Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Social Security Question for Spouses

I had a question/comment recently from a reader named Sherri.  I'm going to share this as a blog post as I think it might be enlightening to others approaching retirement age like me.

Sherri wrote.....
"Hi, I have a comment, that probably should go into your blog about retirement income,, but figured I would post it here.  I have been following you for awhile, but not commenting.  I wanted to ask you about spousal social security benefits.

Did you mention that potential income in your retirement finance post?  I had never heard of it until a few years ago, and do not know anyone of "age" yet who has utilized it.  Apparently, if you are a spouse who never worked outside of home, or did but never was a high earner, you are entitled to 1/2 of your spouse's retirement benefit if it is more than what you would get yourself.

But I think you have to wait until both you and your spouse are full retirement age, and the working spouse begins to collect...not sure if I understand it correctly.  But sounds like it could be a decent amount of "extra" income, especially if your spouse was a high earner.
Thank you for posting your finances with so much transparency." --Sherri

Sherri is correct that even if a spouse did not work/earn an income outside the home they can still received Social Security payments.
This is the situation Hubs and I are in.  While I did work outside the home for a few years, I didn't work enough to earn my own Social Security benefit once I "retire".  I am eligible for a "Spousal Social Security Benefit" based on Hubs earning so I will be claiming Social Security on my Hubs work record.

Here is the poop on Spousal SS Benefits.

Even if a spouse never earned an income they are eligible for the amount equal to half of what their wage earning spouse receives in Social Security payments.
Even if you divorced(but didn't remarry)and were married for at least 10 years to your spouse and did not remarry before age 60, you can still collect 1/2 of that spouse's benefit.

Example-Mary divorced John after 11 years of marriage but never earned an income herself and is now old enough to collect SS benefits.  Mary also never remarried.  Mary can collect 50% of whatever John's SS payment is.
If Mary did remarry before age 60 then she would be eligible to receive 50% of the new spouses SS benefit.

If Mary did work but didn't earn much or work very long AND 50% of her husband's SS benefit would be more than her own benefit then Mary can receive the higher of the two SS benefits.

If you know how Social Security benefits work, you can begin to collect at age 62 for a reduced benefit of your full benefit amount, collect a full benefit at your full retirement age(calculated by your birth year)or you can delay collecting your benefit anywhere between just past your full retirement date to age 70 for a benefit that is a % larger than your full retirement age benefit. Depending on how long you wait to collect past your full retirement age your benefit will be correspondingly larger.

My Hubs, for example, if he collects at age 62 his full SS benefit will be reduced by 72.08% for life.  If he collects at age 66 & 8 months his SS benefit is the full amount he is due.  If he waits 1 month after his full benefit age he'll get his full amount + 2.67% more in his check and if he waits until age 70 he'll get his full amount + 26.67% more each month. Between age 66 & 10 months and age 70 the additional amount he can receive goes up a small percentage each month.

A couple of things though--
* As a spouse claiming spousal SS benefits you can not take SS benefits until your spouse(the wage earner)claims their benefits.  Say you the spouse, wants to claim early SS at age 62, you can only do so if your spouse(the wage earner)is already claiming and collecting their SS benefit when you go to apply.

You use to be able to do what was called a "File and Suspend".  This is where the wage earner applied for SS benefits at age 62 but suspended their claim until full retirement age or beyond so that the spouse could start receiving their SS benefit early without the wage earning spouse reducing their SS benefit.  This strategy is no longer allowed by the SSA however so we won't go into that.
The exemption to the wage earning spouse has to be collecting for you to apply for early SS benefits rule is this-- If you are divorced and are claiming SS benefits on your ex's work record then you can claim before your ex-spouse claims their SS benefit if the ex-spouse is at least 62 years old.

* If after you and your spouse begin collecting SS benefits and your wage earner spouse dies, you, as the non-working spouse, can take his/her SS benefit amount instead of the spousal amount.  So if Hubs dies before me after we are both on SS I would stop getting my 50% of his SS benefit amount and receive his whole SS benefit for myself(the amount depending on if he filed/collected early, at his full retirement date or later up to age 70).

