You are browsing the archive for February 2011 - Over 60 Exchange.

IT TAKES A VILLAGE!

February 28, 2011 in Our World, Uncategorized

My Dad was one of six children in a broken home. At age six, he was parted out to his maternal grandmother who told him "stay out of trouble and stay out of the way". His brothers and sisters were sent to other families across the town. This was his upbringing and perhaps the key reason why throughout his life he tried to stay in touch with all his siblings and their families. Between his desire for a close family and my Mom's support for this, I was raised with an understanding of how important it is in life to stay in touch with everyone - family and friends.

Now, I am using this important experience to tell you that it is equally important for seniors (all of us over age sixty) to stay close with each other, especially on matters dealing with our lifestyles, finances and health. Together we can truly help each other.

Prior to his passing away, my Dad often stated that it took a village to raise him and his siblings. Now, I am telling you that this same premise applies to all of us over age sixty. The Over60Exchange is your online "Village". This is the place where you will find support, information and ideas for everything and anything to do with your life.

The times are tough for everyone today and based on what we can see for the future, they will remain like this for a long, long time. Therefore, I urge you to make Over60Exchange your "Internet Village" for support and information.

NEW WEBSITE IDEAS

February 25, 2011 in Uncategorized

As our membership grows so does the power our numbers will command for creating great benefits to all members.

Together We Have Power

Here are some ideas we are working to develop -

  1. Over60Coupon - similar to Groupon but exclusive only to Over60Exchange Members for purchase discounts on a national level.
  2. Over60Exchange Mastermind - powerful focused group to help launch new businesses based on member's experience & expertise

Keep checking back for progress on these and more ideas as we develop them.

I turn 65 next year. My wife and I have a small nest egg, but still owe $35,000 on our mortgage. For years part of my pay was in company stock. Now that stock isn’t worth much more than it was when I received it. Will we ever be able to retire?

February 24, 2011 in Uncategorized

The topic today involves retirement. Over the last thirty years I've counseled hundreds of people faced with the problems and opportunities that accompany achieving the symbolic age of 65. But times have changed. This isn't our parent's era anymore. The days of buying a house for $8,000, paying off the mortgage and selling it for $300,000 thirty years later are gone. Gone, too, are lifelong pension plans with full health coverage. There are those who believe Social Security may even be risky. People are scared. Take these questions, for instance:

I turn 65 next year. My wife and I have a small nest egg, but still owe $35,000 on our mortgage. For years part of my pay was in company stock. Now that stock isn't worth much more than it was when I received it. Will we ever be able to retire?

For years my husband was the principle bread winner in the family. He died last year, after being retired for only a few months. I discovered, much to my chagrin, that no one wanted to hire me for any meaningful work. Our savings are not going to be enough to see me through, even with Social Security benefits. Maybe it's just pride, but I don't feel comfortable working with the kids at our local fast-food restaurant. What can I do?

My factory just went bankrupt and closed their doors after I worked for them for twenty-seven years. I expected to retire with full benefits. Now they tell me I've lost everything and have to start over again. Because of pre-existing conditions, I can't afford health coverage. Where does a person turn for help?

These people all share something in common. They expected the life-supporting systems they grew up with to continue forever. But retiring and moving to Florida or Arizona is a relatively new concept that may have already run its forty or fifty-year course. It only seems traditional to us because it's what most of us knew growing up.

When 'age 65' and 'retirement' became linked together, the average age of death was in the low seventies for men and high seventies for women. Retirement was seen as the reward of a few years of relaxation before the supposed inevitability of age worked its deadly course. Today, people regularly live well into their nineties. Back then, lifetime health care was available for a very reasonable amount of money. With today's expensive medical technologies, it's a different story. A few decades ago, the baby boom bulge was yet to become a Social Security concern. Business was booming and 'Come Grow with Us' was a popular community slogan. Companies lived by an unspoken, but firmly understood, rule: 'You remain loyal to us and we'll remain loyal to you.'

