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Retirement Starts Today Radio

Benjamin Brandt wants to teach you how to retire! Listen in as Benjamin Brandt CFP©, RICP© answers the questions on the minds of the modern retiree, often joined by the top experts in the retirement planning industry. Ask Benjamin a question here: https://retirementstartstodayradio.com/ask-a-question/
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Now displaying: June, 2021
Jun 28, 2021

Have you ever thought about your relationship with work? As retirement looms ahead, many people become fearful of the unknown that it brings. A common way to express this fear is to worry about money, but this fear goes beyond money. The real fear that people have about retirement is about how they will spend their time when they no longer have work to fill their days. 

In 2017, Paul Millerd changed his relationship with work. After climbing the corporate ladder for 10 years he decided to slow down and become a freelancer. Listen to this conversation to hear what Paul learned from this experience and how his wisdom can help you prepare for retirement.

Outline of This Episode

  • [3:22] What kind of benefits do people see from a long break in work?
  • [5:16] Taking the first steps towards a sabbatical
  • [8:15] How can we use the curiosity that emerges with a sabbatical to explore retirement?
  • [11:01] Did Paul always think this way?
  • [13:17] Are there any types of careers that sabbaticals wouldn’t work for?
  • [16:24] People will refuse to take into account what they spend

What defines a sabbatical?

I often ask my clients to take a couple of weeks off of work before retirement to explore what they will be doing when they retire. I liken this exercise to a practice round of retirement. A sabbatical can be a similar experience, but it goes even deeper. The time frame of a sabbatical isn’t strictly defined and can extend anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months or more. The biggest difference between a sabbatical and a vacation is that a sabbatical is more of a change in mindset. 

How is a sabbatical different from a vacation?

Paul explains that vacations are packed full of activities, much like a workweek. People try to pack as much into a vacation as possible. However, a sabbatical is like taking a vacation without ever going into vacation mode. To try out a sabbatical, Paul suggests staying at an Airbnb and simply living there. Cook your meals rather than eating out, shop locally, and simply bike or walk around your new surroundings. Try to discover a state of non-doing. This can be challenging and can even become uncomfortable for many people. The result of this contemplative state is self-realization and a newfound curiosity.

How can we use the curiosity that emerges from a sabbatical to explore retirement plans?

Taking a sabbatical can completely change your way of thinking and may even disrupt your plans for retirement. We have worked so hard our entire lives for a future payoff, so it can be hard to stop delaying gratification. By taking a sabbatical, it allows people to take the time to explore the work and hobbies that inspire their passion. In doing so, people can get a better understanding of the ways that they can spend their time in retirement.

A sabbatical can prepare you for retirement

If you have been working your way towards burnout, perpetually delaying gratification, or even if you simply need a retirement trial run, you may want to try taking a sabbatical. Listen to this interview with Paul Millerd to hear how a sabbatical can provide you with a shift in mindset and truly prepare you for retirement. 

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Jun 21, 2021

We’ve all been sitting at home for the past year and now everyone is getting the travel bug. That’s why today we’re kicking off the Summer Travel Series with an interview with Lee Huffman. Lee hosts a podcast called We Travel There and he writes a frugal travel blog at BaldThoughts.com. I’ve been curious about the world of travel hacking, so I have plenty of questions for Lee about using travel points, how to find the best travel resources, and, of course, where to travel. Check out this interview to help you plan your summer vacation. 

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:32] Where should we get started?
  • [5:45] What should one look for in travel points?
  • [11:02] How saving miles and points are like saving for retirement
  • [13:00] The go-to resources to use
  • [17:53] Places to check out 

How should we all get started traveling again?

The pandemic has left many of us homebound for over a year, so now that many people are fully vaccinated, everyone is ready to get on the road again. The big question is: how should we get started? 

Lee recommends using the travel credits that you may have accrued from canceled vacations over the pandemic. Those credits and vouchers may have expiration dates, so be sure to check the fine print to ensure that you don’t lose out. 

He also suggests getting your summer trips booked ASAP. The sooner you book, the sooner you’ll be able to find reward availability and lower prices. The more people begin traveling the higher the prices will rise. 

What about international travel?

Travel within the U.S. is on the rise, but people are also itching to travel internationally. Since the vaccine rollout has been different in each country, it is important to carefully investigate the specific travel rules for the country you wish to go to. Each country has its own pandemic rules and regulations. Some countries require negative Covid tests upon arrival and others may require you to be fully vaccinated. It is also important to remember that if you travel internationally, you will need a negative Covid test to enter the U.S. again, regardless of your vaccination status. Listen in to hear how many hotels in Mexico are helping travelers with this requirement.

What are the best ways to earn points?

You can earn travel points and rewards even when you are not traveling by using a credit card. Lee recommends the Capital One Venture Rewards card to get started. You can get cash back or earn extra miles with each purchase that you make. Listen in to hear how you can get started with the Capital One Venture rewards program to start traveling this summer. 

Lee compares saving miles and points with saving for retirement. He states that the two best days to start saving your miles are 10 years ago and today. He also mentions the importance of using your miles periodically. You don’t want them to become devalued over the years. 

How to use your travel miles

There are more ways you can earn travel miles than just making purchases. There are apps that you can use like Dosh to help you earn extra miles on each transaction. 

If you have had a travel rewards card for years but find it difficult to use, you won’t want to miss this interview with Lee Huffman as he explains how you can best use your hard-earned miles. He not only mentions how to use your miles, but he also includes fantastic resources that you can check out to help you find availability so that you can actually use the points that you have accrued. 

Make sure to check out Lee’s podcast, We Travel There, to get inspiration for your next travel destination. He interviews locals to help his listeners understand how to get there, where to go, what to do, how to get around, and where to stay. 

