The Hero’s Journey for the Third Act: Transforming Our “Story” of Aging 

Senior couple relaxing in garden

Although these seven steps sound like a tall order, putting such a plan into practice is like a rejuvenation visit to a spa!

1.  Embrace the identity shift that being an elder represents.
2.  Write a new script for our lives.
3.  Release emotional baggage that can sabotage our aging story.
4.  Get in touch with our authentic vision for elderhood.
5.  Tap into the passion that can make this vision a reality.
6.  Transform feelings of isolation & loneliness into a purposeful community of allies.
7.  Create a legacy of service to support a healthy world for our descendants.


Aging with Intention and Purpose

“When you embrace conscious eldering, you start to feel lighter—in your heart and body—as you imagine the latter years of your life “filled with passion, purpose and vitality”– Ron Pevny

Conscious eldering is an opportunity to view our closing chapters as those in many indigenous cultures do: as a time of harvest, when the joy and wisdom of a lifetime can be translated into service and meaning for family and community. Pevny’s prescription echoes that of septuagenarian Charles D. Hayes, whose September University is not a school, but a state of mind: a vision of retirement that entails “sifting through a half-century or more of experience, sorting those things that are truly important from those that aren’t, and finding ways to pass on that wisdom.”

“Elderhood has been a revered stage throughout most of human history,” notes Pevny. It was understood as an honor conferred upon those who, through effort and expectation, had grown into a wholeness and ability to see the bigger picture that comes with experience. In recent times, we’ve depreciated the aging process and downgraded the respectful, vibrant “elder” to a diminished “elderly”.


1. Grasp that aging can be a time for fulfillment and growth. 
It can be challenging to believe this because:

• Society says older adults have become irrelevant. 
• We’ve been told what we do is more important than who we are.
• Most seniors do not have a grand vision that can encapsulate all the possibilities.

2. Bring awareness to beliefs about aging.
What we believe shapes who we become, and most beliefs are unconscious. The most important question: 

• Do my beliefs make a difference in how my life turns out?
• For example: If an ageist remark stings, there is more to transform.
• What are our visceral reactions to visiting a nursing home?

3. Form an intention and commitment to inner work. 
Inner work reflects the three stages of transition:

• Heal our lives up to this point through forgiveness, grief work, rewriting old stories, letting go of what no longer serves.

• Quiet time in the corridor between who we’ve been and who we can become. Many people feel rudderless, without a map. Yet in this in-between time, older adults can have the best access to inner guidance. Create space to listen, wait, write, and reflect. See what starts to stir, and nurture creativity.

• Clarify and act with intention to move forward. Plant seeds. Begin to try out what feels right.

4. Choose practices that support aging consciously.

• Set intentions: “10 Intentions for next 10 Years.”Make time to be in silence (ideally in nature) and begin to get in touch with your inner guidance.

• Envision what a fulfilled elderhood can look like.

• Create an “elderhood bucket list” that focuses on every aspect of your life: relationships, health and wellness, service to others, spiritual growth, fun/pleasure, etc. Spend time with each, imagining what it would feel like—and is this something you have the energy and the will to create?

• Be wholehearted: not, “I hope to”, or “I’d like to” but “I intend to” or “I commit to”.

A little outside the reverse mortgage box? Perhaps — or perhaps not. The Hero’s Journey is one we all have the option of taking at each life stage. What is unique about conscious eldering is, this model has not been applied to “the third act” before. And in the third millennium, with the mature adult population now the largest in human history, it’s time.


Imagine purchasing a new, more manageable home closer to family or in a warmer climate and not having to worry about monthly mortgage payments and being able to leverage the assets from the sale of your previous home? This is the financial peace of mind a Reverse Mortgage for Purchase can provide.

Find out if a Reverse Mortgage could be the right solution for you—set up a complimentary personal assessment today.

“The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” –Michelangelo

Stories of Hope During the COVID-19 Pandemic

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”- Victor E. Frankl 

These days it may seem difficult to keep your spirits up and not feel overwhelmed navigating these times of the Coronavirus pandemic.

There’s fear, stress, loneliness and unease but we are going through this together and if you look a little closer, past the negative news, you’ll see signs of hope and moments of kindness and care around the globe.  

These stories of everyday heroes, nurses and doctors working tirelessly on the frontlines and small, selfless acts of kindness by many have added hope and happiness to my days.

Soccer moms are hand-sewing masks. Hotels like the Four Seasons have opened their doors to medical professionals and groups of teens are delivering meals to seniors staying safe at home.

Below are some of the stories that have inspired me and I hope they will do the same for you. 

Small Businesses in Vermont Charter Private Plane to Deliver Coronavirus Tests to Those in Need 

After a flight from Logan airport to Minnesota carrying COVID-19 test samples for the Mayo Clinic Laboratories was cancelled, Vermont-based company Green Mountain Messenger worked with local businesses and the State of Vermont to send the hundreds of COVID-19 test specimens to the Clinic for processing. 

Walters and Martti Matheson, co-owners of JV Air, agreed to fly their private plane from Burlington to Minnesota not just for that one trip, but then again each day for the next 10 days, carrying a total of 4,000 test kits to the lab. 

Nursing Home Staff Throwing Parties to Help Residents Cope With Their Loneliness 

The staff at Brightview Senior Living in New Jersey have gone above and beyond to help make their residents feel safe and happy.

In addition to hosting FaceTime calls and going door-to-door giving out ice cream, the staff has organized special even

New Yorkers Cheering at 7pm Every Night to Show Their Support for Medical Professionals 

What began in the streets of Italy has made its way to America — cheers, singing and applause every night to thank health heroes. New York City residents have taken to their balconies, windows and doorsteps (at a safe distance) to energetically make noise (even banging on pots and pans) as a sign of gratitude for those in the hospitals risking their lives to save others. 

