The Secret is Out

Guest post by by Marcia Casar Friedman of Aging is a Full Time Job

Have you ever wondered about the instruments used to measure the aging process?  What does aging mean?  Is it a tag for a numerical age group called Old?

When I pondered that question, my mind automatically went to physical changes which might or might not affect me as I navigated life as a silver sage (aka senior).  Much has been written about the wear and tear on the body and how our past activities will affect the aging process.  The vast unknown of heredity, environment, emotional changes and medical treatments led me to wonder if I could ever find satisfying answers to my questions about aging.

Then I went to my favorite question “Why?” to look for answers.  It took five years of writing questions and answers, researching and writing articles and authoring five manuscripts, for me to accept aging as a process that starts at birth.  Realistically, it starts at conception.  From that point forward we are always making changes and always aging.  Each stage of development paves the way for the next stage.  We start as a fetus and newborn, then move on to infant, toddler, child, puberty, adolescence and so on.  So why did I get stuck lamenting about aging as a description pertaining to old people?

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No doubt the articles I read and the television shows I watched, confirmed aging as a term used to discuss the body breaking down due to aging.

What about psychological changes which come to the fore with life style adjustments?  Many body weaknesses originate from emotional changes. “Gut wrenching” is a term used when describing extremely sad experiences. “Feeling nauseated” is an expression used when hearing about a gruesome crime. “Butterflies in the stomach” come at times of stress such as preparing for an upcoming presentation.  These types of expressions are used when we feel sad, angry, anxious, or frustrated. They come from chemical and physical responses in the body.

I researched many situations where physical illnesses could be traced to relationship stress and this can happen at any age.

The concept of aging belonging to old people now seems silly, yet hurtful.  We have been brain washed to accept the concept of aging as debilitating, sad, scary, unchangeable and extremely troublesome.  Aging is a diagnosis given to anyone who is no longer considered young. I wonder when society forgot to accept maturing and wisdom as a positive which comes from chronological aging.

The secret is now out in the open.  Aging is a full time job.

Yes, it’s true, the wear and tear on the body and heightened emotions do dictate the path we follow to be the best we can be.  The side roads give us opportunities which we would never be able to understand or appreciate in younger, less experienced days gone by.

Among the perks to entering those phases of life is a unique maturity and huge learning opportunities which provide us with a wonderful wealth of wisdom.

By now you are probably wondering why I say aging is a good thing. Here is a sampling of 10 things I’ve learned:

  1. I earned the right to be me. If I want to type on the computer until 3:00am and sleep until noon the next day, it’s my choice.
  2. I have become kinder and less critical of myself. Hooray! I’ve become my best friend.  I deserve the best out of life.
  3. I rejoice in accepting the truth — life is not perfect. Nothing and no one is ever perfect.
  4. I can’t go back to the past because I was a different person then. I am now the me of today.  I know the past is done and over, it cannot be changed.  My perception of the past can be improved.
  5. The surest way to failure is trying to please everyone. The result is no one is pleased.  In fact, those discontented people will turn on you.
  6. Problems are opportunities. During a crisis the focus is on the predicament. After months and years, it becomes easier to find the opportunities that were created by the problems.
  7. Learning never ends. So much to learn, so little time.  I strive to learn something new every day.
  8. It is true, I know I am sometimes forgetful. It’s frustrating. That proves some of life is just as well forgotten. And … I eventually remember the important things.
  9. I don’t question myself as much anymore. I’ve earned the right to be wrong, sometimes.
  10. Expressing gratitude every day enables me to have a more positive outlook on life and on aging.

Aging has set me free to be the person I was meant to be.  I like being a silver sage!  I don’t want to live forever, so while I’m still here I won’t waste precious time feeling sad about what could have been or obsessing about what will be in the distant future.

Join me on this personal journey of being a silver sage, to be the best you can be today.  Aging is a journey of changes.

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Millennials: Embrace Weird, Retire Early

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For more information on Financial Independence, World Travel and Medical Tourism, please visit our website at RetireEarlyLifestyle.com

Thanks! 

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Social Security for US Expats and Dual-Citizens

By John Ohe, CFA and IRS Enrolled Agent. John is a partner at Hola Expat (www.holaexpat.com), which specializes in preparing tax returns for U.S. expats.

