Fall Is Around The Corner

We are starting to feel it.  The days are getting shorter, and the air is starting to feel a little crisper.  We are anticipating one of the most beautiful times of the year, where we can view that glorious fall foliage and enjoy those cool crisp days.

Something else you may be anticipating is your upcoming retirement.  If you are approaching retirement within the next 12-18 months here are some things you should do: 
  • Think about your goals.  Do you and your spouse  want the same retirement lifestyle?  Talk to your spouse and identify ways to compromise if needed. 
  • Make sure you get signed up for Medicare (there is a seven month enrollment window around your 65th birthday)
  • Calculate your Social Security payout and other income sources to determine your  estimated income flow.
  • A good tax saving strategy is put the fully allowable amounts into your 401K  and IRA. 
  • Map out your expected living expenses in retirement to make sure your estimated income and expenses match.
  • About 3 months before retiring meet with Human Resources to determine if you have any accounts that need to be rolled over, and decide on a Social Security start date.
Is your retirement around the corner ? Does all this sound overwhelming?  Don't panic! I can help you with this and answer any questions you may have about how to plan for a successful and happy retirement.  If you are already retired it's still important to have an income plan review to make sure your money lasts throughout your retirement.

Please call or email me anytime.

View my profile on LinkedIn
Like me on Facebook
Upcoming Event

Salem College
"Courses for Community"
Women, Wisdom & Wealth: Living a Successful Retirement Lifestyle

Instructor:  Debra Mackie
If you are retired or nearing retirement, don't miss this personal enrichment course created specifically for women and their financial concerns.  
Topics include: 
  • Fundamental principles for making your money last
  • Understanding and managing your investments to increase your monthly income
  • Basic tax reduction strategies
  • Ways to protect your life saving from investment mistakes
  • How to avoid unnecessary estate taxes
  • Maximizing your Social Security benefits
  • Planning for a health care catastrophe
  • How to pass your life's savings to your heirs with minimal probate, tax and legal costs


Course Schedule:

September 12, 19 and 26;  6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Cost:  $30 
For more information please call 336.659.7060 or
Call Salem College to register at 

Now you can also register online at www.salem.edu/cfc

Please note: no charge for existing clients to attend.

**Spouses and Partners Welcome**


Women tend to live longer than men, meaning they spend more time in retirement and often do so with less savings, given their lower average lifetime earnings. They are also more likely to live alone in old age due to widowhood or divorce. Consequently, women represent more than half of all Social Security beneficiaries age 62 and older and two-thirds of all beneficiaries over the age of 85.
Here are the top 10 things women need to know about Social Security benefits.

1. If you work for at least 10 years and earn a minimum of 40 work credits, you are entitled to a Social Security retirement benefit as early as age 62 or disability benefits even sooner if you can't work because of severe illness or injury.  Retirement benefits are based on your highest 35 years of earnings.
If you work less than that, the zero earnings years in the 35-year-calculation will reduce your retirement benefit.
2. If you were born on or before Jan. 1, 1954, you are eligible to claim only spousal benefits on your husband's earnings record when you turn 66, allowing your own retirement benefits to continue to grow by 8% per year up to age 70.
Younger workers will never have this choice. Whenever they file for Social Security, they will be "deemed" to file for all available benefits and would be paid the higher of the two amounts.

3. If you are married, you may be entitled to Social Security retirement benefits, both on your own work record and as a spouse.  A spousal benefit is worth between one-third and one-half of the husband's benefit, depending on your age at time of claim. In most cases, you would be paid the higher of the two benefits, not both.  If you were married at least 10 years, are divorced and currently single, you may be able to collect Social Security benefits on your ex's earnings record.


4. If you have been divorced at least two years and both former spouses are at least 62 years old, you can collect benefits as an "independently entitled spouse" even if your ex has not yet claimed benefits. But to collect only spousal benefits while your own benefits keep growing up until age 70, you must have been born on or before Jan. 1, 1954.
5. Lesbian couples are entitled to the same Social Security benefits as heterosexual couples. Couples must be married at least one year to claim benefits as a spouse.  If entitled to benefits on your own earnings record and as a spouse, you would be paid the higher of the two amounts. But if you were born on or before Jan. 1, 1954, you have the option to claim only spousal benefits at 66 and switch to your own larger retirement benefits at 70
6. If your husband is collecting either Social Security retirement or disability benefits and you are caring for his minor child under age 16 or a permanently disabled adult child, you may be eligible for a spousal benefit regardless of your age. Once the youngest child turns 16, you will lose your benefits until you qualify for retirement benefits as early as age 62.
7. I f you are entitled to a Social Security retirement benefit on your own earnings record and you are a surviving spouse, you can choose whether to collect your retirement or survivor benefit first and switch to the other benefit later if it would result in a larger amount.