Those days are gone. Say it out loud - forcefully. Right or wrong, fair or not, those days are gone! You simply have to accept it.

There are two ways of dealing with harsh reality. You can either whine and mope, or adapt and move on. It's a cruel truth - but a truth none the less. The person who pragmatically accepts that truth, physically and emotionally cuts his or her losses, and begins to make plans is the person who will best be equipped to thrive in the future.

The mistake all three of our questioners made is that they placed their future well-being in the hands of another person, a tradition, a way of life, a company, or some other outside agency. We all do it. Our culture almost forces that course of action upon us. It's nothing to be ashamed of. It's called trust, and trust is usually a good thing. Where would the world be without it? But it can turn into a trap if the person or institution we trusted lets us down. The question then becomes, is it too late to learn from our mistake and go forward with our lives? With feelings of unfairness and betrayal fresh in our minds, can we overcome our emotions, refrain from thinking of ourselves as victims, and go forward to a new future? Do we have options?

That's a question we'll take up in future ASK JIM segments. The answer might surprise you. Although I can't answer your questions specifically without knowing a lot more about your individual situation, take heart. You have a lot more to offer than you realize! Think outside the traditional "work for a company and trust them for my retirement" box. Read the stories of others who have crafted new careers. Their experience might spark some ideas. Here at Over60Exchange we're soon going to offer an entire book devoted to this subject. We'll let you know as soon as it's ready for publication. Watch for it. Your best years could very well be ahead of you, no matter how old you are! Have faith!

This space is devoted to questions and comments concerning emotional, psychological and spiritual aspects of aging. Specific questions dealing with health or finances should be addressed to specialists in those fields. Please read the following Over60Exchange Disclaimerfor additional limitations.

Contact Jim at jim@over60exchange.com

Is Self-Employment for You?

February 24, 2011 in Uncategorized

Can you teach an old dog new tricks? Are new tricks even necessary? Maybe the old repertoire is sufficient to bring happiness to a veteran dog. Consider these questions, all from men in the building trades:

I've worked for contractors all my life. Now they say I'm too old. No one wants to hire me because, admittedly, I've slowed down some and can't carry roofing supplies up and down a ladder all day like I used to. But carpentry is all I've ever done. It's all I know. Have I really outlived my usefulness?

The guy I worked for most of my career is retiring and moving out of state. He'll sell me his company, with all his contacts. But I don't know. I've never had to worry about the business end of the trade. What do you think I should do?

I'm a plumber for a good-sized factory. I have steady work and good benefits. Some of my friends feel I could make more money on my own, especially now that I've reached my ceiling on the pay scale. But I've never had to worry about hustling jobs. What happens if I get up some morning and there's no work waiting for me?

Taking the plunge into self-employment can be a frightening experience. But anything that's rewarding is worth the effort. The secret is to prepare and carefully consider exactly what it is you want to accomplish. Do you want to work, or do you want to manage workers? If you really want to work foryourself and by yourself, you're probably further along the road to independence than you think.

When I first retired after many years of being a small-time, country preacher, I wanted to make something that I could point to at the end of the day. I had always loved carpentry, but it seemed that the only game in town involved apprenticing out or learning the ins and outs of the business by working for someone else. I had faith in my skills, but I didn't know how to begin.

My first job happened by accident. I built a porch for a neighbor. Someone saw my work and wanted a deck built around a new, above-ground swimming pool. Pretty soon I was doing a lot of small carpentry jobs for a local farmer. Then I met a man who became my partner. He lived right across the street and had the same interests I did.

Our first job was a renovation that no big contractor would touch. It wouldn't be cost-effective in that we couldn't get in and out quickly. We didn't care very much about our time, though, and were perfectly willing to go slowly. That led to similar jobs. We became known for tackling the kind of projects that required creative thinking. Old house renovations often call for leaving your square and level home. 'Eyeballing' old renovations is often the only way to make things fit in with existing construction. We promised our clients that when we began a project we would stick with it until we finished - no matter how long it took. People appreciated that. We also made sure we were clean and neat and that people were completely satisfied before we moved on to the next job. We trusted them - they trusted us. We had found a niche market and soon had all the work we wanted with no worries about scheduling vacation times or managing office politics.

