Tag Archive | "tips on retirement planning"

Evaluating Continuing Care Retirement Communities

One of the realities of aging is increased medical expenses and Americans consistently underestimate what health care in their golden years will cost. One option is to combine all your needs — and expenses — into a single convenient package — a CCRC. Here are some thoughts on evaluating Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC).

Evaluating continuing care retirement communities will help you decide if they’re right for you.

Evaluating continuing care retirement communities

First of all, it can be a little intimidating. You’re really “hunting for a new home, making high-stakes health care decisions and negotiating a complex business deal—all at the same time.” That’s the down side. On the other hand….

These communities, known as CCRCs, typically offer independent-living units as well as assisted-living and skilled-nursing facilities, allowing them to serve everyone from active newcomers to older residents requiring round-the-clock care. Seniors move in expecting to enjoy amenities such as libraries, golf courses and posh dining rooms while they’re healthy and to receive excellent skilled-nursing care if they fall ill.

So, you have a wide range of options that will accommodate you as your needs change. Still, it’s not an easy decision and certainly requires a lot of investigation.

But finding a CCRC that fits your vision of a financially secure retirement may require some hard-nosed negotiation with the facility’s management and detailed analysis of the development’s finances. You’ll need to assess your ability to pay monthly fees that may rise faster than inflation. And with the typical CCRC charging six-figure entrance fees, you’ll need to understand the size of any refund that you or your heirs may receive if you decide to move or when you die.

Moving to a CCRC may not be for everyone, but if you think it might be right for you do your due diligence and spend some time evaluating continuing care retirement communities.

Click here to read more about evaluating continuing care retirement communities.


Posted in Creating a Personalized Retirement Plan, Medicare, Planning for Your Retirement, Retirement Trends, The EconomyComments (0)

Boomers Are Rewriting Retirement Rules

For better or worse, Baby Boomers have made an indelible mark on the American landscape in almost every way. Now, as more and more are reaching retirement age, boomers are rewriting retirement rules.

Boomers are rewriting rules of retirement, just as they’ve done for everything else over the last 50 years.

Boomers are rewriting retirement rules

What does retirement have in store for Baby Boomers? It may not be what you expect, but you can be sure that whether you’re part of that generation or another, what boomers do will affect you. Here are some of the developing trends.

More older Americans are packing it in for foreign countries, where they can save on living costs and enjoy warmer climates.

Almost a quarter – 21 percent – of new U.S. businesses started in 2011 were launched by entrepreneurs age 55 to 64, according to the Kauffman Foundation, up from 14 percent in 2007. Entrepreneurs age 45 to 54 accounted for an additional 28 percent of the 2011 startups.

…23 percent of older boomers and 27 percent of their younger siblings use tablet devices, compared with 30 percent of Gen Xers (born 1965 to the early 1980s), according to the Pew Internet Project. The gaps also are small when it comes to smartphones and social networking services.

Older Americans are taking more debt into retirement than previous generations. Mortgage debt is the biggest factor: Forty percent of homeowners over age 65 had mortgage debt in 2010, compared with just 18 percent as recently as 1992, reports the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University (JCHS).

Life expectancy for men has jumped an average of almost two years in each of the last five decades, to 75.7 years in 2010, according to the Society of Actuaries. For women, life expectancy has risen by 1.5 years, on average, to 80.8 years.

Some 58 percent of boomers are providing financial assistance to aging parents, such as helping them purchase groceries or pay medical and utility bills, according to an Ameriprise Financial survey of just over 1,000 Americans conducted in late 2011.

When it comes to their kids, boomers are even more ready to help out. Almost all boomers surveyed – 93 percent – say they have given their children a hand. A majority have “boomerang kids” who have moved back home to live rent free (55 percent) or afford a car (53 percent).

Not surprisingly, most of these trends involve money in some way, spending less by retiring abroad, starting a business to provide work — and income, retiring with more debt and providing financial assistance to both children and aging parents — which may also explain the debt.

Wherever you are in life and whatever your expectations, you can be sure that — just as they’ve done with everything else — boomers are rewriting retirement rules as well.

Click here to learn more about how boomers are rewriting retirement rules.

