When we’re young it’s all-too tempting to act as though we’ll remain young forever. We can be blasé when it comes to planning for our future especially when we’re in our teens or twenties. However, while we may enjoy robust health and lots of disposable income, if there’s one thing that we can all guarantee it’s that none of us will remain young forever. As such, it behooves even the youngest of us to think about how they will start to lay the infrastructure now for their quality of life in retirement. At the very least it’s a good idea to take a look at the options available to us when we get older. Here we’ll look at exactly that. However young or old, healthy or infirm you may be, this is well worth considering because…
Who knows what tomorrow may bring?
The sad but simple truth is that none of us ever knows what the future has in store for us. As we get older our bodies become susceptible to a wide range of illnesses from various forms of cancer to heart disease and dementia which, while they can afflict us earlier in life, are increasingly common in older generations. Of course, you can give yourself every available chance of a healthy senior life by;
- Exercising regularly
- Swearing off of fast and processed foods
- Abstaining from or at least cutting down on alcohol consumption
- Quitting smoking.
- Eating more plants and less of everything else
- Taking steps to manage stress
However, even when we take active steps to look after our own health, genetics, lifestyle factors or sheer, blind bad luck can leave us with illnesses that require invoke substantial costs to treat. In a report titled The Lifetime Medical Spending of Retirees a group of economists ascertained that people incur an average medical expenditure of $122,000 between the age of 70 and the time of their death. Some will face substantially higher costs with 5% paying out-of-pocket medical expenses of over $300,000 and 1% incurring costs of over $600,000. We all want to leave a legacy when we have our time on the planet… But one of us wants to leave a legacy of unpaid medical bills.
Can’t you trust in Medicare?
Most Americans are enrolled in Medicare on their 65th birthday. As such, we may assume that Medicare will have our backs in our dotage and while it can certainly help with the day-to-day medical expenditure that’s just part and parcel of getting old, it does not pay for long-term chronic health care needs. Since none of us knows for sure that we’ll be forever able to evade chronic illness, it’s worth considering every option while we’re in good health.
Savings are a vital component of all frugal families’ budgetary planning. Savings can insulate us from unexpected expense and even if it cannot meet all of our medical needs it can usually buy us some time while we review other options. A savings account should be paid into every month. If times are lean, that’s absolutely fine. Just pay in a little less. If things are going well for you financially, pay a little more into your savings. A savings account can be a Godsend but it only works for you if you pay into it consistently.
Oh, and if you’re savings account is with your high street bank there’s a good chance that it’s not working as hard for you as it should be. Most high savings accounts have famously anemic rates of interest. On the other hand, many online accounts offer much more robust interest rates because they have fewer overhead costs to pay. Here are some of this year’s best.
It may be a bitter pill to swallow for many (especially those who are looking forward to their retirement at the age of 25), but later retirement can be a tremendously effective buffer against being left out-of-pocket when medical bills start to rack up. Being able to accept a paycheck every month means that you can delay in filing for Social Security. This will boost the size of your retirement benefit when you eventually choose to retire and the longer you can stay working the better. In fact, your benefit is more than 75% higher if you delay your claim until you reach the age of 70 (the latest age at which you can claim) than at 62 (the earliest you can claim). There’s also compelling evidence to suggest that retiring later keeps your brain active and reduces your risk of chronic conditions like dementia. Of course, this means that you can also spend longer contributing to an employer’s retirement savings plan. As this paper clearly states, later retirement can result in a better quality of living in a number of ways.
Renting out or selling your property
If you have significant assets tied up in property by the time you reach retirement age, you may think it’s worth downsizing to a smaller home and selling or renting out your home in the meantime. We tend to need less space in our dotage and if property prices continue to soar over the coming decades you may well be sitting on a goldmine if you’re currently a property owner.
If the idea of leaving your home is anathema to you, this doesn’t mean that you can no longer make money from it. Instead of letting out or selling your home you may benefit from a reverse mortgage. This is where you release a portion of the equity in your home in the form of a loan. The caveat, however, is that there needs to be at least one healthy homeowner living in the property so it’s ideal for those with partners in good health.
The CHRONIC ACT
Recent legislation may prove helpful by the time you reach retirement age. Earlier in the year, Congress passed the Creating High-Quality Results and Outcomes Necessary to Improve Chronic Care Act (The CHRONIC Act). This may take some limited steps towards providing aid for those with chronic conditions within the purview of Medicare.
Even if you’re very young now, the financially savvy are always thinking about tomorrow. And now is the perfect time to start laying the foundations for happy and healthy senior life.