In this day and age, a Baby Boomer may very well be a solo senior for various reasons!
According to Sara Zeff Geber, about 20% of Baby Boomers today do not have children. There are also thousands of Baby Boomers whose kids are estranged, not functional or live far away. They will also age solo!
On any given weekend in a retirement community you will find lots of visitors milling around the property and visiting the residents. Most of these visitors are family; namely, adult children and grandchildren of the residents. These families are making sure their oldest members get out of their homes and remind them they are not alone in the world.
What happens when the older generation in our society who do not have family to take them to lunch and visit with them? Who can they count on for companionship? And, who will give them aide when they reach a point in life where they cannot do everything for themselves?
It is crucial that solo seniors carefully prepare to ensure a safe and secure future for themselves.
Do you want to know the 6 Myths of Retirement?
Of course, you do!
How much should you save for retirement ~
“Your retirement plan and withdrawal strategy should be as unique as you are, taking into account your current finances, future income, goals and dreams along with many other considerations.”
Medicare will cover healthcare needs during retirement ~
Medicare can be a godsend for doctor visits and hospitalization costs. However, it does not cover most long-term care needs such as extended nursing home stays, assisted living and many types of home health care. Keeping health care costs in mind is a vital part of retirement planning.
I can’t count on Social Security ~
You can’t count on Social Security payments to cover all your retirement needs. However, it can make sense to estimate what your payments will be as part of your overall retirement planning and budget. Consider delaying Social Security payments beyond your full retirement age up until age 70. You may receive significantly larger monthly checks.
I can work as long as I have to ~
Did you know that half of all early retirements are due to illness or disability? Also, finding good paying jobs later in life can be difficult. The bottom line: it’s probably best not to rely too much on income that you may make during your retirement.
I’ll spend less and pay less taxes in retirement ~
You may actually be spending more in retirement than you thought. Think about traveling, visiting children and grandchildren as well as pursuing new hobbies and activities. It all takes money!
Home situation will stay the same ~
Moving is often a major part of retirement. You may decide to move closer to family members. Or, you may need an assisted living situation or an area with more transportation and maintenance services at hand.
Make sure you consult with a certified financial planner (CFP) and/or a lawyer with expertise in finance issues for retirement.
Avoid the 6 Myths of Retirement.
6 Myths of Retirement – Plan Now!
Hello. My name is Shannon Ming and I have been a licensed insurance agent since 2013. I started out selling Health Insurance, then expanded to Property and Casualty, hated it, and returned to health insurance. I really missed helping people with such an important product that can have such a profound impact in their lives. Through these changes in my career, I learned what I do, and don’t like. I also learned that my husband has the patience of JOB.
If I had not taken the path above, to leave health insurance and then go into something I did not
enjoy, I wouldn’t have realized that my passion has always been educating and protecting people. I just needed to find the right niche.
About a year and a half ago, I became a Licensed Certified Medicare Insurance Agent and began focusing on health insurance benefits for seniors. I started out selling Medicare and ancillary products like hospital indemnity, vision, and dental insurance over the phone in several states. I then launched Senior Benefits Advisors to focus on educating and protecting seniors right here in my own community. But, I promise this is not going to be a boring story about insurance! This is a story about personal growth, friendship, and…..a cat. Really. A cat!
I don’t think it is a mistake that the word assumption starts with the word ASS. Seriously, you don’t know what you don’t know. Fate, and a cat, has taught me important lessons. It has brought me to a specific niche in my business, and to getting to know my neighbor, my new friend. A friend who has changed me, and the course of my life. She doesn’t even know that yet.
About 6 years ago, a family moved in right next door to us. When I would drive by their house, I would wave to the lady who lived there. She did not wave back. In fact, she would look right at me, turn around, and walk into her open garage. I kept waving anyway. For a while. One time I distinctly remember waving and thinking she may have smiled, but then she put her hand to her mouth, turned, and walked away. It was at that point that I decided my neighbor was not a friendly person. I quit waving.
Somewhere around May of 2019, a very friendly tuxedo male kitten, we guessed to be around six months old, started showing up. He came over every single day. By the summer of 2020, he was here from about 6 in the morning until right after we fed him dinner. We have a glider outside that sits right in the sun. Rocky would sun himself there all day. I would go out and spend time with him every single day, because I work from home. It became a welcomed routine.
At first, we didn’t know who he belonged to. My husband learned that he belonged to the neighbor, the unfriendly one, about 3 months after he started coming over. My husband named him Rocky, which I thought was funny because he was not neutered, and I have a warped sense of humor! Before we knew who he belonged to, we had bought him his own bowl and his own food. We even bought a little bed for him, and when the weather was bad, he would come in until the weather cleared.