Could we have hired more people and expanded? Sure. But why? We were perfectly happy the way things were. As we used to say in New England, 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it!'

What's the point of this story? Modern methods of operation, in every field, often create niches where creative, experienced veterans can flourish while remaining relatively unencumbered with administration details. Is that particular skill that you've spent a lifetime developing really in demand, but you're too afraid of launching out on your own because you've always performed it in order to receive a paycheck from someone else who told you what to do, when to do it, and then profited from your work?

All three of today's questions relate to fear, not skill. When you've worked your whole life for someone else it's hard to think about being on your own. But stop and think for a minute. It's acquiring skill that's the hard part. No one will ever go hungry if they have a skill or talent that someone else needs. Marketing ability? That's what the Over60Exchange is all about. People skills? You can learn those, no matter how old you are. You probably already know how to please potential clients better than some young whippersnapper right out of trade school.

Satisfying work, done well into 'retirement' age, consists of doing something that you love, and doing it well. That's a valuable commodity. It's worth good money. So are you.

This space is devoted to questions and comments concerning emotional, psychological and spiritual aspects of aging. Specific questions dealing with health or finances should be addressed to specialists in those fields.

Please read the following Over60Exchange Disclaimerfor additional limitations.

Contact Jim at jim@over60exchange.com

I’ve recently retired and want to work part time doing photography. It’s an old hobby of mine. How do I go about starting up a business?

February 24, 2011 in Uncategorized

Sometimes the value of a particular skill or talent is more about how you utilize it in conjunction with other attributes - attributes that might not show up on a resume or aptitude test.

I've recently retired and want to work part time doing photography. It's an old hobby of mine. How do I go about starting up a business?

Let me answer this by telling the story of a person who asked himself the same question you did. His field is different, but the principle is the same.

Back in the 70s, the running craze began to make big inroads into American culture. In central Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire, where I lived at the time, towns everywhere began sponsoring ten kilometer (6.2 miles) runs almost every weekend. I soon fell under running's spell and began thinking of myself, for the first time in my life, as an athlete.

Running clubs began to proliferate throughout our area and before long a few people stood out in the brand new field of personal training. These people were, back in those days, pretty much self-taught. There were no formal courses outside the usual college phys. ed. curriculum. People just wanted help in designing training programs that might keep them from typical injuries that sprang from doing too much too fast.

It wasn't long before the advantages of personal coaches who were trained and experienced became appreciated and the field began to organize itself. That was surely a good thing. But there was a brief window of time when an energetic, self-motivated, conscientious runner who liked to read a lot and work with other people could carve out a niche and become known as a personal trainer. Some of them became pretty big fish in the small ponds around my neighborhood. One of these was a man everyone called 'Coach.' I never knew his name. But, like everyone else, I knew Coach. He was a staple at every race, showing up to check on the progress of his pupils and give encouragement when needed. One Saturday morning, when a sprained ankle kept me out of the field for a few weeks, I had an opportunity to hear his story during the forty minutes or so between the opening gun and final finish of a race.

Coach worked in a factory for most of his life. Back in his earlier days he ran cross country in the fall and track during the spring season at his high school. He never went to college, so until the running boom swept across America he was pretty much a weekend warrior, keeping in shape only to run the occasional race. Then the marathon bug hit him, big-time. He tried to train up to his first long race using the same techniques he had used in track. It didn't work, of course. He kept running himself into injuries. By the time he finally got smart enough, in his words, to understand what he was doing to himself, he decided he'd better learn more about marathon training. He talked to everyone he could, read every book he could find, went early to Hopkinton, the beginning of the Boston marathon, every April so he could question the runners who were racing that year. He considered himself a one-man testing ground, and eventually, through trial and error, discovered what worked and what didn't, what techniques to use and what pitfalls to avoid, how much the human body could absorb and how much rest it needed. Nowadays, this is all pretty much standard stuff and bookshelves are full of material that can synthesize all this information for the neophyte. But back then a person had to learn on his own. Coach learned. He and a thousand others like him became the research assistants that gathered the raw data that eventually produced the great running coaches and personal trainers of today.

