10 Behaviors That Will Help You Retire Faster and Wealthier

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By Brian Preston and Bo Hanson | U.S. News

You probably dream about the day you can let the stress of work go and be fully retired. Building wealth is a marathon financial event, and there are plenty of tempting distractions and necessities along the way. Here are some behaviors and actions that will help you reach financial independence sooner.

  1. Start investing early. Time is your greatest advantage when it comes to building wealth for the future. When you are young and have 30 to 40 years before retirement, even a small amount of savings has the time to grow and multiply with the power of compounding interest. The younger you are when you start investing your money in a retirement savings account, the more time it has to work on your behalf. Maximize the power of compounding interest by beginning to save in your 20s. Let your money work for you so that you can get away from relying on income that you generate with your hands, back and brain.
  2. Set specific financial goals. Setting goals can help motivate you to achieve them. Take the time to intentionally set goals for your finances. You don’t want to live in reaction to your financial situation; you should be in control of it.
  3. Live below your means. Excessive debt has no place in a financially successful life. It’s better to be debt-free or well on your way to paying down your debts as quickly as possible. Living below your means often requires short-term sacrifices in order to reap long-term financial rewards. That means you don’t carry credit card balances, aren’t paying a car loan and you don’t finance a new flat screen television, just to cite a few examples.
  4. Defer gratification. The combination of setting financial goals and paying yourself first is a powerful discipline to master. This also means you defer gratification until you can afford the items you want with cash. You are willing to postpone a purchase until you have saved up enough money to cover its cost, in full, once the bill comes in.
  5. Focus on your strengths. Your earning potential is linked to your ability to develop your strengths. No one can be an expert in everything. Some experts think it takes five years or 10,000 hours to master something. Invest in yourself and continue to learn, but also recognize when it makes sense to seek the guidance of a professional.
  6. Find opportunity where others see challenges. Learn to see opportunity in the face of difficulties and challenges. For example, the darkest of times for financial markets may have the silver lining of providing the best opportunity to invest. Buying in when the market is low gives you an opportunity to sell much higher. Secure your finances in a way that leaves you available to observe and seize financial advantages when they present themselves.
  7. Don’t make emotional decisions. When it comes to long-term investing, it’s never a good idea to make a financial decision based on fear or other emotions that cloud your ability to remain objective. Your financial plan should be logically determined, and then you need to be disciplined enough to stay the course.
  8. Patience. Patience is key when it comes to long-term financial success. Don’t fall for “get rich quick” schemes. Give yourself time to evaluate each situation that arises with a clear perspective on how it impacts your life and finances, and carefully determine what should be done (if anything) to counteract any negative implications.
  9. Prepare for the unthinkable. You need to take steps to protect the financial success you’re working so hard to achieve. Even though it’s an uncomfortable reality, you need to address all the major estate planning categories: health insurance, life insurance, disability insurance, car insurance, a living will/last will and testament and a healthcare proxy. You also should set up an emergency reserve of cash to cover three to six months of your living expenses just in case.
  10. Generosity. Many people make a point to give money away to a church and other causes they care about. When you are intentional about where your money goes, you often find that you need less money than perhaps you thought and have extra to share that can have an impact in the lives of others. While there are tax benefits associated with generosity, the bigger reward is seeing your money help others.

These choices to live differently will be rewarded handsomely. It may start small with the desire to use this year to open a Roth IRA, fund your employer’s retirement plan to get the maximum match or trim your budget and live below your means. It all starts with a small sacrifice and a new habit, and then your assets begin to build upon themselves.

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Things You Need to Know Before Moving to Mexico V

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By Thomas Lloyd | Top Mexico Real Estate

This will be the final article in a series of “Things you need to know before moving to Mexico: Adjusting to your new lifestyle”

In this segment we will be talking about adjusting to a new lifestyle after moving to Mexico. Saying goodbye to your old life and hello to a new chapter can sometimes take a little time. After finding a new home and settling in, getting familiar with your surroundings and meeting new people can be a bit frightening.