Reduced survivor benefits are available as early as age 60. Full benefits - worth 100% of what your late husband was collecting or entitled to collect at time of death - are available at your full retirement age (FRA) but they do not grow larger if you wait beyond FRA to collect them.
However, retirement benefits increase by 8% per year for every year you postpone collecting them beyond FRA.
8. Public employees, including teachers, in about a dozen states are not covered by Social Security. If you have a public pension based on work where you did not pay FICA taxes and you try to collect Social Security benefits as a spouse or survivor, those benefits could be reduced or wiped out by the Government Pension Offset provision. The rule reduces any potential Social Security benefits by two-thirds of the amount of the public pension.
9. Anyone who collects any type of Social Security benefits - as a worker, spouse or widow - before full retirement age while continuing to work could lose some or all of their benefits to the earnings test. They would forfeit $1 in benefits for every $2 earned over $16,920 in 2017. Any benefits lost to the earnings cap would be reinstated at full retirement age in the form of higher monthly benefits.
10. If you are collecting benefits on your husband's earnings record and he decides to suspend his benefits at full retirement age to earn delayed retirement credits, beware that your spousal benefits would stop, too. Under new rules that took effect last year, anyone can still suspend benefits at full retirement age, but no one can collect benefits on that worker's record during the suspension.

If you have any questions about Social Security , please don't hesitate to call or email me.  I can help.

Listen to Your Body! 5 Healthy Eating Tips for 
Women Over 60        

These days, it seems there is at least one article, study or documentary coming out each day that delivers conflicting information about what you should and shouldn't be eating.

Are eggs good or bad? Should you eat low carb or low fat? Is dairy the enemy or is it red meat? If you were to pay strict attention to them all, your head would be spinning and your diet would yo-yo back and forth faster than a fidget spinner.

Here's the thing: You can't believe everything you hear and read. In this age of Internet and social media, we get instantaneous information thrown at us constantly, whether that information is true or false. So, my biggest piece of advice is, take it all with a grain of salt. Do your own research, or let me do it for you.

My podcast, Chew on This, deals with lots of health news and discusses all sides of an issue. Regardless of how you find it, I urge you to be well informed so you can make the best dietary decisions for you, based on your health and fitness goals.

So, what's a person to do about diet right now? Be sensible. These are my top tips for eating sensibly and nutritiously without agonizing over every food you put in your body.

Healthy Eating Starts with Listening to Your Body

One of my earlier articles for Sixty and Me was about dairy foods and lactose intolerance, and how it affects about 75 percent of the adult global population. Chances are, you might be lactose intolerant, too. But the only way to find out is to pay attention to your body's cues.

This includes headache, nausea and rashes. This can be accomplished by keeping a food journal and recording how you feel after each meal. Look for common threads, such as dairy, alcohol, eggs, peanuts, shellfish or gluten which are some of the more common intolerances.

Look for more subtle cues, too. Do you feel lethargic after consuming a carb-heavy meal? Maybe you are restless at night, when you normally fall right to sleep. A fuzzy brain is another sign. These symptoms could indicate a dietary cause. You may need to see a naturopathic doctor or nutritionist to get to the root of the problem.

Here's another cue from your body: hunger pangs. Eat when you are hungry, and only when you are hungry (unless you are trying to gain weight). Many of us fall into the trap of assuming we are hungry when we may be thirsty.

Or we may simply be paying more attention to external cues like that carton of ice cream in the freezer or that bag of potato chips in the pantry. I could be the cooking show you are watching on TV or the plate of food being delivered to the person sitting next to you at a café.

You see it, smell it, think about it and can't get it out of your mind until you eat it, even if you are not really hungry. Cravings are more psychological than physical; rarely do we crave carrot sticks over candy bars. Take a moment and think before you reach blindly for an unhealthy snack.

