retirement


“If you are not learning, you are dying.”
Albert Einstein

10 Crucial Errors: A Retired Teacher’s Guide for Retiring Teachers
by Alan Haskvitz, retired

I am not a financial expert or psychologist. What I am is a retired teacher and so the information that I am presenting is advice that I have learned from the often times wondrous and sometimes daunting task of retiring from a profession that, until recently, was my life.

Do Not Look Back

The first rule is do not lament. Yes, you may miss the students and the identity, but saying to yourself I could go one more year solves nothing. When someone asks what you do take pride in telling them you are retired. It is a noble task. You have done your best and time to take a brief rest. A brief rest. And, by the way, you are not alone. Every year there are about 75,000 teachers retiring for one reason or another. To help you avoid living in the past, you should take all those letters from students, awards, photos, and the like and give yourself one day a year to look them over. Just one day. After a few years it won’t take that long.

However, all those lesson plans you have created could be worth gold. There are sites where you can offer them for sale such as http://teacherlingo.com/. Here is an article on how to do it https://edsource.org/2015/teachers-become-entrepreneurs-by-selling-classroom-materials-online/86500

Every time you go by a school you may look at and wonder if they need help. The answer is probably yes. However, be aware that you are no longer going to be in charge of the situation and you may not like what you see. So, if you have time consider volunteering there are several sites that offer such opportunities, but I have found that those in need of tutoring are usually the most rewarding based on my skills.

So, to summarize, living in the past is a hobby that does not bode well for your future. You were a good teacher and had a long run, now is the time to capitalize on your investment in education and spend some time developing new interests and refilling your bucket list.

Build a New Life

That leads us to the second rule, your social life. Females don’t seem to have as much of a problem as males in making new friends, but regardless it is best to start cultivating new acquaintances. Expanding your social realm helps you gain new insights into what is happening and new opportunities to share. I participate in the Senior Olympics program that is offered in most states. You can participate in a variety of sports and doing so helps you meet new people and set fresh goals. No matter how uncoordinated you are or how long is has been since you have been in a sporting activity, here is your chance. Push yourself out of your comfort zone. Read the newspaper looking for new clubs or social events. Go to city council meetings and look into becoming involved in organizations. These can result in opportunities to meet others. There may even be retired teacher groups in your area. There are senior centers in most communities where you can meet and greet a variety of people as well as participate in activities. The point is your social life is important because it provides you with an outlet, a place to learn and share, that keeps you in balance and provides that push you may need to get off the couch and away from the television. The most dangerous thing you can do is to become withdrawn and spend too much time thinking of what was instead of what could be. Remember that a successful retirement requires two main ingredients, patience and the desire to develop new habits knowing it takes 66 days to change a habit.

Ban the Nap

The third rule is your health. Go to a doctor and get a complete physical. Ask the doctor what you can do to improve your health and abide by that advise. I have high blood pressure. I joined a running club and found my blood pressure was back to normal after just a few months of walking and jogging. Do I run, barely, but I enter the frequent 5K runs knowing I can write-off the entry fee on my taxes. I am not competitive, but I set a goal for myself and try to get better little by very little. And, you don’t have to run. You can walk in these events and some even allow you to take a well behaved dog There are friends to be made and your health is going to improve if you pace yourself. Another item to be aware of is eating too much. While at school you had to eat when the students did. Now you can raid the refrigerator whenever you want. The result can be bad for your wardrobe and health. Set yourself some goals about what you are going to eat. I have found that a walk around the block or longer is excellent after eating. Perhaps the most dangerous thing you can do for your health, outside of eating too much, is watching television or spending too much time in front of a computer. Sitting too long can even contribute to diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. So keep a record of when you started working on a computer or watching television and when you stopped. You are probably going to be shocked at how easy it is to waste away hours without challenging yourself.