John Ohe 1

Social Security is a lifelong pension provided by the US government. It can be a critical source of income during one’s retirement years. Most important to note, it is a very attractive investment option for low to modest income earners – what one receives during retirement is far greater than what one contributes. Unfortunately, many US expats do not plan appropriately, and will miss out on this great opportunity.

To qualify for Social Security, one needs to earn 40 credits. In the United States, most people work a job and pay Social Security taxes (automatically taken out of the paycheck). After about ten years of employment, one has acquired the necessary 40 credits.

US expats, however, are often unable to contribute to Social Security. This becomes an issue when one has earned less than the necessary 40 credits. Fortunately, there are ways to contribute to Social Security while working abroad.

Let’s use an example to illustrate:

Jane is 30 years old. She has been living outside the US since she was 25, and does not have any plans to move back to the States. She works for a foreign company. Jane is interested in qualifying for Social Security, so she checks online at SSA.gov. Jane learns that she has earned 10 credits. She needs 30 additional credits.

If Jane earns a modest income from the foreign company, she may want to report her income as self-employment on her US tax return (certain requirements apply). Jane would not owe any income taxes on her tax return, if properly prepared. However, she would owe self-employment (SE) tax, which is how she would earn Social Security credits. SE tax is roughly 15% of the reported income.

Alternatively, Jane could start a small business (on the side). Any profits from that business could be reported as self-employment income. She would pay the 15% SE tax, and earn credits.

How quickly can one earn credits?

A person can earn a maximum of 4 credits per year. For 2016, one needs to report at least $5,040 in income to earn 4 credits ($1,260 per credit). Therefore, one would pay approximately $770 in SE tax to acquire the 4 credits.

To summarize:

Social Security can be an important source of income during one’s retirement years. It is a very attractive investment option for low to modest income earners. One needs 40 credits to qualify for Social Security. Find out how many credits you have earned.

For more information on Social Security and other tax-related issues, visit us at: holaexpat.com.

Other posts by this author:

2016 Key Tax Changes

U.S. Expats – College Planning

FATCA – Practical Guide

Free Money from the IRS – Child Tax Credit

Buying and Selling Real Estate (Foreign or Domestic) from a Tax Perspective

U.S. Expat Taxes – An Introduction

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Peace Corps After 50

Reprinted with permission from David Jarmul. Read the original post here

Before Champa and I joined the Peace Corps at the age of 63, people asked us how we’d feel to be surrounded by volunteers younger than our two sons.

Well, many of our fellow volunteers are indeed in their 20s, and most of them are smart, enthusiastic and fun to be around. Yet Champa and I are hardly outliers. Fourteen of the 58 people in our training group — nearly one in four — are 50 or older.

PeaceCorps1

Worldwide, Americans over age 50 comprise about 7 percent of the nearly 7,000 Peace Corps volunteers now serving in 63 countries around the world. With its better medical facilities and programs in fields such as business development that attract people with lots of real-world experience, Moldova attracts higher numbers.

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Whatever their reasons for choosing Moldova, the older volunteers here are impressive. They’ve worked as professors, attorneys, IT managers, nonprofit leaders, teachers, city administrators and management consultants. They come from across the country, including two other older volunteers from North Carolina. They are single, widowed, divorced or, as with us and one other older couple, married and serving together. Like the volunteers here generally, they are also diverse, reflecting the country we represent.

PeaceCorps2

We differ from our younger counterparts in some ways. Learning a new language may be tougher for us, although many of us are doing fine in our Romanian classes. We may run slower in a group soccer game, if we participate at all. When several younger friends went to get tattoos recently, they knew better than to invite me along. They also may party harder and make surprising cultural references. When I was in the Peace Corps office the other day, a Carole King song started playing and the young woman next to me said, “Hey, it’s that song from the Gilmore Girls!”

On the other hand, they’re usually polite when we make our own references to people and events from before they were born, so it tends to even out.

In Moldova and other Peace Corps countries, there are advantages to being an older volunteer. Many of these countries show great respect towards older people. Similarly, having children and grandchildren has provided Champa and me with an instant bond with older members of our new communities. Our experience enhances our credibility in our workplaces as well; my future colleagues have already checked me out online. Older volunteers can share their hobbies, too, as Champa hopes to do with art and gardening.

Peace Corps has a special website for older Americans interested in becoming volunteers. The site reviews the application process, which is competitive and includes an extensive medical clearance process.

