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Questions About Retirement Savings Priorities, Gas Grills, Gap Years and More



What’s inside? Here are the questions answered in today’s reader mailbag, boiled down to summaries of five or fewer words. Click on the number to jump straight down to the question.
1. Living on debt
2. Prioritizing saving for retirement
3. Extending life of gas grill
4. What happens in August?
5. More on sanded cast iron
6. Stay-cation idea with kids
7. Prepping for next lockdown
8. Dry beans advice?
9. Handling child’s “gap year”
10. Inexpensive pocket-sized games?
11. Giant ham and turkey suggestion
12. Inexpensive long term isolation ideas

A few months ago, I mentioned Money in Excel, a spreadsheet template that (at the time) was an upcoming release from Microsoft that worked within their Excel spreadsheet program to provide some personal finance management tools.

It released a couple of weeks ago. I’ve spent some time using it and I’m impressed. My only concern is security; I hope to see a thorough security audit of the software from someone who is skilled at that type of analysis (I haven’t seen one yet as of this writing, but there may be one available by the time you read this). If you already have access to Excel through the Office 365 program, I highly encourage you to download it and give it a try.

On with the questions.

Q1: Living on debt

I was working as a 1099 contractor until May when my employer let me go. I was able to still get unemployment, but the total unemployment plus CARES benefit isn’t enough to pay my bills so I have been living on credit cards until I can get a new job. I need to make some real decisions about what to do but I don’t have any idea what to prioritize. Do you have any articles on this?
– Darren

I would go through each of your big expenses and ask yourself what you can do to cut that expense drastically.

Let’s start at the top — housing. Do you own a home or rent an apartment? Have you looked at downsizing those things? Moving to a smaller place will cut your housing bill plus your utility bills significantly.

Do you have a car? Do you need that car? If it’s on a lease, can you end that lease early and just get a junker to drive or rely on public transport?

Look at all of your services. Which ones do you need? Do you need both home internet and cellular service? Do you need any of your entertainment services?

Are you taking smart steps with your day-to-day living expenses? Buying store brands at the store? Eating meals you prep yourself at home rather than takeout or delivery?

Can you renegotiate or shop around for your insurance packages?

You have to tighten up all of your money leaks hard. If you’re living off of credit cards while you’re actively looking for work, that means your spending is well above your income right now, and that’s not sustainable for very long and will leave you with a giant hole to dig out of if/when you stabilize.

Q2: Prioritizing saving for retirement

How big of a priority is retirement savings when you have student loans and credit card debt?
– Damon

It depends on a number of other factors.

If you’re accumulating more credit card debt, you should prioritize getting your spending habits straight above everything else. You have to be spending less than you earn now, even if you think you’ll be earning more in the future. Get that straight before even thinking about retirement savings. This comes before everything else listed below.

If your employer offers matching funds for retirement savings, you should prioritize getting every drop of those matching funds. Matching funds blow away anything else you could do with that money in terms of return on the dollar.

If you don’t have matching options, get rid of all of your high-interest debt as fast as humanly possible, then build a cash emergency fund so that you don’t slip back into debt. High-interest debt is anything over 7%, so that probably includes your credit card debt but not your student loans.

So, your first priority is to make sure you’re spending less than you earn, then contribute to retirement such that you get every dime of matching funds, then pay off high-interest debts, then build a small emergency fund, then contribute more to retirement (up to about 15% of your salary). Check off each one before you move to the next.

Q3: Extending life of gas grill

I received a gas grill and propane tank and cover as an early Father’s Day present (so I could use it on Father’s Day). Manual doesn’t give much maintenance and care advice and couldn’t find much online. What can I do to keep it in good shape besides covering it?
– Brad

The big thing is to clean it regularly, once every month or two. I’m surprised this isn’t in the manual, honestly, but some manuals are better than others. You’ll need a wire brush and a big bucket of soapy water and some rags.

First, disconnect the propane tank from the grill. Then, pull the grates off and scrub them down thoroughly with the wire brush. Take out the burner protectors (the metal pieces that rest over the burner) and wash them in the soapy water by hand, rinse them off with clean water, and leave them out to dry.