Another aspect of health is your health coverage. Make a list of any medications you need and take it to the pharmacy. Ask them what company offers the best coverage for those drugs. By the way, remembering to take your drugs can be a real problem. I would buy one of those plastic containers with each day of the week on individual compartments and put your daily doses in them every Sunday. It is so easy to get busy and forget them and this method helps contradict that concern. Match that with your medical conditions and you can have a better way to shop the various health plans. Some medical plans also offer free health club memberships. Take it. Another important element of health care is too keep track of your body. Keep a log of your weight and check for new skin moles that might be cancerous. If you are brave, try doing the Five Tibetans. This is a series of exercises you can do every day that limber up your body. However, they aren’t easy so at first instead of doing the recommended 21 try just doing a couple.

Take a hard look at the weight scale. As you get older it becomes much harder to control your weight. There are two ways to lose weight. First, eat better and, secondly, exercise more. The first is totally a personal choice and may require some sacrifices such as your favorite ice cream. The exercise part is the hardest because it means you have to do something whereas eating less is not doing something.

With your doctor’s permission consider taking vitamins. Vitamin B12 is important for creating red blood cells and DNA, and for maintaining healthy nerve function. Also check your intake of calcium vitamin D, potassium, magnesium, fiber, and omega-3 fats. There is evidence that omega-3s may also reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and keeps the brain sharper.

Water is literally life. My wife is always telling me to hydrate. Constipated, hydrate. Dizzy, hydrate. Dehydration can cause a headache, dryness in the mouth, lips, tongue, and skin, fatigue, dark urine confusion, and chest pain. It helps regulate your body temperature, improves providing organs with sufficient oxygen, and bone and joint lubrication. It also affects the balance of electrolytes, vitamins and minerals are essential for the body to function, including brain signaling. Dehydration can cause both internal and external aging especially in the condition of your skin. So drink water frequently and make sure to tell my wife she is right.
Finally, work on your balance. Here are some statistics that should get your attention from the National Council on Aging: One-fourth of Americans aged 65+ falls each year. Every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall. Every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall. Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults.
https://www.ncoa.org/news/resources-for-reporters/get-the-facts/falls-prevention-facts/

You should dedicate five to ten minutes every day on balance exercises. They can be as easy as you want, but they need to be tried with your doctor’s permission. Here are some examples, stand on one foot for ten seconds and switch to other foot. You can hold on to a chair if you wish. Walk heel to toe for several steps. Raise one leg towards the back and see if you can hold this position for a few seconds. Always use a chair to hold onto when you are just getting the hang of it. You can also raise your leg to the side or back. Slow and steady is the key. As you get better you can invent ways to improve your balance such as walking on a plank. Of note, vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to increased risk of falling.

Fight Forgetfulness

The fourth area to improve is your scheduling. All that time you used to work needs to be accounted for in a positive way. You need to keep a calendar of events and make sure there is something recorded every day for you to do. It can be as simple as walking the dog, washing the car, going to the library, shopping, or even writing letters. Now scheduling requires due diligence so don’t just write it down, do it. And, spending time on social media is not a scheduling inclusion. Scheduling is not keeping a diary, that is past tense. You want to be pushing forward in your planing and thinking. For example, tomorrow is Monday. What do I have planned. Nothing. Well, what could I do? Organize the photo books, weed the flower bed, wash the windows, write letters to the children, make a list of local organizations where I could donate my old books? Something often forgotten in scheduling is to take time every day to ponder, think, let your mind wander. Make it a habit. Just do it.
Take the time to write
The fifth area to work on is writing. It cost nothing to start a blog and they are easy to start and update. You can use a blog to post your thoughts, add photos, and create. We all have funny stories about incidents we survived while teaching and you can put them in writing. Make time daily or weekly to add something. It could be a poem, or your thoughts on investing, or a joke you heard or made up. Write a book about the story of your life and add to it on a regular basis. Regardless, writing is very therapeutic for your mind. In order to write you have to observe, restate what you are thinking, select the words that you want to use to communicate, and finally, after the work is written, to evaluate it. Here is a free site that I use: https://wordpress.com/ Above all don’t say you can’t do it. Remember that you may be helping others as well as yourself by sharing.