Coach eventually found himself facing a real dilemma, however. He wasn't quite old enough to retire from his day job, but training others had become profitable enough to tempt him away from factory work. He knew that if he waited much longer he was going to miss the wave. The writing on the wall seemed to say that if he didn't act right now he was going to lose out to those who had college degrees and were beginning to regulate the industry. If he acted quickly he could be grandfathered in and find himself on the ground floor of what appeared to be a whole new field of work.

It took courage and conviction. He had to give up benefits and job security. But he made the decision and never looked back. Now he was making almost as much money as he did back at the plant, but he was having much more fun, was a whole lot healthier, and was really enjoying life.

A few years ago, long after I moved away from that area, someone sent me a copy of the old local newspaper. Coach had finally died at the ripe old age of 92. He had had a heart attack while attending yet another local race and watching yet another generation of his trainees attempt personal bests. Hundreds of people attended his funeral. Speaker after speaker stood up to eulogize their beloved mentor. They all said the same thing. He died doing exactly what he wanted to be doing, exactly where he wanted to be, and surrounded by exactly who he wanted to be with at the end.

He was a happy man.

This space is devoted to questions and comments concerning emotional, psychological and spiritual aspects of aging. Specific questions dealing with health or finances should be addressed to specialists in those fields.

Please read the following Over60Exchange Disclaimer for additional limitations.

Conntact Jim at jim@over60exchange.com

Jim, this may be too serious for you to handle, but I’d like to at least try. I’m almost retired, but even at my age I’m having a hard time learning how to forgive someone at work who really hurt me. I’m even thinking of taking early retirement because of it. I know he probably didn’t mean to, but still… Any advice?

February 24, 2011 in Uncategorized

Jim, this may be too serious for you to handle, but I'd like to at least try. I'm almost retired, but even at my age I'm having a hard time learning how to forgive someone at work who really hurt me. I'm even thinking of taking early retirement because of it. I know he probably didn't mean to, but still... Any advice?

You're right. This is serious. Very serious. You are right to try to deal with it.

Right off the bat, let me encourage to take this up with whomever the appropriate staff person is at your job. You didn't supply any details about the size of your work staff and the number of employees surrounding you. You didn't tell me whether or not you have a good personnel department, but if you do, that's the place to start. Most contemporary businesses have a firm policy in place to handle things like this. Use it!

Second, if that isn't possible, is there a good counselor, clergy or therapist with whom you can schedule an appointment? Ask some friends if you don't have any contacts.

Now, to your question. Without knowing any more details than you supplied (and I understand how difficult this must be to talk about!) let me share a broad approach that I hope will help.

The reason I'm moved to answer you in this way is because of one phrase you used. You said, "I know he probably didn't mean it." Those are words that set off alarm bells. I've heard them many times in cases of abuse. "He didn't mean to hurt me - She didn't mean what she said." Generally speaking, people mean what they do and say at the time of the objectionable action or the moment when the words are said. Then, after they have even a moment to think about it, they "apologize" by saying, "Just kidding," or, "I didn't mean anything by it." It doesn't always work this way. Sometimes we really do act or speak inadvertantly. But when you tell me that someone "really hurt you," I'm drawn to suspect the worst.

You ask how you can "learn to forgive." Maybe this will help. Forgiveness is wonderful. It's important. To pardon someone, which forgiveness really is, is a noble thing. But remember this. There can be no issuance of pardon unless someone is first declared guilty. Even in a court of law, pardon follows a guilty verdict. A pardon doesn't mean the accused is innocent of the crime because "they didn't mean it." It means the person is guilty but forgiven of the crime. Never forget that. The crime still stands. It's on the books. But so is the pardon.

