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Judy O’Leary: “If one takes Social Security at 62, they are limited on how much they can earn in a given year without forfeiting a portion of the payout. If you wait until full retirement age, your annual earnings can be unlimited.”

☞ True. It’s explained here. But I don’t think that affects the strategy discussed Wednesday. Yes, you’d receive a smaller benefit; but you would also have less to repay if you elected to reset the benefit later.

Russell Turpin: “Like every other endeavor, it’s first important to decide one’s goal. Is the chief aim to maximize one’s estate? Or is it to insure against outliving one’s income? If it is the latter, and there is the possibility of living much past 70, then the best strategy is to wait until one is 70 to start drawing social security. That maximizes guaranteed income when one is truly old. Starting at 62, with the intent of paying back benefits at 70, is a bit more flexible, but carries some risk. The money that is drawn is exposed, not just to one’s own lapse in discipline or bad turn at investment, but also to lawsuits, state actions, and court judgments. One of the great features of social security is that it is immune to all of that. A 68 year-old man may fall down a cliff with an old drinking buddy, spend an expensive three months in a hospital, get sued by buddy’s family, and simultaneously by an ungrateful son. Neither the various creditors and plaintiffs nor their lawyers can touch the cash value of this fellow’s social security, force him to start drawing it earlier than he desires, nor garnish the checks once he decides to do so. Despite a bad year that exhausts a lifetime of assets and lines up the creditors, this fellow may have a decent income for the next twenty-five years. Of course, if his girlfriend kills him at his 69th birthday party, this fellow’s son may be even more ungrateful that the father never drew a cent from social security, continually borrowing drinking money from the son while forestalling until his 70th year. So, it depends on one’s goals.”

☞ And one’s rather vivid – not to say violent – imagination.


Karen Tiede: “On the topic of whether or not to wash plastic bags [which I last month suggested could profitably be explored at book length], Amy Dacyczyn, the frugal zealot who wrote The Tightwad Gazette, addressed this topic several years ago, long before $4 gas prices. On pages 45-47 of volume 1, she distinguishes between Zipock (which you should wash) and other bags (not worth it). She, and I, do not reuse any bag that has been in direct contact with meat. Also, do not use any bag inside out if it has “paint” (bread bags) on the outside. Elsewise, the cost savings for washing and reusing Ziploc bags in 1993 time-and-money (and petroleum) values came out to $30 / hour. On page 99 of volume 2, one of her readers recommends turning them inside out and tossing them in the wash with a warm load. Those of us with cats and litter boxes are always in need of plastic bags. In my house, all food-contact bags (lettuce) go to the litter box stash once they’re done protecting the lettuce from dehydration.”


Click here for a website entirely devoted to them – and a chance to add your own. I noted 109 reports on Sirius Satellite Radio, for example, before even adding my own.


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