The Social Security Administration is a wealth of information on all things Social Security and you can access that information HERE.

They will not however tell you exactly how your benefits can be affected by claiming at different time frames and when the best time for you and your spouse to claim would be.  You need to find a benefits calculator and run different scenarios to figure this out for yourselves.

There are some online SS Collecting Calculators to see how your SS benefits are affected by when you and your spouse claim your benefits but most cost money to use.  You can also seek the help of a financial planner, most of whom have Benefit Calculator programs they can use to see what plan is most advantageous for your situation.

I did find this one online Benefit Calculator HERE that is free to use to run some scenarios for your situation to help you find the best plan for your and your spouse's situation on when to claim your Social Security benefits.

As for Hubs and I, I believe I did mention in my Retirement Finances post that we will both be waiting until our Full Retirement Ages to claim Social Security benefits.  Once we both start collecting SS our benefit will be just over $50K a year(if the government doesn't start means testing or reduce the benefit for everyone before then).  Of course this $50K is before deducting payments to pay for Medicare and any Supplement and/or Advantage plans we elect to have.
Added to our Annuity payments(which will be reduced once we are on SS as that is how it's structured)this SS benefit will make up our passive income streams in retirement and increase our income and standard of living.

I hope this helps anyone else out there with questions.
And thanks for asking Sherri and reading! ;-)

Sluggy






Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Helping Your Kid Get a Handle on Money

I guess I've done a pretty good job of teaching my kids about how to handle their finances well.

Eldest son is almost 26(next month)and self-sufficient and on his own as far as money goes and has been since graduating college.

Daughter use to be self-sufficient and on her own but does live here now. But we don't pay for her car and insurance, her college costs, her dog or her "fun" so she is on her way to being self-sufficient once again once she earns her degree.

College Boy is a whole other story however. ;-)

Last year I sat him down and had a money talk with him, just the latest of many I have had over the years with this boy.

He needed to work his Summer job and save his money for college that Fall.  Well even though he made Thousands that Summer he carried something like $400 back to school with him. 8-(
Not wanting to strong arm him or nag him I took a hands off approach after we had our little sit-down.
Things obviously didn't work out well.
The main reason is this.........


College Boy has a checking account with a debit card.
Like most millennials he doesn't know the PAIN of spending "real" Money.
Nor does he write checks, withdraw cash(usually) or keep a register and know exactly how much and when he is spending his money.

When he went away to school the only bank/credit union available to him was this one.  Our local banks/CUs weren't in that town so I couldn't be on his account and access it to check up on his money habits once he wasn't living here fulltime.

Taking out a piece of plastic and swiping it just isn't the same as having to wrench cold hard cash out of your hand to pay for something.
Add in that he doesn't even keep a running tab on his balance of what he spent and as a result money just poured through his fingers like water.

So I started telling him back in March on his Spring Break, while we were in the car together for 2+ hours with no distractions that this Summer was going to be different because I was going to MAKE him save his money!

I sat him down a few weeks ago, after I got home from Virginia, and I told him how this was going to work--

He was to come up with a budget to include the amounts he required to pay for his "needs".
Needs vs. Wants discussion ensued.

He needs gas money weekly to get to job and to see friends.
He needs vape juice money every third week.
He needs haircut money before returning to school.
Basically that covers his needs.

Then there are the Wants.
He wants to buy food, drinks whenever he is out.
He wants to go to the movies/bar/restaurant with his friends.
He "wants" to the point of spending every penny. sigh.

So we roughed out a budget finally that included all his need money and some WAM(walking around money)or Blow money for his wants.
This budget cuts down substantially on what he gets to "blow" every week.

