A few days ago, we observed May Day, a celebration of spring. And, after a long and hard winter in many parts of the country, most of us are ready for sunshine, warmer temperatures and the hopefulness that spring always symbolizes. But as winter gives way to spring, we are also reminded that our lives have “seasons,” too — and it pays to be prepared for all of them. So, as you move into the “retirement season,” you’ll need to prepare for several possible challenges, including the following:
Outliving your resources — The idea of outliving one’s financial resources is certainly not one we want to face. In fact, in a poll of people ages 44 to 75 sponsored by Allianz Life Insurance, 61 percent said they fear depleting their assets more than they fear dying. The best way you can overcome anxiety about running out of money is to invest and plan. Contribute as much as you can afford to your IRA and 401(k) or other employer-sponsored retirement plan — and when your salary goes up over time, increase your contributions. As for the “plan” part, try to envision the type of lifestyle you want during retirement, and then estimate how much this lifestyle will cost. Once you reach retirement, you will also need to do some planning — specifically, you will need to calculate how much money you can afford to withdraw from your investments each year.
Becoming disabled — One-third of all people between the ages of 30 and 64 will become disabled at some point, according to the Health Insurance Association of America. If you became disabled, even temporarily, the loss of income could prove devastating to your financial security, and that of your family’s. To avoid this worrisome scenario, you may want to consider disability insurance. If your employer offers this coverage as an employee benefit, take it — but don’t assume it will be sufficient. Many times, an employer-sponsored disability policy will only cover a short-term disability and may have a long waiting period for benefits to kick in. Consequently you may need to purchase your own disability insurance policy to supplement your employer’s coverage.
Requiring long-term care — Unfortunately, many people eventually require some type of long-term care, whether that involves a stay in a nursing home or the assistance of a home health care aid. This type of care is expensive, and Medicare only covers part of it. Just how costly is long-term care? The national average for home health aide services is nearly $45,000 per year, and a private room in a nursing home is nearly $84,000 per year, according to a recent survey by Genworth, a financial security company. To meet long-term care costs, you could self-insure, but that might be prohibitively expensive. But failing to do anything about meeting long-term care costs could result in the need for your grown children or other family members to get involved in some fashion — and that is something you no doubt wish to avoid. Fortunately, you can find solutions. To learn about appropriate protection vehicles, consult with your financial advisor.
With some thoughtful planning, constant vigilance and timely action, you can meet all these challenges — and enjoy all the seasons of life in which you find yourself.
Photo: Planning for retirement can make unexpected changes much more manageable