Moving Day 101

Professional a moving company

Three Steps for Surviving the Moving Process.

Over the years, while interacting with attendees at our Upside of Downsizing conferences, we have been told that the process of de-cluttering and organizing a home can be the most stressful and time-consuming part of downsizing.  Sorting, donating and eliminating a lifetime worth of possessions can be overwhelming for individuals downsizing for the first time. It is why the Eight-Step Checklist we created at the Upside of Downsizing is so important to follow.

Once the de-cluttering phase is over, and individuals have placed their homes on the market and identified where they will be moving, the home stretch of downsizing is finally in sight. Moving day is next on the agenda, and we have some tips to help make moving day a success.

Step #1 – Hire a Professional

Seniors who are on a budget may be concerned that hiring professionals to help in the downsizing process will be a budget buster for them. But failing to get the help of a professional when it is warranted can end up costing downsizers a lot more money in the long run. Continue reading

Maximize Your Home-Selling Profits

Benefits of a home stager

Top Reasons to Hire a Professional Home Stager.

One of the most important steps in downsizing for seniors and boomers is the ability to sell their existing property – at the highest profit possible – to help fund their retirement years.

While most homeowners know it’s important to declutter their home and keep it clean during its time on the market, some may not realize the benefits of another home-selling strategy: home staging.

Home staging is the process of preparing a home for sale in the real estate marketplace with the goal of making it appealing to the highest number of potential buyers. Home staging can involve everything from arranging furniture and belongings in a specific way to enhancing curb appeal to attract the attention of potential buyers.

According to the National Association of Realtors®, 49 percent of realtors surveyed said they believe home staging has a positive effect on a buyer’s view of a property. Of those Realtors® strictly representing buyers, 81 percent said home staging helped their clients to visualize the property as a future home.

There are other reasons to stage your home during the selling process. Let’s discuss a few of the highlights. Continue reading

Aging the Right Way

A will is part of estate planning

Top Four Estate Planning Tips.

When it comes time to consider downsizing, many seniors and boomers focus on the obvious tasks at hand, including decluttering their home, making preparations necessary to place their home on the market and deciding whether to live in a retirement community or elsewhere.

But what some of them may overlook is one of the most crucial parts of the downsizing process: estate-planning. Estate planning involves officially recording one’s wishes for their end-of-life plans, which includes naming heirs and distributing their estate.

Seniors who forget this task may come to regret it later. Let’s take the example of a senior couple who sells their estate and decides to use the profits to help fund their retirement in a retirement community. One of them passes away soon after, and the inheritance ends up in the hands of a child from a previous marriage. This could cause an unnecessary hardship for the surviving spouse. Continue reading

Facing the Inevitable Head On

Senior couple dealing with inevitable illness

How to Stay Positive in the Face of Death.

Comedian Joe E. Lewis once quipped that “you only live once – but if you work it right, once is enough.”

As we grow older, we tend to reflect on our lives and question whether we’ve lived them to the fullest. This can be especially true as we begin to lose long-time friends or family members. When those who are closest to us pass away, it is inevitable for us to think about our own mortality in a way we may not have previously done. It also can lead to depression, which in turn can cause other health issues.

Does that mean we shouldn’t think about death, even when we’re confronted with it more frequently? Not at all. In fact, coming to terms with death is a necessary developmental challenge for seniors; however, it doesn’t mean we should dwell on it.

So how do we stay positive during a time when we may be losing beloved friends and family members? Continue reading

The Online Senior Connection

Couple exploring websites

Top Websites for the Over 50 Crowd.

As many seniors and boomers can attest, getting online can be a rewarding experience. You can meet new friends on websites made just for our age group, reconnect with old friends and family members on social media and find resources for planning a winter getaway to some place tropical.

But using the Internet also can be bit frustrating for seniors and boomers who aren’t as experienced in using it and are trying to sort out credible sites from those that may rip them off. Unfortunately, there is a lot of cyber crime, and it can be very easy to get taken advantage of at any age.

To help our readers navigate – and enjoy – the Internet, we have grouped reliable, reputable websites into categories most important to seniors and boomers as they  navigate through the golden years. Continue reading

Don’t Ruin Relationships With Great Expectations

Mother frustrated with expectations of children

Learning to Manage Your Own Needs in the Senior Years.

We’ve all heard some variation of the idea that you can never be truly disappointed if you don’t expect more than you deserve.

As we get older, that saying can take on an entirely new meaning.

Nearly 90 percent of seniors and boomers who participated in an AARP survey indicated they wanted to “age in place,” remaining in their own homes versus downsizing and moving to a retirement community or other housing designed specifically for seniors. When seniors insist on this particular scenario, it can become easy to expect others to help us manage our day-to-day lives in order to make it happen.

