Priorities often change
Part one in a series of three.
Financial matters affect the lives of all Americans. But, as a senior, finances may play an especially large role in your well-being. At this stage of life, priorities often change. And new realities may influence your spending and saving habits. That's why it's a good idea to take a step back and make sure you're on a financial path that truly serves your interests. By managing your money well, you'll have an easier time achieving the lifestyle and other goals you want. And isn't that the whole point? The more you know about your financial affairs and the options available to you, the brighter your senior years are likely to be. You get to make your money work for you. That's true whether you're currently retired, planning to retire, or working by choice or out of necessity. It may seem like a lot to think about. But you can do this. Here are some things to consider:
Setting Your Goals- Are you happy with your current lifestyle and overall situation? Do you hope for something better? Either way, narrowing down your goals is important. After all, you can't get where you want to go if you aren't even sure about where that is. So take the time to really hone in on what your future wants and needs may be. Consider all aspects of your life—from your health to your living arrangements to your relationships. What do you hope to accomplish? What do you hope to sustain or improve upon? What do you hope to leave behind for your heirs? Be honest. Be realistic. And be specific. Remember to consider fun things like your hobbies, leisure activities, and potential travel.
Also, keep in mind that, as you age, you may need elderly care or assistance with certain aspects of everyday living. Do your goals reflect that possibility and take into account how you'd like to be cared for in the event that you experience health challenges? Map out a vision of what you want for the rest of your life. Doing so can help you avoid some of the pitfalls that other seniors experience.
Short- & Long-Term Planning- Here's where some of your goals may start coming into sharper focus. Consider important aspects such as:
Your potential life span—Is it possible that you might outlive your money? Many people underestimate how long they'll live. As a result, they draw down their savings too quickly and end up with unexpected changes to their lifestyles
Emergency savings—Do you put any money away for a rainy day? Unfortunate events can occur without warning. But if you have an emergency fund, then you'll have a better chance of getting through hard times without taking a big financial hit.
Lifestyle planning—America's seniors have a growing number of living options when it comes to their residences and activities. But different options have different costs associated with them. So it's important to have a realistic idea of what you can afford—both now and in the future.
Taxes and investments—A lot of seniors depend on income from investments such as 401(k) plans, individual retirement accounts (IRAs), or other savings plans. And they often want to keep growing their money through low- or moderate-risk investments. But taxes can have a big impact on how much money from investments or benefits you actually get to keep—and how long you may be able to rely on those funds.
Health care—For many seniors, health care costs represent the biggest financial challenge. That's because Medicare by itself frequently doesnt cover all health-related expenses. As a result, a lot of seniors and elderly Americans end up having to pay for supplemental medical insurance and/or cover the extra costs out of pocket. And that leaves many of them unable to afford necessary treatments or put in the position of having to choose between food, home heating, and health care.
Long-term care—This issue is closely related to the previous one. Many seniors underestimate the costs of their health care as they age. They simply don't anticipate needing a lot of care during their later years, especially if they've been living a healthy lifestyle. But anybody can be struck with a debilitating illness or disability. If it happens to you or a loved one, you may need to pay for in-home care, assisted living, or even nursing home care. So it's a good idea to look into long-term care insurance in order to provide for that possibility and give yourself some options
Life insurance—Do you have a spouse, special-needs child, or any other dependents who rely on your income or financial support? If so, are they protected in the event that you pass away before them? True, this isn't a pleasant subject to think about, but it is an essential one.
Estate and end-of-life planning—Do you have a legal will that describes how your assets and personal property should be divided when you pass away? Having one can give you peace of mind now and prevent family conflicts and confusion later on. It's also wise to have a living will that describes how you would like challenging health care decisions to be made in the event that you become unable to communicate your wishes. As part of that, you may want somebody you trust to have certain powers of attorney over your financial affairs.