In order for you to really forgive the person involved, either the guilty person has to confess that they hurt you, or you have to acknowledge, even if only to yourself, that the person "really hurt you." Unless you acknowledge the act, any attempt to forgive will be only a matter of kidding yourself.

This isn't just a matter of legality. In most religious traditions we find that confession of sin comes before forgiveness of sin. My advice for you is to take some time alone and really be honest with yourself. Did this person really mean to hurt you, even if only for a minute? If you are able, tell the person to his face and see what happens. If you can't do that, or if you can't find someone in authority to do it with you, at least have your own private court session. Determine guilt or innocence. Don't slide by with, "I know he didn't mean it." Maybe that's the case. If so, than real forgiveness will come easily. But if he meant to hurt you, you have to declare him guilty, at least in your mind and heart, before you can even attempt real forgiveness.

Please let me know how things come out. I'd hate to think that this act, whatever it was, would force you into retirement if you're not ready yet. I'm rooting for you!

Your questions and comments – Keep them coming!

February 24, 2011 in Uncategorized

One of the great features of Over60Exchange is the opportunity to talk to others who have shared similar experiences. Although Ask Jim is not a real-time blog, I always look forward to hearing from you. Even if you don't have a question, your comments can help readers everywhere. When you click on Get Answer you'll find past columns archived on the left side of the page. Members can then write to me at jim@over60exchange.com. I'll post your comments. Let's talk! Look forward to hearing from you.

Jim

Two years ago, I tried the craft fair circuit and was very excited to have my quilts juried into the Old Deerfield Craft Fair. Everyone loved my quilts — nobody bought them. (Well, o.k. one woman bought one.) Now I’m considering entering a competition for an art show — with fabric art. Should I give up? I’m not sure how much more rejection I can take.

February 24, 2011 in Uncategorized

When it comes to sales, it always boils down to marketing. Craft Fairs originated because people wanted to attract large numbers of potential buyers. The idea was simple. A large number of crafters should attract a large number of viewers. Sounds simple, right? But think about it for a minute. That large number of potential customers must be divided up between an equally large number of crafters. Then you have to figure on unrelated factors like weather, location, and fees. Craft Fairs are fun for many reasons, but why not try something different? Let me offer two suggestions:

1. On the Over60Exchange homepage you'll find a section marked Classifieds. Members can advertise anything within reason here, and your market becomes anyone who owns a computer. Take some good quality digital pictures and advertise away! You set prices and write descriptions. We provide your market and send you your asking price after people pay through our secured site. Then you ship direct to your customer. You can advertise through clubs, your private email address book, word of mouth or anything else that works. Just tell folks to visit our homepage and click on Classifieds. It's simple and easy to use, it's never too hot or cold, people can shop 24/7/365, and it never rains. Give it a try! Write to us at admin@over60exchange.com for details.

2. We have a lot of crafters out there who are members of Over60Exchange. What's worked for you? Any advice? And by the way, if enough of you respond, we'd be glad to launch an Over60Exchange Craft Club to help you comunicate with each other!

Finally: Don't let rejection get you down. I collected rejection slips from more than fifty publishers before I sold my first book. Hang in there and good luck!

I have been retired for 19 years and have had numerous conversations about retirement and the ways to deal with it. I would like to share a few observations with you and the rest of the readers.

February 24, 2011 in Uncategorized

Hi Jim,
I have been retired for 19 years and have had numerous conversations about retirement and the ways to deal with it. I would like to share a few observations with you and the rest of the readers.
My advice in this matter is that no matter what and when your retirement is to be, it is extremely helpful to "practice" that which you believe you would like to do in your retirement. I looked forward to playing music, writing and painting. I started in these endeavors a number of years before retirement and when retirement came I had something to do right away. After retirement I involved myself in volunteer work. Along with several other people I helped start a Unitarian Church in the South end of the county. I began to attend the workshops presented by Jim Willis which impelled me to research religion and philosophy. This is enough to keep you busy, by the way.
One thing led to another and today I am busier than when I was working. I jokingly say that I should go back to work to have some free time.
My point is to suggest that whatever you think you might do in retirement, start doing it as time permits before retirement begins. Then when you do retire you will be ready to continue with your pursuits and your time will become meaningful. There is not anything mystical in choosing what you want to do. A friend of mine throws horseshoes several times a week and has developed friendships with several guys who have introduced him to other activities. He also attends Jim Willis's workshops and is always eager to help in volunteer work and church repairs.
I hope these suggestions will be of some help to those nearing retirement. Incidentally, my wife says that the secret to a good retirement is two cars.

