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Daring New (Non-“PC”) Topic for Cocktail Party Conversation: “Do YOU Think You Will Have Enough Money When It Comes Time to Retire?”

This very provocative question is of the type that my socially correct mother raised me not to ask: Everyone knows it’s socially unacceptable and completely impolite to discuss topics like how much money someone makes, or how well off they are. Questions like that are “Totally CR and SU,” as we used to say in college: “crude, rude and socially unacceptable.”

But the point is, we are starting to ask this question of each other, and I say this is a good thing.

If we don’t talk and plan, we’ll end up unpleasantly surprised, as many of my Boomer-aged coaching clients have discovered.

Consider one of my former clients, a dentist from Indiana who sold off his practice for slightly more than $1 million at the young age of 61, and then began looking at his options. Only to discover that a million dollars doesn’t go as far as it once did – especially since he still had school-aged children living at home.

  • He quickly realized that unless he took massive action of some sort, he was in no condition to maintain his current lifestyle.  Especially since he was in good health and had every reason to suspect he would live for another 30 years!
  • Thankfully, he was quite entrepreneurial, and we quickly came up with several business concepts based on his professional expertise, which would generate a steady passive income stream, and would not require him to get back into the daily grind of seeing patients in a clinic setting.
  • I’m happy to say he is living the good life, these days!

Will YOU have enough money when it comes time to retire?

Too often these days the answer is “no,” even if you diligently started planning for retirement in your 20s. A recent but unscientific poll I saw showed that only 28% of us felt secure enough to answer yes when asked this question.

Another survey I found noted that 63% of Americans 50-59 worry about having enough money to retire.

And 80% of us Boomers plan to work in retirement — and I don’t mean doing meaningful volunteer work, which is also popular — I’m talking about people who want to get paid for their labors.

Why? Well, two-thirds of us told Scudder Kemper that we are “worried about having enough money in the future,” and no wonder: we realize that the money we planned on for retirement just isn’t going to be there! Often the problem is not that we Boomers failed to plan – though that does happen – but that the backdrop against which we did our planning shifted. For example:

  • Even the diligent savers among us were affected by the stock market decline of 2001-2003, which eradicated roughly $7-8 trillion in shareholder wealth, much of it held by us Boomers. And of course, if you’ve started investing in the market again, you’re aware that the last few months haven’t done that well for us, either! Clearly the timing for major withdrawals is a huge concern
  • Then there was the famous “dot-com” crash, which ate away roughly $279 billion on 401[K] assets and huge chunks of other retirement savings
  • Not to mention that many of us are financially savvy enough to know that 401[K] and IRA/retirement money statements can create a false sense of wealth, since – with the exception of Roth IRAs – these funds will be federally taxed on withdrawal
  • For others of us, the challenge came because our employers lopped off 50% of the work force, dropped pension plans,  were bought out by a foreign national – or went out of business. Downsizing, right-sizing, off-shoring, you get the picture.

Or, the financial challenges might be brought on by death, divorce, illness, or unexpectedly finding ourselves caring for our aging parents, our children and grandchildren – or all three! No wonder 50+ consumers outspend younger adults two to one! Currently:

  • 22% of us financially support an aging parent
  • 24% provide for an adult child, aged 18 or more – many of these being “college re-bounders” who come home to live in order to reduce their own living expenses
  • 43% of all singles are 45 or older
  • Collective Boomer debt is estimated at roughly $2.5 trillion
  • The top monetary concern of Boomers considering retirement is “being unable to afford health insurance”

What is the solution?

  • Arrange with your employer to work longer?
  • Figure out how to effectively reduce your standard of living?
  • Win the lottery?
  • Start a business, perhaps based on life experience, which allows you to generate income without “working” in the traditional way?

What if you decide to Work Longer?