After that, get a soapy rag, wring it out well, and wipe down the burners. You’ll get a lot of nasty grime off of them — that’s OK. Just keep rinsing off the rag in the soapy water, wring it out, and wipe some more. After it’s good, wipe it down with non-soapy water.

After that, there are some removable plates underneath the burners. Remove them, get rid of all of the debris that comes with them, and gently clean them like the burner protectors and leave them out to dry.

Beneath those, there should be a removable tray. Brush any debris still on the bottom of the grill into that tray, remove it, and dump the contents.

Then, just reassemble in reverse order. Put the tray back in, put the plates on the bottom of the grill back in, put the burner protectors back in (assuming they’re dry), put the grates back on top, and reconnect the propane. Your grill should look fantastic.

Just do this every month or two and your grill will hold up well. You’ll probably more than double its life by doing this. It’s mostly the grime that builds up and eventually starts damaging and clogging things that cause most grill problems, assuming that you’re also keeping the water out with a grill cover.

Again, I’m surprised this isn’t in your manual, but this basic procedure is great for keeping pretty much any propane grill going.

Q4: What happens in August?

I liked your stuff about the economy but I am still worried about what happens in August when people start falling off of unemployment if their job didn’t come back.
– Barry

First of all, what happens at the end of July is that the extra unemployment benefits provided by the federal CARE Act will run out, so on August 1 benefits fall back to the normal rate in each state (that’s the state of things as I write this). Right now, most states are offering basic unemployment for 39 weeks (a few are offering less, but most seem to be at the 39-week level), so the real problem starts popping up near the end of the year. People will find it harder after August 1, but they shouldn’t fall into complete panic mode until near year’s end.

So what will happen?

One possibility — and this is the one I find most likely — is that unemployment benefits are extended in many states. Some states may have trouble paying unemployment benefits for that long (as the sudden jump in unemployment caught many of their unemployment funds unaware) but I expect the federal government will make sure they won’t fail.

Another possibility is that the CARES Act is extended. I don’t think that will happen unless states start to shut down again due to COVID-19 resurgence.

The other possibility is that the states do nothing and unemployment runs out for lots of people this coming winter. I think this only happens if there has been a complete return to normalcy, with a vaccine or an effective treatment for COVID-19 widely available.

So, I think the first possibility is the most likely one, the second is the “bad” scenario, and the third is the “good” scenario.

Q5: More on sanded cast iron

As an engineer sitting here with two similar Lodge cast iron skillets, I still couldn’t help myself from running the experiment for myself. So here’s what I did. I took one skillet that was up for reseasoning anyway due to misuse, some carbonized food residue spots that were really baked on at this point and took it back to bare iron with that one lye-containing oven cleaner. Once it was pristine bare iron, I took some heavy grit sanding to it with the orbital sander. This took a LONG time, I want to say an hour or more, but when finished I had a beautifully smooth surface as you can see in the pic below. I then reseasoned with 4x bakes with flax oil and got to cooking. The result: After a few weeks of cooking with this thing twice a day it is a dream, honestly. Scrambled eggs, in particular, just slip right off, provided I let it get hot first. And since the side walls were not sanded, I get a real side-by-side of how much better the release is on the sanded surface. I’ve been surprised at how well the initial seasoning has held up and seemingly only gotten better with use. So yeah, interesting and unexpected results. Below are pics of the freshly sanded skillet and the same skilled today, seasoned and two weeks into its new life. Do with that what you will, but my takeaway is that a sanded cast iron can still hold on to polymerized oil like a champ.
– David

This is a follow-up to a question a few weeks ago in which a reader wanted to know whether sanding down a cast-iron skillet before use was a good idea, and I advised him not to do so. The big reason for not doing it is that the somewhat rough surface of cast iron is full of pores that grab onto the things you cook on cast iron and gradually form a wonderful natural non-stick surface. If you sand it down, you lose the pores.

From this reader’s experience, it sounds like sanding down the surface to make it easier to cook on initially is still enabling it to start to form that natural non-stick surface.