Figuring out his take home pay per week and then deducting his expense budget he also came up with a target to save this Summer of $2,100.
This savings amount will be divvied up thus--
He needs a new computer(specialized for his music recording)which will cost about $600 and he wants $1500 to take back to school in the Fall for incidentals.

So I took away his debit card(ouch!)and the plan was for him to withdraw all his pay each week, give me all that cash which I place in a bank's safe deposit box.
I give him back his expense $ for the week and tuck away everything else to save it and he can't get to it to spend.

Except where he works won't let you direct deposit your paycheck into your account until 30 days after you begin working there.
They load a debit card with your pay, so he's having to go to an ATM and withdraw from this loaded debit card to give me his cash.  We leave his expense money on that special debit card for him to use each week.
Once he's been there 30 days he can get direct deposit and we'll go fully cash for expenses.

We are three weeks in and it's going well.  We have two weeks of pay tucked away....


And next pay deposit he'll have enough to buy the components to build that computer plus some.

He's not spending every penny like previous Summers and we've had some talks about handling finances too in the last few weeks and he's expressed his thanks at learning these lessons.
He's paying closer attention to what and how he is spending now too and he's making better choices(though forced to at this point lolz).
Once he gets the direct deposit he'll get his weekly money in cash and we'll see how that goes.

I hope this Summer is long enough to get him out of his bad money habits and help him develop better ones before he is fully on his own.

Sluggy

Monday, June 26, 2017

This Week on the Dining Table

The  "Kids Do the Darndest Things" Edition--


Took Hubs out for Father's Day to one of his brew pub favs.  This was also the first time we could take College Boy and he could drink as well.
Had my glasses off and took a photo and didn't notice until I downloaded the photo from my camera that Daughter had given me the finger.
Do they EVER grow up?!? lolz

Moving On....

Onward to the meal planning!

Here's what was planned last week--

1. Sunday--Enchiladas, Rice, Beans
2. Monday--Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches, Potato Salad
3. Tuesday--Leftover Tacos
4. Wednesday--Caesar Salad w/Chicken
5. Thursday--Kielbasa on Rolls
6. Friday--Roast Chicken and Veggies
7. Saturday-Rigatoni w/Meat Sauce, Garlic Bread, Caesar Salad

And this is what actually happened--

1. Sunday--Enchiladas, Rice, Beans
2. Monday--Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches, Potato Salad
3. Tuesday--Leftover Tacos
4. Wednesday--Leftovers(Chicken n' Dumplings?)
5. Thursday--Kielbasa on Rolls, Beans
6. Friday--Steak, Brussels Sprouts, Mashed Potatoes
7. Saturday-Roast Chicken w/Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Carrots and Onions

Last week saw 7 nights of home cooked dinners....2 nights of Leftovers and 5 nights of new meals.
The Rigatoni w/Meat Sauce moves to this week and the Romaine will get used for a Caesar Salad sans chicken to accompany steak instead.

I made 1 trip to the Weis Markets for $61.84, a trip to the Surplus Outlet for $70.82 and a trip to the Bread Outlet for $11.00, which all totaled came to $143.66 OOP.  This brings my June food spending total to $396.28.  There are 5 days left in the month. 

My savings percentages last week was 52.63% which brings the month's percentage to-date to 60.67%. 

Leftovers going into this week.......Roast Chicken and Veggies.  Not much leftover this week.

Here is this week's "food plan"....
* Denotes "complicated" meals

1. Sunday--Lobster, Grilled Corn on Cob
2. Monday--Rigatoni w/Meat Sauce, Garlic Bread, Caesar Salad
3. Tuesday--Subway sandwiches using gift card
4. Wednesday--Steak, Fried Zuke, Corn Casserole
5. Thursday--Lemon Pepper Chicken with Zuke over Rice
6. Friday--Chicken Marsala over Noodles, Mixed Veggies(Daughter cooking)
7. Saturday-Fish and ?(Daughter cooking)

This week will see 6 new meals cooked, 0 nights of leftovers and 1 night of Take-Out/Eating-Out.  Daughter is cooking again this Friday.