According to an article , “How Much Longer Will Boomers Need to Work?” which is posted in the August 11, 2008 issue of US News & World Report, “The typical American retires at age 63. Those fortunate few who have traditional pensions, retiree health insurance, and a fully loaded 401(k) will probably be fine.

But if you haven’t saved enough to fund 30 years of retirement-and as we’ve seen most baby boomers aren’t even close – the obvious solution is working longer.

Some experts correctly note that there are huge benefits for the health of the nation of we work longer. Specifically:

  • The Economy (not to mention Social Security and Medicare) needs the money
  • The Nation’s Employers need both our brains and our bodies – to stave off brain drain and a pending labor gap. Especially in the fields of health care, biosciences, energy and the federal government, where 44% of all workers will be eligible for retirement over the next five years
  • We Boomers are healthy enough to work and will be so for several more decades
  • Future Generations will benefit from a rosier future – because Boomers working longer will alleviate the need to draw down on federal benefits, or liquidate investments, home equity and savings to fund two of three more decades of living, and as a result more money will be left for Boomer children to inherit
  • It will probably put an end to intergenerational warfare and the now-popular sport of “Boomer bashing
  • It’s a common sense solution that could inject $3 trillion into the economy each year and result in a 9% increase on Gross Domestic Product by 2045

But how much longer will we Boomers need to work to finance a secure retirement? It depends on who you ask:

  • “For those workers who can work, the way to a secure retirement is to keep working until 66,” says Alicia Munnell, director of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College and coauthor of Working Longer: The Solution to the Retirement Income Challenge. Social Security currently replaces 39 percent of preretirement income for the average earner retiring at age 65 after the Medicare Part B premium is automatically deducted. But those who retire at the same age in 2030 can expect Social Security to replace only 30 percent of earnings, according to Munnell’s calculations. “Retirees in 2030 will have to work two to four years longer to maintain today’s level of replacement income,” she says.
  • Marc Freedman, founder and CEO of the think tank Civic Ventures and author of the book Encore: Finding Work that Matters in the Second Half of Life, says that Boomers should try to work until at least age 70. The share of households prepared for retirement would nearly double from 31 to 60 percent if early Boomers currently between the ages of 54 and 63 delayed retirement from age 65 to 70, according to a McKinsey & Co. analysis.
  • While Tamara Erickson, author of Retire Retirement: Career Strategies for the Boomer Generation, says Baby Boomers should plan to work until a minimum of age 70 and up to 85 or 90 if they can.

Hmm, still “punching the clock” at age 70; I can see appreciate those advantages for both the workforce and the individual…

But I’d be looking for an option which would allow me to work on my terms. Ideally I’d like to incorporate:

  • Limited hours
  • Opportunities to work from home
  • A paycheck whose size I have some ability to control and the opportunity to REALLY get paid what I’m worth
  • The ability to take off for a week or two at least every quarter…

I wonder how well perks like these, as well as options like retention bonuses, bridge jobs, phased-in retirement plans or delayed retirement subsidies will go over with my younger co-workers?

How Possible is it to Reduce Living Costs?

Many of us anticipate that “financial belt-tightening” will be the answer: That’s why last April, Forbes.com carried an article about a sub-group of Baby Boomers they have nicknamed the “U-Boomers.”

A group they labeled “Financially unprepared, yet undaunted and uncompromising,” the Forbes authors note that this group shares all the optimism and expectations of their wealthier counterparts, yet this group — incorporating 24 million middle-class American households – is approaching retirement with lofty lifestyle aspirations, a thirst for new products and brands, and limited financial resources.

None of this group will be living a “Lexus Lifestyle” in retirement. Think more in terms of the recent commercial where the wedding guests are exclaiming over the lovely backyard garden reception featuring Martha Stewart-branded products purchased at Wal-Mart.

According to the article, the “U’s” will account for almost 25% of total U.S. consumption by 2015, which leads the authors to suggest there will shortly be a massive market for products and services that meet discriminating u-boomer tastes at affordable u-boomer prices. (Obviously the copywriters who wrote that Wal-Mart commercial were listening!)