I’d really like to know (for my own curiosity) how this surface holds up over time. Will it peel in a year or two when that surface gradually thickens? I honestly don’t know. All I know is that the cast iron I’ve used in the past started with a very rough surface, took quite a lot of cooking to develop a nice smooth non-stick surface, and has never peeled.

Q6: Stay-cation idea with kids

Our plan this summer was to go to Disney World in late July but there’s no way we’re doing that now even if the place is open. We held out hope for a while but canceled recently. So now we are planning a “stay-cation” that week but we are struggling for cool ideas. We do have some budget but we mostly want to roll our savings forward to next year for a nice vacation. I’m interested in ideas that aren’t camping.
– Amber

Honestly, I’d talk to your kids about it. What kinds of things have they always wanted to do at home or near home (with social distancing in mind) that there’s never been time to do? Any big projects? Anything they’ve ever wanted to try? Perhaps you could all agree to pick a few things and then you all participate in them.

Here’s a good thing to do. Each of you should come up with a list of, say, ten things you might want to do on a staycation. They should all be things that take a day or less and fit within your social distancing restrictions.

Then, sit down together and share your lists. Everyone should pick out their favorite three things from each other person’s list — so your partner and each kid would each pick out their three favorite things from your list, and you and each kid would pick out your three favorite things from your partner’s list, and so on. The items that get picked multiple times (meaning at least three out of four of you really like the idea) are things you include in the stay-cation.

So, my list might look like this:

1. Play a strategy board game.
2. Build a blanket fort.
3. Make a big batch of homemade root beer.
4. Play a role-playing game.
5. Find ten geocaches nearby.
6. Make a big batch of sauerkraut.
7. Have a croquet match in the back yard.
8. Make tie-dyed t-shirts.
9. Make an enormous sidewalk chalk mural on our whole driveway and front walk.
10. Make a big pot of “stone soup” over a fire in the backyard.

I have a wife and three kids. So, my wife might pick 1, 5, and 10. My oldest son would probably pick 4, 5, and 7. My daughter would probably pick 2, 8, and 9. My youngest would probably pick 1, 2, and 8. So, 1, 2, 5, and 8 were picked by at least two people, so they’d make it on the final “staycation” list. Likely, each person would have 3–4 things picked, and you could fudge in the end to make things even.

There’s a decent chance that we do this for a week in August, actually, before the school year — in whatever form that takes — gets started.

Q7: Prepping for next lockdown

My wife and I believe that another coronavirus lockdown is inevitable and are looking for steps to prepare for it. We think this one will be in the fall and much more strongly enforced. How should we prepare for this financially without our moves going to waste if it doesn’t happen?
– David

Obviously, having liquid cash is a good idea. You’re likely most safe having that money in a local branch of a larger bank so you could get it locally if needed. Get money into savings so that if there is job loss for anyone, you can still stay put for a long while. If there’s not another lockdown, you can move that money back into other things.

Another good move is to do a lot of bulk buying now, but buy things you will eventually use up no matter what. Buy basic toiletries, household supplies, and nonperishable goods — things like dry rice, dry beans, canned tomatoes, and so on. Focus on things you know you will use and eat, and buy enough to sustain you for months. Those supplies can be used up over time even if there isn’t a lockdown.

The advantage of both of these moves is that there’s no real financial cost to them. With the savings account money, at worst you might miss out on some investment gains for a few months, but you may also avoid losses. With the nonperishable goods, as long as you focus on things you will actually use regardless of lockdown, it’ll probably save you money.

Here’s some more specific advice probably related to your efforts.

Q8: Dry beans advice?

I bought a lot of dry beans but I’m having a hard time actually using them. Seems like a lot of extra work. Can you explain very carefully your workflow for dry beans?
– Stan

Every few days, I’ll look ahead at our meal plan and see if there’s anything that uses beans. Usually, I’ve planned such that there are two (or even more) meals that use the same kind of beans so I can do a larger batch.

When I know there’s a meal coming up, I fill up a big pot of water one evening and put the beans in to soak overnight. I just dump in enough so that I know the recipes I intend to make will be well covered. The exact amount of beans depends a lot on the type of bean – some dry beans will double in weight and size with soaking, while others will grow even more. You’ll want to look up the specifics for the type of bean you’re using.

