Retirement reasons to be thankful: the internet

Welcome to day 2 of my week-long series on retirement reasons to be thankful -- an optimistic antidote to all the dismal news on retirement planning.

Yesterday's retirement reason to be thankful: we know how to age well

Thankful reason #2: the internet brings the world to our fingertips

We can inexpensively keep in touch with friends and family through email and Facebook, and we can even talk to them for free with Skype. I remember my parents' generation keeping in touch with their families through letters and expensive long-distance phone calls, carefully parceled out due to their high costs.

With access to the internet, we can learn whatever we need -- including finding the research mentioned in the prior story on healthy aging. In some respects, the internet is like the Great Oracle: Ask questions, and you'll get answers.

We can buy music, books, clothes -- really, almost anything -- without venturing from our homes. We can visit websites of organizations and causes that resonate with us and connect with like-minded people.

We can monitor our health, keep in touch with our medical providers, and even receive diagnoses from remote physicians and nurses. We can manage our finances and investments, and learn what we'll receive from Social Security and Medicare. We can shop for the best deals on investments, annuities, and health insurance.

And all this information is available to us 24/7.

We don't need to confine ourselves to rocking on the porch or watching TV, or be in the dark about our money or our health.

A generation ago, we were encouraged to turn on, tune in and drop out. Now we have the ability to easily to turn on, tune in and drop in -- and we can do this without leaving our homes.

Stay tuned tomorrow, for the third retirement reason to be thankful.


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    Steve Vernon helped large employers design and manage their retirement programs for more than 35 years as a consulting actuary. Now he's a research scholar for the Stanford Center on Longevity, where he helps collect, direct and disseminate research that will improve the financial security of seniors. He's also president of Rest-of-Life Communications, delivers retirement planning workshops and authored Retirement Game-Changers: Strategies for a Healthy, Financially Secure and Fulfilling Long Life and Money for Life: Turn Your IRA and 401(k) Into a Lifetime Retirement Paycheck.