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There's more than money to a happy retirement

Every article I have read about retirement concentrates on various ways to save so that you can enjoy your final years. I followed the rules, saved as much as I could, bought cheap cars, took few vacations - even worked weekends sometimes to help pad my retirement nest egg.

I retired about a year ago, and two months afterward I became clinically depressed and still have problems, even with medical help and medications. I don't feel like doing any of the things I looked forward to, even though I have the time and money.

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Your situation illustrates the importance of balance, before and after retirement.

You realize now that you focused too much on one aspect of retirement: money. But you need a lot more than cash, as author Ralph Warner points out in his excellent book Get a Life: You Don't Need a Million to Retire Well (Nolo Press).

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Equally important are strong relationships with family and friends, good health and engaging hobbies or volunteer work. Warner believes the relentless pursuit of money actually can undermine retirement success by leading to strained relationships, stress-related illness and a work-focused attitude that leaves no time to develop hobbies or other interests that you can pursue in your golden years.

You also discovered that retirement often is a huge psychological adjustment. Many people who retire miss the status and sense of purpose they got from working, and it may take a while to adjust to the change. Counseling can help with this transition, as can volunteer work and friendships with others who are enjoying their retirements.

I expected an increase in my auto insurance premiums after I moved to a higher-risk area and had a run-in with a pole in a parking lot. But my insurer raised my premium quite a bit, and the three other companies I contacted wanted even more.

In discussing my driving history with these insurers, I discovered that the database they're using shows two at-fault accidents instead of one. I did have another claim with my insurer three years ago, but all the correspondence I received from the company shows that it considered this previous accident "not at fault."

What is this database the insurers use, and can I get a copy of my record? What are the chances that I can get this error corrected?

The insurers use the CLUE database, which stands for Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange, to share information about a consumer's previous auto and homeowners insurance claims. Poor profits have led more insurers to get tough in recent years about denying coverage or increasing rates based on CLUE reports.

You can order your report from the company that runs the database, ChoicePoint Asset Co., at www.choicetrust.com online or by mail at P.O. Box 105108, Atlanta, Ga. 30348-5108. The cost typically is $12.95, although the report is free if you live in Maryland, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Vermont, Georgia or Colorado.

If you think the report contains errors, the ChoicePoint staff will verify the information with the reporting insurance company and get back to you with the results within 30 days. You're also allowed to include a statement with your version of events.

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For $12.95 more, you can order your insurance score, the three-digit number based on your credit history that insurers often use in their coverage and rate-setting decisions. Insurers say they've found a strong link between credit and claims, so the worse your credit, the more you may pay for premiums.

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.


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