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Written By: Gary on August 29, 2008 No Comment

One of the things I’m doing this trip is attending a seminar by the Association of Residents of Costa Rica (ARCR). They offer this the last Thursday/Friday of every month (but December) for only $65. I’ve had this on my to do list for a while but it just hasn’t worked out previously, it is specifically why I chose now for this trip and not a few weeks later.

It’s pretty much what I hoped for so far a bunch of short little presentations (about nine a day). Of course everyone who does a presentation passes out their contact info, but it really is more of a presentation on the topic, not specifically selling their business (although they’re hoping). The one topic I hoped for, but didn’t really expect, was about working in Costa Rica. We have about 25 people in our group, mostly from US and Canada; mostly retirees or soon to be about five of us weren’t near the retirement range but want to relocate.

FYI: Really good snacks for break: OJ, coffee, some kind of pastry and little crustless sandwiches.

I talked to one of the people, Ray, a few times beforehand via e-mail and telephone before coming and he was very helpful.

I’d definitely recommend this seminar if you are thinking of relocating or retiring to Costa Rica.

I also used these folks for getting my driver’s license.

Written By: Gary on August 19, 2008 One Comment

So the school system in the State of Michigan has an option as part of it’s retirement plan. You can actually “purchase” up to five years of work (called Universal Buy-In) and then then when you have twenty-five years of work into the system it actually counts as thirty so you can retire five years early. Now it’s a convoluted formula based on your age, your maximum salary and how many years you have in the system; so the younger you are and the least you make they cheaper it is. Plus, they’ll take the money out of your check pre-tax dollars so you can get into this deal for as about $35 less every two-weeks (that’s $50 pre-tax). When I got in on the deal the plan was better, now they charge you interest on what you owe, so now you’re better off paying it off fast, before you had to spread it out. (Warning: if you’re bored now, the post really doesn’t get much more interesting. The part in bold near the bottom is the slightly/semi-interesting part that caused me to write this post.)

Ors logoI recommend this plan* to people who are in the Michigan retirement system and I always mention it to the new teachers at school. The younger you are when you start the cheaper this will be; I don’t want to hear you say you can’t afford it, you can start this at about $17 a week, that’s not that much and it should really pay off in the long run.

In my case, I didn’t hear about it until I had been in the system for a few years so it wasn’t cheap but since I knew I’d get five extra years of retirement payments so it seemed like a deal to me. I had it spread out evenly over the years I had left so it’s been getting paid down slowly.More details: If you leave the system (aren’t employed for a while by this system) they credit the years you’ve paid for and if you come back they’ll redo the above calculation with you being older, making more, having more years in system and factor in interest. This didn’t sound like such a good deal to me. Also, If you don’t actually work the 25 years, you have to wait until you’re sixty years old and it just increases your payment (or I think you can roll it in to some other kind of retirement).

So late last year I decided I wanted this paid off work was way too stressful late last year and I felt as if I could quit at any time, so I increased my contribution quit a bit. It wasn’t going very fast so I stopped contributing to my other IRA/403b retirement-type things and put almost all of my check into paying this off (I lived off of savings in the meantime) and eight paychecks later I was done. Hopefully, putting that much in pre-tax doesn’t goof up my exemptions come tax time.

This allowed me a few different things:

  • I don’t have to make those payments anymore.
  • I could move or take another job and not be concerned about this (if I left and wanted to pay it off it’d be one huge non pre-tax payment).
  • I could leave this retirement system for a few years and come back and this part is already taken care of.

    It was something I didn’t have to worry about anymore. I don’t like payments and since I paid it off it was something I didn’t even need to think about. I don’t even like thinking about payments, my house is really my only thing that I owe money on. Now I need to replenish the savings that I lived off of but that’s different feeling altogether…

    * I’m not a financial consultant nor do I portray one on TV (does anyone?), this is just my own thoughts on this.

  • Written By: Gary on January 17, 2008 One Comment

    So I went to the Social Security Office with my Mom today. There are just so many (too many) scenerios with all of it! It’s interesting how they talk about it, they think of everything as the number of checks you get, not so much as the money you get (months, not dollars). If you work more after you retire, they hold back checks, not dollars. It’s odd, but I guess every job has it’s own language.

    My Mother did make a decision today. As a bonus, it’s the same one I would have told her to do if she had asked me to make the decision so that worked out well. Without getting into too much of my mother’s details:

  • The decision we made today probably had equal dollar amount pros and cons between the two choices we liked best.
  • I think money-wise our choice will work out to be a little better or about the same dollar amount as the other.
  • If we made the wrong decision, I still think it was the one with the least amount of risk.
  • If it turns out to be less it’s probably just a little bit (and if we were way way wrong in the worst way, it’s still not a catastrophic dollar mistake).
  • One of the other reasons I liked this choice was that this decision pretty much causes no other decisions to have to be made in the future. A few steps need to be taken in the future (at times to be determined), but pretty much we’re committed to the steps in order now.
  • She’ll lose sleep tonight thinking if she made the right decision; I’m the opposite, it won’t keep me up since the decision is made (less choices = less stress).

    It’s an interesting thing to keep in mind that you can start collecting SS but keep working. I think once you start to collect SS, if you makes more than $13k a year they start to give you less money. For every $2 you makes over that amount, they give you a dollar less. So pretty much once you hit that dollar amount, your salary is cut in half (sort of taxed at 50%). I’d try harder talk he into working working to earn that much per year since you don’t get as much value but then she’d lose her health benefits and that’s got some value these days.

    None of the above is to be considered retirement advice; I do not work in the financial sector nor do I portray someone who does. :)

  • Written By: Gary on June 4, 2004 No Comment

    It’s been crazy the last few weeks. Lot’s of late nights at work, I’ve been doing 6-8 sessions with teachers, graduation and the end of the year get together is tonight and tomorrow I have a doctor’s appointment and then I had a 12-2 session with more teachers. Most of the staff will be gone for the summer in a week but it’ll still be busy. Lots of end of the year stuff (our fiscal year starts July 1) and then stuff to start the new year. Hopefully a vacation in July! :)

    The get together tonight will be nice, it’s like a wedding reception but instead of a Bride & Groom, we have retiree’s. And we’ve got a great band, L’usa whom I normally go to see when they play at the local restaurants/bars/clubs.

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