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By Marie Langworthy, NABBW’s Transforming Retirement Associate

“What!?” you exclaim? Goals?  I’m through with goals.  During my entire work career, I needed to be focused on establishing goals – so much so that I determined that my only goal in retirement would be to not have any goals! 

Perhaps you need to rethink your strategy. McLain & Lovejoy, in their March 2015 article, “The Importance of Goal Setting for Retirees,” remark, “The first step to goal setting as a retiree is to think about what matters most in your life, so that you can live with purpose.”  In fact, setting retirement goals can help retirees stave off some of the negative effects of aging and help maintain quality of life for longer.

Family Goals

So, if you’re willing to revisit your aversity toward goal setting in retirement, let’s start with one of life’s most important and meaningful realities – family.  Until now, your work life consisted of a challenging juggling act, attempting to balance family demands with those of your career or job. Now you have the opportunity to re-negotiate your allotment of time according to your own values.  How about putting a high priority on spending time with both immediate and remote family members  — either through personal one-on-one time or through social media?

Yes, the family dog needs to be walked; the grandchildren can be taken on those special field trips that create lasting memories; you now have the time to plan that special, unique birthday event for your partner or children, instead of merely mailing that predictable birthday card! And don’t forget your parents – those special people who were responsible in large measure for your life’s success. Chances are they would welcome a weekly breakfast date.

Learning Goals

And what about your personal mental development? In their October 2010 article, “Mental Retirement,” Rohwedder & Willis state that, “For many people retirement leads to a less stimulating daily environment. In addition, the prospect of retirement reduces the incentive to engage in mentally stimulating activities.”

The authors continue to point out that retirees can stave off the decline of reasoning ability and speed of mental processing by engaging in cognitively demanding activities that exercise the mind.

So , if you follow the mantra “use it or lose it,” then yes, join that local book club that does a progressive lunch after each meeting; introduce yourself to that bridge group that always seems to be having fun; hone your Sudoku skills by challenging the virtual friends you’ve met on-line; take that gardening course that’s so popular at your local community college; better still, offer to teach a workshop on The History of Rock ‘n Roll – a topic that has consumed you since you were a teen. Not only do these activities sharpen and enrich your mind – they also provide surprisingly satisfying social connections.

Volunteering Goals

If you’ve always believed that it’s a toss-up who benefits the most in any altruistic endeavor – the recipient or the giver, you’ll find ample opportunity to give back to your community by volunteering your time, talents, or material resources for commendable causes, while simultaneously stimulating your mind. Offer to tutor kids within your local school district.  Or any number of Boomers would welcome your help in tax preparation.  If you live in the city, your local museum, theatre, or hospital would eagerly embrace your offer to volunteer your time and talents, and in return, imagine what you would learn in the process in any one of these venues.  Hence the paradox – “The more you give, the more you get.”

Travel Goals

Your travel choices are legion. Go on your own and explore every nook and cranny of your chosen destination at your leisure. Choose an organized tour and leave all the details and decision-making to your favorite travel organization.  Whatever option you choose, you will need to weigh its pros and cons, but without a doubt, you will find your travel choice to be invigorating, enriching, even in many cases, life changing.  Travel takes you out of your comfort zone, challenges your traditional ideas, allows you to experience new cultures, and unwittingly or otherwise, opens new windows of self-discovery.

The first time I stood at the foot of a waterfall in a small Swiss hamlet, the lump in my throat revealed so many mixed emotions – that I could never share this moment in its fulness with the folks back home, that there are, in fact, many awesome destinations beyond the USA, that I will forever be changed for the better by my first trip to Europe.

“Work” Goals

Without work — or goals to replace the purpose that work gives you — you have little to keep you motivated. However, you are now in the enviable position of being able to completely revisit and renegotiate your “work terms.” Step back and “aim, aim, aim” before you fire.  Consciously and reflectively determine your target.  Are you going to continue to do the same type of work you did pre-retirement? Full or part time? Or are you going to pursue a totally different “work” avenue – one that fulfills a latent talent or an interest. Perhaps you’re thinking of venturing into the world of entrepreneurship — instead of having a boss, being the boss.  It’s your choice.

Yes, now that you’re retired, you have the luxury of setting goals that are meaningful to you, driven by your definition of “a life well lived.” Whether these goals revolve around family, personal self-development, giving to others – or a combination of all three – they promise to hold you in good stead as your enter your life’s last, and hopefully best opus.

Marie Langworthy’s retirement well-lived is her best sales pitch for her co-authored book, Shifting Gears to Your Life and Work After Retirement: Second Edition. In her current retirement career, she is fulfilling her long-held compulsion to write.

Her new work takes the form of writing books, blogs and copy for client web sites. Marie is living proof that you can realize your dream job after retiring. But you need to do more than wish for it; you must will it to happen. Her mantra – “You think it – I write it!

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Author Linda Ballou, horseback riding in Wyoming

By Linda Ballou NABBW’s Adventure Travel Associate

Many retirees can’t wait to hit the open road as soon as they have been freed from their 9 to 5 job. This means new retirees are often traveling while they’re still new to Medicare

Therefore, knowing how Medicare covers you while you travel is something you should learn sooner rather than later. Medicare covers its beneficiaries differently depending on where you travel and how you elect to receive your coverage.

Below, I share a conversation I had recently with Danielle K. Roberts, co-founder of Boomer Benefits in which we discuss how you’re covered during domestic travel under each form of Medicare coverage. Next month we will follow-up with a corresponding discussion on foreign travel.

Domestic Travel

Linda riding a Zip line in Colorado

According to Medicare regulations, you’re traveling domestically if you are traveling to any of the states, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and American Samoa.

When traveling domestically with just Original Medicare the rules are simple. As long as you see a doctor who accepts Medicare, your Part A and Part B will cover you. Same goes if you have Original Medicare plus a Medigap plan.

Since Medigap plans don’t have doctor networks, you are able to see any doctor who accepts Medicare. If the doctor accepts Medicare, they are legally required to accept your Medigap plan too no matter the carrier you enrolled through.

However, traveling with a Medicare Advantage plan is a little different.

Traveling Within the U.S. with a Medicare Advantage Plan

Linda and friends rafting the Grand Canyon

Most Medicare Advantage plans have strict networks you must stay within in order to receive coverage. Usually, Medicare Advantage plans that have these kinds of networks are HMO plans. However, there is a type of Medicare Advantage plans that have slightly less strict network rules and these are PPO plans.

