Posted on Thursday, 14th April 2016 by

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Eleven years and counting since retiring in 2004 at age 55. Those who follow my column know that I didn’t retire: I just changed jobs and now work from home pretty much full time. Business keeps me busy and over the past two years I’ve simplified operations so that my wife and I can devote more time to other interests including our two beautiful grandkids. My wife and I are very active and always find interesting things to do at home and away.

I participated in a phone survey about the upcoming election last night and one of the questions was “what age group you are in” and the very last age group was over 65! I don’t know why they didn’t continue the age groups from 65 to 75, 76 to 85, and over 85. Aging is a blessing in disguise especially if you are healthy, however it’s unreal just how fast the years fly by these days.

One of the personal things I accomplished this past year was going through thousands of family pictures and slides and organizing them into 6 binders. It took me over three months to put the photos in logical order; early family life, military time, the early years, children and their many activities , vacations, all of the kids yearly school photos and so on. We also updated our estate plans, completed a number of projects around the house, and traveled. What prompted me to complete this project was that our son and daughter in-law wanted to see who the grandkids looked like. I took mostly slides when our oldest was young and I had them converted to pictures for the albums.

I also had an album created for our wedding by Moods Image Photography in Crafton Pennsylvania that I gave to my wife on our 46th anniversary. When we were married in 1969 I was in the U.S Air Force making $98 a month and the 18 pictures that we had were taken by my cousin and sister with their Brownie cameras.  Many of the pictures were so washed out and discolored that I thought they would never be able to restore them. Moods Image did a tremendous job bringing them back to life. One of the pictures they restored follows. The original was so washed out and discolored you couldn’t see any details.  By the way we still look like this!!!!  Ok I lied about how we look…… we actually look better!


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Speaking of weddings, costs are just outrageous today. My wife and I were married for a grand total of $300 in 1969! I got married in my Air Force uniform, an Airmen with one stripe. We didn’t think about photo and video albums, stretch limos, flowers, banquets, etc. We were in love and none of that mattered. Mary saved for a year to pay for the wedding and her family hosted a small dinner at their apartment for the 25 that attended. Ernie, a blind family friend was the entertainment, he played the accordion. Our honeymoon was at a local hotel for one night and we could barely afford that.




We flew to Mobile Alabama and took a taxi to Keesler Air Force Base several days after the wedding with about $300 in our pocket, we didn’t own a car. Mary left a good paying job at Westinghouse to live off base with me in Biloxi Mississippi and we arrived in Biloxi about two months after hurricane Camille destroyed much of the coast. With separate rations we were living on $150 a month! We walked four blocks to the local laundry mat with our dirty clothes in my duffel bag, eat beans and franks TV dinners for our first Christmas dinner, and to make ends meet I was a bar waiter at the base NCO club at nights. I had to sell a pint of my blood to buy my new wife a Christmas gift, she loves animals and I bought her a Siamese cat for $10. Holly was a welcomed member of our family for just over 17 years!

Those times were challenging to say the least but they built character and we learned how to persevere, do without, and take things for what they were. We bought our first TV, a 12 inch black and white model, from Singer Sewing Machine, for $50 on time at $5 a month. A friend and member of my unit was selling his 1963 Chevy Impala for $500 and the Credit Union refused to give me a car loan. Fortunately the seller cosigned for the loan and we bought our first car. The first weekend after purchasing the car we drove to Mobile Alabama to do our laundry and we felt like we were in 7th heaven. Shortly after that we visited New Orleans for the Mardi Gras that year. We look back on those days with fondness not regret.

While traveling last month I had a minor fender bender when I was backing out of a parking spot. A car raced through the parking lot behind me and to avoid an accident I turned just slightly to avoid a collision. My front bumper just tapped a guidepost. I wasn’t going 3 miles an hour, if that, and the damage cost $2200 to repair. Basically the front end of the new cars are all plastic. The lower bumper skirt popped out on the driver’s side and the pressure was just enough to crease the left front fender. In 1967 I was driving my first car, a 1956 Buick Special, and was hit in the rear on an entrance ramp by a 1962 Chevy impala going about 15 miles an hour. When I got out of the car to assess the damage the Chevy was backing down the ramp to get away. I had a small scratch on the rear bumper and drove away! I recall that a Model A Ford bumper could withstand a 20 mile per hour collision with minor damage.