Even seniors who have made the decision to downsize and are enjoying their retirement to the fullest still can have some unhealthy expectations where their friends and family members are concerned that can put a damper on those relationships.

Let’s talk about some of the most common expectations and how to not fall into the trap of becoming one of those seniors who demands more than they deserve. Continue reading

Don’t Wait Until it’s too Late

Senior couple making end-of-life plans

Tips for Communicating End-of-Life Wishes.

American science fiction author Frank Herbert once said, “There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.”

Death is not a pleasant topic to discuss, and the ability to do so does not improve with age. In fact, the older we get, the more uncomfortable it can be to talk openly and honestly about what is inevitably waiting for each and every one of us.

However, the failure to communicate end-of-life wishes can be a costly one. According to information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most people would prefer to die at home – yet only a third of adults have an advance directive expressing that desire.

What is an Advance Directive?

An advance care directive, also known as an end-of-life plan, is a legal document which details provisions for an individual’s future healthcare decisions should they become mentally or physically incapacitated. There are two main types of directives: a living will and a durable power of attorney for health care. Continue reading

Monthly Expenses Draining the Budget?

Learning to budget

Best Ways to Become a Money Miser.

One of the biggest challenges we all face – regardless of whether we’re seniors well into the retirement years or millennials just starting out – is the ability to stretch our budget. It can be quite difficult to maximize every dollar we spend to squeeze out a little extra each month, but with a little creativity, every budget can be squeezed just a little bit.

Let’s explore some of the most common budget-crushing expenses seniors face, and ways to help reduce spending in those categories.

Budget-Crusher #1 – Vehicle Expenses 

According to statistics provided by online resource NerdWallet, the average cost of vehicle ownership per year is $8,698. The figure includes a vehicle that is driven an estimated 15,000 miles per year, along with all associated costs (fuel, tires, maintenance and repairs, taxes, license and registration fees, insurance and interest/financing). Costs can vary depending on the vehicle and area in which is it being operated.

So what are some of the easiest ways to reduce vehicle expenses? Continue reading

Don’t Let Adult Children Derail Your Retirement

Adult children asking for money

5 Steps to Stop Enabling Financial Dependence.

The statistics are alarming: according to a Pew Research Center report, nearly 60 percent of seniors have provided financial assistance to their adult children in the last year. The same report indicates that 27 percent of seniors are the sole financial support system for an adult child.

While occasionally helping out an adult child financially who has fallen on hard times is normal and even acceptable, there is a fine line between that kind of true emergency situation and one where an adult child has become entirely dependent on their parents.

When it gets to the point that adult children have become a financial burden, it’s time for seniors to realize that if they continue to try to fix the financial problems of their adult children, they will eventually go broke themselves, possibly threatening their ability to retire.

If you are among the 27 percent of seniors who are continually supporting an adult child or children, read on for five steps to follow to help break the cycle of financial dependence. Continue reading

Celebrate the Season the Right Way

Celebrate holidays by giving to others

Four Meaningful Ways to Give Back This Holiday Season.

Bob Hope once espoused that his idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, was very simple: loving others. “Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?” he asked.

It is a good question. While there are many people who give of their time and talents year-round, the holiday season always brings with it an increase in generosity. Maybe it has something to do with the spirit of the season or the fact that around the holidays, charities and other nonprofit organizations are more vocal about their needs.

According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS), 72 percent of all charitable contributions received are from individual donors. Only 5 percent of corporations and 15 percent of foundations donate to charitable organizations. The remaining 8 percent comes from bequests.

While monetary donations are a big part of the holiday season, they are not the only way to make a difference this holiday season. Let’s talk about some of the most meaningful ways to give back and bring joy to others as we celebrate the season. Continue reading

Top Assistance Programs for Seniors

Sign pointing to assistance programs

How and When to Seek Help.

Seniors who planned well for retirement – or who think they have planned well for retirement – may discover after retirement that their nest egg is not going to stretch as far as they had hoped. As we age, our costs tend to increase, especially where healthcare and other medical needs are concerned.

Even for those who have excellent health insurance and long-term care insurance plans, all it takes is one unexpected expense to derail your retirement plan. When that happens, there are a number of assistance programs available to seniors and boomers.

Let’s discuss some of the options available to seniors and boomers who find themselves in this situation, and the best way to overcome the feelings and beliefs that may prevent them from asking for the help they need.

Who are the Boomers?

