Legal and Financial Planning for Those with Alzheimer’s and Their Caregivers

November 1, 2023

If you or a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, then there are certain things that you will need to plan for legally and financially. An estimated 6 million Americans have Alzheimer’s, and it is currently the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. Alzheimer’s is a brain disorder that slowly decreases memory and thinking skills, while dementia involves a loss of cognitive functioning; both cause more and more difficulty for an individual to perform the most simple tasks. Though a diagnosis can be scary, the right planning can help individuals and their families feel more at ease.

Putting Legal Documentation in Place

Christopher Berry, Founder and Planner at The Elder Care Firm, recommends three main disability documents that should be in place.

First, there needs to be a financial power of attorney, a document that designates someone to make all financial decisions once an individual is unable to do so for themselves. If an individual lacks a trusted loved one to make financial decisions, then designating a financial attorney or bank is an option.

The next document that needs to be in place is the medical power of attorney that designates someone to make medical decisions for an individual. In many cases, it may be appropriate to appoint the same person to be the financial and medical power of attorney, as long as that person is well-trusted by the individual. In the event that something happens to the original power of attorney(s), successor (or back-up) agents for power of attorney(s) should also be designated.

The last document is the personal care plan, which instructs the financial and medical power of attorney(s) on how best to care for the individual in need. For instance, those entrusted to the care of an individual will need to make sure they sign medical records release forms at all doctor’s offices; copies of the power of attorney or living will should also be given to healthcare providers.

These three documents provide a foundation to make decisions for the individual diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia when they no longer can themselves. It’s ideal to include the individual in these conversations in the early stages of their diagnosis, so that they may be a part of the decision-making process and appoint people that they will feel most comfortable with during their care.

How to Pay for Long-Term Care

Since Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, the level of care an individual needs will increase over time. Care costs may include medical treatment, medical equipment, modifications to living areas, and full-time residential care services.

The first thing a family can do is to use their own personal funds for care expenses. It’s important for families to remember that they will also pay in their time, as many children of loved ones with Alzheimer’s or dementia will become the main caregivers. It may be wise to meet with a financial planner or sit down with other family members, such as your spouse and siblings, to determine how long some of you may be able to forgo work in order to provide full time care.

When personal funds get low or forgoing work for a period of time becomes difficult, long-term care insurance can be a lifesaver. The key to relying on long-term care insurance though is that it needs to be set up ahead of the Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnoses, so considering these plans as one ages may be smart.

Veterans can make use of the veterans benefit, or non-service-connected pension, which is sometimes called the aid and attendance benefit. This benefit can help pay for long-term care of both veterans and their spouses.

Finally, an individual aged 65 or older can receive Medicare, while those that qualify for Medicaid can receive assistance for the cost of a nursing home. If someone’s income is too high to receive Medicaid, then the spenddown is one strategy to know; under spenddown, an individual may subtract their non-covered medical expenses and cost sharing (including Medicare premiums and deductibles) from their available income. With the spenddown, a person’s income may be lowered enough for them to qualify for Medicaid.

Minimizing Risk Factors During Care

Research published recently in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia found that nearly half of patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia will experience a serious fall in their own home. Author Safiyyah Okoye, who was at John Hopkins University when the study was conducted, recommends minimizing risks such as these by safeguarding homes early on in diagnoses. “Examining the multiple factors, including environmental ones like a person’s home or neighborhood, is necessary to inform fall-risk screening, caregiver education and support, and prevention strategies for this high-risk population of older adults,” she states.

The good news is that since the progression of Alzheimer’s is often slow, families have plenty of time to modify the home for increased safety.

In addition to fall prevention modifications, other safety measures may include installing warning bells on doors to signal when they’re opened, putting down pressure-sensitive mats to alert when someone has moved, and using night lights throughout the home. Coats, wallets, and keys should also be kept out of sight, because at some point, leaving the home alone and driving will no longer be safe. Conversations about these safety measures, such as when an individual will have to stop driving, are ones that caregivers should have early on with their loved ones. Including individuals in their future planning while they are still cognitively sound will help both them and their caregivers feel more comfortable with the journey ahead.

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It’s important to remember that even though receiving an Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnosis can be devastating, it is not the end. People with Alzheimer’s can thrive for many years before independent functioning becomes difficult. Both patients and caregivers will feel more calm through planning ahead. Insureyouknow.org can help caregivers stay organized by storing all of their important documents in one place, such as financial records, estate planning documentation, insurance policies, and detailed care plans. Above all, there is hope for those with Alzheimer’s; research is happening every day for potential therapies and future treatments.

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How ChatGPT is Shaping Retirement

October 15, 2023

Chat GPT is an artificial intelligence program that can answer human questions. This chatbot is able to understand human language that is spoken or written and then uses algorithms to process and analyze this information in order to produce answers. For instance, you may ask ChatGPT informative questions such as how climate change is affecting endangered species, but Chat GPT can even be directed to write a poem. When it comes to finances, ChatGPT may even be able to help someone begin their retirement planning.

ChatGPT Provides Content, Not Human Advice

Anyone can ask ChatGPT anything, and they will receive a remarkably well-rounded response. If someone were to ask what their retirement plan should include, the chatbot will provide an outline of the basic elements of a common retirement plan. The problem with this is that ChatGPT won’t know the person asking the question and be able to understand the individual details of their life that would make a difference in their retirement planning.