One of my reasons for writing this blog, and this post in particular, is to encourage older readers to consider the Peace Corps or some other new challenge for themselves. It’s not as strange or exotic as they might think and shouldn’t just be dismissed with “Oh, I could never do that at my age.”

Obviously, many people have family obligations, medical problems and other constraints that make Peace Corps unrealistic. Nonetheless, it’s a proven program through which more than 220,000 Americans of all ages have served their country and the world — and had a great adventure in the process.

Personally, I’m already wondering what it will be like in two years to be back in America and surrounded by friends who are mostly older than the ones I’ve made here.

For more information on Volunteering, click here.

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Getting a Retirement Visa for an EU Country

Q&A with a Reader 

I am signed on for your email blog posts on retirement options of which I received the latest issue today. I realize the focus is on ‘early’ retirement but my wife and I are about your age and have planned a more traditional retirement.

We have lived in Europe for 4 years previously while I represented the US Department of Labor. We are very comfortable there and, of course, it was easy living there because the US government took care of everything for us, including visas, drivers licenses, taxes, living allowance, etc. I early retired myself and we are financially comfortable. My wife plans to leave her position within the next 12 months.

Compare international retirement destinations, click here

We also love to travel and have been to 75+ countries but enjoy cruising so much we have narrowed our search for a permanent retirement location to the European locations of Barcelona, Athens, and Venice, primarily because of their cruising capability, international airport, other general travel options available, and relatively low cost of living. Also, our mutual opinion on these locales versus other international locations is very favorable as we have visited all of these cities several times.

Since you have already done significant research on this retirement out of the US subject area, are there any resources you could point me to get specifics on a retirement visa for an EU country and other considerations to living overseas in a European location on a more permanent basis?

Certainly, your blog is an excellent resource but I am trying to develop a specific check list for what we need to do to accomplish this particular lifestyle change.

I have found it is just about impossible to get anything definitive from a European consulate in America by telephone for various reasons. We don’t live near one so I am thinking we may need to head to the city we decide on, as a tourist for 3 months, and park out at the consulate there until we get somewhere … ??? …

Thanks for any help you can provide … Daniel

Hi Daniel,

Thank you for taking the time to write and for your interest in our website.

In your situation, I would recommend that you click on the following article by Nomadic Mike and read it through. At the bottom of the article he speaks to long term visas and mentions Italy and Spain (two of your choices) as places that offer them for retirees. He also tells you what you need to bring with you and how to go about applying.

Schengen Visa Info A blog post from Nomadic Mike on How to (Legally) Stay in Europe for more than 90 Days. Detailed and clear with useful information. 

Certainly, if you have further questions, go to his Contact Page and write him an email.

How exciting for the both of you. Good luck, and do feel free to write to us any time. I’m sure this information will be a great start for you.

Best Regards,

Akaisha

Akaisha,

Very helpful, courteous and prompt response to my inquiry  – thank you for all you do – Daniel

 

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Tennis Club in Chapala, Mexico

Q&A with a Reader

Hi There,

How does one go about joining the Cristiania Tennis Club in Chapala, Mexico?

Many thanks,

Paul

All of our books lead to adventure. Don’t miss out on yours!

Hi Paul,

Cristiania is not a private club, so my advice to you is to go there and hang out and work your way into games. It will not be long before people will be asking you to play. Introduce yourself to Oscar and Denise and tell them I sent you.

It is a good group of people there.

Good luck,

Regards,

Billy

Many thanks Billy!!

Paul

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5 Tips on How to Reduce Stress

 

Thank you for visiting the RetireEarlyLifestyle Blog!

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Retire Early Lifestyle appeals to a different kind of person – the person who prizes their independence, values their time, and who doesn’t want to mindlessly follow the crowd.

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Practicing Yoga on the Road

Amanda Kingsmith is a podcast host, avid traveler, writer and yoga teacher who is passionate about people, movement, living boldly and exploring the world. To learn more about Amanda visit www.theworldwanderers.com or www.mbomyoga.com.

I don’t have time.

It’s too expensive.

There is no studio near me.

I don’t have an hour and a half in my day to practice.

When it comes to yoga, we’ve all made these excuses. Myself included.

So when we book a trip, or make the decision to long term travel, yoga is absolutely out of the question. If I didn’t have the time or money while I was at home, I definitely won’t be able to do it on the road.

Right? Wrong.

