When Mary Lou Shannon decided to move to the Traditions of America community of Saucon Valley near Bethlehem, PA, she had three things in mind: being closer to family, pursuing her passion for gardening, and finding a vibrant group of friends. “I was a real estate agent for 32 years in the Washington, D.C. area, and I decided that I wanted to live closer to my son and daughter-in-law in Bethlehem,” Mary Lou says. “I loved the concept of customizing my home and moving into a community when it was new. I knew from my real estate work that that first group of homeowners was pretty tight, and I wanted to be a part of that closeness wherever I ended up.”
Mary Lou’s search initially led her to Traditions of America at Bridle Path. The community was almost sold out, but construction on Saucon Valley was just beginning, and Mary Lou already knew she loved the area. “I’d driven through Saucon Valley when I was visiting my son. I loved the farmland and yet it was close to a great shopping center and the highway. I surprised my family, and came up for Mother’s Day weekend … I’ve never looked back.”
From the very beginning, Mary Lou knew that connecting with her new neighbors mattered to her—so she volunteered to host a friends-giving event for her first Thanksgiving in her new community. “I got to know a lot of people doing that. Our clubhouse was finished by then, and we had a lovely candlelight sit-down dinner for 70 people,” Mary Lou says. “Then I got on the social committee. I got to know people and know what was going on in the neighborhood. That was important to me and has a lot to do with my happiness here.”
Mary Lou began playing bridge and joined a book club. “You have to put yourself out there in a community to get the full benefit of it,” she says. Then, she started getting her hands dirty. “I have a lovely garden already. It’s my second summer gardening here, since I moved in two years ago … I have a variety of plants. The lettuces are in now … I’m planting things that are low-maintenance, hostas and native plants.”
Her life at Saucon Valley has been everything she hoped for, but Mary Lou wanted to expand her horizons beyond its boundaries as well. “I told myself when I retired that I wanted to do hospice volunteer work and take a master gardener program. I signed up for both of those before I even moved up here. They’re an important part of my life, because I’m meeting people outside of my area but I’m also giving something back to the community,” she says.
Mary Lou has always loved to garden, and the master gardener program has given her new insight into one of her favorite hobbies. “It surprised me how much I didn’t know. There’s an emphasis on native plants, protecting the environment, the connection in the natural environment of plants, insects, birds, and woodlands. I’m finding that fascinating.”
She was eager to share what she’d learned with her neighbors. “I wanted to encourage more people to garden with a perspective to the natural environment, so I arranged a lecture from a naturalist on attracting birds to our gardens, and then I asked for a shelf in our community library,” she says. “I’m trying to encourage people to use less pesticides and grow some native plants.”
As much as Mary Lou has given to her new home, she’s gotten a great deal from it as well. “Downsizing and establishing yourself in a new community are easier to do sooner rather than later,” she says. “What this community offered is way beyond my wildest expectations for friendships and support.”
“Downsizing and establishing yourself in a new community are easier to do sooner rather than later,” says Mary Lou Shannon.
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“Choosing a place to retire to is a lot like choosing a college. I knew the moment it happened for me and we have never looked back. Wait until a place speaks to you. If you are lucky it does, and it doesn’t take long,” shares Janet Gould.
The Gould’s first bought their home in South Carolina’s Lowcountry in 2004. They were living in Morristown, NJ just outside of Manhattan. As they were still both working, they travelled between their home in Callawassie and the one in New Jersey. The more time they spent on Callawassie Island, they wanted more time there. Eventually when they retired, they moved to Callawassie permanently.
“Although I enjoyed life in New Jersey immensely, I knew I never wanted to scrape another windshield again,” said Janet. “When Bob was commuting to work every day, his friends were the spouses of my friends. Now he has more friends than he ever imagined possible. We are busy from 6:30 in the morning to 8:00 at night.”
Janet continues, “It’s just so much fun!! Our golf course is amazing and so is the tennis facility. We’ll put our amenities up anyone’s, but the best part is the people. The people are so generous with their time and their money.”