Let Your Mind Loose
The fifth area, and probably the most overlooked, is to work on your fantasies. I am not writing about those fantasies, but possible ones. Fantasies are important to the growing mind and provides you room to roam and let your thinking loose on the universe. Spending a dollar on a lottery ticket is essentially money thrown away from a practical standpoint. But in the days or weeks before the numbers are released you can spend hours of time planning how the money is to be used. As well, go to the library and read magazines that feature travel or science, or whatever. The point is it keeps your mind active and leads to the one item that every retiree should have, a bucket list. This acculturation of dreams and wants and perhaps a need or two can constantly be updated. The list does not have to make sense, it could include being the first person on Mars. Who knows when NASA is going to look for a well educated older person to help a young team solve problems.

Organize your affairs
The sixth area is legal in nature. If you don’t have a trust create one now. It will help your survivors when you die, prevent legal and financial headaches, and you can even do it yourself. This is a site that explains why and how it can be done. http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/making-living-trust-yourself-29736.html While you are working in the legal area you might want to take a look at how your investments, if any, are doing. I am not going to spend a lot of time on this basically because I don’t know a hill of beans about it. Here is what I know. I have a pension and a small 401k and a saving account. I am making zilch on the savings, not much on the 401k, and the pension is static and thus fixed so if inflation rises I am a sitting duck. I am sure others know more, but I can offer you one suggestion, don’t let this area go without tending to it on a regular basis. Ask questions, search for better rates, and try to have enough for emergencies. Emergencies are real and expensive and can remove you from a life of leisure to one fraught with constant worry. You must have a good health insurance plan. Period. If you are young enough to qualify for a long term care plan that also would be advisable. But beware that these plans are very limited so you may need help. Here is a good site for that data: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2012/08/long-term-care-insurance/index.htm
If you are too old or do not qualify for this insurance, I highly advocate you start a saving or other type of account to cover assisted living costs for at least a year between in excess of $40,000 and nursing home care is about $75,000 a year. You might want to examine all your insurance policies and see if they cover what you want. The rates might have even gone down so check it out and get the policies organized.
Polish Your Knowledge
The seventh area is to become an expert at something. If you have enough room plant some milk weed plants and watch the Monarch butterflies appear as they journey from Mexico and back taking five generations to make the trip. Or start a vegetable garden even if you have to use large patio type containers. Learn about astronomy and buy a telescope or become an expert on geology. There are countless areas that you can study and, in doing so, strengthen your mind and body. I recommend auditing college classes in various subjects to expand your knowledge base. Online cases are another way to acquire new knowledge.
Simplify
The eighth area to consider is downsizing. Selling your house for a smaller one or condo or even moving into an apartment are considerations. However, most retirees are comfortable where they are especially if they have a one story home. Besides why move from what you know? There are also tax considerations if you own an expensive home and move to a less costly one you may need to pay a gains tax. There are a great many lists of what states have better tax advantages for retired people. However, if you are on a teachers retirement plan and, perhaps, Social Security, you may not find the saving enough of a motivation to move. While downsizing also consider your accumulated clutter. Many charitable groups can take that outfit you have owned for three decades and sell it to someone who actually feels it is stylish. The same goes for those student gifts and left over dog toys. Walk around your home and if you have not used something in a year make a decision as to whether to hold a garage or yard sale or get the tax deduction receipt for the donation. Something that is often forgotten when moving is to look for a place where the sun can shine in the windows or at least make it easy for you to go out into the sun. Research has shown that vitamin D, made when your skin is exposed to sunlight, plays a role in activating white blood cells and help protect you from flu, food poisoning and even cancer.
Expand your vision
The ninth area is travel. You may consider retirement as your time to see the world, or at least get those good off-season rates. Be warned that traveling may not be as glamorous as it seemed on a rainy day in the classroom. For example, if you are taking a tour that means you may be with people you just do not like. So what I recommend is what Larry Martz in his book, Making Schools Better, coined; the small bites approach. Start small. A day or week long trip and see how that goes. However, whatever you do don’t write off traveling. It is stretching your mind making you figure out everything from exchange rates to communicating in a different language to remembering where you are going on how to get back. If you enjoy driving and have the funds, you may want to check out a later model car that features a great many safety items such as blind spot warnings, automatic emergency autonomous braking, stability control, even adaptive cruise control. All these updates can save your life and those of others. Seniors have the highest death rate in vehicle accidents outside of teenagers so consider a safer car a good investment regardless of its residual rate. Here is the site with great reviews: https://www.motorists.org/tag/the-car-family/
A final area to help you with retirement is to reconstruct your work space. Take an inventory of what you have, what you want to keep, and what might be discarded or donated. Give your work area a fresh look and you can always do some research on Feng Shui decorating to give it more energy. Perhaps a new plant or reworking your file cabinets could be a start. You may also want to take an inventory of what is in each room of your dwelling including a garage if one available. Taking pictures or a video of the items would help as well. Replacing fire alarms, lubricating hinges and locks are all jobs that can help you assess what you have, need, and could sell or donate.
In conclusion, you want to avoid becoming lazy. Thinking, “I did my time, now I can relax, “is okay for a day or two, but what about the coming years? Take control of your free time and use it to your advantage. You do not want to be a would have, could have, should have type of retiree.

