This is the page where you will find everything related to Mr. Free Spirit and his archive of blog posts and related articles.

Who is Mr. Free Spirit?  Mr. Free Spirit is a Baby Boomer who spent the last two years defining and researching Retirement for African Americans.  In other words, Mr. Free Spirit is a Retirement Research Specialist or (RRS) who write about retirement, travel, fine living and everything in-between.

Mr. Free Spirit defines retirement as:  The next phase of living. When a person decides to start the next chapter of their life, based on the completion of the current phase. Retirement is no longer determined by age, people including African American’s are retiring earlier in life based on work, and/or lifestyle. Many years ago the thought pattern was, save for a rainy day, the current thinking is, where should I live and how should I live and we start to look at various states, cities or towns that will accommodate their new lifestyle of easy living.

 

August 27, 2018

Here I am!!!!

Mr. Free Spirit is working on many things, here is one:  The British Virgin Island (BVI) trip for 2019.

The best things in life are not things, they are the memories you will have of the 2017 BVI reunion.

Some people are thirsting to do another yacht trip to the British Virgin Islands (BVI). I was contacted to see if this thirst was spreading or just a local group. The reunion trip of 2017 was more then fantastic, the memories will last forever, meeting new people and watching Black people uncover the unexplored within our communities. As you may already know 2 major hurricanes’ hit the islands subsequent to our departure and destruction was massive. The rebuilding of may structures is still occurring.

July 6 2019, some people are planning to return to BVI and enjoy the pleasure of another yacht adventure.

Reviewing some of the pictures bring back some awesome memories, the newbies were wide eyed and those with experience from past trips were in bliss explaining the wonders of both yachting and BVI. The parties were endless, and people of past trips looked for old friends, while the newbies found new friends. The 2017 reunion is gone, however the education of Black people in a yachting environment needs to continue.

The only way to continue the yachting experience within our communities is to rebuild the experience as they rebuild the BVI. We as a race cannot continue to be shallow based of a lack of knowledge. Experience will afford us expansion based on knowledge gained. As I write about many facets of retirement, yachting is something that be enjoyed at anytime in life, not just retirement.

Click here to look at the pictures of past trips and decide about 2019, is this something that you find interesting?  Drop us a line.

Mr. Free Spirit Is Back with New Interviews (Posted February 24, 2018)

Posted February 24, 2018

Happy New Year!  I decided to take a break to gather new materials for some new articles, both on Entrepreneurs and a new focus on retirement. Additionally, I have been following the article “How Do Black People Spend Their Money,” by Gary A. Johnson on Black Men In America.com.  If you read that article and the Mr. Free Spirit articles a light bulb may come on.

With the current political environment, we could get depressed, if you remember or read about the struggles we have encountered in the past, it becomes hard to be positive. I have been enjoying the month off from writing my articles however I have been reading articles from some of the new Black Men In America.com (BMIA) columnists.

The new sports articles by Chris Johnson are awesome and the videos by Harold Bell and Chris are very informative and entertaining.  These columnists inspired me to get back to writing my articles. I wrote an article in Nov 2017 identifying a company that was formed in the 1980s (Dante Productions), I recently had the privilege of interviewing the new President of Dante Productions Ms. Kristen Smith and it was refreshing to understand her perspective to not only bring the company back to life but enter a mass expansion. In Oct 2017, Dante came back to life and presented a Fashion Production in Central Fl. Kristen explained her vision of “Yesterday vs Today.” Below is the interview and some graphics of her vision:

Interview with Kristen Smith – President, Dante Productions

Mr. Free Spirit:  Hello Kristen, now that you have taken over the position of President of Dante Productions I would like to have you answer some questions.

Kristen Smith:  Sure.  I’m ready.

Mr. Free Spirit:  How do you feel about being the President of Dante Productions?

Kristen Smith:   Although the new role was unexpected, I am excited.  I am looking forward to my future growing with the company.

Mr. Free Spirit:  What plans do you have to expand the company?

Kristen Smith:  I intend to grow Dante Productions organically; this growth will begin with modernizing some of the business practices such as E-Tickets and an enhanced social media presence. We will continue this process of expansion through the introduction varying forms of entertainment.

Mr. Free Spirit:  Now that the company is headquartered in Florida, does that enhance your role or is it more challenging?

Kristen Smith:  No, the company being headquarter in Florida neither enhances nor hinders my role with Dante Productions.  Although I intend to have a regular presence in Florida; we live in a virtual world and as a result most things can be done without physical presence.

Mr. Free Spirit:  I understand the company has expanded to both Fashion shows and the Management of entertainers does this expectation make for a more fruitful company?

Kristen Smith:  Yes, Dante Productions understands that entertainment extends beyond the world of fashion. Re-branding ourselves as a more diverse entertainment company creates endless possibilities.

Mr. Free Spirit:  I understand the past President and founder of the company has moved into the position of COO, is he active?

Kristen Smith:  Yes, our COO plays an extremely active role in Dante Productions.  He remains in charge of all of operations in addition to client engagement.

Left to Right:  COO, Chauncey Dunham, Gary Johnson, Founder, Black Men In America.com and singer Stanley Alston.

Interview with Chauncey Dunham – Chief Operating Officer, Dante Productions

Mr. Free Spirit:  I understand that you as the COO has made a big move to bring Central Florida into a new era of entertainment.  What can you lend to this move?

Chauncey Dunham:  Hopefully I bring fresh ideas, in addition to the understanding that the landscape and demographics of our customers will slowly change over the next several years.  I understand what future Dante Productions customers will demand and I plan to ensure Dante Productions remains on the bleeding edge of entertainment.

Mr. Free Spirit:  I understand that the first new entertainer being managed is Stanley Alston of the singing group “The Main Ingredient.”  Is that true?

Chauncey Dunham:  This is true. We look forward to growing with Stanley and building an amazing future together.

Mr. Free Spirit:  I saw in social media Dante Productions is doing a concert in Central Florida at a Museum with an Orchestra, is this a part of the expansion?

Chauncey Dunham:  Yes, this is a large part of the expansion. With such a high demand for quality entertainment we would like to provide enhanced experiences in sunning and dramatic entertainment spaces; leaving those who patronize our events eagerly awaiting the next.  I’m going to give you a scoop.

Mr. Free Spirit: OK, what’s the scoop?

Chauncey Dunham: We are going to introduce “Silver Citizen Entertainment” to Central Florida.  This area will be our test market.

Mr. Free Spirit:  What is a “Silver Citizen?”  Isn’t that a watch?

Chauncey Dunham: (Laughing).  Yes, there is a watch made by the Citizen watch company called “Silver Citizen.”  A “Silver Citizen” is a very active and progressive senior citizen.  I mean active and progressive in every way — mentally, physically and emotionally.  “Silver Citizens” are on the move. 

As a result, Dante Productions is developing an entertainment entity with four major divisions:

  • Art for Silver Citizens
  • Dance for Silver Citizens
  • Music for Silver Citizens
  • Fashion for Silver Citizens

Mr. Free Spirit:  Wow!  That whole “Silver Citizen” entertainment sounds exciting.  I can’t wait to see how this turns out.  Let me get back to your position in the production company.  How did you pick the President of Dante Productions?

Chauncey Dunham:  The position was passed down from me through a plan of succession.  This plan ensures Dante Productions will remain a force in entertainment and will continue to serve long after we the current Principals choose not to. Additionally, Since Kristen is my Daughter she is a natural to succeed me and with her business savvy she will be successful.

Mr. Free Spirit:  Is the President going to continue to live in the Washington DC area or will she move to Florida?

Chauncey Dunham:  She intends to remain in the DC metro area to continue expand Dante Productions demographically.

Mr. Free Spirit:  What is the new plan for Central Florida from your view point?

Chauncey Dunham:  We are developing entertainment for “Silver Citizens.”  Yes, I said Silver Citizens. It is our intent to bring Central FL Music that appeals to Silver Citizens. There is nothing wrong with the new music, however Silver Citizens don’t relate to the current musical trends. Therefore, I am working with Mr. Will Covington who is a music guru, and he has joined me in developing something called “Music for the Silver Citizens.”

Mr. Free Spirit:  What is your marketing strategy?

Chauncey Dunham:  We have engaged Mr. Gary Johnson Founder/Publisher of Black Men In America.com, to develop the marketing strategy.  Gary follows current trends and develops new marketing strategies for future endeavors. Additionally, Gary is trending and writing about “How Do Black People Spend Their Money?”

Mr. Free Spirit:  When and how will this effort begin?

Chauncey Dunham:  March 31, 2018 is our kick off, using our newly developed Touch of Class Orchestra, who will back both Flo Logan-Worsham and headliner Stanley Alston.

Mr. Free Spirit:  Thanks to both Kristen and you for allowing us to interview you and allowing us to publish your company plans. Do you have any final comments?

Chauncey Dunham:  Yes, with my daughter at the helm A Dante Production will be a force to be reckoned with on both the Fashion Show and Musical world.  We are developing a website.  It is not operational at this time.  We have secured the following domain name www.adanteproduction.com.

You are never to OLD to set a new goal or dream a new dream!

Mr. Free Spirit Out!

Retirement is a big issue.  We have Mr. Free Spirit who guides us around the world through his writing on retirement and fine living.  Forbes magazine has written a number of very informative articles on this topic including, “The Retirement Crisis Facing African Americans.”

You can also read some great articles on Black and Retired.com.

The Retirement Crisis Facing African Americans — By Rodney Brooks, Next Avenue Contributor 

There’s a saying: When white America catches a cold, black America catches pneumonia. So, if there is an impending retirement crisis in America, what does that mean for African Americans? The answer to that question is discouraging.

Credit: Shutterstock

There is a huge gap in retirement preparation of African Americans compared to white Americans, generally speaking. According to the Urban Institute’s Nine charts about wealth inequality in America:

The Retirement Savings Racial Disparity

The average white family had more than $130,000 in liquid retirement savings (cash in accounts such as 401(k)s, 403(b)s and IRAs) vs. $19,000 for the average African American in 2013, the most recent data available.

The wealth gap is growing. The average wealth of white families in 2013 was more than $500,000 higher than that of African American families ($95,000). In 1963, the average wealth of white families was $117,000 higher than for black families.

White families accumulate more wealth over their lives than African American families, on average, which widens the wealth gap as they age. In their 30s, whites have an average of $140,000 more in wealth than African Americans (three times as much). By their 60s, whites have over $1 million more in wealth than African Americans (11 times as much).

“The American dream has not happened for African Americans and Hispanics,” says Signe-Mary McKernan, economist and co-director, opportunity and ownership initiative at the Urban Institute. “Retirement wealth is at the end of the cycle. A lot of things can happen along the way before you get there.”

In partnership with Fidelity, The Huffington Post presents Retire Well, a section dedicated to highlighting all the topics that pre-retirees care about, from healthy aging to healthy finances. Covering retirement news, health, wellness, and finance, this section of the website aims to explore the exciting developments that are changing the face of retirement today.

 

Here’s are a few articles featured on their site.

The 10 Best U.S. Cities For Retirement

 

This May Be The Single Biggest Retirement Mistake You Can Make

Boredom is retirement’s four-letter word.

Click here to read more…

 

 

2017 British Virgin Island (BVI) Reunion: New Discovery by Mr. Free Spirit

By Mr. Free Spirit, (Posted July 2, 2017)

Remember when I stated:  “This is the last article before the trip, Mr. Free Spirit will send pictures back during the trip for publication and the September article will be the trip summary.”

Well a new development has occurred. Did you know, this will be the largest gathering of Black Boaters/Yachters in the history of Black boating?  We are not talking about the events on the cruise ships, we are talking about private yachts. This event started with one (1) welcome party July 28,2017, it has grown to three (3) welcome parties one July 27 and two (2) July 28th. I remember my first trip in 2008, I was fascinated with the collaboration of that number of Black boaters. We had qualified Black Captains from the United States. I am now amazed at the numbers of both the experienced Black boaters and the new people that want to enjoy the experience of renting a yacht and cruising the British Virgin Islands (BVI).

If you read the article in Black Men in America.com, How Do Black People Spend Their Money?,” you will find some interesting statistics:

According to Nielsen:

  • Blacks are more aggressive consumers of media and they shop more frequently.
  • Blacks watch more television (37%), make more shopping trips (eight), purchase more ethnic beauty and grooming products (nine times more), read more financial magazines (28%) and spend more than twice the time at personal hosted websites than any other group.
  • Blacks make an average of 156 shopping trips per year, compared with 146 for the total market. Favoring smaller retail outlets, blacks shop more frequently at drug stores, convenience stores, and Dollar stores.
  • Beauty supply stores are also popular within the black community, as they typically carry an abundance of ethnic hair and beauty aids reside that cater specifically to the unique needs of black hair textures

The overall results are very revealing.

Many of the articles in BMIA are intertwined.  Read the articles about entrepreneurship.  Can you imagine a Black Photographer and/or Videographer investing in going on this trip?  What would be the Return on Investment (ROI)?  Since history is going to be made on this trip, can you imagine the ROI?

Just think how many people it took to make this happen, via conference calls and emails. Below is just a small sample of the groups involved to make this historic event occur:

Boating clubs around the United States have been invited and the response appears to be great. Here is a list of just some of the boat/yacht clubs invited:

  • No Drama Vacation- MD
  • Seafarers Yacht -Club Annapolis MD
  • Seafarers Yacht -Washington D.C.
  • Universal Sailing Club
  • Neptune’s Yacht Club-Baltimore
  • Nauti by Nature
  • Sankofa Odyssey
  • Downriggers Fishing
  • Sailfete-New York
  • Black Boaters Summit
  • Chesapeake Flotillas.com
  • Edock-Ms. Bev—Metro Detroit-Power
  • Chesapeake Flotillas

This does not include all the people and the tremendous efforts on their part.

During a conference call between Mr. Gary Johnson, Black Men In America.com and Mr. Free Spirit a decision was made to document this historic event with a pictorial and/or video slideshow.  Representatives of Black Men in America.com will work with participants after the event and assess the available photos and film to determine the best method of documenting the event.  This will be a collaborative effort coordinated by Mr. Free Spirit.

 

 

“Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations.”

Mr. Free Spirit Out!

By Mr. Free Spirit (Posted June 12, 2017)

  • How old do you have to be to be a successful entrepreneur?
  • Want to Be a Successful Entrepreneur?

Learn to reinvent Yourself if your first attempt fails.


Some entrepreneurs told me how incredibly stressful it is to pitch ideas in front of would-be investors. It was described like “Shark Tank,” but instead of watching it on TV, you’re right there under the lights, in the action. For an entrepreneur, who maybe shy, introverted, and modest by nature, it could be terrifying.  Speaking of terrifying, some entrepreneurs recently told me about how difficult it is to deliver bad news.

The point is that few entrepreneurs, especially first-time entrepreneurs, are ready for what comes at them from a people perspective when building a business. To succeed, you need to be able to step outside of your comfort zone and reinvent yourself – finding the courage to do things they never thought they’d have to do, or that they’d can do.
So how can entrepreneurs get out of this box and learn to reinvent themselves while at the same time reinventing their current business thoughts?

Let’s break this up into steps:

  1. The first step is two-fold: recognizing that reinventing yourself is just as important a task as reinventing your business.
    Then, once you’ve convinced yourself of the imperative, doing an inventory of your challenges. No one likes to admit weaknesses, but just as you look for the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in a business deal, use that same thought pattern on yourself. Where are your blind spots? What do you struggle with? Be honest with yourself and stay dedicated to reality.
  2. The second step is to assess your own personal motivation.
    You’ve done your personal analysis and find that you struggle with sales, or networking or at delivering bad news. The next step is making sure that this is something you care about improving. What’s in it for you to get better at this? Will it help your company grow and thrive? We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone. Will it help you become a more effective businessperson? Will it help you achieve your goals and ambitions? Definitely. Embracing your internal motivation is an essential step for making anything happen, especially personal transformation. Give light and the darkness will disappear of itself.
  3. Finally, the last step is to test your newly reinvented self.
    Try out the new behavior. Look at how others do it, and ask friends for help. Maybe even enlist the help of a coach. If test number one doesn’t work, try again. Change your behavior, or try it in a different setting. Remind yourself of your motivation to go out there and do it, and just like you’d test and improve a product/service, do the same with this new version of yourself.
    In the end, personal reinvention isn’t easy, but it is essential. Don’t let the most critical task of an entrepreneurial career fall by the wayside. Step outside of your comfort zone, embrace change, and you’ll be well on your way to achieving your goals.

A Marketing Funnel
A marketing funnel is a system of enticing your target market to your business and then leading them through a process that allows them to learn about you and, hopefully, to buy.
Through each stage of the funnel, the prospect engages a little bit more with you. At each stage, the number of prospects gets smaller, but their interest is growing.

There are several stages of the funnel, but in general, the funnel moves a lead from their initial awareness of you to making a purchase.

The stages of the funnel are:
1. Awareness: This is the widest part of the funnel where leads first discover you.
2. Interest: Once you’ve made yourself known, your job is to capture the leads’ interest and have them learn more about you and the value you provide.
3. Desire/Consideration: You’ve piqued your prospects’ interests to the point they want what you’re offering, but they’re still working to determine if they really want to invest in the product or service, and if so, if they want to buy from you.
4. Action/Purchase: If you’ve satisfied the prospect’s questions and concerns, he’ll move into the lowest, narrowest part of the funnel and become your customer or client.

One of the nice things about a marketing funnel is that some aspects can be automated. However, it’s important to remember that the goal is to build trust, credibility and rapport so that prospects feel good about hiring or buying from you. This means through each stage you’re providing more value and developing a stronger relationship with your leads.