A Group of Teens Created a Website to Deliver Groceries to Seniors

Senior citizens are at the highest risk during the COVID-19 pandemic. With extra time on their hands from social distancing, California native Daniel Goldberg, a junior student-athlete at San Marcos High School in Santa Barbara (along with a couple of friends), wanted to help the elderly.

He created Zoomers to Boomers, a website where seniors in the Santa Barbara area can sign up to have their groceries delivered the next day by a high school student. This act inspired many citizens throughout the country to check on their elderly neighbors.

Four Seasons Offers Free Stays for Local Medical Workers on the Frontline 

Hotels and resorts across the country have temporarily closed to help stop the spread of COVID-19. With the hotel now empty, the Four Seasons on 57th Street in Manhattan is offering free shelter to medical professionals on the frontlines.

Chairman of the hotel’s corporate owner Ty Warner said, “Many of those working in New York City have to travel long distances to and from their homes after putting in 18-hour days. They need a place close to work where they can rest and regenerate.”

These are just a few of the remarkable stories out there. I’m optimistic that over time, these types of stories will start to out-number the negative ones.

Remember, we are in this together. Let’s be kind to each other and support one another as best we can. Even the smallest acts can have immense impacts.


KIPLINGER’S On Reverse Mortgages: An ‘Outside-the-Box’ Solution for Financial Stress

Today is the future I created yesterday.”- Louise Hay 

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused an enormous amount of economic volatility, making generating retirement income much more challenging, and turning to outside-of-the-box financial tools might be the most effective solution.

In a recent column at Kiplinger, financial professional Charles Rawl highlighted federally insured home equity conversion mortgages (HECM) as an income-generating solution that should be considered by older Americans.

According to Rawl, “This is no time to be stuck in ‘conventional wisdom’ paradigms.”

He writes “Tools that may have developed a bad reputation in the past, such as reverse mortgages, may deserve a second look. While their history of misuse is well documented, the industry has repositioned itself so that today’s reverse mortgages might be considered an important and sophisticated financial tool for some.”

He adds “The intelligent use of a reverse mortgage, particularly a federally insured home equity conversion mortgage (HECM) line of credit, could extend an individual’s or couple’s retirement resources in a way that more traditional strategies cannot.” 

Below are a few of the ways highlighted by Rawl that an HECM can be more effective in generating retirement resources. 

Using An HECM As A Tool To Help Preserve Net Worth  

“Sequence of return risks” – this was already a legitimate concern before the coronavirus pandemic and recent market volatility. Now, it is even more important.

Rawls says, “When the market experiences a downturn early in your retirement, when you’re no longer contributing to your retirement accounts and you’ve begun to take withdrawals, it can be tough to recover from a major loss,” He continues. “An HECM line of credit can be used as a buffer to help protect against adverse portfolio returns, because retirees can carefully coordinate distributions from their portfolio and their HECM line of credit based on their needs and current market conditions.”

Using An HECM To Pay For Unexpected Expenses 

“The use of a tax-free HECM line of credit for unexpected (or even planned) purchases or shortfalls in cash flow can be extremely beneficial in retirement — and not just because it can provide much-needed funds. An HECM also can protect against the raiding of other retirement resources when those costs come up.”


Another bonus he mentions, “An HECM line of credit has a clear-cut advantage over the use of a traditional credit line in that it has a guaranteed growth option (the growth applies to unused funds) and a “non-recourse” feature.”

“Unlike traditional home equity loans or lines of credit, an HECM line of credit can never be prematurely closed and collected.”


Coronavirus Fraud: How To Protect Yourself

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” – Desmond Tutu

We are living in an uneasy time and we are all concerned about the future, and unfortunately now we have yet another thing to be worried about: scammers.

Scammers quickly went to work to take advantage of the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act” or the “CARES Act” and already have schemes to defraud taxpayers.

One specific scheme identity thieves have come up with is leveraging confusion over the stimulus checks to convince people to share personally-identifying information. It’s shameful but the Better Business Bureau is already reporting that government imposters are calling about COVID-19 relief.

Below are the basics of how some of these types of scams work and the facts about the stimulus checks from a recent article in Forbes so you can protect yourself and any of your vulnerable loved ones.


Someone will call and suggest that you might qualify for a special COVID-19 government grant and that it’s necessary to first verify your identity and process your request.

Variations on the scheme may involve contacts through text messages, social media posts, and messages. 


The scammer may suggest you can get more money from the government or get your stimulus check faster – if you share personal details and pay a minimal “processing fee.”


Stimulus checks are FREE money from the government. You DO NOT need to spend money to receive your check. There are NO short-cuts, NO fees and NO additional money.


There are some reports out there about fake checks. If you receive a “stimulus check” in the mail now, it’s a fraud. It will take the Treasury a few weeks to mail those out.

If you receive a “stimulus check” for an odd amount (and specifically one with cents), or a check that requires that you verify the check online or by calling a number, it’s a fraud.


The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will deposit your check into the direct deposit account you previously provided on your tax return (or, in the alternative, send you a paper check).

The IRS WILL NOT call and ask you to verify your payment details.

Please DO NOT share your bank account, debit account, or PayPal account information even if someone is claiming that it’s required to get your stimulus check. IT’S A SCAM.

First, if you receive a call, do not engage. Simply hang up. If you receive texts or emails claiming that you can get your money faster by sending personal information or clicking on links, delete them. Don’t click on any links in those emails.

If you’ve come across a scam, you can report it to

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is also receiving reports of potential scams and is warning that “Small businesses are also getting scam calls about virus-related funding or loans and online listing verification.” 

If you think you’ve been a victim of a Coronavirus scam, you should contact law enforcement immediately.  


Covid-19: Staying Hopeful During These Challenging Times

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”- Martin Luther King Jr.

These are tough and heartbreaking times for everyone with the escalation of the Coronarivus globally. I’m sure many of you feel as I do and are struggling and feel overwhelmed emotionally.