The generation dubbed the “Baby Boomers” includes those born between 1946 and 1964. In general, boomers are believed to be a generation of optimists who believe in achievement. Boomers also lean toward adventure and exploration, and have lived through some of the greatest social changes in U.S. history. Continue reading

How to Avoid the “Senior Strain” on Finances

Senior woman counting her finances

Top 3 Expenses and How to Manage Them.

One of the scariest things about retirement can be the fear of not having enough money saved in your budget to meet your ongoing needs during the senior years. While social security provides a monthly stipend for seniors, it often is not enough to cover all of our financial obligations post retirement.

According to a March 2016 Money article, saving for retirement is not a strong point for most Americans. The Money survey polled Millennials, Generation Xers, and Boomers and discovered that fewer than 56 percent of Americans in all three age groups had saved less $10,000 toward retirement. Even worse, one-third of Americans polled said they had no retirement savings at all. Women were 27 percent more likely to have no retirement savings than men, which is bad news considering women generally have more medical expenses than men as they get older.

Financial advisors recommend saving six to nine times your annual salary in order to be better prepared for the finances needed in retirement. So what do you do if you are among the 56 percent of Americans lacking confidence in your amount of retirement savings? Read on to get tips and tools to combat the most common “senior strains.” Continue reading

How to be Truly Thankful

Thankful Family

Three Ways to Focus on Gratefulness.

Roman philosopher Marcus Tullius Cicero once said that “gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues but the parent of all others.”

Thanksgiving, by its very name, is supposed to be about being thankful for the things we have and reflecting on the simple pleasures of life. However, life – for many of us – has become incredibly hectic. We often feel over-scheduled and unable to take the time to simply relax and enjoy ourselves.

When Thanksgiving was celebrated for the first time in 1621 at Plymouth Rock by the Pilgrims and Native Americans, the event lasted for three days. During that time, thanks were given for the first successful corn harvest. The second such Thanksgiving was held in 1623 to denote the end of a long drought that had threatened the harvest. Soon, the tradition caught on in other New England settlements.

Over the years, several presidents declared official days of thanks, but not for the same reason the Pilgrims and Native Americans originally celebrated it. George Washington declared an official Thanksgiving in 1789 and encouraged Americans to celebrate the successful conclusion of the war of independence. John Adams and James Madison also designated days of Thanksgiving during their presidencies, each being celebrated in a different way for a different reason. Continue reading

The Hidden Dangers of Genetically Modified Food

Genetically Modified Food

 

Why and How Seniors Should Avoid GMOs.

For most Americans – regardless of their age – eating a fresh, sustainable diet is an important aspect of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.  Studies have shown that including fresh fruits and vegetables, and limiting the amount of saturated fat and processed foods we eat, is the best way to stay fit and healthy.

But have you ever stopped to truly think about what it is you’re putting on your plate?  Are all foods created equal? How were those fresh fruits and vegetables in your refrigerator grown? What about that package of chicken?

The answers may surprise you.

The Emergence of GMOs

So how, exactly, is food genetically modified? Continue reading

Want to Unleash Ultimate Happiness and Fulfillment?

Three seniors showing their happiness

Concentrate on These Six Areas.

British Clergyman Charles Spurgeon once said that “it is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.”

Some people spend a lot of time and effort seeking out happiness – a habit that sticks with them well into their senior years. Others follow the philosophy expounded by Rev. Spurgeon and find enjoyment in everything they do.

Regardless of which kind of person you are, it’s a good idea to take stock of six key areas of your life to help unleash ultimate happiness and fulfillment as you head into your senior years.

Area #1 – Social Status

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Institute on Aging, research suggests a positive correlation between social interaction and overall health of seniors. Numerous studies have found that seniors with lower levels of interleukin-6 – an inflammatory factor implicated in age-related disorders like Alzheimer’s and rheumatoid arthritis – can be found in seniors who are socially active. Continue reading

One Wedding and A Funeral

Different emotions - downsizing revelation

An Eye-Opening Revelation on Downsizing.

Since 2011, Upside of Downsizing has been helping boomers and seniors gain freedom by downsizing. We have provided helpful ideas and insight about how to make the transition to a healthier and more manageable living environment both smooth and successful.

We impress upon the guests at our conferences the importance of taking the right steps from start to finish and receiving the necessary assistance from reputable professionals to successfully walk them through the process.  Those who have attended our conferences know that Jerry and I also have been through the downsizing process since we started the Upside of Downsizing.

Although we’ve been through the process ourselves, it wasn’t until a recent cross-country trip – perpetuated by the desire to attend a family wedding and ending with a change in plans and return route to attend a family funeral in Colorado – that we experienced an extreme version of the downsizing process. The experience was a real eye-opener for both of us in more ways than one. Continue reading