How to Set Up a Marketing Funnel
The widest part at the top has the most prospects. It’s where everyone who first encounters your businesses enters. One you have their attention, you want to offer a variety of resources that pique their interest further, deliver value, and builds trust and rapport. These resources are used by the consumer in their evaluation of your business. If you’re successful, the prospect moves through the funnel to the end and hires or buys from you.

Let’s talk about real entrepreneurs that have either started and are successful or a new entrepreneur that I mentor.

I will start with Mr. Gary Johnson:

Most people are afraid to: STOP! AND TAKE A SERIOUS ASSESSMENT OF THEIR LIFE!

At one time Gary Johnson was like most of the people described above. After years of personal frustration, Gary conducted an honest self-assessment of his abilities and decided that he was not living up to his potential. He learned how to develop goals and achieve personal success and fulfillment. A successful senior officer, Gary shocked his colleagues by announcing that he was leaving his “good government job” to spend more time with his children.

With the support of his family, Gary exercised his faith and courage to live his dreams and do what he wanted to do with his life.
Gary is a dreamer, a thinker and a winner in life! He had a plan. A plan where he defined his success!

Gary Johnson has inspired and entertained thousands of people with his powerful story telling ability. At the age of 23, Gary was assigned to The White House where he worked for three Assistants to the President for National Security Affairs. Throughout his 40-year career, including 18-years with the federal government, Gary worked as a Mail Clerk, Intelligence Watch Analyst, Security Officer, Special Agent/Investigator, Supervisor, Manager and Training Consultant, Strategist and Talent Acquisition Expert.

Growing up Gary was unwilling to let others evaluate his potential based on test scores and other subjective criteria. He was determined to define his own success. Eleven years later, Gary graduated with a BS degree in Organizational Management from Columbia Union College and had attended the Antioch University School of Law, where he studied in the Masters of Legal Science program.

Gary learned how to set goals. He also learned how to network, be mentored and be strategic within an organization. In the end, Gary used his personal power to define his success. The same personal power that we all have, but don’t always know how to use.

As a certified management trainer, facilitator and consultant, Gary either independently or in collaboration with other HR firms, provided training, consulting and facilitation services to numerous Fortune 500 companies in almost every industry, Wall St. firms and government organizations. Among these organizations are John Deere, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Abbott Labs, American Honda Motor Company, The World Bank, the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to name a few.
Gary is the Founder and Publisher of Black Men In America.com, an online news and magazine and Homework Help Page, a comprehensive compendium of web links designed to help parents and children with homework and research projects.

What is the online Black Men in America.com all about?

Black Men in America.com is a popular website with a focus on black men. Approximately 45% of our site visitors are women. According to Alexa Internet and Ranking.com, Black Men in America.com is consistently ranked as one of the Top 10 most popular web sites (online community) on the Internet in the Ethnic/African/African-American category. Although our focus is on black men, we welcome all people, points of views and perspectives.

Let’s move on to Ms. Joia Bullock (https://twitter.com/artbyjoia)

Joia Bullock is a young, female artist from Prince George’s County Maryland. As a child, she began drawing and painting small pictures for personal recreation and for family members. At the age of 15, she began to take art more seriously and started to create paintings on canvas. Throughout her adolescent years, her talent as an artist and love for art grew and she decided to pursue art as a career. In 2015, she ventured to San Francisco, California to study at the Academy of Art University to hone her skills. After a year of studying at the Academy of Art University, she started a business and branded herself as “artbyjoia” designing hats and other merchandise based on her own art. She is currently continuing her studies at Frostburg State University working towards a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Art. “To live is to experience and through experience I create” is her own personal motto and is how she finds inspiration for her art. Her artwork is based from dreams she’s had and places she’s gone. Through experience, her love for art grows every day.
Keep in mind Joia is both young and a college student, therefore I spoke with Joia and her family and gave them a proposal. My proposal was if Joia continued her studies and her grades warranted, Mr. Free Spirit, Black men in America and The JLB Group will open a gallery in 2018 and feature Joia’s works. Of course, Joia and her family accepted the offer. The name of the new art gallery will be “The Art Inferno” and will open in 2018.

Put your heart, mind and soul into even your smallest act, this is the secret of success!

Mr. Free Spirit out.

You Can Be An Entrepreneur by Mr. Free Spirit

By Mr. Free Spirit (Posted June 12, 2017)

Did you know?  The fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in America are African/American Women.

 

The number of businesses owned by African American women grew 322% since 1997, making black females the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the U.S.

Overall, the number of women-owned businesses grew by 74% between 1997 and 2015—a rate that’s 1.5 times the national average, according to the recently published “2015 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report” commissioned by American Express Open. Women now own 30% of all businesses in the U.S., accounting for some 9.4 million firms. And African American women control 14% of these companies, or an estimated 1.3 million businesses. That figure is larger than the total number of firms owned by all minority women in 1997, the report found.

“The only bright spot in recent years with respect to privately-held company job growth has been among women-owned firms,” according to the report. These businesses have added an estimated 340,000 jobs to the economy since 2007, while employment at companies owned by men (or with equally shared ownership) has declined.

None of this surprises Margot Dorfman, CEO of the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce. Her organization has seen an uptick in membership from black women entrepreneurs.

“We attribute the growth in women-owned firms to the lack of fair pay, fair promotion, and family-friendly policies found in corporate America,” she said. “Women of color, when you look at the statistics, are impacted more significantly by all of the negative factors that women face. It’s not surprising that they have chosen to invest in themselves.”

Nobody can predict your outcome but you!

Everybody was an Entrepreneur at some point during life, remember when you cut grass, washed cars or ran to the store for someone. You considered it an errand however you earned money for that errand. 

 

A Real Entrepreneurial Story

Let’s zero in on a company I know very well, I will give you the entire history of this company.  It’s called Dante Productions. Dante Productions was started in the 1980’s based on a group of men in Philadelphia wanting to go skiing. They went to upstate New York and it was recognized after some hours on the slopes you return at the lodge and there was nothing to do but drink and talk smack. That was the beginning of a person saying it would be nice to have some entertainment. One of the members, Mr. Chauncey Dunham said let’s do this again and I will get some entertainment to travel with us. That was an entrepreneurial move.

Chauncey Dunham engaged a troubled young man who was in high school with the permission of his family to travel on the next trip to spin records. However, the young man did not have turntables or records. This group of me chipped in and made the purchase of the necessary equipment and off they went again to go skiing. This caught on so fast that the number of buses increased from one bus to many buses of men and women. Again, this was the beginning of the expansion of an Entrepreneurial move. Chauncey moved from Philadelphia to the Washington D.C. area and continued the trend. It grew so fast that it became an effort that required a team to handle the flow. Chauncey got others involved, Mr. Richard (Dicky) Jacobs became Chauncey’s business partner and the number of buses continue to increase.  Fast Forward, this effort quickly moved into a winter and summer event. Skiing in the winter and the addition of Fashion Productions during the summer, Pool Side relating to a musical event. The events were pool side near Valley Forge (Music Fair) Pa when Diana Ross, Gladys Knight and the likes were preforming. Chauncey met a young designer (Mr. Schbert Baber) that was a magical connection. The following continue to grow, now not only was it a show the logistics became a challenge, buses, hotel rooms and shows.

Family life came into play and Chauncey decided to slow it down. A real entrepreneur does not have time to sleep and the family gets neglected. Therefore, the company went dormant for some years. However, some ladies (Ladies of Style) renewed the spark and Dante Productions came back to life. Dante has developed a team which includes a graphic artist, a management company, a printer, and a master of video to revive the efforts in a new area. If you check the background on LinkedIn you will notice Chauncey has moved from the position of President to Vice President. This was a legacy move to allow a family members to carry the torch.  The Bookends are now forming. This entrepreneurial story continues so stay tuned.

 

Mr. Free Spirit out!

The difference between winning and losing is most often not quitting.

The 2017 BVI Reunion

Posted June 12, 2017

Well it’s almost time, just think this trip has been in the planning stages for a year. It is now time to start packing, checking the location of your passport and notifying your credit card companies you will be out of the United States.

The final list of activities is limitless and sleep will be a rare commodity. Can you visualize yachts of African/ American’s sailing the blue waters of the British Virgin Islands (BVI) together?  The events will be endless and loaded with fun. Just think, beach activates, pool parties, Regatta Sailing Race, snorkeling and all the other activities.

Pebbles said: Like the Jackson’s………”I can feel it”…we are going to have the best trip ever!

Questions are coming in from the newbies? This may help you.

What to Pack?

The average temperature is 85-95 degrees daily. This vacation is very casual. Do not over pack.

Since we will be around water 98% of the time, you will need to pack

light summer wear, swimwear, cover-ups, shorts, tops, Capri’s, t-shirts, flip flops, scandals, shower shoes, sun visors, hats, sunglasses, sunscreen, lotion, mosquito spray with deet, trunks, short sleeve shirts, back pack, extra beach towel, camera, games and music. Decorations for the boat.

Pack (1) White outfit for the party at the BEYC. Pack a grass skirt or Hawaiian something for our theme party at Virgin Gorda.

All medications, personal documents and valuables should not be packed in your luggage, but hand carried.

Safety & Security

Leave a copy of your passport and driver’s license number with someone at home.

Emergency phone numbers to leave with someone at home: Do not bring lots of cash. Most places in the BVI accept major credit cards.

Do not bring valuable jewelry.

Make sure your luggage is tagged right when checking in at the airport.

Make sure the boat is locked when unoccupied.

Be extra careful stepping on and off the yacht.

Wear life jacket when on the dinghy or in rough water.

Be extra careful when cooking on board.

Cell phones work in the BVI but are very expensive. Check with you cell phone company before you go to see if they have a temporary plan for you. You can also rent a minute phone while there and add minutes as needed.

Don’t forget your phone charger and/or a good camera!

Some surprise stops have been discussed on the power boat side, see below:

PETER ISLAND

THIS IS THAT PLACE. PARADISE IN PARADISE.

There is no other place like it anywhere in the world. And certainly, no other place like it if you’re seeking a true British Virgin Islands vacation. A casually elegant British Virgin Island resort and spa hidden away on an 1,800-acre oasis of tranquility.

Scrub Island

A PLACE LIKE NO OTHER.

Adventure and luxury living set within the magic and beauty of the British Virgin Islands, Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina is your own pristine secluded island retreat. You’re not looking for an average vacation. Good. This is not your average place. Divine secluded beaches. The clearest of waters. Boundless adventures on and beyond our breathtaking shores.

Anegada ANEGADA

The only coral island in the Virgin Islands’ volcanic chain, Anegada is characterized by its nearly flat elevation, the striking coral reefs that surround it, secluded sandy beaches and clear springs bubbling from coral beds.

A variety of wildlife special to the Virgin Islands area thrive on Anegada, including loblolly, frangipani, turpentine trees, feathery sea lavender and wild orchids. On the nature trail at Bones Bight, catch a glimpse of the rare rock iguanas native to the island, or discover the exotic birds at Nutmeg Point.

Snorkelers and scuba divers will delight in the reef’s mazes, tunnels and drops, which are rich in needle fish, bonefish, stingrays, parrot fish and other marine life, while those with sea legs will enjoy water sports, sport fishing and bone fishing. Beachgoers will find no lack of calm and quiet shores, including Cow Wreck Beach, Flash of Beauty, Bones Bight and Windlass Bight.

Discover Anegada’s history through a maze of stone walls that surround the Main Town’s Settlement or the Arawak’s ancient conch mounds in the East End. Or, explore the wreckages of numerous Spanish galleons, American privateers and British Galleons.

This is the last article before the trip, Mr. Free Spirit will send pictures back during the trip for publication and the Sept article will be the trip summary.  I did receive a call asking is there any room left for a late comer, the answer is, YES but it is limited. The power side only has ONE cabin available, I am not sure about the sail boat side.

Mr. Free Spirit Out!

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.

 

2017 BVI Update (April 30, 2017)

Well time is really getting close and this reunion will be one for the history books, who ever heard of this many people of color having a boating reunion?

You can’t imagine the efforts in the planning of a reunion of this magnitude, the logistics related in the movement of this many people is a task that is bigger than big. The planning committee has really put a great deal of time and effort to make this venture a unforgettable venture.

Many new things are occurring every day. If you are trying to make your decision about going on this reunion, ACT Now!!! Some of the Yachts may still have some cabins left. After hearing from some of the groups many new features have been added and the earlier features have been enhanced.

​The adventure will begin with two Welcome Parties, one at the Moorings hosted by Joe Banks, and one at Soper’s Hole hosted by “No Drama Vacations”.

​Music and food will be on tap for a fun-filled evening before the voyage.

Out of the gate Mr. Free Spirit is having a pool party which will be followed by an afternoon beach Bar-B- Que organized by Capt. Ken Washington & Capt. Craig Martin at Spring Bay.

The evening will wrap up with the theme party sponsored by Ms. Bev and the e-dock crew, with a performance starring the elegant style and grace of vocalist Ms.Pamela Diggs. 

Let the party start.  All the yachts will meet at Anegada for dinner.  Can you imagine all of the yacht’s in one place at the same time?  After leaving Anegada, the yachts will sail to the Bitter End Yacht Club to attend the “No Drama Vacation” Black and White Party, or cruise to Leverick Bay for dinner & DJ, hosted by Joe Banks​.

E-Dock power yachts will head to the lap of luxury in Scrub Island Resort.  The main event at Scrub Island Resort will be a Poolside Concert starring the jazzy and classy Ms. Pamela Diggs. ​

Joe Banks and his group is having the dinner of all dinners at Nanny Cay, this is the location where everybody will say good bye to the new friends you met from other cities. The Nanny Cay event will be held at the “Peg Leg’s” restaurant. Besides an extensive buffet menu and a cash bar, they will have a DJ for entertainment and we also plan to take group pictures there at that time. The event promises to be a fun one and the last night on the Island for several of the groups in the Flotilla.

For those who want one more event Shaun Brown and crew will have a WHITE party at the Ritz Carlton hotel in St. Thomas VI.

​For more information, please contact www.harrisandbrown.com which will lead you to the party info.  There are more events and fun things happening, but it’s just too many to list.​

Mr. Free Spirit OUT!!  There is only one way to avoid criticism:  Do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing!

 

April 6, 2017

By Mr. Free Spirit

As you know I have been sitting in on the national planning committee conference calls for the 2017 BVI Reunion. I must say the conference calls are very detailed and packed with enthusiasm. Many thumbs up to the people around the United States for the time, research and effort they are extending to make this a trip to go into the history books. It was my intent to develop a repository of events being presented by the different organization, however the list of events is just too long and to fluid for me to list.

One of the main questions is:  How many boats and people are going?  I lost track at 50 boats and stopped counting. There is both a Sail Side and a Power Side and tracking the many events will be difficult to reflect. I feel blessed to be covering this event and during a conversation with a planning representative from New York I stated this reunion will be a true fishbowl. With our current political environment, a chance to portray the ability of people of color to do something positive is a real plus.

Since I will be traveling on the power boat side I am more familiar with their itinerary, and it is power packed.  E-Dock is still adding events. They have people traveling from California, Maryland, Florida, Michigan, Georgia, Arizona and Hawaii to make this trip.

Since most of you won’t know me, that gives me a chance to interview you for www.blackmeninamerica.com without you knowing it’s an interview.  The opportunity for people of color to meet people from other walks of life will be fantastic. My current column on what it takes to be an entrepreneur will play a big part in the reunion interviews, based on the concept of JUMP!

The black boaters have played a BIG part in our thoughts to enlarge Black Men In America.com. We are currently on the drawing board making major moves to expand.  A section on black boaters will be included in the expansion.

Mr. Free Spirit Tackles Entrepreneurship

March 15, 2017

Publisher’s Note:  This month Mr. Free Spirit tackles the issue of entrepreneurship.  I don’t know if he knows what he’s about to unleash with his article.  Entrepreneurship, especially in the black community has many facets.  One of the questions that Mr. Free Spirit asks is “How old must you be to be an entrepreneur?”  That is a great question.

When you take a detailed look at how black people spend their money, most people will agree that entrepreneurship is a very viable option.  If you have no idea how black people spend their money, and want to learn about how different ethnic groups spend their money click here to read an informative blog post.

The following links are just two examples of young entrepreneurs who are making a difference in their communities:

http://blackmeninamerica.com/mos-bows-13-year-old-ceo-of-mos-bows-memphis/

http://time.com/4277590/whole-foods-bees-lemonade/ (BeeSweet Lemonade)

I applaud Mr. Free Spirit for writing about entrepreneurship and I hope you enjoy his article.  As always, feel free to scroll down to the end of the page and express yourself in the form of a comment.  You can also suggest a topic for future discussion.

Gary Johnson, Publisher – Black Men In America.com

Entrepreneurship by Mr. Free Spirit

Posted March 15, 2017

Let me start this column with two questions.

Question #1:  How old must you be to be an entrepreneur?

Answer:  Any age.

Question #2:  What is an entrepreneur?

Answer:  a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with a considerable initiative and risk.

Entrepreneurship has traditionally been defined as the process of designing, launching and running a new business, which typically begins as a small business, such as a startup company, offering a product, process or service for sale or hire, and the people who do so are called ‘entrepreneurs’.

It has also been defined as the “…capacity and willingness to develop, organize, and manage a business venture along with any of its risks in order to make a profit.”  While definitions of entrepreneurship typically focus on the launching and running of businesses, due to the high risks involved in launching a start-up, a significant proportion of businesses have to close, due to a “…lack of funding, bad business decisions, an economic crisis — or a combination of all of these” or due to lack of market demand.  In the 2000s, the definition of “entrepreneurship” has been expanded to explain how and why some individuals (or teams) identify opportunities, evaluate them as viable, and then decide to exploit them, whereas others do not and, in turn, how entrepreneurs use these opportunities to develop new products or services, launch new firms or even new industries and create wealth.