Note also that the article points out that the “U’s” are the largest segment of the baby boomer generation, sandwiched between roughly 10 million well-to-do households with high hopes for a comfortable retirement and the financial resources to pay for it, and 11 million disadvantaged households that are deeply pessimistic about the future.

But the concept of reducing you standard of living is one you surely hope to avoid, so let’s not accept this option!

Realistically, What Are Your Chances of Winning the Lottery?

Well, it obviously works for some, we see those excited winners on the state-run lottery commercials all the time…but wining is nothing you can bank on.

And since there’s no guarantee — and history shows that the odds of lottery winners actually holding on to their winnings and effectively investing them is slim to none — you’re going to “take a pass” on this option.

So Maybe the Best Option is to Start Up a Business of Your Own?

This is the best option for generating income at this time in your life.  And starting up your own business makes sense, considering that the stage is already set for lengthier Boomer careers, thanks to the increasing acceptance of older workers. What better time to dust off your dreams and start taking control of your life and future? After all, you’ve got experience, your children are grown, you’re healthy and you’ve still got decades of good life ahead!

And Boomers DO want to work. What else would you expect from the generation that mainstreamed working women, has such a strong work ethic, embraced 24/7 connectivity and coveted the MBA degree? And where better to call the shots than in a business of your own? Especially since Boomers have also been called the “me generation,” due to recognition of the fact that we’ve always made our own rules.

Actually, the Boomer penchant for defying convention, if expressed as an extended working life, could be the offsetting – and saving – factor in the economic doomsday scenarios that have been passed around lately. And it really works, since more Boomers working longer translates into additional contributions to the Social Security coffers, more income tax revenue, fewer Medicare payouts and a delay on draws from the Social Security system.

But if you’re providing those benefits to the economy while working in your own business, it finally gives you the chance you’re sought our entire working lives – to do it your way.

  • A recent Towers Perrin/AARP Study, “The Business Case for Workers Age 50+” concluded that older workers are more engaged and motivated to exceed expectations than younger workers, and that declining physical skills such as manual dexterity are more than offset by skills that improve with age, such as verbal communication, tacit knowledge and experimental innovation. All skills that are much needed in business start-up situations. And moreover, starting a business of your own allows you to profitably leverage your life experiences.
  • A 2005 survey by Merrill Lynch revealed that almost 80% of workers age 40-58 plan to work in retirement, and roughly 60% look forward to the challenge of trying something new
  • Recent AARP research found that 69% of today’s workers age 45+ plan to continue working past age 65
  • Globally, Boomers are starting up businesses at a rate higher than any other demographic.

Now, you might say I’m biased in my opinion about the values of business ownership, since I’m a coach who works with Baby Boomers who want to start a business based on leveraging their life experience.

But I’m not the only one promoting the benefits of working in one’s own business, as opposed to being an employee. “Millionaire MakerLoral Langemeier has written books and developed a series of programs and workshops that are perfect for budding Baby Boomer entrepreneurs, because they teach ordinary working people how, in as little as a year, they can:

  • Quit your job and start doing the things you love
  • Control and then eliminate debt, no matter how much you owe
  • Live your life on your own schedule rather than that of an employer
  • Engage in business ventures that generate passive income
  • Substantially decrease your tax burden
  • Form trusts, corporations and partnerships to protect your assets, and create a non-stop revenue stream

So, here you go: WHETHER or not you are going to have enough money to afford to retire, consider helping out the economy and giving yourself the gift of having something meaningful to do with the next few decades of your life – dust off those dreams and start planning your own business start-up! Who knows, you might become the next Colonel Sanders, Oprah or Martha Stewart!