The Gould’s both serve on several boards including the “Friends of Callawassie” helping with fundraising and Bob serves on the finance committee. Both of them have volunteered with Habitat for Humanity. Janet says you get more out of it that you put into it. They are also members of the Beaufort Shag Club, which enables the Gould’s to get to know some of the people who grew up in Beaufort, SC. Callawassie is equidistant from Beaufort and Bluffton, SC, so once or twice a week the Gould’s venture out to dinner in the area’s wonderful restaurants.
The Gould’s even travel a couple of times a year with friends from Callawassie Island. Just to name a couple, they have been on a river cruise from Lisbon to Barcelona and travelled from Istanbul to Athens. “We learn so much about history. It just blew us away.”
Janet says, “We love to play golf and tennis, and travel with our friends. In my golf group, have three rules: You have to laugh at yourself, laugh at someone else, and stop dead in tracks and say how lucky we are…”
Retirement planning is pretty variable, so don’t expect right answers, just right questions.
In 1951, Dr. Albert Einstein was working as a physics professor at Princeton University. One day, he and his teacher’s assistant were walking across campus when the assistant asked the question, “Dr. Einstein, how do you think our advanced physics students did on their final exam?” Dr. Einstein replied, “Not very well.” The assistant looked surprised and shocked as he responded, “But Dr. Einstein, why wouldn’t our students have done well when we gave them the same test as we gave them last year?” Dr. Einstein replied, “The questions were the same, but the answers are different this time.” While this scenario applies to many situations, it definitely applies to retirement planning.
In many ways, planning our retirement takes a similar path as Dr. Einstein’s advanced physics class. The questions are still the same, but the answers are different. Here are some of the more important questions:
Do I have enough to retire?
Will my money last as long as I live?
What kind of lifestyle can I afford?
How much risk should I take?
What to do?
Every individual should have a retirement plan regardless of his or her age. This means talking to an advisor about how much money is needed to retire using today’s assumptions regarding life span, health, income levels, inflation, and projected investment returns. As you near retirement, consider a few tactical steps to maximize your security and peace of mind.
Evaluate personal spending.
Instead of worrying about which stock to buy or sell daily, save more money and you’ll get accustomed to spending less now. The good news is that spending is typically highest in the early stages of retirement and declines as the years pass. Take an honest look at your pre-retirement lifestyle, expectations for future spending, and planned activities (such as hobbies and travel). Your conclusions in this thought process will shape your income requirements, and the level of risk in your portfolio.
Coordinate your planning.
Connect the dots between your financial plan and your estate and tax planning. Work with a trusted fiduciary advisor who puts your interests first and can regularly meet face to face with you and your family. Empower your financial advisor to work directly with your estate lawyer and CPA to be sure you get the best results. We do this for our clients and the results and follow through can make a big difference on tax day and when facing big life transitions.
Create a system and follow it.
Today, most individuals invest for growth. Balancing the risk/return and growth/income decision requires thoughtful portfolio design, periodic review, and rebalancing from year to year. And the personal discipline to stick with the plan! An individual is 20 times more likely to achieve desired results with a written plan. It should include details regarding risk, taxes, and portfolio design.
Manage your withdrawal rate.
Research shows that even in the most favorable market environments, taking more than 6% annually from a portfolio over a 30-year period can lead to premature depletion of assets. Determining a sustainable withdrawal rate is wise and allows retirees to maintain stable income throughout various market environments.
Plug the tax and expense drains.
The up and down movements in the stock market are out of your control, so try not to worry when they don’t move in your favor. Instead, plan for adverse markets and pay more attention to characteristics that are controllable. Evaluate the possible impact of taxes on your retirement income. How much should you withdraw from the portfolio to receive enough income after taxes? Should you first withdraw from taxable or tax deferred accounts, given your age, tax rate, asset composition, and other personal factors? What expenses are set in stone for you and which are optional?