Recent advances stress the fundamentally uncertain nature of the entrepreneurial process, because although opportunities exist their existence cannot be discovered or identified prior to their actualization into profits.  What appears as a real opportunity might actually be a non-opportunity, or one that cannot be actualized by entrepreneurs lacking the necessary business skills, financial or social capital.

OK, let’s break it down; first age is not a factor.  You can be 9 years or 90 years old to venture into the world of independence.  At the age of 9 years you may shovel snow, cut grass or do odd jobs for the people on the block.  Once you retire from your 9 to 5 job, you may not want to sit around with nothing to do, and you want to do something light.  You have a talent, use it.

Start a company!  Doing something of which you have knowledge and you think it’s fun, is not guarantee for success.  We all have a talent of sorts, maybe it was your hobby when you had a job and you found it relaxing.

I found a company that picks up your clothes and takes them to the cleaners and returns them a week later.  They started with 5 customers and now have 700 customers.  This is a legitimate business.

I met a man that did home remolding in Iowa.  He is now the local handyman and he takes the jobs he wants and turns down others.  He only takes cash (no money trail to the IRS).

I also found a lady who was a volunteer at the local hospital.  She now uses her SUV to take disabled people to their doctor and medical appointments.  Again, this went from a hobby to a business.

You have a talent, use it!

Black Men in America.com was launched in 2001 in Gary Johnson’s basement to counter the overwhelming negative images of black men in the media with positive images of black fathers, husband, sons and friends.  Today the site reaches millions of people and has site visitors in over 92 countries.  Black Men In America.com is fast becoming a brand in addition to being a business.

You can do something other than sitting around complaining that you have nothing to do.  You have a “Honey-Do” list.  Look at that list and get creative.  Think out the box.  Is there anything on that list that you can convert into a business?

I don’t know about you, but I’m not feeling real “secure” right about now.  It’s no secret that the world is undergoing some big changes.  President Trump and all of the uncertainty surrounding his administration is terribly unsettling for small businesses and middle-class people and below.

And while I cannot tell you what will happen next, I can tell you this much:  “When the world is in flux, it never hurts to prepare for the future.”

One way to prepare for the future is to create an emergency fund.  Pay yourself first.  Put away some cash.  Even if you have to put away $5.00 a week, do it.  Over time you will be surprised at how much money you will have saved.

You can also create an emergency fund so that when something unexpected happens you will be prepared.

I understand that for some of you reading this article it is very hard to put money away for an emergency because you don’t have “extra” money.  I also understand that for many people your interest rates are high, which mean you are paying more money for your mortgage, your car payment and your credit cards and loans.

If you are fortunate enough to have a high credit score, your interest rates are lower because you have demonstrated that you can pay your bills on time over a sustained period of time.  To the lending institutions you are a “safe” risk.  This means that it is easier for you to find “extra” money to save for an emergency.  People with high credit scores can also refinance their debt at a lower interest rate, which again affords you the opportunity to save money.

With this political turmoil, I am reminded of a song written by Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff for Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes featuring Teddy Pendergrass.  That song is “Wake Up Everybody.”  Here are the lyrics:

Wake up everybody, no more sleepin’ in bed
No more backward thinkin’ time for thinkin’ ahead
The world has changed so very much from what it used to be
So there is so much hatred war an’ poverty

Wake up all the teachers, time to teach a new way
Maybe then they’ll listen to whatcha have to say
‘Cause they’re the ones who’s coming up and the world is in their hands
When you teach the children, teach ’em the very best you can

The world won’t get no better
If we just let it be
The world won’t get no better
We gotta change it, yeah, just you and me

Wake up all the doctors, make the ol’ people well
They’re the ones who suffer an’ who catch all the hell
But they don’t have so very long before the judgment day
So won’tcha make them happy before they pass away?

Wake up all the builders, time to build a new land
I know we can do it if we all lend a hand
The only thing we have to do is put it in our mind
Surely things will work out, they do it every time

The world won’t get no better
If we just let it be
The world won’t get no better
We gotta change it, yeah, just you and me

Mr. Free Spirit Out

“It’s not the length of life…but the depth of life.”

Heard Ya Missed Me…Well, I’m Back by Mr. Free Spirit

Where was Mr. Free Spirit?  Let’s let him tell you himself.

Let me explain my absence in football terms.  If you followed my adventures and reports on retirement you will remember that first half of my journey last year was packed full of adventure and events.  Last year I traveled to the Midwest preparing to drive back east. However, my body told me to ship the car back and catch a plane.  This is when the stress started.. After contacting many car transport companies I finally found one that told the truth. I found one to be totally the worst (AT 123), the advertisement was FALSE and getting my money back was a nightmare. I finally found one (F1 Auto Transport) that was very honest.

My car was picked up on the arranged day and off to the airport that I designated. F1 told me the day and time my car would arrive and he was an hour early calling me to say he arrived at the drop off destination.

Everything was going well!!

Now it was time for half-time to end and I could start the third quarter. I was in my hotel preparing for a good night’s sleep.  I was looking forward to the next day. Well, the next day came and I was admitted to the hospital and stayed there as a patient for 21 days.  When you plan for retirement, plan for the unexpected, whatever that may be.

If you do not plan for the unexpected you are taking a risk.  In most cases circumstances will have some type of crisis that will have an impact on your finances, especially, if you’re not prepared.  The loads of people that flew in to visit me at the hospital was unbelievable, family and friends were really concerned and I got instructions that were more like warnings on a regular based about “running for the end zone.”

Here it is.  The 4th quarter and thanks to rehab things are almost back to normal. The publisher of Black Men in America said I could not come back to work until I was 100%, however I am 97% now so hopefully that works. The interesting thing is I have not been behind the wheel of a car since Oct 2016, driving for the first time will be interesting. The fourth quarter includes the items on my bucket list such as watching snow on TV and not up close and personal. This has been accomplished.  I wake up watching water every day and I have the option of long or short pants.

My new community is wonderful.  There is always someone checking on me.  Some of the family members fly in constantly house hunting.

I had a conversation with Mr. Gary Johnson, Publisher of Black Men In America.com about the new additions to the website for 2017.  It all sounds very exciting.  The fourth quarter has started off in a very positive manner.  Mr. Free Spirit is back up and running at 97%, once I get back to 100% I will unveil the new initiatives. For now, it’s fun in the sun and get healthy.

Mr. Free Spirit says: “Take ever chance you get in life, some things only happen ONCE.”

Mr. Free Spirit Talks 2017 British Virgin Island Trip

October 9, 2017

Tortola

By Mr. Free Spirit

I started the first British Virgin Island (BVI) reunion article by stating: “There is a difference between EXTRA and EXTRAORDINARY.”

The 2017 British Virgin Island (BVI) reunion is moving further into the category of EXTRAORDINARY. Based on some of the plans that have been provided to me thus far, this will be a reunion that will never be forgotten.

Boating clubs around the United States have been invited and the response appears to be great. Here is a list of just some of the boat/yacht clubs invited:

  • Seafarers Yacht -Club Annapolis MD
  • Seafarers Yacht -Washington D.C.
  • Universal Sailing Club
  • Neptune’s Yacht Club-Baltimore
  • Nauti by Nature
  • Sankofa Odyssey
  • Downriggers Fishing
  • Sailfete-New York
  • Black Boaters Summit
  • Chesapeake Flotillas
  • com
  • Edock-Ms. Bev—Metro Detroit-Power
  • Chesapeake Flotillas

I know you have a question: Do I know how many boats are required so far? — YES

Am I going to provide the number? Not yet

Based on the information I’ve received; this will be an unforgettable experience. If you miss this BVI reunion written words will never be able to describe it.  As I watch the people doing the planning of this reunion I can only say that they are doing a fantastic job.

To list the events that will occur during this reunion would take too much time and I know I would omit something. As I coordinate the events for our boat I realize this is mind blowing, so I can imagine what others are doing. I can only hope that each group decides to have breakfast late each morning due to the extensive list of activities available. The method of itinerary distribution is at the discretion of each group organizer. For Black Men In America.com we will provide the itinerary via email to those going in our group. Every detail is being reviewed to have this trip smooth.

I rarely get mesmerized, however some of the boat/yacht clubs for the BVI reunion have people coming from all over the United States. I went online to research the room rate per night at a yacht club in BVI that we will visit and it was $ 1,000.00 USD per night.

I attended a party this year held by E-Dock/Ms. Bev/Metro Detroit and I was always told “stepping” in Chicago was a way of life and nobody could touch them. Well, Detroit was really in the house.

Atlantic Creole

You know being the new kid on the block, observing this effort is a sight to behold. I must commend all of the individuals’ doing the planning. The job you are doing is fantastic!  It is almost impossible to write about all of the things going on. I will say if you attend this reunion you will need a vacation upon your return home.

From what I see every detail is covered, they plan non-stop entertainment and activities throughout the day and night, there’s more than you can possibly do on a single week! Whether you’re traveling solo, with a friend, family member, or significant other, the 2017 BVI has fun activities for everyone.

I have received some interesting questions about this trip.  Let me help you!

You know that fancy luggage you have?  Leave it home. There are some wonderful duffle bags on the market and it will be easier to store.

Where do you apply for a US Passport?

You can apply for your US passport at many post offices, selected regional federal buildings and at some circuit court offices. The easiest way to find your closest passport application acceptance facility is to go to the State Department’s website and search by ZIP code.  The search form allows you to select handicap access sites and find nearby locations where you can have passport photographs taken.

This BVI reunion has inspired the Gary A. Johnson Company to publish a new online magazine that caters to black boaters.  A preview of the content can be found at this link:  http://blackmeninamerica.com/black-boating-and-yachting/.  The online mag is tentatively scheduled for publication in November 2016.  All boaters are invited to submit articles for publication.  More information and submission guidelines will be available next month.

Mr. Free Spirit says:

When looking back doesn’t interest you anymore you must be doing something RIGHT!

Mr. Free Spirit Talks About Retiring

October 9, 2016

Retirement Sign

Well, folks let’s talk about retirement for me. I have done some things in my retirement that I had no idea that I would ever do. I took 5 months to just travel around the United States and visit family and friends. You know you talk to a family member and they will inform you of another family who lives in a city that you have never visited. So after a phone call to make the initial connection to that city I would go. The cities I have visited are too numerous to list, however, I did meet the children, grandchildren and even the great grandchildren that I never knew about. Some of the cities are in the cold part of country which is not for me. I also rekindled my friendships with friends that I have not seen for years including my British Virgin Islands friends from many years ago.Modern technology has saved me more than once.  I do everything online.  I’ve almost packed and departed for a trip, only to have my PC pop-up and remind me that I leave “tomorrow.”  Since I have purchased plenty of warm weather clothes for the islands I don’t have to worry about what I need when I get home. Yep, it’s time to head home to warm weather now.However, let me provide some retirement wisdom about meGoing home to hibernate for the winter. If you plan to ever use an auto transportation company, please be careful. Do your homework.  The things you have to worry about are numerous.

  • Read the fine print and ask questions about a deposit and weight limits regarding your vehicle. For example, if you’re planning to put all of your suitcases in the car DON’T DO IT!”  That adds to the weight of the vehicle.
  • The driver makes the decision as to when he/she will depart and arrive. In other words, your timeline may not be the same as the driver’s timeline.  In some cases, the transport driver has been known to ask for additional monies to deliver your car.  Watch out for “low ball” companies too, they are good at “bait and switch.”

Some of the Biggest Retirement Planning Mistakes You Can AvoidOne of the biggest dilemmas for those approaching retirement is balancing the life they want to live today with the life they want to live in retirement.There are some common, yet avoidable mistakes that prevent many people from retiring “on time.”  With some planning, you can steer clear of the mistakes that could derail your retirement.

Financial Advisor Talking To Senior Couple At HomeRetirement Planning Mistake: Living Too LargeOne of the first questions you need to ask yourself when it comes to a retirement plan is:  “How much income do you need to maintain your current lifestyle in retirement?”  Not surprisingly, most people don’t know how much money they need.  If your estimate is too high, the goal of retirement may seem unattainable, and the entire planning process is discouraging.  If the assumption is too low, (which is most often the case), you are likely facing a difficult financial situation that would require you to make drastic or unwanted changes in your plan.The general rule of thumb is to plan that you will need approximately 80% of your current annual income in retirement. I’m not a fan of this rule, however, some people underestimate how much money they will need in retirement.Keep in mind that retirees spend more on travel, entertainment and eating out especially earlier on in retirement when they have the time and good no health concerns that prohibit them from enjoying activities.  Keep in mind, health care costs are expensive and can escalate quickly.14274140-150109When looking for a home, it is easy to get caught up on glitz. I almost got caught up in that one. The number of bedrooms and bathrooms you need in your retirement house depends on family size when the family comes to visit. We all want our toys; however, the word WANT vs NEED are two different things.  I learned the difference.  I adopted a new phrase from a friend—“like minded people.”During my travels I have met some like-minded people. Keeping up with others is something I don’t do.  When looking for a home, I would suggest that you select a home that meets your needs and allows you to do what you really like to do in terms of the design and living space.Finding a weather pattern that suits you is a must.  Some people need a financial planner and others are budget minded and can determine what will work for them vs. what will bankrupt them. As we get older our issues relating to health change. Will you be shoveling snow?  Will you have climb stairs?  These are important questions that need to be answered.Many middle-class Americans find retirement to be tougher than anticipated. Learn what you can do to prepare for the most common pitfalls.Black Mental Health 3Will You Have to Retire Before You Are Ready?Forty-nine (49%) percent of retirees quit working sooner than they planned, usually because of health problems, according to LIMRA, a worldwide research firm focused on the insurance and financial services industries.  Job loss, burnout and negative work conditions also can force people to retire earlier than expected.It’s No Fun Hanging Out with Your Spouse 24/7Financial planners say many couples have trouble getting used to spending more time together.  Everyone gets excited about retirement — they think they’re going to walk out the door and never look back and spend their days relaxing and traveling with their spouse, but then they get home and they find they can’t actually stand the person they’ve been married to for the last 30 years.elderly-3To be sure, many couples love 24/7 togetherness. But not everyone. A person I know has stated the toll retirement can take on marriages. He observed that husbands who have been extremely focused on their jobs are particularly likely to struggle with this adjustment.Relationships can endure this transition. Finding retirement pursuits that give life meaning — philanthropy or volunteering, and not just a life built around golf and travel.It’s BoringWhen you hate your boss and feel overwhelmed by work, retirement sounds ideal. The reality is that many retirees long for the camaraderie, structure and sense of purpose that work delivers–not to mention the money.What will you spend your time doing after you retire? Whatever you spent your time doing before you retired, minus the job. While I’m sure my interests will evolve over the years (just as they did while I was working), I now spend my time doing exactly what I did before I retired, only more of it.At The Wall Street Journal, a panel of experts advises taking on new challenges by learning, working, advising, volunteering and experimenting. One aging expert says she learned that saying, “yes” to new experiences opens doors to much-needed variety.Working Until Age 70 May Not Be an OptionNearly 75 percent of pre-retirees said they expect to work in retirement. But life’s realities often intrude on such plans.  In recently published research, the AARP Public Policy Institute says:  “Depending on your profession, it might be wise to invest in disability insurance.”social-security-730x350Money’s Tight — Really TightSocial Security pays only $1,290 a month on average, according to October 2015 figures from the Social Security Administration. In addition, most retirees have very little money in savings. In its annual Retirement Confidence Survey, the Employment Benefit Research Institute looked at the savings of current retirees, not including the value of a primary residence or a defined-benefit pension, reporting that:

  • 26 percent have less than $1,000 in savings
  • 10 percent have between $25,000 and $49,999
  • 10 percent have between $50,000 and $99,999
  • 12 percent have between $100,000 and $249,999
  • 14 percent have $250,000 or more

Such meager savings puts many retirees at risk.  With the decline in employer-sponsored pensions and retiree health coverage, fewer retirees in the future will have benefits that have helped keep seniors from falling into poverty.Black woman sitting in wheelchair in hospitalGrowing OldGrowing old is a lot like being a teenager. Your body and your looks change rapidly, and that can be surprising and discomforting.The first phase is where you feel young because you actually are young. The third phase is where you feel old because you actually are old. And the phase in between is where you feel young but everyone thinks you need to sit down.The inevitability of aging can be tough to deal with, especially if you’ve made plans only for your finances. Before you receive that gold watch for retirement, do some thinking about what you want your retirement life to look like.elderly-2Taking Care of Elderly Parents or RelativesTaking care of elderly parents or relatives forces many workers into retirement. Eldercare consultant Carol Bradley Bursack got an earful when she wrote “Should You Quit Your Job to Care for Your Elderly Parent?” at AgingCare.com. More than 100 readers commented, many describing their anguish at having to choose between their financial security and caring full-time for parents.One, “Caregiver yes,” tells of managing his own aging and health problems along with those of her parents:  “It was sad when Mom passed away, but I was physically and emotionally spent and had to take early retirement. My marriage also suffered. Weekend evenings out with friends dwindled to none. My husband and I have already made arrangements so our children do not even have to consider taking on this responsibility. And, it has nothing to do with love or commitment, for me it was more than I could handle physically and emotionally.”You May Outlive Your Money Longer lifespans today put the nest eggs of even the most scrupulous retirement savers at risk of being exhausted in their owners’ lifetimes.  What’s worse, just one-quarter of pre-retirees believe they’re at risk to outlive their income.Here’s a side note for you Black Boaters. The 2017 British Virgin Islands reunion will be something you won’t want to miss. It will cover all ages, not just retired people. People from all over the U.S. will attend.