In the beginning, taking baby steps leads to long and very rewarding strides. Don’t be afraid to go out during the day and explore your new neighborhood. Try shopping at a few local markets for your fruits and vegetables. If you live in town, there are a variety of grocery stores to choose from and yes, there is a Walmart. Shopping is actually a great resource to find other expats roaming the aisles. Don’t be afraid to go up and nonchalantly introduce yourself as being new to the community.

When cruising up and down the streets of Playa del Carmen, walk into places like salons or barber shops and get a feel for the stylist. Check out several medical and dental offices and speak with the physician and dentist. It is always a good idea to establish a local doctor. Ask about their fee schedules and hours. Doing this is the norm in Mexico and is expected. Especially in a place like Playa, where there is an extremely large expat community that also had to adapt to a new lifestyle.

Some of the most likely places to meet people are the local cafes, restaurants and bar & grills. Even if you don’t indulge in adult spirits, just order up your favorite beverage and strike up a conversation with other North Americans. We have found that these types of establishments are an easy way to develop friends and/or casual acquaintances. You can also get online and find out where many of the North Americans or expats frequent. Another good way to get to know people is by joining a church. There are several around Playa del Carmen that worship in English.

If you participated with an organization like the Kiwanis, Rotary or other international clubs back in the states, then there are probably extensions of them here in Mexico as well. The ‘Seaside Rotary Club’ is a very active association and could be another way of meeting other transplants. Meeting people is the quickest way to get acclimated to the area and have it start to feel like you are part of the community. You might want to consider joining an expat lunch or dinner club. Go online and search social media sites like Facebook or Twitter for more information.

Getting to know the town of Playa del Carmen and its people really isn’t any different than doing the same thing back in the United States. The Mexican people are very friendly and willing to help in any way they can. It will be a little awkward in the beginning. You might at one time or another second guess your reasons for moving abroad. But when things do start to fall in place and you adapt to your new surroundings, you will wonder why you didn’t do this sooner. Choosing a new lifestyle is always a good idea!

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Challenges and Benefits of Moving to Mexico

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By Lauren Macintire  | Borderless

My husband and I have lived in Cozumel, Mexico for the last three years. We moved for my husband’s job, but not in the way you might expect. He is a professional online poker player, a job he’s had since 2007. In 2011 the U.S. government shut down online poker, leaving professional players like Mike with the choice of either changing careers or leaving the country. Like many others, we became “poker refugees.”

We came via plane from our hometown, Auburn, Alabama. We’d never visited Cozumel before, unless you count driving around Google Street View, which we actually did quite a bit beforehand to get to know the place. Before we left the U.S., we put a few belongings in a small storage unit and gave away or sold the rest. Everything that we brought with us fit in our luggage. We also brought our two dogs, who came with us on the plane. (Incidentally, we have picked up a third dog while living here.)

We are on Mexican tourist visas, which is what everyone visiting Mexico gets. This type of visa does not allow us to legally get regular jobs here. We have to leave Mexico for at least 72 hours every six months to renew our visas. This requirement is almost never an issue because we visit family in the U.S. frequently and every year we go to an event in New Hampshire called the Porcupine Freedom Festival. We can renew the visas indefinitely, and we know people who have lived on tourist visas for many years.

Though moving here has had it’s challenges, it has been one of the best decisions we ever made. Here is my list of the top challenges and benefits of our move to Cozumel, Mexico.

Challenges of moving to Mexico

Miss family and friends in the U.S.

Financial support. It’s works best if you work online, are retired, etc. I’ve also seen people come here and start successful businesses.

Can’t find all my favorite products.

Isolation. I recommend coming with a partner or friend and/or connecting with other expats.

Delivery services not as good. They’re slower and a lot of things won’t ship to Mexico.

Can’t have guns.

Kinda hot. 