Wondering How You’ll Keep Family Peace While Liquidating Your Parents’ Estate? Author of “The Boomer Burden” Offers Tips to Reduce the Stress

August 9, 2008 by  
Filed under Anne Holmes, Blog, Relationships & Family

Whenever a close friend of ours visits his parents, a wonderful couple we have also come to know and love, he inevitably returns with a bit of concerned grumbling about the on-going battle they always have over his efforts purge his parents’ garage of what he sees as a lifetime accumulation of junk.

The punch line is always the same: his father defends this “quasi warehouse” as a collection of treasures, while our friend half-joking threatens that upon their death, he’ll return to clean house with a backhoe!

Happily, I’ve just come upon a fantastic solution to end this family stalemate:

Prior to his next visit, I plan to gift him with a fantastic book, which he, his brother and his parents can read together before jointly working out a plan for the inevitable future.

The book is called “The Boomer Burden – Dealing with Your Parents’ Lifetime Accumulation of Stuff,” by Julie Hall, who is known professionally as The Estate Lady®. Next to infirmity or death, estate settlement is the most stressful challenge a Boomer will go through with their parents, she says, “and often leaves everyone involved feeling upset, resentful and frustrated.”

A professional estate liquidator and certified personal property appraiser, with more than seventeen years experience, Hall is an expert in personal property, specializing in the dissolution of tangible assets. She has seen it all while assisting thousands of individuals in the daunting and often painful process of managing their deceased parents’ affairs.

Many of the 78 million Baby Boomers – whose parents learned how to hoard in order to survive the Depression – are finding themselves having to deal directly with the effects of that mentality.

“Old habits certainly die hard,” she says. “I see it over and over. As Boomers age and their parents become invalided or pass away, the added burden of having to deal with all that stuff left behind is compounded by the fact that their parents once hoarded items of value in order to stay alive and the urge to save and collect ultimately became habitual.”

“When a loved one passes away, and you suddenly find yourself responsible for taking care of all the ‘stuff’ he or she left behind, it’s common behavior to speed the process by thinking ‘when in doubt, throw it out,’” explains Hall. “But too often, families don’t know the value of the inheritance they’re discarding.”

Hall offers her readers an alternative: have family property professionally evaluated and appraised. “I always find a number of precious items easily mistaken by the adult children as trash.”

Worse, Are the Family Fights

Perhaps worse than throwing away treasure in the trash, are the major family disputes that frequently arise during the settlement of an estate. These often tear siblings apart.

(Having personally experienced the impact of several such fights – just last week, my 78-year old mother and her 76-year old sister finally got together again for the first time since they battled over the settlement of my grandmother’s estate twenty years ago – I know just how valuable the advice in this book can be.)

Hall advises that the best place to begin preparing for the inevitable is among the siblings.

She suggests an initial planning meeting limited to siblings – no spouses – be held in a public place as soon as possible – hopefully before signs of parental inability to cope begin to surface. The goal is to discuss the future and make plans together for how to handle it.

And one of the first steps she recommends is for everyone involved to read her book! (I guess that gets everyone “on the same page!”)

Here are a handful of real life examples from Hall’s book

As you read them, I bet your mind will flash to similar situations you’ve personally observed, I know mine did:

  • Elderly woman with advanced Alzheimer’s (husband in back bedroom dying of Parkinson’s) is completely taken advantage of when neighbors and so-called friends come into her home offering to help her with her upcoming move to a nursing home by buying her valuable heirlooms. What she didn’t understand was that they were taking advantage of her mental state – and buying her family treasures at garage sale bargain rates – we’re talking $2,000 worth of sterling silver flatware walking out the door for twenty bucks! The neighbors knew better, but she didn’t. There was nothing the police could do, since she willingly accepted money for her belongings. The items sold for pennies were worth thousands, and her children, totally unaware of what was happening, will never again see the heirlooms they should have inherited.
  • Elderly widower wanders the neighborhood in the middle of a winter night, barefoot and wearing only pajamas. He manages to get into a neighbor’s home. The neighbor initially thinks it’s a burglar, but then recognizes the elderly gentleman and offers him a blanket and sofa to sleep on while they call the police, who contact the man’s adult daughter. Her other sibling is in denial. It’s time for professional assistance.
  • Two siblings inherit millions each and viciously fight over the old Tupperware. Hall gets hit in the head with a flying kettle in the process.
  • Elderly dad has a problem: Two sons, one Civil War firearm passed down for generations. Both sons are already fighting over it. He wonders which he should he give it to – and seriously considers just letting them fight over it after he’s gone.
  • Daughter holds “24/7” vigil by her father’s bedside until his death, rarely letting other siblings in. Everyone thinks this is because she is so close to him. Turns out the real reason for her “devotion” is her desire to “cherry pick” and stash away prized possessions she wants for herself in the basement. When Dad dies and the coroner arrives, the other sibs gather on the first floor comforting Mom while daughter is in the basement, funneling her stash to her car.
  • Wealthy woman, blind and suffering from Alzheimer’s, daily decks herself out in her fantastic jewelry collection. The heirs ask to have the diamonds removed and replaced with CZ’s, but before the request can be carried out, the caregiver steals the jewelry while the woman naps. (For good measure, they also took a crock pot.)
  • Son who’s just lost his aging parents decides to donate a pair of “really ugly” vases to Good Will. Recognizing them for the collector’s items they are, Hall rescues the vases. And sells them at auction for over $60,000.

The Boomer Burden is available in highly affordable paperback ($10.19 USD) from Amazon.com. I highly recommend it, because it will teach you to:

  • Divide your parents’ estate with peace of mind
  • Minimize fighting with siblings during the estate settlement process
  • Clear out the family home in 10 days or less
  • Identify potential items of value in the family home
  • Plan how to have “that conversation” with your parents
  • Prepare yourself and your children for the future
  • Plus it’s got fantastically comprehensive checklists, spreadsheets and resource lists.

Don’t wait! Ease the potential for anxiety.

Order yourself a copy right now. And while you’re at it – get a copy for each of your siblings too! They’ll thank you for starting the difficult discussion of how your parents estate ought to be settled. Here’s that convenient link again: The Boomer Burden – Dealing with Your Parents’ Lifetime Accumulation of Stuff.

Love, Romance May Still Flourish in the Nursing Home, But Can An Advance Directive Give Residents the Right to a Sex Life?

August 9, 2008 by  
Filed under Anne Holmes, Blog, Health & Fitness

I just read a thought-provoking article which begins, “She was 82. He was 95. They had dementia. They fell in love. And then they started having sex…”

Written by Slate’s Melinda Henneberger, it’s a modern day Romeo and Juliet tragedy titled “An Affair to Remember,” which is somewhat of an ironic title, since it deals with Alzheimer’s and loss. In the article, we read that perhaps a document which doesn’t yet exist — a sexual power of attorney — might have eased the pain all around.

I agree, and I’m all for it. But as it doesn’t yet exist, I’m suggesting that at minimum, Dororthy and Bob could have been protected by an Advance Directive, especially if when issuing it, each had had a frank discussion about their wishes with their Power of Attorney-designee. But that would have involved having some REALLY frank discussions…something few of us might be up to talking about with our parents — or our children.

When Dorothy Met Bob…

This is the true story of Dorothy and Bob (not their real names) who met in their assisted living community. As backstory we learn that:

  • Dorothy, a widow of sixteen years, had married her childhood sweetheart upon his return from WWII, and together they’d raised four children, built a business and traveled the world. She lapsed into dementia following his death.
  • Meanwhile, Bob had been married three times, and prior to meeting Dorothy, had been quite a player within the nursing home, inviting different ladies to dinner nightly.

But once the two met, it’d clearly been love, and according to Henneberger, their relationship had been beneficial for both of them.

