Market and Sell YOUR Books: My special Tips for Indie Authors

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas from Cuenca, Ecuador

Please enjoy this Christmas video! We spend eight hours at the Christmas Eve Parade! What an experience. Happy holidays to all.

Susan and Fred Klopfer

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Retirement Ideas That Work -- For Those Scared Sh*tless!

I am putting together a group of reference books for an eBook I plan to publish in mid December –

Retirement – It’s Not Just About the Money How to Have Fun, Get Healthy and Make Extra Money When You Retire

It is a going to be a fun and helpful book, I promise. 

Meanwhile, while doing my research, I have run into several wonderful retirement books that I want to share with all of you, and here is the first one:

Retirement ideas that work, by author Ken Bodnar

Now, surely you can picture what its author, Ken Bodnar, had in mind when he wrote this eBook. Bodnar is an obvious Type A Racer who was facing what he believed to be complete ruination, if he did not come up with a chunk of change for retirement.

This is a great book. Bodnar shares his personal experience, and it is a rags to riches story about coming to grips with retirement. Anyone of us can read this book and come up with multiple ideas that work.
Bodnar writes briefly about moving to a less expensive place to live, something that Fred and I have already done. It works. We will make up the entire loss of our retirement account that we lost when Wall Street went South.
I also e-publish, another one of his topics, and this gives us an ongoing income.
Ken Bodnar is a type A racer, and many of us will never match his pace. He is a speed freak—
Nevertheless, there is something here in 55 And Scared Sh*tless for every reader, whether retired or still waiting to take the plunge.
Thus I give his book 5 stars.
It is a great read and I’ll be listing it in my references, for sure.

You can find it here -- and even download a free sample.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Don Colon Restaurant in Cuenca, Ecuador - great food, great service, and a wonderful story for retirement (not!)

There's a new restaurant in Cuenca, Ecuador (where I live as an expat), Don Colon. Owner and chef Colon Campos came out of retirement, from Naples, Florida to bring his talents to Cuenca. 

Colon is rapidly making friends and new customers because his food is great, the setting spectacular, and he is just fun to talk to.

I'll be interviewing Colon today, and will share some of his story soon on Retirement Monologues. So come back. You know that you can subscribe to this blog -- take a look over on the right.


P.S. Visit Don Colon's website at and view his new Youtube video!

He features a great Eggs Benedict for breakfast, fresh fish and Mexican specialties for lunch, and a wonderful filet mignon for dinner! Great prices, too. He should soon be featured on Frommer's and Lonely Planet -- keep your fingers crossed.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Tell About Your Journey to Sell Your Books

Susan Klopfer lives and blogs from Cuenca, Ecuador where she is currently writing a historical fiction novel based on civi rights stories of the Mississippi Delta -- but the story will take readers into South America, too. This photo was taken in a Panama hat shop in Cuenca where she also blogs about her new retirement life.