Less prosperity around me. In general people here are poorer so stuff is not as fancy.

 

Benefits of moving to Mexico

Legal online poker. 

Inexpensive Housing. We live in a much nicer place for less money since moving to Mexico. Our 2 bedroom/2 bathroom apartment is three blocks from the ocean and close to downtown for 6000 pesos ($356 USD at current rates) per month. Some friends recently stayed in Cozumel for a couple of months in a 1 bedroom/1 bathroom apartment two blocks from the ocean and even closer to downtown for 4500 pesos ($267 USD) a month.

Warm climate.

Great food.

Low Prices. If you are paid US wages and live like a Mexican local, you can save a lot of money.

Natural beauty. I love living near the ocean. We go snorkeling at least twice a week and we walk down to the ocean every evening for sunset.

The Mexican people. They are super nice and welcoming.

Mexican culture. It’s really fascinating.

Safer than living the U.S.

Simpler lifestyle. For example, we don’t have a car. We just walk everywhere or take a taxi for a couple dollars.

Caribbean water. When the sun is high in the sky, the water is the most bright blue and turquoise you’ve ever seen. It’s crystal clear, which makes you just want to jump right in.

Lenient immigration requirements. The governments of most countries make it hard to move there. For example, you basically have to be rich to move to Canada.

Opportunity to practice Spanish. But really only as much as you want to. You could get by in tourist towns like Cozumel with little or no Spanish because so many locals are bilingual.

Family and friends eager to visit. Who could blame them?

Safer from cops. Just by nature of being a tourist. We’ve had exactly zero police interactions in the three years since we moved here.

Visit home easily. Because Mexico is so close and there are plenty of flights.

Life is slower. As the locals say, it’s “tranquilo.”

Easy to get a bank account. 

The Riviera Maya. Killer day trips or mini-vacations to places like Coba, Chichen Itza, Tulum.

Cheap labor. Much easier to afford services e.g. handyman, maid, nanny, muralist, gardener.

Not exposed to U.S. media. There aren’t TVs everywhere with news pumping nonsense into your eyes and ears. You can keep up with it online, of course. Personally, I couldn’t pick Bernie Sanders out of lineup.

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7 Shocking Things That Are Making You To Become Old Faster

By Just Natural Life | Healthy Life Vision

There are many factors that are making us age prematurely without any of us being aware of it, sorecognizing them is of vital importance in order to stay healthy. Chronic inflammation is a big factor for diseases such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular diseases and cancer, which is why it needs to be resolved sooner rather than later. Here are 7 diseases and conditions that can make you age faster:

Sleep

Not getting enough rest overnight can really take a toll on our health. Not getting enough sleep can result in bad mood and grogginess, but it can also cause inflammation. Besides triggering inflammation, lack of sleep can harm your metabolism and weaken your immune system. According to studies, lack of sleep is also responsible for heart disease, asthma and allergies, which is why it needs to be resolved immediately. For best results, experts recommend sleeping 6-8 hours a day.

“Several studies have shown that both short and long sleeping times are associated with negative effects on our health. One meta-analysis showed that sleeping less than the recommended increases the risk of death for 10-12%, while another study revealed that oversleeping can increase the risk of mortality by 23-30%,” it was written in one study.

Allergies

Allergies are always a sign of inflammation – if they are severe, it means that you’re probably suffering from chronic inflammation. Experts recommend testing yourself for allergies in order to detect hidden allergies you might not be aware of.

Late retirement

Nowadays, it’s pretty common for people to retire later than they are required to. People go to retirement well into their 70s instead of their 60s, but according to one study, this has negative effects on our health.

“Retirement decreases the likelihood of being in very ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ health by about 40%. The study also found that retirement increases the probability of suffering from clinical depression by about 40%, while also increasing the probability of having at least one diagnosed condition by about 60%. Retirement also raises the probability of taking a drug for such a condition by about 60%,” the study said.