Eat Whole Foods

There really is no perfect or universally accepted definitions for terms such as "whole food" or "clean eating." I define them as a focus on foods in their most natural state, with little processing (from cooking to canning, dehydrating to packaging) and never in a package with a list of mysterious ingredients or made in a fast food restaurant.

Of course, most foods we eat are processed in some way. You wouldn't eat raw meat (unless it's sushi!), yet the very act of cooking meat is a process. So, take that term lightly. Instead, try to incorporate lots of raw vegetables, seeds, nuts and grains, and prepare dishes yourself, at home.

There's nothing wrong with cooking fresh produce, but clean eating really focuses on eating clean, i.e., whole and natural, foods for optimal health through better nutrition. Also, stay away from artificial preservatives, sweeteners, flavors and colors, none of which are healthy in any way.

Be Open to Change

As we get older, our bodies change and so do our nutritional needs. We no longer need to consume the same number of calories or even at the same times of the day. Something we used to tolerate can become a problem for our health, seemingly overnight.

Quite often I have heard this repeated refrain, "I've always eaten this way, and I'm not going to change now. I'm not going to give up the things I like to eat. You might as well kill me than tell me I can't eat (cheese, milk, bread - you name it)."

Unfortunately, stubbornness has never been the way to good health, nor will it help anyone make a change for the better.

Instead of resisting change, think of all the positive reasons why you should change. T hings like better health, longer life, radiant skin, more energy, weight loss, control over medical issues, the desire to ditch medications - whatever it is that motivates you to work on your personal health and fitness.

Stop focusing on what you are giving up and look forward to what you are gaining. Changes for better health aren't something you can do for a while, then slip back into old, bad habits. These are changes for the rest of your life - to improve the rest of your life.

Don't Beat Yourself Up

It's okay to slip occasionally. We are human, after all. If you have a day when you eat bacon and ice cream and French fries, it isn't going to kill you. Just be sure to get back on the bandwagon the next day, and brush off your sense of guilt.

By the same token, the opposite is true. If you generally eat fast food, highly processed food or food of which you are intolerant, but have a clean eating day now and again, you aren't doing yourself any favors.

The best defense is a good offense, as the old saying goes. Be prepared to be tempted and slip up. Do your best to avoid those situations. Keep healthy snacks in your pantry and rid your kitchen of convenience foods.
When on vacation, plan to sample local dishes but consider how you will stay healthy and fit. If you do succumb to temptation, get right back on your clean eating plan as soon as possible.

It's All Up to You

I hope you realize the importance of eating "clean" and "whole" foods, and that it's more important to stick with what feels right than to pay attention to the latest research. It's not easy to make a lifelong change for the better, but it is so very worth it.

Source:  Sixty and Me/Candy Morehouse

World's Oldest Yoga Teacher Reveals 4 Secrets to a Long Life

Tao Porchon-Lynch, 98, winner of a Guinness World Records award as the world's oldest yoga teacher, says her  secret to long life is her mantra: Nothing is impossible.

A former French Resistance fighter, model, actress and activist, she's been teaching yoga for 45 years, three hip replacement operations notwithstanding.
Born in India, she now lives in Hartsdale, N.Y., where she moved with her second husband. She still teaches yoga to packed classes at a local dance studio.

Her four secrets to long life:

Start the day an optimist. "When I wake up in the morning, I don't think about all the problems I have. I say, 'This is going to be the best day of my life.' Whatever you put in your mind materializes."

Be fearless. "Don't spend time on 'I can't.' When I  practice yoga, I just go and do it and don't let my mind get in the way, because it will tell me what I can't do. I'm not interested in what I can't do. I dance every day. I do rumba, samba, waltz, foxtrot, cha-cha-cha, paso doble... I'm going to compete in the Fred Astaire championships in a couple of weeks. My new teacher and partner is 26."

Focus on breath. "I practice breathing not every day but every hour. The problem is that people just take sort of a sniff. That's not the breath. The breath has to come from deep inside, even from your feet. The Chinese call that channeling the energy into your heart. Everything breathes, even a blade of grass. It sounds silly, but when I was a little girl, I one day had my ear to the ground and my aunt asked me what I was doing. I told her I was listening to the grass grow. Everything has energy - it's the breath of life."