YOUR BOOK OR EBOOK IS written and an audience surely awaits. But now you must capture readers. How do you get the word out and sell those books?
Of course, there are the usual first line strategies: news releases, media interviews, direct sales, giving seminars and so forth. But here's another consideration -- why not go on a journey to the "seat" of your book and blog along the way. Everyone is talking about blogs and blogging, but what does that have to do with your book and why should you care? Internet blogging can bring in the readers, especially if you combine it with a real adventure.
If you have not been blogging, don't be afraid. It isn't so hard to do. You will need to have some Internet experience, but that is all.
A BLOG (short for web log) is a website where entries provide commentary or news on a particular subject such as food, politics, or local news; some function as more personal online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other media related to its topic. Readers may leave comments if you choose. Most blogs are simply text although some focus on photographs (photoblog), sketchblog, videos (vlog), music (MP3 blog), or audio (podcasting), and are part of a wider network of social media.
Blogging can be free or you can pay a small fee to use a blogging site. I happen to use Blogger, which is owned by Google. Several years ago, I wrote a book on Mississippi Civil Rights and at the same time set up several blogs that bring daily visitors. The blog has links, of course, to various sites where the book can be purchased.
ONE SUMMER, I went on a blogging journey to do more research, take photos and visit the people I met in the Mississippi Delta when writing the book Who Killed Emmett Till, (and eBook) and my Blog visitors were invited to come along. Here's the news release that I sent out announcing this blogging journey:
Bloggers Set to Revisit Mississippi Delta Civil Rights People and Places
Mount Pleasant, Iowa (USA), May 29, 2007--Two friends from Cleveland, Mississippi and Mount Pleasant, Iowa, are spending ten days roaming and blogging the Mississippi Delta while visiting civil rights people and places. Their pictures and stories will be placed daily at on the Internet.
Margaret Block, an early civil rights advocate, and Susan Klopfer, author of Where Rebels Roost: Mississippi Civil Rights Revisited, plan to roam the Mississippi Delta starting June 1, visiting people and places of the modern civil rights movement. "We'll be traveling in and out of the Delta for ten days as we photograph important spots and talk about the region's history," Klopfer said.
"We plan to visit the towns of Money, Drew, Glendora, Greenwood and other spots connected to the murders of Emmett Till, Birdia Keglar, Adlena Hamlett and Cleve McDowell, among others who were killed for their civil rights activities or just for being black."
Block, an early SNCC volunteer, spent her first years out of high school in the small town of Charleston where they will kick off their blogging venture by attending a program June 1 honoring Keglar. The NAACP leader was murdered by the Ku Klux Klan in 1966 on her way home from a Jackson meeting with Sen. Robert Kennedy. Keglar once saved Block's life by moving her out of Charleston in a hearse from the funeral home that Keglar managed.
"We have very few scheduled stops, but we will also leave the Delta to attend the funeral of Mrs. Chaney, James Chaney's mother in Meridian," Block said. The two also plan to visit with Unita Blackwell, Mississippi's first black woman mayor, and will take pictures as they roam the historical Brooks Farm, Parchman penitentiary, and Clarksdale, home of Aaron Henry, an early civil rights leader whom Block also knew.
The two women met when Klopfer was researching a book on the civil rights movement, "Where Rebels Roost: Mississippi Civil Rights Revisited." Klopfer was living on the grounds of Parchman at the time, where her husband was the chief psychologist.
(Contact details were given at the top of the release.)
So... I was contacted by several reporters before we left on the journey for interviews and a stories . . . looks like this idea was a winner, and could be for you, too.

Susan Klopfer writes on civil rights history and current issues, including retirement and diversity. She is the author of several civil rights books and ebooks that related to the Mississippi Delta, including her newest book, "Who Killed Emmett Till," available in e-book, audio book and print.

Contact the Author

Susan Klopfer
civil rights, cold cases, Emmett Till
Susan Klopfer's web site

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Making Life Changes in Ecuador; Doing the Expat Thing and Even More in Cuenca

The Tomebamba River runs through Cuenca, Ecuador separating the historic and modern districts.


We stacked on thick blankets and mostly stayed under the covers for our first week in Cuenca, tightly cuddling our dog’s and cat’s bodies, using our pets as warming devices. When the clouds lifted and the sun finally appeared, we crawled out of bed and discovered we both had infected knees from separate falls we took at the airport (Fred) and at the new apartment (Susan) – the day of our move to Ecuador.

I’ve had to make some big changes in my life. And really, who hasn’t? Some changes I have made under duress, and others just naturally happened. Fred and I decided last year that we needed to do something about the high cost of retirement and our small retirement purse strings. Like many other people close to retirement age, we lost most of our savings when the stock market crashed. Because I was the chief investor, and felt guilty about “what I should have done,” I did not want to take on the chore of reinvesting what was left. We needed to do something else, instead of giving our money right back to Wall Street cheats.
Why don’t we live somewhere else that is less expensive? We won’t need as much money if we can do this – I asked myself and approached Fred with the idea. He and I love adventure. We love exploring other cultures, so the idea of expat living sounded quite good. I speak some Spanish and have always been interested in South America, so we joined several thousand other baby boomers like us and moved to the current expat hot spot this past August – Cuenca Ecuador, arguably the most charming city in this small South American country, with its cobblestone streets, old-world cathedrals, colonial parks and urban rivers with lush greenways. Cuencanos continue a proud intellectual tradition that has produced more notable writers, poets, artists, and philosophers than anywhere else in their country.
This was going to be a big change, moving so far from home, away from our son and granddaughter.