I’m here to tell you how you can maintain your yoga practice while on the road, without spending your whole day on your yoga mat and breaking the bank.

First, yoga is expensive. I teach and I practice, so I know. When you’re on the road, it can be challenging to fork out this kind of money.. But, what if I taught you how to practice at home? Or from your hotel room? Or from the rest stop that you stop at while on the road?

Do not let Fear make your decisions for you. Risk has a price and so does security.

You see, yoga doesn’t have to be expensive. The problem is that if you don’t know how to practice, you automatically think you need to go to a class.

Second, the idea that we have to spend an hour doing yoga is a complete fallacy. Although an hour is amazing, we don’t usually have that kind of time on the road. You can actually practice yoga in 5-10 minutes and have it be super effective for your body.

Don’t believe me? I’ll show you how!

Take 5 minutes, either sitting or standing, to close your eyes and do a mental check in. Mentally scan your body from head to toe and pinpoint places of tightness or tension in your body. Now, you have a playing field to work with.

Here are 6 basic poses to help you stretch those out, and feel amazing while on the road:

1.Neck rolls

Neck rolls

Neck rolls

Drop your right ear to your right shoulder, hold for a moment, and then begin to drop your chin to your chest. Hold for a moment and then bring your left ear to your left shoulder. Continue at your own pace doing 3-5 movements.

  1. Lateral side body stretch

    Lateral side body stretch

    Lateral side body stretch

Reach your arms towards the sky, grab your left wrist with your right hand. Inhale deeply and as you breathe out, begin to tip to the right, feeling a nice stretch through your left side body. Hold for 3 breaths, and then switch sides.

  1. Cat / cow pose

    Cow pose

    Cow pose

Come onto your hands and knees in a tabletop position. On your inhale, sink your belly and send your hips and head to the sky for cow. On your exhale, arch your spine drawing your shoulder blades away from one another for cat. Repeat 5-10 times.

If you don’t have somewhere where you can come onto your hands and knees, you can do this from standing, as shown in the photo below!

Cat pose

Cat pose

  1. Lungeyoga8

Ground down firmly into your front leg, bend your knee and lengthen through your back leg coming up onto your toes. Now, tuck your pelvis in and under and feel a nice long stretch through your hip flexor. Hold for 3-5 breaths and then switch legs.

  1. Hip circles

    Hip Circles

    Hip Circles

This is about as basic as it gets, and it feels AMAZING! Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart and begin to make circular motions with your hips. Move for 30 seconds in either direction. Make sure to use your hips, and NOT your knees. And remember, the motion doesn’t need to be dramatic.

  1. Forward fold

    Forward Fold

    Forward Fold

Bring your hips to hip width distance and fold forward, clasping opposite elbows and allowing yourself to gently sway from side to side, as pictured. Keep your back as long as possible, and allow your head to hang heavy. This should feel awesome, especially if you’ve been sitting, flying or driving for a while.

You can practice these poses in any order you want, at any time or day, and it should take you no longer than 10 minutes. Now, the next time you’re on the road, there’s no excuse to not get your daily yoga practice in!

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Mattress types

Jennifer McBride is a content copywriter and mattress expert at Mattress Insider. She’s keen on everything related to mattresses and loves writing tips that help you choose your mattress and keep it clean and hygienic.

If you are suffering from back issues, first thing that a doctor will tell you is that you need a good mattress. When we say a good mattress, we refer to a type that should support your particular body type allowing you to rest and relax. It is general knowledge that a new mattress can provide you much more support than the one which is worn out. Simply put, as time goes by, stuffing depletes, providing less support to your joints and other parts of the body. Even though doctor can suggest a particular mattress, it remains up to you whether a certain product fits your needs or not.

Nowadays, mattresses are made from various materials. Some of them focus on durability, others on anti-allergic properties, while some are meant to provide better support to your back. According to the experts, it is optimal to change mattress once every seven years. Here is a brief rundown that will help you recognize different types of mattresses.

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  • Foam mattress

As its name implies, this type of product is made out of foam. This foam can be from various substances such as polyurethane, latex or memory foam. Furthermore, foam mattresses can also have gel and some other materials within them. The good thing about this particular item is that it can be made in various shapes and densities (due to different materials which are used).

  • Gel mattress

A gel mattress uses a gel within the mattress. However, due to its structure, this type of mattress has to go with some other materials. It can be placed within the item’s support system, upholstery layer or both. Together with foam, it creates feeling of comfort.