The trick to staying healthy is staying fit and physically active, but this doesn’t mean that you should keep your job. Travelling is a great way to stay fit both mentally and physically, and learning something new like a language or adopting new hobbies works just as well. Just keep your body and mind occupied and you will stay healthy.

Weight

Being overweight brings numerous health problems. It is linked to type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, fatty liver disease, kidney disease and even cancer. However, being underweight can also cause problems, which is why you need to maintain a healthy weight.

“BMI doesn’t only reflect body fat, but muscle mass as well. If we want to continue to use BMI in health care and public health initiatives, we must realize that a robust and healthy individual is someone who has a reasonable amount of body fat and sufficient bone and muscle,” Dr. Ray, MD at the St. Michael’s Hospital says.

Headphones and speakers damage your hearing

You may not think much of it, but standing too close to speakers at concerts can damage your hearing and make you age faster. Listening to music through headphones can damage it as well – in order to protect your hearing, you need to listen to the music at a respectable level.

Loneliness

We aren’t designed to be lonely – loneliness only creates depression and stress, which can have a serious negative impact on your health. “Not only are we at the highest recorded rate of living alone across the entire century, but we’re at the highest recorded rates ever on the planet,” Tim Smith, a Brigham University psychologist says. According to the study, lonely people are 26% more at risk of death, which is why you should find a soulmate and hang out with your friends more.

Processed carbs and sugar

You probably know the expression “You are what you eat”. It’s true – the quality of food we eat has a profound impact on our health. Consuming junk, processed and sugary foods can harm your health, which is why these foods should be avoided. Besides making you gain weight, these foods also increase the risk of several serious ailments. Different foods metabolize differently in the body, but fresh foods work best. Eat a healthy diet focused on fresh fruit, vegetables and organic meat, and exercise at least 5 times a week to stay healthy and in shape.

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Anyone Can Afford to Retire in Mexico – Here’s Why

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By munknee

…If you’re worried you might be among the 96% of people who haven’t saved enough for retirement, moving to Mexico may be an effective way to make your nest egg go further. It has become the top choice for Americans, and Canadians too. Here’s why.

Mexico is not only geographically close, it’s also very affordable. [In addition,] adventure seekers, regardless of age, love its bustling cities full of colonial architecture and rich culture, as well as the natural beauty found along its coastlines and highlands, and its hospitable locals who often go out of their way to make you feel at home.

Cost of Living in Mexico
The cost of living is drastically lower than in the U.S. or in Canada. According to Numbeo, the cost of living in Mexico is nearly 60% lower than the United States, with rent costing 79% less.

However, keep in mind that those are costs averaged over the entire country. Expenses are higher in bigger cities such as the capital, and in places that attract a lot of foreigners, such as Playa del Carmen, Ajijic or Puerto Vallarta.

Rental Costs
Based on my experience living in Mexico City and traveling extensively through the country during 2015 and 2016, I have found rents to be far lower than the U.S. You can find a place for as low as $100 a month in off-the-beaten-track destinations, such as the small beach town of Mazunte. However, a great deal like this often means sacrificing on some of the comforts of home such as air conditioning and hot water.

On the upper end of the budget, if you’re willing to spend $600–$1,000, you can rent a luxury apartment, even in the more expensive and cosmopolitan destinations.

Health Insurance Costs
Private health insurance is significantly cheaper in Mexico than in the states. It can cost you as little as 20% of what it would cost in the U.S.

Because the cost of routine visits and minor incidents is so small, you may also choose to self-insure, which means simply paying for these costs out-of-pocket as opposed to purchasing an insurance plan.

Doctor Costs
As with rental prices, the cost of going to the doctor also varies to some extent, so these numbers should only serve as a rough guideline.

From my experience, a routine teeth cleaning from a dentist costs $15–$20. A regular doctor’s visit costs as little as $25 to $50, while a specialist normally costs $35–$50 and up per visit.