While Chat GPT may not completely replace the value of a human financial advisor, that doesn’t mean that financial advisors won’t need to change the way in which they advise clients to plan for their retirement. If anyone can get a basic plan through ChatGPT, then the services provided by an advisor need to become more about the one thing ChatGPT can’t provide: the human understanding and emotional side of advice. Despite having spent decades taking the emotion out of financial decisions, financial professionals will have to pivot to provide more humanity than ever.

How AI Can Improve an Advisor’s Abilities

Once upon a time, the internet threatened travel agents everywhere, as people could suddenly book their own plane tickets, hotel rooms, and rental cars themselves, from the comfort of their home computers. But travel agents are alive and well, and that’s because the internet still couldn’t do one thing that an agent could: understand a client’s needs and provide personal advice. Instead of mere transactional planning, personalized insight is the new premiere service that a travel agent can provide, and financial planners can grow to do the same.

While ChatGPT can provide concrete information, it cannot begin to factor in the unique preferences of an individual. True conversation is more than the exchange of information. It involves feelings and the confirmation that the person you’re speaking with understands you. A good financial advisor already understands this. Their job is about more than just offering retirement plans; people need empathy. Financial advisor Patti Brennan says her clients “are looking for someone who isn’t just focused on managing their money; that’s just table stakes. What they really want is to know they’ve got someone they can count on during times of crisis; someone who will be a trusted advocate for their future and quality of life.”

Mitchell Morrison, CEO and founder of Eyeballs Financial, says, “ChatGPT is like building a chassis for the financial plan. Its chief weakness is that the answers you get are only as good as the questions you ask.”

While a machine can provide the building blocks of a good plan, an advisor has the capability to understand the complexities of financial planning and the nuances of a person’s life. Together, ChatGPT and the advice from a professional can be used to formulate a plan that is more well-rounded than if someone just relied on one or the other. Rob Leiphart, a certified financial planner at RB Capital Management, adds that, “ChatGPT lacks one crucial step needed in financial planning and investment management: KYC,” or know your client. “It doesn’t begin by asking questions of its own in order to hone its responses. Instead, it provides generic or basic advice,” he says.

While AI ‘s abilities will evolve, financial advisors will be required to as well. Professionals should view ChatGPT as a tool and reevaluate their role in retirement planning. While clients can be well-versed through the framework that ChatGPT can provide them, financial planners can become educators, coaches, and navigators of their retirement plans.

What AI Can Do For You Now

ChatGPT can do more than provide information on how to begin planning for retirement. It can also be used as a resource to think outside of the box in terms of finances. Here are five ways anyone can use ChatGPT to improve their finances now.

1. Research side gigs

Whether you’re interested in supplementing your income now or during retirement, you can ask ChatGPT, “What are the best side gigs for retirees, in my area, or in my field of work?” AI will provide a list of options ranging from consulting, house sitting, or personal errands.

2. Build a better resume

Perhaps you’d like to make more money in your working years or there are a handful of positions you’ve always wished you could land. ChatGPT can help make your resume stand out by suggesting which skills recruiters are looking for in certain positions.

3. Get your business off the ground

ChatGPT could tell you how much you’ll need to start that business you’ve always dreamed of starting, including what resources you’ll need to get going, projected earnings, and even help with sales copy. Whether you’re selling goods or services, you’ll need good advertising to attract potential clients. ChatGPT can provide you with a better idea of what your business idea will entail and help you to create a detailed plan of action.

4. Get tips for writing a better house listing

Planning to make money for retirement by selling your house or planning to move when you can retire are both common goals. An attractive house listing can help you get the best offer on your current property. Paired with gorgeous pictures of your home, ChatGPT can help you write the listing that will get you the most interest. You could even use ChatGPT to help you buy your home elsewhere by researching the most cost effective places to retire.

5. Find financial planners in your area

Once you’ve decided it’s time to start thinking about your retirement, ChatGPT can provide you with a list of qualified and highly-rated financial advisors in your area. Plus, educating yourself through ChatGPT on common retirement plans before you meet with your advisor will give you an idea of what to discuss at your meeting.

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Retirement planning can be overwhelming, but you’ll benefit from using every resource available to you, including ChatGPT. For now ChatGPT is an excellent starting point but shouldn’t be the main resource of your final plan. Insureyouknow.org can help you compile your research, store your financial records, and serve as a valuable place to regularly revisit and fine tune your retirement plan.

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The Pros and Cons of Living with Children in Retirement

August 1, 2023

Combining households can be a positive experience for everyone. In order to ensure that every member of the family is comfortable with living together, it will be important to talk it out. Communicating about any concerns before moving in together and then regularly thereafter will ensure that everyone remains happy with the decision to cohabitate. Amy Goyer, an AARP family expert, tells children of retirees to embrace the chance. “Look at this as an opportunity,” she adds. “You have a chance to enjoy your mom or dad in their later years. This is a way for children to know their grandparents in a way they wouldn’t otherwise.”

Before combining households, retirees and their children should consider all of the pros and cons of living together during retirement beforehand.