Mr. Free Spirit leave you with this thought:

Every next level of your life will demand a different version of you.

 

Mr. Free Spirit Talks About the 2017 British Virgin Island (BVI) Reunion

By Mr. Free Spirit

September 8, 2016

Moorings 5800 CAT

There is a difference between EXTRA and EXTRAORDINARY.

The 2017 British Virgin Island (BVI) reunion falls into the category of EXTRAORDINARY. Based on some the plans that have been provided to me this will be a reunion that will never be forgotten. Boating clubs around the United States have been invited and the response appears to be great. Let me give you some insight. I attended a small flotilla of boats in Aug 2016. The point of departure was Tortola, British Virgin Islands. The natives greeted me by saying “Welcome to Paradise” and as the week went on I found this statement to be true.  I was also told this would be a group of like-minded people and it was.

The 2017 reunion is of special interest to me for political reasons. The current political environment portrays black people in a very negative manner. I really don’t have time to watch TV, however; when I do it is depressing. The world is viewing black people as uneducated thugs without a brain and the word racist has now become a normal part of peoples’ vocabulary.

The positive things that we do as a race is never recognized. During my conversation with Ms. Bev of Metro Detroit, Michigan, my mouth flew open when she stated she has been living the boating lifestyle for over 40 years.  Additionally, she talked about the number of black female Captains (they own their boats) in the Metro Detroit area that are boaters.  Again, something positive. We also discussed the women in Cleveland, Ohio who are also boat owners.

BVI

A general thought pattern that has been discussed in the white community is “black people don’t go near water,” and that “black people are scared of water.” Both thought patters are false.

The 2017 reunion is shaping up to being the largest boating reunion of all times and it may never happen again. It will be the ultimate FISH Bowl, meaning people from all over will be watching and some of them will wishing they were there.

I am and will watch the list of boating club’s numbers and publish them in a general manner. However, I will be mindful of any intrusion of a club’s privacy. I will never include any boat club’s prices or itinerary in my column.

According to the confirmations that I have received so far, the Black Men In America.com boat is FULL.  Keep in mind, FULL is not FULL until the money is PAID IN FULL.  We have the option of acquiring a second boat.  There are 8 people to a boat, double occupancy.

IMG_1160

During my 2016 experience with boating in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), some extremely positive things occurred. All of the partying was awesome.  The food and the process of catering to who eats what was enjoyable also.

One aspect of the trip that I found stimulating was the round-table discussions lead by Doug. I won’t provide the subject matter because I will save that for next year. The impromptu “Soul Train” line in the pool at the Baths is something that I will never forget. We had people from so many cities and everyone got along.  This was a drama free experience.  We lived together on a boat for days without incident.

The pricing structure for 2017 will be completed at the boat show.  The Black Men In America.com price and itinerary will be sent via email only.  If you are interested email me at mrfreespirit@yahoo.com.  Upon the receipt of your deposit all of the information you need will be sent to you as each club operates differently.

Mr. Free Spirit says: “If you want a different outcome, you need to do something different. If you want the same old thing keep doing what you’ve always done.”

Part 2:  Mr. Free Spirit Talks About the 2017 British Virgin Island (BVI) Reunion

October 8, 2016

Tortola

By Mr. Free Spirit

I started the first British Virgin Island (BVI) reunion article by stating: “There is a difference between EXTRA and EXTRAORDINARY.”

The 2017 British Virgin Island (BVI) reunion is moving further into the category of EXTRAORDINARY. Based on some of the plans that have been provided to me thus far, this will be a reunion that will never be forgotten.

Boating clubs around the United States have been invited and the response appears to be great. Here is a list of just some of the boat/yacht clubs invited:

  • Seafarers Yacht -Club Annapolis MD
  • Seafarers Yacht -Washington D.C.
  • Universal Sailing Club
  • Neptune’s Yacht Club-Baltimore
  • Nauti by Nature
  • Sankofa Odyssey
  • Downriggers Fishing
  • Sailfete-New York
  • Black Boaters Summit
  • Chesapeake Flotillas
  • com
  • Edock-Ms. Bev—Metro Detroit-Power
  • Chesapeake Flotillas

I know you have a question: Do I know how many boats are required so far? — YES

Am I going to provide the number? Not yet

Based on the information I’ve received; this will be an unforgettable experience. If you miss this BVI reunion written words will never be able to describe it.  As I watch the people doing the planning of this reunion I can only say that they are doing a fantastic job.

To list the events that will occur during this reunion would take too much time and I know I would omit something. As I coordinate the events for our boat I realize this is mind blowing, so I can imagine what others are doing. I can only hope that each group decides to have breakfast late each morning due to the extensive list of activities available. The method of itinerary distribution is at the discretion of each group organizer. For Black Men In America.com we will provide the itinerary via email to those going in our group. Every detail is being reviewed to have this trip smooth.

I rarely get mesmerized, however some of the boat/yacht clubs for the BVI reunion have people coming from all over the United States. I went online to research the room rate per night at a yacht club in BVI that we will visit and it was $ 1,000.00 USD per night.

I attended a party this year held by E-Dock/Ms. Bev/Metro Detroit and I was always told “stepping” in Chicago was a way of life and nobody could touch them. Well, Detroit was really in the house.

Atlantic Creole

You know being the new kid on the block, observing this effort is a sight to behold. I must commend all of the individuals’ doing the planning. The job you are doing is fantastic!  It is almost impossible to write about all of the things going on. I will say if you attend this reunion you will need a vacation upon your return home.

From what I see every detail is covered, they plan non-stop entertainment and activities throughout the day and night, there’s more than you can possibly do on a single week! Whether you’re traveling solo, with a friend, family member, or significant other, the 2017 BVI has fun activities for everyone.

I have received some interesting questions about this trip.  Let me help you!

You know that fancy luggage you have?  Leave it home. There are some wonderful duffle bags on the market and it will be easier to store.

Where do you apply for a US Passport?

You can apply for your US passport at many post offices, selected regional federal buildings and at some circuit court offices. The easiest way to find your closest passport application acceptance facility is to go to the State Department’s website and search by ZIP code.  The search form allows you to select handicap access sites and find nearby locations where you can have passport photographs taken.

This BVI reunion has inspired the Gary A. Johnson Company to publish a new online magazine that caters to black boaters.  A preview of the content can be found at this link:  http://blackmeninamerica.com/black-boating-and-yachting/.  The online mag is tentatively scheduled for publication in November 2016.  All boaters are invited to submit articles for publication.  More information and submission guidelines will be available next month.

Mr. Free Spirit says:

When looking back doesn’t interest you anymore you must be doing something RIGHT!

RetirementHome

By Mr. Free Spirit

August 30, 2016

Have you retired?  Are you ready for retirement?  Are you really?

Before you read my article, please read the latest article written by the publisher of Black Men In America.comThe article is “How Do Black People Spend Their Money?” This article is scary and will stimulate your thoughts. Why aren’t more black people prepared for retirement? Before you answer that question read the article and learn the facts and some theories about how many black people (not all black people) spend their money.  Find out if you are guilty of some of these spending habits.  The article for September is about housing —“How To Buy A Home In The Retirement Phase Of Your Life.”

According to new lending guidelines from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, buying a home is expected to be easier in the new year than it was in 2014. One of the most important changes for prospective home-buyers has to do with how lenders will view minor credit blips when reviewing mortgage applications.

Couple counting money --- Image by © Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Blend Image/Blend Images/Corbis

If you’ve had a late payment or two in the past, they’re less likely to count that against you when it comes to securing financing. That doesn’t mean, however, that you’ll automatically qualify for a home loan if you have a score that’s just okay. If buying a home is in the cards for 2015, here are five things you should be doing now to give your credit a boost:

  1. Take a look at what’s in your report

If it’s been awhile since you checked out your credit report, now’s the time to give it a closer look. You’ll want to get copies of your report from each of the three major reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion), as the information may be inaccurate or may vary. If you think your credit’s in pretty good shape, you can do this about two to three months before applying for a mortgage. You’ll want to give yourself six to nine months if you know there are some major negative marks you’ll need to clean up.

When you’re reviewing your reports, there are some specific things to pay attention to, starting with the kinds of credit you have. Ideally, there should be a mix of installment loans and revolving accounts, since each of them are weighted differently when it comes to how your score is calculated. If you’ve only got one or two credit cards, you might want to consider adding a small personal loan to even things out a bit. Just keep in mind that you don’t want to go crazy applying for new loans or lines of credit, since that could actually cause your credit score to go down.

The next thing to focus on is how old your accounts are. The longer your credit history is, the better since it demonstrates to mortgage lenders that you know what you’re doing when it comes to things like loans or credit cars. If you’re tempted to close any old accounts you don’t use, don’t–that can actually work against you when you’re trying to buy a home.

  1. Correct errors and mistakes

While you’re browsing around your report, you want to be on the lookout for any signs of suspicious activity on your account. If you see a credit card that you don’t recognize or you’ve got balances on cards that you don’t normally use, that’s a big red flag that someone may have stolen your information. You’ll need to contact your creditor and the reporting agencies to issue a fraud alert to prevent additional fraudulent charges.

You’ll also want to check for errors or inaccuracies, such as a balance that’s being reported incorrectly or payments that weren’t applied properly. If you spot something that doesn’t seem right, you’ll want to initiate a dispute with the agency that’s reporting the information. Getting even a seemingly minor error corrected or removed altogether could mean the difference between a so-so credit score and one that’s good enough to qualify for a home loan at a great rate.

  1. Stay on top of payments

By and large, your payment history has the biggest impact on your credit score. When you’ve got a bank that’s considering lending you hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy a home, you need to be able to show them that you’re capable of making your payments on time, every time. While nothing but time can diminish the negative effects of a late or missed payment, you can and should be making sure everything’s paid up by the due date going forward.

  1. Get your balances in check

Aside from your payment history and mix of credit types, another thing lender take into account is your debt utilization ratio. This is basically the total amount of debt you owe compared to your overall credit line. If you’re carrying balances on an installment loan or credit cards, you’ll want to work on knocking those down as much as possible before you embark on your home-buying journey.

When you’ve got multiple cards that are maxed out or close to their limit, it sends the message that you’re not exactly responsible about using credit wisely. You should be aiming for a debt ratio of 30%-40% so if you’re way above that, paying those balances down needs to be a top priority.

  1. Consider whether it’s worth it to settle up old accounts

Having delinquent accounts or collections on your credit can take a serious toll on your score but over time, the impact these accounts have lessens. Once you reach the seven-year mark, these old accounts should drop off your report entirely. Paying them in full can help your score in certain situations, so it’s something you need to consider if you’re in the market for a new home.

For example, the new FICO 9 scoring model puts less weight on medical collection debt that’s been paid in full. If you have some lingering doctor bills, ponying up the cash to zero out the balance could benefit you in terms of your score. On the other hand, if you’ve got a debt that’s close to the drop-off point, you may be better off waiting it out and delaying your home purchase a bit. Ultimately, you have to consider what your time frame is for buying and how much clearing those old debts will really help you in terms of the big picture.

Oh, you are not finished. What is your age? Do you really want to buy at you age?

Read below: Is it Better to be Buying or Renting a Home?

 When Renting Instead of Buying Makes More Sense!!!

When it comes to the question of renting vs. buying, here are words you will hear few real estate agents mutter: Not everybody should own a home!  Based on age or some people aren’t cut out for home ownership, for a variety of reasons. Are you one of those individuals who should rent and not buy? Here are a few ways to tell.

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Bad Credit Report

Does your credit report tank? If your FICO score is below 620, you’re not going to receive a good interest rate for a loan and, in fact, that kind of score could dump you into the hands of a predatory lender.

Not a good sign.

  • If you want to buy with bad credit, you should work on fixing it before applying for a loan.
  • Four late payments is enough to disqualify you from obtaining a loan.
  • You can order your credit report free online.

High Debt Ratios

Lenders consider two ratios: front-end and back-end. The front-end is your mortgage payment, plus taxes and insurance divided by your monthly salary. The back-end adds your monthly debt payments to your PITI payment before dividing that total figure by your salary. A 50% debt ratio is a high ratio. A high debt ratio means you may not qualify for the loan. If you should find an unscrupulous lender that is willing to fund such a loan, you may not be able to afford to feed yourself, even if you eat dirt.

Job Instability or Relocation

How secure is your job? A high-rolling Sacramento buyer purchased a home in Midtown. His mortgage payments were $3,500 a month, which was a lot for a 25-year-old.

However, that payment was affordable while this guy was earning an annual $120,000 salary. But when he lost his job, he also lost his home to foreclosure.

  • Is Your Job in Jeopardy?
    Is your company laying off? Could you be fired and, if so, how hard would it be to get another job right away? Unemployment compensation is rarely enough to cover mortgage payments.
  • Relocation.
    Are you likely to be transferred to another city within the next two to three years? If you had to sell due to a job transfer or you going to retire your current property would need to appreciate at least 10% to cover the cost of selling; otherwise, you would lose money on the sale. When you buy a home, you should plan to stay put for a while.

Maintenance Issues

All homes require upkeep and maintenance. Not everybody has the where-with-all, much less the desire, to tackle home repair projects. In addition, many first-time home buyers cannot afford to hire a professional to fix things that break. Experts suggest you set aside 5% of the purchase price to cover maintenance and repairs when you buy a home.

When Renting Costs Considerably Less

If your mortgage payment would be triple the amount (or more) you would pay for rent, it might not make financial sense for you to buy. For example, if it would cost you $2,000 a month to rent what would cost you $6,000 per month to own, does it make sense to pay $48,000 a year more to own a home?

If you are in a 30% tax bracket, you might not come close to recouping the difference you paid. Say your deductible expenses are $5,000 a month; 30% of that is only $1,500, which would be your true tax savings per month. Would you spend $6,000 to save $1,500?

Wake up and think about your quality of life. As you get older things slow down, you are not as fast as you were, walking up and down stairs becomes an effort of labor, cutting the lawn is no longer fun.

Hopefully, it does not happen but you encounter health issues. Again, it’s a no brainer.

Again, read the latest issue “How Do Black People Spend Their Money?

Atlantic Creole

Coming in September – THE BLACK BOATERS CLUBS ACROSS THE UNITED STATES WILL HAVE A REUNION IN THE BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS (BVI). It will be in the July/August 2017 time frame. Each month an article will be published to keep you updated. Black Men In America.com will have a boat in this flotilla.  Be sure to follow us throughout the year.  You can even come out and meet Mr. Free Spirit.

Let me leave you with this thought:  “You Can Be Comfortable or Courageous, But You Cannot Be Both.”

Feel free to scroll down to the bottom of the page and leave a comment.

Until Next Time – This is Mr. Free Spirit and I’m out! 

Photo credit:  Couple counting money — Image by © Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Blend Image/Blend Images/Corbis

Mr. Free Spirit Sails The British Virgin Islands (BVI)

August 20, 2016

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As I stated in my July article, I would not write an article in August. This is an update of the “No Drama Vacation” 2016.

I am not usually stumped for words; however, this one has me stumped. Words can’t explain how wonderful, exciting and fantastic this trip was. To start, it is always good to meet new people. This trip consisted of 5 Yachts of people from all over the United States:  Maryland, Michigan, Calif. Texas, Nevada, Georgia, New York, Washington D.C., Arkansas, North Carolina, Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Upon arrival, Joan Jackson of No Drama Vacation, introduced me to the No Drama crew who was truly fantastic. A few of the people on the No Drama vacation I knew from 2008. However, most of them, I didn’t know and I enjoyed meeting them and the diversity of the many conversations. The yachts held up to 8 people each so we had a great flotilla.

I met Ms. Bev and her husband of metro Detroit, Michigan and the people on her two boats. This was a real treat based on some of the different perspectives of their individual lives. Just think, Ms. Bev has been living this type of life for over 40 years. The outside world’s perception of who we are as a people is very messed up.

During a sail to one of the islands, Anegada, I decided not to go snorkeling with the group. I went for a walk and met the most interesting person–the chef for the restaurant. He gave me a 3-hour class on catching, preparing and cooking lobsters on an open flame.  This is where the group had dinner under the stars on the beach that night.

Can you imagine having a soul train line in a swimming pool? Yep, that happened.  Metro Detroit, Michigan and New Bern, North Carolina were “all the way live” with that one at the top of The Baths in Virgin Gorda.

It was truly wonderful, fantastic, beautiful and spectacular to see 5 boats of Black people arriving in upscale locations, such as the Bitter End Yacht Club, Leverick Bay Resort, The Baths, Spring Bay, Virgin Gorda and Jost Van Dyke.

I took over 1,700 pictures. There is no way I can publish all of them. Therefore, I will share them with the crew and they will post to No Drama Vacations Facebook page.

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The various islands we visited were all beautiful and unique. The 2017 BVI Black Boaters Reunion will be an epic and unforgettable event. If 2016 was this wonderful with 5 boats, what will the 2017 reunion bring?  I have been told some of the plans; however, the planning team is still working on details. I plan to continuously add information as I write articles. Since Black Men In America.com will have a boat in the 2017 reunion flotilla, I will provide an email address for questions:  mrfreespirit@yahoo.com

For some of the 2016 attendees and my friends–see you at the boat show!!  You need a bucket and a passport to put this trip on your bucket list.  Mr. Free Spirit thinks, the one who falls and gets up is so much stronger than the one who never fell.

Mr. Free Spirit OUT!

If you would like to leave a comment about this article or Mr. Free Spirit, scroll down to the comments section below.

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Did You Know – Part 3

Retirement SignFinancial-Advisor-620x480

By Mr. Free Spirit (July 7, 2016)

Welcome to July 2016. I had a very interesting June subsequent to my last article “Did You Know –Part 2.”