Medicare Advantage HMO plans generally don’t provide any non-emergency coverage outside of your network, meaning if you travel out of your plan’s service area, you will be responsible for any and all medical expenses. Some Medicare Advantage PPO plans have an out-of-network benefit where the beneficiary can receive partial coverage when going outside of the plan’s network.

You will also have to pay more out-of-network than you would have to pay in-network.

Thank you, Danielle, for this very important information. Danielle and her team help baby boomers navigate their Medicare insurance options. She is a member of the Forbes Finance Council and writes frequently about Medicare, retirement and personal finance.

Finally, I always recommend purchasing Emergency Medical Evacuation Insurance to cover gaps in Medicare coverage whether traveling domestically, or internationally. Travel Guard is the only company that I know of that will let you purchase that coverage separately from their more comprehensive packages. It runs about $75.

Linda Ballou is an adventure travel writer with a host of travel articles on her site www.LostAngelAdventures.com. You will also find information about her travel memoir, Lost Angel Walkabout-One Traveler’s Tales from Alaska to New Zealand, and Lost Angel in Paradise where she shares her  favorite  hikes and day trips on the coast of California.

Subscribe to her blog www.LindaBallouTalkingtoYou.com to receive updates on her books, travel destinations and events.

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By Marie Langworthy, NABBW’s Transforming Retirement Associate

“Let’s have fun!” I’ve been told that this is the mission statement for Disneyworld. And having fun is one of the many fantasies and expectations we have about life after retirement.

Baking together is guaranteed to be fun.

In my family, the embodiment of that “have fun” mandate was our retired Aunt Hannah. Whether playing bridge, or baking her coveted chocolate nut squares, or treating one of her nieces or nephews to the latest Broadway play, Aunt Hannah would smile and say, “When did I ever have time to work?”

In fact, it became the family joke that, before we could plan any extensive family affair, we would always first need to consult Aunt Hannah’s social calendar! She became the poster child for “how to have fun and not be bored in retirement!”

If baking’s not your thing, maybe you’ve dreamed of learning line dancing?

Webster defines “fun” as “enjoyment or “amusement.” Well, that’s all well and good. But, in reality, one person’s idea of “fun” may be anathema to another’s. What’s important in retirement, is that you find your own “fun recipe” and determine those magic ingredients that blend together to form your perfect fun formula.

I’ve Always Wanted To…

Let’s start with that secret wish that you’ve always had about something you would like to try. Your fun could start there. Then you could move on to somewhere you have always wanted to explore. Or someone whom you privately emulate and would even be in awe to experience, or even to meet, in person! Is your something square dancing, and your somewhere Nepal? Is your someone Prince Harry or Willie Nelson or the Dalai Lama?

Be Realistic – Know Your Limitations!

One important ingredient to your own version of fun is your natural gifts. Now be realistic. If you had a rendezvous with a tree on your first (and only) ski trip, (and on the “kiddie slope!”)… If you fell off the horse during your first riding lesson… If the lifeguard had to jump in the pool to retrieve you from the shallow end… Then these may be activities that are fun to others, but not to you. And you probably need to rethink adding them to your own future fun bucket list.

Reading is my idea of fun. Also, I greatly enjoy writing and travel and learning and listening to music of every kind. But riding a Segway will forevermore be on my list of how to make myself completely miserable, right up there with rock climbing and golf.

Time To Read your Horoscope

What about your personality? If you know in your heart of hearts that you’re somewhat of a loner, that you dread walking into a room of strangers, that you usually escape a cocktail party at the first opportunity, and that the very words “group” or “club” provoke an anxiety attack, perhaps you’re most content alone at home with a glass of wine and a movie, or playing Words With Friends, or tackling a sudoku. If this sounds familiar, then you might want to resist any initial impulse to organize a march to Washington in support of the latest trending social cause, or an annual trip abroad with your book club.

A caveat… This is not to suggest that you should not try new things or that you should not venture out of your comfort zone. Instead, recognize that now is your time — the time for you to truly identify what gives you pleasure, what amuses you, what you consider fun.

Whatever that is, embrace it with abandon. Dance as if a talent scout is watching. And do it often.

Marie Langworthy’s retirement well-lived is her best sales pitch for her co-authored book, Shifting Gears to Your Life and Work After Retirement: Second Edition. In her current retirement career, she is fulfilling her long-held compulsion to write. Her new work takes the form of writing books, blogs and copy for client web sites. Marie is living proof that you can realize your dream job after retiring. But you need to do more than wish for it; you must will it to happen. Her mantra – “You think it – I write it!

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Provided by Pamela J. Sams, CRPC, NABBW’s Retirement Planning Associate

 If you follow national news, you may have heard of the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act. Although the SECURE Act has yet to clear the Senate, it saw broad, bipartisan support in the House of Representatives and could make IRAs a more attractive component of your retirement strategy. However, it also changes the withdrawal rules on inherited “stretch IRAs,” which may impact retirement and estate strategies, nationwide. Let’s dive in and take a closer look.1

Secure Act Consequences.

Currently, those older than 70 ½ must take withdrawals and can no longer contribute to their traditional IRA. This differs from a Roth IRA, which allows contributions at any age, as long as your income is below a certain level: less than $122,000 for single filing households and less than $193,000 for those who are married and jointly file. This can make saving especially difficult for an older worker. However, if the SECURE Act passes the Senate and is signed into law, that cutoff will vanish, allowing workers of any age to continue making contributions to traditional IRAs.2

The age at which you must take your Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) would also change. Currently, if you have a traditional IRA, you must start taking the RMD when you reach age 70 ½.  Under the new law, you wouldn’t need to start taking the RMD until age 72, increasing the potential to further grow your retirement vehicle.3

As it stands now, non-spouse beneficiaries of IRAs and retirement plans are required to withdraw the funds from its IRA, tax-sheltered status, but can do so by “stretching” the disbursements over time, even over their entire lifetime. The SECURE Act changes this and makes the use of “stretch” IRAs unlikely. Under the new law, if you leave a Traditional IRA or retirement plan to a beneficiary other than your spouse, they can defer withdrawals (and taxes) for up to 10 years max.4

What’s next?

Currently, the SECURE Act has reached the Senate, where it failed to pass by unanimous consent. This means it could move into committee for debate or it could end up attached to the next budget bill, as a way to circumvent further delays. Regardless, if the SECURE Act becomes law, it could change retirement goals for many, making this a great time to talk to a financial professional.

