Category Archives: Retirement

It’s More Than Just Finances: The Psychology Of Retirement

It’s More Than Just Finances: The Psychology Of Retirement

There are certain phases of life that most of us just naturally fall into with little to no psychological effort. Retirement, however, isn’t one of those phases. It’s a time of life that requires both careful forethought and changes to mindset.

Many think of retirement purely on a monetary level, particularly how their finances will change. Indeed, just managing current and future finances can be a full-time job during retirement. However, retirement also involves many psychological aspects.

For the last forty or more years, your career has been one of the main things that defined your life. Just think about how many times you’ve used your occupation to partly introduce yourself, give meaning to your life, or describe who you are. There’s often an initial feeling of overwhelming identity loss when retiring. If you’re not defined by the career you’ve spent the majority of your life building anymore, then you’re going to need to reinvent who you are now and who you plan to become in the future.

Start out by composing a list of what you’ve always wanted to do, but have never had the money or time to get done. Maybe you want to be a world traveler or volunteer for a cause close to your heart. Maybe you want to complete your education for personal satisfaction, start an entirely new career, or try your hand at being a business owner. Whatever is going to help you define the new you, it should be something that’s feasible and practical to accomplish.

Be careful about thinking that retirement is the end of monotonous work and the beginning of fun and exciting activity. Research has shown that there are potentially very serious consequences (such as boredom, depression, and feelings of being nonproductive) for many that don’t work after they retire.

Many retirees mistakenly think that a certain leisure activity that they’ve always loved or wanted to try will keep them interested and occupied. But, after just a few months, most usually find that monotony isn’t something unique to work activities. One way to avoid the pitfall of boredom during retirement is to test-drive various activities while you’re still working. It makes sense that if you get tired of playing golf every weekend for a year, then it certainly isn’t going to hold your interest during retirement. Likewise, if you plan on opening a business or starting a new career, then you can test-drive your new identity by taking night classes or working weekends in a business like the one you plan to open. Finding a new you will also help you to stay happy and productive, which will be essential considering you will now most likely be spending more time than ever with your significant other and family.

Key Elements You Need To Know About Financial Planning Before And After Retirement

Key Elements You Need To Know About Financial Planning Before And After Retirement

Senior finances is a hot topic. Thanks to advances in medicine and better living conditions of modern society, people are living longer. Of course, the downside to living longer is that more money is needed. The conundrum that living longer causes in relation to financial freedom and retirement planning has been addressed by innumerable experts. While some are professional experts, others are scam artists trying to build their nest egg off the back of pre-retirees and retirees.

There are some key elements about financial planning before and after retirement that are recommended by most professional experts:

Eliminate Debt

Keep in mind that if you aren’t planning on working after you’ve retired from your primary career, then your income will be fixed. There won’t be anymore overtime, bonuses, holiday pay, commissions, or raises to supplement your income. Make sure that you’ve planned well and eliminated major sources of debt prior to retirement. Your home and credit card debt should be completely paid-off before retiring. In the event you still have a considerable mortgage remaining, you might consider downsizing or taking out a mortgage with a longer term to lessen the payments. Don’t charge more than you can entirely payoff each month if you continue to use credit cards.

Have A Realistic Budget

There’s a serious problem if you’ve retired and find yourself going over budget each month or drawing on principle. There’s also a problem if you’re a pre-retiree whose expected fixed income isn’t congruent with expected expenses. You need to be realistic and decide how to get your spending under control so that you can live within your fixed income.

Save, Save, and Save

Most experts recommend saving at every opportunity. This may mean that you need to change your lifestyle and make sacrifices to be financially secure during your retirement years. Cutbacks can be made in ways that you don’t feel like a huge sacrifice is being made. For example, if you eat out four times a month, then try only eating out twice a month. Those already retired should also look at their spending habits and budget to see if any money can be put into savings.

Keep Your Job As Long As Possible

Remember, each extra year you work increases your Social Security benefit and is that much longer that you get to take advantage of health insurance, life insurance, and other perks that your employer might offer. Working longer also gives you more opportunity to save and decreases the number of years your retirement income must cover. If already retired, you might consider a part-time job.