Resources & People Mentioned

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Jun 14, 2021

Nobody wants to think about becoming a widow or widower, but unfortunately, if you are married, there is a 50/50 chance that you could. In addition to the crushing grief that comes with losing a spouse, there are many details to take care of in that first year alone. This is why I want to share an article with you from NextAvenue.org.

The article, written by Anna Byrne, outlines 7 steps that you can take to help manage that first year on your own. Anna was only 28 years old when she lost her husband, so she has firsthand experience with this overwhelming stage of life. Her professional estate planning experience also lends practical tips to the article. Don’t miss this episode so that you know what you can do to help keep your head above water during that first year alone. 

Outline of This Episode

  • [2:22] 7 steps to take to manage the first year of widowhood
  • [8:34] My top 2 tips for a new widow or widower
  • [10:26] A question on the ACA subsidy under the American Rescue Plan

7 steps to manage the first year of widowhood

There’s no doubt that losing a spouse will cause overwhelming grief, but on top of that, there is so much to do in the wake of this personal tragedy. To help you wrap your head around all that there is to do, Anna Byrne from NextAvenue.org came up with 7 steps to help you through this challenging time.

Step 1 - Take care of immediate things. The small steps matter early on. You’ll need to notify family members and advisors right away. You’ll also need to make decisions about organ donation and funeral arrangements. Lean on family and friends if possible.

Step 2 - Find and organize key documents. Whether you want it or not, you are now in control of all aspects of your finances. You’ll need to find and organize important documents. Make sure to call your estate planning attorney if you used one since they will have the original will in their office. They will also have useful information to guide you through this process.

Step 3 - Take inventory of your financial situation. This is a good time to take inventory of your assets. You’ll want to create a list of all assets and debts owed by you and your partner. A good place to start is by looking at your tax returns since they detail itemized income and list the financial institutions. Look for bank accounts, retirement accounts, pensions, life insurance, real estate deeds, and Social Security information. 

Step 4 - Pull the pieces together. Every state has different laws and procedures regarding wills and probate. Familiarize yourself with the probate process in your state. You’ll also want to have a good understanding of the value of your spouse’s assets at the time of death since this is how estate taxes are calculated.

Step 5 - Build a team of trusted advisors. Having a financial and legal advisor that you can count on will help you navigate this process and avoid difficulties down the road. 

Step 6 - Plan for your immediate future. Create a new household budget and develop your own financial and retirement objectives. 

Step 7 - Plan things for your loved ones. Now it’s time to get your own affairs in order. This is a good time to update your will, power of attorney, and health care directive. Update your beneficiaries and create trusts as needed. 

Listen in to hear my own top two tips for a recent widow or widower. Stick around for the listener questions as Linda asks about the ACA subsidy under the American Rescue Plan. 

Don’t miss our summer travel series!

Over the course of the summer, we’ll sprinkle in travel episodes among the usual retirement planning content. When I was working with my clients for their May tax planning, the number one non-tax-related topic on their minds was travel. Everyone is excited to start traveling again. This is why I’ve been reaching out to folks in the travel blogging space, so we can all learn tips and tricks to make the most out of travel. If you are looking for travel hacks, rewards programs, and budget travel make sure to tune in this summer. 

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Benjamin Brandt

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Jun 7, 2021

Do you consider being rich and being wealthy the same thing? In the book by Morgan Housel, The Psychology of Money, the author argues that these words mean two different things. In this episode of Retirement Starts Today, we’ll explore the difference between rich and wealthy as well as the connotation of the word money. 

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:42] A review of the psychology of money
  • [4:30] The difference between being rich and wealthy
  • [6:13] How to declutter the filing cabinet

Thank you for 1 million downloads

I want to thank you all for helping me hit an exciting podcasting milestone. In May of this year (2021), we hit 1 million lifetime downloads. Wow! When I started this podcast several years ago I was thrilled to reach 100 listeners a month, so this kind of reach boggles my mind. Thank you for joining me on this journey.

To celebrate this milestone, I have an extra heaping helping of retirement headlines today. Both articles hail from the Wall Street Journal. The first article, written by Jason Zwieg, is a review of the book, The Psychology of Money, by Morgan Housel and it explores the different mentalities of the rich and the wealthy. The second article will reveal the best way to declutter your filing cabinet. 

The Psychology of Money

Have you ever thought about what money really is? Money is more than a way to show the value of things. Money is also a carrier of emotion, ego, hopes, fears, dreams, heartbreak, confidence, envy, surprise, and regret. There is so much of ourselves that we wrap up in the concept of money. 

This is one of the central arguments in Morgan Housel’s new book, The Psychology of Money. The author juxtaposes two stories of two different men with two very different outlooks on money, and in doing so, he reveals that great fortunes can be built from old-fashioned values like delayed gratification. 

Have you ever thought of money from a values perspective?

What is the difference between being rich and being wealthy?

Housel explores the differences between those who are rich and those who are wealthy in his book. He describes being rich as having a high current income and being wealthy is having the freedom to choose not to spend money. He explains that many rich people aren’t wealthy because they spend much of their high income to show others how rich they are. 

How the difference between rich and wealthy can figure into retirement

“The ability to do what you want, when you want, with whom you want, for as long as you want pays the highest dividend that exists in finance.” This is what many people are looking for in retirement. Most people think of retirement as a time when you stop working, however, retirement could mean, “the ability to do what you want, when you want, with whom you want, for as long as you want.” 

What are you looking for in retirement? Are you ready to give up working completely or do you simply want more freedom and flexibility?

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Benjamin Brandt

Subscribe to Retirement Starts Today on

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