The Pros of Living With Children During Retirement:

  1. Retirees can be a big part of their grandkids’ lives. Many parents choose to live with their children during retirement so that they can be a major part of their grandkids’ lives. Some parents want to help their children raise their kids, such as picking them up from school, helping with meals, or taking their grandkids to their extracurriculars after school. Parents who were busy with work while their own children were growing up may feel that they can now make up for lost time.
  2. Your family will have a strong support system in place. While you may want to help your children with their needs, they may also need to help you. This can range from needing a ride to a doctor’s appointment to needing care after surgery or during an illness. Either way, living together will enable each of you to be more available to one another in times of need.
  3. Combined expenses may make living together more cost effective for both of you. Having a real financial talk with your children before you decide to combine households may prove that it could save each of you a lot of money. Coming up with a budget of shared expenses can actually help family members thrive both as a whole and individually. With the right budget, retirees shouldn’t have to dig into their retirement as much every month, while their children will be able to save up more of their monthly income.

In addition to communicating with one another about finances and caretaking roles, make sure everyone is allotted their own personal time. For instance, grandparents may opt to have their friends over while their grandkids are in school and their children are at work. Working together to ensure that every member of the family gets space from one another from time to time will help prevent anyone from feeling stifled. Retirement expert Nancy K. Schlossberg, author of Too Young to Be Old: Love, Learn, Work and Play as You Age, says, “If you do your emotional work upfront, you’re more likely to be satisfied with your final decision.”

The Pros of Living With Children During Retirement Could Also be the Cons:

  1. Retirees may not want to become full-time babysitters. If your children have children, and you’re disinterested in being a full-time babysitter to the grandkids, setting boundaries upfront about what you do and don’t want to do will be extremely important. Also, consider day-to-day life with young children and maybe pets. “If you have no tolerance for noise, do you want to move into a house with children or teenagers?” asks Jennifer Prell, president of Illinois elder-resource network Silver Connections.Be realistic about what you will and won’t be able to handle on a daily basis.
  2. Children of retirees may not want to become full-time caretakers either. Children of retirees may not be prepared for the burden of caring for their own parents.Again, establishing what everyone is comfortable with will be imperative. Contemplate the worst-case scenarios before moving in together. “Even if Mom moves in relatively healthy, that could change overnight,” elder-law attorney Kerry Peck points out. “Families generally underestimate the amount of care that Mom is going to require.”
  3. Retirees (or their children) may end up footing the bill for everyone. If retirees or their children become overly reliant on one another, then moving in together may become more expensive for one party than remaining apart. Having an honest talk about financial responsibilities and emergency savings before moving in together should help prevent unexpected expenses for either one of you down the road. “So many families run into trouble when something bad unexpectedly happens,” says Jill Schlesinger, author of The Dumb Things Smart People Do With Their Money. “That’s why it’s so important to talk to your kids about the What-Ifs,” said Schlesinger.

Consider Alternatives to Living Together

If you decide that joining households may not be the best option for your family, there are alternatives. Simply living closer to one another can reap the same benefits of living with children during retirement while removing the downsides.

While there’s an appeal to living ten minutes from one another, one of you may feel as if some of your independence has been lost. Talk to your children, and decide how close is too close. If in the end, you decide to live farther away from your children, planning reciprocal visits or spending part of the year with them may turn out to be the best of both worlds.

If you do decide to remain independent during retirement, make sure there’s plenty of room in your home for your children to visit or stay overnight. If you have more than one child, factor in enough space for all of them and their families, so that each of your children may visit you simultaneously.

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In the end, living with your children during retirement should be beneficial for both of you. Insureyouknow.org can help your family keep the peace. When combining households, keeping the budget, financial information, healthcare records, and even family schedules in one easy-to-access place can help everyone work together to keep the household running smoothly. Since communication will be the key to living happily together, it will be important for everyone to be in the know.

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Are you too old to open a Roth IRA?

July 1, 2023

Many people intend to rely on their 401(k) plans offered through employment, personal savings and collecting Social Security and Medicare benefits during retirement, but financial advisors recommend diversifying your retirement plan to include a Roth IRA. Plus, if you’re not offered a 401(k) plan through work, Social Security and savings alone may not be enough. The first step in determining whether it’s too late to open a Roth IRA is understanding the potential benefits and downsides of having one.

Understanding the Roth IRA

The difference between a Roth IRA and a Traditional IRA is that a Roth IRA allows for tax-free income during retirement, while a Traditional IRA taxes withdrawals. With a Roth IRA, contributions are taxed upfront, so all withdrawals of earnings are federal tax-free once the account has existed for five years, and the account holder is at least 59½. Contributions, though, can always be withdrawn at any age without taxes or penalties, which could be especially important during unexpected financial hardship. For anyone new to investing or planning for retirement, IRA expert and accountant Ed Slott recommends starting with a Roth IRA, saying, “There’s just no question that that is the better place,” to start.

Opening a Roth IRA

In order to contribute to a Roth IRA, you must earn an income, but there are income limits. In 2023, a single person may make $153,000 or less, while those who file jointly may make $228,000 or less. While there are no RMDs, there is a Maximum Contribution allowed of $6,500 under the age of 50 and $7,500 for those 50 and over. That means that if you have extra income to invest between the age of 50 and 70, the Roth IRA might be just right for you. Contributions are not tax deductible and all earnings grow tax-free. Because Roth IRAs do not have Required Minimum Distributions (or RMDs) after the age of 73, this is yet another reason that it might be the perfect account to consider for someone who is older and may be behind on their retirement planning.