The Retirement Years: How to Manage Your Insurance Needs

The Retirement Years: How to Manage Your Insurance Needs

Retirees face many challenges, but money issues are by far one of the most common concerns and stressors facing retirees today. A retiree can certainly improve their personal finances by ensuring they live beneath their means and take good care of their body, but the reason that money issues are such a universal concern is largely due to the unpredictability of life. And, this is exactly why retirees should make sure they own the right types of insurance to adequately cover themselves against unforeseen events and losses.

The three major financial risks that most retirees are concerned with are those to their personal property, longevity/quality of life, and health. Some might think of insurance products covering such risks only in terms of premiums and immediately deem them unaffordable luxuries. On the other hand, some will view certain insurances as either an essential, important, or optional coverage to help them manage their health-, property-, and longevity-related risks at a time in life when they will need it the most and have little, if any, resources at their disposal to otherwise recover from large financial losses.

Essential

Medicare Advantage and Medicare supplement (Medigap) are insurances designed to help pay Medicare coinsurance and deductibles. Medicare Advantage will typically have a lower cost, but use a more limited provider network pool. By comparison, Medigap policies typically cost more, but feature a broader selection of services.

Since a retiree may also see their need for prescription drugs rise with age, prescription drug coverage is also often considered an essential insurance to help cover a share of prescription drug costs. Some retirees may be able to continue using the prescription drug plan offered by their previous employer. Meanwhile, the new Medicare Part D drug plan may be the only affordable option for some retirees. Do keep in mind that the Part D drug plan is voluntary, meaning that you must enroll in it.

Retirement sadly doesn’t change the need to budget for and maintain certain insurance policies, such as those protecting a vehicle or home from loss risks like fire, flood, theft, or accident. However, all insurance policies should be periodically reexamined, especially as the transition into retirement is made, to determine if any additions or deletions should be made from new needs or from previous needs that aren’t applicable any longer.

Important

Long-term care (LTC) insurance is a product designed to help pay for the extraordinarily high costs of home health, assisted living, and nursing home care that retirees are likely to need should they ever become unable to perform activities of daily living or be diagnosed with a chronic illness. It’s important to evaluate how important LTC insurance will be long before it’s ever needed. Most people start pondering their LTC needs in their early 50s since waiting until later in life increases the risk of them potentially having a health condition that would place them in a higher risk class with higher premiums or make them completely uninsurable. If LTC insurance is being considered for purchase, do make sure that the policies under consideration offer inflation protection.

Optional

Those that already have sufficient financial assets and/or life insurance coverage to provide for their surviving spouse, children, or other beneficiaries usually won’t consider additional life insurance coverage as a necessity. However, the estate tax can be fairly expensive, especially when regarding large estates. A life insurance policy can help the heirs to an estate cover this tax.

In closing, it’s important to correctly manage insurance needs at all times in life, but due to elements like living off a fixed income, such management is all the more important during retirement.

Finding Your Second Career After Retirement

Finding Your Second Career After Retirement

Longer and better health, the fear of outliving retirement savings, and a strong desire to remain active and involved have all contributed to today’s retirees viewing retirement very differently than the generations before them. Many retired boomers are using their retirement years to explore new careers that were previously not economically feasible for them.

Even though a second career during retirement will most likely be more about personal fulfillment than money for you, this career should have the same planning and care as your first career. Here are four tips to help you approach your second career with a level head:

1. Reassess Your Job Skills

Whether you already have a career in mind or are unsure exactly what type of job you’d like to have, it’s important to begin by listing out all the skills you’ve accumulated over the years from your primary career. This will help you determine what skills can be transferred to the type of job you have in mind or in which types of jobs your skill-set would be most valuable. Online job boards, employment services, and the classified section of your local newspaper are all great sources to research job opportunities. They also usually provide tips on resume revamping and the interview phase of seeking employment. Since you’re changing careers, your resume will most likely need to be reworked to highlight which skills are transferable/applicable. If you want one-on-one help with the process, then you might consider hiring a job coach that specializes in second careers or midlife career changes.