Posted in Creating a Personalized Retirement Plan, Planning for Your Retirement, Retirement Plan Challenges, Retirement Trends, The EconomyComments (0)

Say “No” to Annuity Buybacks

If you have older annuities, you may have been offered a financial incentive in exchange your guaranteed income and death benefits. Don’t take the bait. Say “no” to annuity buybacks.

Understanding motivation is the key to understanding behavior. Say “no” to annuity buybacks.

Say “no” to annuity buybacks

Understanding motivation is key to understanding behavior. When you understand why a company is offering to buy back your lucrative annuity, you’ll understand why it’s probably a bad idea for you to take the offer.

Companies sold deferred variable annuities with generous guarantees in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when the stock market was rising and interest rates were higher. With their investments still battered by the 2008 market downturn, insurers are now looking to shed these guarantees from their books.

By offering you an apparently large payment, companies can avoid paying you more over time.

Many of these older annuities base lifetime payouts and death benefits on the investor’s original investment plus annual returns of 5% and 6%—no matter what happens in the stock market. Several companies recently began offering annuity holders one-time payments to give up those guarantees, and other insurers are planning to do the same.

Rick Rodgers, a financial planner in Lancaster, Pa., says such annual returns are “difficult if not impossible to replicate in today’s low-interest-rate environment without taking risk.” If you expect to live at least 15 years, he says, the insurers’ offers “aren’t going to make up for the security the guaranteed contract offers.”

Rest assured that everybody’s out to make a buck, and if they can do it at your expense, they will. Just say “no” to annuity buybacks.

Click here to read more about why you should say “no” to annuity buybacks.

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Start Your Retirement Debt Free

It isn’t easy to do, but before you retire, you should eliminate as much of your debt as possible. You’re going to be on a fixed income and your financial future will be much more secure if you start your retirement debt free.

Start paying off your debts now and start your retirement debt free.

Start your retirement debt free

We like to reward ourselves for a job well done. And, believe me, if you’re able to eliminate your debt before you retire, that’s a very big job, very well done. So, while you may feel the need to celebrate — and you should — don’t let yourself slide back into debt. It’s all too easy to do.

Here are some tips to help you get out of debt and stay that way.

  1. Loosen up on the budget and breathe, just a little.
  2. Pay with cash — or charge only what you have the cash on hand to cover.
  3. Don’t splurge. Plan.
  4. Identify your money triggers.
  5. Redirect the money you spent on debt payments each month to savings.
  6. Develop a support group of like-minded debt-free friends.
  7. Never forget the nightmare of how living with debt felt.

Start now to pay down your debts, especially those with high interest rates — like credit cards — and you’ll be able to start your retirement debt free.

Click here to learn more about how you can start your retirement debt free.

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Retire Gradually

Believe it or not, the realities of retirement come as a shock to many people. After a few weeks of waking up with nowhere particular to go and nothing particular to do, you may find yourself wondering, “What now?” One way to solve that problem is to retire gradually.

Don’t just put yourself out to pasture. There’s a lot to be gained when you choose to retire gradually.

Retire gradually

There are many things you can do to ease the transition to retirement. Here are some tips that will help.

  1. Negotiate a new schedule.
  2. Offer to mentor younger workers.
  3. Settle on fair pay.
  4. Watch out for pension problems.
  5. Qualify for health insurance.
  6. Social Security withholding.
  7. Decide what you’ll do with your free time.

The vast majority of those approaching retirement are still healthy, active and have much to contribute. Don’t just put yourself out to pasture when you can still be productive, earn money doing something you enjoy and retire gradually.

Click here to learn more about how you can retire gradually.

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Invest More Conservatively After Retirement

Prior to retirement, you’ll probably want to take a little more risk in your investments to maximize your return, but you may want to invest more conservatively after retirement.

Invest more conservatively after retirement to protect your assets and financial security.

Invest more conservatively after retirement

Since you want to have as much money as possible saved when you retire, higher risk investments — with the associated higher returns — make good sense. Even if the market goes south, you’ll still have several years of employment to carry you through until the market rebounds. You might also consider working a few extra years to save even more.