Fortunately people from all around the globe have shared messages, videos, poems and photos of hope and inspiration that have helped lift my spirits amid the tragic Coronavirus outbreak.

Matthew McConaughey shared a personal video message of hope. I encourage you to click below, watch the video and be inspired to embrace our common values of fairness, kindness, accountability, resilience, respect and courage to help overcome this common enemy.


The words below are a combination of sentiments I’d like to share with you from author Cameron Belim, a poem by Laura Kelly Fanucci and messages from friends that have given me comfort.


May we who are merely inconvenienced remember those whose lives are at stake.

May we who have no risk factors remember those most vulnerable.

May we who have the luxury of working from home remember those who must choose between preserving their health or making their rent.

May we who have to cancel our trips remember those that have no safe place to go.

May we who are losing gains in the stock market remember those who have no margin at all.

May we who settle in for a quarantine at home remember those who have no home.

As fear grips our country let us choose love and kindness towards our neighbors.


When this is over, may we never again take for granted:

A handshake with a stranger

Full shelves at the store

Conversations with neighbors

A crowded theatre

Friday night out

The taste of Communion

A Routine Checkup

The school rush each morning

Coffee with a friend

The stadium roaring

Each deep breath

A boring Tuesday

Life itself

When this ends, may we find that we have become more like the people we wanted to be, we were called to be, we hoped to be, and may we stay that way — better for each other because of what we’ve gone through.

– Laura Kelly Fanucci

We can Reset, Remember and all Pull Together, One Nation under God. Indivisible. AMEN! 


VR Delivering Benefits for Seniors

“Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn’t know you left open.” – John Barrymore

When you think of early technology adopters, most likely millennials and the younger generation comes to mind. However with Virtual Reality (VR), seniors appear to be among those taking advantage of this cutting-edge technology to better their lives.

VR is now being used around the globe to help seniors feel less lonely and provide them with emotional, cognitive and social benefits.

A recent Forbes article featured examples of the ways this immersive technology is positively impacting the lives of seniors. I’ve highlighted a few of my favorites below.

VR Can Counteract Feelings of Loneliness 

Tokyo researcher, Kenta Toshima, is using VR to help nursing home residents visit places from their pasts and tick off spots around the globe from their bucket lists. He is accomplishing this by capturing made-to-order VR experiences with an 8K 360 camera.

“By supplementing their physical handicap with technology, the VR travel experiences can help improve the elderly’s motivation for rehabilitation and improve their quality of life. The VR experience makes them feel like they are out of the nursing home and can help ease their anxiety and loneliness.” Kenta Toshima

Be sure to check out the videos of the elderly patients experiencing new places in virtual reality on Toshima’s social media.

VR Can Be Used for Travel and Time Travel

Two retirement communities in Tucson are the launch pads for a program designed to see how virtual reality technology can help senior citizens with cognition, dementia, loneliness and other issues.

Facebook’s standalone VR device, Oculus Quest, has enabled the residents to ride on a roller coaster, visit the Egyptian Pyramids and even go back to places from their past for a little trip down memory lane.

VR Can Help Tackle Social Isolation

Studies have found that isolation and loneliness are more detrimental to one’s health than obesity or smoking, especially for those over 50.

Knowing this, AARP Innovation Labs built Alcove, a VR app focused on family and social connection.

The aim of Alcove is to bridge the physical distance between family members and empower people to experience new places and things that they typically would not be able to either due to the cost, time required or mobility constraints.

The immersive ecosystem that AARP has built lets users enter and navigate on their own, or explore in multiplayer with their family and friends.

It was developed in collaboration with Rendever, a startup with a virtual reality platform that provides cognitive stimulation and socialization to seniors.


3 Reasons to get a Reverse Mortgage

“Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start.”- Nido Qubein

3 Reasons to Get a Reverse Mortgage

In a recent article, The Motley Fool contributor Maurie Backman talks about reverse mortgages and highlights 3 reasons for considering this strategic financial tool.

As she notes in the article, seniors today face a number of financial challenges when it comes to retirement.

However, there is one important asset that older Americans can tap into to help – their home equity.

Reverse mortgages enable you to stay in your home and leverage the equity you’ve built up. And unlike traditional loans where you make monthly payments, with a reverse mortgage you only repay the principal and interest once you sell or move permanently from the home.

3 Reasons Why it Could Pay to Get a Reverse Mortgage
from Maurie Backman

If you need money and don’t have the best credit score, a reverse mortgage can be an ideal solution, since it doesn’t take that number into consideration. Instead, eligibility is based on having equity in your home, and if that equity is there, you’re likely to get approved.

You can use a reverse mortgage to pay for basics like heat, food, electricity, and a host of other expenses that have nothing to do with your home. You can even use that money to travel, if that’s something you’d like to do!

Unlike a home equity loan, with a reverse mortgage you don’t need to repay until you move out of your home, sell your home, or pass away. Then your heirs can sell your home to satisfy that obligation.

Requirements for a Reverse Mortgage

  • Be at least 62 years old
  • Have sufficient equity in your home
  • Live in the home as your primary residence
  • Have a home that meets HUD standards
  • Not be delinquent on federal debt
  • Participate in a HUD-approved counseling session
  • Be able to keep up with taxes, insurance, HOA payments and home maintenance


Neuroscience and Aging with Vitality and Happiness

“A smart person knows how to talk. A wise person knows when to be silent.” – Roy T. Bennett


When you think of old age, what comes to mind? Slowing down? Being forgetful? Not feeling quite as sharp?

Jill Suttie of Greater Good Magazine recently sat down with neuroscientist, Daniel Levitin, to talk about what neuroscience can teach us about aging well with more vitality and happiness.

Levitin is a neuroscientist, psychologist, professor emeritus at McGill University in Montreal, and faculty fellow at UC Berkeley. In his book, Successful Aging: A Neuroscientist Explores the Power and Potential of Our Lives, he gives insights into how early childhood experiences, personalities, social relationships, and lifestyles all directly contribute to a brain’s development, thus taking the task the misconception that cognitive decline is inevitable in older age.