I received an email from a person stating how much he enjoyed the June article, however it was very long. Guess what?   I agree it was long. However, it was long for a reason. Let’s talk about education.

Most of us spent at least 12 years or more in an institution of higher learning. The days were long, but most of us came out with some academic knowledge.  The purpose of my column is EDUCATION! Therefore, it often takes time to provide knowledge.  Many people made comments concerning the lack of knowledge about the taxes you pay in some states when you sell a house and relocate to another part of the country.  Another group of people read the article concerning how black people spend their money.  They learned that a lot of black folks spend their hard earned money in other communities.  Many people didn’t know there are Black Yacht Clubs around the U.S.  Again, my articles are slated to provide education.  If you are not retired and trying to make your plans it hopefully provides you some planning tools.

With the amount of flying I am currently doing during my transition to my new location, I have had some mind blowing experiences.  I have learned which airports offer the perfect conditions for a long layover. I try to provide these kinds of insights because most people don’t even know to think about this level of detail.  I also touched on the culture of our communities in the 4 areas within the U.S.

Keep in mind we all have choices, to read or not to read. Please be aware of the term stuck in place. Some people are happy and satisfied with nothing more than a rocking chair and a TV. I don’t fit in that category. I have 7 more months of transition and then I will settle in to watch snow on TV.

Below will be both my June ventures and the continuation for the British Virgin Islands.

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Below are reasons that you could retire poor.

How’s that retirement fund going?

If you’re like a lot of workers, you may have doubts about whether you’ll have enough money tucked away to avoid spending your final years living off Ramen noodles.

According to the 2016 Retirement Confidence Survey prepared by Employee Benefit Research Institute, 61 percent of respondents said they were either “somewhat” or “not at all” confident that they would have the money they need for their golden years.

The reasons individual workers have for not being confident about their retirement savings can vary considerably, but if you make these seven mistakes, you’re virtually guaranteed to retire poor.

Couple counting money

  1. You’re too busy keeping up with the Joneses

You can’t spend your whole life pretending to be rich and then think you’ll retire rich, too.

Living within your means isn’t glamorous, but it is smart. And being smart is what will make you a wealthy retiree.

Rather than upgrading your smartphone every two years and your car every three, try being content with what you have. It doesn’t matter if all your friends are remodeling their kitchens, if yours works perfectly fine, leave it be.

Having a realistic budget is the first step toward living within your means. If you don’t already have a budget learn how to create an effortless budget, you’ll stick to.

  1. You’re not saving enough money

When you’re not spending money to constantly upgrade your toys, you’ll have more money to save for retirement.

With traditional pensions all but extinct, it’s up to you — and you alone — to save up the cash needed to live comfortably in retirement. Don’t count on Social Security either. The average monthly Social Security benefit paid was a paltry $1,341 in January 2016.

Failure to save enough money is a sure way to retire poor.  Ideally, 10 percent to 15 percent of your income should be going into a retirement account each month. And if you are behind in funding your savings goals, maybe you should be saving even more.

If you don’t have any extra money in your budget for savings right now, check out these nine suggestions to easily save $100 or more each month. Then, put that extra cash in your retirement fund.

If you start with $100 and save $100 a month for 30 years at an average interest rate of 5 percent, you’ll have around $83,672 extra at retirement time.

  1. Your savings priorities are all wrong

On the other hand, you could be saving money but have your priorities all wrong.

Yes, college for the kids is important, but not at the expense of your retirement account. The kids can always get scholarships, jobs or even loans if absolutely necessary.

Make your retirement savings a top priority. Again, you should be setting aside 10 percent to 15 percent of your income in retirement accounts. Once you hit that level, you can start putting money in the kids’ college funds.

That may seem like a lot of money to save each month, but that’s why you aren’t keeping up with the Joneses, right?

  1. You save your money in the wrong accounts

Another common mistake is putting retirement money in the wrong accounts. A typical savings account isn’t going to cut it. Whole life insurance and annuities aren’t fabulous options either.

Instead, put that money in tax-sheltered retirement accounts such as 401(k)s or IRAs. These accounts come with tax benefits as well as stiff penalties for early withdrawals. (Avoiding such withdrawals is an essential component of ensuring your retirement savings are still there at retirement time.)

And by all means, if your employer offers a 401(k) match, put your retirement savings there first. You’d be a fool to pass up that free money.

  1. You finance everything

Today, retailers make it easy to buy everything – from furniture to a car – on a payment plan. However, you’ll never have money to save for retirement if you finance every purchase.

Rather than spend your money on interest, flex your self-discipline muscles and wait until you have enough saved up before buying whatever it is you want. If you keep yourself out of debt, you’ll be amazed at how far you can stretch paychecks. Then, you can live comfortably now and bank enough to live comfortably in the future.

  1. You’ve let your credit score go

If you do need to finance something — houses and cars are the usual suspects — you’ll want to have excellent credit to get the best interest rates and terms.

Otherwise, you’ll end up paying sky-high interest rates and sending precious money to your creditors that could be used to bolster your retirement account instead.

Neglecting to maintain your credit score by making timely payments is a major mistake that can lead to destitute retirement years. If your number is on the low side, use these tips to bring up your score quickly.

  1. You’re a chicken when it comes to investments

Finally, “no guts, no glory” can apply to your investments.

Sure, you don’t want to be dumb about your money. Placing 100 percent of it in volatile stocks a few years before retirement is a good way to land in the poor house. But at the same time, you want to be aggressive enough with your allocations to ensure your returns at least outpace inflation.

That means diversifying your retirement accounts. If you’re feeling a bit lost about how to do that and which funds to choose, read this article about how not to stress over your retirement account. While the article refers to 401(k) funds, much of the same advice applies to IRAs as well.

Staying Busy All Day

How will you stay busy all day? The point seemed to resonate with many folks. Some have great plans and never expect a dull moment, others are clearly worried that the close of their working days will mean the end of mental stimulation. This article focuses on how lifelong learning programs help retirees keep their minds sharp while learning all kinds of interesting and useful stuff.

Traditional Retirement Yields to the New, Flexible Retirement

We were surprised recently by a group of commenters who took umbrage at the notion that you can work and also be retired. Their more traditional view was that if you are retired, you don’t work, period. A few even quoted dictionary definitions to support their case. But an increasing body of evidence points to an overwhelming trend in the opposite direction – that retirement is often going to be anything but traditional or predictable. It is more likely to be a transition than it is stopping work. Instead of just cashing pension and Social Security checks and having morning coffee or golf with the guys, it might mean a change of career or a part time or volunteer job. The trend is toward more of a highly personal, and very customizable living is more attractive to most retires.

Do Baby Boomers Look Forward to 50th Reunions?
We now have a much fuller idea of your intentions and attitudes towards these impending celebrations.

There will be a LOT of baby boomers getting invitations to 50th high school reunions in the next few years. In fact, the first parties happened last year, when the class of 1964 got back together again. That group, which launched the baby boom with their arrival on the planet in 1946, is demographic proof of the return of American GIs from WWII. Those born in 1947, the class of 1965, will have their reunions this year. Interestingly enough the last birth year for baby boomers was 1964 – the same year the first contingent graduated from high school! Those baby boomer youngsters will blow the lights out on the baby boomer reunion party bonanza in 2032. I had the pleasure of attending a 50th school reunion in June 2016 in a city that was not home for me and I found it very interesting. It was a vast array of different mind sets. The coke bottle shape was no longer in vogue, the guys that were the jocks now needed a cane and the new thought patterns of the people focused the current illness. However, the yearbook was fantastic, there was the picture of the person the year of their graduation had another picture of them during the current year of 2016, sitting next to it. Not only was it unique it was mind blowing to see the difference. I met some interesting people, and I made some conclusions. Those who moved away for their home locations to other geographical locations had a different outlook on life. I met a person that was retired but was very focused on continuing to contribute to the education of others and he even approached me about writing for the magazine. Home base for this person was Oakland Ca. additionally, I met a couple living in Ga. Near Atlanta that really understood retirement, they decided to leave the reunion and drive to those States that they have never visited before returning to Ga.

Sometimes the Greatest Satisfaction in Retirement Comes from the Little Things

A lot of people have big plans for the exciting things they are going to do when they retire. Undoubtedly many of these will be memorable experiences and a source of pleasure. Now a new study puts a different perspective on that pursuit. The study looks at the kinds of experiences – ordinary vs. extraordinary – that creates long term happiness. The biggest finding was this – as we age we tend to get just as much satisfaction from ordinary experiences as we do those extraordinary ones.

Don’t Make These Internet and Social Media Mistakes

Now that you are retired you probably have a little more free time to pursue the interests you always wanted to. You probably also have a desire to re-connect with old friends and family. The Internet and it’s so called “social media” sites like Facebook could be a great way to fulfill both of those desires. However, I disagree, I don’t want to know what your Grandchild had for breakfast this morning.

There are other easy to use tools can instantly and effortlessly put you in contact with family, friends, acquaintances, old school mates, military buddies, long lost lovers, etc. They can also help you pursue hobbies and interests with like-minded folks in a most enjoyable way. Unfortunately, they have downsides too. Used without some common sense precautions, social media can be destructive to relationships, dangerous to you and your property, or just plain annoying. This article will first discuss the concept of social media and then outline our list of the worst mistakes retirees can make in social media.

Growth and Use
Social media is one of the fastest and most pervasive developments of all time. Facebook, the first and by far the biggest social networking site, was only available to students at Harvard University when it began in 2004. That handful of users has exploded to over a billion today.

 Retirement Pitches Baby Boomers Don’t Want to Hear

Marketers have been salivating about baby boomers since the time we started overwhelming kindergartens in 1951. Developers are still excited about our huge numbers (76 million); today they are eager to supply us with real estate for our “golden years”. Yet, just as when we were in our teens a lot of companies couldn’t connect with us, many of the people trying to market to us today are hopelessly young, and they don’t always get what makes us tick either.

One constant is that baby boomers will never think of themselves as old. Our bodies might not look much like what they did when we got naked years ago, but, attitudinally, we still tend to place ourselves in our late teens or 20’s.

When does Old Age begin?

When you were in college or just out of school, did your parents seem old to you? Mine were in their mid-50’s then, and they seemed a little bit old. Funny how mid-50’s feels awfully young these days. A lot of baby boomers feel the same way – the median age is now starting at 70, with a quarter going a lot higher, about 80. Younger adults, however, seem to think 60 represents the start of old age. The results among baby boomers make sense to us!

Here Are 4 Things You Should Never Pay For

It’s common sense that there’s no need paying for something if you don’t have to. But many times, there are things that hit our wallets and we shrug them off just as a normal way of doing business. On matters of finance, every coin counts.  Here are four things you should never pay for.

ATM withdrawals

Once in a while you need a little cash to go through your day, meaning you’ll need to check into the nearest ATM. But have you thought about those costly surcharges? Are you aware that, on average, you’re paying $4.52 for an ATM withdrawal that’s out of network? There’s a way out of this unnecessary expenditure, and the easiest one is to only use your own bank’s ATMs. Most banks have smartphone apps that will help you locate the nearest ATM. There are also some online banks and credit unions that refund out-of-network ATM charges per month – Check Ally Bank and Alliant Credit Union as examples.

Your credit report

Ever paid for your credit report? If so, you might have been a victim of a scam. Every client is entitled to a free credit report every 12 months from each of the 3 main credit monitoring bureaus: TransUnion, Experian and, Equifax, thanks to the Fair Credit Reporting Act. And remember Annualcreditreport.com is the only website that’s authorized to fill orders for the free credit reports. So beware of scammers who might try to charge you for your credit reports that you’ve got the right to receive for free.

Your checking account

Though you must have been taught that you should get free checks and that you shouldn’t be charged for your checking account, if you are using checks to make payments, remember that there are hidden costs you’ll incur. A survey by Bankrate found that only 37 percent of banks offer free checking with no strings attached. So before you use that check, find out whether you’ll incur some expenses.

Foreign transaction fees

Want to go on a vacation abroad? Check your credit card policies. If you use your credit card in other countries, a foreign transaction fee will be added to your monthly bill. It’s usually equal to 3 percent of the charge amount. To avoid this fee, it is advisable to use a credit card that doesn’t charge extra for foreign transactions. For example, the Discover It Miles card and the BankAmericard Travel Rewards card have no foreign transaction charge and no annual fees. Please keep I mind I am not promoting either of them, just providing information.

Now Onto the Fun Stuff

The publisher of Black Men In America.com.com talked to me today and asked if I would be available before I leave for the British Virgin Islands for an interview? One thing after my travels around the U.S. for the last 4 months I have gained a great deal of knowledge. Some of the cities and towns I have visited and some of the people I have met the knowledge I have gleaned has been wonderful.

I will be traveling light with no PC.  The pictures I take will be with my phone, I won’t even take a camera. I have already received the emergency contact paperwork to fill out for the trip. That was a bit unnerving because it won’t be needed, I will be coming back.

Let’s talk about Foxy’s in the BVI:

Foxy’s Bar & Restaurant – Great Harbour

Tortola

The British Virgin Islands and Jost Van Dyke in particular, would just never be the same without Foxy Callwood. This affable man with a major aversion to footwear, delights in strumming his guitar and entertaining restaurant guests.

Foxy’s mini empire sprang from humble beginnings, just down the beach from its current location, beside the quaint little Methodist Church in Great Harbour.

In anticipation of the BVI harvest festivities, Foxy saw a need for libations to be served for those giving thanks for another successful harvest. He built a cement slab and erected what has since become a typical beach bar seen almost everywhere on Jost Van Dyke.

The temporary bar remained in place for two years. In January of 1968, after he’d already made a positive impression, he moved to their present location, expanding a little at a time as finances permitted …. and the rest is history. He now has 2 restaurants. The second one (Foxy’s Taboo) is located beside Diamond Cay in East end.
Foxy’s wife Tessa, runs the charming Foxhole Boutique which is very well stocked with nice clothing and beachwear at surprisingly reasonable prices.

If you plan to travel with us for the BVI reunion in 2017, let me give you a tip from my last visit. Lobster dinner may not be something you want to try.

Food

There’s no comparison, Maine lobster is far tastier however, I enjoy Caribbean lobster as long as it’s fresh and not overly cooked. As others have pointed out Maine lobsters are usually more tender. Since Maine lobsters are extremely rare in the Caribbean (and non-existent on most islands.

In closing let me share this:  “The past is a place of reference, not a place of residence.”

Want to make a comment?  Scroll down below and share your thoughts.

Mr. Free Spirit –  Did You Know? (Part 2)

Posted June 9, 2016

Virgin_Gorda_Banner

I have tried hard to avoid any statements concerning our political environment in my column, however did you know if you have retired or planning to retire soon a change is coming. Financial planning is more important than ever, no matter if your retirement will be based on Social Security, 401 or Federal Government retirement some in-depth financial planning is necessary. Your lifestyle in retirement should be more relaxed, fulfilling those items in your bucket i.e., retirement home, vacation, new boat and etc. The political environment should not dictate your retirement. Think about it. The last chapter of your life has not been written yet. Don’t go about your day to day living like you have 1000 years in front of you, enjoy your life now!!

My column has a great deal of influence based on my experience’s. Recently, I almost lost my direction and focus.  Three things made me get back on track.

  1.  I got notified that my mentor passed away
  2.  I had a long talk with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
  3.  I had a conversation with the person in my mirror.

First, my mentor was a very focused person and nothing would sway him from the path of success, he instilled that in me. Second, if you ever had a talk with an agent in IRS it will make you think HARD about your next move/step. Some of you have financial planners and you will find they are good; however, their educated guess may not fit into the guidelines of IRS. Last, my conversation with the person in my mirror, that one was real and shocking. That conversation made me regain my focus and not permit those that are not directly involved make me stray from my road forward. It is my intention to be the instrument of change for the African American community as it relates to retirement.  During my travels around the United States, I have found we have various thoughts and cultures within our communities as it relates to retirement. I will not provide any depth as to the meaning of that statement, however the Midwest is very laid back, and the northern west coast is very cosmopolitan, the lower west coast is the lower west coast, no explanation required.

Reasons to Love Credit Unions (And Not Big Banks)

Credit unions exist to serve their members. What big bank can say that?

While out and about, you may have passed by the local credit union without looking twice. You have no need for their services, right? Well, at least that’s what you thought.

Are you aware of how credit unions operate and what they entail? If so, you may be inclined to open an account at one close to you or even switch from your bank.

What exactly is a credit union and why is it better?

MyCreditUnion.gov defines credit unions as “not-for-profit organizations that exist to serve their members rather than to maximize corporate profits.” They operate similarly to banks, as they make loans to members and accept deposits.

So, why should I choose the local credit union over big boy banks?

  1. Motives

The sole purpose for a credit union’s existence means that it should have your best interests at heart and not the bottom line of the institution. Big banks, on the other hand, are there to turn a profit and will seemingly do whatever it takes to meet their numbers.

  1. Structure

Because they follow a cooperative structure, credit unions are owned and operated by their members. Upon making the initial deposit, you will be granted voting rights along with surplus income returned in the form of dividends because cooperatives are owned and operated by members.

As a member, you may also be able to conduct transactions at other affiliate locations outside of your institution. And some credit unions reimburse their members for ATM fees incurred outside of their machines.

  1. Fees

Credit unions have lower expenses, so they are able to pass on the savings to their members. For instance, many credit unions offer free checking accounts with no minimum balance constraints, but you will often have to pay a fee at the big banks if your funds fall below a certain number or you fail to meet other criteria. You likely will also be assessed a fee for each transaction that is processed using overdraft protection.

  1. Loan rates

Every loan I’ve ever taken out has been from a credit union, even after shopping around at the big banks. They usually have better rates because they are nonprofit and aren’t looking to make their wallets fatter. According to the National Credit Union Association, as of June 27, 2014, the average interest rate on a 48-month new-car loan was 2.64 percent at the credit union, compared with 4.78 percent at major banks.