The Benefits to Opening a Roth IRA at an Older Age

The earlier you start saving for retirement, the better. With a Roth IRA, the longer the account is open, the longer someone has to save and take advantage of compound interest. Winnie Sun, managing director of Sun Group Wealth Partners says she always points young investors to Roth IRAs, because not only can it get them started on long term investing, but it can “help them sock away money that can be accessed in an emergency.” There are still advantages to opening a Roth IRA even at an older age, as long as an individual falls within the income and contribution limits. If you’re over the age of 59½ or getting there, then once the account has been open for five years, there will be no penalty for withdrawing earnings tax-free, and if you plan to continue earning past 73 or don’t need to withdraw funds at that time, then there will be no harm in not withdrawing a certain amount per year as Roth IRAs do not have RMD restrictions. While some people view the inability to claim contributions as a tax deduction as the downside to Roth IRAs, others argue that not having to pay taxes on your distributions is the upside to that later on. Perhaps the best way of looking at this feature is that retirees may leave their heirs tax-free funds, which may be particularly important for some people. Income, though, may be the most important factor in opening a Roth IRA later in life, as some individuals don’t earn more until they are older. It may not be until an older age that an individual has the extra income that they can now invest, especially once the mortgage is paid or their children are independent. Many find themselves in the unfortunate position of not having saved up what they’ll need, and so they’ll want to make the most of their earnings while they can; that’s when a Roth IRA can help.

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The best thing to do when it comes to retirement planning is to start early, but because of various situations, this isn’t always possible for everyone. Even if an individual has been saving or has a decent 401(k) plan through their job, opening a Roth IRA at a later time can help many people plan on having extra funds during their retirement years. Insureyouknow.org can help you store all your retirement plans in one place so that your retirement accounts and other finances are easy to access and can be updated regularly. This way, you can focus on earning and enjoying your funds both now and later in life.

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Scammer on the Rise: How to Protect Yourself in Retirement

June 1, 2023

A change in your retirement savings balance could be the result of recent stock market volatility, or because your account has been accessed by someone else and compromised. The National Association of Plan Advisors reported that hackers have been targeting retirement accounts, either through large-scale attacks on financial institutions or by using stolen personal information. Bryce Austin with TCE Strategy said that a hacker can get into your 401(k) two ways, either by “retrieving your credentials with the financial institution” and pretending to be you or by convincing you to do it “on their behalf.” Scammers have been known to contact people posing as the police, claiming that their funds are at risk and convincing them to transfer their retirement money into a “safer” account. If someone does so, then there’s no legal recourse, because they are doing so deliberately; the savings are “just gone,” Austin said. It’s important that retirees are aware of this trend and make sure that their accounts are secure.

Set Up Online Access to Your Accounts

First, make sure that you have online access to all of your retirement accounts. This will allow you to monitor your own accounts regularly. If you ever notice any unusual activity or changes that you have not made yourself, contact the institution immediately. Some firms will not reimburse account holders for fraudulent transactions if they aren’t reported during a certain time frame. Establishing online access also prevents someone else from doing so before you can, since thieves have been known to use stolen information to access and retrieve funds. Create your own Social Security account at ssa.gov while you’re at it, so that hackers don’t divert your Social Security benefits to their own accounts. When out and about, do not use public WiFi connections to check your accounts. Unfortunately, hackers can access these networks and steal your personal information by viewing your online activity.

Access your Accounts Safely

Once you have access to your accounts online, make sure you use a strong password and change it regularly. Your password should be something that a hacker cannot easily guess, such as your or a loved one’s birthday. Next, use multi-factor authentication if your institutions offer this step. Requiring multiple verifications to access your account can stop thieves in their tracks, as well as alert you if someone else is trying to access your account. If you are able to, financial author Cameron Huddleston suggests naming a trusted contact. A trusted contact cannot access your account, but your institution can contact them and make sure that it is actually you who is trying to access your funds.

Periodically Check Your Credit Reports

In addition to monitoring your own accounts, checking your credit reports regularly is one more easy thing you can do to catch any unusual activity on your accounts. A credit report shows all accounts that you have opened, balances, and can even find data breaches. A data breach can compromise your personal information and alert you to change your passwords or close a compromised account. A sudden fluctuation in your credit score can also be a sign that something isn’t right.

How to Recognize (and Avoid) a Scam

If you receive a suspicious phone call, text message, email, social media message, or letter that doesn’t seem right, then trust your gut. The caller or sender may not be who they say they are and it’s likely a scam. If you want to be sure, then you can call the company’s customer service line and verify that they meant to contact you. No matter how official the message may seem, that doesn’t mean it’s authentic. Many scammers pretend to be from the Social Security Administration, Medicare, IRS, or credit card companies. Lawyer and author Steve Weisman says, “The IRS and the SSA will never initiate contact with people through a phone call, so you can be sure that the person calling you is a scammer.” The same goes for Medicare. Your Medicare number is valuable and can enable a criminal to steal health benefits, so if anyone is asking you for your Medicare number, then this is a sure red flag that they are a scammer.