He argues against ageism and for the need to change the conversation about aging and the importance of placing more value on older adults for their experience and what they can contribute to society.

Levitin also shows us what we all can do to become sharper, happier, and wiser as we age.

CLICK HERE see an edited version of their discussion and get tips for aging well from Daniel Levitin.

Create a Better Retirement with a Reverse Mortgage

“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” – Theodore Roosevelt


Worried about retirement and concerned that you’re not ready?

You are certainly not alone. Most people do not feel financially prepared for this next phase of life and find planning overwhelming.

Looking at retirement planning holistically is incredibly important and taking into consideration all of your assets.

One significant asset is your home.

A reverse mortgage is a strategic tool that will put your home equity to work for you and help you better meet your retirement goals.

Below is a comprehensive overview on reverse mortgages that highlights the following:

  • What is a reverse mortgage
  • What you can do with a reverse mortgage
  • Are you eligible for a reverse mortgage
  • The key consumer protections and safeguards in place for reverse mortgages
  • Details on the HomeSafe suite of reverse mortgage solutions
  • Advantages of reverse mortgages vs. a HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit)
  • Hypothetical examples of retirement scenarios
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • The loan process
  • What the respected media has to say about reverse mortgages


The Wall Street Journal/Real Estate 

“Homeowners sitting on significant equity due to rising home values or because they’ve paid off their mortgage could be a good fit. They can, of course, unlock that equity by selling their properties or getting home-equity loans or lines of credit. But for older Americans who want to stay in their home or supplement their income without assuming additional debt, a better option might be the jumbo reverse mortgage.”

– Robyn A. Friedman, Contributor, “Senior Homeowners Give Reverse Jumbo Mortgages New Life.”


Forbes Highlights The Jumbo Reverse Mortgage

“You must master a new way to think before you can master a new way to be.
– Marriane Williamson


Many Americans find themselves in unique financial situations that require seeking out alternative forms of financing to more traditional, forward mortgage loans.

Fortunately, there are numerous financial products available beyond the traditional solutions that can help individuals in these situations more efficiently and strategically.

In a new piece on Forbes, Melissa Cohn, EVP at Family First Funding LLC Private Client Group, talks about the jumbo reverse mortgage as one of these alternative solutions.

“Homeowners can now obtain a reverse mortgage in New York and other states up to $4 million,” Cohn writes as a member of Forbes’ real estate council. “Until recently, we were limited to loan limits of approximately $700,000. The increase in reverse loan limits is a huge benefit to senior homeowners who live in high-value homes.”

According to Cohn, proprietary reverse mortgage options provide a new way for those seniors who live in homes with values beyond the lending limit currently applied to more traditional Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) loans, to tap into their home’s equity.

“With increased loan limits, senior homeowners can potentially access hundreds of thousands of dollars more than previously allowed,” she says.

“Now, borrowers have the ability to tap into their home’s equity and put it to work any way they want, giving them more control over their assets, investments and cash flow. Proceeds are tax-free and no monthly mortgage payments are required.”

Cohn also highlights the many ways the loan’s proceeds can be used.

“Funds can be used for any purpose, such as buying a second home or condo, paying for medical or in-home care expenses, paying for home improvements or limiting the need to take excessive distributions from their investment portfolio. No mortgage insurance is required.”

Improve Your Retirement with a Jumbo Reverse Mortgage 

If you’re a senior who owns a home with a notable amount of equity, a proprietary jumbo reverse mortgage may be a viable option to help you tap into that equity, diversify your investment strategy and improve your retirement.

Sending a Heart Full of Thanks This Holiday Season


It is with a heart full of thanks that we end this fabulous year!

It means so much to me to be entrusted by you, to assist in removing financial burdens and replacing them with peace of mind.

In the spirit of the holiday season, I share below the wise words of Albert Einstein.

May they also inspire you to look out into the world and acknowledge the values that we share with one another, rather than the differences between us.

Loving our fellow man, and helping where you can, is why we are here on Earth.

Strange is our situation here upon earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to a divine purpose. 

From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: That we are here for the sake of other men – above all for those upon whose smile and well-being our own happiness depends, for the countless unknown souls with whose fate we are connected by a bond of sympathy.

Many times a day, I realize how much my outer and inner life is built upon the labors of people, both living and dead, and how earnestly I must exert myself in order to give in return as much as I have received and am still receiving.” – Albert Einstein


May the beauty of the holidays warm your spirit, energize your soul and may the New Year be full of endless possibilities.

Cynthia Kee

Reverse Mortgage Lending Limit to Rise in 2020

“Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

FHA Reverse Mortgage Limit to Rise in 2020

There’s positive news for reverse mortgages as we end the year and start looking towards 2020.

The Federal Housing Administration is increasing its maximum claim amount for reverse mortgages for 2020.

According to the FHA, the HECM limit will increase in 2020 from 2019’s level of $726,525 to $765,600.

This marks the fourth straight year that the FHA has increased the HECM limit. Two years ago, the loan limit was $675,650, which means the HECM limit has increased by almost $100,000 since 2018.

The HECM limit is based on 150% of the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s conforming loan limits for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which were recently raised to more than $510,000.

But unlike Fannie and Freddie’s loan limits and FHA’s forward mortgage limit, there is no geographic variation for the HECM loan limit.

The reverse mortgage limit is $765,600 for all parts of the U.S., including the high-cost areas and the special areas of Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, where forward mortgage limits far exceed the rest of the country.

The increase of nearly $40,000 over last year’s HECM limit means borrowers will soon be able to extract more equity from their homes using a government-insured reverse mortgage.

It also might mean that more people can qualify for the loan.

HECM requires borrowers to pay off an existing mortgage before obtaining the loan, so some borrowers with high mortgage balances may not have been able to secure enough proceeds to qualify.