  1. Credit card offers

The NCUA also indicated that the average interest rate for credit cards was 11.55 percent for credit unions and 12.89 for banks. So there isn’t much of a difference in terms of APR, but the plastic from credit unions are usually less costly in terms of fees.

  1. Borrowing

Been turned down by all the major banks? Try your local credit union. Its borrowing standards are likely to be more flexible, and they may be willing to work with you, especially if you are a member in good standing. And if you’re self-employed, you already understand how tough it can be to be approved for anything with major banks.

Credit Unions are also a great source for car loans. Check out the car loan search in our Solutions Center. It’s populated entirely by credit unions and you’ll find rates as low as 2 percent.

  1. Earnings on savings accounts

Interest rates on savings are low across the board right now. Credit union savings accounts generally fare a little better than those in major banks, but this margin, again as of June 27,2015 was extremely modest. Credit union savings accounts yielded earnings of 0.13 percent on average, while banks earned 0.12.

  1. Customer service

The credit union may not have a 24/7 customer service line for you to call at 2 a.m. when you have a burning question about your account, but rest assured that the focus will always be on you. The credit unions I’ve joined have been staffed by friendly representatives who knew me by name. I can’t say I’ve had that experience with most banks.

Also, there’s no need to worry if your card is lost or stolen, because there is typically an after-hours hotline you can call to report it.

  1. Insurance

You can rest assured that your funds are safe in the credit union’s hands. Similar to most major banks, all accounts are federally insured up to $250,000 and backed by the U.S. government.

What if I want in?

Credit unions usually serve individuals affiliated with a particular organization or geographic region. But this doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be able to slip through the cracks. To search for a credit union in your area, take a look at:

CUBB

Did you know the plans for the 2017 Black Boaters Reunion in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) are underway?

Mr. Free Spirit wants to know:  What is retirement?

There’s a big reward waiting for you in retirement: you can finally go on those trips you’ve always dreamed of, without having to worry about running out of vacation days or coming back to piles of work and an annoyed boss. Whether you want to explore never-inhabited corners of the world or visit the cradle of civilization, if you have the time, we’ve got some ideas.

Come on try something NEW!  In my May 16, 2016 article I provided the following information:  The United States has a large number of Black Yacht/boat clubs?

Additionally, there are Black Men and Women that are qualified Captain’s and they operate both Powered and Sail boats. A reunion of Black Boaters is being planned for 2017. I found out from Joan M Jackson, (one of the 2017 BVI Reunion Planners) about the plans for all/some of these Clubs to meet in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) in 2017 for a Mega Yachting Vacation. Can you imagine how dynamic this will be? This will be a real Sailabration !!!!!!!!!!!

Let’s talk about what you will encounter on your trip to the Reunion of Black Boaters in 2017.

BVI & Friends

Black People having a private yacht for vacation. Really?

First, you don’t have to be rich to enjoy a private yacht. You do need 8-10 like-minded people per boat. You do need a passport or be able to get one. You have 14 months to get it.  As I stated in the May article there are many Black Yacht/Boat clubs around the United States, Black Men In America.com will publish the clubs as they get involved. However, after some conversation with our publisher we have agreed that Black Men In America.com will also have a yacht. I have been tasked to work on all of the necessary arrangements for our yacht. We will be a part of No Drama Vacations since we are very like-minded.

The article about the reunion will run in July, August and September.  Since I will be traveling with NDV in 2016, I will be able to provide loads of insight to the 2017 reunion.

Let me provide you some information about the British Virgin Islands (BVI).  If you’re planning a visit to the BVI, this is best place to start is here. You can find out more about the beautiful islands, friendly people and recreational activities. To start the BVI has many islands, but let’s start with the 4 main islands.  Each of the British Virgin Island (BVI) has its own special beauty, character and legends.

Tortola

Tortola

Tortola (Spanish for Turtle Dove), largest and most populated of the four main Islands, is a lush mountainous Island which was formed by volcanic activity. Crowning Tortola is the tallest peak, Sage Mountain National Park, at 1716 feet, which exhibits the characteristics of a tropical rain forest. The Island has a population of 24,045 and 55.7 sq. km (21.5 sq. mi) in size. Tortola is also the vibrant hub of the financial and government sectors with Road Town “The Small Town with a Big Heart” as its capital. Road Town is home to the beautiful J.R. O’Neal Botanic Gardens which features close to three acres of indigenous and exotic plants, trees and herbs. The capital is also filled with restaurants, shops, and is the site for the hospital, government administration offices and official Governor’s House with its historical museum. Just behind Waterfront Drive is Main Street, a peep into the BVI’s architectural past, which still has many historic buildings and churches, charming cafes, and curio shops as well as the Virgin Islands Folk Museum.

Tortola also provides the main port of entry for a growing mega yacht and cruise tourism industry. Beef Island, an island in the British Virgin Island, is located to the east of Tortola, and the two islands are connected by the Queen Elizabeth Bridge. Beef Island is the site of the Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport (IATA code EIS), the main commercial airport that serves Tortola and the rest of the British Virgin Islands. Adjacent to it is sailboat-filled Trellis Bay, a unique cultural village with craft shops and restaurants.

The first inhabitants of Tortola, around 300 B.C., were Amerindians from the Ciboney tribe of Venezuela. Around 200 A.D., they were overthrown by the Taino Arawak. In the 1300s, the fierce Carib invaded the British Virgins and enslaved the Arawaks.

Columbus was the first European visitor to the islands, in 1493. Impressed by the number of islands and by their plentiful cays, he named them after Ursula and her 11,000 virgins. In the 16th century, the English, who had successfully taken control of the area from the Dutch, established a permanent plantation colony on Tortola and the surrounding islands. The sugar cane industry, dependent on the slave labour of Africans transported from the continent, dominated Tortola history over the next 180 years. It diminished in the mid-19th century after the abolition of slavery. A large proportion of the white landowning population left the British Virgin Islands during the economic downturn, but the political relationship between the island and the British continued and has been maintained.

In the late 1970s, the British businessman Ken Bates attempted to lease a large part of the island on a 199-year lease, but this was blocked after a protest movement led by islander Noel Lloyd. Inspired by Martin Luther King, Noel Lloyd, started the Positive Action Movement in 1968 to protest the Batehill company’s development of land in the territory. The Batehill leases “were to run for 199 years…leaving less than 10% of Anegada to its own people, and creating a barrier that would separate the affluent Road Town harbour from the rest of the island.” Today, a life size statute of Noel Lloyd and face plates of other members of PAM stands in memory of their efforts at the Noel Lloyd Positive Action Movement Park in Road Town, Tortola.

British Virgin Island

Virgin Gorda

Virgin Gorda is the third largest island of the four main islands. It is located approximately 18 degrees north and 64 degrees west. It has an area of 8 square miles and it was nicknamed the Fat Virgin by Christopher Columbus because the islands profile on the horizon looks like a fat woman lying on her side. The capital of Virgin Gorda is Spanish Town.

The first residents in Virgin Gorda history to populate the area were the Ciboney, Arawak, and Carib Indians, who made a life throughout the first millennium AD by farming and fishing its abundant natural resources. Christopher Columbus was the first European visitor in Virgin Gorda history, spying what was to become the British Virgin Islands and touching down there on his maiden voyage in 1493, though no European nation chose to settle the unusual scattering of land masses until much later. A smorgasbord of notorious inhabitants, rather, called the area’s coves home during this period in Virgin Gorda history – pirates, like Bluebeard and Captain Kidd used Virgin Gorda as a base from which to hound Spanish galleons that passed through the reef-laced waters on a regular basis.

Virgin Gorda’s history took a step into modernity when it was finally taken over by the British in the late 17th century, when a booming plantation sugar industry was established and the population of Virgin Gorda increased dramatically. Slavery was abolished by Britain in 1838, a momentous occasion in Virgin Gorda history but one which left a fractured economy floundering for decades. This was finally rectified when the development of modern travel and communications allowed offshore banking and tourism to take over the British Virgin Islands’ economy, which led to some of the most amazing growth in Virgin Gorda history. Residents of Virgin Gorda now enjoy a high standard of living and value the benefits that a booming, though controlled, tourism industry has offered.

The island contains many tourist attractions such as the Baths. The Baths is located on the southern end of Virgin Gorda. This tourist attraction shows evidence of the island’s volcanic origins as huge granite boulders lie in piles on the beach, forming scenic grottoes that are open to the sea.

The centerpiece of this dramatic area on Virgin Gorda’s north shore is The Baths, a geological wonder comprised of awe-inspiring granite boulders, which form sheltered sea pools on the beach’s edge. The protected area also includes Devil’s Bay, which can be reached from The Baths by a series of ladders scaling the boulders. Just north of The Baths, Spring Bay is reached by a separate road and includes a lovely white sand beach

The most notable ruin on Virgin Gorda is the Old Copper Mine. It was recently designated as a national park. It was mined in the 1860’s by Cornish miners. This abandoned copper mine played an important role in the history of Virgin Gorda. Spaniards passing through the BVI were the first Europeans to mine coppers here in the early 18th century. However, Cornish miners built the ruins that remain today in the 1800s, following a decline in mineral deposits in Cornwall, England. The mine closed in 1862 due to escalating expenses and low market prices. As many as 130 Cornish labourers and their families lived on Virgin Gorda during this time. The ruins of their housing area and the operations centre, containing the powerhouse, mine shafts, cisterns, engine house and chimney are still visible scattered across the slopes.

anegada-bvi-map

Anegada

Named Anegada or the “Drowned Land” by the Spanish, Anegada is the only coral island in the Virgin Islands’ volcanic chain. This Island is 10 miles long by 2 1/2 miles wide with extensive salt ponds. It also reaches its highest point at 28 feet, hence its name which means the “drowned land.” Of coral reef origins, Anegada has “extruded” sixteen miles of sandy beaches with a primeval quality.

Anegada is known for miles of white sand beaches and the 29 km (18 miles) long Horseshoe Reef, the largest barrier coral reef in the Caribbean, and the fourth largest on earth. The reef makes navigation to Anegada difficult. While charter boats freely sail among most of the other Virgin Islands, charter companies often forbid clients to sail to Anegada to avoid running aground on the reef.

The reef has claimed hundreds of shipwrecks, including HMS Astraea in 1808, the Donna Paula in 1819 and the MS Rocus in 1929. As such, it was once an important scuba diving destination. In an effort to protect the reef, the BVI government has made anchoring on Horseshoe Reef illegal.

Apart from the miles of white sand beaches, Anegada is also known for the large salt ponds which cover much of the western end of the island, and unique fauna. In the 1830s, thousands of Caribbean Flamingos lived in these ponds, but they were hunted for food and feathers throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries and disappeared by 1950. They are now being re-established into the ponds. The birds are another tourist draw, but officials are trying to keep the number of visitors to the flamingo areas at a level that allows the birds to flourish.

JVD Map

Jost Van Dyke

Jost Van Dyke is the smallest of the four main islands of the British Virgin Islands. Jost Van Dyke, named after a famous Dutch pirate, has been a sailor’s mecca for years. Like many of the neighboring islands, it is volcanic in origin and mountainous. The highest point on the island is Majohnny Hill at 321 meters (1,054 ft).

Although the English captured the BVI in 1672, it seems that Jost Van Dyke was mostly ignored until the mid-18th century. A map drawn of the BVI in 1717 by Captain John Walton does not depict either Jost Van Dyke or Little Jost Van Dyke.

The island of Jost Van Dyke is rich in history as well.   Captain ‘Joost van Dyk’ was a 17th Century Dutch pirate who used its harbors as a safe hideout and to attack ships passing North of the island on way to Puerto Rico, Santo Domingo, and Cuba.  Jost has been home to Arawak Indians, Carib Indians, Africans, Dutch and English planters.  In the 1700s, a Quaker colony settled here to develop sugar-cane plantations. There are overgrown ruins of Quaker buildings and burial sites in different parts of the islands.   Historically in the Caribbean, with the exception of the Amerindians, most people just started living near the water in the last 50-75 years.  Before that, settlers, planters, and freed slaves made their homes in the safe, harder to reach highlands and valleys.  This gave them a certain degree of added safety being able to spot thieves, pirates, or foreign Navy ships approaching.

Great Harbour, the main port of entry, is always bobbing with sailboats and sailors coming ashore to the charming West Indian village that lines the beach with gift shops and restaurants. Since the late 1960s, Foxy’s Bar in Great Harbor has been a popular stop for Caribbean boaters. Foxy’s and the other bars in Great Harbor now host a modest crowd year-round and are filled with thousands of partiers on New

OK that was your history lesson.!!!

Now let’s talk about Black Boaters:

In 2008 I was fortunate enough to join a group of Black Boaters called the Black Boaters Summit. This was a totally new experience for me and I must say.

Atlantic Creole

WHAT IS BLACK BOATERS SUMMIT (BBS)?

The first Black Boaters Summit shoved off in 1997 with 10 boats and 100 participants, and it’s been growing ever since. After ten years, Paul Mixon and Bill Pinkney have taught hundreds of African Americans about the wonders of sailing. But, says Mixon, the dream is just beginning.

Background:

When Paul Mixon, 65, got hooked on sailing 30 years ago, he never expected that one day he’d be the organizer of a popular annual flotilla in the British Virgin Islands. But his instant love of the sport gave rise to a dream of introducing sailing to more African Americans, long a minority in the sailing community.

“Since the industry is missing the boat, not targeting African Americans,” he said, “why don’t I target African Americans and have them go sailing with me?”

Mixon’s good friend, Captain Bill Pinkney, 71, had his own sailing dreams. In 1985, remembering Call It Courage, Armstrong Sperry’s classic adventure tale, Pinkney began planning a remarkable solo voyage around the world. It would be the ultimate inspirational legacy to leave his grandchildren.

In August 1990, at the age of 54, Pinkney left Boston on his 47-foot (14-meter) cutter, Commitment. Opting for the more challenging southern route, his journey took him to Brazil, Australia, South Africa, Uruguay, and Bermuda—and through tropical storms, 70-mile-an-hour (110-kilometer-an-hour) winds, and 55-foot (17-meter) waves. After 22 months and 32,000 nautical miles, he sailed safely back to Boston’s harbor.

“Bill is the real deal,” says Mixon. “Not only did he circumnavigate the globe alone, but he chose the most difficult passages in the world.”

As the first African American to sail the world alone, Pinkney’s voyage was followed by hundreds of schoolchildren via computer and on satellite radio and television.

“I ended up not with two grandchildren but 30,000 grandchildren,” he says.

After being introduced by a mutual friend years ago, Mixon and Pinkney planned how they could work together to attract African Americans to sailing. Mixon used his entrepreneurial skills to organize the effort, and Pinkney used his reputation as a master sailor and a positive role model to draw people to the trips.

Today Mixon, of San Francisco, and Pinkney, who lives in Connecticut, share their sailing dreams with others through the Black Boaters Summit, an annual summer event in the British Virgin Islands.

“It was an uphill battle to try to convince people to get out on the water with nothing more than a sail and a rope,” says Mixon. In fact, according to Mixon, many of the participating sailors could not even swim and had no previous exposure to open water. “At the end of the day it’s very rewarding to see the smiles on the faces of our first-timers.”

The summit initially tested the waters with only ten boats. Now in its tenth year, it has grown exponentially. At one recent summit, 280 sailors participated on 24 boats. All of the boats’ captains are African-American men and women who have made sailing their sport. It’s evolved into a network that has created many friendships and six marriages.  Pinkney sums it up: “You can’t make fantasies happen, but you can make your dreams come true. That’s what I’m most proud of. I turned a dream into a reality—not just for me, but for a lot of young people as well.”

“Dreaming”

Paul Mixon and Bill Pinkney both grew up in Chicago and both went into the Navy. But they were strangers to each other. Find out how a mutual love of sailing and a desire to make a difference brought these remarkable men together.

“Planning the Dream”

Bill Pinkney was a sailing legend who wanted to leave a legacy for his grandkids. Paul Mixon also loved sailing and wanted to introduce the sport to other African Americans. See how these kindred spirits joined forces to create a mutual dream.

“Spreading the Word”

In many ways for Paul Mixon, starting a Black Boaters Summit was like sailing into the wind. It meant, among other things, overcoming stereotypes about African Americans and sailing, and finding and signing up qualified black captains. But with sailing legend Bill Pinkney as a beacon, the dream got under way.

“Achievement”

Paul Mixon scoured the Internet and boat shows for captains and participants in his inaugural Black Boaters Summit. With the allure of sailing hero Bill Pinkney, the promise of adventure in a beautiful setting, and a price that was right, the summit set sail in 1997.

Many events and clubs on the water and Boating sprouted from BBS.  No Drama Vacations is one of them.

Moorings 5800 CAT

The 2017 BVI Reunion

Since the publisher of Black Men In America.com has tasked Mr. Free Spirit to stay abreast of the 2017 BVI reunion, many calls have been received. Since this article first ran, I have received calls from a large number of people who think the entire concept is fantastic. Some of the conversations centered around anniversary’s, family reunion’s and people just having a reunion with old friends. Many of the calls I received were from people that love boats but never met like-minded people. During my travels around the United States, I have met with the CEO of Events in Motion who wanted to know if this would be an event that could include her entire family. The President of Luxury Simplified wants to know about air fare is included since their base is Florida, and would be a cheaper flight. Sugarfoot Entertainment wanted to know does the various provide the entertainment or do we bring our own.