What would the person you were think about the person you are now.
As a 75-year-old retired educator I have a life expectancy of about 10 more years and women have close to 13 more years of life on average. With that in mind your motto and mine from here on in should be that retirement isn’t how long you live, but how well you live.
About the author: Alan Haskvitz is a National Hall of Fame educator who has received over 30 state, national and international teaching awards including being selected as a Reader’s Digest Hero in Education. Haskvitz worked in education for 45 years and is now a writer, athlete, and speaker.

Advertisements

Are teachers better off in conservative or liberal states at retirement?
By National Hall of Fame Teacher Alan Haskvitz
http://www.edu-cyberpg.com/Ringleaders/al.html

Most public school districts have a retirement plan that is based on your income as an educator. Some base it on your highest salary and some of the best three years. Obviously, salaries change and so do the politics and so the chart I have made reflects those salaries from the National Education Association (NEA) and are fairly current.

The data does not reflect the living costs in each state. The cost of living certainly is going to eat up more of your pay check to live in some areas of California over those in Nebraska. However, this study was not designed with that as a criteria because some teachers may want to retire in another state which may have a higher or lower cost of living. Thus, if you are looking for good salary and, perhaps, willing to move, this chart may be of significance knowing that in the next few years there is going to be a lot of jobs as the Baby Boomers move into retirement and leave significant openings for new hires. Some states may require a few more courses to gain your accreditation in that state, but those courses are tax deductible and the cost of the move may be deducible as well. It is best to check with your tax person.

The first consideration is to ask yourself does it pay (income wise) overall to work in a conservative state. Well, not really. Here is what A GALLUP poll lists as the most conservative states. I have added that states average and starting salary from the NEA site as well. However, most salary data is a couple of years old. Nevertheless, the average percentages should remain similar.

Here is the salary information for the most conservative states (starting-average)

Alabama
$36,198
$47,949
North Dakota
$32,019
$47,344
Wyoming
$43,269
$56,775
Mississippi
$31,184
$41,814
Utah
$33,081
$49,393
Oklahoma
$31,606
$44,373
Idaho
$31,159
$49,734
Louisiana
$38,655
$51,381
Arkansas
$32,691
$46,631
Nebraska
$30,844
$48,997

Here is the salary information for the most liberal states (starting-average)

Massachusetts
$40,600
$72,334
Oregon
$33,549
$57,612
Vermont
$35,541
$52,526
Delaware
$39,338
$59,679
Connecticut
$42,924
$69,397
Washington
$36,335
$52,234
Rhode Island
$39,196
$63,474
Hawaii
$41,027
$54,300
New York
$43,839
$75,279
California
$41,259
$69,324
New Jersey
$48,631
$68,797
Maine
$31,835
$48,430

Average starting salary conservative states $34,00* average salary $48,200*
Average starting salary liberal states $39,900* average salary $61,000*

Retirement differences

Although these figures may no longer be accurate, they do provide insight into the averages a teacher may expect. As for retirement numbers, studies have shown that when a teacher retires after 30 years their retirement is typically in the 60 and 75 percent of her final salary range.