With a higher claim amount, there may be enough money in the HECM loan to make it work.

According to the FHA, the new HECM limits are effective for case numbers assigned on or after Jan. 1, 2020, through Dec. 31, 2020.

Thanksgiving Greetings & Gratitude

An Attitude of Gratitude

The importance of gratitude is one of the few things in life that almost everyone can agree on.

We drill it into our kids. We preach it in our places of worship. We even have a majority holiday devoted to it.

The only thing we don’t do very often is talk about why thankfulness is so important.

Some might say that it’s a core value and leave it at that. However, others might be more mindful of practicing it on a daily basis.

Thankfully, gratitude isn’t something we have to figure out on our own. It’s been the subject of many wise words over the years.

The following list includes some of history’s best and more powerful quotes about being thankful.

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” John F. Kennedy

“Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.” Henry Van Dyke
“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.”
Winnie-the-Pooh (A.A. Milne)
“No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks.” James Allen
“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”  Thornton Wilder
“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wherever you go and whatever you do this Thanksgiving I wish you the very best. Being able to work with you is something I’m truly grateful for.

With gratitude, Cynthia 

What To Do When Your Nest Egg Disappears

“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.”- Dalai Lama XIV

What To Do When Your Nest Egg is Gone 

There are many retirees out there that found their callings later in life and have decided to keep working for pleasure, as well as for financial reasons.

What happens when you’ve done all the right things and properly saved and planned for retirement — and then the rug is pulled from beneath your feet due to the unexpected and you’re left without your financial safety net during your golden years?

Amara Rose, one of my favorite contributing writers to HECM World, talked about this in a post a few months ago and I found it extremely relevant and a situation that some of my clients have unfortunately had to face themselves.

Amara mentioned one Boomer couple (66 and 71 year olds), who had everything all lined up for a relaxed and financially secure retirement. But then a combination of serial job loss, serious illness and the financial markets collapse practically eliminated their savings.

The couple asked their son and his family to move in while they tried to sell their house and move to a more affordable option in an attempt to repair the damage.

It’s unfortunate they weren’t aware of or didn’t consider a reverse mortgage, which might have been the ideal solution to enable them to remain in their home and start rebuilding their nest egg.

Now, even though the husband is employed again, they have an enormous amount of credit card debt.

Some financial pundits believe owning a house is the problem and can be a financial burden. And some advise seniors to pay off their mortgage and rent in retirement. Yet this doesn’t take into consideration that a great deal of seniors want to live out their golden years in their longtime home.

It’s true that housing can be a significant expense in retirement but it’s not the only concern or expense. According to a recent Employee Benefit Research Institute report, by age 90, “health care expenses account for more than 20 percent of the households’ entire budgets.”

End-of-life health care costs can be astronomical, even with Medicare: those in the 95th percentile of health care spending in 2011 spent almost $30,000, while those in the 25th percentile spent less than $1000.

The Keys: Preparation and Adaptation 

Finding a dream job later on in life may or may not happen. But having the peace of mind that you can stay in your own home is essential to many seniors.

It’s important that there is awareness of a reverse mortgage as a possible financial tool to benefit a nest egg when creating a retirement planning toolkit – especially if you consider many mass affluent are already using HECMs to strategically support their portfolios in a down market.

Aging with Humor: A Few Funny Thoughts & Stories

“Do just once what others say you can’t do, and you will never pay attention to their limitations again.”- James R. Cook


Aging gracefully and growing older should be fun. Here are some short thoughts and a few funny stories about aging.


An elderly couple has dinner at another couple’s house, and after eating, the wives leave the table and go into the kitchen.

The two gentlemen were talking, and one says, ‘Last night we went out to a new restaurant and it was really great. I would recommend it very highly.’

The other man asks, ‘What is the name of the restaurant?’ The first man thinks and thinks and finally asks, ‘What is the name of that flower you give to someone you love? You know…The one that’s red and has thorns.’

‘Do you mean a rose?’

‘Yes, that’s the one,’ replied the man. He then turns towards the kitchen and yells, ‘Rose, what’s the name of that restaurant we went to last night?

I’ve sure gotten old! I’ve had two bypass surgeries, a hip replacement, new knees, fought prostate cancer and diabetes.

I’m half blind, can’t hear anything quieter than a jet engine, take 40 different medications that make me dizzy, winded, and subject to blackouts. Have bouts with dementia.

Have poor circulation; hardly feel my hands and feet anymore.

Can’t remember if I’m 85 or 92. Have lost all my friends.

But, thank God, I still have my driver’s license.


An elderly farmer in Florida had a large pond down by his fruit orchard. One evening he decided to go down to the pond and took a five gallon bucket to pick some fruit.

As he neared the pond, he heard female voices shouting and laughing with glee. As he came closer he saw a bunch of young women skinny-dipping in the pond.

He made the women aware of his presence and they all went to the deep end. One of the women shouted to him, ‘We’re not coming out until you leave!’

The old man thought for a second and said, ‘I didn’t come down here to watch you ladies swim or to make you get out of the pond naked.’

Holding the bucket up he said, ‘I’m here to feed the alligator!’

I feel like my body has gotten totally out of shape, so I got my doctor’s permission to join a fitness club and start exercising. I decided to take an aerobics class for seniors. I bent, twisted, gyrated, jumped up and down, and perspired for an hour. But, by the time I got my leotards on, the class was over.


A couple in their nineties are both having problems remembering things. During a checkup, the doctor tells them that they’re physically okay, but they might want to start writing things down to help them remember.

Later that night, while watching TV, the old man gets up from his chair. ‘Want anything while I’m in the kitchen?’ he asks.

‘Will you get me a bowl of ice cream?’


‘Don’t you think you should write it down so you can remember it?’ she asks.

‘No, I can remember it.’

‘Well, I’d like some strawberries on top, too. Maybe you should write it down, so’s not to forget it?’