Rocky would show up early in the morning, then take off right after we fed him “kitty crack.” (the canned cat food he really liked.) He had the dry food and water during the day.
I remember the last day we saw “Rocky.” It was a Sunday. September 27th, 2020, to be exact. He was over earlier lying in the sun. We would feed our dogs, our son’s cat who we are watching for 2 weeks (it’s been 13 months now) and Rocky, at 5:00 pm every day. As usual, he ate, and took off for home before it got dark.
Rocky was quite the character. He was very chatty. The distance between our homes is quite spread out. We have a half-acre property, so the sidewalk between our two homes, is a bit of a walk. We could hear Rocky walking from his house to ours and up the long driveway to our front porch. He walked with such a purpose, talking all the way!
After September 27th, we were not seeing Rocky anymore. Monday came. No Rocky Tuesday came, no Rocky. My routine was all messed up. No mid-day breaks to sit in the sun and pet Rocky. No animated talking face in the screen door at 4:45pm. My husband’s routine was all messed up too. Rocky loved the outdoors. So does my husband. The two of them would spend hours in the backyard gardening. Where he went, Rocky went. Watching them from the kitchen window was heartwarming. We lost our Himalayan “Bella”, after 12 1/2 years of companionship, in March of 2019. Rocky helped ease the pain of losing her, and he showed up just a couple months after her passing. Bella and my husband spent a lot of time in the yard together.
The following Sunday, after no Rocky, I headed down the driveway to the neighbor’s house. The lady was outside. I had never chatted with her face to face before. I asked if she had seen her cat because he used to hang out at our house during the day, but we hadn’t seen him in a week. She said she hadn’t seen him since the Sunday before either. She also said she had seen a very large owl on Monday evening on our street. My husband had seen a fox while driving to work that week as well. It wasn’t looking good.
My neighbor, let’s call her Dawn, because each Dawn is a new beginning, asked me if I could help her put up flyers to see if anyone had found him. Our hope was that someone found him and ASSumed he didn’t have a home and took him in. We laughed about that, because Rocky was an outdoor cat. He would drive anyone who tried to keep him indoors absolutely bonkers. But we still hoped that was the case.
Luckily, I had pictures of “Rocky.” Really good pictures. Dawn came over, we picked a couple pictures, and made several flyers to put up around the neighborhood. I also posted in Next Door, the Humane Society, and several other places. Sadly, we never found him. but all three of us, Dawn, myself, and my husband, have “seen” him. He came to say goodbye in our dreams. I still think I hear him sometimes.
The first time Dawn came over, she saw my Senior Benefits Advisors showing that I help people with Medicare and more, on my table. She asked me if I could help her with hers. I set an appointment with her to meet the next day and learn about her situation. I would never have approached her to review Medicare with her as she is obviously not 65 years of age.
Dawn came over the next day and we sat at the kitchen table, getting to know each other. It turns out she is not unfriendly. At all. She is on a very fixed income and can not afford glasses. She never saw me wave at her. I learned that she has a habit of putting her hand to her face when she smiles because, due to a chronic health condition, she has no teeth. She told me she is embarrassed about not having teeth and has created this habit to hide this fact. I also learned that she is on Medicare because of chronic health conditions she was born with. In fact, there are many people under the age of 65 on Medicare. Many of these people also have Medicaid as they are unable to work due to their health conditions. They live on very fixed incomes and often have excessive medical bills, or, like Dawn, they go without.
Because Dawn has both Medicare and Medicaid, she is what we call in the insurance world, Dual Eligible. There are special plans developed by insurance companies to help this population. These plans are called Dual Eligible Special Needs Plans. (D-SNP for short)
Dual Eligible Special Needs Plans have extra benefits built into them. Life changing extra benefits. When I say extra, I mean more that original Medicare and Medicaid offers. Before I became a certified Medicare Broker, I would have thought that people would automatically know there are extra benefits, and more options available to them. Maybe someone who helps them get on Medicare would ask if they have Medicaid and tell them they may qualify for extra benefits. They do not. That’s not their job, it’s mine.
There are four different levels of Medicaid eligibility, based on income levels. Each D-SNP plan accepts different eligibility categories. There are also two categories of dual eligible beneficiaries; partial-benefit, and full-benefit, and four levels of Medicaid based on your income levels. Your Certified Medicare Insurance Agent can help you find out what level you are, and if you qualify for a D-SNP in your area.
A great reference to learn more about Dual Special Needs Plans is from the National Contracting Center and can be found here: https://nccagent.com/resources/guides/dsnp-guide/. It’s a guide for agents, but I find it is very informative for consumers as well.