Pamela J. Sams may be reached at (703) 547-8682 or pamela@jacksonsams.com. Her website, Jackson Sams Wealth Strategies, is located here: www.jacksonsams.com

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Securities offered through Securities America, Inc., a Registered Broker/Dealer, Member FINRA/SIPC.  Advisory services offered through Securities America Advisors, Inc., a SEC Registered Investment Advisory Firm, Pamela Sams, Investment Advisor Representative. Jackson Sams Wealth Strategies, Securities America, Inc. and all other entities named are separate entities.

 Citations.

1 – financial-planning.com/articles/house-votes-to-ease-rules-for-rias-correct-trump-tax-law [5/23/19]

2 – irs.gov/retirement-plans/amount-of-roth-ira-contributions-that-you-can-make-for-2019 [6/18/19]

3 – congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/1994 [5/16/1900]

4 – law.com/newyorklawjournal/2019/04/05/what-to-know-about-the-2-big-retirement-bills-in-congress/ [4/5/19]

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By Shirley Meerson, CHWC, NABBW’s Associate for the Ageless Wellness Lifestyle

Psst…here’s one of my ageless beauty maintenance tips – Face Serums.

I’ve been using them as part of my regular skin care for years, simply because they work.

I love serums because I can see and feel the results.

Healthy beautiful skin is always in style.

One thing that you’ll definitely notice is that face serums are expensive.  Yikes.  However, I assure you that serums are well worth the cost.  Many brands come in pump bottles or have medicine dropper applicators to give out just the tiny amount you need. As a result, those few drops are super-efficient.  A small bottle should last you months.

Overview

As we age, our skin has a slower capacity to repair itself.  It needs a boost and a helping hand from us.  Hence, we need direction of where to go and what to do for maintenance.

As a wellness proponent, I always sing the praises of sufficient hydration.  Drink plenty of clean water daily.

When it comes to further maintenance, it’s time to dig into the science and optimize.

Yes, maintenance is my word for beautification and health.  As well as, creating a positive mindset with practical steps leading to your radiant skin.

In the past, I have assumed that face serums are for dry skin or combination skin.  I was wrong. Because through this research, I found out that people with oily skin can also benefit.

What are they?

A face serum is a type of moisturiser that is lighter and penetrates deeper by providing a high concentration of active ingredients.

  • Face serums are beneficial for many skin types -but not for everyone.
  • If you have a chronic skin condition like eczema or rosacea, then first talk with your dermatologist.
  • A little goes a long way. Therefore, more is not better because a serum is very concentrated.
  • Serum does not contain a sunscreen.
Why use a serum?

Face serums:

  • Form a great line of defence.
  • Pack in more antioxidants than any other skin care product.
  • Improve your skin’s ability to retain moisture.
  • Strengthen the skin and helps to maintain firmness.
  • Protects against fine lines developing.
When should I use a serum?

A face serum can be used morning and night.  It all depends on your skincare regime.

  • Layer the serum under your moisturiser.
  • Or, the serum can be used as an alternative to a moisturiser. I do this several evenings during the week.
  • Don’t use at night if you are already using a retinoid = too many combinations of products.
 What ingredients are found in serums?
  • Antioxidants.  Vitamins that help to reduce the damaging effects of external factors on your skin, such as pollution and sun exposure.
  • Peptides.  Amino acids which help to promote collagen production, helping your skin look smoother.
  • Hyaluronic Acid.  The name may be a bit scary but do not fear this.  Hyaluronic is one favorite of mine.  It’s a substance that occurs naturally in the body and is found in our connective tissue.  The skin identical molecules found in hyaluronic can retain moisture and this is a good thing. Because skin moisture relates to firmness and regeneration. Hyaluronic acid is helpful for all skin types and not only for a youthful dewy skin. It repairs the skin barrier to minimize issues of sun damage, acne, sensitivity, and rosacea.
How to use a serum
  • Cleanse regularly and include your neck.
  • Pat your skin dry.
  • Take a pea size amount of serum and pat over your skin. I sometimes only focus on my eye and lip areas.
  • Allow time to absorb if applying normal moisturizer on top.
  • Cleanse from the inside. Consequently, this means drinking plenty of water during the day.
Why do I like them so much?

Because they work!

Sometimes after applying a serum, my skin will feel tighter immediately and I enjoy that sensation.

If I had a tiring day – I make certain to do skin maintenance that night to ensure the next day my skin will not show the effects of stress.  It’s all about knowledge, positivity, and action.

You also wake up and your skin will feel and look as if it has been taken care of.  A fabulous confidence boost to start the day.

Hey lovelies – let’s talk holistic beauty.

Hit me up for a free call to discuss the secrets I’ve learned from living in a dozen countries.

Contact me to discuss your Ageless Beauty Maintenance Tips – It’ll be fun.  Link here:

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By Dr. Carolee Duckworth, NABBW’s Independent Travel Associate

“Someday I want to travel!” How often have you heard a friend or family member say that? How many times have you said it yourself? And why is travel such a common dream?

Boboli Hedge Garden, Florence, Italy

There are two levels of answers to the question of why people travel. The first is the obvious one, and probably the reason we give ourselves and quote to others. We travel so that we can see sights, experience other cultures, attend events and learn more about the world.

These are exciting reasons. But there are deeper reasons for traveling that have less to do with what we do when we travel, and more to do with what travel does to us.

These four sets of changes to ourselves are at the heart of what makes travel so compelling.

Travel Enriches You, Before, During and After

San Giminiano Lunch in Church Piazza

The anticipation of a trip is almost as stimulating as the trip itself. Knowing what you have ahead, and imagining it in detail, lends excitement to life, and relieves the tendency to fall into a workaday rut. The more detailed your image of your trip ahead, the more excitement it will bring you in advance.

While your trip is in progress, you will experience life intensified, living in the moment and fully taking in everything around you.

This kind of heightened experience is a particular quality of an independent style of travel that takes you beyond the bus and out into the streets and squares, landscapes and waterways. Independent travel is amplified living…a world apart from the “constrained” travel of group tours.

And then there are the memories afterwards. Travel fully experienced offers a treasure chest of unforgettable moments.

  • Do you remember when we were sitting in the sun in the piazza in front of the little church in San Gimignano, and we were served that wonderful lunch?
  • Do you remember when we were sitting on the wall next to the harbor in Cassis, eating ice cream cones and watching the children on the merry-go-round while we waited to take the boat out to see the limestone cliffs?
  • Do you remember when we were looking down from our flower-bedecked balcony watching the artists gather in the morning in Piazza Navona in Rome? And then we walked down to take a closer look, and I bought a lovely watercolor from an artist standing there painting the fountain with the sculpture of Neptune? And then, when I pointed out to him where we were staying, he gave me as a gift that small print that captured the exact view from our balcony?
  • Do you remember the gondola ride we took in Zermatt, up past the Matterhorn and into Italy? And we ate that very satisfying pasta when we got out at the station up top, and then walked around in the ice cave looking at the sparkling ice sculptures?
Travel Broadens Your View of the World

Duomo, Florence, Italy

Through travel you gain a framework for the history and significant touchstones that brought you to your current life and point in time.