OVER THE YEARS I have not been cautious about taking care of my diabetes. Not cautious? Well, let’s say not doing much about it. But I am getting ahead of myself; a discussion on diabetes comes later. When we got to Ecuador, I really was not thinking of being careful of what I eat, because at first we were really just trying to stay warm.
We arrived in Cuenca at the end of August and it was cold; especially at night and not much warmer during the day. Further, we were living in a cute little apartment without heat (the way they do things here in Ecuador) that was set along the Tomebamba River, a beautiful and very cold stream that runs through this city, separating the historical and modern districts, and eventually flowing into the Amazon River. One of the reasons we chose Cuenca was because of its natural beauty, with four rivers running through it.
In late August, it is traditionally cold. The night time temperatures typically drop to about 46 degrees F. and when you have no heat in a cement and stone building, believe me it is cold.
...And so we stacked on piles of thick blankets supplied by our apartment manager and mostly stayed under the covers for our first week in Cuenca, tightly cuddling our dog’s and cat’s bodies, using our pets as warming devices. When the clouds lifted and the sun finally appeared, we crawled out of bed and discovered we both had infected knees from separate falls we took at the airport (Fred) and at the new apartment (Susan) – the day of our move to Ecuador.
The next few weeks involved finding a doctor and getting our knees cleaned up and for Fred, taking antibiotics because his knee was a particularly bad mess. He fell at the hotel in Albuquerque as we were headed with our bags for the airport. Fred doesn’t complain about things like this, but I noticed at the first stop in Dallas that he looked almost dizzy. I asked for, and received from American Airlines, quick help in getting to the next gate. They were right there with wheelchairs for both of us. The airline’s wonderful care continued through our landings in Miami and then Guayaquil, where agents met us each time with their assistance.

CUENCA, ABOUT A HALF million population with some four to five thousand expats, is 274 miles south of Quito and 155 miles southeast of Guayaquil, cities with international airports. To get to Cuenca, requires flying into one of these cities and then catching a domestic flight. Driving is not the quickest way to get here, as curving single-lane mountain roads about double the time you’d think it would take.
The drive from Quito to Cuenca, for instance, takes about 12 hours. But we were bringing a dog and cat to this cultural city and could not simply fly to our final destination. Ralph is a pug-nosed shih tzu and no airlines allows these dogs to fly under the plane for their health safety (they have trouble breathing). In Ecuador, the rules change, and no pets can fly in the cabin, so we had no choice but to drive from Guayaquil to our new home.
No problem said the apartment manager where we would be staying in Cuenca when I emailed him about this dilemma, asking for his ideas on how to get to his apartments from the airport. “I will come and pick you up.”
Xavier thankfully found us at the airport late the night we landed in Guayaquil. I had really screwed up, giving him the wrong description of our clothing and then losing his cell phone number. But after 30 minutes or so of airport terror, he honed in on Fred and was still smiling when he said Hola!
His double red truck was parked at the airport and he quickly loaded us in, packed our stuff– dog and cat in cages, two bags of computer stuff, 7 suitcases in all – and we headed out for the breath-taking four hour trip (with a couple of stops) through Parque Nacional Cajas (Cajas National Park), where even in the dead of night, this national treasure in the highlands of this South American country was stunning. 

XAVIER, WHO MANAGES the Otorongo Apartmentos, is also a fearless bike racer and he drove along this winding road with ease through the narrow parts of the highest pass reaching 4,450 meters or 14,600 feet. Cajas provides about 60 percent of the drinking water for the Cuenca area, and two of the four rivers of Cuenca originate from Cajas, the Tomebamba and Yanuncay rivers.
This late night in the mountains as we passed through each small village, people were having wonderful times, roasting whole pigs on grills, eating and visiting each other as their children played. We stopped for some fresh fruit from stands holding the must wonderful-looking fruits I had ever seen, and many kinds of fruit I had never seen in my life. Tiny bananas, pineapples and so much more caught our eyes and tasted so good.
As we left the warm air of Guayaquil and drove into the cool mist, the view coming over the Cajas was amazing, with stars brilliantly shining, perhaps as welcoming omens to our new home and retirement venture. “Maybe we will see the Southern Cross,” Fred hoped out loud, referring to Crux, a well-known constellation easily visible from the southern hemisphere at practically any time of year. We looked around and probably did see it – but wouldn’t have known if we had. This was all so new!

Next – Fixing our banged up knees and coming to grips with diabetes

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

My Paradigm Shift in Cuenca, Ecuador as an Expat -- a Retirement Transformation, a Metamorphisis. -- Finding a New Hat!

 Did you know that Panama Hats really come from Ecuador?