Wear heels. "I wear high-heeled shoes so that I'm completely energizing my instep all the time. I climbed Machu Picchu in high heels, and I got there faster than many of the others."

Source:  AARP
Roasted Tomatoes With Basil and Cheese

This dish brings together three Italian staples into a simple yet flavorful combination of deliciousness. Cherry tomatoes are naturally sweet, but roasting really brings out a kind of savory sweetness from the fruit. We wanted to add something to our tomatoes and what could be better than topping them with cheesy breadcrumbs. Toasty cheese and breadcrumbs add great texture and flavor, and we couldn't resist adding a pop of color and freshness with a few sprigs of basil from our herb garden.

      • 1 pound cherry tomatoes cut in half
      • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
      • 1 tablespoon olive oil
      • 1/3 cup Italian bread crumbs
      • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
      • 2 tablespoons shopped fresh basil
      • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
      • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
      • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper




1.  Set oven to broil.


2.  Coat an 8-inch baking dish with cooking spray.  Add tomatoes, garlic, salt and pepper.  Drizzle over olive oil and toss to combine.


3.  Transfer baking dish to oven and broil tomatoes for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes are softened.


4.  Combine bread crumbs with melted butter and parmesan cheese.  Sprinkle over top of tomatoes and return to oven for 1 minute or until bread crumbs are toasty.


5.  To serve, sprinkle tomatoes with chopped fresh basil.  Enjoy!



Source:  12Tomatoes

Pet Power of Attorney: Make Plans for Rover Before You're Covered in Clover

Not many of us could (or would) do what hotel magnate Leona Helmsley did for her Maltese pup Trouble: She left $12 million in trust so  the little white dog would never want for anything . But even if you're not a millionaire, you can make plans to ensure your pets are well taken care of after you're gone. 

As an occupational therapist providing rehabilitation in the home, I often hear from people that they fear that their pet may outlive them.  While a family member or friend may be willing to care for your cat or dog or cockatoo, that's a commitment not to be taken lightly. Aside from the cost of maintaining a pet, there is daily care, and for any number of reasons you may not have someone you can depend on to take on this huge commitment.

We should all take the time to  organize important paperwork before a crisis occurs - and this includes estate planning for pets.  The Humane Society of the United States  recommends choosing two people who will serve as temporary pet caregivers should an emergency arise. They should have easy access to your home, written instructions on feeding and care, the name and address of your veterinarian, and knowledge of your permanent plan for the pets. Neighbors, friends and relatives should know who the emergency caregivers are.

Notes the Humane Society, "Because pets need care daily and will need immediate attention should you die or become incapacitated, the importance of making these informal arrangements for temporary care giving cannot be overemphasized."

A Trust to Keep Kitty in Kibble

There are formal options for people who want to ensure that their pets are cared for in the manner to which they have been accustomed. Some people specify plans for their animals in their wills, but you should understand that such provisions take effect only when you die, and they may take days or weeks to be carried out depending on when the will is read. A power of attorney, which authorizes someone to conduct some or all of your affairs for you while you are alive, can include care for your pets should you become incapacitated.

pet trust  is a legal document that designates a trustee who will hold funds "in trust" to pay the caregiver for all of the needs of your pet. Unlike a will, a trust can provide for your pet anytime you are unable to do so.  The ASPCA suggests setting up the trust with a lawyer who specializes in estate planning as various states have differing laws. New York pet trusts cover the pet for its whole life, for example, but some other states only go up to 21 years, which may be of concern for horses or parrots or other animals with long lifespans.

Directions left in the pet trust should be very specific.
For example, the exact brand of food your animal prefers, as well as the quantity and how often the pet should be fed; its daily activity habits; health issues and anything else you think will maintain consistency in its quality of life.

Pet Estate Planning Checklist
For everything you need to know on estate planning for pets, check out  Fat Cats and Lucky Dogs by Barry Seltzer and Gerry Beyer. Here are a few tips:
  • Stay in touch with your designated pet caregivers in case their situation changes over time and they can no longer be your pet's guardian.
  • Choose at least one alternate caregiver.
  • When creating a trust, you will have to identify the pet to prevent fraud. Have labeled photos and consider microchip identifications.
  • Choose a beneficiary to receive any remaining funds that were not used by the pet trust.

Source:  Senior Health/Linda Shrager