  • Now you are studying the marble façade of the Duomo in Siena and marveling at the craftsmanship, as well as the gargantuan expense in wealth as well as time.
  • Now you are looking down at the stairs that lead to a tunnel connecting the home of Leonardo da Vinci with the royal palace across street. It was through this tunnel that King Françoise traveled to visit with his genius friend, and at the end, to hold him in his arms as he died.
  • And now you are in Bayeux, where the French William the Conqueror built his naval vessels to cross the English Channel and claim the throne of England. And you are marveling at the 11thcentury, 224-foot tapestry stretched along the wall, depicting the full account of William’s rise from soldier to King. And you are smiling at the startled look on his horses’ faces as they peer over the side of the boat while they are being transported across.

Each of these experiences broadens your view of the world and your firsthand sense of time and place.

Travel Re-Energizes You and Makes You More Vibrant and Interesting

Travel, and the anticipation of travel, recaptures your enthusiasm. It gives you something to look forward to as you look ahead with excitement instead of the dulled-over feeling that comes from repetition and routine. Travel gives you something to prepare for. To study for. And later to share. You will bring home travel stories and observations that will broaden your conversation beyond your latest doctor visits, work problems, and frustrations with the weeds in your lawn.

Leather Market, Florence, Italy

Travel challenges you to be at your most effective and focused level. Staying within your comfort zone may be easier, but it is also a trap.

It is good for you to be taken out of your comfort zones regularly, challenging and engaging your social skills and your ability to think on your feet and solve problems.

Travel abroad also opens opportunities to engage with the locals and absorb some of their delight with life and eagerness to connect. When you find a “treasure” to bring home, every time you use it your mind will return to the moment of your discovery, and the people who shared that moment.

Travel Improves Your Health and Well-Being

Travel gives you a reason to stay healthy. And it keeps you sharp longer! The challenges of travel test your acuity on a daily basis. Travel can be demanding, especially if you are not being “led around on a leash” on a group trip. You know you will need to be on your toes – to be situationally aware – to pay close attention.

There will be lots of walking, including up and down hills and stairs. You may find yourself eating a healthier diet, with more fresh seafood, vegetables and fruits.

Lovely Lunch in Monterosso, Italy

Generally, by the time you return home from a trip, you will be in better physical shape than you have been for months, or even years. You even may decide to incorporate into your routine back home some of the lifestyle changes you learned during your trip. And, if you begin immediately to anticipate another trip ahead, you will have a genuine incentive to keep up these improvements and be ready for the next time.

These changes and benefits to you from travel can become permanent ones. Your life will become punctuated with enrichment and you will think more broadly. You will be more vibrant and interesting as you are periodically reenergized. And you will experience enhanced health and well-being.

All things considered, this makes travel a bargain.

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By Phyllis Coletta, JD, for the NABBW