The publisher of Black Men In America.com and staff will have a meeting to develop a FAQ guide for the public and the media to address questions relating to all questions about the 2017 BVI reunion. Additionally, a separate email address has been established to comply with people who want to attend on the Black Men In America.com boat. Since NDV and I are so like-minded I will make sure we comply with the NDV mind set of people that want to go and be drama free.

OK Mr. Free Spirit out until July 2016 !!!!

Couple on chairs on deck of cruise ship

If you would like to leave a comment about this article or Mr. Free Spirit, scroll down to the comments section below.

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Straight Talk, No Chaser – The Final Chapter

RetirementHome

By Mr. Free Spirit (March 24, 2016)

This has been a real experience. When you start your planning keep in mind you will need to change your address; this can be a  nightmare.  The United States Post Office (USPS) can be a real nightmare. DO NOT do a change of address online, the USPS computer system is so antiquated it’s ridiculous, however, don’t think the hard copy you ask for from the postal clerk is any better. Human intervention with the USPS tends to be to human and not easy.

I went online Feb. 25, 2016 and filled out the form.  I waited 7 days and no mail was forwarded from my old address to the PO Box that I had rented six months before I moved. Therefore, I went to my old house and asked the new owner is I had any mail.  To my surprise she answered yes, and hand me a bag of mail.  The next day I returned to the Post Office and requested a conversation with a supervisor.  I explained the situation and she gave me a “Change of Address Kit.” I completed the forms and handed them to the Postal Clerk.

USPS 4 USPS 2

Two weeks went by and no mail came my way.  I went to my old house and asked if I had received any mail.  Again, I was handed a bag full of mail.  I returned to the Post Office for the second time.  I spoke to the same supervisor and was handed a hard copy “Change of Address Kit.”  I completed the form and gave it to the clerk.  At this point, I have been waiting over 22 minutes to speak to a supervisor.  While waiting I started talking to another customer in line who was waiting to speak with a supervisor.  This person had the same problem I had.  His mail was not forwarded and his missed a notification to appear in federal court.

Finally, I had enough, I contacted the US Postal Service hot line via the 800 number and I also sent an email.  That’s when things started to get interesting.  Another supervisor from that local post office called me and the word PLEASANT was not in her vocabulary. She asked me to describe the supervisor I spoke with.  I explained what the lady looked like and she was quick to tell me that she did not fit that description and began to explain her features.  I really wanted to tell her that I was looking for my mail and not a date.

Why is the US Postal Service so incompetent?  Is it because the USPS processes 584 million pieces of mail every day?  Perhaps.  How is the customer supposed to know who’s behind the wall, or what level of person to ask for?  This experience reminds me of the “Peter Principle.”

Peter Principle

What is the ‘Peter Principle?’

The Peter Principle is an observation that in an organizational hierarchy, every employee will rise or get promoted to his or her level of incompetence. The Peter Principle is based on the notion that employees will get promoted as long as they are competent, but at some point will fail to get promoted beyond a certain job because it has become too challenging for them. Employees rise to their level of incompetence and stay there. Over time, every position in the hierarchy will be filled by someone who is not competent enough to carry out his or her new duties.

To date, no mail.

USPS

Retirement is an opportunity for a new chapter of your life, expert Ken Dychtwald says.

Most people today view retirement as an opportunity to begin a new chapter in their lives, “not a time to wind down and move off the playing field,” says gerontologist Ken Dychtwald, 64, the CEO of Age Wave, a research think-tank on aging issues.

They are trying to figure out new ways to be productive. “Many are wondering: ‘What can I do with this stage of my life that is perhaps my highest purpose?’ ” says Dychtwald, who is also a psychologist. He has written 16 books on aging, health and retirement issues.

His company has conducted dozens of studies on retirement over the past 20 years. From that research, he and his colleagues have identified five stages of retirement and how people can make the most of each stage:

Stage 1: Imagination. These are the five to 15 years before retirement. People are sometimes busy raising their children and providing care for one or more parents, Dychtwald says.

How to make the most of this time: Enjoy the vitality of this stage of life and make sure you are preparing financially for retirement, he says. “You should be doing everything you can to build a strong and solid financial base that will last you a lifetime.”

Stage 2: Anticipation. This is from five years until right before retirement. People often start thinking about what they are actually going to do when they retire, but there aren’t many places for them to go for guidance, he says.

Many people want to continue to work. In fact, 72% of pre-retirees, age 50 and older, say they want to keep working after they retire, according to a recent survey sponsored by Merrill Lynch in partnership with Age Wave. Almost half (47%) of current retirees either are working, have worked or plan to work in retirement, the survey found.

Many people also want to devote more time to their family and friends. Some want to continue to learn, and others want to enjoy their favorite hobbies and develop new ones, he says.

How to make the most of this time: Put on your creative cap to find another career, Dychtwald says. Think about an encore career or consider starting your own business, he says. Volunteer at a hospital, church or for a non-profit group. Talk to retired people to see what they’ve done. See if your company has some flexible retirement programs or offers a sabbatical that would create a kind of trial retirement, he says.

Stage 3: Liberation. This begins on retirement day, and people often feel fantastic. They think, “It’s great. I’m free, and I have decades of freedom in front of me.” This is called the honeymoon period, and it lasts an average of one year, Dychtwald says.

How to make the most of this time: “Enjoy it. You’ve earned it,” he says. Many people have been working 30 or 40 years, and like the idea of having a period of life to take a deep breath, enjoy time with family and friends, watch movies and go on trips.

This is a time to “relax, recharge and possibly even retool,” he says. You can consider it a gap year or “intermission” year before you gear up for the next phase.

However, some positive things happened that were not planned. I found a diamond, (i.e. best kept secret). I happened up on the Staybridge Suites hotel.  Let me tell you it is one of the best kept secrets in the hotel industry.  I got a Studio Suite with all of the amenities of home in a smaller area. The staff at this Staybridge Suites fit all of the hospitality traits per their advertisements’. Additionally, the General Manager greets each guest who enters in the common areas and engages people in conversation to ask what can be done to make things better.

Suite

Here’s an example.  I needed to have my car serviced and I went to a local GM dealership and got the required service. Subsequent to the service I received a call from the customer relations specialist Ms. Renee K. Titus. Ms. Titus had the most fantastic customer service skills I’ve witnessed in years; it would be nice if she had a job as a customer service trainer. Encountering someone with telephone etiquette and personality is very rare in this century.

Below are all of the steps I took.  Some mishaps occurred that were not planned such as the USPS.

The 3 x 5 Index Card Guide to Retirement Planning

It can be daunting to think about planning for retirement. There is so much to consider, where do you even start? But what if all you had to think about was boiled down to a 3 x 5 index card? That is what we have done in the part 1 of this article. In part 2 we showed you how to write your retirement action plan on an index card, complete with a sample.

Our hope is that once you have seen retirement planning simplified to the bare essence, you will give planning a chance. So here goes!

Part 1: Retirement Planning in a Nutshell
1. Start early. As one example, you can’t make up for lost savings if you start too late.
2. Fit your expectations to your reality. Prepare a budget with expenses and revenues so you know where you stand.
3. Follow your dream. You can have almost any lifestyle in retirement — if you plan for it.
4. Check out a lot of places to retire. Start visiting places while you are still working. At least one will fit your dream.
5. Know what you are going to do all day. Don’t make the mistake of retiring without a direction.

Our index card advice is about 100 words. To flesh out these ideas we have provided a little more amplification below. You and other retirement experts might have other key points to consider; these ideas are just a starting place. If you have a significant other, talk about these issues regularly to see how close, or how far apart, you are to each other’s position. Then discuss how you can find a way for you to find retirement happiness.

A little more about these planning points.

Starting early. This means planning ahead for every aspect of retirement, from financial to what you will do every day. There are so many choices and so many lifestyles to consider. Where you will live, and in what type of community? Planning for how you will stay busy and productive after you lose the structure of your working world is worth planning for too.

Fitting expectations with reality. Review your checkbook and credit card bills to understand your current spending (your credit card statement might even list expenses by category). Then estimate your retirement income by reviewing your pension, 401k, Social Security, etc.

If money is going to be tight, cutting expenses earlier rather than later is key. Downsizing to an easier to maintain and heat/cool home almost always makes sense. You’ll pay less taxes too. To supplement your income, turn a hobby into a business. Or consider what kinds of part time jobs you might find interesting. If you know where you stand before you retire, you have a chance to make adjustments in time.

Follow your dream. Retirement is a do-over on life. Seize the opportunity to follow your dreams, rather than being bogged down by inertia. Spend some time thinking about your ideal lifestyle, and how you can make that happen.

Check out places to retire. In your 50s or even earlier, think about what it would be like to retire in the places you visit for work, vacation, or other travel. While you are there, do a little exploring with your retirement mindset on. Visit friends who have retired and see what their lives are like. Rent a place and talk with real estate people and others in the community.

What you will do all day. Don’t be one of the people who retire one day with absolutely no idea what they will do the next. Start a hobby now or think about a part-time job – paid or volunteer. Dream about what you like to do.

Create your own index card retirement plan
Our suggestion is that you consider each of the 5 points above to develop your own 3 x 5 index card retirement plan. To help you even more, we have developed a prototype plan you can use as is or customize.

A Prototype Retirement Plan
We have written this plan as a series of goals with action points to be completed along with dates. If you create a 3 x 5 card like this and work on it, before the ball falls in Times Square again you could have a real retirement plan in place. Feel free to customize the plan so it reflects your retirement dreams and hopes!

My Retirement Plan
1. Planning.
Goal – Develop draft plan
2. Expectations vs. Reality.
Goal: Review expenses and expected retirement income
3. Discovering your dream lifestyle.
Goal: 5 key things I want to do in retirement
4. Where to live.
Goal: List 5 places I think might be good for retirement.
5. What I will do.
Goal: List your hobbies and interests

Keep a file card retirement plan in a visible place. You might also have a card with each aspect of your retirement plan – for example one on financial, another on location, another on what will keep you busy. These will help keep you thinking about it the key issues, and perhaps spur you to make revisions as your experience grows and changes.

Steve Carell as Michael Scott on 'The Office.'

Steve Carell as Michael Scott the “poster boy” of incompetence on the hit TV show “The Office.”

This ends my series on “Straight Talk – No Chaser.”  My next article will be: Did You Know?

Let me know what you think.  Scroll down to the bottom of this page and leave your comments in the “Comments” section.

Stay tuned to www.blackmeninamerica.com.

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February 13, 2016

Black Professional Manfree spirit mansion

By Mr. Free Spirit
I had a discussion with the Publisher of Black men in America.com, Mr. Gary Johnson concerning the frequency of my column. Gary stated it was totally my decision, therefore I decided to make it once a month unless the demand warranted it to be more frequent.

Mr. Free Spirit Speaks:

In the introduction of my column I provided my definition for retirement which differs from the official definition.

Mr. Free Spirit defines retirement as: The next phase of living. When a person decided to start the next chapter of their life, based on the completion of the current phase.

Retirement is no longer determined by age, people including African American’s are retiring earlier in life based on work, and/or lifestyle. Many years ago the thought pattern was, save for a rainy day, the current thinking is, where should I live and how should I live and we start to look at various States, Cities or Towns will accommodate their new life style of easy living.

Per my research, I’m already seeing a seismic shift in attitudes toward retirement among the baby boomers and their children. Many of you think or know that you are unprepared for retirement. You will have to reduce your living expenses in retirement, and you may be counting on Social Security to supplement your retirement income. You may or may not be confident your income will last throughout retirement. You may have reduced or modify some of your spending, do you have a handle on your retirement expenses? I plan to address and expound on all of aspects of retirement as it relates to the four quadrants. This will be in random order. I will also address geographical areas and taxes as they vary between States.

My four Quadrant’s will address all aspects of retirement:

A. Retirement Living for African American Baby Boomers

B. Leisure Entertainment during Retirement (I.E. From Boating to Broadway)

C. Wines, Art and Wisdom

D. Planning to Live and Enjoy Vs Planning to Die

 

Mr. Free Spirit Returns to Talk About Moving and Retirement

Retirement Fact

Retirement Real Estate

We Black Americans seem to have been collectively brainwashed when it comes to the belief that home ownership is a cardinal virtue. For sure, owning your home can make a lot of sense. But the truth is, renting a home, particularly for the winter, is often a much better idea for many people’s situations. Let’s start off by comparing some of the advantages of buying a home vs. renting your place to retire.

Sierra Exif JPEG

Pros of Home Ownership:

– Tax deductions. Uncle Sam helps home buyers fund their purchases with generous deductions for property taxes and interest payments
– Pride of ownership. You can fix up and decorate your place however you want – at least on the inside
– Low cost borrowing. Home mortgage rates are still at historical lows, in spite of recent increases
– Appreciation. You have the possibility that the value of your home might appreciate
– Peace of mind: You know where you are going to live next season. No need to scramble to find a new rental every year, and then either move all your stuff into it, or find another spot
– Fewer restrictions. Many communities, particularly active adult communities, are very restrictive about renters with pets, and about which and when renters can use common facilities like golf courses, tennis courts, and other amenities

Pros of Renting

– Flexibility. If there is a natural disaster, your Home Owners Association gets crazy, the builder goes bankrupt, or it turns out you just don’t like your neighbors – you can just walk away

– Freedom. You are not locked into one community. If the grass looks greener, move on over
– Lower costs. Renting can be cheaper than owning in some communities
– Less worry. If you encounter health problems, renting means fewer commitments to unravel
– No capital required. Sometimes the only option if your savings are low, or you prefer not to tie them up in real estate.

During my transition looking at various tax structures I made a point to visit Las Vegas, NV; Phoenix, AZ; Dallas, TX and many cities in Florida.  Since my roots are basically East Coast, I decided on Florida. I’ve done a vast amount of research on Florida including visiting a number of cities and towns to make sure I experienced most of the demographics and vulnerabilities unique to each area.  This research included:

  • Hurricane’s
  • Weather Changes
  • Alligators
  • Sink Holes
  • Cultural Activities
  • Crime

Now after saying all of that, you can use and or share my research to make your decision. My focus and your focus may be different. For example, boating and fishing are high on my list and golf and tennis are low. That means I need to be near water. I enjoy concerts and other cultural activities. I need easy access to an airport because for me retirement is about traveling and entertainment.

I am in Florida now and interviewed a couple, Mr. and Mrs. Jacobs, who I’ve known for 30 years. They are really in retirement mode and loving it. Can you imagine a 30-day trip across the United States via train, they did it!  Additionally, a cruise through the Panama Canal, they did that too. I spent the day with them and it was very fulfilling to see a black couple that made all of the right decisions for retirement with no regrets.

Couple on chairs on deck of cruise ship

The publisher of Black Men In America.com stepped into the retirement lane with a fantastic article, “The 10 Worst Mistakes People Make After Retirement,” The item that got my attention was number 9, Being House-Rich but Cash Poor. If you read Part 1 of Straight Talk-No Chaser, I talked about the very emotional part of down-sizing. You spend hours and days getting rid of items given or left to you by a family member. Then you go your retirement location and a real estate developer talks you into ending up with a fantastic new house with a mortgage that is going to be higher than the mortgage you just left. How much sense does that make?  Your income has or will decrease but your mortgage will increase. The savings you will have via taxes will vanish. Additionally, some of the items you sold or gave away could now be used.

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Moving Companies

This is a very interesting area. Finding a moving company can be hard or easy, interview many companies. Below are things you need to be concerned with:

  • Don’t agree to share a truck with others
  • Don’t provide numbers of items to be moved on line and get the estimate
  • Don’t move between June and September
  • If you give the company a credit card number, this could be a problem
  • Don’t let a company talk you into moving to a new city and putting your furniture into a storage there
  • If they are wrapping and packing your crystal(s) take some time to watch the person doing to make sure he/she is competent
  • Catalog the boxes you have already packed and number the boxes
  • Keep out enough clothes with you to last just in case
  • Use your camera or phone to take plenty of pictures of your items
  • Ask for a clause in your contract “Not to Exceed” a price above the dollar figure quoted

The New Area

Watch what you agree to, real estate agents and developers are in business to make money they want you to spend money so they can make commissions. Do your homework and do it well.  If you know someone in the new area that will help and if you don’t know someone in the area, we all know someone that knows some to help you. Black Men In America.com is a wealth of information, the various columnist on the site are very well connected and they are willing to help. If you ask they will respond, our Publisher Gary Johnson, is a wealth of information and can connect you with the right person to accomplish any task.

I have a meeting with a real estate agent that I met through the publisher. To know somebody or ask who knows who will help.

Stay Tuned:  Part 3 will be the final part of this series.  I have been asked to expound on the vacation series, so it is coming!!

Have a comment or reaction?  Scroll down and type in your comments or questions in the “Comments” section.

Click here to read more columns by Mr. Free Spirit.

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Mr. Free Spirit:  Straight Talk, No Chaser on Moving

March 3, 2016

20150402_085742

By Mr. Free Spirit

What is straight talk-no chaser?

I have researched all facets of retirement for two years to make sure the decision I would made had merit and I am now living the fruits of my labor. Straight talk-no chaser. First, downsizing is not what you may think. I spent more time looking at items then necessary. Just think, you have items that were passed down through the family, they have sentimental value. Your parents or grandparents left something and it is now time to make a decision to keep it or not keep it. This is not easy. When I purchased my latest home 14 years ago I made sure each and every item fit a room. Just think 14 years to place things and a moving company loading the truck in 5 hours and the house was bare. That is both emotional, stressful and draining. The closing on the house you sold is another emotional time, just THINK you planned to stay in your house until you leave, but the date for leaving a house or an area is not planned as it relates to a day, month or year. The passion of your items related to a move is very emotional.

Many people you know are the authority on everything, however until you experience it for yourself it tends to be words that others are spouting. For those of you who know me, you know I am changing geographical locations, below are the things I have encountered during my transition.

photo-4

This article will reflect both the good and the bad.

