Enjoying your retirement does not automatically happen when you kiss the old job goodbye, despite what we may envision. Planning ahead can ensure you are set up for financial and personal well-being in your retirement years. The good news is that there are simple steps you can take at all ages—from your 30’s to your 70’s and beyond—to create a bright and financially sound future with less to worry about and more to celebrate.
In Your 30’s and 40’s: Get Your Ducks in a Row
Now is the time to make sure exercise is a regular part of your routine, adopt healthy eating habits, and quit smoking if you do. In addition to making sure you’re in good shape for your later years, here are three other must-dos:
- Make sure you’re contributing to your 401(k).
Since most people don’t have a traditional pension anymore, growing and protecting your 401(k) is essential. The sooner you start contributing to your 401(k), the longer the money has to grow. Every little bit helps, and compounding interest works in your favor. And if your employer offers a matching plan, in which they match your own 401(k) contribution, you’ll want to take full advantage of the benefit.
- It’s never too early to create an advanced care directive.
An advanced care directive (also known as a durable power of attorney) is a legal document that outlines your wishes regarding the types of treatments you may want at the end of life. It allows you to name a person or “agent” you can trust to make decisions for you if you have lost the ability to do so, which can happen at any age during a medical emergency or unexpected incident. Seniors At Home can help you create your document through Advance Health Care Planning Workshops as well as one-on-one consultations. To find out about upcoming events and workshops near you, subscribe to our e-newsletter.
- Protect your loved ones by writing a will.
Putting your wishes on paper helps your family save time and money (and potential conflict) down the line. It is an important way you can stay in control over who receives your property. If you aren’t familiar with state laws governing wills or how to write one, AARP offers a helpful online guide. You might also consider consulting a knowledgeable lawyer or estate planner in your area.
In Your 50’s: Plan for the Future
Your 50’s are a great time to assess your retirement planning to date. Since your 50’s are some of the highest wage earning years, you’ll need to think hard about how much you can live off of now vs. how much to put away for later. It is also time to start thinking about your long-term plans when it comes to health care and how you’ll spend your time. Three important steps to take in your 50’s are:
- Flesh out your long-term financial plans.
If you didn’t start putting away savings for retirement in your 30’s and 40’s, don’t despair—but do start making a plan now. Rebecca Paul, Esq., JFCS’ Director of Fiduciary Services at Seniors At Home says, “Just as it is never too early to begin saving, it is never too late.” Rebecca recommends making an appointment with a certified financial planner, specifically one who is a fiduciary, who puts your interests ahead of their own. A financial planner can do a no-cost financial projection for you to provide information on life expectancy, the increase your assets should have over time, and how much money you should have when you’re considering retirement.
- Look into long-term health insurance.
Getting older comes with changing health needs, and eventually most of us will need some form of long-term care. Contrary to popular belief, Medicare does not pay for ongoing long-term care, so looking into alternatives such as long-term care insurance is essential. If you’re thinking about long-term care insurance, remember that the younger you are when you apply for coverage, the lower your premiums will be.
- Think about how you’ll spend your newfound free time.
This is the fun part. Ask yourself what you would like to do in retirement: are you interested in meaningful volunteer or part-time work? Or perhaps you want to spend more time with family, traveling, or pursuing new hobbies? Planning ahead will help you ensure you fill your later years with meaningful activities you enjoy.
In Your 60’s, 70’s and Beyond: Gain Peace of Mind
Your 60’s are the time to take an honest look at how much money you spend, and how you can spend less. And, to get the most out of your retirement, you want to be as healthy as possible; so schedule your checkups and preventive exams now, from an annual physical to teeth cleaning. Other important steps to take at this age:
- Make a plan for future care. Sign up for the Futures Program!
If you would like to stay in your home as you age, it is important to know who will be there for you if you ultimately require home care in order to live independently. Seniors At Home’s Futures Program enables healthy seniors to make an advanced plan about any future care before it is needed. Seniors At Home gets to know you and checks in periodically, and should a health crisis or care needs arise, we are one quick call away. Best of all, signing up with the Futures Program is free, so call us!
- Stay on top of legal documents.
Rebecca says that these four specific documents are key: an advance health care directive, a power of attorney for financial matters, a will, and, for certain individuals, a revocable living trust. Rebecca says, “It’s important that once you have your four documents in order to review them yearly, especially in the event of any significant changes in life circumstances.” Seniors At Home is part of Jewish Family and Children’s Services. Our Fiduciary Services team can act as an agent under powers of attorney, executor for a will, and successor trustee for a trust.
- Seek out help if you need it.
If you are having trouble getting on top of any financial responsibilities, seek professional advice before it’s too late. Seniors At Home’s Fiduciary Services team can help you with everything from money management, budgeting and long-term planning, to evaluating government and pension benefits, filing tax forms and other legal, financial, tax and property matters.
Retirement is an exciting opportunity to design your life the way you want it, and the best way to ensure you make the most of it is to plan in advance. Fiduciary Services’ Rebecca Paul says, “Anything you can do, think about, research, meet with professionals about, and put in place before you retire will give you peace of mind later on.”
To learn more about our many services, including our Futures Program, Fiduciary Services, Advance Care Planning, or how to prepare for retirement, call our free information line at 415-449-3700 or click here to contact us.
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