Dawn’s level is a Full-Benefit Dual Eligible Beneficiary. (FBDE) Meaning she is eligible for the Dual Special Needs Plan at no cost to her. The extra benefits of each plan vary, but may include some, all, benefits not listed here, or a combination of the following benefits:
While getting to know Dawn, I learned that her doctor wanted her to swim to help with pain she endures due to her health condition. We have also shared meals together and I learned that there are several healthy foods she simply can’t eat. I learned that she often can’t even get to her doctor’s appointments because she doesn’t have gas money to get there.
After confirming that she did in fact qualify for the Dual special Needs Plan at Full Benefits, she learned that she will be able to get transportation to appointments if needed. She will get a gym membership where she can swim to alleviate pain as her doctor recommends, and most important to her right now, she will be able to get dentures.
When my husband came home from work, he found me sitting with our neighbor, both of us crying. In part because we talked about Rocky coming to tell us he is fine, and partly because we know that she will soon be getting the health care she needs but could not afford. And teeth.
I was able to enroll Dawn in the D-SNP plan with a start date of January 1. She already has an appointment with a dentist in January. I see a change in her already. She is excited. She has hope. Her life will change when she gets dentures. She will have more confidence, and better health due to being able to eat healthy foods she could not eat before. Also, swimming is going to help her alleviate pain, and live a happier, healthier life. I know she will use this gym benefit. She is so grateful that we had this “chance” encounter. Because of a cat. Our “Rocky.”
Since helping Dawn, I keep finding myself in situations where people need my help. I was at a physical therapy appointment a couple weeks ago, and when I left, I found that my transmission was shot. I was able to get help from the staff getting “Lucy” into a parking spot. A gal I was chatting with while working out, turned out to be good friends with a good friend of mine. She offered to give me a ride home. I mentioned when leaving her truck that if she knew anyone who needed help with Medicare, I would be happy to help them as Open Enrollment is ending soon. She said, “Me.” I need help! Seriously, she is no where near Medicare age. It turns out that she has a chronic health condition. Her health condition is very rare, and she has been dealt many challenges. One of the side effects of her condition is hearing loss. She qualified for the D-SNP at the Full Benefit Level and will now be getting hearing aids. She is beyond excited. What a blessing.
Before learning about this population, people on both Medicare and Medicaid (Dual Eligible), and the existence of Special Plans that can help them get life changing extra benefits they may not be aware of, I had been searching for meaning in my life. Asking the question “What is my purpose?”
It seems that God, the universe, fate, or whatever you call that force that leads us to circumstances and “chance” meetings, is working in my life. I am committed to finding people who qualify for, and need the products and services offered by the Dual Special Needs Plan.
If you or someone you know has both Medicare and Medicaid, and you would like to find out if you qualify for a D-SNP, you can reach out to me in any of the following ways:
Shannon Ming- Senior Benefits Advisors
Business Phone- 719-315-5588
Book An Appointment Through Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/shannonmckeonming (Click on Book Now.)
Or, you can reach me through the Colorado Springs Over 50 page online: https://mms.coloradospringsover50.com/csoo/mem_SeniorBenefits (fill out the contact me form.)
In closing, I want to thank “Dawn” for teaching me that you don’t know someone until you take the time to get to know them, for becoming my friend, and for sharing “Rocky” with us.
Yes, parents stuff can be a boomer burden!
Many baby boomers and those in the over 50 group are facing the inevitable in life. They have aging parents or their parents have already passed away.
Besides coping with the emotional burden, there is also the matter of the financial aspect of a death and also dealing with your parents stuff. It can certainly be overwhelming!
Top 4 suggestions for action to take now and later:
1. Start Now – If parents are alive and willing, ask if they would like help in deciding what they want done with their belongings when they die. They might also want to start giving things away to family and friends while they are still alive.
2. Savor Memories – One way to remember a loved one is to make shadow boxes containing mementos of their hobbies and activities. They take up much less room and provide pleasant memories of a loved one. They can also be made for other members of the family. They make nice mementos for grand children and nieces and nephews.
3. Don’t Wait Too Late – You will be surprised to know that your aging parent (s) would actually welcome help in culling out possessions. It is a good time for them to reflect back on their life. It is also an excellent way to find out more about their life that you maybe didn’t even know! Communicate with your parents early!
4. Dealing with Siblings – Keep in mind when working with siblings in this situation that there are differences in how things should be done. Some adult children just want to “get it done” without giving much time or thought to the process. There are also those that want to touch each item and reminisce to great lengths. Come up with a plan on how you are going to deal with your parent’s possessions that will be workable for all to handle.
Professional organizer, Claudia Smith, advocates a simple rule of thumb. “We spend our first 40 years in life collecting things and the second 40 years getting rid of things.”
How to Deal with Your Parents Stuff!
Have you checked on these retirement expenses lately? What we’re talking about is the annual cost of a private room in a nursing home or even home health aide services.
