I know people think of planning for retirement as just having retirement money, or a 401k. But, there are actually so many other things to consider than just money, though a lot of those other things are going to have a money component to them. Check out my post on retiring with no money.
This post will be based on this article. I will add my own thoughts, and our own needs to plan better. Remember, I am already 52 years old, and while we have started planning, honestly you really should plan long before you turn age 50. I will go in the order the article goes in.
I did decide that I will extend my Dementia topic into next month, mostly because there is so much information and it will be Christmas. I want to share some great gift ideas for people with Dementia.
If you are smart, which I was not, you will start planning for your elder years in your 20’s or 30’s. Like most people, I didn’t want to think about old age, or maybe I thought I wouldn’t get old, lol. The 401k always seemed like a pain because most people don’t stay with the same company long term, and definitely not until retirement, anymore. That is if you are even lucky enough to work for a company that offers a 401k option, matches it, and you don’t have to work full time to get into it. Money is obviously going to be the most important issue for your elder years especially if you expect to live only on Social Security.
So, how should you plan for your elder years? For the sake of ease let’s consider elder years as being after age 60.
- Have everything prepared and organized. What do I mean by that? Have all important documents in one spot, either a safe, with your attorney, or with your POA. Important documents are items such as ownership of your home, assets, savings accounts, social security, 401k, investments, bonds, wills, IRA, POA, Health Care Proxy, life insurance, etc. My husband and I need to sit down and get all of this organized and in one spot. Having yourself or your family run around and try to find all of this information when it is needed is not a good thing to do.
- Make a will. I think everyone should have a will, especially if you have any kind of assets or children. If you die without a will guess who decides where your assets will go? If you didn’t guess it is the government. A basic will can be made on Legal Zoom. You do have to be sure and file it properly, and name an Executor. You should update it at least every 5 years, make sure you are aware of any changes in the law. I have a loved one who told us she had a will and she did not. Now she is in a pickle, which has just made the situation that much harder for all of us. It is not fun, believe me, and very time consuming when a loved one does not plan for their elder years.
- Have a what if meeting? This is with your family, or a friend you trust if you have no family. This is mostly to brainstorm to see who is willing to be POA, or Health Care Proxy. You don’t want to assign either of these to someone if it is not something they are willing to do. Have the discussion! We have always been open with our kids about our basic wishes should we become terminally ill, but not really if we get Dementia or become legally incompetent to care for ourselves We need to do this in the upcoming year.
- Make a Living Will. This is much different than a Will. That kind of will deals with your monies and assets after you die. A Living Will deals with issues while you are alive. This is where the topic of a Health Care Proxy being chosen will come. Your Proxy will make medical decisions for you if you become unable to do so yourself. Again, you do not want to name someone as your Proxy if it is not something they are comfortable doing. Even though I don’t have a legal HCP my immediate family knows exactly how I feel about medical care should I become terminal. Since I have CKD this was discussed sometime ago. But, I have to make it legal. If you don’t make it legal, you would be surprised of all the conflicts that will arise when the time comes, and it will come, eventually. Decide how you want it to be.
- Appoint a Power of Attorney or POA. The article states if you think you will need one. Trust me you will need one. I have worked in health care for 35 years, and you need one. The conflicts that can be avoided, delays, etc can all be avoided. My loved one refused to appoint a POA even though it was apparent she needed one. For years we begged her to do so, but nope she refused. Now she has to deal with the consequences. This isn’t meant to say she is being punished, but please remember your actions or lack there of have consequences, not just for you but for your loved ones as well. There are different types of POA’s and you control who has access to what and what decision they will make. But, if you choose not to do so, you may end up with no control over your elder years.
- Set up a pension. Now as I stated companies do not offer traditional pension, or retirement plans, like maybe your grandparents had. That ship has sailed for most people. But, a 401k if you can get in one, an IRA, Health Savings Account, or just a regular savings account are good options. You can learn more about off of those by doing a quick search on Google.
- Pay off all debts before you retire. We are currently working on this. For all of 2020 we have set the goal to spend down our debt, and to save. Initially, my husband just wanted to spend down the debt and use any monies to just pile it onto other debts. For example you pay off one credit card, and whatever monies that leaves each month, say extra 50 dollars you would throw it onto another bill. But, I objected to that and said we had to save money too, not just pay debt off to avoid making new debt. So, that is what we have been doing. At the beginning of the year we used the Dave Ramsey method of setting up a budget. There were a few things we changed, such as tithing, and I forget the others. But, we have stuck to it and have paid off a lot of debt already. Because we chose to save also, when our refrigerator died we were able to pay in cash rather than financing it. The nice thing is we don’t even know when payday is anymore because we are not living paycheck to paycheck. Our bills are on time and it just repeats every month with the extra money being split 50-50 to another bill and savings. It is our goal to have our mortgage paid off earlier than when we retire. One important thing to remember here is that buying new cars, phones, and such puts a huge strain on a budget. Downsizing your home, buying certified used phones, and good used cars can really save a lot of money. Pay in cash if you can!
- Plan a budget. I already discussed current budget, but think about a budget for when you retire. Have a basic idea of how much money you will have and how you will budget it. We have not even thought about this much, other than in regards to #7. However, I think a lot of people do not consider full budget needs such as health care, medications, maintenance and repairs to homes and cars, etc. You need to budget for all of these things.
- Keep working. I am a nurse and I am unsure if I will be able to keep doing bedside nursing until retirement, let alone after. But, working even after retirement age, not full time, there are penalties to Social Security is super important both financially and mentally. Make sure you know the rules. Getting a side hustle when you are younger, such as blogging, or thinking about how you would be able to make money after retirement. Maybe you have a hobby and can sell a craft, though I don’t personally think this is anywhere near as lucrative as it used to be with most platforms charging huge amounts of money to sell stuff. But, for me some things I have considered are this blog and Health Coaching, Phlebotomy, Assisted Living Administrator, etc. If I wanted to do Youtube videos, which I currently do not have the ability to do lengthy videos, that is another great side hustle.
- Stay healthy. Medical care costs are going to be a huge out of pocket expense if you can not stay as healthy as possible. This is a broad topic, but I think everyone knows that eating better, maintaining a healthy weight or at least not gaining if overweight, and exercise are all great ways to be healthier.
- Plan for your needs. This is kind of what the whole article is about. Think about what you think you will need. For example, I was at a thrift store and they had a cane at a really good price. It fit my size and I bought it and stored it in the garage. Now, you can’t just buy a cane, walker, or crutches without being sure they will fit your body size for safe use. So, be sure and learn how to know if it is right for you. But, that is just an idea of what I mean about planning for your needs. If you don’t know how to cook, plan a budget, fix basic things around your home, or you live in a very rural area where programs are slim to none, then you have some planning to do.
- Make friends. Did you know that widowed or single women who live alone are more likely to get Dementia than men? Women tend to become lonely and isolated which increases the risk of Dementia. Men, obviously can become lonely too, but the truth is women outlive men. Make friends, stay active, volunteer, join groups that you are interested in.
- Be mentally active. Everybody always worries about exercise, and of course it is vital, but keeping your brain active is just as important. Learn new things, keep learning, try hard things, it is good for your brain and may help prevent Dementia.
- You can not control the aging process. It is what it is and we all get old. We are going to die someday, sad but true. Some die young, some die old. It is sad, always, but it is and always will be a fact of life. Be prepared, make it easier on yourself and your loved ones. Don’t delay and bury your head in the sand. Start thinking about it right now. Start making a to do list to help you work through the steps. Update and edit it often.
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