He says, ‘I can remember that. You want a bowl of ice cream with strawberries.’

‘I’d also like whipped cream. I’m certain you’ll forget that, write it down.’ she says.

Irritated, he says, ‘I don’t need to write it down, I can remember it! Ice cream with strawberries and whipped cream – I got, for goodness sake!’

Then he toddles into the kitchen. After about 20 minutes, the old man returns from the kitchen and hands his wife a plate of bacon and eggs. She stares at the plate for a moment.

‘Where’s my toast?’

Maximize Your Retirement with HomeSafe

“Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.”- Abraham Lincoln 


When you think about retirement, what is your vision?

I’ve found that retirement can mean something very different to each of my clients. For some their goal is to have the freedom to travel and explore the world. For others it’s right-sizing to the ideal home closer to family and with no mortgage payments. And most would like to live out their golden years with financial security and peace of mind.

The HomeSafe® suite of reverse mortgage products offers a variety of options to help you bring your retirement vision to life.

Click on the link below to download an overview on HomeSafe and learn more about the range of strategic financial solutions available.  


Interested in the HomeSafe suite and talking about which solution will help you meet your retirement goals? Contact me to have a conversion or to set up a complimentary personal assessment.


HECM vs. HELOC: What’s the Difference

“Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.”- Robert A. Heinlein


One of the questions I get asked frequently is what are the differences between a HECM (Home Equity Conversion Mortgage) and a HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit).

With both a HECM and a HELOC you maintain ownership of your home but with the HECM there are a number of other significant benefits.

Below is a great piece talking about the differences between these two financial solutions.

Click here to read: far-2000-hecm-vs-heloc 

Please reach out if you’d like to learn more about how a HECM can help you meet your retirement goals. 

HUD Secretary Committed to HECM Changes

“Keep your face always toward the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you.”- Walt Whitman


HUD Secretary Confirms HECM Reforms 

In a recent Senate hearing titled, “Housing Finance Reform: Next Steps,” HUD Secretary Ben Carson confirmed HUD’s mission to enact key HECM reform in his prepared remarks.

Shannon Hicks, industry expert and President of Reverse Focus, Inc., covers the hearing in his “The Industry Leader Update” featured on HECM World and talks about the changes outlined by Secretary Carson.

Click the image below to watch the video or visit: 

Interested in learning more about the proposed changes to the HECM program and what impact these will have?   

Contact me to have a conversation or to set up a complimentary personal assessment and see if a reverse mortgage is the right solution for you.

Join me in Bend Oregon for a Free Lunch & Learn Sept. 18th

Wednesday, September 18th 2019
11:00am – 1:00pm
Bend, Oregon

How Would Eliminating Mortgage Payments Change Your Life?

Join me September 18th for a Free Lunch & Learn where I’ll answer questions about reverse mortgages and talk about all of the benefits of this effective retirement solution, including:

»  Unlocking the equity in your home
»  Paying off an existing mortgage
»  Creating a tax free income for life
»  Paying off credit card debt

E V E N T  H I G H L I G H T

Buying a Home with a Reverse Mortgage

V E N U E 

Awbrey Glen Golf Club
2500 NW Awbrey Glen Dr. Bend, Oregon


CA: 707-812-2102
OR: 541-797-0171

Traditional & Reverse Mortgages: The Risks

Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.”- Steve Jobs 


I’m sure you’ve seen at least a few national media headlines on how risky a reverse mortgage can be for older homeowners.

In a recent post on HECM World – one of my go-to resources for reverse mortgage news – industry expert Shannon Hicks touched on some of the most common risks that can be found in traditional and reverse mortgages and how most can be avoided.

1. Spending the Kids Inheritance
Many formal complaints filed on federally-insured reverse mortgages come from the adult children or heirs of a borrower. Many are not happy to find out their mom or dad took out a loan and are even less pleased to discover that a part or all of the home’s equity has been consumed.

In many of these cases the parents were not in a position to cover their daily living expenses and opted for an HECM to help reduce some of their financial burdens and maintain a sense of financial independence.

While heirs may have concerns about their inheritance, their parents often face real and more pressing and immediate financial concerns in their retirement years.

2. Foreclosure with Eviction
Few reverse mortgages result in the displacement of the homeowner, yet several HECM borrowers had ‘foreclosure’ proceedings initiated due to the non-payment of property taxes or homeowner’s insurance premiums.

The truth is that any borrower with a traditional 30 or 15-year home mortgage who does not pay such property charges will find themselves facing a foreclosure action from their lender – a fact that tends not be mentioned in the media.

HUD’s Financial Assessment for HECM borrowers has drastically reduced defaults for nonpayment of property charges now measuring the homeowner’s financial capacity and willingness to meet these ongoing obligations. The vast majority of what HUD calls HECM foreclosures are in fact the natural end of the loan when no equity remains or the loan balance exceeds the sale price of the home.

3. Loss of Equity
While an HECM does consume the equity of the home as payments are rarely made to reduce the loan balance but think about traditional mortgages. Traditional mortgage borrowers with substantial equity in their property who find themselves delinquent in their payments are the most likely to be foreclosed on. The lenders know they stand to recoup their security position quickly in the property.

Which is worse? Making mortgage payments for many years only to lose your home in foreclosure or having an HECM slowly consume the equity while you have no monthly payments?

4. Only One Spouse on the Loan 

Unlike a traditional mortgage, the federally-insured reverse mortgage now provides protections to named eligible non-borrowing spouses after the oldest borrower has passed away. This allows the younger spouse to remain in the home without the loan being called due and payable during a deferral period.

No protections like this are available for traditional mortgage borrowers who may have left off their spouse from the title for legal or personal reasons. In such circumstances the surviving spouse would need to refinance, sell the home, or payoff the traditional mortgage or face foreclosure.

Once again, the HECM stands out and has more protections in place to help mitigate the risk.


