How to Retire without the Worry
The retirement years, once a time to look forward to is now all too often filled with trepidation and worry. Have I saved enough? How can I predict healthcare expenses? Will I really be able to retire? Will my lifestyle have to change? Should I downsize? These are important questions and it’s understandable you’d be concerned with all the unknowns. However, proper planning can help ease these worries so you can start enjoying retirement again. Here’s how.
One of the best things you can do is to educate yourself on what to expect. In general, you’ll need to replace approximately 70 to 90 percent of your pre-retirement income to maintain the same standard of living. That range depends on where you live and when you choose to retire among other factors.
Based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data, Americans 65 and older spend an average of $45,756 per year or around $3,800 a month. In addition, Fidelity reports that a 65-year-old couple retiring in 2019 could expect to spend $285,000 on healthcare costs during retirement.
Also, don’t assume if and when you do need long-term care that Medicare, Medicaid and/or your health insurance will cover it. In general:
- Medicare only pays for long-term care if you require skilled services or rehabilitative care and only for a short period of time.
- Medicaid does pay for the largest share of long-term care services, but to qualify, your income must be below a certain level and you must meet minimum state eligibility requirements.
- Health Insurance through employers or private health insurance typically cover only the same kinds of limited services as Medicare.
Making Sure You’re Prepared
Don’t start to hyperventilate just yet. Keep in mind that you need an idea of what to expect in order to know how best to prepare. And rest-assured, you may have more resources at your disposal than you realize. To get started, organize your financial documents including:
- Bank and brokerage account information
- Deeds and mortgage papers
- Insurance policies
- Monthly or outstanding bills
- Pension and other retirement benefit s
- Social Security payment information
- Stock and bond certificates
Then, consider consulting a financial advisor and/or estate planning attorney to discuss ways in which you might be able to maximize these resources in retirement:
- Insurance options including long-term care insurance and/or life insurance conversions
- Pension, Social Security benefits and personal property such as your home
- Programs in which you may be eligible like the Veterans Aid & Attendance benefit
- Potential tax deductions
- Savings as well as your investment portfolio
Home Versus an Over 55 Community
The price tag of senior living may give you a bit of sticker shock initially, yet when you look a little deeper into the value that’s included within those monthly numbers, in some cases it can be less than aging at home!
One of the next big questions is whether or not to downsize as housing is one of your largest monthly expenses in retirement. Most people assume that staying home is the most cost-efficient way to go but that’s not always the case. Let’s compare.
An over 55 community is what’s commonly known as independent living. This type of community falls under the umbrella term senior living; however, it’s the entry point in a continuum of care that also includes assisted living, skilled nursing and memory care.
These communities are designed for active retirees like you who need little daily assistance. While there is little published data on average cost because it varies so greatly; it typically ranges from $1,000 to $4,000 a month. Keep in mind this cost comes with meals, weekly housekeeping, laundry services and transportation often included, as well as access to a range of activities and amenities such as fitness center and pool.
At home, you may think your mortgage or rent is what you’re comparing. But that’s a costly mistake. Your total cost of living at home each month also includes food, entertainment and home upkeep. These costs are typically included in the monthly cost of over 55 communities that you see above. In many cases, at least some utilities are included as well.
What also comes with life in an over 55 community? Predictable expenses, a worry-free lifestyle and perks like a monthly calendar filled with clubs, classes, events and outings that you may not have access to at home. But what’s truly invaluable is the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’ll have support if and when you need it as many of these communities offer other levels of care on the same campus.
For additional help in getting financially prepared for retirement in an over 55 community, check out our Family Guide to Funding Senior Care & Housing today.