  • Memory foam mattress

When it comes to this form, this is a product which uses high density polyurethane foam. Similar to a gel mattress, this substance can be placed in the support system, upholstery layer or both. If you need an easy to clean mattress, this is the one for you.

  • Latex mattress

If you wish to have an organic mattress, this is the best option for you. Latex mattresses can be organic, non-organic and a mixture of the two. While organic is made from the coconut plant (its milk to be precise), a non-organic mattress is made from petroleum material.

  • Mattress with springs

This is the oldest and still, most popular type of mattress. It has a spring within it as a support system for your back. Naturally, due to its long existence, there are various sub-types of this product. You can choose your mattress based on the spring system within it. There are those that are made with springs connected into a single unit as well as those that are individually wrapped pocketed coils. Springs are covered with different materials which are meant to provide protection and isolate the user from the springs themselves. When it comes to number of coils, it can vary. However, one thing holds true; the more springs there are, the better distribution of weight. Having this in mind, more coils will provide a better support to your back. These mattresses are very cheap and durable.

  • Hybrid mattress

As you can presume, this mattress combines different technologies. It is based on springs together with foam (can be made from various types of foam). Have in mind that even gel can be used for this particular item.

  • Waterbed

These beds are based on water. There are two main types available to consumers: a hard sided and a soft sided bed. Even though this kind of mattress has existed for quite some time, it has never attained the same popularity as other similar products. Even though they are very comfortable and good for your back, they are not very durable.

  • Pillow top mattress

This is a great option for people who need additional support or extra comfort. A pillow top mattress has another upholstery layer which is placed into the top of the mattress. It can be made out of fiber or foam.

  • Air bed

Similar to a water bed, this type of mattress is quite gimmicky. Their support system is based on air which is placed in a special chamber. This chamber is protected by padding or upholstery which is made out of fiber or foam. The good thing about these mattresses is that you can adjust different parts of it according to your own desires.

Although these products vary in term of price, durability and comfort, the most important thing to have in mind is hygiene. Even if you have the best mattress in the world, it can still present a health hazard if you do not maintain it properly. Of course, anti-allergic materials may solve a part of your problem but you still need to clean your mattress from time to time.

If you wish to learn more about mattress cleaning, read this detailed mattress cleaning guide.

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Can My Stomach Handle the Food in Mexico?

Q&A with a Reader

Greetings from Iowa!

Am rereading one of your books I have purchased and have a couple of questions.

1: Am thinking about buying your “4” pack of books an am wondering when you wrote those and if the information has changed much?

2: Regarding all the restaurants/local food places that you eat at, I wonder if the ole digestive system ever gets affected? I’m showing my wife all your pictures and she laughs and says, “Can your stomach handle that unboxed food”? haha

Many thanks

Craig and Lori

Life is an adventure, follow your dreams.

Quesadillas being made on the street in Mexico

Quesadillas being made on the street in Mexico

Hi Craig and Lori,

Thank you for taking the time to write. We enjoy your questions and appreciate your keeping in touch.

In regards to the books written on Mexico, those books were written when the Peso was 12 to the Dollar, and currently the Mexican Peso is 18 to the Dollar. Any inflation that might have happened since the books were written would be covered by the better exchange rate. Right now, it’s a great time to be visiting Mexico.

As for the food in Mexico, take a look at our piece, Is Eating Street Food Safe?

Beautiful beach of Zicatela, Mexico

Beautiful beach of Zicatela, Mexico

If you want to eat at a food stall and there is no one in line, pass it by. If there are people waiting to be served, chances are the food is good, and is turning over rapidly.

Not every dish in Mexico is spicy. There is a wide range of flavors and sauces including mole from Oaxaca and chicken Tinga from the coast. If you eat fresh food at all at home in Iowa, you should be fine in digesting the food in Mexico. Stay away from the fried stuff if that bothers you… but even then, you’ll have lots to choose from. The fruits are fabulous!

Monte Alban in Oaxaca, Mexico

Monte Alban in Oaxaca, Mexico

Learn a few survival phrases (those listed at the back of our books should help you get started) and you are on your way.

Be sure you have a debit card that works with the Plus or Cirrus systems and works overseas. In this way you are able to get local currency at the ATMs.

Let us know if you  have any other questions. We’d be happy to answer them.

Take care, the both of you.

Best regards,

Akaisha

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