Perhaps the number one rule for protecting yourself against a scam is to never provide anyone with personal information without verifying their true identity. Again, this can be done by hanging up or ignoring the message and calling the company directly. Also, be mindful of your mail. Any documents with sensitive information should be shredded, and if anyone else is retrieving your mail, make sure they are someone you trust. Opting for paperless statements is another safeguard against anyone stealing personal information via your mail.

Anyone who is trying to rush you into making an important financial decision likely does not have your best interests at heart. It’s important to research any company that you plan to invest with. Before buying stocks, you can even check the SEC’s EDGAR database. Be especially skeptical of anyone who is pitching something in a time-sensitive manner, such as a “once in a lifetime opportunity.” A true financial advisor will respect your desire to think it over and even encourage you to do so. Before making any important financial decisions, it’s not a bad idea to refer to a trusted professional anyway. That being said, anyone telling you to “leave everything to me” may not deserve that much of your trust. At the end of the day, you should always be your own expert on your retirement and finances. 

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The best defense against retirement theft is your willingness to take a few extra steps to protect your accounts, such as using multi-factor authentication and monitoring your own accounts on a regular basis. Most of all, remain diligent about who you’re providing sensitive personal information to. These are simple ways to protect your nest egg and gain valuable peace of mind. Insureyouknow.org can help you store all of your financial information in one place so that your retirement accounts and other finances are easy to monitor. Then you can get back to worrying about what’s really important, such as how you’ll be enjoying your retirement.

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The Lowdown on the Banking Crisis and What it Means for Retirees

May 15, 2023

In the midst of the Great Retirement, an excess of 2.6 million retirees left the workforce during the pandemic. “A lot of people had reasons to retire and the way markets evolved allowed them to,” says research economist Miguel Faria-E-Castro. While health and safety concerns were very real for many, others chose to leave early because of changing work environments or needing to become full time caregivers; others simply took advantage of rising asset values.

The pandemic isn’t solely to blame for the influx of retirees, though. The Employee Benefit Research Institute regularly finds that many Americans end up retiring earlier than planned. Whether you’ve already retired or intend to soon, it may be important to factor the recent banking crisis into your planning.

Understanding the Banking Crisis

In March 2023, the United States’ Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) suddenly collapsed, mainly in part due to a bank run, when their customers rushed to withdraw their funds over panic due to the bank’s loss of stocks. The failure of this California-based bank raised concerns for Americans about the financial health of their own assets, even though the Federal Reserve, Treasury department, and FDIC moved quickly to ensure that all depositors would have full access to their funds, a move meant to calm fears of a full market collapse. Financial experts believe that because of these unprecedented actions, the failure of SVB does not pose a threat to the financial market at this time.

While deposits of up to $250,000 are FDIC insured, many people are wondering if their 401(k) is protected, and the short answer is: It depends. If your 401(k) is uninsured and invested in “stocks, bonds, or mutual funds, you’re not covered against those investments losing value,” then your funds are not protected under the FDIC guarantee, according to finance professor Valentina Bruno. Retirement plans that the FDIC does cover include IRAs, Roth IRAs, SEP IRAs, and SIMPLE IRAs, up to $250,000, but if you had more than one of these (each valued at over $250,000) at the same banking institution, then only one of them would be insured. This is why it may be a good idea to spread your assets out over different institutions.

Planning for Retirement

If you haven’t retired yet, hopefully you’ve begun planning and saving already, because the earlier you start, the more time your money has to grow. If you’re offered a 401(k) retirement plan through employment, it’s important to take advantage and get enrolled. Even better, if the plan allows you to make contributions, do so and you’ll be rewarded with lower taxes at the end of the year. The biggest mistake people make, according to financial expert Jim Yih, is starting too late. “All my clients, no matter how much they have saved, say they wish they’d started earlier.” Yih’s first recommendation is to put away 10 percent of your gross income, starting as soon as you can.

Become the Expert of Your Retirement

While learning all about retirement plans may be intimidating, many financial advisors actually recommend becoming an expert of your own retirement options. If you are not offered a 401(k) through employment, there are other options, including an IRA, which is a plan that you would open yourself through a broker or other provider. Since there are many types of IRA accounts, the most common being a Traditional or Roth IRA, it’s important to learn about the different conditions of each account before deciding which is the best fit for you. Financial author Liz Weston encourages everyone “to consult a fee-only financial planner or accredited financial counselor if at all possible before retiring, simply because there are so many decisions that have to be made.”

No matter the kind of account you choose, the first step is to determine how much money you’ll need when you retire. Experts advise replacing 70 to 90% of your annual pre-retirement income through Social Security and savings. The next step is to determine what your financial goals are now, such as paying off a mortgage or other debts and saving for your childrens’ college tuition. Factoring in these financial boundaries help put retirement budgets into perspective. Yih warns that, “It’s almost impossible [to do it all] unless you have a big income, and even then, things don’t always work out,” so he tells people to choose two or three focal areas that are most important to them.