The single biggest difference is that you have a lot more flexibility during your career when it comes to retirement planning. For example, if you have the bulk of your retirement accounts in stocks and the market tanks, you’ve got plenty of options for rebuilding the value of those accounts.

With years of work still ahead of you, you can simply sit back and wait for the market to rebound and eventually climb to higher ground. Or you can pump up the amount you contribute to your retirement accounts, which will hasten the recovery of your balances.

After you’ve retired, it’s a vastly different scenario.

Unlike during your career when you’re still putting money into your 401(k), IRA or other accounts, you’ll be pulling money out of your nest egg once you retire. And that creates a very different dynamic.

Specifically, the combination of investment losses from a market downturn, plus withdrawals from your account for retirement living expenses creates a double-whammy effect that can decimate the value of your portfolio and dramatically increase your chances of outliving your dough.

As a result, the same market meltdown that may be very unsettling during your career can be absolutely devastating after you’ve retired, perhaps even forcing you to radically scale back your standard of living to avoid running through your money too soon.

There is no single “right” answer to how you should invest — before or after retirement. But, because of your reduced earning power it’s wise to invest more conservatively after retirement.

Click here to read more about why you should invest more conservatively after retirement.

Posted in Creating a Personalized Retirement Plan, Planning for Your Retirement, Retirement Investment Options, Retirement Plan Challenges, Saving for RetirementComments (0)

Working Longer May Not Save Your Retirement

Working longer is a frequently-sited strategy for ensuring a financially secure retirement and it offers many benefits such as more years of employment to save and maximizing your Social Security benefits. But just working longer may not save your retirement.

Working longer may not save your retirement, but it may help make your  golden years more fun, interesting — and rewarding.

Working longer may not save your retirement

There are many other factors that come into play when you consider postponing your retirement. How much you’re earning now is critical.

As you might expect, projections for the lowest pre-retirement income quartile are the most sobering. This group would need to defer retirement to age 84 before 90 percent of them would have even a 50 percent probability of achieving comparable pre-retirement living standards.

You’ll have to really love what you do to make working until you’re 84 seem attractive. The future looks brighter for those earning more, but not much.

The results improve with income levels, but even among those in the highest income quartile, 90 percent have only a 50 percent chance of having enough to retire by 70.

Even if you’re relatively young and plan to work longer, the projections are still grim.

When broken out by age, the news isn’t much better: For one-third of households in which the people were between ages 30 and 59 as of 2007, working until age 70 won’t provide adequate income in retirement.

One way to look at this and make the picture seem a little brighter is to broaden your definition of “work.” Even if you hate your current job and want to get out of it as soon as possible, your skills and experience may have many applications that will allow you to work less, generate income to offset your retirement expenses, and actually enjoy what you’re doing.

Working longer may not save your retirement, but it may help make your  golden years more fun, interesting — and rewarding.

Click here to learn why working longer may not save your retirement.

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Fight Inflation In Your Retirement

If you’ve lived long enough to be thinking seriously about retirement, you remember inflation. While it’s not a problem right now, just like everything else, it’ll come around again, and if you’re on a fixed income it’s important that you’re able to fight inflation in your retirement.

Buying a home will fix your monthly payments for decades, helping you fight inflation in your retirement.

Fight inflation in your retirement

It’s important to plan ahead now, so you’re prepared when inflation rears its ugly head again. Here are some ideas that can help:

Buy a home. There are many reasons to rent in retirement, but one of the advantages of home ownership is that you can hedge against inflation by getting a fixed mortgage, fixing your monthly payment for decades.

Find lower-cost alternatives to replace what you enjoy. It’s true that inflation makes the same item cost more, but you can still slash your budget by using alternatives that are less costly. In order to not feel deprived, look for replacements that are truly similar to what you currently enjoy.

Skip some expenses regularly. Inflation will affect your budget less as an absolute dollar amount if your overall expenses are lower. Once in a while, try to skip your expenses.

Limit lifestyle inflation. There are many expenses that creep up as time goes on, but there are often other expenses, such as electronics costs, that go down over time as well. A major source of inflation is actually self-induced via lifestyle inflation.