What I need to buy for this menu? Well we hit Maine Source and Price Chopper yesterday/Sunday to stock up on fresh produce/veggies, steaks and lobster.  I only buy lobster when they hit $5.99 lb. here(which is only a couple times a year during the Summer). I found $4.99 lb. Sirloin strip steaks so bought 3 od those too.  These two trips put another $100 onto my food spending for June.  Yes, the total is quite ugly now. lolz
But then again, I'd rather spend it now and get it for cheap while the deals are to be had and be overstocked rather than have to spend it later and pay more.

The only item I need now for these meals is some rice as we are all out.  I think I need salad greens, a cuke and some feta cheese too for lunches but otherwise I won't be spending anything else on groceries until July.

What is getting fixed and served at your house this week?

Was last week's plan successful, did you go off plan or did you not even plan what was going to be eaten last week?

Any great deals on food at your stores this week?


Sluggy

Sunday, June 25, 2017

2016 Road Trip....Day 19 & 20, NC Part 2 to VA to Home

We arrived in Cherokee NC early afternoon and made a beeline to the Museum of the Cherokee Indian.



The museum was a bit pricey but this is something Hubs wanted to do.  Last time we went to Cherokee the kids were little.  While the museum was here then it was much smaller and more primitive and too much for our budget then.



Back in the 1990's when we took a family vacation here we hit the touristy spots the kids would like and they had their photo taken with a "real" Indian dressed up in traditional garb standing in front of a teepee.



I highly recommend the present incarnation of the Cherokee Museum, even if you have people in your party not interested in history or children with short attention spans.


Besides all the artifacts and descriptive plaques and displays, they now have an awesome show full of computer generated graphics and special effects.


And there are life-sized wax figures and dioramas too.



You get a full experience of the Cherokee culture and history from prehistoric times to the arrival of the first Europeans and beyond.


There is information on the structure of the Cherokee culture and how it relates to other native peoples cultures.
I've got some Creek blood in my family tree that I have been able to verify though I grew up hearing stories that we were related to the Cherokee tribe.
I have since found Pamunkey blood and relations to Algonquin speaking tribes too.


Once the Europeans arrived on the continent the story narrative turns quite sad.  If you are a fan of American history you know this doesn't end well for the Cherokee.





After I exited the museum exhibit area I sat in the lobby waiting for Hubs to finish his trip through.
They had at various times/days members of the Cherokee Nation giving demonstrations of various crafts.  That day/time there was a gentleman carving at atlatl or "throwing stick".  Before the bow, arrows for hunting were launching using this stick, which basically gave you a tremendous amount of leverage and sent your arrow flying swiftly.


I guess they get folks coming here with no clue about Cherokee culture because the gentleman seemed taken aback that I knew what he was making and what it was called. lolz  I could have feigned ignorance and let him fill me with information but that wouldn't have been very honest.

After Hubs finished we hit the gift shop for a few trinkets and items to tuck away for Xmas gifts.
I chose this simple little ornament to add to our Christmas Ornie collection.


Outside they also have an older gentleman demonstrating how to carve a musical instrument.


The museum is right beside a steam so we drove across the bridge to a parking area and walked along the stream.


It was the hot part of the day(I forget how warm it can get down here even in the middle of May!)and the river bank was shaded by large trees and there was a nice breeze.


Then I spied a mother duck and her babies taking a swim..........


I sat for awhile while the ducklings paddled about and played in the water.



As it was approaching 2 pm we hit the road again for Asheville to find somewhere to eat lunch/dinner.

We considered eating at "Tortilleria Mr. Suave".  After all, they had fresh corn tortilias, right?  ;-)



We ended up at an IHOP inside of a hotel(Ramada I think).  I had a $25 gift card from years ago that I really wanted to use finally.  We don't have IHOPs in NEPA to I try to use it when we got elsewhere on a trip.
Well, so much for my plan because we drew the short straw there with a brand new waitress that the manager was actively training that evening.  The manager got busy with other crises and the waitress floundered so that our food was both very late and not correct.  As a result the manager said she was comping our meals.
So much for trying to use that gift card! lolz  We just paid the tip that meal so I kept that gift card in my purse to attempt to use another day.

