Cheat Sheet Q & A:


Today’s topic:  Working and collecting Social Security: 


The question:  In regards to your statements and advice about taking Social Security at age 62, my understanding is that you cannot take the Soc. Security monthly payment and also receive a full-time salary.  Is that correct ?  If so, then many people couldn't invest their entire S.S. payment & still have money to live on.


Bottom Line:  Recently I tackled the timing of Social Security, if you missed those entry here’s a link to the most recent:


With regard to being able to work and collect Social Security…  Yes you actually can still work and collect Social Security.  If you work while collecting Social Security your benefits will be reduced until you reach what’s called “your full retirement age”.    That can be anywhere from 65 to 67 depending on your year of birth.  Here is a link to that calculator:


On the second note with regard to the potential to save and invest Social Security income… 


Most people who collect Social Security do rely on it as a critical piece of their month to month income and therefore wouldn’t be able to save and invest the Social Security payments.  Conversely wealthier individuals don’t derive a majority of their income from salary, even prior to Social Security age.  The top 2% of income earners who are still active in the workforce derive 60% of their income from investments.  For these individuals it may be possible to collect Social Security and they may not need to rely on it month to month for everyday expenses. 


Hope that helps! 

If you have a topic or question you’d like me to address email me:   


Audio Report:




Your Gmail just became a lot more secure:


Bottom Line:  Encryption for Google’s email service isn’t new.  Gmail has offered encryption service for certain emails since 2010.  The problem was that you had to select it and send it through certain internet methods to ensure it would actually be encrypted.  So a minority of Gmail being sent was actually encrypted.  That’s all changing. 


Effective immediately all Gmail is fully encrypted.  You don’t have to select it or worry about the device or internet connection you’re using to send your email.  When this story broke the attention went towards the NSA scandal…  And yes if the NSA did attempt to read your email this would at least make it more difficult (but raise your hand if you really think the NSA couldn’t decrypt your email if they really wanted to…) but it’s far more effectual to protect you from the everyday hacker and data thief.


One of the most prevalent ways our data and info is stolen is over public networks.  Free Wi-Fi is nice but often we’ll use it to send personal information (sometimes without even realizing we’re on an unsecure public network) without thinking or realizing that it’s possible for a hacker to be tapping into the network.  The new Gmail encryption should keep these potential evil doers from being able to access the info in stolen email communication.  Your everyday hacker is highly unlikely to be able to decrypt Gmail.  This is a nice improvement to aid the security of the most widely used email service. 


Audio Report:






Blame it on the rain (or snow and ice as the case may be) February home sales:


Bottom Line:  At first glance the February home sales info looks terrible.  Significant year over year decrease in sales activity.  Lowest level of closings in nearly two years… etc.  I’m never one to make an excuse, unless that is, it’s valid. 


There is one number in particular that demonstrates that it really was the weather and not something bigger and more ominous in the housing market.  The year over year price change. 


  • Year over year median sales prices rose 9.1%


That’s the key.  If the housing market were heading south you’d see lower demand equate to lower selling prices.  We can infer that the record weather disruption in many parts was the culprit.  If people really couldn’t afford higher prices and higher mortgage rates the prices would have to come down.  Instead they are still posting gains that are more than twice as high as the average historic rate of real-estate appreciation which has been 4.1%.


Audio Report:





Don't fight it?  Teams build using the NCAA tourney:


Bottom Line:  Every year around the NCAA tourney we hear of the lost billions of dollars in productivity business incur as employees fill out brackets, watch or track games during work hours and spend additional time talking to co-workers about the games.  Rather than focusing on that info for yet another year…  How about embracing the tourney at work? 


Temp agency Office Team surveyed businesses that don’t fight the tourney.  These are businesses that don’t discourage bracket filling and game tracking at work.  What do senior managers have to say about the impact of the tourney on their businesses?  You may be surprised. 


  • 32% of businesses said that the NCAA tourney has a positive impact on employee moral and team building


  • 27% say that it actually improves productivity!


Now it’s not a majority but it’s interesting nonetheless.  Increased productivity may sound counter productive but consider…  Aren’t happy employees more productive employees?


So since employees will do it anyway.  Perhaps you should just embrace it.  You might be pleasantly surprised by the outcome. 


Audio Report:









It's been a good year for solar:


Bottom Line:  I’m a huge proponent of solar power and any renewable energy resource.  Still solar is expensive and isn’t always a good value for the everyday home or business owner (the average cost of solar for a home is about $30,000 – it’s takes quite a few electric power bills to pay for that expense…).  Still as the technology ages it is slowly getting cheaper and more efficient.  2013 turned out to be a good year for solar progress in the US: 


  • Solar adaptation grew by 41% in 2013


  • The equivalent of 2.2 million homes are now powered daily by solar


  • We have 15x more solar power used daily in the US than in 2008


So we’re clearly still in the very early stages of solar adaptation but we’ve made great progress and are on good growth trajectory.


Audio Report:





Cords cut & satellites ditched - 2013 was a corner turning year for TV:


Bottom Line:  2010 marked the year that computing forever changed.  Every year, recession or not, personal computers increased sales year over year (since their incarnation in the 70’s).  2010 was the first year of a decrease.  They have decreased in sales in year since as well and now more internet traffic is derived from mobile devices than personal computers.  We’re now seeing it happen in TV as well. 


2013 was officially the first year in which fewer households added a premium TV service. 


  • 251,000 fewer households had premium TV service at the end of 2013 than in 2012


The question now is how quickly the dynamic changes before more TV viewing occurs through streaming TV than through cable and satellite. 


Audio Report:


Also a programming note...  I'll be out through Thursday the 27th so the Cheat Sheet returns Friday the 28th.