February 2013

As you loyal readers know, I am old, ancient, one foot in the grave, unable to Facebook, Tweet, or even use email.  If that is true (OK I’ll admit to being old), how come Mary and I know how to blog, can figure out Facebook, use Excel to track expenses and balance the checkbook, do on-line banking, use the internet to pay bills, and even know how to manage a website.  We are tech savvy, aware, and in-tune to what goes on about us.  What is happening, unfortunately, is that our physical capabilities are diminishing.  One area that I find particularly annoying is my changing eyesight.

At the age of fifty, I needed bifocals.  At sixty-eight, glaucoma arrived.  Fortunately, glaucoma is treatable.  Both conditions remind me I’m not getting any younger.  (By the way, please read Mary’s outstanding series on how she treated cataracts.)   So as a result of the aging process and my reliance on the trusty laptop, an unintended consequence has raised its ugly head.  That being the small print (font size) that is becoming more and more prevalent on my laptop screen whenever I visit a website.  From on-line newspapers to blogs to social media sites like Facebook to you name it, the print keeps shrinking.  I have a theory.

My theory is that most of the content we read on our monitors is created by folks who have yet encountered what I call “aging eyes syndrome.”  These folks as yet, don’t require bifocals or eye drops to sharpen their vision, i.e. they are, for the most part, under fifty.  They have no problem nor do they even realize that maybe they are jamming too much information into too little space, therefore chasing away a sizable portion of folks who would love to read that news item, or blog, or Facebook post, if they could.  But they can’t, because the print is so small.  Is there a solution you ask?

Yes there is, and it is literally at your fingertips. They are part of what is categorized as “keyboard shortcuts.”  I’ll explain two of these “shortcuts” for you.  They are Ctrl+ (Control plus) and Ctrl- (Control minus).  Ctrl+ increases the size of website screen content and Ctrl- decreases it.  Go ahead and try it, right now.  If you are reading this now, you are on a website, the rChance.com website.  Find the “ctrl” key on your keyboard (there are usually two of them), press and hold it down and then press the “+” key located near the numeric keypad.  What happened?  Did you see it?  All the screen content increased in size.  Is it easier to read?  If so, great; if not, do the Ctrl+ maneuver again, and the content gets bigger still.  Pretty cool huh?  To some of you it may be too big and you want to shrink the size.  Easy, press and hold the “ctrl” key and press the “-“ key also located near the numeric keypad, and the content will decrease in size.  So remember it’s Ctrl+ to make it bigger and Ctrl- to make it smaller.

Don’t expect any help from the software nerds for a while, most of them are probably a decade or so away from the realization of what they have done.  Until they do, you are on your own.

Do you have a story you want to share?  Our readers would be like to read about it.

Remember, it’s rChance to Thrive, Every Day and in Every Way.

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How often have you done something to yourself that left you wondering, “How could I be so dumb?”  Well I did just that Saturday evening.  Here is the story.  I hope you get a laugh from it.

It’s about 6 PM on a Saturday, suppertime.  Neither Nanook or I wanted to cook.  We did the obvious, we called Pizza Hut.  We ordered a pizza for pick-up.  It’s cheaper to pick-up than deliver, so I opted for the cheap route.  That was my first mistake.

I put on my shoes, put on my jacket and headed-out to the garage.  I pushed the garage door opener button.  I heard the unmistakable whir of the door lifting.  As the door was opening I walked around my parked Toyota RAV4 to the driver’s side.  Part of that walk was between the rear of the car and the rising garage door.  That was my second mistake.

I got into my seat, strapped-on my seat belts, inserted the key into the ignition, started the engine, and slipped the transmission into reverse.  I eased-up my foot off the brake pedal, and the car started creeping backwards.  During that process I overlooked one step, checking my rear view mirror.  That was my third mistake.

I have to slowly back the car out of the garage mindful to be careful as to not decapitate my outside mirrors.  Slowly, moving backward, then the awful noise of shattering glass alerting me to stomp on the brake.  “What the (expletive)?”  I cursed.  I looked up to my rearview mirror to see an unencumbered view of my driveway.  “Unencumbered” because I no longer had a rear window.  It was in hundreds of pieces on the garage floor on the storage compartment of the car.  The next thing I did was silently curse myself for being so dumb.  It was one of those Homer Simpson “DOH” moments when I realized what a dumb thing I had done.

What happened is that my garage door did not rise all the way.  In fact it stopped after making about 3/4th’s of its ascent, just high enough so the bottom of the door aligned itself with the rear window on the RAV4’s tailgate.

I was shaken but not stirred (sorry James Bond, I can’t help myself).  The first thing I did was call Pizza Hut to change the order to delivery.  Then I called the insurance company.  The pizza arrived after I hung the phone-up from the insurance company.  Needless to say the pizza wasn’t very good, it wasn’t Pizza Hut’s fault.  The next morning I checked the car and the garage door.  The only damage was, thankfully, the window.

Fast forward to Monday morning, the car window guy came and replaced the window followed by the garage door guy who fixed the door, and by 11 PM, the RAV4 and garage were as good as new.

What I was left with is a bunch of “What if” questions like “What if I ordered delivery instead of pick-up,” or “What if I left the car in the driveway earlier in the day rather than put in the garage,” or “What if I checked to see if the garage door was all the way up.”  But after self-flagellating myself verbally, I decided to laugh at myself instead, and blog about it.

Do you have your “Oh s__t” story you would like to share.  Our readers would be like to read about it.

Remember, it’s rChance to Thrive, Every Day and in Every Way.

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Did you (or your spouse) celebrate your 70th birthday between July 1 and December 31 of last year, or you will turn 70 ½ between January 1 and June 30 of this year?  Do you (or your spouse) have an IRA, either Traditional or Roth?  If you answered yes to both questions, please keep reading.  The IRS requires you to make a withdrawal from your IRA the year you turn 70 ½ years old.

The rules are clear.  If you have a financial advisor, he or she should have contacted you about setting-up a distribution plan by now.  What if you don’t have a financial advisor?  Then try your accountant.  You don’t have an accountant?  Then you have to figure it out on your own.  Call the financial institution that holds your IRA. The last stop may Google or www.irs.gov.

Next is a snapshot of the IRS rules governing IRA distributions.

How much must I take out at 70 ½?  You must make a “required minimum distribution” (RMD) beginning with the year you turn 70 ½.  The RMD is calculated by dividing the IRA account balance as of December 31 by your life expectancy (or applicable distribution period). 

How do I find out my life expectancy or applicable distribution period?  Ask your financial advisor or accountant.  If you need or want to look it up, tryPublication 590 (2011), Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs), Table I, Table II or Table III.

Can I make a qualified charitable contribution to satisfy my “required minimum distribution?”  Yes, it may satisfy all or part of your distribution.  The contribution is subtracted from your RMD.  You must withdraw the remaining balance for the year.  Let’s say your RMD for the year is $10,000 and you donate $5,000.  You still have to withdraw the remaining $5000.  

How do I make a qualified charitable contribution?  Again, ask yourfinancial advisor or accountant.  Remember, the donation has to be made to a “qualified” charity, so work with your financial advisor or accountant.

I am over 70 ½ and still working, must I make a “required minimum distribution?”  Yes, there is no exception.

I am over 70 ½ and the owner of the company, must I make a “required minimum distribution?”  Yes.

That’s it in a nutshell.  I just wanted you to be aware of what your government requires from you in case you did not know.

Do you have a story you want to share?  Our readers would be like to read about it.

Remember, it’s rChance to thrive, every day and in every way.

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