Exercising Financial Resilience

In order to increase financial resilience, one must learn to anticipate the unexpected. While 60% of families faced a financial emergency last year, one third faced two. If any of your retirement accounts were affected by the banking crisis, then you may have experienced an unexpected loss firsthand. It’s best to prepare for this and diversify your retirement plan. A good rule is to make sure 80% of your savings are invested in methods that have stood the test of time, while 20% of your funds are involved in higher-risk investments.

Live Your Best Retired Life

Thanks to Social Security, whatever your retirement accounts are, you can still plan on collecting something after the age of 65. This also means that if you were affected by the banking crisis and are 65 or older, then you can still count on these benefits. If you intend to retire earlier than 65, then you want to include this factor in your planning. For instance, how much money will you need to carry health insurance before you’re eligible for Medicaid at 65? Since “Social Security is guaranteed income that is adjusted for inflation,” Weston advises delaying Social Security benefits for as long as you can.

Consider part-time work, not just for the supplementary income it will provide, but for the purpose it will likely bring to your life. The lifestyle component of your retirement is as important as having enough money to retire. “The most successful retirees are not the ones with the most money. The busiest retirees are the most successful ones,” says Yih.

Planning for retirement and financial resilience can provide peace of mind and allow you to focus on what really matters. The resolve you’ll feel after tackling financial planning is priceless. Insureyouknow.org can help you store all of your financial information in one place so that your retirement planning remains organized. Plus, when everything is easy to assess, periodically reassessing your finances when circumstances change becomes painless and straightforward.

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5 Retirement Myths Busted

May 2, 2023

Once you retire you assume that you will finally have all the time in the world. You’ll travel the globe, spend your days without a care in the world, and have enough income to support yourself in your retirement. The truth is, all of the above information can be false.

The American College of Financial Services Center for Retirement Income conducted a Retirement Income Literacy Survey to test consumer knowledge about retirement income concepts. Four out of five older Americans failed the survey. The following myths have people getting the wrong idea about how they’re going to live out their golden years.

Myth 1: Your Taxes After Retirement Will be Lower

Many aging individuals assume that their taxes will be lower after they retire because they will have a reduced overall income. However, this isn’t always true. The savings accumulated for retirement may be higher than your earnings during your working years. Additionally, sales and property taxes could also be more as well as the cost of living, further increasing spending.

Myth 2: Social Security Covers Your Expenses

Typically seniors rely on Social Security to cover any expenses they may have in a post-retirement world. Despite this, Social Security is not intended to be an individual’s primary source of income support. “Payroll taxes are expected to cover about 78% of scheduled benefits,” said Cameron Huddleston of Go Banking Rates. “If the funding gap isn’t filled, retirees could get lower Social Security payments.”

Myth 3: Health Issues Don’t Affect You Until Later in Life

There are many seniors who believe that they can work as long as they need to past the age of 65. However, most aren’t able to work as long as they need to or want to in order to accumulate sufficient savings. Some are forced into retirement because of medical problems that may affect their ability to work including arthritis, limited mobility, and hearing issues.

Myth 4: Medicare Will Cover Health Care Costs

Medicare is a federal health insurance program designed for U.S. adults who are 65 years of age or older intended to help meet health costs. Some older Americans assume that Medicare will be able to cover all health costs well into retirement. However, this program doesn’t cover several deductibles, copayments, and the cost of care for dental, vision, and hearing conditions. “Medicare does not cover the cost of long-term care, including extended stays at nursing homes and assisted living facilities,” Rachel Christian of RetireGuide added.

Myth 5: Retirement Planning Can Wait

One of the biggest mistakes to make is waiting to create a retirement plan at a later age. It is most efficient to start investing money in retirement at an early age so compound interest can increase your retirement accounts throughout your time in the workforce. Saving money in your 20s and contributing 15%-20% of your paycheck is key for ideal retirement savings. However, every decade an individual delays in saving requires them to save a greater percentage of their paycheck.

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It is important to know all the facts about retirement when starting to plan for your future. You need to take into account what is contributing to your retirement savings and what steps you need to take to ensure a comfortable living. With insureyouknow.org by your side, you can create an efficient retirement plan without misconceptions of retirement myths that may affect the process.

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The 8 Best Places to Live & Retire

April 15, 2023

Imagine this: you’re sitting on a hammock at the beach with the sun on your face without any concern about getting back to work. You’ve entered your retirement, better known as the best phase of your life.

There are many high liveability indicators that help characterize the best place for retirement. Many of these factors include a prosperous economy to find work in case a retiree needs to reenter the workforce, mild weather, a relatively low crime rate, quality hospitals and assisted living facilities, and sufficient wellness opportunities that won’t have you missing the workforce.

There are several places around the United States that serve as ideal spots to retire that possess many of these factors when you say goodbye to the 9 to 5.

Top Places to Escape to for Retirement

According to U.S. News, the following locations have the most affordable housing options, low retiree taxes, and are ranked high for overall happiness and quality of health care.

  1. Lancaster, Pennsylvania
  2. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
  3. Pensacola, Florida
  4. Tampa, Florida
  5. York, Pennsylvania
  6. Naples, Florida
  7. Daytona Beach, Florida
  8. Ann Arbor, Michigan

Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Lancaster is located near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In this city, there is plenty of Amish produce, local stores at the Lancaster Central Market, and a wide variety of cuisines and restaurants. It offers advanced health care for seniors and has high rates of happiness for its residents. Many of the residents also enjoy the diverse collection of cuisines and the art galleries and museums in the area including The Pennsylvania College of Art & Design and Franklin & Marshall College.