“Whenever Bob caught sight of Dorothy, he lit up “like a young stud seeing his lady for the first time.” Even at 95, he’d pop out of his chair and straighten his clothes when she walked into the room. She would sit, and then he would sit. And both of them began taking far greater pride in their appearance.

Dorothy went from wearing the same ratty yellow dress all the time to appearing for breakfast every morning in a different outfit, accessorized with pearls and hair combs.”

The two often spent time at the piano, Dorothy playing while Bob sang. Never mind that he always sang the same song, no matter what Dorothy played, it was clear to all observers that they were happy together.

Bob’s Son Puts a Stop to the Relationship

However, Bob’s son, who had been appointed Bob’s guardian, decided to put a stop to the relationship after walking in on his father and his new girlfriend having sex in Bob’s room.

After getting over his initial sputtering shock, he asked the facility’s staff to ensure that they were never left alone together, then a month later, moved Bob to another nursing home without first notifying either Bob or Dorothy.

We read that Bob was hustled out in greatly confused distress, while Dorothy looked on, perplexed.

Now here’s where the story really began horrifying me:

  • Once Bob was gone, Dorothy stopped eating.
  • She lost 21 pounds, was treated for depression, and hospitalized for dehydration.
  • She sat in the window for weeks waiting for Bob’s return.
  • She doesn’t do that anymore, though: “Her Alzheimer’s is protecting her at this point,” says her doctor, who thinks the loss might have killed her if its memory hadn’t faded so mercifully fast.

Sexual Power of Attorney

In the article, Dorothy’s daughter, who is an attorney, comments (maybe facetiously) that a Sexual Power of Attorney might allow the elderly to control their own sexual experiences when they reach a point of dementia.

I’m not sure how this sort of power of attorney would work or how anyone might go about designating a person to oversee his or her sexual future. The concept however, is very interesting.

Shouldn’t someone have protected the couple’s right to privacy—their right to have a sex life? As the facility manager reminds us in the article, “We were in uncharted territory.”

Certainly there are many questions:

  • Can someone with dementia give informed consent?
  • How do we protect against what might actually be “date rape?”
  • How do caregivers balance safety and privacy concerns?
  • When families object to a demented person being sexually active, are nursing homes responsible for chaperoning?

Manager Say It Was Her “Worst Professional Experience”

  • In all of her years of working with elderly people, this was not only her worst professional experience but was the only one that left her feeling she had failed her patients.
  • She had a particularly hard time staying neutral and detached, she said, because she kept thinking that “if that was my mom or dad, I’d be grateful they’d found somebody to spend the rest of their lives with.”
  • In fact, as a result of the whole experience, the manager, who is 50, had a different version of “the talk” with her 25-year-old daughter, instructing her never, ever to let such a thing happen to her or her husband:
  • “I hope I get another shot at it when I’m 90 years old.”

Dorothy’s doctor also took this experience personally.

  • “Can you imagine as a clinician, treating a woman who’s finally found happiness and then suddenly she’s not eating because she couldn’t see her loved one? This was a 21st-century Romeo and Juliet.
  • And let’s be honest, because this man was very elderly, I got intrigued; my respects to the gentleman.” His patient was happier than he could ever remember; she was playing the piano again, and even her memory had improved.
  • But after the trauma of losing Bob, Dorothy’s doctor came close to losing his patient, he said, adding that most people her age would not have survived the simultaneous resulting insults of depression, malnutrition, and dehydration.
  • “We can’t afford the luxury of treating people like this. … But we don’t want to know what our parents do in bed.”

Henneberger notes the conflicted feelings, writing:“We’re squeamish about the sex lives of the elderly—and even more so when those elderly are senile and are our parents. But as the baby boom generation ages, there are going to be many more Dorothys and Bobs—who may no longer quite recall the Summer of Love but are unlikely to accept parietal rules in the nursing home. Gerontologists highly recommend sex for the elderly because it improves mood and even overall physical function, but the legal issues are enormously complicated, as Daniel Engber explored in his 2007 article “Naughty Nursing Homes.”