Menopause is an unexpected visit from a relative, showing up on your doorstep without invitation all fat and cranky. You must let her in — she’s stronger than you — and before you know it, there’s hair in the sink and she’s sticking her face in the freezer. Before this intrusion, before your body starts morphing into your mother, men stop looking at you, just like that. Gravity takes its toll; your waist disappears so you basically look like a vending machine, and you become invisible. Sounds awful, but there are great advantages to all this. There is a power that comes with this rite of passage that — if used wisely — can freaking change and rock the world.
If I was President I’d stack my Cabinet with menopausal women. Time is short, the nights are long and we’re ornery. No longer beholden to the culture’s standard of beauty, we can surreptitiously go about our business, emboldened by hot flashes and a total “who gives a rat’s ass” attitude about everything.
Menopause is Nature’s Liberation, and with the loss of libido comes a lot more time and energy than you can imagine. You can literally put the men on pause and start focusing on yourself. At this stage, we no longer suffer fools, and when you’re in the midst of the “change,” nearly everyone seems a fool. Menopausal women are a force of nature, and you should know better than to mess with Mother Nature. So, if the Cabinet, or Congress or — for the love of God, the WHITE HOUSE — had women over 50 at the helm, stuff would get done or there’d be a problem you don’t want to have. We pack heat, alright, and it has nothing to do with guns.
I’m not going to lie here. In this piece about menopause I’m actually pitching a presidential candidate who will blow your mind and it’s a guy. I don’t have time to be anything other than truthful because at this point in life we’re burning daylight and if a guy’s going to get it done, I’m on board. But before I get to him, here’s the story of my mid-life political awakening.
In my early 50s, lifting my head up after decades of work and raising kids I started thinking about retirement. Doing my research, I found I’d need damn near a million bucks to retire. WTF? Where was I going to get that kind of cabbage? And, more importantly, if it was going to take a million for little ole me to retire, what about my kids?
Three boys, all married, everyone working so hard and not one of them anywhere near that blessed “one percent” — the place where the money supply has landed. Would they ever get to retire, or would my oldest, Bill – an energetic restaurant manager – be working at a 7–11 in his eighties? What happened? Who fell asleep at the switch and how did all the money get siphoned to the tippy-top? I panicked and started buying lottery tickets to ensure the financial stability of my descendants. Great plan, eh?
Then I took a closer look at how hard my kids and their wives were working and still barely keeping their heads above water. Joey, my youngest, is in law enforcement and his wife Kaya is a mechanic. They have worked diligently to get out of debt and buy a little house but there is absolutely no margin for error. If the car breaks down or a kid gets sick, there’s more month than money. The wolf is always at the door.
After the government shutdown, I learned that 78% of Americans live like this, paycheck to paycheck and 57% — like Joey and Kaya — don’t have an emergency fund of $500 in case something goes amiss. The old American saw about hard-work-leads-to-success has jellied into full blown bullshit. Hard work is just hard work and the clear majority of Americans have no success at all because they live on the financial precipice. As the fog lifted and I saw the yawning economic gap between the haves and have-nots, I was stunned. But then something happened, and I moved up a level from stunned to furious.
Warning: do not piss off a 62-year-old Italian grandma, even if you’re a huge demographic of old white guy legislators or a fucking gaggle of 30-year-old techie billionaires in hoodies. Don’t do it.
Joey called me one early morning, in intractable pain from recurrent knee swelling. He couldn’t get out of bed, go to the bathroom, or help Kaya with the kids — let alone put on his uniform and go to work. But you know where a deeper pain showed up? “I don’t want to go to the ER,” he said, “We can’t afford the $100 copay.”
And that was that.
On my watch, in my lifetime, my beautiful country had morphed into a place where people were afraid to go to the hospital because of a copay. Not just “people,” but my endlessly hard-working kid and his family. We’ve become the wealthiest poor country in the world just like that — snap of the fingers, blink of an eye and wealth and prosperity is hoarded into a tiny corner while folks work three jobs to stay afloat, and entire towns deflate as factories close and men and women in their 50s and 60s can’t find work. This is how Trump got elected. It wasn’t Russia or Facebook.
Over 4 million jobs were automated away and plenty more are on the horizon. Trump named the pain these jobless folks felt and rode the wave of their despair into the White House where he proceeded to not give a shit about them. And now it’s personal. While I grieved for folks in Ohio and Michigan, all the unheard voters who lost jobs and lives, now I saw the despair of my family, a creeping tide of economic disparity; a gap so big that millions of people shared Joey’s fear: if I get sick, we go down the tubes. This ends now. I sent Joey a couple hundred bucks so he could go to the ER, and sat down to unleash the power of the keyboard.
For several years, as I read about what happened to our economy since the boom of the 80s, I came across the notion of Universal Basic Income (UBI)– a guaranteed payment of “x” amount to every adult citizen, regardless of circumstances. Like most people hearing about this concept — as old as our country itself — I didn’t believe it could be possible, but I couldn’t dismiss it out of hand either. Digging deeper, I saw that UBI has been supported for hundreds of years by thinkers like Thomas Paine, Martin Luther King, Milton Friedman, Stephen Hawking, Warren Buffet, and Bill Gates. What if everyone had a shot at capitalism? It’s just like the game of Monopoly — everybody starts with a bank. The only way you move around the board and succeed, is with some starting cash in your pocket.
Enter my middle son, John, a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu who lives and works in Panama. We talk about all kinds of things, and were sending articles and info about UBI back and forth to each other. One day I got an urgent WhatsApp from him: “Dukes!” (my nickname for some reason), “Stop everything and listen to this Joe Rogan podcast! There’s a guy running for President who believes in UBI!”
And I did. I stopped everything and sat spellbound for an hour and a half listening to Andrew Yang talk about the Freedom Dividend — his plan to give every American 18 and over $1,000 a month — unconditionally. Doesn’t matter how rich or poor you are, everyone starts at $1,000 a month. Since automation and tech is decimating jobs and enriching companies like Amazon (which paid no federal taxes), Google, Apple, Facebook etc., then we — as shareholders in this great country — should receive dividends from them. It’s capitalism pure and simple.
We provide the policies and infrastructure to allow these advances and profits and we share in the success. Brilliant. Yang will implement a Value-Added Tax (VAT) of 10% on tech companies, and this along with a vast saving in welfare programs (safety net recipients can choose one or the other), would fund the Dividend fairly easily, with little inflation and lots of benefits to Main Street, commerce, and the normal people who can’t get the financial boot off their throats.
I became obsessed and read everything I could about Yang; watched all his videos, listened to every podcast. Within two weeks of that call from Joey I was fully in the Yang Gang — a huge and devoted internet following supporting this most unlikely candidate. He’s been to Seattle twice and both times he has blown the roof of the place. The guy is brilliant and he connects at a very deep level. Anyone else — like my friend Gael Zane says — sounds like Charlie Brown’s teacher: Wha wha wha wha
Back to me and menopause.
I am pissed off. So many people are struggling and suffering and we keep electing old rich white guys who maintain the status quo and build their personal wealth off the backs of normal people. And yes, it’s personal. Yang gets this: How can I leave this world to my kids and grandkids? The nest may be empty but my heart is full and my passion — no long depleted by sex or other people’s needs — is enormous.
I’m on fire, alright and do not underestimate what a female after fifty can do because I will do whatever is necessary to get this leader in the White House so he can right the ship that we have allowed to sink with our greed and blind self-interest. In my younger days, I would care what people thought about what and did and why. That’s no longer a concern
I see a future now where people just go to the doctor when they’re sick, can you imagine? I see factory towns flourishing not through minimum wage soul-sucking government jobs — and those factories are closed for good, of course — but through people putting money into their communities, or going to trade school, or pooling family resources to start a business. I see stay at home moms finally feeling valued for what they do, and women able to leave toxic and abusive relationships because they can.
Yang’s vision is mine now too and once you’ve seen this future you can’t see any other candidate. I can’t leave my kids a million dollars, but Andrew Yang is my legacy. In the liberation of this time of life I have more power than a football player, more time to use my skills and talents, and the focus of a freaking Jedi warrior. We aren’t helpless pawns in the political game anymore, despite the parties’ shenanigans. We have the power, and we’re going to use it. I’ll see you Wednesday, January 20, 2021. I’ll be the old broad leading the parade.
NOTE: This article was originally published in Phyllis Coletta’s blog, www.BarefootBroads.Blogspot.com and is republished here with her permission.
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By Anne L. Holmes, APR, NABBW’s “Boomer in Chief”

Pamela J. Sams, CRPC, MBA, NABBW’s Retirement Planning Associate, sent an article recently, for me to share on our NABBW Facebook page. When I read it, a story written by and published at Marketplace.org, which I’ve published in its entirety below, I experienced one of those “gut punch” moments.

I knew as soon as I read it, that I really had to do more than just pass along the link with a quick comment. Why? Because I recognized the unfortunately scammed people who were profiled in the article, even though I’ve never actually met them.  How? Because I have spoken with many fellow Baby Boomer members who currently act as caregivers for their parents. I’ve heard many sad stories of phone scammers. I personally know of two highly capable octogenarians, people who are totally “with it,” and still working, who were bilked by phone scammers.  And the situation is so prolific that AARP.org has created a Fraud Resource Center and monthly publishes a podcast called The Perfect Scam

 The first person profiled in the article below, Judy, is a 79 year old New Jersey woman who was defrauded out of nearly $200,000.  And she’s not a doddering, incompetent person, as you’ll discover as you read the story, which I’ve published the Marketplace.org story in it’s entirety below.