The next day, I drain the water from those beans, rinse them, and put them in the slow cooker with more water. I then cook them on low for a length of time depending on the bean. In general, the smaller the bean, the less cooking time it needs. I look up the type of bean using Google to find out how long to cook it on low. Sometimes, I’ll add seasonings while they’re cooking.

When the beans are done cooking, I remove them from the heat entirely, pour off any excess liquid (I keep the thicker sauce-like liquid; I just want to get rid of the really watery stuff), move them to a resealable container of some kind, and let that cool to room temperature (maybe an hour), then close the container and put it in the fridge. That container will then have all of the cool cooked beans I need for my recipes in the coming days.

Then, when I actually go to cook something, I just pull out my bean container and add them at the appropriate time.

Most of this is completely hands-off. I do other things while the beans soak and when they’re cooking in the slow cooker. For the slow cooker, I usually set a loud timer to tell me when they’re done.

Q9: Handling a child’s “gap year”

My daughter was intending to go to a large state university in the fall but after reviewing their plans for the fall in dealing with coronavirus she decided to take a gap year instead. The university has agreed to postpone her admission to next fall. She plans to spend the year working locally and living with us. However I am concerned that she simply won’t go to school next fall. I am not sure how to handle this. We have money put aside for her in a 529, and we don’t want her to live here as a freeloader if she’s just doing hourly work and not trying to do anything to improve her situation. What advice do you have?
– Erica

If I were in your shoes, I would lay all of this out with her. Make it clear that you’re supportive of her if this is a “gap year,” but that the “gap year” needs to entail at least some effort in getting prepared for some sort of postsecondary education next fall, whether it’s college or trade school or something else. What is she planning to do over the course of this year to help her figure out what she wants to study or, if she’s figured that out, to prepare herself for that field?

If she’s uninterested in doing that, and especially if she doesn’t want to pursue any education after this “gap year,” you should plan on having her move out at the end of that year. It is hard to do, particularly when she may financially struggle at first.

All of this should be made clear in a conversation with her. It’s really hard to tell from this where exactly your daughter is intending to go. She may feel like it’s genuinely not safe to go to college with COVID-19 ongoing, or that the experience and education will be far worse if she goes right now. She may be second-guessing the entire idea of continuing her education or considering a completely different path. I encourage you to be supportive of her if she’s on a path that leads to a meaningful career or entrepreneurship, but if her goals are to work an hourly job and not work toward anything more, having her move out is probably the best option.

As for her 529, there’s no reason to tap it for anything other than education. If she goes to college next fall, use it then; if she chooses not to, it can wait until later in her life or eventually be transferred to her children.

Q10: Inexpensive pocket-sized games?

Do you have any suggestions for inexpensive pocket-sized games? Ideally, ones to play solo and with one other person? Don’t like just staring at screens all the time but don’t want to carry around big board games.
– Brenda

The most cost-effective solution here is a deck of playing cards. There are almost infinite games you can play with a deck of playing cards and you can pick up one for a dollar or two that will sustain many plays. The Bicycle website is a wonderful repository of rules for games you can play with an ordinary deck of cards.

Another solution, one that I used for many years and still do on occasion, is a pocket chess set, like this one. They’re about the size of a cell phone, give or take a little. I carried one of these with me for years, doing chess puzzles (when I was alone) and playing with friends.

There are lots of small card games that fit nicely in a pocket out there. I particularly like Sprawlopolis (1–4 players), Hanabi (2–4 players), Mottainai (2–5 players, best at 2–3, requires some table space), Pentaquark (solo only), Tussie Mussie (2–4 players), and Innovation (2–5 players, best at 2–3, requires some table space). I could actually list a lot of these, as many of them are “camping trip” games for us. I fill up a little box with a lot of games like these and we play them in a shelter when we’re camping and it’s raining.