Buy stocks of companies that make more when you have to pay more. One way to at least take part in price increases is to invest in companies that benefit when they charge you more. Proctor and Gamble (PG), for instance, is a company that will make more money when the products they sell cost more on the shelves.

Retirement will be a challenge for nearly all of us, but looking back over what you’ve accomplished, you should feel confident you can make it work, especially if you take steps to fight inflation in your retirement.

Click here to learn more about how you can fight inflation in your retirement.

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Save Your Retirement From Financial Advisors

Almost all of us — to some degree — have bought into the myth that financial planners know what they’re doing and that we should follow their advice because they’re — well — experts. They’re not. It’s not really their fault, either. You see, they’ve bought into the myth as well. Maybe now is the time for you to save your retirement from financial advisors.

Take the time now to learn about investing and save your retirement from financial planners.

Save your retirement from financial advisors

When it comes to saving for your retirement here’s all the specific advice I’d ever share:

  1. Start saving young and save as much as you can.
  2. Live within your means.
  3. Don’t touch the principal.
  4. Diversify to mitigate the effects of inevitable market swings — the more diverse, the better.

Everything else is just smoke and mirrors because — as all financial planners will tell you — past performance is no guarantee of future results. We cannot — and they cannot — predict the future. Yet we persist in believing the myth. The problem, according to Ms. Helaine Olen, a freelance journalist and author of “Pound Foolish: Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry” is this:

…“most of the financial advice published and dished out by the truckload is useless” — that it is simply “oblivious to the messiness of the human condition.”

And that “human condition” makes us our own worst enemies.

Ms. Olen writes that the “financial therapy movement,” for all of its flaws, “has hit on one universal truth: When it comes to money, the vast majority of us are nuts. Bonkers.” She counts some of the ways: “We don’t open our 401(k) statements. We ‘forget’ to pay our bills or file our taxes until the last minute.” Financial literacy is alarmingly low. Many of us don’t budget at all.

Our own lack of experience and understanding about investing and finance make us easy targets for those unscrupulous individuals who know they’re blowing smoke, but do it anyway.

A 2009 AARP survey found that nearly one in 10 people over 55, or about 5.9 million Americans, had attended a free financial seminar in the last three years.

At the World MoneyShow, an annual event in Orlando, 80 percent of attendees were over 55. The author [Ms. Olen] writes that “a panicked baby boomer is their best customer.”

Knowledge is power — even just a little bit of knowledge. Learn about investing. Like anything else, it’s scary and incomprehensible at first, but before long, you’ll know at least as much as most professionals and you may be able to save your retirement from financial planners.

Click here to read more about how you can save your retirement from financial planners.

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Bond Investments Will Blow Your Retirement

Bonds have long been a safe — relatively — investment for those who want a financially secure retirement, but that may be changing. Investors seeking safer investment options are creating a “bond bubble.” Given what’s happened to all past bubbles, is it possible that bond investments will blow your retirement?

The “bubble” of bond investments will blow your retirement.

Bond investments will blow your retirement

As we seek more secure investments and safer returns…

…the panicky flight to safety is creating a new kind of bubble, this time in the U.S. bond markets. The supply of safe assets, which historically meant AAA-rated government bonds, mortgage-backed securities and gold, has been declining precipitously over the past few years.

It’s not looking good for bonds — of any kind.

…U.S. Treasuries are the last last resort; as investors have flooded into them, yields dropped to 220-year lows. The practical result is that if you own T-bills, you are basically paying the government for the privilege of babysitting your money while you go nowhere.

There are other options, however.

…remember real estate? Ouch, you do. Sorry. But it’s looking to be a safer bet. The asset that caused our financial freak-out has, by many indicators, bottomed out. Building permits, the leading indicator of future construction, jumped nearly 8% in May; that sets the stage for some major construction this summer. “Interest rates are low, prices are low enough to encourage buying, and yet rents are rising–a kind of dividend which may well beat inflation,” notes Paul Ashworth, chief North American economist at Capital Economics.

What were once safe investments may not be any longer. Consider other options because it’s possible that bond investments will blow your retirement.

Click here to read more about how bond investments will blow your retirement.

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