After you read the article, feel free to share comments and stories in the comment area at the end. And, if you’re concerned about the potential for your parents to fall victim to these sorts of scams, but you don’t know how to start a conversation with them about it without them feeling that you’re being offensive, you may want to refer to another article in this Marketplace.org series. It’s by Eliza Mills, and the topic is “how to have ‘the talk.'”  Titled “Scammers Target Seniors: Here’s How to Talk About It.”  The article offers four questions designed to get the conversation started.  

Brains and Losses

Age of fraud: Are seniors more vulnerable to financial scams?
May 16, 2019
All photos courtesy of Rose Conlon/Marketplace
Judy is 79 but reads as 15 years younger. She hops the high step into her mid-sized SUV, hits the button for public radio (not just for my sake) and expertly pilots through the streets of her seaside town.

The plan is to visit one of the scenes of the crime, the gift card rack at a local Walmart.

Department store gift cards are a favorite money transfer device of fraudsters. Over a two-week period, just after Thanksgiving 2017, Judy got caught in an elaborate scam that cost her close to $200,000. That is a fortune to most of us, and it was a fortune for Judy.

Judy, 79, is a New Jersey woman who was defrauded out of nearly $200,000.

Judy is a registered nurse, skilled in the operating room. Well into what most would consider their retirement years, she still does fill-in nursing work. She goes to exercise classes a few times a week.

“I look back and I can’t imagine what I was thinking,” Judy said. “I was like a robot.”

“I just knew I had to go to Walmart, knew what kind of cards he wanted me to get, get into the car, tear off the back, give him the numbers,” she recalled.

Are seniors more vulnerable to financial scams? | Brains and Losses with David Brancaccio - YouTube

Not only are older people heavily targeted by scammers, but surprising data suggest that, as we get older, we become more vulnerable to fraud in so many of its forms.

The part that especially floored me is this: Doctors are studying older people who are on the ball, A-OK. People who — when tested — seem to have no diagnosable cognitive impairment, but who may still be at special risk from those who want to take their money, be it strangers or family.

There is brain research about this. In some cases, it’s like a person’s radar for scams goes dark.

According to a 2016 study, people 50 and older hold 83% of the wealth in America; households headed by people in their 70s and 80s tend to have the highest median net worth. That makes them prime targets for financial scams and the effects can be devastating.

With an aging population this is an elder justice issue, a personal finance issue and a public policy issue. It’s hard to pin down the numbers: A study out of New York state estimates as few as one in 44 cases are ever reported, and studies have calculated that older people lose anywhere from $2.9 billion to $36 billion each year from financial exploitation.

Rose Conlon/Marketplace

Judy’s nightmare began with a phone call from someone claiming to be from computer tech support who said he needed to get into her computer to fix something. It spiraled from there.

According to Judy, the scammer who took control of her computer directed her attention to what looked like a readout from one of her accounts at US Bank. The account should have had $29,819. She freaked out when it appeared the account had been drained to nothing.

Judy was led to believe if she gave the caller even more money, she would get all of it back. Her life then became an odyssey out of Greek tragedy.

She said the scammer ordered her to not just Walmart but also Target, resulting in more than two dozen trips over two weeks to buy gift cards and to turn the value of the cards over to him by phone.

“I was driving, clenching the wheel. I’m so mad, I couldn’t figure out as I thought about it, if I’m mad at him or mad at me? No kidding,” Judy said. “I mean, why am I out here on this freaking road again? Driving all the way out to Walmart.”

Back in her kitchen, we laid out all the used cards, piles and piles of them, covering every available spot on a small table. In all, there were more than 100 used Target and Walmart gift cards, some decorated with pretty pink flowers or cute cartoon penguins or, as it was the holidays, Santa Claus.

Judy with $166,000 in used department store gift cards.

She kept the receipts. My total: $165,970. And that’s not all. The scammer also talked her into two bank transfers, including $45,000 to a company in Nepal. It could have been worse, but one of her credit card companies reversed nearly $25,000, agreeing it was fraud.

By my calculation, Judy lost something close to $196,000. All this was paid for through savings, retirement money and running up credit cards, with the scammer repeatedly getting her to call and raise her credit limit. When she pushed back, she said, the guy started threatening her family.

Eventually, she said, her tormentor showed her, on her computer, the image of a $200,000 check written out in her name, promised to her if she gave him more money still. She said she could see it was fraudulent.

“I could tell, because the comma was in the wrong place. It was not right.”At this point, she was done and cut off communication, her accounts ravaged.

Maybe this could happen to any of us at any age. But it’s possible there is also something else at work with some older scam victims.

Changes to the brain

“The most frustrating people, in my science and in my clinical practice, are people who test, up and down, neuropsychologically normal,” said Mark Lachs, a physician at Weill-Cornell Medicine in New York, one of New York City’s biggest hospitals.

“I mean, they’ve had the million-dollar neurologic workup and yet they still give away the farm in ways that they would not have when they were younger.”

Lachs and his colleagues have put a label on what they see as an all-too common condition: “age-associated financial vulnerability.”

“We are learning that there are changes in the aging brain, even in the absence of diseases like Alzheimer’s disease or other neurodegenerative illnesses, that may render older adults vulnerable to financial exploitation.”

There is neuroscience and psychological data to suggest our ability to detect sketchy situations may decline. Or, we may become prone to seeing the upside of a risky deal and blow off the downside. Some people are more inclined to believe the last person they spoke to. Others may lose the ability to push back on a high-pressure predator. Researchers emphasize that this phenomenon goes way beyond changes in the brain.

“It also involves all of these other social and environmental factors like social isolation, like cultural factors and societal factors, like older adults having more wealth compared to younger generations,” said Marti DeLiema, a research scholar at the Stanford Center on Longevity.

Take that first point, social isolation. Older people, as a group, are more likely to live alone. Judy’s husband had died in a plane crash years earlier and her daughter, who had lived nearby, had died of cancer. Without a strong local support system around to act as a second set of eyes and ears, people can be lured into financial traps.

Rose Conlon/Marketplace

But scientists looking into age-related financial vulnerability are very interested in physical changes to the aging brain, the way eyesight and hearing can get less keen. In some cases, a new pattern of making mistakes with money may be a harbinger of cognitive bad things to come, the “first thing to go,” as it were.

McGill University neuroscientist Nathan Spreng was able to track down 13 elderly scam victims and 13 others equivalent in age, gender, and education who had successfully fended off a scam. Spreng’s research found the brains of the two groups were physically different.

“When we looked at the structural integrity of their brain, we identified one region in particular that was significantly smaller in those individuals who had been scammed than those who had not,” Spreng said.

He noticed this thinning of the part of the brain called the “insula,” which, along with a lot of other things, may help us trigger our “spidey sense,” the hunch that can warn us away from dicey financial situations.