It does not take long to see that those working in the liberal states not only make more money to start, but are going to make significantly more when retiring. A teacher working in a conservative state who retires with an above average salary of $50,000 should get a retirement check of $30,000. A teacher in a liberal state making a slightly below average of $60,000 would get $36,000 based on 60 percent. In California, for example, the majority of teachers are getting in the range of $55,000 to $70,000 a year.

I did not factor in Social Security as the Windfall Elimination Factor can deprive teachers of the full payment they should have received while working jobs that require Social Security deductions. The Windfall Elimination can eliminate 66 percent of their retirement from Social Security even though they have paid for it over the years. That is why teachers who have been in other occupations for a significant amount of time might want to look at how much they are going to lose by becoming a teacher in those states where the Windfall is in play. It could cost them thousands of dollars a month.

There is no way to factor in cost of living for various cities. However, there is a site that helps you with this http://money.cnn.com/calculator/pf/cost-of-living/. I compared Bismark, North Dakota to Los Angeles, California. The cost of living in Bismark was $50,000 and for Los Angeles $67,000. The average salary for a teacher in North Dakota was about $47,000. The average salary for a teacher in Los Angeles was $59,000. A budgeting teacher in Bismark could break even, but the Los Angeles teacher needs to find a second income. However, when it is time to retire, the California teacher is going to have $36,000 coming in and the North Dakota teacher under $30,000. Essentially, $500 a month more and the truth of the matter is that it could be far more with $100,000 teacher salaries in California for teachers with over 30 years of experience becoming commonplace.

Bottom Line

If you are free to live anywhere, willing to adopt to new surroundings and requirements, you might want to consider working in a liberal state and retiring in a conservative one. Indeed, some states don’t tax Social Security and others don’t have an income tax. It is a difficult choice to move from the known to the unknown. The best advise I can give is that after you have done your homework, after you have made your decision to start a new life in a new state remember that wherever you go, there you are so know yourself.
* Figures are rounded off and may not be current.

by Alan Haskvitz

Being retired is a full-time job. My retirement check came right on time, although it took a great deal of patience because I kept on forgetting the password. It would be easy if they would just accept the one I wanted, “1oldfart.”

Anyway, here is my current schedule:

Monday: Free stale bread at senior center. I have to come early and place small rocks on the floor to stymie those using walkers trying to beat me to the good bread (under two weeks old).

Tuesday: Free cheese at government agriculture office. They only have American and it comes in large blocks, but I don’t mind cutting the cheese. The bad news is that is binding and it is difficult to fully explain this to the receptionist at the doctor’s office.

Wednesday: I have volunteered to work at the teachers’ retirement home. They use a bell system to call them to lunch and for recess. The rest of the time they stay in their rooms with their doors shut. I usually bring rap lyrics and try to explain them to those who arrive on time. As usual, some just don’t get it. I think it is because their children don’t follow-up on the homework assignments.

Thursday: Free lunch at the senior center. They do ask for a donation and so I drop my recyclable cans in the collection plate. Very nice crowd and since I am helpful, I spend a great deal of time cutting the spaghetti into smaller pieces for them. I use a switchblades I confiscated from one of my students to cut the meatballs.

Friday: Free movie day. They show some great films and they keep the sound level at nine so everyone can hear. Some people try to ruin it for others by telling how the movie ends, but most people can’t remember and so by the end of the movie it doesn’t really matter.

Saturday: I usually spend the day grading essays I never got a chance to do while teaching. Some are quite good. The problem is a lot are from girls and they have married and I don’t know their last names now and so I don’t know where to send the essays. I sort of feel sorry about that and so I am waiting until December to send them to the “Dear Santa” section of the post office.

Sunday: This is my day of rest and so I stay home, organize my pills for the coming week, and re-order from the Canadian Pharmacy.

As you can see, it is a hectic schedule and thus I won’t be there when the sheriff brings the drug dog.

Your friend,
al

alan haskvitz has been selected as one of America’s best teachers six times and has received over 30 state, national and international awards for his work. He currently does inservices.