2. Research Growing Industries

There will always be fields like healthcare that have steady and strong growth rates. However, new industries and specialties looking for workers emerge everyday. Therefore, you shouldn’t overlook researching what industries are being developed in your area. There are many sites, such as Seniors4Hire.org, Workforce50.com, and AARP, that offer you information on what organizations are welcoming to the older workforce. The Occupational Outlook Handbook by the Dept. of Labor also offers detailed information about almost any field of work.

3. Make Industry Connections

Two excellent ways to make connections in the industry you plan to work is by attending industry-related conferences and joining applicable professional organizations. At meetings, you’ll have the opportunity to converse with workers currently in the industry and find out what businesses are hiring, the demand for jobs, businesses that are hospitable to older workers, and so forth. Do keep in mind that your lack of experience in a given field may mean that you’ll need to start out as an unpaid intern or volunteer. It’s also important to consider elements like lower Social Security benefits and the possibility of earning only a fraction of a profession’s average salary during any training period.

4. Evaluate Furthering Your Education

Despite any educational and professional achievements already under your belt, your second career may require furthering your course work, obtaining certifications, or pursuing an altogether different degree. Some employers will hire you, even if you don’t meet their hiring criteria, given that you agree to further your education. Some may even offer a tuition reimbursement for agreeing to work for them a specified amount of time, but you need to make sure that you’re prepared for such a commitment. In the event it’s necessary to further your education without any type of tuition assistance, then you’ll need to carefully assess your finances to see if this is a realistic expense for you.

Plan Ahead for Retirement With a Winning Game Plan

Plan Ahead for Retirement With a Winning Game Plan

If you’re like most people, you’re probably imagining days of leisure; visiting loved ones; traveling; and lots of time doing all you’ve dreamed of, but never had time to fit in, as you contemplate finally making the transition into your retirement years. You want to plan ahead for retirement, but just be careful not to get ahead of yourself and get tripped up by your own feet. Before you hit that time clock for the last time and say your goodbyes to the workweek, you’ll need to make sure that you have a game plan for the future.

Of course, you’ve got to know how the bills are going to get paid before you can say goodbye to your paycheck. However, many retirees forget about the potential psychological and emotional challenges they could face when they’ve retired and are suddenly faced with alternatively filling their days. Some retirees may find the extra free time isn’t as happy as they imagined, but instead incites feelings of boredom, uselessness, depression, or isolation. Like any other major change that life holds, a smooth retirement transition clearly takes a lot of psychological, emotional, and financial preparation. Here are some steps that you can take to help make your transition into retirement as smooth as possible:

* Make sure your retirement budget is current – you might have made your retirement financial plans long ago, but you need to do one final budget check to ensure that you actually have enough funds to last you through your retirement years. Determine the amount of money you’ll need each month to maintain your current lifestyle over the next 25 to 35 years. If what you have isn’t congruent with what you expect you’ll need, then your retirement strategy might need an amendment. Such a scenario doesn’t mean all is lost. You could postpone a full retirement and only partially cut your work hours, add or change to a part-time job to continue building your nest egg, or consider an entirely new and exciting second career.

* Figure in health care expenses – you’ll need to have a sufficient amount of funds set aside to pay for health insurance, even if you have a retirement health plan available through your employer. Since the cost can be increased and availability terminated for these retirement health benefits at any time, you’ll need to have all your bases covered and be capable of paying for an alternative, possibly more expensive, health insurance policy.

* Stick around a little longer – it’s tempting to run for the hills immediately after your retirement announcement, but both you and your employer can benefit if you stay around long enough for your employer to hire and train a replacement for your position. Your employer will be very appreciative that you didn’t leave them with an employment void, and you will be able to make a more gradual and easier transition into retirement.

* Get a jump start on government aid – eligible retirees can wait 90 days or more for government aid, such as Medicare and Social Security benefits, to take effect. If you’re at least 65-years-old and are expecting to receive any government benefit, then make sure that you sign up for the benefits with the appropriate agencies several months before you actually retire.

