Even those who are money-savvy need timely reminders about maintaining great financial health.<!–more–>
The stereotype of clueless retirees confused by the world around is officially dead. Today’s grandparents are pros at using FaceTime to talk to their grandkids. They connect with old classmates and friends on Facebook and even use robo-advisor technology to invest some of their money.
And yet, financial matters can be complicated. From Social Security decisions to avoiding scams, even the savvy crowd needs just-in-time reminders!
Social Security: Get the Timing Right
Most people believe that you should press “start” on your Social Security benefits at 65 years old. While the specifics of what’s considered “full retirement age” vary between 65 and 67, retirees have the option of starting their benefits early or waiting longer. Opting for earlier benefits will reduce the monthly payment amount, while waiting longer (up to 70 years old) will increase it. There are pros and cons to both scenarios, so work with a trusted financial planner to understand your options.
Be Careful with Debt
College students aren’t the only ones who can get into trouble with debt! As you age, your chances of needing to cover medical expenses increase. If you live in an older home, it’s more likely to need repairs and maintenance. Credit cards and loans may seem like reasonable sources of cash when you need it, but you must be careful with debt. Recent studies have shown an increase in bankruptcies for the 65 plus demographic, with credit card interest and fees being the most frequently cited reason for the filing. So, do your due diligence before applying for a credit card or a loan. Take care to pay your bills on time, carry minimal to no credit balance, and guard your credit rating.
Don’t Talk to Strangers
OK, maybe some strangers aren’t so bad. However, stay away from those who try to get too close to you too quickly. They may not be who they say they are. If someone offers to get you in on an amazing investment that’s guaranteed to double your money in just 3 months, be on guard. Any offer that sounds too good to be true, comes with sales pressure, or forces you to sign something right now or forever miss out on the opportunity is a red flag.
Manage Your Budget
The tricky part of arriving at a certain age is that you don’t have as many decades ahead of you to fix mistakes. You may not be able to control the stock market or the interest rates, but you would do well by actively managing things that are within your control. Budgeting is a big part of accomplishing that. Know where your money is coming from and where it’s going. Maintain an emergency savings account to use as a safety net in the event of unexpected expenses. Finally, evaluate your own financial stability before offering your resources to someone else (like helping your son or daughter make this month’s car payment).
Check Your Investments
This is a step that is best done with a trusted financial advisor. Take time to review your investment choices and make sure that their risk is still appropriate for your life situation. Markets can be unpredictable, and the timing of the next downturn may well coincide with then you need the money. This does not necessarily mean that you should not be invested – just that your portfolio should be the right match for you today.
Financial Self-Defense for the Seasoned Crowd
Overall, smart money decisions at any age are about balancing common sense with good advice. Make sure that you have assembled a trusted team of professionals that you feel comfortable with. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and ask for explanations: you are capable of have a good grasp on your financial situation.
Finally, if you are looking for a resource on financial literacy, the Certified Financial Planning Board has published a great one! Financial Self-Defense for Seniors comes loaded with helpful explanations and practical advice.
Image credit: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/expat-health/11425012/How-to-make-your-health-insurance-work-for-you.html