There is a lot of misinformation out there coming from “experts” and members of the media who seem to focus on the HECM thanks to its non-traditional design and the protected class it serves.

Yes, there are risks with reverse mortgages but there are with traditional mortgages as well and with an HECM, most can be avoided.

More Safeguards For Reverse Mortgages = Even More Peace Of Mind

No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”- Charles Dickens


Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECMs) are the most common and most popular type of reverse mortgages. HECMs are backed and insured by the FHA to reduce borrower risk, and serve as a useful financial tool for many individuals looking to supplement their retirement income.

Now even more structured with the borrower in mind, the HECM loan is designed to help borrowers, age 62+, convert some of their home equity into cash – so they can live more comfortably and with greater financial independence.

Built into this strategic financial tool are important, recent safeguards for additional security:

  • Tightened lending limit helps borrowers preserve revenue steam for better long-term money management;
  • The annual mortgage insurance premiums borrowers are required to pay over the course of their loans has dropped from 1.25% to 0.5%;
  • The initial MIP required has increased to 2% for all borrowers. However, this represents a reduction for borrowers who take out larger reverse mortgages and were paying a 2.5 percent upfront premium.

Additional Previous Changes for Borrower Security:

  • Updated non-borrowing spouse protections;
  • Financial assessment helps determine if borrowers are willing and able to meet financial obligations;
  • LESA – Life expectancy set asides use HECM proceeds to pay taxes and insurance.

No Monthly Mortgage Payments
A reverse mortgage does not have to be repaid until you sell, move or no longer live in your home.

No Surprise Costs
During the application process, you’ll receive a clear and detailed breakdown of all fees and closing costs, including the total loan costs over the projected life of the loan.

Asset Protection
HECMs are non-recourse loans. After the loan is repaid, any remaining equity belongs to you or your heirs. This means that you can never owe more than the value of your home at the time you or your heirs sell your home to repay your reverse mortgage.

With a HECM, the reverse mortgage debt may be satisfied by selling the home to pay the lesser of the mortgage balance or 95% of the current appraised value of the home.

Independent Counseling
To ensure that you understand all aspects of a reverse mortgage, you’re required to have a counseling session with an independent counselor who’s approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Limitation On Fees
Origination fees are regulated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and cannot exceed HUD limits. In addition, origination fees and closing costs may be financed as part of the reverse mortgage, so out-of-pocket expenses can be minimal.

No Prepayment Penalty
Although a HECM loan is not due until the borrower permanently vacates the home, it can be paid off at any time, with no additional fees.

Insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) to protect lenders and borrowers alike. This insurance guarantees you will receive your loan proceeds as agreed upon with the lender at the closing of the loan.

Are Your Retirement Ready?

Please think about your legacy, because you are writing it every day.”- Gary Vaynerchuk


Retirement is a significant stage in life that can cause a number of different emotions depending on how well prepared you are, not only financially but mentally.

Some of my clients have a very clear picture of their retirement and have been working towards achieving their vision for many years while others are not there yet emotionally, mentally or financially to make the transition.

Gene Cohen, M.D., Ph.D., author of The Mature Mind: The Positive Power of the Aging Brain, has developed a 12-point questionnaire to help you determine your Retirement Readiness Quotient (RQ).

Cohen states, “If you have not given much thought to any of these questions, or if you do not have many good answers for them, you are probably not well prepared for retirement.” 

12 Questions to Ask Yourself About Retirement from Gene Cohen: 

1) Why are you thinking about retirement now? (Give yourself 1 point for a clear answer, 0 points if your reasoning seems fuzzy or you are simply uncertain.) Significance: Your reasons for retirement should be sound and not impulsive or the result of inadequate planning. 

2) Do you really want to retire? (1 point if yes, 0 if no.) Significance: This seemingly simple question is an excellent predictor of success in the transition to retirement. It asks you to consider your deepest desires and motivations, not just what you “think” you ought to do or what other people expect you to do.

3) What do your family and friends say about you retiring? (1 point if they think you’re doing the right thing.) Significance: Feedback from those who know you well can be invaluable when you’re contemplating retirement. Do they think it’s a good decision? Do they think you have thought it out well and prepared sufficiently for it? 

4) Have you considered whether you want a complete or partial retirement? Have you considered part-time or temporary work, or even a less-than-fulltime small business venture (emphasis on “considered”)? (1 point if you’ve considered the options, even if you choose full retirement.) Significance: If you are not entirely sure about retirement or are concerned about finances, then phased, or partial retirement is an important option to consider. 

5) Are your finances sufficient to carry you through your retirement years while continuing to enjoy your current lifestyle? (1 point if yes to both parts of question; 0 if no to either part.) Significance: If you answered no, you clearly have further financial planning to do. 

6) Have you attended a retirement preparation program or seminar focused on financial planning? (1 point if yes, 0 if no.) Significance: Such programs can help you plan spending, predict future income, and anticipate future needs. A bewildering number of options exist, and getting some objective advice is invaluable. 

7) What gives you a sense of meaning and purpose in life? (1 point if when you write it down and read it aloud you feel you’ve adequately identified what gives you a sense of meaning and purpose; 0 points if your reasoning seems fuzzy or you are simply uncertain.) Significance: A lack of clarity about your core values and what aspects of life hold meaning for you is often associated with a less fulfilling retirement.

8) What specific types of activities and experiences are important and fulfilling for you? (1 point if your description of how your plans relate to what is important to you makes sense, or 1 point if someone who is reliable and knows you considers your answer good and clear.) Significance: This is a more specific version of question 7. Your answers here provide a window on how well you really know your mind and how well you have planned how to accomplish what is important to you. 

9) Have you attended a retirement preparation program or seminar focused on social planning (e.g., community activities and interpersonal endeavors)? (1 point if yes, 0 if no.) Significance: Prospective retirees often fail to adequately plan how they will actually spend their time in retirement. Floundering in these areas can lead to frustration and a disappointing retirement life.