* Plan for the emotional and psychological pitfalls of retirement – you can help yourself avoid feeling bored or isolated by planning how you’ll stay active and fully enjoy the rewards of retirement. Make a list of the feasible hobbies; recreational activities; classes; groups, clubs, or committees; volunteer work; and other activities that you’d like to pursue. Remember to pick meaningful activities that make you feel happy and help give your life a sense of purpose, not just keep you busy. You might also ask your employer if they offer an alumni group to help you stay in contact with your former coworkers.

Maximize Social Security Benefits with Three Clever Tricks

Maximize Social Security Benefits with Three Clever Tricks

Obviously, retirement brings on a host of new challenges for seniors-specifically in the financial arena. However, armed with the proper tools, seniors can ensure a financially comfortable retirement. The objective is to build a strong foundation of retirement funds that provide a steady stream of income you won’t outlive.

In the past, most seniors and their financial planners have somewhat dismissed Social Security as a powerful retirement planning tool. Although Social Security certainly offers a reliable stream of income, the amount is diminutive and the benefits have a limited range of motion.

However, between the ages of 62 and 70, there are three clever tricks seniors can use to maximize their Social Security benefits: a reset, a file and suspend and restricting an application. By employing these three strategies, seniors may be able to greatly boost their benefits. Here’s how each tactic works:

Trick #1: Do over

The Social Security reset, or do over, is a great tactic for those who regret taking a reduced benefit at the age of 62. If you wish you would have waited and received the full benefit at 65 or 66 or earned the extra delayed retirement amount by putting off retirement until the age of 70, you’re in luck: you may have a second chance.

You can “reset” your benefit amount by coming out of retirement. All you have to do is file Social Security Form 521, also called “Request for Withdrawal of Application.” You’ll have to repay all the Social Security benefits you’ve received to date (no interest or inflation adjustment included.) Then, you can reapply for Social Security at your current age. You can only pull the reset one time-once you file Form 521, it’s irreversible.

The Social Security Administration will almost automatically approve your request, and you will receive the higher Social Security benefit amount for the rest of your life. Plus, your spouse may be able to collect additional spousal or survivor benefits based on your amped up benefit as opposed to your lower “early” retirement amount.

Trick #2: File and suspend

If you are married and you and your spouse retire at different ages, you can use the “file and suspend” tactic to maximize your Social Security benefit.

For example, let’s say you have reached your full retirement age at 66, but you plan to work until 70 to receive the delayed retirement credits. (This bonus can increase your full benefit amount by 32%.) Your wife, who does not work, just turned 62. You can file for Social Security now, but request an immediate suspension of your benefits. Then your wife can apply for her Social Security benefits at your current benefit level. Your wife will receive checks at a higher amount than she would have on her own employment record, and you won’t be locked into the lower benefit payment.

Once you turn 70, you can remove the suspension and begin receiving checks at the higher delayed retirement amount. Additionally, if you save up enough money to pay back the benefits your wife received, you can reset at the age of 70. This will not only increase your benefit, but it will also boost your wife’s spousal and survivor benefits.

Trick #3: Restricting an application

The restricted application is another tactic that may increase your benefits. Let’s say Bob is 66 and plans to work until he’s 70. His wife Jenny, who is also 66, is ready to retire. Jenny won’t be collecting from Bob’s record because she has earned her full benefit on her own record.

Instead of filing for Social Security, Bob decides to “restrict an application” only to Jenny’s benefits. This allows Bob to file as a spouse on Jenny’s record and collect half of her full benefit. In the meantime, Bob can continue working and build up delayed retirement credits on his own record. If Jenny earns $800 a month, Bob will collect $400 a month-which boosts their overall benefit amount by 50%.

Then, when Bob retires at 70, he will earn a higher benefit amount for his delayed retirement credits. Once again, this will mean Jenny will collect a higher benefit if Bob dies before her.

While these three Social Security tricks can help many taxpayers amplify their benefits, these strategies aren’t for everyone. For example, let’s say you plan to collect early and reset later. What if you are unable to save enough to pay back the benefits? Even worse, what if you die before having a chance to reset? Your spouse will then be left with a meager survivor benefit.

You should take time to think things through before you employ any of these tactics. You may want to discuss your options with a financial professional, who can help you come up with the best game plan for your unique situation.