At Minimum, WE ALL NEED a Signed Advance Directive

  • I believe that we all need to designate someone to whom we would trust our life to be our attorney-in-fact or proxy.
  • We need to trust this person to not only keep us alive should we find ourselves in a vegetative state or to pay our health care bills when we’re incapacitated
  • We also need to know that this person’s values and beliefs are in line with our own – including our beliefs on sexuality and sexual behavior
  • We need to be able to trust this person to make the same decisions we would make, or at least follow our intent and look out for our best interest

In the case of Bob and Dorothy, I don’t feel that Bob’s son was truly looking out for his father’s best interest. I have the feeling he might have been trying to safe-guard his inheritance or to keep his father “alive-but-lifeless” to satisfy his own need to keep his father around.

Which Leads Me to My Closing Thoughts:

  • First, perhaps immediate family members are not always the best people to designate for such important roles. Certainly this sadly botched love affair shows the incredible intensity and human cost of an issue that, as Dorothy’s doctor says, “We can’t afford to go on ignoring.”
  • And finally, as much as I know that my two adult children don’t want to think their parents or grandparents actually have sex lives, I’m going to send this post to them, and suggest that it’s time we have “the new talk.”
  • And finally, what do you think about this? I hope you’ll make time to talk about this within your families, too.

Meanwhile,

  • As Baby Boomers we need to recognize that Advance Directives are not just for our parents in the nursing home, they’re for all adults.
  • They’re designed to spell out what kind of treatment we would want if we were to experience a stroke, a heart attack, an auto accident, or some other situation which leaves us suddenly incapacitated, and can protect us at any age.
  • If you or your parents don’t already have a signed advance directive – preferably both a living will and a healthcare power of attorney – in force, you need to take care of this immediately.

Send for my free report on these crucial topics. Just fill in your name and email address in the box below, and click the button that says, “Send me information on protecting myself and my family with an Advance Directive.” Please do it now! None of usknow what tomorrow will bring…

Is There a Luxury Travel Club in Your Future? Why These Clubs May Prove More Enticing Than Buying Full Ownership in a Traditional Vacation Home. (And what the heck’s a “luxury fractional?”)

August 9, 2008 by  
Filed under Anne Holmes, Blog, Travel & Leisure

Recently I’ve begun thinking taking a spectacular vacation. We haven’t gone on a cruise for over a year, and since 2008 marks twenty years of wedded bliss, I figure we have a perfect excuse to find the time for something a bit more “grand” than usual.

That’s why I opened an unsolicited email last week titled: “The Most Elite Travel Club in the World.” And kept reading, once it opened up to a breath-taking shot from the interior of a fantastic villa in St. Barth’s, French West Indies, complete with the tantalizing headline, “Wouldn’t You Rather Be Here?” Darn right! Who wouldn’t? As usual, those travel marketers sure know what they’re doing!

As I kept reading about this French-speaking tropical paradise venue, I realized I wasn’t just being offered the opportunity to rent this particular house for a dream vacation, I was being solicited to join a private vacation club.

As a member, and after parting with a significant upfront fee, I’d have the opportunity to vacation at a choice of 250 stunning luxury vacation venues worldwide. AND, the solicitation promised me, when I compared the membership fee with the cost of buying a vacation home and/or taking my family on an all-inclusive vacation, I’d discover that the membership fee was a BARGAIN

Talk about Marketing to Boomers, these people knew all my “hot buttons.”

So: They weren’t just offering me the splendor of the villa on St. Barth’s, they were offering me the opportunity to vacation in fantastic, upscale residences worldwide, including, in no particular order:

With dozens of locations to select from, I was promised that none of the magnificent vacation homes I viewed would leave any detail of my vacation to chance.

