If you’re a senior living in Cincinnati and heading toward retirement, you’re probably wondering if you are well enough prepared to meet the expenses you’re likely to face as you age.
Retiring your outstanding debts and maintaining your income flow are important goals, but regardless of how faithfully you’ve saved over the years, there will undoubtedly be unexpected expenses and unanticipated challenges.
Remember that you’re going to need to pay for your leisure and travel. You’ll want to pay your taxes.
Retirees who expect to maintain their quality lifestyles as they age are wise to plan ahead. They need to invest carefully now to secure their futures. Many of you are doing just that — or think you are. But thousands Baby Boomers are now finding that they could have done better.
So, today, let’s take a look at five common retirement planning mistakes you might be making and talk about the some of the strategies you can utilize to fix them before it’s too late.
1. You’re not planning well enough for your medical and long-term care needs.
Medicare will cover the basics of your medical care, but it won’t pay for all of it. You’ll have to manage out-of-pocket expensive co-pays, shared responsibility payments, Medicare supplemental plan premiums, prescription plan (Medicare Part D) premiums and more.
Traditional Medicare has many coverage limitations that catch seniors by surprise. Medicare can cover short-term rehab stays at a nursing home, for example, after a hospitalization. But it won’t generally cover a private room; Medicare specifies coverage for “semi-private” rooms.
And, should your rehab stay need to be interrupted so that you could be readmitted to an acute care hospital, there’s no guarantee under Medicare Part A that you could then return to the same nursing following discharge.
Medicare can pay for rehab and therapy at home, but only for a limited period of time and only when prescribed by a doctor.
Some lower income seniors may qualify for supplemental Medicaid to assist with expenses not covered by traditional Medicare. It’s a safety net program for Americans needing care that they cannot privately afford.
But Medicaid is also a payer of last resort, meaning that the program requires almost all of your assets be liquidated, or “spent down,” and applied toward the cost of your care before it will kick in. For married couples, the healthy spouse can usually keep the home he or she lives in, plus one vehicle, but may still have to make significant sacrifices.
Lastly, although Medicare and Medicaid are accepted by most non-profit nursing homes, they are not accepted by all Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs). Your choices may be somewhat limited.
2. You’re fixing your attention on rates of return.
It’s tempting, as you’re investing for retirement, to try to maximize your rate of return. But that can often lead to missteps — ill-timed buys that end up losing money, principal-draining brokerage fees and knee-jerk sales that prevent you from realizing peak value.
Any good investment advisor will tell you that chasing rates is a bad idea. Instead of trying to time the dips and peaks, you might speak with your financial advisor about taking a dollar cost averaging approach to your buys.
Whatever your strategy, make sure you exercise patience and prudence. Don’t allow your emotions to dictate your decisions. And make sure you have a trusted, reputable professional onboard to help you calibrate your strategy.
3. Your retirement portfolio isn’t well-diversified.
The safest, best strategy for retirement is to diversify your portfolio as much as possible. A well-diversified portfolio shouldn’t include just a handful of stocks — it should include stocks, market-indexed mutual funds, bonds, annuities, hard currency, commodity funds and/or other investments.
And remember, the globalized economy allows you to diversify risk not only across investment vehicle types, but also across various countries’ markets!
4. You’re not prepared to meet your tax bills.
If your retirement money is sitting in traditional IRAs, a 401(k) or pension fund or other tax-sheltered investments, remember that you’ll owe when you begin withdrawing from them. And if your investments have realized returns, you’re also going to get hit with capital gains taxes.
Also, many seniors don’t realize that Social Security represents taxable income. You can’t forget about your annual federal, state and local income taxes or you’ll face late penalties or fines.
5. Thinking the start of retirement marks the end of planning.
Retirement planning and portfolio management don’t stop the day you retire. The average life expectancy for 65-year-old men is now over 17 years and for women it’s over 20 years — that’s a long time to manage your retirement!
You’ll want to continue to look for ways to reinvest, to stretch your retirement income and to manage your expenses. If you’re a senior living in Cincinnati, or if you are approaching retirement age, take care to plan well, so that you can live well into the future.