Q11: Giant ham and turkey suggestion

I was just getting some of our ham out of the freezer and wanted to tell you about it. During holidays when hams or turkeys are on sale like Thanksgiving or Christmas or Easter we buy an enormous one because it’s so cheap. We make it for ourselves and then save many pounds of extra meat frozen. We cut it up and store it in freezer bags with enough for a meal for the two of us. Then we just thaw it and heat it up. We are still eating bags of the ham from Christmas. Also saved the big ham bone and we will use it for soup at some point.
– Ellen

This is a really good idea if you enjoy eating ham or turkey. Rather than getting a ham or turkey that’s just right for your family for a holiday, get a giant one. Cook it, then cut up all the extras and store them for later.

During the holidays, ham and turkey is often on sale at a rate that’s super cheap per pound. A friend of mine gets a free turkey at work each Thanksgiving and a free ham each Christmas, but he doesn’t host holiday meals, so he just cooks them for himself and stores the meat, much as you describe.

Also, my parents used to do this with hams. Whenever there was a ham on sale, they’d buy it and then cut it up into cubes and put those cubes into bags with roughly a pound of ham cubes in each one. This would end up being used for lots of soups in the coming months. We often had ham and bean soup, which was basically great northern beans cooked with cubed ham and a few flavorful vegetables like onions.

Q12: Inexpensive long term isolation ideas

I have lupus. My doctor advised me to minimize my contact with others and basically act like I’m under a shelter-in-place order until there’s a vaccine or a very reliable treatment for COVID-19 which I estimate will take a year or two. Other than going on some walks in areas where I’m sure people won’t be near, I am staying at home. My job allows me to work remotely 100% now so employment isn’t a worry. I am trying to find inexpensive at-home hobbies I can get involved with that don’t have me staring at a screen all the time. I live in a small apartment so I don’t have a ton of space. Hoping you have some ideas!
– Fergie

I spent a few days thinking this one over, trying to make a list of inexpensive hobby ideas that you can take up without leaving your house and without spending time on a screen. Here are the better ones I came up with.

Reading (get books from the library delivered, if possible). Knitting or crocheting. Cooking. Yoga. Other bodyweight exercises. Journaling. Solving spatial puzzles (like a Rubik’s Cube or a Megaminx – trust me, learning how to solve those quickly takes time). Doing jigsaw puzzles. Solving paper puzzles (like sudoku). Studying a subject. Learning a musical instrument (this will require some screen time, but a lot of time without one, too). Painting or drawing. Letter writing. Learning really good card or party tricks, like how to memorize a full deck of shuffled playing cards.

There are fourteen ideas. I had a lot more, but I cut out a lot of them because they were either repetitive or weren’t very good unless you were really into a very narrow thing.

Got any questions? The best way to ask is to follow me on Facebook and ask questions directly there. I’ll attempt to answer them in a future mailbag (which, by way of full disclosure, may also get re-posted on other websites that pick up my blog). However, I do receive many, many questions per week, so I may not necessarily be able to answer yours.

We welcome your feedback on this article. Contact us at with comments or questions.

The post Questions About Retirement Savings Priorities, Gas Grills, Gap Years and More appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

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7 Things to Do in the Summer for College Students With No Job



Are you in college and feeling like you’re stuck in limbo because of the COVID-19 pandemic?

Hiring freezes, canceled internships and stay-at-home orders have thrown a lot of summer 2020 plans out the window.

But you can still make the most of your summer break to further your education, work experience and skill-building — it’ll just take a little flexibility and creativity.

Here are seven productive things to do in the summer for college kids.

7 Ways to Make the Most of Summer Without a Job

Here are some creative ways to make good use of your summer break if a regular job or internship is off the table.

1. Take Free Online Classes

Going to class might not be your first choice for summer break, but this is a smart time to develop valuable career skills.

MOOCs, massive open online courses, let you take classes from real universities — even heavy hitters like MIT and Harvard — online for free.

Here are five important soft skills you can learn through free online courses this summer:

  • Emotional intelligence
  • Multicultural literacy
  • Storytelling and communication
  • Personal branding and social media literacy
  • A new language

Pick them up through these free MOOCs.