Food Costs: Restaurants and Grocery Shopping
Groceries in Mexico are about a third of the price of food in the U.S., depending on the season and availability. You can even sometimes find American chains like Wal-Mart, where you can buy cheap groceries.

Restaurant prices vary, too, based on type. On the lower end, you can visit food stands to get snacks, which Mexicans call antojitos for as little as 50 cents to a dollar. These include tacos, quesadillas, and burritos. Freshly pressed juice and prepared fruit is also in this price range.

One step up from the food stands are restaurants called fondas. These are small, family-owned establishments that serve two- or three-course meals, including soup or salad, a full entree, and a drink. Sometimes they also come with dessert. Expect to pay $3–$10 dollars.

A truly gourmet, upscale dining experience should set you back $10–$30.

Alcohol Costs
Alcohol in Mexico is widely available, and enjoying tequila or mezcal is a common cultural practice. There are no taboos on drinking, and alcohol is accessible at the local corner store for very affordable prices.

For a bottle of tequila or mezcal you can expect to pay $10 for a low-quality bottle and up to $40 for an artisanally produced bottle of very good quality alcohol.

A six-pack of beer starts at $4–$6. There are not as many microbrew options available as in the U.S., but some bars do offer local, small-batch beer, usually priced around $4 a bottle…

Transport Costs
…An eight-hour basic bus trip costs about $25, varying a bit depending on your destination. You also have the option of paying more for a first-class bus that includes drinks, snacks, entertainment (TV and music), and seats that are designed to be comfortable to sleep in.

Local transportation options include the bus (on average 50 cents) and, in Mexico City, the Metro (25 cents).

In conclusion, Mexico is an attractive place to retire, not only because it is an affordable option, but because of all that it has to offer, from interesting cultural experiences to the hospitable locals who often go out of their way to make you feel at home.

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3 of the best places to Retire Abroad

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By Brooke Cobb | Escape Artist

It’s becoming more popular than ever to travel outside of the United States for retirement. In fact, according to data from the Social Security Administration, more than half a million people are collecting social security funds from abroad. It’s really not that surprising, when you think about the rising cost of living in the United States, and the fact that you can usually find cheaper, more accommodating arrangements in other countries.

So, where should you go? Some countries are better for meeting your overseas retirement needs than others, and it’s important to factor in the essentials when coming to your decision. Based on cost of living, climate, and health care, here are some of the best places to consider for your retirement destination.

Mexico

According to International Living‘s 2017 rankings of the best places to retire, Mexico wins the number one spot. This may have surprised you, but it actually makes perfect sense. First, Mexico is closer to the United States and Canada than any other country you could consider, so getting home isn’t nearly as much of a hassle as it otherwise could be. It’s also a more affordable flight – you will only spend about $200 round-trip

Mexico has a lot more to offer than location, though. Consider the fact that the dollar is worth much more than the peso (1 dollar is equal to 18.22 pesos, currently), and you’ve got a pretty affordable cost of living on your hands. Many expats say they are able to live comfortably for only $1,200 USD each month in cities like Lake Chapala and the Riviera Maya, where many retired U.S. citizens end up settling.

Finally, health care is affordable and there are even discounts for retired citizens in many areas of the country – health care included. Each city is said to have at least one first-rate hospital, and many of the doctors received their training in the U.S. or Europe. To top it off, English is a common language in many of these areas as well.

Sure, you can choose to go to Mexico for the gorgeous beaches, or even for the more temperate climate that you can find inland, but consider these other points as well. You’ll realize that Mexico truly has a lot to offer!

Panama

Panama has plenty to offer U.S. retirees. There’s a low cost of living, good health care, and it even offers a modern way of life. You can find good roads, updated venues, and internet and cable service that’s just as reliable as it is in the States. You don’t even have to worry about the quality of the water – it’s clean and drinkable!