Recently I purchased a FITBIT One for my wife to track her activity. It accurately tracks number of steps, miles traveled, calories burned, number of floors you went up or down, activity minutes, and it can monitor your sleep. It syncs to your smart phone through their App and you can monitor your progress, set goals, and compete with friends and family. My wife does over 10,000 steps, about 5 miles, on average each day and you can view daily graphs plus it encourages her to get up and walk to meet or exceed her goals. Mary has walked religiously for years and never knew how many miles or steps she was traveling each day. Our son purchased a mechanical step counter for her last Christmas and it was hit or miss, some days it worked an others it was totally unreliable. You can hold the FITBIT ONE in your hand and actually monitor each step to see that it does work and you burn calories all day even when you are sitting.

Another worthwhile task that I recently completed was to upgrade my computers to the Windows 10 operating system. My laptop was originally configured with Windows 7 and my desktop used the Windows 8 .1 operating systems. I waited almost a year to take advantage of the free upgrade to give Microsoft time to fix any system bugs. The upgrade took about 2 hours per computer to complete and I didn’t have any problems. One suggestion, if you decide to upgrade clean up your old system first; delete temp files, virus check, and empty your trash bin and the upgrade should go easier. I believe the free upgrade offer ends soon.

Retiree Employment Update

Employers recruiting federal retirees and those soon to retire post job vacancies on our Jobs Board. A good number of new listings were posted recently including an assistant position working with Elliott Affiliates, LTD in Lehigh Valley. It’s a part time position with work 2 to 10 days per month. Retirees are encouraged to apply. Other positions are for contract field inspectors, substitute teachers, and construction estimators to name a few.

Another interesting opportunity is with the Government Employees Health Association (GEHA), my FEHB provider. This job isn’t listed on our jobs board, I received an offer to work for them next open season. Basically, they are looking for current GEHA members to represent them next open season and they will pay an hourly rate plus any travel expenses. They sent me a one page application. If you are a current GEHA member and would like to attend open season events next fall to talk with potential GEHA members call 1-800-821-6136 and request an application. All who are selected will be trained to explain GEHA benefits, refer questions and concerns, and distribute GEHA materials. If I didn’t have my business to run I would sign up.

Private companies, contractors, and state government departments use our Jobs Board to hire skilled federal retirees for part and full time positions nationwide. Many opportunities exist for those looking to supplement their retirement income or to start a second career. We provide this free job listing service to companies that are seeking to hire experienced retired federal workers.

Request a Retirement Benefits Summary & Analysis. Includes projected annuity payments, income verses expenses, FEGLI, and TSP projections.

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Disclaimer: Opinions expressed herein by the author are not an investment or benefit recommendation and are not meant to be relied upon in investment or benefit decisions. The author is not acting in an investment, tax, legal, benefit, or any other advisory capacity. This is not an investment or benefit research report. The author’s opinions expressed herein address only select aspects of various federal benefits and potential investment in securities of the TSP and companies mentioned and cannot be a substitute for comprehensive investment analysis. Any analysis presented herein is illustrative in nature, limited in scope, based on an incomplete set of information, and has limitations to its accuracy. The author recommends that retirees, potential and existing investors conduct thorough investment and benefit research of their own, including detailed review of OPM guidance for benefit issues and for investments the companies’ SEC filings, and consult a qualified investment advisor. The information upon which this material is based was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but has not been independently verified. Therefore, the author cannot guarantee its accuracy. Any opinions or estimates constitute the author’s best judgment as of the date of publication, and are subject to change without notice. The author explicitly disclaims any liability that may arise from the use of this material.

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