I needed to turn my life around (almost entirely), and I am getting there day by day as a retired expat baby boomer living in Cuenca, Ecuador. It has been a series of sharp turns in what I think and what I do, and the entire event might be loosely described as a paradigm shift, to borrow from my college science classes.
Maybe I am just looking for a new hat to wear...
But back to this idea of a paradigm shift.
Back in the 1960s, my professors used this term to describe what scientists are sometimes forced to do when facing a number of competing unique and immeasurable solutions to a problem that has already been “solved” (at least by science).
The scientist must swallow pride and be brave enough to take another square look at all of the information she has been avoiding, and ultimately allow much of it into her small world to be studied and then accepted before issuing any further scientific edicts about this topic.
Once this paradigm shift is completed, more unique ideas are accepted as legitimate and become part of the science world to be used as science progresses, and gradually this change of thought brings dramatic change to a culture and even to the entire planet.
In 1962, Thomas Kuhn, an American physicist, historian, and science philosopher, wrote The Structure of Scientific Revolution, coming up with this revolutionary and controversial idea, arguing that scientific advancement is not evolutionary, but rather is a "series of peaceful interludes punctuated by intellectually violent revolutions", and in those revolutions "one conceptual world view is replaced by another".
Kuhn knew that change does not just happen, but must be driven by something – a person or event that we call, in business and in science, an agent of change.
Think of those brave change agents who fought the belief that the earth was at the center of the universe. Because of their insistence, the prevailing truth was ultimately tossed out the window, resulting in a paradigm-shift that put our planet in its proper place, with the sun in the center. The dramatic result of this shift moved science from Newtonian physics to Relativity and Quantum Physics.

See my retirement photos on Pinterest

Or consider the printing press and how the printing of books in large volume gradually changed cultures and had a direct affect on the scientific revolution. Johann Gutenberg's invention in the 1440's of movable type was an agent of change. Books became more available, smaller and easier to handle and less expensive than scrolls. Far more people were able to access the scriptures and attitudes began to change as people were no longer under the dictates of the church, people luck Martin Luther.
Today’s change agents are driving paradigm shifts that are all around us. 
Just think of how the computer and the Internet have changed our personal and business lives, resulting in a paradigm shift for publishing. Do you visit a newspaper website? Read eBooks?
So where does Cuenca, Ecuador come into play as some of my current paradigms are starting to slip slide away

This is what I will be addressing in this blog – and I invite you to come along this journey, sharing you thoughts and experiences. 
I want to hear your comments, ideas and stories about this topic (and other retirement issues). So please send them to me and get published!

Meanwhile, I am going to visit the Panama Hat store today and take some photos to share -- and maybe even look for a new hat!

Thanks, and take care.

(Be sure to visit my retirement photos on Pinterest. And please add your own pins!)

Next time -- talking specifics about change. For me, changing how I live with diabetes has been a battle, but I am winning. Learning to speak Spanish, another shift. 

Do you have a similar change in your life to share? Has retirement provided a good time for this to occur? Please comment here. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

How to Kill Off Your Retirement Fund -- It's Relatively Easy, Says Insurance Expert

7 Expenses That Can Kill Your Retirement Fund

Every morning you drag yourself out of bed for work and tell yourself that soon enough, you’ll retire and won’t have to worry about money or working ever again. You’ve got your retirement plan set up and have been contributing faithfully for decades, but have you considered all the expenses that can pop up unexpectedly? You can adapt to some small costs, but these seven expenses can really eat up your retirement fund. Keep these in mind when setting up your retirement savings so you don’t come up short in the end.
  1. Helping adult children:

    Even if your job or income wasn’t affected directly by the recession, there’s a good chance that your working children hit some hard times. In 2011, more than half of U.S. parents were helping their adult children financially with things like living expenses, transportation costs, and extra cash. For 7% of parents, this new burden meant they had to delay retirement. Most people only plan for one or two people when putting away money for retirement, but if a child moves home or needs help with rent money and groceries, your savings will be used for three. Consider what you can reasonably spare when helping out your children so you don’t all end up in the poor house.
  2. Long-term care:

    While we’re lucky enough to face a longer expected lifespan, these extra years can put a strain on your retirement fund. After retirement, many people are living 25 or 30 years on just their savings, and it will likely become harder to care for yourself as you age. You should take into account as you make plans for retirement that there is a good chance you will need to hire someone to assist you in your daily life or move into an assisted living or nursing home at some point. Medicare and other insurance plans don’t normally cover long-term care, so the cost will be left to your loved ones if you can’t pay for it with your retirement savings.
  3. 401(k) fees:

    Your employer-sponsored 401(k) plan may seem like a no-brainer when it comes to saving for retirement, but those plans can actually take a huge chunk of your money away from you through tricky fees. One progressive public policy research group found that these fees could eat up as much as 30% of your retirement fund (though trade groups say the cost is much lower than that research claims). Regardless of the actual percentage you’re losing, 401(k) administrative and marketing fees can add up, and trading costs can skyrocket in actively traded funds that are bought and sold rapidly. You can’t avoid all fees, but you can talk to your financial adviser to ensure you’re minimizing the extra costs as much as possible.
  4. Health care:

    Out-of-pocket health care costs for retirees have been rising about 6% each year for the past 10 years, which can spell big trouble for your retirement fund. Medicare doesn’t go as far as many retirees think it will, and you can be caught by surprise when a huge bill comes in the mail. A recent report says that a 65-year-old couple will spend $240,000 or more out of their own pockets for health care during their retirement. Prepare for this extreme expense by delaying retirement, educating yourself on prescription drug plans and the retirement insurance your company offers, and factoring high medical costs into your retirement budget.
  5. Debt payments:

    A hefty retirement fund can easily be canceled out by your debt, so don’t let your saving be all for naught. If possible, pay off the debts you have before you retire. It’s better to do it when there’s less interest to pay and you can go into retirement knowing exactly what money you have to spend. Some experts even suggest paying off debt rather than contributing to your retirement fund (if it’s a one-or-the-other situation), because of the high interest rates on debt compared to the low rate of return on retirement investments.
  6. Home maintenance:

    With retirees living more active, healthy lifestyles, it’s likely that you’ll be able to live independently in your own home longer than retirees in the past. But houses bring their own set of costs with them that you might neglect to budget for. Besides the mortgage and utility bills, unexpected repairs can cost you a pretty penny. Whether it’s minor maintenance, like lawn care or appliance repair, or a major mishap, like a broken air conditioner or foundation problems, keeping up your home will likely use up a big chunk of your savings. Factor in these costs when deciding whether your house is the best financial decision for you after retirement or whether a retirement community would be a better use of your money.
  7. Travel:

    You’ve probably got a few places on your bucket list that you’re going to visit during retirement, and you think you have the money for those trips. But check your numbers twice; most people tend to under-budget for vacations. In addition, if you have children or elderly parents who live far away, you may find yourself racking up more travel expenses than you expected as family events and emergencies come up. Traveling can be a great part of retirement, but make sure you save even more than you think you’ll need for life’s unexpected moments.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Retirement Work -- Travel Writing

Lenora Boyle of Fairfield, IA has a business that brings her and her clients to Italy for enjoyable and relaxing seminars. Many expats keep working, like Lenora does -- from teaching to setting up online businesses. 
YOU DO NOT REALLY think that retirement is a time for snoozing, do you? I know if you did, you would not be reading Retirement Monologues. This blog will SOON be serving as my new "home" for travel writing.

Fred and I are moving to South America in the next month, and I am quite excited about unique and new adventures there. Digging into my journalism past, I have decided to spend more time doing travel and adventure journalism, and South America is the perfect place to be for this venture. 

As I work as a travel journalist, of course I will share tips and secrets RIGHT HERE just in case you want to take on this lifestyle, too. Here is how I am introducing my new retirement adventure:


JUST IMAGINE THE world beyond your own back yard. Close your eyes and smell the salt air of the Pacific ocean. Feel the breezes blowing across jeweled white sands of New Mexico. Soak up the warm Atlantic ocean waves under the South American sun. Explore hidden treasures in an ancient Andean village. Dig into the local cuisine. Imagine you are there
...with professional travel journalist Susan Klopfer.
PLEASE COME ALONG with me as I begin my new adventure -- from Gallup, New Mexico to Cuenca, Ecuador. Even if I am moving far away to South American, don't think for a moment that I will not be adventuring outside of my new home. There are so many adventures to share in and out of South America.
We have many places to go together, you and I. So let's begin.
First stop? Gallup, New Mexico, where I have been LIVING and ADVENTURING for the past two years. I will be writing about Gallup's unique culture and adventure opportunities. from enjoying Native American rugs, baskets, pottery, jewelry and culture, to bike, balloon events and still more. 
Post no. 1 -- Where is Gallup, why is it and Adventure Capital, and exactly what's to do there? How is Gallup changing?
Coming August 2012.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Quit Worrying So Much About Retirement $ Planning, Says Author, Blogger

Top THREE Retirement Tips For People Who ALREADY KNOW They will NOT have $1Million Saved Up by the time they retire

Retirement planning is NOT just
about hitting a number, says
author and speaker, Susan Klopfer

By Susan Klopfer, MBA
Retirement blogger and author

It will happen to each and one of us eventually, even today’s teenie-bopping, cell phone-texting teenagers.

