For most of our lives many of us have heard the old adage “Money can’t buy happiness.” And we can all think of numerous examples of individuals where this certainly seems to be true – whether among the powerful and famous, or within our own family or group of friends. But is that really true? Research over the last few decades suggests “NO!” In fact, many studies show that in one sense money can buy happiness. But it’s not the amount of money we have, but rather how we SPEND our money that can indeed increase our happiness – although perhaps not in the way Madison Avenue or Amazon Prime would like us to think. First, let’s address the skeptics among you who feel sure that if you simply had MORE money you would indeed be happier. Statistics show that certainly isn’t true, since 70% of all lottery winners or those with a sudden financial windfall end up bankrupt within a few years.1 Carl Jung, famous psychologist, said in fact that the keys to happiness were five things.
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Quiz: How Much Have You Thought About Health and Health-Care Costs in Retirement?
When planning for retirement, it’s important to consider a wide variety of factors. One of the most important is health and its associated costs. Thinking about your future health and the rising cost of health care can help you better plan for retirement in terms of both your finances and overall well-being. This quiz can help you assess your current knowledge of health and health-care costs in retirement.
1. Health-care costs typically rise faster than the rate of inflation.
2. You could need more than $500,000 just to cover health-care costs in retirement.
3. Medicare covers the costs of long-term care, as well as most other medical costs.
4. The southern, warmer states are generally the healthiest places for seniors to live.
5. If you’re concerned about health-care costs in retirement, you can just delay your retirement in order to maintain your employer-sponsored health benefits.
1. True. The average inflation rate from 2010 to 2017 was less than 2%, while the average spending on prescriptions, doctors, and hospitals grew between 4% and 5%. From 1970 to 2017, annual per-capita out-of-pocket spending on health care grew from about $600 to approximately $1,100 (in 2017 dollars).1
2. True. In 2017, America’s Health Rankings projected that a 45-year-old couple retiring in 20 years could need about $600,000 to cover their health-care costs, excluding the cost of long-term care. The same report projected that about 70% of those age 65 and older will need some form of long-term care services. And according to the Department of Health and Human Services, the average cost of a one-year stay in a nursing home (semi-private room) was $82,000 in 2016.2
3. False. Original Medicare Parts A and B help cover inpatient hospital care, physicians’ visits, preventive care, certain laboratory and rehabilitative services such as physical therapy, and skilled nursing care and home health care that are not long term. Medicare Part D helps cover the cost of prescriptions (within certain guidelines and limits). Medicare does not cover several other costs, including long-term care, dental care, eye exams related to eye glasses, and hearing aids. Seniors may need to purchase additional insurance to cover these and other services not covered by Medicare.3
4. False. Interestingly, America’s Health Rankings found that the five healthiest states for seniors were (1) Utah, (2) Hawaii, (3) New Hampshire, (4) Minnesota, and (5) Colorado.4
5. Maybe true, maybe false. Many people believe they will work well into their traditional retirement years, both to accumulate as large a nest egg as possible and to take advantage of employer-sponsored health benefits (if offered beyond Medicare age). While this is an admirable goal, you may not be able to control when you actually retire. In a 2018 retirement survey, nearly 70% of workers said they planned to work beyond age 65; 31% said they would retire at age 70 or older. But the reality is that nearly 70% of current retirees retired before age 65. Many of those individuals retired earlier than planned due to a health problem, disability, or other unforeseen hardship.5
The bottom line is that while it’s hard, if not impossible, to predict your future health needs and health-care costs, it’s important to work these considerations into your overall retirement planning strategies. Take steps now to keep yourself healthy — eat right, exercise, get enough sleep, and manage stress. And be sure to account for health-care expenses in your savings and investment strategies.
- 1Consumer Price Index, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018, and Peterson-Kaiser Health System Tracker, 2018
- 2Preparing for Health Care Costs in Retirement, America’s Health Rankings, 2017, and LongTermCare.gov, 2018
- 4Senior Report, America’s Health Rankings, 2018
- 52018 Retirement Confidence Survey, Employee Benefit Research Institute
“How did the new tax bill affect me?” was the question on everyone’s minds this tax season, and for good reason. Even though this was touted as the greatest simplification of the tax code in my lifetime, I didn’t notice any reduction in time spent preparing returns. Those of you who reviewed your returns in detail noticed that the schedules look drastically different although contain all the same information. The short answer for many is that it didn’t materially change your overall tax liability. The outliers fell into one of a few buckets…
What would you do if you received a major financial windfall? Would you buy a new house or vacation home, give some to your family members, donate to your favorite charity, or take the trip(s) that you have always dreamed about?While most people will not receive a major financial windfall during their lives, it is not uncommon. You might receive a financial windfall by:
When I first sit down with prospective new clients to learn about their finances, one of the most common issues we come across is how spread out investment accounts are. We may have a brokerage account here, an IRA there and, very often, an old 401(K) or two still sitting in a previous employer’s plan. There are plenty of reasons why a 401(K) may be left behind with a prior employer – it could have gotten lost in the shuffle of beginning a new job, it may have just seemed like too much of a hassle to move the plan, or perhaps you took the time to roll the plan into an IRA but your employer made subsequent contributions you didn’t know about. These accounts, affectionately referred to as “orphans,” are becoming more and more common given the increasing frequency of job-hopping, especially among Millennials. So, who do these orphan accounts belong to and more importantly, what can be done about them?