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Harrisburg is the state capital of Pennsylvania with the Susquehanna River and several hiking trails including the Appalachian Trail. This ideal location has large metro areas nearby for visiting and the housing costs are very affordable for the residents. Many retirees enjoy traveling to New York City, Washington, Philadelphia, and Baltimore for day trips along the coast.

Pensacola, Florida

Pensacola is located near the border of Florida and serves as an accessible beach retirement spot for retirees. It features low taxes, high desirability, and affordable housing. It also has a very convenient location for access to the Gulf of Mexico and Pensacola Bay and a warm desirable climate. This area also has a small military presence that encourages several military families to settle in the area.

Tampa, Florida

Tampa is a city with a combination of a beach and a metro for residents. Highlights of the city include many entertainment options including zoos, theme parks, and aquariums. Tampa also serves as a popular port spot for cruise ships for retirees to travel post-retirement. There are several active senior communities and neighborhoods in the area including Bayshore Beautiful, Bayshore Gardens, Beach Park, Oakford Park, and Sunset Park.

York, Pennsylvania

York is a city in Pennsylvania with preserved architecture from the 1700s that previously served as the nation’s capital. With a population of just under 500,000, it played an important role during the Revolutionary War and has a rich history for its residents. Retirees can enjoy a wide variety of places to explore in this city including galleries and theaters like the Agricultural and Industrial Museum and Colonial Complex, vendors at York’s Central Market, and parks and trails including Heritage Rail Trail County.

Naples, Florida

Naples is more expensive than other retirement spots in Florida but it allows for a high quality of life. Without an income tax for the state, retirees are able to keep more of their earnings if they obtain another job. Over half the existing population in the city is already over the age of 65. These residents are able to enjoy the warm weather, sunsets and beaches at the Naples Pier, several restaurants and shops, and private golf courses including the Hibiscus Golf Club and Naples Grande Golf Club.

Daytona Beach, Florida

Daytona Beach on the east coast of Florida has mild winter weather and is known for its prevalence of motor sports. Many retirees enjoy the low housing costs and views of the Atlantic Ocean. This area also has several 55-and-older communities already in place including Latitude Margaritaville which sells several single-family homes with resort-style amenities.

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Ann Arbor, a college town with the University of Michigan, has a vibrant economy and lifestyle with abundant health care options and job opportunities. Retirees enjoy a high quality of life with ample musical performances and sports events. Additionally, this area has one of the largest healthcare complexes in the world with high-quality treatment facilities through Michigan Medicine, which is especially appealing to retirees.

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After leaving the workforce, it is important to find the best place for retirement. At the places mentioned in this post, many retirees enjoy the widespread opportunities and high liveability indicators. At insureyouknow.org, you can track your savings to see which retirement location is the best fit for you and your future.

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Retiring Early: A Long Vacation or a Trap?

February 14, 2023

They say retirement is the start of your new life. No more 9 to 5 workdays, late nights, and missed holidays––retirement is just one never-ending vacation that you get to enjoy. However, there are certain obstacles a person may face if they decide to go down the road of early retirement.

The Covid-19 pandemic pushed many Americans to retire early as much of the job market closed down, causing individuals to lose their jobs. According to Bloomberg, more than 3 million Americans retired early because of the pandemic. This amount equals more than half the workers that are still missing from the labor force from before the pandemic.

This public-health crisis has caused many Americans to re-evaluate their life priorities, pushing them toward the solution of retirement. The Economist explains that 49.9% of Americans now expect to retire before the age of 62.

Many of these people are deciding to retire before accumulating the earnings they would need to live a comfortable life. “Almost two-thirds of people — between ages 57 and 66 — choose to retire early out of their own volition, despite having saved next to nothing,” said Laurence Kotlikoff, a contributor for CNBC. “And most of them are able-bodied, without disabilities that would prevent them from staying on the job.”

This growing trend towards early retirement has pros and several cons that will continue to affect these individuals throughout their lives.

What are the Pros?

After retiring, many people are given more freedom to explore new opportunities. These benefits can have a lasting effect on the body and mind of a person. They include the following:

An Increase in Health and Well-Being

Without a job to do every day, you are granted more time to improve your health through exercise, eating healthier foods, and taking time to work on your mental health without the constant stress of work. You can get more sleep and focus on improving the quality of your life while adopting healthier habits.

New Career Potential

Moving away from a high-stress job can allow you more part-time opportunities. Some people embark on new career ventures, try out a new job field, or work on a passion project, all on their own schedule.

More Time to Travel and Pursue New Passions

Without set timings, you can take spontaneous trips and visit new places. Many people take this additional time to enjoy new hobbies, volunteer in the community, and spend more time with their family and friends.

What are the Cons?

Despite the pros mentioned above, the current economy has caused several hurdles for those that decide to retire at a younger age. They include the following:

Smaller Social Security Benefits

If you decide to take Social Security earlier, you will have fewer benefits than you would at a later age. “If you were born in 1960 or later, for example, and you start taking benefits at age 62, the earliest age at which you’re eligible, your monthly benefits will be 30% less than if you wait until age 67,” said Greg Daugherty, a writer for Investopedia. This means losing potential benefits on a monthly basis.