You can bone up on hard skills through online tutorials, too. These skills will come in handy in any field:

  • How to use a spreadsheet
  • How to use G-Suite apps
  • How to use WordPress
  • How to use social media
  • How to edit video and audio
  • How to edit photos and graphics
  • How to administer first aid
  • How to analyze data

Study up through these free tutorials.

2. Earn Credits for Free

The College Level Examination Program lets you earn college credit in basic subjects like math and history by taking an exam.

CLEP exams cost $89 to take, but you can get fees covered through Modern States’ Freshman Year for Free program. Enroll for free online courses and tutoring through the program, and it covers your CLEP exam fee (for the first 10,000 students).

Test centers live on college campuses and other locations around the country, and you have to show up in person for an exam. You can generally schedule your exam any time the campus is open for classes (including summer semesters).

Test centers will be closed if their host campuses are closed, but keep an eye out for the CLEP coronavirus updates for the possibility of remote testing, and contact your preferred test center for information about availability.

3. Apply for a Project Grant

Use the summer to work on your own creative project! It could make good resume fodder — especially if you win a grant to fund it.

Check out these resources to find grants for artists:

If you need emergency funding because of lost work due to the coronavirus, peruse our lists of emergency grants for artists and financial aid for writers.

Even if you don’t win a grant, completing a project that will impress a prospective employer could pay off big time in the future.

4. Volunteer Virtually

If a lost internship or job opportunity leaves a hole in your summer schedule, consider filling it with volunteer work. The experience looks good on your resume, and volunteering can be just as valuable as job experience for building useful career skills and networking.

The same way companies are shifting to remote work in response to the pandemic, lots of nonprofit organizations are moving volunteer work online, too. With increased social need and a presidential election this year, service, advocacy and political organizations need help all over the country.

Find volunteer opportunities online and in your area through Idealist.

5. Freelance in a Related Field

Tons of work that might be relevant to your future career could be available online as freelance gigs.

Freelance writing is especially in demand and it provides the opportunity to start working without a degree, experience or particular expertise (though each of these could earn you more money down the line).

Start by looking for freelance blogging jobs, which usually have a lower barrier to entry. Once you get a few published pieces under your belt, try pitching a story to a higher-paying outlet.

Not a writer? Try your hand at being a virtual assistant, graphic designer or one of these more unusual freelance jobs:

  • Virtual recruiter
  • PowerPoint presentation designer
  • Children’s book illustrator
  • Genealogist
  • Greeting card writer

If you graduated this month without work or internship experience, freelancing could be a way to earn money while beefing up your resume before applying for full-time jobs.

“Employers don’t really hire for potential — you’ve got to be able to show how you’ve applied that potential in some way,” says Alison Green at Ask a Manager. “Even with entry-level jobs, you’re going to be up against other entry-level candidates who have some amount of experience.”

6. Find Online Jobs

Were you counting on a summer job in the now-unpredictable service industry to pay rent or save up for next semester’s tuition? Take your job search online.

Search for full-time and part-time work-from-home jobs through The Penny Hoarder’s vetted WFH jobs portal.

Or, put your talents to work toward creative side gigs. Here are some side gigs you can do online while social distancing:

  • Join video game tournaments
  • Work for a political or advocacy campaign
  • Perform music, comedy, magic or anything else online
  • Be a bookkeeper
  • Do online research through Wonder
  • Be a transcriptionist
  • Be an online tutor

Check out these online jobs for college students that pay at least $15 an hour.

7. Apply for College Scholarships

A man does coursework on his laptop at home.

Another option for covering next semester’s tuition: Apply for scholarships.

Several scholarships require you to submit an essay with your application, so summer break — when you don’t have other schoolwork — is a great time to focus on them.

Search for scholarships from your college, county, municipality or state; from organizations that support people of your race, ethnicity, gender or other demographics; or from organizations that support your field or interests.

You can also peruse our list of 100 wacky scholarships for things you never would have thought of.

Don’t Let Coronavirus Cancel Your Summer

A lot of big things have been canceled because of the COVID-19, and that’s a major bummer.

But you don’t have to accept the setback to your career preparation. Get creative to make the most of your summer break and keep your education and development moving forward — even if you can’t leave home.