Hubs wasn't interested in hitting a brewery tasting room(of which there are TONS in Asheville)so we left the area after eating and headed North into Western VA and back onto I-81.


Back in the Hills of Virginia we stopped for the night at at motel outside of Wytheville.
$115+ for a crappy Comfort Inn motel that had seen much better days.  We probably could have gotten a cheaper room at the Sleep Inn on the northern side of Wytheville we stayed in in 2013(the one where the road was closed to the reserved motel off the interstate for night roadwork and the desk clerk couldn't tell us an alternative route to the motel)but we didn't want to change a repeat of that scenario.

The next morning after an equally crappy breakfast at that motel we went into town in  Wytheville before heading home.


When going by Wytheville this stop is a requirement for me.
It's an awesome fabric store that specializes in batiks....and they even carry rayon ones!
Outside of flying to Bali, THIS PLACE is my idea of fabric heaven on earth.

Oh Look!
Caverns which I will never EVER go inside.  Long story, childhood trauma.


Two hours after leaving "Fabric Valhalla" we decided to stop for gas and food/drink.

The sign for Smiley's Fuel City caught our eye.  It advertised that they had the "Best Dang BBQ in VA".
Well I went in while Hubs pumped the gas to scope it out.  Maybe they DO have the Best Dang BBQ in VA but......the place was filthy with flies buzzing inside everywhere.
And it smelled bad in there so I made an executive decision and quickly left.


We went across the Interstate exit to the Petro truck stop instead to find something to eat.

Oh Look! Pigs Feet AND Knuckles!!!
I'll pass....

We ended up in the dining room and ordered something I can't even remember.....a sandwich?, a chef salad?  I do know we did NOT do the lunch buffet. blech.

I hit the ladies room before we left.
This is the sight that greeted me as I walked into the bathroom.....

Big sign in the restroom about contacting the manager if the bathroom was less than "satisifactory".
Yah, overflowing garbage cans are a bit unsatisfactory, aren't they?  I took a card and emailed the manager the day and time and this photo.
Never heard a word back from them.  Ask me if I am surprised? lolz

Back on the highway up I-81.
We passed this cute trailer Retro travel trailer from Riverside RV.  Might have to get me one of those. ;-)


Passing the landmark apple basket water tower in Mount Jackson VA......


We hit Pennsyltucky after 4 hours of driving.


We stopped in Carlisle PA to our favorite diner there for a cheap and leisurely dinner.
Then it was back on the interstate for another 2 hours and we were finally home.

No furniture in the wrong rooms when we arrived homes this trip but......

My prized ceramic hand thrown chicken did have an accident at the hands of two of College Boy's friends while we were gone.
I noticed the next morning that something wasn't right in the kitchen and finally figured out the lid to my chicken was gone!

 I found it on the dining room table, on a paper plate, in about 32 pieces......
Seems College Boy's friends decided to accost her one evening and the lid crashed to the floor, the porcelain tile floor.


 I pieced the lid together as best I could with the pieces left.  This was a one of a kind piece I purchased at the Virginia Beach Boardwalk Art Show back in the early 1990's.  I am still upset over this......

And this is now why none of College Boy's friends are allowed inside our house if we are away.

Thus ended our third Road Trip to Louisiana to visit the Daughter.
The following month, June 2016, she and the BF packed their stuff and their dog up and moved in with us here in PA.
The Dog and the Daughter are still here(BF went back to LA in January)and plan to be for another 2 years.
And our Louisiana Road Tripping Days are now behind us.
That doesn't mean our Road Tripping Days are past as there are so many other places to go and see in this vast country!
Stay tuned for more travels.  8-)))


Sluggy