Figure inflation into retirement spending projections and expected investment returns. Although inflation has averaged just over 3% on a long-term basis, many advisors say that a 4% assumption is more prudent. The difference between these two rates is substantial over a lengthy retirement. For instance, to maintain purchasing power throughout a 25-year retirement period, a $100,000 annual withdrawal must increase to more than $209,000, assuming 3% inflation, and $266,500 at 4% inflation. There is a big difference.
Make it count.
Many people spend more time planning their vacation or next automobile purchase than they spend thinking about retirement. Your golden years are one of the more important periods of your life – you will enjoy them better if you’re prepared. Take the time to investigate.
Keep it simple.
Invest in things you understand or that your professional advisor can explain in language that makes sense. Great results do not need to be complicated. The far more important concept is the eighth wonder of the world…time and compounding. If an investor will invest in the best businesses in the world, led by the smartest management, providing world-class goods and services to an increasing global consumer, the results tend to be good. And, in most cases, dividends that tend to increase each year helping income keep pace with inflation.
Great results are most often the product of great relationships. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and seek out qualified experts who can keep you on course as the answers change. Less worry and peace of mind is the goal. We are here to help support your success!
About the authors: Vinton Fountain III, Buck Beam, Brice Gibson and Christopher Riley CFP are members of Fountain Financial Associates, a registered Investment Advisory Firm in Wilmington, NC. Their mission is to give clients and their families a better life. Learn more at www.fountainfinancial.net. Advisory Services offered through Fountain Financial Associates, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor. Securities offered through Cetera Advisor Networks LLC. Member FINRA/SIPC. Fountain Financial Associates, Inc., and Cetera are not affiliated.
Noble’s Pond, a master-planned active adult community just outside of Dover, DE, offers its residents “more fun per square inch than anywhere you’ve ever lived”—and they just might be right. Lifestyle Director Colleen Ostafy, who has been a part of Noble’s Pond since 2008, before the first home in the community was built, recently took home the National Association of Homebuilders’ silver award. As creative as she is energetic, Colleen is the beating heart of Noble’s Pond’s vibrant social scene.
“With the 55+ community, it’s nice to have a lifestyle director. I organize all of their trips, events, and everything they do in the clubhouse,” Colleen says. “When I’m throwing a party or organizing trips, I invite everyone. It’s true community involvement.”
Colleen holds public dinners where new residents at Noble’s Pond get to know everyone. On the second Wednesday of every month, she also hosts Coffee with Colleen—a gathering of 100-150 people. “They share ideas, and I tell them what’s going on, what trips are coming up. This year, we went to Alaska. We have an African safari that we’re doing in August. In September, we’re taking a bus trip up to Cape Cod,” she says. “We just went to see a minor league baseball team, ate hot dogs, and saw fireworks afterward. I’m like the travel agent of the community.”
Colleen has introduced residents to riverboat cruises to give them a different take on the cruising experience. Next year, they will travel to the Smoky Mountains, Tuscany, and the Amalfi coast. “The nice part about it is that all you have to do is pack your bags and go to the clubhouse. I take it from there,” says Colleen, who enjoys trips alongside the residents, making herself available to take care of any concerns that might arise—from logistics to healthcare emergencies. “I make residents happy,” she says. “They’ve worked all their lives, taken care of people. Now it’s their time to enjoy life.”
Being the lifestyle director for an active 55+ community has its advantages. “I had it on my bucket list to go to the tulip festival in Germany. So I got together in a room of 100 of my best friends and brought it up. Close to 50 people went to Germany with me,” Colleen says.
Noble’s Pond residents also have a tremendous amount to do close to home. “People who come to Noble’s Pond or even look at our website are like, ‘This is just so amazing’,” Colleen says. “If people are moving in from out of state, they don’t know each other. The clubhouse is our grounding point. They can meet their neighbors, and meet other people who have something in common with them. We can show you how to play pickleball and bocce. We have a community garden.”