Panama is similar to other Latin American countries in that the cost of living is lower on average than it is for the United States. However, Panama uses the U.S. dollar as its own currency, so there’s no need to worry about an exchange rate. That’s a major plus for this country. It’s also a hub for U.S. retirees, so it has access to many of the world’s banks and ATMs – so drawing money from home isn’t a hassle. Sometimes you don’t know how convenient these things can be until you don’t have them.

You can find shopping choices that you’re used to having in the United States as well, with shopping malls that feature brands like Zara, Tommy Hilfiger, Tiffany, and more.

Thorough health coverage can be had for only $100 per month, and Panama City even has a hospital affiliated with Johns Hopkins. Medicine in this country truly meets American standards.

Consumer Resource Guide

Malta

If you’re looking for more of a European-style retreat in your retirement abroad, the Maltese archipelago could be right up your alley. With a population of only 400,000, Malta is Europe’s smallest country, but it’s also one of the most affordable places to live.

Located in the Mediterranean Sea, just below Italy, Malta is rich with history dating all the way back to the Neolithic period, which predates the Egyptians. It was later ruled by the Romans and the Byzantines, among others, and everyone has left their own mark. Because of this, the country has an old-world, artistic charm to offer travelers, but there’s no shortage of modern day luxuries, either.

The people of Malta pride themselves on their health care. It’s been ranked by The World Health Organization as the fifth best in the world. English is widely spoken, and the seasons change as they do in the southern part of continental Europe. Malta is a great escape for those who want nicer weather but also enjoy the change of seasons. Life in this country can cost as little as $1,300 per month, making it an ideal place to retire.

When deciding to venture abroad for your retirement, make sure you’ve considered all of these important points. Even if you don’t choose Mexico, Panama, or Malta as your new destination, at least you’ll know what to watch for when making your decision.

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Affordable-living in La Paz, Mexico

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By Glynna Prentice | International Living

I’m in an SUV in La Paz, in Mexico’s Baja California Sur. The sun is hot and we’ve rolled down the windows as we drive through town. We go at a leisurely pace, stopping at street corners to obey the four-way stop signs; La Paz is too low-key to need many stop lights.

Here, two hours from the tip of the Baja Peninsula, I feel as though I’m on the frontier…the end of the line. It’s probably due to the laidback, away-from-it-all air that La Paz has—helped by its location, between rugged, deserted mountains and the unspoiled Sea of Cortez.

I certainly don’t feel as though I’m roughing it. La Paz has modern shops, comfortable restaurants, and a malecón (boardwalk) running right along the sea that just begs you to come for a seaside stroll.

Or a swim—when I was there last month, I saw several locals swimming leisurely in the sea right off the malecón, their clothes and towels piled in a tidy heap on the sand.

Not surprisingly, this part of Baja is popular with Californians, who drive straight down the Peninsula to La Paz—about a 900-mile trip. It also gets a lot of sailing types, who sail into La Paz’s harbor and decide to stay. In the high season, I’m told, several thousand expats live here full- or part-time, so you hear a fair amount of English—yet the city feels Mexican.

And there’s a lot to like. In addition to its neighborly, easy-going atmosphere, La Paz is affordable. Eating out in the many casual restaurants, for instance, is inexpensive. I pay about $5 for a filling breakfast, and about the same for a lunch special. For shopping, La Paz already has a small shopping mall inland…and a 100-acre mall, with supermarkets, department stores, and another Cineplex, is due to open soon.

Right now, due to the recession, property prices are way down. Looking to rent for a while? Sea-view homes, of the two-bedroom, two-bathroom type that U.S. expats prefer here, rent for about $1,000 a month—down from about $1,500 a month before the recession. If you don’t mind being inland, you can drop your rent to about $500 a month.

If you’re looking to buy, you’ll find a selection of sea-view condos, and even houses a little inalnd, for about $150,000.

And if you ever feel you want a bit of big-city action, Los Cabos is just two hours down the road.

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