As we age, our priorities change. Things that were once so important when we were young, now seem insignificant. Other concerns take over.
Our health needs typically increase as our body ages. We worry about physical and mental health deterioration. Concerns about normal ailments shift to fears about long-term care.
On the other hand, investment strategies switch from long term to short term. Careers may be winding down or businesses sold. Downsizing may be part of the plan.
And as retirement approaches, living trusts and wills become increasingly important. So, what can we do to prepare for the stress of the so-called “Golden Years?”
It is never too early to think about your future and your family’s future. According to CNN Money, starting in your 20’s is ideal. But if you are like many people, you have found yourself procrastinating.
For example, one 2018 Northwestern Mutual study revealed that “One in five Americans (21%) have NO retirement savings at all.” And with the recent pandemic, this may have worsened. Individual retirement accounts may be raided for current financial needs.
If you hve procrastinated, there is no better time to start the process of planning. Having a course of action, a checklist, and taking care of details can go a long way towards peace of mind and better quality of life. Whatever your age or where you are in life, a plan for improving your health and finances will pay off in the long run. So, do not wait for a better time or different set of circumstances.
Save for retirement
The fact is that many Americans are living longer and facing the “possibility of outliving their assets.” Social security retirement benefits may not be a sufficient income source to sustain the type of lifestyle you’re currently used to.
As you approach the latter part of your life, it is a good idea to look at your investments. How can you yield more retirement income? Should you reduce risky investments? Are your retirement goals achievable? These questions may best be answered by a financial consultant.
How close you are from retirement will play a big role in deciding your plan of action. This is especially true from a financial standpoint. Obviously, a retirement plan introduced before retirement will yield the best scenarios.
You may even have time to start a 5-Year Plan before you retire. On the other hand, you may be facing retirement now. Whatever the case, the important thing is getting focused on what is important to you and your future.
Get rid of debt and cut expenses
Getting rid of bills like credit cards is a good idea at any age. The longer it takes to pay off expensive credit cards, the more you will pay in interest. Paying smaller balances first and moving towards larger balances can help you get closer to being debt-free.
It may also be time to think about downsizing to cut monthly expenses. Some move to other states to look for cheaper housing and cut the cost of living. One report says “6.7% of all people moving in America moved specifically for cheaper housing.”
True quality of life is predicated on how healthy we are. Eating right, exercise, regular checkups, and sleeping well at night will pay high dividends that can last a lifetime. Being of fit mind and body will help you to accomplish more each day. Getting regular health care is an important part of staying healthy.
Of course, you will not stave off the process of aging and you may become ill despite your healthy lifestyle. But the healthier you are, the better able to fight off illness.
And try not to worry so much. Worrying about your health can pose problems. In fact, anxiety about health “tends to rise after age 50.” A little bit of worry is normal but “a lot can be crippling.”
Be sure to review your health insurance. What is covered and what is not? Does your medical provider meet your healthcare needs? Once you become eligible for Medicare, choices will need to be made about supplemental health insurance coverage.
Consider the possibility of long-term care
Unfortunately, no matter how well you plan, the unexpected may be lurking around the corner. So, be prepared to be unprepared. For example, many folks overlook or even ignore the possibility they may need long-term healthcare.
When they find they (or their loved one) needs this type of care, they are shocked at the cost of nursing homes. And if they are looking at home care options, they may find they can’t afford it. Looking at funding long-term care is pricey. Long-term insurance is another option if you can afford the high premiums.
At the same time, you may be surprised to find you have too much income to qualify for government benefits related to home care. Fortunately, in some states, like New York, a Pooled Trust can help the elderly and disabled qualify for Medicaid Home Care Benefits.
Enjoy your life now
Planning for your retirement years is a good idea no matter how you slice it. But it should not eclipse your life today. Make every moment count.
Stay connected with your friends and family. Take up or renew hobbies. Be in the present to enjoy every single day!
By Carlos Nath
Senior Trust Advisor, KTS Pooled Trust
About KTS Pooled Trust
KTS Pooled Trust was established to help disabled individuals maintain their quality of life while remaining in their communities. In order to receive Medicaid, any monthly income deemed to be “Excess Income” has to be paid to Medicaid or the MLTC. This is also called a “surplus” or “spend down”. This requirement often leaves an individual receiving Community Medicaid without sufficient funds to pay for daily living expenses. In many cases a Pooled Income Trust is the solution to this dilemma. Funds that are deposited into a Pooled Trust can be used to pay expenses on the member’s behalf.
KTS Pooled Trust ensures that those in need of Community Medicaid receive the help they need while being able remain in their own homes.