Note: Welcome to all the new readers who found us from the article I did at MarketWatch this week. I’m glad to have you on board. In today’s post I’m sharing that article with IR readers, so sorry if you’ve already seen it.
I have always looked up to Theodor Geisel, better known to millions as Dr. Seuss. As a writer myself, one of the qualities I admire most was his ability to take complex ideas (e.g. learning to read, racial equality, materialism) and make them engaging and easy to understand for readers (e.g. The Cat in the Hat, The Sneetches, How the Grinch Stole Christmas).
Having read a biography on Seuss, I knew that his birthday was just around the corner (March 2), which got me thinking: If Seuss were still with us, how might he have used his considerable talents to explain a complicated and sometimes boring topic like retirement planning?
Of course we’ll never know, but I thought I’d use his rhyming and poetic meter as inspiration and take a stab at it myself. The result is the poem below called ‘Someday’ is Here!
‘Someday’ is Here! [Click here for an illustrated version]
You’ve made it.
After 40 years and a day
Of working and toiling and slaving away.
You’ve got money in the bank
And time on your hands
Now is the time to make some great plans.
There’s only on problem
A big concern, really.
If you want a great life then you really must hurry.
You see, all these years
You’ve heard experts opining
That your primary worry should be money and timing.
Those are vital, for sure.
But, take care to remember
If life were a calendar
You’d be in September.
The clock keeps on ticking
It gets louder each year.
You’ve spent years saying “Someday”
Well, “Someday” is here.
It’s time to stop dreaming
And actually DO.
That is my primary advice for you.
So how does one start?
Where to begin?
Grab a pencil and paper and let’s jump right in.
The first thing to do is to ask yourself this:
What types of things bring retirement bliss?
Don’t try to please others.
We’re talking about you.
What is it that YOU’VE always wanted to do?
Maybe that’s travel or volunteering to help others.
What would it be if you had your druthers?
Once you know that, then you’re well on your way.
But there are a few other things I should probably say.
First, don’t forget friends.
In life they’re the glue.
They hold everything together.
Otherwise it’s just you.
And while friends are important,
Don’t forget about your spouse.
If you’re happy together
You’ll have no reason to grouse.
So work on your friendships and marriage for sure.
What else? Let me think?
There are two or three more.
Oh yes. Now with plans and people in order
You can shift your attention and start to re-order.
Your priorities that is. Your To-Do list is jumbled.
With all sorts of things you should probably fumble.
Get rid of the extra and purge the redundant.
Once you do that life will be more abundant.
So that’s a few things that will get you ahead.
But remember, they won’t help a bit if you’re dead.
So get yourself healthy and lose the spare tire.
If you need a few pointers, call your doc and inquire.
Before we wrap up, a quick review.
What are the things you really MUST do?
Have money and plans. Relationships too.
A good healthy body and priorities not askew.
Do each of those things and you’ll be ahead by a mile.
Because those are the things that make retirement worthwhile.
[Click here for an illustrated version of the poem.]
Enjoy your weekend!
I originally published this article at MarketWatch.
It’s no secret that prescription drug costs can put a big dent in your retirement budget. What you may not know is that the cost of those drugs can vary (sometimes drastically) based on which pharmacy fills your prescription.
The assumption is that drugs have set prices and every pharmacy charges the same price for the same drug. The reality is that pharmacists charge what they want. If you have a high deductible health plan or you’re in the “donut hole” on the Medicare Prescription Drug plan, going to the wrong pharmacy can mean much higher out-of-pocket costs. Until recently, there was no tool to compare what different pharmacies were charging for a certain drug in your area.
Doug Hirsch and Scott Marlette have changed that. They were early employees at Facebook until eventually moving on to pursue other ventures. One day Doug had a prescription that he needed to have filled. The price of the drug at his regular pharmacy seemed really high, so he shopped around and found that the cost varied significantly. Long story short, they figured out a way to create a huge database of drug prices from all over the country and launched a new website called GoodRX where people can enter a drug name and their location and get a comparison of what pharmacies are charging.
To get an idea of the diversity of prices, I went to GoodRX and compared prices on a variety of different drugs. For some drugs, the prices were very consistent from pharmacy to pharmacy. For others, there was a huge difference. For example, I looked up a variety of drugs used in the treatment of colon cancer. The high and low for my area are listed below.
Leuprolide—High: $436.17, Low: $188.52
Taxotere—High: $640.61, Low: $275.12
Flutamide—High: $50.14, Low: $29.20
As you can see, those are some pretty wide swings. If you visit the site, you’ll notice that there are coupons available for many drugs and there is also a mobile App available so you can check prices while you’re actually in the pharmacy.
Have a great weekend!
Photo by Wil Taylor. Used under Creative Commons License.
It may seem counterintuitive, but spending your money can help you be a better saver. Let me show you what I mean.
How successful would Olympians be if the Olympics were held every 40 years instead of every 4? Not very, right? Most athletes would burn out long before they made it to the actual competition. That’s because it’s impossible to always be in “preparation” mode without experiencing some sort of “payoff.” For athletes, the training and sacrifice needs to be counterbalanced by cheering crowds and medal stands.
Relating that to retirement planning, it’s tough to sacrifice, save and be disciplined with your planning decade after decade without having some sort of payoff along the way. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Americans work longer and take fewer vacation days than almost any other developed country and we’re also woefully underprepared for retirement. We’re asking people to be all wind up and no pitch.
Taking a break can remind you why you’re saving in the first place. After spending a little time at the beach or touring around Europe you might find yourself saying “I could get used to this.” When you get a taste of the reward, you’ll probably be more likely to put in the effort.
So take that vacation. Have a little fun and enjoy life now. It will probably give you the incentive you need to save for the long haul.
Incidentally, I try to eat my own cooking here at IR. The photo in today’s post is the sunrise in the Cayman Islands last week. I finished up the test I mentioned in the last post (I passed!) and got on a plane the next day for a trip with some friends. After a week of 80 degree weather, sand volleyball and scuba, one of the first things I did when I got back was to increase my 401(k) contributions. 🙂
Have a great week!