I have put together the best tests about retirement that deal with income, expenses, state tax rates, and more. I have them posted here:

http://www.reacheverychild.com/feature/retirement-guide.html

By Alan Haskvitz

http://www.reacheverychild.com

I have been a teacher for 30 years and will lose $800 a month due to the “offset”. If my wife dies first, over $1800 a month.

Being a teacher is a noble calling. Working with children, helping touch the future, seeing a child learn and grow under one’s guidance are all terrific and significant possibilities when you become a teacher. However, if you wish to teach in a public school in much of the United States you can pretty much kiss off those 40 plus Social Security quarters you paid into once you become a teacher or work for the police or fire deparment. By law they may only get one third or less of the benefits they qualify for because they served the public.

They have a fancy name for it, Social Security Government Pension Offset and the Windfall Elimination provision, but what those in power decided was that if you get a public subsidized pension from your employer, you can’t get the full benefits of your Social Security pension. What is even worse for many is that if your spouse is listed as your beneficiary on your public pension, and if he or she qualifies for Social Security, their Social Security benefits will also be impacted. The surviving teacher will not get them.

If you have worked in any occupation and paid in for at least 40 quarters to Social Security there is a real possibility that when you become a teacher you can count on over $1000 a month being deducted from your Social Security for the rest of your life.

Is that what you want for your family?

I highly recommend that you NEVER become a teacher at a public school where this is the reality. All that good feeling and noble deeds could cost you over $12,000 a year. With most teachers retiring with an average of 20 more years to live that means a loss of $120, 000 to $240,000 or more. That is a stiff price to touch the future.

Consider yourself warned, as is required by law.

http://www.webslingerz.com/jhoffman/congress-email.htmlHere is more about the law.

http://www.nea.org/socialsecurity/offsetalert.html

http://www.latimes.com/business/investing/la-ss-story4,1,7225323.story

http://www.fpanet.org/journal/BetweenTheIssues/Contributions/060104B.cfm

For the best selection of free teaching resources on the web go to

http://www.reacheverychild.com

Retirement Guide for Teachers

By Alan Haskvitz, national motivational speaker

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Haskvitz

For more free links about business go to

http://www.reacheverychild.com/feature/teacher_law.html#3

Horace Mann Companies

https://www.horacemann.com/annuities/

Test your retirement knowledge

http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/1206/121506rp.htm

Retirement Resource

Links

Includes financial decisions, legal concerns, and aging and health links

http://www.nea.org/retired/tools/retirement.html

Retirement IQ test

http://moneycentral.msn.com/investor/calcs/n_rothq/main.asp

Earning test for early retirees

http://www.fairmark.com/retirement/socsec/earnings-test.htm

Test your knowledge on retirement

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/13089081/

Life expectancy calculator

http://moneycentral.msn.com/investor/calcs/n_expect/main.asp

Estimating Your Retirement Income Needs

http://www.aicpa.org/financialliteracy/retirement.asp

Steps in Retirement Planning

http://www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/ww1/14-02.html

Ten Steps to Retirement

http://money.cnn.com/2004/10/05/retirement/kansas_10stepssuccess/index.htm

Before you accept an early retirement package

http://retireplan.about.com/od/caniretire/bb/retire_early.htm

Ten questions to ask before retiring

http://retireplan.about.com/od/lifestyles/tp/retirementandme.htm

Steps to take when you are 60

http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/RetirementandWills/CreateaPlan/12StepsYouMustTakeAtAge60.aspx

Printables for how much you need to retire and estimating expenses

http://www.extension.iastate.edu/finances/personal/retirement/first_steps.htm

Tax Benefits for Teachers

http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p970.pdf

Women and Retirement

http://www.nea.org/money/pf050912.html

California Retired

Teachers Website

Regardless of what state you work in this site has excellent insights into the issues of retirement.

http://www.calrta.org/index.php

NEA retirement site

http://www.nea.org/retired/index.html

The impact of Social Security on Teacher Pensions

http://www.ssa.gov/gpo-wep/gpo-wep2.htm

Social Security news

http://www.nea.org/lac/socsec/latestnews.html

Understanding Social Security Benefits

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m6280/is_n2_174/ai_12469650

Social Security Retirement Earning Table

http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/COLA/rtea.html