Health Insurance

You become eligible for receiving Medicare at the age of 65, but until then, you have to find your own source of health insurance. With high premiums, this can be a difficult task compared to the benefits you received with your workplace plan.

Lack of Income

Leaving the job at an earlier age means spending more years without a constant source of income. If plans change or you run out of savings, then it won’t be as easy to enter back into the job market after being out of it for so long. Furthermore, the U.S. News states that potential tax penalties can occur if a person takes money out of their retirement account before 59 ½ years old.

Housing Expenses

Mortgage expenses, home maintenance costs, and property taxes pile up after retiring early. In fact, “44% percent of retired homeowners between ages 60 and 70 still carry a mortgage,” said John Waggoner from the AARP while crediting an American Financing survey. These extra charges can take up a huge chunk of your savings.

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It is important to weigh all the pros and cons of early retirement before you make a decision. It is essential to come up with a plan that allows you to retire at a time that is right for you while having enough savings to ensure you live a satisfied life. At insureyouknow.org, you can track your accumulated savings and create the most ideal retirement plan.

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Look Forward to Increases in Your 401(k) Limits

October 31, 2022

The amount you can contribute to your 401(k) plan in 2023 has increased to $22,500, up from $20,500 for 2022. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced this change and issued technical guidance regarding all of the cost‑of‑living adjustments affecting dollar limitations for pension plans and other retirement-related items for the tax year 2023 in Notice 2022-55 posted on IRS.gov.

Highlights of changes for 2023

This contribution limit applies to employees who participate in 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans, and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan.

The limit on annual contributions to an IRA increased to $6,500, up from $6,000. The IRA catch-up contribution limit for individuals aged 50 and over is not subject to an annual cost‑of‑living adjustment and remains $1,000.

The catch-up contribution limit for employees aged 50 and over who participate in 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans, and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan has increased to $7,500, up from $6,500. Participants in 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans, and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan who are 50 and older can contribute up to $30,000, starting in 2023.

The catch-up contribution limit for employees aged 50 and over who participate in SIMPLE (Savings Incentive Match PLan for Employees) plans has increased to $3,500, up from $3,000. (This plan allows employees and employers to contribute to traditional IRAs set up for employees. It is ideally suited as a start-up retirement savings plan for small employers not currently sponsoring a retirement plan.)

The income ranges for determining eligibility to make deductible contributions to traditional Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs), to contribute to Roth IRAs, and to claim the Saver’s Credit all increased for 2023.

Taxpayers can deduct contributions to a traditional IRA if they meet certain conditions. If during the year either the taxpayer or the taxpayer’s spouse was covered by a retirement plan at work, the deduction may be reduced, or phased out, until it is eliminated, depending on filing status and income. (If neither the taxpayer nor the spouse is covered by a retirement plan at work, the phase-outs of the deduction do not apply.)

Phase-out ranges

In a traditional IRA deduction phase-out, taxpayers can deduct contributions if they meet certain conditions. If during the year either they or their spouse was covered by a retirement plan at work, the deduction may be phased out until it is eliminated, depending on filing status, and adjusted gross income (AGI):

  • For single people covered by a workplace retirement plan, the IRA phase-out range is $73,000 to $83,000, up from $68,000 to $78,000.
  • For married couples filing jointly, where the spouse making the IRA contribution is covered by a workplace retirement plan, the phase-out range is $116,000 to $136,000, up from $109,000 to $129,000.
  • For an IRA contributor who is not covered by a workplace retirement plan and is married to someone who is covered, the deduction is phased out if the couple’s income is between $218,000 and $228,000, up from $204,000 and $214,000.
  • For married individuals filing a separate return who are covered by a workplace retirement plan, if they lived with their spouse at any time during the year, the phase-out range is not subject to an annual cost-of-living adjustment and remains $0 to $10,000.

For a Roth IRA income phase-out, AGI ranges for taxpayers include the following provisions:

  • The income phase-out range for singles and heads of household is $138,000 to $153,000, up from $129,000 to $144,000.
  • The income phase-out range for married couples filing jointly is $218,000 to $228,000, up from $204,000 to $214,000.
  • For married individuals filing a separate return, if they lived with their spouse at any time during the year, the phase-out range is not subject to an annual cost-of-living adjustment and remains $0 to $10,000.

The 2023 income limit for the Saver’s Credit (also known as the Retirement Savings Contributions Credit) for low- and moderate-income workers has increased to:

  • $73,000 for married couples filing jointly, up from $68,000.
  • $54,750 for heads of household, up from $51,000.
  • $36,500 for singles and married individuals filing separately, up from $34,000.
  • For a married individual filing a separate return who is covered by a workplace retirement plan, the phase-out range is not subject to an annual cost-of-living adjustment and remains between $0 and $10,000.

The amount individuals can contribute to their SIMPLE retirement accounts has increased to $15,500, up from $14,000.

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After you review the IRS retirement plan changes for 2023, keep a record at insureyouknow.org of your retirement accounts so you’ll be able to take advantage of the new limits for your contributions and deductions.

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