Dana Sitar (@danasitar) has been writing and editing since 2011, covering personal finance, careers and digital media.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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Free Social Security Tool for Optimal Benefit Claiming Strategy



Update: The free Open Social Security tool has been updated to include a new “heat map” visualization that illustrates the relative values of claiming Social Security at different ages. Details here. Here is a sample graph for a couple with similar income histories and the same age:

For this situation, we see that the worst expected outcomes would occur if both individuals claimed really early. The best expected outcomes occur when one claims relatively early and the other claims relatively late.

Original post:

socialsecuritycardWhen to start claiming Social Security to maximize your potential benefit can be a complicated question, especially for couples. There are multiple paid services that will run the numbers for you, including Social Security Solutions (aka SS Analyzer) and Maximize My Social Security, which cost between $20 and $250 depending on included features.

Mike Piper of Oblivious Investor has created a free, open-source calculator called Open Social Security. To use the calculator, you will need to your Primary Insurance Amount (PIA). This amount depends on your future income, so I would first consult this other free Social Security benefit estimator tool to more easily estimate your PIA. I believe the value you see at assumes that you will keep working at your historical average income until your claiming age (which won’t be the case for us).

Here are our results as a couple, assuming we were the same age (we are close) and with my expected benefit being slightly higher than hers:

The strategy that maximizes the total dollars you can be expected to spend over your lifetimes is as follows:

You file for your retirement benefit to begin 12/2047, at age 70 and 0 months.
Your spouse files for his/her retirement benefit to begin 4/2040, at age 62 and 4 months.

The present value of this proposed solution would be $657,749.

Basically, the tool says that my wife should apply as soon as possible, while I should claim as late as possible. I believe this is because this scenario allows us claim at least some income starting from 62, and if I die first after that, my wife would still be able to “upgrade” to my higher benefit.

The tool might take some time to run the calculations, depending on your browser. You can learn more and provide feedback at Bogleheads and Github.

I am not a Social Security expert, and am not qualified to speak to the accuracy of the results. However, Mr. Piper is the author of the highly-rated book Social Security Made Simple, has a history of doing thorough work, and the tool has been around a while now. If I were close to 62, I would probably also use the paid services for a second and third opinion. Why? Spending $100 now could save you many thousands in the future.

The best thing about this free tool is that it can introduce a lot of people to ideas that they would have not otherwise considered. Even if it lacks every bell or whistle, being free means it can help more people. Many spouses wouldn’t think of having one claim as early as possible (age 62), and then have the other claim as late as possible (age 70). It’s not common sense unless you understand the inner workings of Social Security.

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Free Social Security Tool for Optimal Benefit Claiming Strategy from My Money Blog.

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How to Update Address in Aadhaar without Documents



Have you recently shifted to a new city or got married, but you don’t have any proof of address?  Do you want to update your address in Aadhaar but do not have documents? Don’t worry, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) provides you with the facility of updating your address in Aadhaar online even without submitting the documents. It can be done in simple steps as all you need is to take help from an Address Verifier and by raising a request online for an ‘Address Validation Letter’. An ‘Address Verifier’ can be a family member, relative, friend, or landlord who is willing to let you use his/her address as proof.
Read on to know how you can do the same in detail below.

Who can Update the Address in Aadhaar without Documents?

If you are someone who has recently shifted your residence to a new city or got married and shifted to your husband’s home, you can now easily update your address in Aadhaar even without submitting any documents using this online facility of Aadhaar Validation Letter.

Steps to Update Address in Aadhaar Card without Documents

 To update the address in Aadhaar Card without documents, you need to follow the steps mentioned below:

Step 1: Visit the official website of UIDAI  i.e.