While Colleen is a treasure trove of ideas for activities, she is also open to residents’ input. “I’ve had suggestions for a little bit of everything. I’m never going to say no to you,” she says. “I come up with some really crazy things sometimes. We have a group of residents—we call them ambassadors. If we have an open house, they’ll come and talk to prospective people coming into the community.”
Colleen considers herself adventurous, but not as much as one of the residents who she accompanied on a trip to Niagara Falls. “One of the ladies wanted to zipline over the Falls. And she’s in her 80s!” Colleen says. “She’s my little daredevil. We went to Las Vegas…she wanted to zipline there, too.”
The residents of Noble’s Pond are also committed to giving back to their community. “We do a lot of charity events. Girls’ Night Out to Fight MS has raised over $92,000 in the past six years. It’s amazing how residents come together,” she says.
For Colleen, the greatest satisfaction lies in making her residents happy. “People realize that you can really retire and have the good life. One gentleman said to me, ‘I feel like I’m on vacation.’ Another said, ‘I just have to pinch myself every day to think that I can actually have this life and enjoy it as much as I am,’” she says. “I love what I do. I want to make it fun and entertaining. When we go on these trips, they bring their bags up, we take it from there—and they’re on their adventure!”
Scotch Hall Preserve is a North Carolina waterfront community set on a prominent headland where Salmon Creek and the Chowan River flow into Albemarle Sound. Native Americans called the area “Avoca,” meaning “the meeting of the waters.”
Lois and Richard Gobbi are originally from California but moved to Maryland 20 years ago because of his engineering work. As they neared retirement age, the Gobbis began a search that eventually brought them to North Carolina.
“We were looking for a water view where we could build our dream retirement home,” Lois said. “We looked extensively in Maryland and Virginia and found places that just didn’t suit us at much higher prices. The value of the property here was a definite attraction.”
The Gobbis found that perfect view at a Scotch Hall Preserve homesite overlooking the sound and moved into their dream home in 2017. But, like many couples who move to warmer climes these days, they didn’t both retire right away. Lois had finished up her work in a high school counseling office in 2016, but Richard still consults for a government contractor from his home office.
“Working from home allows him to enjoy the beauty of Scotch Hall and continue his career,” Lois said. She also has a home art studio for a hobby that has become a new calling as she’s gotten more involved in community life. “I’m on the HOA Advisory Board and Architectural Review Committee,” she said, “and I’ve organized art classes for the residents. My love is for painting and helping others learn to paint is something I’ve always wanted to do.”
Scotch Hall is such a special place, not just
because of its beautiful surroundings, but because
of the wonderful people in our community.
— Louis Gobbi
Scotch Hall’s Arnold Palmer Signature golf course also proved to be irresistible. “With the beautiful course right outside our door,” Lois said, “we have both taken up golf, which is new for us.” Other outdoor recreations have also become part of their lifestyle. “The swimming pool is a big attraction for us and our family and friends,” she continued. “During the summer, I do water aerobics classes three days a week. We also enjoy jet skiing and tried kayaking with the family recently. We’re going to buy our own kayaks and maybe build our own dock in the future.”
And, the Gobbis have found a lot to like just beyond the Scotch Hall gates. “We really enjoy trips to Edenton, which is 20 minutes over the bridge from our home,” Richard said. “Edenton has become our local town where we attend church, shop at the farmers market, and frequent the local stores and restaurants.”
“We also love to go to the Outer Banks, which is a little over an hour and a half away,” Lois added. “We always stop at Manteo, a quaint town on the water with shopping and restaurants.”
“And, we’re planning to explore more of North Carolina,” Richard said, “especially west toward the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Asheville area.”
Closer to home, the Gobbis have made new friends and hosted holiday dinners for their neighbors. “Scotch Hall is such a special place,” Lois concluded, “not just because of its beautiful surroundings, but because of the wonderful people in our community.”
At “The Meeting of the Waters,” Lois and Richard Gobbi have found just the right balance for the ongoing adventure of their lives.
What is multigenerational living? This community is a great case study.