We will grow old and retire!
If stopping work and having fun really is inevitable, how can we get ready now, so that we can live this dream?

Save more, work longer, put off social security.

Okay, okay.

These are three pretty good ideas we are given on retirement blogs, or by Rotary and Lions Club speakers who once-a-year offer their best retirement planning speeches.
We politely nod our heads when we hear this, of course, and then go home and get really, REALLY scared. 

So s-c-a-r-e-d that we do something silly – like putting off retirement for good or starting plans to find a job moving rock piles or greeting people at you-know-where.
Are you possibly ready for some lesser-known tips that are worth knowing?
If so, here is a look at 3 tips that retirement planners and advisers are telling us we should consider (I just learned that people do better with lists of 3 than 147 items):

     1. Stop paying so much attention to HOW much…

Isn’t it rather silly to spend time worrying about saving enough?  Especially when “enough” is an impossible dream?

You and I both know that most of us will never hit that $1million mark we hear so much about on television and from financial planners.

My spouse and I gave up on that idea years ago, when the stock market did its number. You are probably close to us, in this respect, than to Donald Trump!

One economics professor, Wade Pfau at the National Graduate Institute for Public Policies in Japan (and a frequent blogger on retirement), says there is no specific wealth number that will allow anyone to retire. Instead, he suggests, think about income stream, instead.

In other words, tart asking yourself how much income will you need to support your planned retirement?  After you decide on a budget.

(We have decided to limit our required income stream by moving to another country, where cost of living is 50 to 70 percent lower. We have planned a budget that fits our anticipated income stream—and it works for us.)

      2. Try thinking tax-efficient income.

 David Blanchett, a research consultant at Morningstar Investment Management, says that dividends, for instance, can be far more tax-efficient than bonds from an after-tax income perspective if they are qualified—that is, taxed at a maximum rate 15% vs. 35% for ordinary income.

Blanchett adds changing your withdrawal strategy to a “happiness” perspective, and ignore required minimum distributions rules. He says that common tax wisdom suggests drawing from taxable accounts first, then a Traditional IRA, and finally from a Roth IRA.

 “I think this makes sense and can definitely increase the available income, but it’s also important to have some ‘tax diversification’ with respect to withdrawal moneys,” Blanchett says.

3. Control your fears.

Plenty of spouses go through life not talking retirement fears (and sex), says financial planner, Andrea Bulen.

Do you or your spouse have fears about retirement that you haven’t discussed?
If so, start talking about them before it’s too late, she advises.

Robert Powell, editor of Retirement Weekly, published by MarketWatch, has put together a larger list  of  “10 Overlooked Retirement Tips,” that follow this reasoning. 

You can peek at his list here –

Now, go call the rock pile people, and tell them you are not going to be home for their phone call afterall.

You have too much fun coming up!

Susan Klopfer, MBA, is available for speaking on this and other business topics. Contact her at

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Older People Changing Addresses -- cite convenience and more


10 Reasons Senior Citizens Change Addresses

By Cheryl Owen

Sheryl Owen, regularly writes for She is a graduate in English literature and currently pursuing her masters in Online Journalism. She can be reached via email at:

As our society has become more mobile, we are witnessing our senior citizens become more mobile as well. More and more seniors are uprooting out of their long-time homes and moving around the country, something that is vastly different than the norm where senior citizens would stay in one place for long periods of time, settling into the community and establishing roots. Here are ten reasons that have contributed to this phenomenon:
  1. They have chosen to downsize – Larger houses become too much to take care of as they get older, making it hard to keep up with all of the tedious house-keeping tasks. Plus, seniors generally don’t need as much space as they once did, making smaller spaces infinitely more attractive. And because some have lost spouses and are now alone, they may choose to eliminate a lot of their furniture and other possessions by giving them to their children, selling them, or giving them away. By downsizing their possessions they also end up needing to downsize their living space.
  2. They want convenience – Some seniors are moving into apartments or townhouses so they don’t have to do yard work or keep up their yard as they go through the various seasons, depending on the type of climate they live in. Moving to an apartment or townhome gives them the added benefit of having an association or grounds manager that will maintain their yards so they can still enjoy them without all the work.
  3. Moving into town becomes a great option – If they have lived in the country, they may want to move into town to be closer to shopping centers and medical facilities. There is also security in being closer to doctors and hospitals as they age and more medical issues arise. Plus, being in a town means they’ll have to do a lot less driving when they need to run their errands, and provides the additional option of public transportation.
  4. Retirement communities attract many seniors – 55+ communities offer more affordable housing options and social interaction with others their age. Many also have a lot of amenities which are right there in their neighborhood such as pools, exercise rooms, planned activities, and maybe even golf courses.
  5. Retirement gives them time to travel – Now that they are no longer employed, they have time to travel. Some seniors have chosen to sell almost everything and live in a RV and travel around the country. Other seniors choose to live in a RV to have the flexibility to volunteer for different organizations in different locations.  Many of these organizations give them a place to stay while they do volunteer work for them, and then the seniors move on to another location. There are also opportunities for retirees who live in campers to work as hosts at campgrounds which give them a place to stay plus a little extra income.
  6. Snowbirds chose to move to warmer climates – As seniors start going south for the winter on a regular basis, they make connections in those areas and decide to move there to be closer to friends. They like the warm weather and get tired of living in two locations and having to maintain both places.
  7. Some choose to live near their children – There are a couple reasons why seniors choose to live near their children, such as they may need the help of their children, so they can stay home if they begin to fail physically or mentally. Or for others, they just may be tired of traveling to see their children and grandchildren and want to become part of their lives on a more regular basis, and so they choose to live near them.
  8. It’s a good time to experience new places – Now that they are free from working and are still healthy, it is a good time for senior citizens to take the plunge and live in that location they have always thought would they’d enjoy. With nothing holding them back, they may decide to take advantage of it while they can and make the move.
  9. Some actually take on a new vocation – Retirement income may not be sufficient to support some seniors in the lifestyle they desire. In this situation, they may relocate for employment opportunities.
  10. Assisted living or nursing homes become a necessity – This is probably the main reason seniors change addresses. They can no longer take care of themselves at home, so they make the hard decision, or it is made for them, to move into an environment where care is readily available.
It is a big decision for senior citizens to make the move to a new home or location, whether the decision is made from choice or out of necessity, despite how common it’s becoming. 

Sheryl Owen, regularly writes for She is a graduate in English literature and currently pursuing her masters in Online Journalism. She can be reached via email at:

To arrange for Susan Klopfer to speak to your organization on retirement topics, contact her at

Monday, June 4, 2012

Retirement VLOG - Youtube Videos on Retirement Topics

Just started a Retirement Video Log (VLOG) on youtube. Music, instructions, ideas for retirement. Take a peek and enjoy! Susan

Retirement Ideas That Work

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Cultural Survival Rules Help Keep Retired Expats From Packing Their Bags and Going Home; Retirement Made Easy