 Step 2: You need to click on the ‘Address Validation Letter’ under ‘My Aadhaar’ menu

Step 3: You will be redirected to a new page  ‘Request for Address Validation Letter’

Step 4: Now,  you have to enter your valid 12-digit Aadhaar number or 16-digit Virtual ID

Step 5:
Enter the ‘Captcha Code’ for verification and click on ‘Send OTP’ button

Step 6: Enter the 6-digit OTP sent to your registered number or 8-digit TOTP and then click on the ‘Login’ button

Step 7: Once done, you need to share the ‘Verifier Details’ i.e, enter your ‘Address Verifier’s Aadhaar number’


Step 8: An SMS will be sent to your verifier with a link on his/her registered mobile number to give consent for the update


Step 9: Once the verifier clicks on the link and he/she receives another SMS for the verification of OTP

Step 10: Enter the OTP sent on the registered mobile number and captcha code for verification
width=Step 11: Once it is verified, you will now get a Service Request Number (SRN)  through an SMS


Step 12: Now, log in with ‘SRN’, preview address, edit local language (if required).  Tick mark the declaration and then click on the ‘Submit’ button
Edit the address in the local language and click on the ‘Save’ button


Step 13: Now tick against the declaration and ‘Submit’ your request


Step 14: You will now receive the ‘Address Validation Letter‘ with the ‘Secret Code’ sent to the verifier’s address via post

Step 15: You will have to revisit the ‘SSUP’ (UIDAI) website and click on the ‘Proceed to Update Address’ link

Step 16: Once again login with Aadhaar and select ‘Update Address via Secret Code’ option

Step 16: You have to enter the ‘Secret Code’. Once done, preview the new address and click on the ‘Submit’ button

For your better understanding, let us try to understand the entire process with the help of an example:

Consider you (Person X) are someone who recently shifted from Mumbai to Delhi. You urgently want to update your current address on your Aadhaar card, but you don’t have any valid documents.

In such a case you can contact your friend/relative/employer (Person Y) or anyone who has a valid Aadhaar Card to become your Address Verifier. Now, Person B has to only provide his Aadhaar number and only his address will be automatically collected from UIDAI’s database.

Please take a look at the image below to know the process that Person B can help Person A to get his/er address updated:


Note: In the above-mentioned image step 2 is all about verifier and steps 1, 3, and 4 are about the resident who wants to get his/her address updated.

How to Check Aadhaar Address Update Status without Documents?

 You can check Aadhaar Address Update Status without documents by following the steps mentioned below:

Step 1: Go to

Step 2: Enter your 12-digit Aadhaar Number
 Step 3: Enter URN or SRN

Step 4: Enter the ‘Captcha Verification’ Code

Step 5: Click on the ‘Check Status’ button

Step 6: You Aadhaar Update status will now reflect on your screen

Things to Keep in Mind while Updating Address without Documents

  • The process involves an application by the applicant, approval/consent by the verifier, final submission by the applicant and use of secret code to complete the process
  • You can update your address multiple times in Aadhaar Card, but your address must be the same in which you are currently residing in
  • Service Request Number (SRN) is generated when you initiate an Aadhaar Address Update request through the validation letter and Update Request Number (URN) is a 14-digit number which you get once you successfully complete the process of online address update and the same is sent via SMS to your number
  • The validation letter with secret code is sent to you at the verifier’s address
  • You will receive your updated Aadhaar letter on the updated address or you can also download from 
  • Your mobile number and your verifier’s mobile number must be registered with Aadhaar Card
  • You will not be able to edit the verifier’s name as it is pre-filled under the c/o field
  • You will receive the letter within 30 working days from the date of raising the request

Security Concerns for the Aadhaar Address Verifier

In case you are an Aadhaar Address Verifier, it is quite obvious that you would be concerned about your demographic and biometric details. UIDAI has taken care about it and none of your details would be shared with the resident apart from the address. All your demographic and biometric details would be safe and secure. Under this process, no other data of any verifier would be used and updated into the resident’s Aadhaar. So, if a trusted person in your knowledge is in need of an address update, you can provide it easier to that person. In case you fail to give consent within the set time frame then you will have to start the process once again.


An Aadhaar card is considered as one of the important documents that act as a proof of identity (POI) as well as Proof of Address (POA). It contains all your demographic details including your residential address which makes it mandatory for you to have an updated address in your Aadhaar card. It can be done with the convenience of your home through the online process and now even with the option of not submitting your documents.

The post How to Update Address in Aadhaar without Documents appeared first on Compare & Apply Loans & Credit Cards in India-

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