Real-estate agents for the sale of your current house. This is tricky, finding the right agent that has the patience’s to match your personality is hard. Agents often are driven by money and want you to hurry an accept an offer (WRONG). Find the right agent that has your best interest in mind. The world of selling any product is very interesting. Agents that don’t know you as a person or take the time to know you can make your life hell. They become motivated by dollars and not you the person. If you are not knowledgeable about the house market place of your area, you are at a disadvantage. Have your agent check the “comps” (comparable sales) in your area, the determination of the price of your house will be based on those “comps” in the area. It’s a hard pill to swallow but it’s real. I was lucky.  I found an agent that learned who I was first, then spent time explaining no matter what I think my house was worth the “comps” in the area would play a major role in my selling price. She also explained her theory about what I should and should not repair.

Utilities

Utilities play in the sale of your house. Please tell me why if you tell the electric company when moving date is going to occur they shut off your electric the same day (Morning) the truck is coming, how do you vacuum the floors after the furniture is out or how do you operate the garage doors if you have a garage, if it is raining the movers can’t see to wrap your china. This is plain Dumb!!!
Additionally, my local water company had the title company hold $500.00 at closing. For my area the water bill is every quarter and being in the house alone my average was less than $100.00 per quarter, please do the math, a $500.00 on hold for 10 days after the next meter reading. This is just plain dumb!

United States Post Office

Changing your address on line with the USPS. You would think this is a one-day process, It’s not!!!
It is suggested by the Post Office that you make the change on line. I did just that, it cost $1.50 and is very cumbersome.
The USPS sends you a change of address Kit to your old address after you have moved out, how much sense does that make.

Hotel Living During The Transition

Currently I am living in a hotel during the transition. This is a relief based on years of making my bed, cooking and house cleaning. This is only temporary based on tidying up the open bills, i.e. electric, gas, cable, phone and etc.

IMG_7606 IMG_7604

Taxes

Did you know some states charge you a Tax to move out the State?
Your real estate agent should be knowledgeable enough to explain all aspects of the sale of your house. However, if you live in an apartment it will not be a concern.

Taxation of Social Security & Pension/Retirement Income

The majority of baby boomers won’t have the resources to sustain the lifestyle we had in our working days once we retire. So it makes a great deal of sense to look for a place to live where our scarce dollars go further.  The states below are some of the worse states to consider for retirement based on various taxes:

New Jersey
Illinois
Wisconsin
Nebraska
Michigan
Vermont
Ohio
Connecticut
Rhode Island
New York
Iowa.
Kansas
New Hampshire
Texas
California

10 States That Are Attractive to Retirees and Why

This list includes most of the states that have no income tax, with two exceptions. We excluded Washington (high estate taxes on relative small estates), and Alaska (an expensive place to live and very cold in winter).

Florida. No income or estate tax. A top notch program to protect homeowners from property tax increases. Not to mention a warm winter climate.

Nevada. No income tax, no income or estate tax

South Dakota. No income tax, no income or estate tax

Texas. No income, estate or inheritance taxes.

Wyoming. No income tax, no estate or inheritance taxes

Louisiana. No estate or inheritance taxes

Mississippi. Some of the lowest property taxes in the nation, no estate or inheritance taxes

North Carolina. No estate or inheritance taxes. Out of state retirement income is generally taxed

Tennessee. No no estate or inheritance taxes

West Virginia. No estate or inheritance taxes. Social Security is taxed, however, so that is a potential negative.

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Finding the best place to retire is a little bit like looking for a mate. There are lots of attractive ones out there. But for you which state has the most appealing features and a minimum of not so desirable attributes. Contrary to what you may think, one size will not fit all.

Stay tuned for Part 2

Always stay tuned to www.blackmeninamerica.com to keep you abreast of what is going on in America.
Do you have any comments or opinions?  Please share your experience with us and our readers.  Scroll down to the “Comments” section and share your thoughts, comments and opinions.

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Who is Mr. Free Spirit?

free spirit mansion

February 3, 2016

Welcome to the new column “Mr. Free Spirit”

Who is Mr. Free Spirit?

Mr. Free Spirit is a Baby Boomer who spent the last two years defining and researching Retirement for African Americans.  In other words, Mr. Free Spirit is a Retirement Research Specialist or (RRS) who write about retirement, travel, fine living and everything in-between.

Let’s start with a brief working definition.  According to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, “retirement,” is defined as the point where a person stops employment completely.  A person may also semi-retire by reducing work hours. An increasing number of individuals are choosing to put off this point of total retirement, by selecting to exist in the emerging state of pre-retirement.

Many people choose to retire when they are eligible for private or public pension benefits, although some are forced to retire when physical conditions no longer allow the person to work any longer (by illness or accident) or as a result of legislation concerning their position.  In most countries, the idea of retirement is of recent origin, being introduced during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The Urban Dictionary defines a “Free Spirit” as, “One who is not restrained, as by convention or obligation; a nonconformist.

Mr. Free Spirit defines retirement as:  “The next phase of living. When a person decides to start the next chapter of their life, based on the completion of the current phase. Retirement is no longer determined by age, people including African American’s are retiring earlier in life based on work, and/or lifestyle. Many years ago the thought pattern was, save for a rainy day, the current thinking is, where should I live and how should I live and we start to look at various states, cities or towns that will accommodate their new lifestyle of easy living.

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February 13, 2016

Black Professional Manfree spirit mansion

By Mr. Free Spirit
I had a discussion with the Publisher of Black men in America.com, Mr. Gary Johnson concerning the frequency of my column. Gary stated it was totally my decision, therefore I decided to make it once a month unless the demand warranted it to be more frequent.

Mr. Free Spirit Speaks:

In the introduction of my column I provided my definition for retirement which differs from the official definition.

Mr. Free Spirit defines retirement as: The next phase of living. When a person decided to start the next chapter of their life, based on the completion of the current phase.

Retirement is no longer determined by age, people including African American’s are retiring earlier in life based on work, and/or lifestyle. Many years ago the thought pattern was, save for a rainy day, the current thinking is, where should I live and how should I live and we start to look at various States, Cities or Towns will accommodate their new life style of easy living.

Per my research, I’m already seeing a seismic shift in attitudes toward retirement among the baby boomers and their children. Many of you think or know that you are unprepared for retirement. You will have to reduce your living expenses in retirement, and you may be counting on Social Security to supplement your retirement income. You may or may not be confident your income will last throughout retirement. You may have reduced or modify some of your spending, do you have a handle on your retirement expenses? I plan to address and expound on all of aspects of retirement as it relates to the four quadrants. This will be in random order. I will also address geographical areas and taxes as they vary between States.

My four Quadrant’s will address all aspects of retirement:

A. Retirement Living for African American Baby Boomers

B. Leisure Entertainment during Retirement (I.E. From Boating to Broadway)

C. Wines, Art and Wisdom

D. Planning to Live and Enjoy Vs Planning to Die

Toasting, selective focus, canon 1Ds mark III

This issue will address Quadrant B.

Leisure Entertainment during Retirement (I.E. From Boating to Broadway)
You have served your time in the employment realm of your life. You deserve some leisure entertainment. You had leisure entertainment while working however, it was structured and not leisure, now it does not have to be defined by your employer. Shape your retirement environments, these are the golden days, gold does not rust or tarnish.

Types of Cruises:
Let’s discuss cruises.  Traveling with the whole family or going it alone? Interested in a specialty cruise, such as a theme cruise, a voyage around the world or a transatlantic crossing? Looking for a deluxe experience, a romantic escape or a stress-free holiday getaway? Whatever your cruise style, there is a cruise ship for you. You can plan the perfect cruise vacation. Choose the type of cruise that suits you, and get started.

First Time Cruisers ??
If you’re worried that you’ll be bored on a cruise ship, banish that idea right away. Cruise ships schedule so many activities that a day at sea can be almost as much fun (and as exhausting) as a full day of sightseeing. From cooking classes to rock-climbing, trivia contests to line-dancing, wine-tasting to Wii-playing, there’s truly something for everyone.
Want to lie in the sun or take a dip in the pool? No problem. Want to spend time shopping for souvenirs, indulging in a massage or gambling in the casino?

The Daily Bulletin
How do you find out what’s going on each day? A daily newsletter is delivered to your cabin each evening. One will also be waiting for you when you arrive. In it, you’ll find the schedule for the next day’s activities and entertainment offerings, as well as opening hours for the spa, restaurants, on-board shops and bars. You may also find listings for movies on your in-cabin TV, information on scheduled ports of call, debarkation and embarkation information, and sunrise and sunset times.

Would you book your cruise within a few weeks of departure in order to save up to 82% off the regular price? If so, check Vacations to Go.com.”  Let’s talk about ships I have used. I will rank them in the order of preference for Me. If you’ve had a different experience, continue to use the ship you like:

1. Royal Caribbean
2. Celebrity Cruises
3. Norwegian cruise
4. Costa cruise

However, after saying of that, my real preference is depicted in the section NDV below: The Birth of No Drama Vacation (NDV)

In August 2013, six friends (two men and four women) chartered a catamaran and sailed the British Virgin Islands with Captain Rex McAllister and First Mate Carroll Greene. All of these people were from the Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia area.  Some the people I knew from a sailing I did with them some years ago.

This sail was a great success – so much so that plans were made to form a new vacation group. When Rex McAllister asked Joan Jackson to become his partner in organizing the next year’s trip, No Drama Vacations (NDV) was born.

Each year, more friends of NDV have joined the group in the British Virgin Islands (BVI). In 2014, Beverly Tolbert’s Detroit-based E-Dock and Friends sailed with NDV. In 2015 Craig Martin’s Nauti by Nature joined NDV and E-Dock and Friends to form a 12-boat flotilla, sailing from island to island in The British Virgin Islands in what is known as Nature’s Little Secret. I was shocked as to how little is known about BVI. My trip was spectacular and educational as it relates to BVI.

The hallmark of NDV is first a mix of like-minded, easy-going, low-maintenance travelers. The second is equal parts exploration and entertainment. One day’s activity was a dinghy ride from the anchored yachts over to one of Tortola’s most beautiful, off-the-tourist track beaches. The highlight of another day was a sail from Jost Van Dyke to Necker Island and a coveted one-hour tour of Sir Richard Branson’s private island retreat. A few days later, some of the group took a taxi ride to the highest point in Virgin Gorda for barbecue and beer. There have been beach parties, a night-time glass bottom boat tour under a full moon, boat-to-boat happy hours, live entertainment imported from the States as well as an island band and an evening beach party.

In keeping with the name No Drama, there’s no joined-at-the-hip set schedule except the one agreed upon over an evening Dark and Stormy at “five-thirsty” or a cup of morning coffee.

Many NDV alumni consider it one of the best vacations they’ve taken, and with good reason. A No Drama Vacation guarantees smooth sailing, relaxation, the opportunity to make long-lasting friends and of course, No Drama.

Niambi Davis

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Motown the Musical

Let’s talk about Broadway:
Broadway League 2014-15 Demographics Show Record-Breaking Admission and Reflect LGBT Inclusivity
By Robert Viagas
10 Feb 2016

The Broadway League has released its annual study “Demographics of the Broadway Audience” for the 2014-15 season on Broadway. More than two-thirds were female and, surprisingly, they see more straight plays than musicals. But things are changing.
According to the 52-page report, the number of ticket buyers is continuing to grow. In the 2014–15 season, there were a record-breaking 13.1 million admissions to Broadway shows. Approximately two-thirds of those were made by tourists: 49 percent from the United States (but outside New York City and its suburbs) and 18 percent from other countries.
Sixty-eight percent of the audience was female.

The average age of the Broadway theatergoer was 44 years.
Theatergoers tend to be more affluent than the general population: 35 percent of those surveyed said they have a household income of more than $150,000 a year, compared with less than 10 percent of Americans in general.
Of theatergoers over 25 years old, 78 percent had completed college and 39 percent had earned a graduate degree.
While audiences are still primarily white (79.8 percent in 2014-15), the percentage of black theatergoers has grown from 3.6 percent in 1998-99 to 6.0 percent in 2014-15.
The average Broadway theatergoer reported attending four shows in the previous 12 months. The group of devoted fans who attended 15 or more performances comprised less than 5.6 percent of the audience, but accounted for 32 percent of all tickets sold (4.2 million admissions).
Playgoers tended to be more frequent theatergoers than musical attendees. The typical straight-play attendee saw eight shows in the past year; the musical attendee, four.
• Word-of-mouth continues to be the most influential factor in show selection: 45.8 percent said they bought a ticket on the basis of “personal recommendation.” In second place (13.6 percent) was “like the music.” In third place (19.0 percent) was “like the movie.” The factor “critics review” was only fourth place (16.0 percent). It was followed by “to see a particular performer” (14.3 percent) and “it received Tony Awards or nominations” (11.6 percent).

• Broadway audiences are continuing their shift to the web. While only 7 percent of theatergoers bought their tickets via the internet in 1999-2000— a distant third place behind phone and box-office sales— more than 50 percent did so in 2014-15, putting web sales far and away the top method for buying tickets.

• Theatergoers also get most of their information about shows from internet sources, versus traditional media. Some 74.6 percent of respondents said they get their information from websites like Playbill.com. Only 26.3 percent rely primarily on newspapers and magazines; 15.6 percent television; 6.3 percent radio. (Respondents were allowed to cite multiple sources.)
The average reported date of ticket purchase for a Broadway show was 36 days before the performance.
Domestic tourism to NYC continues to grow and has been growing steadily since 2009, and is reflected in growing domestic audiences on Broadway. There was a small dip this year in international tourists.
Lastly, some interesting findings under the category “Theatregoing Companions.” Males overwhelmingly (48.3 percent) said they saw shows accompanied by “wife or girlfriend,” but, thanks to new marriage laws, 9.4 percent of men reported that they saw shows with “husband or boyfriend.” Among women, however, only 31.9 percent reported that they saw shows with “husband or boyfriend” versus a nearly similar 27.1 percent who saw shows with “female friend(s).” Only 1.2 percent of women reported attending shows with “wife or girlfriend.”
Using the above as background there is no clear lines and or methods of advertising within the Black communities throughout the entire United States. Most Black people don’t read playbill.com.
When a new movie is coming out the advertisements are blasted via all modes of advertisement ( I.E.TV, WEB pushes, and door to door advertisement’s).

However, did you know, Color Purple and Hughie Starring Forest Whitaker are on Broadway NOW! Additionally, Oscar Winner Lupita Nyong’o is coming to Broadway starring in “Eclipsed”.

Just because we don’t fit or fall into the false demographics’ depicted above it in many cases is the lack of knowledge as to what is on Broadway and/or what is coming. I went to a meeting and excerpt of a Broadway play that was on the drawing board for casting six years ago, it was about the Ray Charles story, titled Unchain my heart. See below:
Unchain My Heart, with Dixon as Ray Charles, Postpones Opening to Spring 2011

By Andrew Gans
09 Jul 2010

Brandon Victor Dixon
Unchain My Heart, the Ray Charles musical that had been scheduled to begin previews Oct. 8 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, will now open on Broadway in spring 2011 at a Shubert theatre to be announced.  The principal cast is expected to stay with the production. Producer Stuart Benjamin cited logistical reasons for the change in date.  The cast is scheduled to feature Brandon Victor Dixon as Ray Charles and Nikki Renée Daniels as Della with Harrison White as Jeff Brown and Tasha Taylor as Margie Hendricks.
Directed by Sheldon Epps, Unchain My Heart features the music of Ray Charles and a book by Suzan-Lori Parks.
The creative team also includes choreographer Kenneth L. Roberson, associate choreographer Edgar Godineaux, music supervisor and arranger Rahn Coleman, orchestrator Harold Wheeler and music director Shelton Becton. The design team comprises Riccardo Hernandez (sets), Paul Tazewell (costumes), Howell Binkley (lights), Carl Casella (sound), Jason H. Thompson (projections) and Charles LaPointe (hair).

The new musical, according to press notes, “explores the strength, humor and musical genius of the legendary Ray Charles. One of the greatest pioneering musical artists of all time, Ray Charles mastered everything from soul and rhythm & blues to gospel, jazz, country and pop. Set in his last live recording session, Unchain My Heart reveals Charles’ remarkable life story through his music.”
It Died on the vine without explanation.

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Mr. Free Spirit is watching and will keep you informed via Blackmeninamerica.com.  Mr. Free Spirit wants to shift the culture and make sure you spend your retirement dollars wisely and enjoy your leisure entertainment.  The next issue will be Quadrant A which will include finance’s, taxes, retirement houses, retirement locations and talk back.

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Mr. Free Spirit will update you on the four quadrants of retirement for African Americans in his next posting.  You can return to this page if you miss a column.  We will archive all of his postings.  You can also communicate with Mr. Free Spirit by simply leaving a comment at the end of his articles.

A. Retirement Living for African American Baby Boomers

B. Leisure Entertainment during Retirement (I.E. From Boating to Broadway)

C. Wines, Art and Wisdom

D. Planning to Live and Enjoy vs. Planning to Die

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Black Men In America.com Administrator
Black Men In America.com is a popular website with a focus on black men. Approximately 45% of our site visitors are women. According to Alexa Internet and Ranking.com, Black Men In America.com is consistently ranked as one of the Top 10 most popular web sites (online community) on the Internet in the Ethnic/African/African-American category. Although our focus is on black men, we welcome all people, points of views and perspectives. Please do not use this site to post or transmit any unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane or indecent information of any kind, including without limitation any transmissions constituting or encouraging conduct that would constitute a criminal offense, give rise to civil liability or otherwise violate any local, state, national or international law. You alone are responsible for the material you post.
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