Located in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains, Lake Naomi Club is the only Platinum Club of America, 5-star rated, private family resort destination in the Northeast. With all that it has to offer—Pennsylvania’s top-rated tennis complex, two Olympic-sized outdoor pools, boating and fishing on one of the largest private lakes in the Poconos, a sailing program, a multifaceted community center, and a wide range of planned activities for kids and teens—it’s easy to see why.
But Lake Naomi’s allure goes beyond its phenomenal amenities. It is that rarest of Shangri-Las—a place where multiple generations come together to build memories, sharing experiences that they will pass along to their children… who, in turn, will return to Lake Naomi Club when they have little ones of their own.
“My family first brought me up there as a young child in 1984,” says Lake Naomi Club homeowner and member Andrew (Andy) Bacon. “When I was in second grade, that was my first year there. From my perspective, what’s great about it is a number of folks we’ve known for a lifetime, much like family. It’s very much a community where the kids know the grandparents, the parents, and each other.”
A competitive person by nature, Andy is very much into the sailing program. His son is now six, and has begun sailing at Lake Naomi Club as well. “When I was a kid, up until when I was in high school, we went up there every summer. We’d pack the car and leave New York City,” Andy says. He attended college at Old Dominion University in Virginia Beach, a further distance from Lake Naomi, and so didn’t have much of a chance to visit until his mid-twenties—though his sister went to a local Pennsylvania university and spent a lot of time at the Club. “When I came back after having been away for years, it was like I never left from a friends and family perspective.”
Andy’s parents own a house at Lake Naomi Club, and five years ago, Andy and his wife purchased one as well. “I do the same thing I did as a kid. We leave July 1 and return home September 1, spending two months up there,” Andy says. Luckily for Andy, his job is flexible. He works for a technology integrator, so all he needs is Internet access to get his work done—giving him the freedom to spend time with his son, Jake. Andy’s daughter, Mary, is just nine months old, so she hasn’t had the opportunity to experience many aspects of the Club yet—but Jake definitely has favorite activities.
“He really likes the camp program they have there. It’s fantastic,” Andy says, referring to Lake Naomi’s Kids Klub. “He likes the golf course they installed a few years back, a little driving range where you hit balls into floating islands in the pond. He loves going to the lake and the pool, likes the freedom, loves taking the bus to camp, loves seeing his friends. The group of friends that my wife and I are friends with have kids as well, so we all come together.”
Another benefit of homeownership at Lake Naomi Club is the shared sense of responsibility. “It takes a village to raise the kids. If I’m sailing and they’re hanging out—if there’s 10-12 kids, as long as there’s one adult, everyone keeps an eye out for what’s going on. There’s definitely a feeling of family with the folks that are there.”
The active lifestyle at Lake Naomi Club exists in sharp contrast to the way many children spend their summers—glued in front of a screen. A friend of Andy’s at the Club has two daughters. After eight o’clock one summer evening, the girls came inside after a long day of having fun. They wanted to do something different, and one of the two suggested they play video games. “They said, ‘We haven’t played video games all summer,’” Andy says.
For Andy, the multigenerational element of Lake Naomi Club is deeply connected to the sports activities that the Club offers. “I can very vividly remember playing golf with my grandfather, with my father, now with my son. It’s the same with sailing, the same with swimming. The sharing of that sport activity, whether it be sailing, golf, tennis, whatever it happens to be—the life sports and community sports aspect is really what makes the multigenerational piece stick. It’s not like you’re just sitting around the house on the weekends. You’re integrating your life with your parents and with your kids.”
Lake Naomi Club is located in the pristine Pocono Mountains of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Our Members have continued to bring their families to Lake Naomi-Timber Trails since 1963. The charm of the individual homes and properties in Lake Naomi and Timber Trails, the country club quality of the sporting and social facilities, the planned activities for all interests and ages and the great variety of ways to live the seasons' pleasures with friends and family are some of the reasons that Lake Naomi-Timber Trails is a Five Star Platinum Club Community.
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