The “ golden years” refers to the time of life after retirement from employment when seniors are at the peak of achievement and are enjoying life to the fullest without the financial stress of having to work. New financial challenges, coupled with a longer life span, are making the golden years more of a myth than a reality. Issues with programs like Medicare which often fails to offset medical expenses, and worry over how long Social Security will last, cause retirees to experience great financial stress. Seniors are worried about being in situations where they may lack enough money to pay bills and other debts related to advanced lifespan and aging. With a strong lack of confidence in our economy due to rising taxes and inflation, they worry not only for themselves but for future generations.
For the vast majority of people moving toward retirement, there are things to do besides worry. The future doesn’t have to be gloom and doom. It is important to look toward strategies to help make your retirement financially possible.
- Construct a savings plan for retirement. Seek professional advice from a tax or investment professional to discuss your specific needs. Project ahead and look at retirement income and expenses. Remember that your retirement savings may have to last you 25 years or longer. You may need to stretch your money well into retirement, so plan accordingly.
- Decide upon your level of investment risk. It’s important to seek the right balance when investing. On the one hand, if the risk is too great, you may lose the very money you need for living. On the other hand, if the risk is too little, your gain may be swallowed up in inflation. It is best to seek the advice of a qualified professional to weigh your options.
- Plan to pay down debt. It is usually wise to pay down debt before retirement. It makes sense because as your income goes down, so does your ability to pay down debt. Credit cards, auto loans and mortgages are things many folks work towards paying off before retirement.
- Adjust to a new lifestyle. Learn to budget wisely. Plan to shop smarter and spend less money. Pay attention to government programs and take advantage of senior discounts whenever possible. Plan to limit travel and expenses if necessary.
- Reevaluate your retirement date. For many people, their largest investment is their home. With the current real estate market in depression, it may be necessary for folks to wait for the market to recover to sell. This may lead to a delay in retirement. Others need to work longer to simply save more for retirement. There is no shame in delaying retirement as needed and many seniors continue to enjoy working full or part time.
- Get politically involved. As you’re approaching retirement, it benefits you to be active in politics. Why? Because many of the decisions politicians are making directly affect you. For example, rising real estate taxes may impact your retirement savings. Seniors need to have a voice and deserve to be heard. Voting is one way to express how you feel. Volunteering politically is another. You can meet new people, share ideas, and make a difference. Stay on top of the latest political happenings through Amac, your advocate for senior issues.
- Plan for long term care. Long term care is often needed to help meet the medical and non medical needs of those requiring assistance with normal, daily tasks. By 2020, it is estimated 12 million Americans will need long term care. Since full time nursing care costs run an average of $80,000 to $100,000 per year and can quickly eat up one’s nest egg, it’s important to understand the risk of not having a long term care game plan. Seek the aid of a financial professional to learn your options.
While the state of America’s economy is rather pitiable, let it teach us valuable lessons so we do not repeat the mistakes of our current government. Let’s remember three important things our leaders forgot as we prepare for retirement; to plan intelligently, to save smartly, and to spend wisely. By implementing these and other retirement strategies and by learning from our government’s mistakes, seniors can work toward and maintain independence in retirement. America’s hardworking seniors deserve to live happy and healthy lifestyles, free of worry and strain. With proper financial planning, the future of our mature Americans can be bright. Are the golden years just a myth? Heck, no! With proper planning and resolve, you can achieve success and make the “golden years” the reality of your retirement.