Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Information from Amsterdam University

RetiredBrains is posting this information as a public service to its visitors.

The Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences is looking for boomers, seniors and retirees to evaluate digital prototypes. They are currently developing a Massive Open Online Course on Prototyping Interaction.

This is a free course that starts on April 27 and everyone who is interested can participate via

In this course, participants will design digital media solutions that help seniors stay involved in their communty and reduce social isolation.  To that end, participants will learn to create various prototypes, starting with paper prototypes, moving to digital and eventually physical prototypes.

The University will give participants excellent feedback  i.e. feedback from the target group and the people that can relate to problems. They are looking for people who are interested and qualified in design and digital solutions who would be willing to give feedback on two to three of our participants’ concepts.

If you are interested in this or if you know someone who might be, send an email to or leave a message at  and you will be further informed.

Friday, April 10, 2015

How to Start Your Own Business

Starting your own business can be a challenging but rewarding endeavor. Planning for success is one of the best ways to ensure your efforts will be profitable. Data from the Kauffman Foundation shows the highest rate of entrepreneurship in America has shifted to the 55–64 age group, with people over 55 almost twice as likely to found successful companies as those between 20 and 34.

Although many older Americans have started businesses with comparatively little capital investment it is important to recognize that most businesses will not generate much revenue for some time and you must plan to have enough cash on hand to pay for your living expenses in addition to possibly having to put more money into your start up.

Before starting your own business consider...
1. Talking with your accountant to help you set up a bookkeeping system and other accounting necessities. Do not attempt to do this on your own as the time you will have to spend later converting your systems to workable bookkeeping and reporting will be substantial.
2. Writing a business plan that will give you some guidelines and update it regularly as your business develops. Your plan should include cash flow projections and a p&l statement. This plan will also be necessary should you need to borrow moneys.
3. Talking with an attorney to see if you should incorporate as an LLC, corporation, sole proprietorship, partnership or other corporate entity like offshore companies.
4. Reviewing local laws for home operated businesses if you plan to operate from home.
5. Talking with an insurance professional to see what kind of coverage, if any, you may need in your new business.
6. Picking a name for your company and check to make sure it is available and that the URL is available and if so register it immediately. Remember the first impression you will make on potential clients or customers is your business name.
7. Securing adequate start-up capital in advance of starting your business. Your business plan should provide the information necessary to secure these funds.
8. Acquiring the appropriate licenses to operate your business.

For a list of small businesses started with little or no capital investment click here (link to

For information on franchises and their costs click here (link to

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Save as Much as $50,000... When You Sign up for Social Security

The new book, Get What's Yours, The Secrets to Maximizing Out Your Social Security helps you decide when and how to collect retiree, spousal, survivor, divorcee, parent, and child benefits to achieve the highest lifetime benefits.  It is a must read as following the suggestions in this book could earn you as much as an additional $50,000 in benefits.
Some of the most important information this book provides which is not generally known includes:
  • It’s best to wait until age 70 to start collecting retirement benefits. About half of Americans choose to collect at 62 because they have no other savings, but the payout is 76 percent higher at 70 than it is at 62. Less than 2 percent wait until 70. Waiting is a good idea for low income retirees as well, because the benefits are a higher percentage of earned income.
  • A good strategy for married couples is for one spouse to file for the retirement benefit at 62 and then immediately suspend it. The other spouse files for a spousal benefit and can collect half of the others retirement benefit through age 70. Spousal benefits also apply to any couple married for at least 10 years, including divorcees.
  • Depending on circumstances, it might be better to file at 62, suspend at 66, and then refile at 70 if dependents need money more quickly. The goal is to maximize your longer-term payout so you don’t run out of money.
  • Is it fair to try and game the system like this? Yes. More knowledge creates more fairness. There are hundreds of thousands of social security rules, and it’s not fair if only those who have the resources to understand them get maximum benefits.
  • Social Security recipients will receive 1.7 percent bigger payments in 2015, due to the annual cost-of-living adjustment. Most workers will continue to pay 6.2 percent of their earnings into the Social Security system, but the maximum taxable earnings amount will increase in 2015 year from $117,000 in 2014 to $118,500 in 2015.

    For more information on Social Security
    click here

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Increase Your Retirement Income

Many who are planning their retirement or who have already retired won't be able to live the lifestyle they had hoped for during these years. It’s important to look at ways to increase retirement income in addition to saving and investing more.

Because of the substantially longer lifespan of today’s retirees and the anticipated increased expenditures on health care over the coming years, savings and investments are more likely to be diminished or exhausted as you near the end of your retirement years. This makes planning to increase retirement income all the more important.

The suggestions covered in this article represent areas you may very well be aware of, but hopefully provide additional information and resources making your planning and decision processes a bit easier.

Annuities can be considered a form of "reverse insurance" that create income you can use later in life or after you’re retired. They’ve been referred to as a "private pension" that you can purchase to create regular income after you retire.

Annuities are tax-deferred mutual-fund-like investments. There are no annual contribution limits, contributions can be made in a lump sum or over time, and the payouts can be immediate or deferred.
Before purchasing an annuity, it’s important that you carefully read your annuity contract before investing. Also, learn the terminology. Don’t let annuity jargon bait you into a policy you don’t want.

Reverse mortgages
Reverse mortgages convert equity in your home into income. It is similar to a home loan but instead of making payments to the lender, the lender makes payments to you.

According to the Federal Trade Commission: If you're 62 or older — and looking for money to finance a home improvement, pay off your current mortgage, supplement your retirement income, or pay for health-care expenses — you can consider a reverse mortgage. It's a product that allows you to convert part of the equity in your home into cash without having to sell your home or pay additional monthly bills.
There are three types of reverse mortgages:
  1. Single-purpose reverse mortgages, offered by some state and local government agencies and nonprofit organizations.
  2. Federally-insured reverse mortgages, known as Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECMs) and backed by HUD. Private loans that are backed by the companies that develop them.
  3.  Structured settlementsStructured settlements involve accelerating/selling the collection of moneys owed [such as a damages awards from a personal injury tort claim] into a discounted lump sum payment. As an example if you're injured in an accident and receive a $500,000 settlement from the insurance company, it's tax free. If you then invest this money the earnings you receive are taxable. If you take the money as structured settlement instead of cash, you will receive payments over a period of years or your lifetime (your choice) and each payment is tax free. A structured settlement actually converts your after-tax earnings into a tax free return.

Post retirement work
Post retirement work is a job in which you receive compensation as an employee or self-employed individual.

In February, an informal poll of roughly 400 RetiredBrains visitors found that 14% had started their own businesses and 37% were working full time, part-time, temporary, seasonal or some combination. Click here for job seeker information

Note that there may be an impact on Social Security benefits — both income and health.

Delaying Social Security benefits
If your benefits at full retirement age are $1,000 a month, you’ll see that figure fall to $750 if you start collecting at 62 and leap to $1,320 if you hold off till age 70, according to Social Security.

For a breakdown of how benefits increase from year to year from U.S. News & World Report’s “Your Guide to Social Security.” Click here.

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