My on-call Member Services Representative would see to that, ensuring that I would experience “the vacation I truly deserve.” “Yowza,” I said, “tell me more.”

One Key World Members Pay for Vacations With Their Special Debit Card

Now, I’ve always enjoyed vacations where we rented a house or condo and used it as a base camp, because this has offered us such a freedom of options.

But as I read on, I realized that this club – One Key World – was offering something a bit different: The web site promotes their travel card, and opines that “The One Key Travel Card does for luxury travel what the Jet Card did for private aviation —

It allows access to luxury homes, amenities and services without a major outlay of upfront capital or the hassle of whole ownership.”

By the way, if you’re not familiar with the Marquis Jet Card, here’s the concept: for a single payment of $200,000, you get 25 hours of flight time in a well-maintained private jet.

Marquis has an alliance with NetJets Inc., the world’s largest business-jet fleet operator, which created the concept of fractionally owned jets, and which is owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. So you get the benefits of owning your own jet, without the responsibilities. And Marquis promises guaranteed availability with as little as 10 hours notice.

“One Key World appears to operate like a high-end travel agent or villa broker with additional concierge services,” says One Key’s founder Jay Sapovits, who adds, “We really think of ourselves as a destination club. We offer outstanding service and amenities.

“Travel agencies tend to focus on specific areas, mostly outside the US. We have a competitive line-up of properties domestically as well as internationally. Most importantly, we pre-verify all homes in our portfolio to make sure they reflect the excellent standards [that] our members expect.” (By the way, before starting One Key World, Sapovits was a Marquis Jet VP.)

But this is much more than renting a vacation home, this concept works a lot like the Jet Card: We’re talking about plunking down a membership deposit of roughly $200,000 and acquiring “fractional ownership” in a group of luxury vacation homes. Then paying an annual fee to access up to 45 days of vacation in one or more of the luxury properties. What a way to reduce Boomer Lifestyle-induced stress!

So What’s “Fractional Ownership” All About?

This shared ownership concept has become quite popular lately in the world of luxury product marketing – you can also fractionally own luxury cars, and designer accessories.

With a bit of research I’ve discovered that One Key World is not the only organization to offer these luxurious vaction club amenties. There are actually dozens of others around the world. In some cases, Denver’s High Country Club being an example, your one-time membership fee and annual dues buy your use of the club’s many facilities, not unlike what happens when you purchase a country club membership, but you don’t have any actual ownership share in the properties.

In other cases, One Key World being an example, you’re paying a larger fee upfront, and actually purchasing a fractional interest in the properites, which can be bought and sold, much like happens with a traditional timeshare property.

In all cases, the membership club facilities combine spacious and luxurious homes with five-star service and a “no-hassle” model of ownership.

  • Easy access to multiple vacation homes in a variety of locations
  • Avoid hassles associated with HOAs, cleaning, maintenance, and utilities
  • Members involved in decisions regarding new property acquisitions
  • Free travel planning services to help you select and pre-book vacation activities
  • No doubt you’re wondering, ‘just how does this “luxury access” concept differ from a timeshare?’

    Well, from a strictly legal point of view, there’s no difference: The law considers them the same, which is good news, since the laws for timeshares have been constructed to provide owners with certain protections.

    It might help to think of the difference between owning a timeshare and owning a membership in a private residence club or luxury fractional as being similar to the difference between driving a Mercedes SL500 and a Dodge Neon. Both are cars, and both will get you to your destination. But one is more comfortable, offers more bells and whistles, and probably provides you with more service at the dealership.

    Want to Know More?

    For a list of other luxury vacation operations, variously known as private residence clubs vacation clubs or destination clubs, and more information which will help you determine if this is a vacation solution for you, request my free report on luxury Destination Clubs by supplying your name, email address and clicking the button to “Rush you my free report on luxury vacation clubs.” You’ll receive it immediately, so you can start picturing yourself vacationing in luxury right away!