A few days ago I attended the Pasco School District Back to School Expo and benefits fair at Pasco High School, my alma mater. It was a chance to talk with teachers and staff a little bit about their jobs and their plans for the year. Since I didn't have a fancy table display, I brought along my cool, old letterman's jacket with all my sports patches and pins. Everyone loved the 80's hairdos of my volleyball teammates, shown in a picture on one of the pins.
Since I am "just" a few years out of high school, it seems there are fewer and fewer district employees that I know or who worked with my mom back when the district was much smaller. But it is still a great opportunity to meet new teachers and see old friends, like Diana, an old UW friend now teaching in Pasco. It reminds me that even as things change, they still stay the same. The high school looks completely different than when I was there, but the thrill I got just walking past the gym brought me right back to my high school sports days. And being back in the new cafeteria with its high ceilings and wall of windows, doesn't even begin to resemble my old, stuffy cafeteria. But I can clearly remember many, many lunches in that room with friends or maybe by myself if no one was daring to eat school lunch that day. But a buck and a quarter, couldn't beat that for lunch.
I am doing a class at the end of September called Savvy Social Security Planning: What Baby Boomers Need to Know to Maximize This Million Dollar, Lifetime Benefit and so I was telling people about this. I was surprised to learn that many who were still working had already started collecting their social security, many as early as age 62. I let them know that there were strategies that may have helped them maximize their annual and cumulative social security benefit and we would learn about these in my class. Unfortunately for those that have already started to collect there isn't much they can do unless they were willing to suspend and perhaps even pay back the benefits they had earned, but only if they had started less than 12 months ago.
However, if their spouses hadn't started to collect there still might be hope for them to pick up a spousal strategy that might increase their combined lifetime benefits. The thing about SS is there are about a million permutations of ways to do it, and it really pays to learn about some of the ways you personally could make SS work more in your favor.
So I'll be back at PHS next year to keep spreading the word because I really believe this is an area that affects everyone, especially women, and what you don't know can hurt you.
Angie Furubotten-LaRosee, CFP® is a financial planner who helps regular people with "big picture" planning, focusing on their money and their lives.
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