10) Have you developed outside interests, hobbies, volunteer activities, or areas of new learning? (1 point if yes, 0 if no.) Significance: Developing new interests can improve the quality of retirement life, and engaging in challenging new endeavors can present new opportunities for personal mastery and empowerment that are associated with positive health outcomes. 

11) Have you planned new activities that would allow you to interact with people on a regular basis and that offer chances to form new friendships? (1 point if yes, 0 if no.) Significance: Making new friends is often more difficult in retirement, and loneliness is associated with a host of mental and physical ills.

12) During retirement, will making only a modest contribution in volunteer activities be sufficient for you? (1 point if yes, 0 if no.) Significance: People who have had satisfying and personally meaningful careers can find the transition to retirement difficult if they do not plan for other ways to make a difference. Such people might consider a phased retirement so they can continue with fulfilling work while starting their retirement.

  • 12 points: You’re in position for a great retirement!
  • 10-11 points: Your retirement will likely be highly satisfying.
  • 8-9 points: Your retirement could have problems that are likely fixable.
  • 6-7 points: You could be challenged by ambivalent feelings about retirement, requiring a solid effort to bring your situation up a notch.
  • 3-5 points: You are potentially in the trouble zone where your retirement might not work well unless you make a major effort to get it on track.

You’re not alone if your RQ is not where you want it to be or is lower than expected. Fortunately there are many experts, resources and tools out there that can help and one effective financial solution is a reverse mortgage.

Reverse mortgages have undergone several major changes for the better over the years, which has led many financial professionals to take note. Now when used as a part of a coordinated retirement planning strategy, a reverse mortgage can improve the overall success rate of your portfolio and help make your vision for retirement a reality.

Improve Your Retirement Income Plan With HomeSafe

“The world is full of magical things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper .”- W.B. Yeats 


HOMESAFE: The Financial Tool Designed for Owners of High-Value Homes  

If you’re 62 or older, now you can access even more of your home’s equity and put it to work wherever you want—giving you more control over your assets, investments and cash flow.

HomeSafe loan proceeds are tax-free with a competitive fixed interest rate that’s lower than you might expect. You can use your proceeds as you choose to fund a more comfortable and secure retirement.

The HomeSafe reverse mortgage offers these great advantages:

  • Loan amounts up to $4 million – significantly higher than a HECM allows
  • No mortgage insurance premium
  • Condominiums appraised at $500,000 or more do not require FHA approval

With HomeSafe you have a lot of flexibility with how you use your proceeds in order to fund your retirement and enjoy your golden years:

  • Pay off existing mortgage debt, have no monthly mortgage payments and improve your cash flow
  • Buy a house or condo in an upscale area or active lifestyle community
  • Pay for home improvements
  • Cover medical or in-home care expenses
  • Refinance an existing reverse mortgage to access a larger pool of funds

If your goal is to supplement retirement income, a HomeSafe reverse mortgage could provide the key to unlock the equity value in your home.

Ideal for homes appraised higher than the HECM loan limit allows, homeowners age 62 and older can potentially access hundreds of thousands of dollars more of their equity than the FHA HECM loan currently offers.

Would you like to learn more about the HomeSafe jumbo reverse mortgage and how it may help you secure long-term financial independence? 

Contact me to have a conversation or to set up a complimentary personal assessment.

Reverse Mortgage Insights from Industry Expert, Ted Butler

“With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.
– Eleanor Roosevelt


HECM World is one of my go-to resources for keeping up to date on trends and news in the reverse mortgage world. I’m a big fan of their ReverseTalk video series and in a recent episode they featured a great conversation with industry expert, Ted Butler.

Like a lot of financial services professionals I’ve run into, Ted was once skeptical of reverse mortgages but is now an advocate for this strategic financial tool.

I couldn’t agree more with his belief that today’s reverse mortgage is one of the most effective financial solutions available to help clients address the challenge of a guaranteed income in retirement.

Similar to Ted, I’ve talked quite a bit in the past about the power of leveraging your home equity with a reverse mortgage. Reverse mortgages can give you safe access to this significant financial asset in order to provide peace of mind in your retirement years.

Click on the image below to watch the video.

Ted has become a strong voice for reverse mortgages and is dedicated to educating homeowners and financial advisors on the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) and how it can be a powerful retirement planning tool.

A New Solution to the Senior Care Challenge

“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed .”- Maya Angelou


When it comes to using a reverse mortgage in retirement planning, there are several strategies that make the standby line of credit feature a “must have” for seniors. In particular, the Reverse Mortgage Standby Line of Credit can be a great solution to help create a senior care funding strategy.

Here are some key considerations for a senior care funding strategy and the standby line of credit:

  • In-home care services can reduce the need for expensive nursing homes and improve quality of care.
  • Services can gradually be ramped up as needed—from help with household chores, to 24-hour nursing care.
  • A Reverse Mortgage Standby Line of Credit can be set up in advance—before care is needed—so funding is at-the-ready.
  • Unlike a traditional Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC), the unused portion of the reverse mortgage line of credit grows over time, allowing access to more funds as the borrower ages. And the line cannot be reduced or revoked by the lender, as long as the terms of the loan are met — ensuring the funds will be there when needed.
  • There are no monthly mortgage payments for as long as you live in your home. Homeowners do remain responsible for keeping current with property taxes, required insurance and home maintenance.
  • Proceeds are tax-free (this is not tax advice so please consult a tax professional)
A Reverse Mortgage Standby Line of Credit is a smart retirement funding tool that leverages the power of an important asset – your home equity – to help make sure you’ll be in the position to receive the care you need and continue to live in your own home.
  • Over 97% of Americans make no advance financial plans for senior care needs. Yet 70% will need some form of senior care in their lifetime.
  • Most incorrectly believe their medical insurance will pay for care.
  • Annual costs start at approximately $30,000 for in-home care and range up to $94,000 for nursing home care.