Cultural differences important to consider for expats

AS A NEWLY retired person, do you really expect EVERYTHING to go as planned? Consider the retiree who chooses to move to another country as an expat and then winds up going back home, giving up on the dream of living in a new culture because he or she can't seem to make needed cultural adjustments.
Like so many others who try this retirement experiment, conflicts (known and unknown) with the new country's folklore, language, rules, rituals, habits, lifestyles, attitudes, beliefs, and customs, too often end up in a nightmare - with the retired person wishing they had stayed home in the first place.
From folklore to customs, such "clues" typically link and give a common identity to a particular group of people at a specific point in time, and yet they may result in major points of misunderstanding.
Have you ever felt misunderstood when trying to communicate with someone NOT from your own culture? It is easy to happen...
19 Diversity Action Steps
But a new set of 19 Diversity Action steps to aid in enhancing multicultural communication skills -- from expecting misunderstandings to occur, to not expecting others to believe in your own trustworthiness--provides good information for helping anyone who wants to reach others from cultures other than their own. These rules provide a solid guide, especially, to the retired person who wants to try a new and different life; away from the home they have known all of their life.
In other words, these diversity action steps could keep them from repacking their suitcase and asking for a ride to the airport. And they come from Tulin Diversiteam Associates, Wyncote, Penn., an intercultural team of 15 professionals who for the past eighteen years have specialized in "Excellence Through Diversity" Coaching, Consulting and Training for executives, managers, supervisors and employees.
Step number one, expecting multicultural misunderstandings are going to happen, at least some of the time, just makes sense. For example, I once took a bus trip in the mountains of Ecuador. The bus stopped along side of the road to allow ambulances through following a terrible motor cycle accident. It was obvious to me that the motorcyclist was dead, since he was lying on the highway and not moving -- and he was not being given any medical attention.
I saw the unfortunate man as DEAD on the road from a motorcycle accident. Period. Story over.
BUT THE NEXT day, I was talking with my Spanish instructor about what I saw, and used a particular verb phrase that indicated the man was dead. It turned out this particular phrase (Spanish for "was dead") was not accurate in her eyes, because his death was not totally confirmed and the accident took place just recently.
She told me that I should have used different words for my description of death in order for my story to be a completely accurate version of what I was telling her. Otherwise, I would not be perceived as a trustworthy source of information to others, at least in Ecuador. It was a valuable piece of feedback, and I made the change.
But let us move on.
Another step suggested by this communication team is to ask "What's going on here?" when a communication problem arises. "Be willing to change gears or communication styles if necessary."
Easy to be Misunderstood in Conversations with People From Other Cultures
Have you ever felt totally misunderstood when in a conversation with others who do not share your ethnicity? I know that I have, and here is another quick story about a time when I had to ask myself this question, in New York City, and then make a quick shift:
When my son was graduating from law school, I ran into a tough communication problem with a group of people who were sitting behind me. The convocation was in a small, crowded room and the group was talking during the program. I asked them to be quiet, so that I could hear, but I stupidly used a phrased that has some racist connotation -- asking for "you people" to please quit talking.
I knew what I had done, as soon as I said it, and sure enough, one man got in my face quickly, asking me what I meant when I said "you people."
Thankfully, I immediately figured out what he was thinking, seeing this phrase as an ethnic slur, a type of stereotyping; it was rather rude of me to use this figure of speech in the first place, but I simply meant to refer to the entire group, not just one person.
I quickly tried to explain my intentions -- that I have a hearing problem and when a number of people were talking, I could not hear above the noise what was going on. I also stated that I did not mean this as an ethnic slur, but that I could not hear the graduation speech. I said this in a moderate tone of voice and looked him in the eyes when I said it.
He got my message, laughed and asked his relatives to tone it down.
Here are several other suggestions from the Tulin team -- ideas we should all be able to relate to:
--Don't generalize about individuals because of their particular culture; individual differences exist within any group.
--Investigate whether communication style or process, rather than content, is the cause of a conflict.
--Give honest and practical feedback; don't "walk on eggshells" or speak for a person from another culture.
All good ideas to remember and use, especially when in an unfamiliar culture.
Wide Differences When Conversation Nonverbal
While the Tulin list focuses on verbal communication, there are also wide differences in nonverbal expression that make a difference when seeking to understand people from various cultures.
In fact, non­verbal communication or body language provides an important part of how people pass on information to each other and these differences also vary from culture to culture.
Consider, for instance, that hand and arm gestures, touch, and eye contact (or its lack) are a few of the aspects of non­verbal communication that may vary significantly depending upon cultural background.
There are a number of gestures commonly used in the United States that may have a different meaning and/or be offensive to those from other cultures. Just one example focuses on the use of a finger or hand to indicate "come here please". Because this is the gesture is also used to beckon dogs in some cultures, it can be considered very offensive to many people around the world.
Pointing with one finger is also considered rude in some cultures; Asians typically use their entire hand to point to something, for instance.
Understanding the potential problems associated with nonverbal communication in health screenings, the Vermont Department of Health recently underwrote a guide for practitioners that could benefit their health-screening program. Several suggestions include issues such as touch:
"While patting a child's head is considered to be a friendly or affectionate gesture in our culture, it is considered inappropriate by many Asians to touch someone on the head, which is believed to be a sacred part of the body. In the Middle East, the left hand is reserved for bodily hygiene and should not be used to touch another or transfer objects.In Muslim cultures, touch between opposite gendered individuals is generally inappropriate."
Another nonverbal communication area noted by the Vermont Health Department includes eye contact. While in mainstream Western culture eye contact is considered as attentiveness and honesty--we are taught that we should "look people in the eye" when talking--in many other cultures including Hispanic, Asian, Middle Eastern, and Native American, eye contact is thought to be disrespectful or rude.
Lack of eye contact does not mean that a person is not paying attention, even though it is seen this way in North American culture. In many non Western cultures, women may especially avoid eye contact with men because it can be taken as a sign of sexual interest.
The Vermont health group noted especially that when working with babies although it is common in Western culture for adults to admire babies and young children and comment upon how cute they are, this is avoided in Hmong and Vietnamese cultures "...for fear that these comments may be overheard by a spirit that will try to steal the baby or otherwise cause some harm to come to him or her."
With these rules in mind, and from learning as much as possible about cultural communication differences before moving into a new culture, a retiree who wants to live as an expat outside of her or his familiar culture has a better shot at survival away from home.

To arrange for Susan Klopfer to speak to your organization on retirement topics, contact her at