As we continue to ease into the new year and enter Senior Independence Month in February, an important item to add to your to-do list is taking a close look at your finances to see if there are areas in which you can improve your overall financial wellness.
When you are a senior, financial independence might be the difference between enjoying a stress-free retirement and continuing to work longer to satisfy financial concerns. We know financial decisions can be overwhelming at any age; but there are careful considerations for seniors who are planning, budgeting, and navigating the costs and benefits of making a move to senior living. Thankfully, several resources are available to make these decisions easier for seniors and their families.
If a conversation about making the move to senior living is in your future, our team is here to help. Below, we’ve outlined some great first steps; but we encourage you to call a Solstice community near you to learn more about how we can make this your best move yet.
Create a smart strategy for living comfortably on your retirement income. Many seniors depend on income from investments such as 401(k) plans, individual retirement accounts (IRAs) or other savings plans. Depleting all retirement funds or outliving the life of their investments appear to be chief concerns from seniors.
To avoid outliving your retirement funds, start a plan as early as possible, create good habits, and don’t withdraw too much or too early. The general rule for withdrawing retirement funds is to start with withdrawing no more than 4% to 5% of your savings in the first year of retirement, then adjusting that amount each year depending on inflation. Working with a financial planner can help you feel more confident in your spending and saving plans for retirement.
It’s never too early to speak with your loved ones about their investments or to find a financial planner you trust to walk through the process with you. Take time together to plan the most tax-efficient ways to withdraw and grow your savings.
Make sure you have an emergency fund. Emergency savings are essential to providing peace of mind when unexpected expenses arise. The size of your emergency fund may vary depending on your lifestyle, monthly expenses and income; but the rule of thumb is to save at least three to six months’ worth of expenses in an emergency fund.
Shop around to find an account with minimal to no fees and a high interest rate to make the most of your savings. Many banks and credit unions offer deals or special discounts for seniors.
Identify your income and expenses, big and small. Creating an itemized list of all income and expenses is a great first step to creating a retirement budget. Identify every source of your income, including Social Security benefits, pensions, retirement savings and investments.
Next, identify your fixed expenses versus flexible expenses. Fixed expenses can include mortgage or rent payments, monthly health insurance premiums, car loan payments, or other debt obligations. Flexible expenses include things like food and groceries, gas, utility bills, phone bills, prescription drugs, entertainment, charitable donations, and “fun money” for activities and adventures. As you plan your budget, consider times when these expenses may be higher than expected, and remember that no item is too small to write into your budget.
If you are considering a move to senior living, it may be more affordable than you think. Each Solstice Senior Living community offers a cost calculator on its Family Resources page to help determine the expenses of moving to senior living versus staying in your current living situation. Tally up your monthly expenses, compare them to the cost of making the move to Solstice and discover the amenities included in your monthly rent, from three meals a day to utilities, to entertainment and social activities. Find a community near you.
Research financial assistance and benefits for seniors. Veterans and widows of veterans may be eligible for Aid and Attendance benefits through the Veterans Administration if they meet the financial and medical requirements. Solstice proudly partners with Patriot Angels to help simplify the VA benefits application process for veterans. Patriot Angels assists veterans by sifting through the government procedures associated with Aid and Attendance, enabling you to collect the benefits that you’re entitled to. More information on Aid and Attendance benefits can be found here. Seniors often have more ways to reduce their expenses than they expect through senior discounts, free cellphone plans or tax breaks.