide year-round fun and relaxation for seniors who like to get outside. So, do all future retirees dream of a sunny space to live out their twilight years, or a small town, or do they crave a big city with access to public transportation?

According to our survey, the No. 1 city in America to retire is Miami, followed by San Diego, Denver, New York and Orlando, which rounded out the top five. The rest of the top 20 were Honolulu, Los Angeles, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, Dallas, Las Vegas, Austin, Houston, Tampa, Boulder, Colo., Charleston, S.C., Sarasota, Fla. Nashville and Asheville, N.C.

The survey revealed that the ideal home for retirement would be a one-story ranch in a coastal or beach setting. There was, however, some disagreement on the square footage of this dream home. While baby boomers preferred a neat and tidy 1,510 square foot home, millennials needed a bit more space with an optimal square footage of 1,890.

Retirement by the numbers.

To young employees in the workforce, retirement may seem like a lifetime away, but the reality is that it’s best to plan early in order to enjoy a dream retirement. However, as many as 43 percent of millennials have less than $5,000 in their retirement accounts.

The survey reveals that the ideal savings to have by retirement is $610,000—with millennials saying that it should be $687,000 and baby boomers saying it should be around $574,000. However, these numbers don’t quite match up with what people believe will actually be in their bank accounts. Realistically, the amount survey respondents expect to have saved by retirement is $276,000.

Lifestyles of the retired.

Can you imagine a life outside of work? When you’re retired, you’ll have a lot of spare time to fill. So, what will you do with it?

Many retirees quit their day jobs but go on to part-time jobs just to pass the time. The gig economy has sprouted many twilight careers, such as Uber driving, which 12 percent of folks in the survey said they would consider after retirement, or dog walking through apps like Wag or Rover, which 27 percent would think about taking on after retirement. Overall, 53 percent of survey respondents said they would work part-time when they retired, and 68 percent said they would volunteer.

When asked how they wanted to spend the majority of their time when they retired, 34 percent said they wanted to travel, 20 percent wanted to spend their time with family, and 14 percent just wanted to relax. Other answers included spending time on their hobbies, seeing friends, starting a business, doing something creative, and wanting time to reflect.

Finally, according to the survey, the ideal retirement day broken down by the numbers would be sleeping for seven to eight hours, watching TV for one to two hours, dining out for one or two hours, socializing for two or three hours, other leisure activity for three or four hours, and working on hobbies for two to three hours.

The rules and strategies for how and when to claim Social Security benefits are so complex that many an uninformed and/or overeager retiree has lost thousands of dollars — even tens of thousands — by making the wrong choice.

According to the Social Security Administration, nearly nine out of 10 individuals 65 and up receive Social Security benefits — and for many, it is their major source of income. So, clearly, the decisions you make about claiming Social Security retirement benefits are probably some of the most important financial moves you will ever make.

Here are some common mistakes to avoid:

Don’t claim too early … or too late.

The earliest you can file for benefits is age 62; the latest is age 70 (well, technically, you can claim later than that, but your benefit won’t grow any more, so there’s no reason to wait beyond then). Your full retirement age is somewhere in the middle, based on your birthdate. Most Americans still file at 62, but if you can, it pays to wait. If you file before your full retirement age, your benefit could be permanently reduced by up to 30 percent. And if you can wait until you’re 70, the government has incentives for you — credits that come out to about an 8 percent increase per year. (Where else are you going to find an 8 percent return on your investment?)

Of course, there are reasons to claim sooner — if you have health concerns, for example, or if you think you’ll need the money more in early retirement than when you’re older.

Don’t ignore your spousal or survivor benefits.

There have been a lot of changes to spousal benefits in the past couple of years, so make sure the information on which you’re basing your decisions is up to date. There used to be some lovely tactics the program allowed, including the popular “file and suspend” strategy that was lost when Congress tightened things up with the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015.

One opportunity that remains in place, at least for retirees born before Jan. 2, 1954, is to file a “restricted application.” With this strategy, a spouse at full retirement age claims half of the other spouse’s benefit, if the latter has filed for Social Security. Then, at age 70, the spouse who filed the restricted application switches over to his or her own benefit, which has grown to its maximum in the meantime, thanks to delayed retirement credits.

As with standard Social Security retirement benefits, you can collect a spousal benefit as early as age 62, as long as your spouse is collecting their own benefit. However, your spousal benefit also can be permanently reduced if you claim it before your full retirement age (based on your birthdate). Most strategies for married couples require one or both spouses to delay claiming benefits for as long as possible.

If you are a widow or widower, you may take your survivor’s benefit at age 60 (not 62, as many believe). Then, at age 70, you can switch to your own benefit (based on your work record) if it’s higher.

If you’re divorced, you may be able to get a benefit based on your ex-spouse’s work record. To qualify, you must be at least 62, have been married for at least 10 years and be currently unwed. If you’ve been divorced for at least two years, your ex doesn’t need to have filed for Social Security for you to claim this benefit.

If you collect benefits before your full retirement age and earn too much while still working ($16,920 in 2017), your benefits will be reduced by $1 for every $2 you earn over the limit. If you do have payments taken away, however, you’ll get credit for those months when you reach full retirement age.

If you change your mind about starting your Social Security retirement benefits, you may be able to withdraw your claim and reapply at a future date — as long as you do it within 12 months. Just remember: You’ll have to repay all the benefits you and your family already received.

Don’t underestimate the amount you could be taxed on your benefits.

Many people are surprised to learn they have to pay taxes on Social Security. But if your combined income (married filing jointly) is between $32,000 and $44,000, up to 50 percent of your benefits could be taxable. If your combined income is more than $44,000, that amount goes up to 85 percent. A higher income also might affect your Medicare benefits.

You may wish to delay taking your benefits until you’ve used up some of your other taxable income sources. And speak with your adviser about how you could lower your tax burden with different types of investments, such as a Roth IRA, fixed annuity or municipal bonds.

There are more than 500 claiming options for Social Security — and endless ways to get it wrong. And guess what? The folks down at your local Social Security office can give you information about your benefits, but not one bit of advice about when to take them.

A financial adviser who is a retirement specialist can help you get it right by walking you through the possibilities and explaining what each one means specifically to your income plan. Understanding those various scenarios will help you decide what makes the most sense for you.

Kim Franke-Folstad contributed to this article. Brian Levy, who wrote it, is the founder of BML Wealth Management in Irvine, Calif.