“It gives you this ‘body sense’ of the perceptions of the environment that something’s not quite right and it’s a signal that all of us in life kind of need to learn how to listen to. In the case of aging, that signal is just not as loud,” said Spreng, who is still in the early stages of the research.

Some experts are skeptical about practical applications of research like Spreng’s.

Peter Lichtenberg, director of the Institute of Gerontology at Wayne State University in Michigan, is not a neuroscientist but a psychologist who studies financial decision-making capacity. While he sees the brain scanning as promising, his experience tells him financial acumen and scam-spotting are really complex matters.

“There is no one aging pattern,” Lichtenberg said. “You know, some older adults are as good as they were in their fifties and sixties. Others are showing a more significant decline.”

In an award-winning paper published by the Brookings Institution, researchers identified a peak age for handling money matters: on average, 53 years old. That astonishing number personally gave me pause now that I am past that summit and, according to that finding, hiking the downward slope myself.

People of all ages get taken by scams, not just seniors. And Dr. Spreng at McGill notes that many older people can have an edge over their younger selves, an antidote to what we’ve been talking about. You might call it wisdom.

But while this kind of life experience counts, even non-scientists, including social workers and lawyers, have long wrestled with the broader problem. Shannon Miller, an attorney based in Gainesville, Florida, says she sees it all the time in her practice: a subset of older people who are not legally considered incapacitated are, nonetheless, extra vulnerable.

What is it that makes one person exploitable and another person not?” Miller asks. “It’s like a perfect storm, really, when we’re talking about these vulnerable people who have enough capacity that they’re not necessarily going to be on anybody’s radar, like their doctor.”

Safeguarding people is especially complicated because taking away rights based on age, but not necessarily competence, has a name: ageism.

Lawyer and elder rights advocate Marie-Therese Connolly worked closely on the drafting and passage of the 2010 Elder Justice Act.

Lawyer and elder rights advocate Marie-Therese Connolly is working on a book about elder abuse to be called “Aging Dangerously”, and worked closely on the drafting and passage, in 2010, of the Elder Justice Act.

“It’s so pervasive and it raises just such complicated ethical and philosophical dilemmas about what we want our old age to look like, and to what extent should we be entitled to make bad decisions,” Connolly said.

She finds the “age-associated financial vulnerability” label a useful idea, but she wonders if they got the name wrong.

“I’d rather just call it financial vulnerability,” she said.

I wondered if it would really be discriminatory if — for instance — credit card companies tweaked their fraud protection superpowers to better watch over the accounts of older people in particular. Connolly’s response?

“Why only older people?” Protect people of all ages, is her point.

Defense mechanisms

Safeguards against financial fraud take the shape of a state-by-state patchwork and, too often, once the money is gone, it is gone for good. Many advocates are pushing for better defenses.

A new federal law, the 2017 Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act, appointed what are called “elder justice coordinators” at U.S. Justice Department offices around the country.

That 2018 law also encourages different regulators, law enforcement jurisdictions, and protectors of older people to share info about exploitation, teaching both potential victims and officials about warning signs of predators, hopefully before the abuse happens.

Wall Street’s self-regulatory body, FINRA, recently told stock brokers to encourage customers to list the name of a trusted person to contact if something signals “scam.” Banks have no such rule.

Rose Conlon/Marketplace

In Florida, a new legal tool makes it much easier for the state’s vulnerable older victims to file paperwork — in the absence of an attorney — to quickly freeze their scammed money without notifying the scammer, a kind of “pause button.”

Where else can people turn? Local and federal law enforcement, which can convey fraud complaints to the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Sentinel Network. Victims who get scammed specifically online can report it to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaints Center, IC3.

Catching fraudsters is no easy feat, though millions of victims complain. I met with one family that was able to win a partial restitution after a con woman persuaded a dad in his 90s that she was his “special friend” and in need of money for treatment for “cancer.” The victim’s kids worked on this for many months, one a law school professor, the other a former prosecutor.

Busts are not common, nor is getting money back. The feds pulled off several elder fraud sweeps in the last two years: the two biggest pulled in more than 500 defendants.

In one high-profile conviction this year, a scammer from Jamaica was sentenced to nearly seven years in the US for trying to swindle a guy in his 90s. It started with promises of fake sweepstakes winnings, which turned to violent threats. He picked the wrong potential victim: William Webster, the former head of the FBI and the CIA, who had friends in high places who could help.

Elder rights advocates say protections remain inadequate. Even with that fresh federal law to help protect seniors, experts say there is still not sufficient rigorous research on what strategies work best to inoculate people from potential fraud. This at a time when the population is aging: the number of people 65 and older will nearly double in 30 years, to one out of five in the U.S. As the U.S. population of older people expands scammers are getting more technologically sophisticated.

Over the last six months, I sat with families grappling with scammers. I spent time with a son in his 20s living at home as he finishes college, trying to cope after he saw emails showing his mother had been sending an online love interest she’s never met about $100,000. The son says the emailer has always been a no-show for any in-person meeting with his mom.

Near St. Louis, I met with Art Schreiber, who moved in with his son’s family after his spouse died. Art is in his 80s, an army..

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Provided by Pamela J. Sams, CRPC, NABBW’s Retirement Planning Associate

Families are one of the great joys in life, and part of the love you show to your family is making sure that their basic needs are met. While that’s only to be expected from birth through the high school years, many households are helping their offspring well into their twenties and beyond.

However, you may have concerns that your adult children have come to depend on you too much. On the other hand, you may have given more than you planned, to the point where you are dipping into your retirement savings. If that’s the case, you might want to think about how involved you want to be in your children’s financial needs.

How common is this?

An April 2019 Bankrate.com survey of 2,500 Americans indicated 51% of respondents saying that they helped adult children, aged 18 and up, either “somewhat” or “a lot” – specifically drawing from their retirement savings.1

While every household has their reasons to help their adult children, it’s important to keep your retirement strategy on track. It’s not only a matter of replacing the money that you are taking out of retirement accounts or investments, but you’re also losing time. The growth that may occur with investments or compound interest is a phenomenon that happens over decades. In that situation, you can replace the money you took out, but you can’t replace its potential.

Communication is a good first step.  

Beyond your own interest, there’s also the young adult in your life to consider. Helping solve a short-term financial problem is one thing, but you also want to offer them an advantage that may help them face a future money squeeze on their own.