Peace, Charley

Why do you suppose employers want younger workers instead of older ones who have more experience?

February 24, 2011 in Uncategorized

Why do you suppose employers want younger workers instead of older ones who have more experience?


Whatever happened to company loyalty? It seems as if you can't trust anyone anymore.


Questions like these are tough but, for a minute, look at the plight of an employer who is trying to keep his or her business afloat. Admit it. They have problems, too.


When a person works for a particular business year after year she begins to accumulate "Cost of Living" increases that are separate from raises. These are necessary because each year the cost of living tends to increase out there in society. In other words, things cost more every year. If a person makes the same salary this year that she did last year, but has to pay more for everything she buys, she is, in effect, making less now than she did a year ago. Everyone understands this, so cost of living increases generally reflect the rate of economic growth. If a worker earns a raise apart from her cost of living increase, she does even better. But raises are generally based on merit and value.


Suppose a person begins working at a company that pays her $25,000 for the first year. The next year the economic cost of living index goes up by 5%. That year, our sample employee is given a 5% cost of living increase. She's still making her original salary of $25,000, but to that salary is added $1,250, so she's now making $26,250. In year three, the cost of living raises by only 2 1/2%. So that year she earns $26,906.25. At the end of her forth year, following another 5% cost of living increase, she is earning $28,251.56. Then, at the end of year five, another 2 1/2% year, her pay stub reads $28,957.84. In other words, she is now making $3,957.85 more than she did when she started, but is still doing the same work. And she hasn't even had a merit pay raise yet, let alone a bonus for giving the company five years of her life. If this continues for another five years the company is going to be paying her a whole lot more than someone else who can come in and start over again at the original $25,000 figure.


If the job can be done by anyone who can be plugged into the system after a brief training period, the employer would be financially much better off to fire the older worker, hire a younger person, and start over again. The new worker won't have acquired the experience of the older worker, of course, but the company isn't interested in experience. They just want someone who can push the right buttons and turn the right knobs. To be honest, the younger worker may even have a better grasp of new technologies and demonstrate a more flexible attitude toward change.


The former employee is left saying, "What's the use? Nobody appreciates me!" Is it any wonder why there are so many workers out there who feel cast aside and underappreciated? To make matter worse, an employer can't really fire you because you make too much money. So they try to find an unrelated excuse. The official reason becomes one of incompetence, of making a mistake or breaking company policy. This leaves the fired employee feeling like a failure.


It's hard to live in a system where there is a pecking order - where some people are made to feel inferior to others. But, in many cases, that's the way we live today. Often, you just have to accept it and not let it get you down. But at Over60Exchange we're interested in possibilities, not liabilities. There are advantages to approaching jobs on your own terms. You don't have to feel like a victim. The secret is to begin, on day 1 of your employment, to try to make yourself indispensable. Do things better than anyone else. Find ways to improve your position. Really work at it. Learn the process better than anyone - maybe even your employer. Then, if you decide to leave, or are forced into it for any reason, you can offer someone else some real experience that a simple button-pusher doesn't have. There are businesses that are starting to think in terms of hiring experienced seniors for independent contract work. Watch for them in your field. Maybe you can turn your experience into an asset.


Sure hope this helps a little.

This space is devoted to questions and comments concerning emotional, psychological and spiritual aspects of aging. Specific questions dealing with health or finances should be addressed to specialists in those fields.

Please read the following Over60Exchange Disclaimerfor additional limitations.

Contact Jim at jim@over60exchange.com

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