It’s also helpful to keep in mind that not all the expenses young adults are incurring are wasteful. CBS News reports that student loan payments may be $400 per month, describing the amount as “typical.” When you factor in rent, utilities, and basic personal expenses, that underlines why the habit of careful budgeting can be so crucial for someone just joining the workforce.1

For that reason, financial education can also be a great gift. There are numerous resources that can help with learning how to budget: books, classes, apps, and more. If you aren’t sure what would work best for the young adult in your life, you can ask your trusted financial advisor for some tips. The skills and knowledge needed to handle money is not instinctual; helping your adult children learn how to better control their financial lives may offer them the confidence to succeed and navigate rough money issues without you, in time.

Pamela J. Sams may be reached at (703) 547-8682 or pamela@jacksonsams.com, or www.jacksonsams.com

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Securities offered through Securities America, Inc., a Registered Broker/Dealer, Member FINRA/SIPC.  Advisory services offered through Securities America Advisors, Inc., a SEC Registered Investment Advisory Firm, Pamela Sams, Investment Advisor Representative. Jackson Sams Wealth Strategies, Securities America, Inc. and all other entities named are separate entities.

Citations.

1 – cbsnews.com/news/adult-children-are-costing-many-parents-their-retirements/ [4/25/19]

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By Linda Ballou NABBW’s Adventure Travel Associate

Kathy Marris is my counterpart ‘Down Under.’ She is the author of 50 Shades of Age, a lighthearted collection of stories on being 50 something.  A top blogger for the mature travelers she shares insider tips for travelers in OZ, and favorite holiday spots in striking distance – like Bali.

Australia is on my radar for 2020, so she seemed a perfect source for tips to make my trip more meaningful and less hectic. So, many tour companies have you spending a lot of time in airports zipping around a large country with extremely diverse eco-systems.

I asked Kathy questions that will help me streamline my trip and avoid tourist traps. I have been having a hard time deciding where I want to go because each region offers different experiences at different times of the year.

To help me get my bearings, where in Australia do you live in relation to Sydney?  

I live on the Far North Coast of New South Wales in a little coastal town called Kingscliff which is 815 kilometres north of Sydney. It is around 8-9 hours drive or 1.5 hours by plane.

Which part of Australia would you suggest for the first time visitor?

Sydney Harbor Sail-in

Like your country, the United States, Australia is a vast country and is completely different from north to south and east to west. Most tourists coming to Australia tend to visit the East Coast of Australia, taking in the cities of Melbourne, Sydney, Gold Coast/Brisbane and the Far North of Queensland – Cairns/Port Douglas.

The East Coast is the most populous part of Australia and the cities are diverse from the south to the north, with easy flying distances between them.

What is your favorite region and why?

I may be a little biased, but I love the region where I live now on the Far North Coast of New South Wales. The beaches here are beautiful, very pristine and relatively uncrowded.

The region surrounding the Tweed Coast is aptly named the Green Cauldron because there are mountains, rainforests, volcanic rich soil that is perfect for farming all types of produce, particularly bananas, sugar cane and fruit and vegetables.

What is the best time of year to explore your favorite region?

Summers can hot and humid in this part of Australia, winters are mild but can get cool, so I would recommend visiting in either Autumn or Spring. – October/November or March/April.

What are important sites not to be missed that most do?

Federation Square, Melbourne

In the southern state of Victoria, Melbourne is a very cosmopolitan city with great food, culture and beautiful gardens. A day trip to the Great Ocean Road, around and hour out of Melbourne is a definite must see.

Sydney in New South Wales, known as the Harbour City , is spectacular. The iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Opera House, a visit to Bondi Beach and catching a ferry across the harbor are the must sees.

The Gold Coast is renowned for having some of the most beautiful surf beaches in Australia with mild year round temperatures and heaps of sunshine. It also has several Theme Parks like Sea World, Dreamworld, Movie World and Wet N’ Wild. The lush green Gold Coast Hinterland is also incredible to visit on a day trip.

Brisbane, only a hour’s drive north of the Gold Coast is also a magical city to visit with it’s location on the Brisbane River than is fringed with beautiful parklands, cultural precinct and kilometres of cycling/walking paths.

Cairns located in the tropical Far North of Queensland is also an amazing city with the World Heritage Listed Daintree Forest situated to the north, the Great Barrier Reef, beautiful palm-fringed beaches and warm year round temperatures that enable you to swim and snorkel. Inland is the amazing Kuranda historic train and sky-rail set amongst lush tropical rainforests.

Uluru in Central Australia is also very popular with tourists, but you would need to fly out here as the distance is huge and there’s little to see in the arid inland of Australia.

Go Way travel offers many different self-drive tours. Do you think a first time visitor should tackle driving in Australia? The distances seem vast.

Kuranda Rail

Yes the distances are vast in Australia, but I always believe that driving holidays enable you to see so much more of the “real Australia”, rather than just cities and touristy areas. Melbourne to Sydney is 878 kilometres so this can be accomplished in two days comfortably. Then it’s a similar distance from Sydney to Gold Coast/Brisbane. Driving from Brisbane to Cairns in Far North Queensland, maybe a little ambitious. It really depends on how long you have.

Are there tour companies you recommend for the 50+ traveler?

Without doing some research, I don’t really know of any tour companies in Australia. We have mainly spent our time holidaying in our country in our caravan (trailer).  I would maybe look at Intrepid Travel or Adventure Tours.

Have you been to the Port Douglas/Great Barrier Reef region? Are there tour companies there that you would recommend for that region?

Yes I’ve spent some time in this region and it’s a must see. Once again I’ve never done an organized tour here, as we have always self-driven. There is a company called Experience Oz that do some great tours all over Australia so that may be a good place to start.

I was told November in Port Douglas is the wet season and unbearably hot. Is this true?

Yes the Far North of Australia is very hot, humid and wet in the summer months – December to March. I would avoid travelling at this time.

How do you feel about a side trip to Tasmania?

Tasmania is an amazing island! We have had several trips here touring around in a campervan (RV). However once again, you need at least a week to get around to see all the wonderful sights on this island.

Thank you Kathy for taking time to help me plan my trip. I think readers who contemplating a trip down under can benefit from reading your blog http://www.50shadesofage.com/

Linda Ballou is an adventure travel writer with a host of travel articles on her site www.LostAngelAdventures.com. You will also find information about her travel memoir, Lost Angel Walkabout-One Traveler’s Tales from Alaska to New Zealand, and Lost Angel in Paradise where she shares her  favorite  hikes and day trips on the coast of California.

Subscribe to her blog www.LindaBallouTalkingtoYou.com to receive updates on her books, travel destinations and events.

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