The amount for a private room in a nursing home has cracked the six-figure mark ~ $102,200! The amount for home health services averages $23 per hour These amounts are according to Genworth Financial in their 2019 Cost of Care Study.
This rising cost of care has outpaced inflation. Where you live in the U.S. makes quite a difference. You can calculate the cost of care by state here: Cost of Care
A growing number of older adults need specialized care. However, there is a shortage of skilled workers — both of which raise care expenses.
Look at these numbers of growth between the years 2018 and 2019:
It’s Time to Plan Ahead by Identifying How You’d Like to Receive Care:
Planning for your care as you get older is very important and can be daunting. You might want to work with an advisor to lay out a plan of where and how you would like to receive care.
Some retirees may spend money on the more moderate cost of receiving home care. There’s the possibility of having a home health aide come to visit. However, circumstances can change quickly which could lead to an assisted living facility or nursing home.
Long-term care insurance might be an option but becomes more expensive the longer you wait.
Select trusted individuals to oversee your medical care decision making. This may include family members as well as other expects in the field of financial planning and medical care.
A Huge Financial Decision for this Retirement Expense!
Market fluctuations are enough to give anyone the jitters. But that doesn’t mean market volatility should be a reason to panic. Here are 5 tips to help you from
1. Keep your long-term plan in mind
Review your investment strategy to ensure it’s aligned with your long-term goals, and then stay the course.
2. Consider consulting with a professional before reacting
The value of your investment will fluctuate over time. When the market falls, any losses in your portfolio are only realized if you sell your holdings.
3. Consider buying when the market is down
Think of it as a sale with prices discounted from the recent market peak. Yes, prices always could fall further, but if you’re invested for the long haul, you may want to consider if this is a good time to add to your investment portfolio.
4. Seek out guidance
If you’re not sleeping at night, or your risk tolerance has changed, it’s a good time to talk with your financial professional.
5. Diversify Your Stocks and Bonds
Stocks and bonds seldom move in step with each other, so losses in one asset class may be offset by gains (or less-severe losses) in the other.
For additional information, download this free e-book “Market Volatility: 4 Ways to Protect Your Money.”
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Colorado Springs, CO 80925
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1. Be careful in putting all your investments (nest egg) in one basket
A planned well-diversified portfolio facilitates positive performance of some investments and can balance out poor performance of others investments. The mix of investments in different asset classes (e.g., stocks, bonds, real estate) help keep your retirement goals on track even when one investment goes through and downsizing period. Diversification is vitally important as you get near retirement. You have fewer years of income to rebuild savings if some investments post losses.
Contact a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) to recommend diversification strategies based on your goals and risk tolerance. Regular meetings with Certified Financial Planner are encouraged to keep your goals on track for a well planned retirement.
2. Get your estate plan in order to keep your heirs aware
Make things much easier for your loved ones in the future by talking through estate planning today. Your CFP advisor and attorney can work with you on estate planning. You will obviously want to have your exact wishes of your estate carried out.
Estate planning points:
3. Don't wait too long to think about your current and long-term health care needs
Protecting your assets means planning carefully for health care needs (expected and the unexpected). Your first step is to make sure you have enough medical coverage, plus a long-term care strategy.
The process begins by finding out which Medicare benefits you’ll be eligible for down the road and researching options for supplemental insurance (assuming you are over 65). For example, hybrid life insurance policies combine life insurance with long-term care benefits that may help you pay for the costs of a nursing home, assisted living or in-home care — expenses Medicare does not cover. In general, these hybrid policies may be more affordable than traditional long-term care policies. Check them out throughly with your CFP or a licensed insurance agent.
4. Don't keep your 401(k) accounts in multiple places
If you have changed jobs several times during your career, you might have multiple 401(k)s at different employers. It makes sense to consolidate these accounts. Be careful, before you do, discuss a few critical factors with your CFP:
5. Be aware of paying too much in taxes
It make sense to pay taxes now to lessen your future tax liability. Could charitable gifts lower your taxable income? Are there tax deductions you’re not using to your advantage? Your CFP and tax accountant can work together to create a tax strategy for you.
Schedule a retirement check-in with your CFP!
April 15 is here!
If you can’t finish your taxes on time, relax. You have options.
If you don’t have your documents in order or haven’t made real progress on your tax return, filing for an extension by April 15 sounds like a good idea.
However, getting more time isn’t as simple as it sounds.
Here are seven things you should know if you can’t finish your taxes on time:
1. You still have to act by April 15. The paperwork is still due on April 15!
2. If you owe money, you have to pay. You’ll need to fill out enough of your tax return to come up with a rough estimate of what you owe. And, send the amount owed to the IRS on time! People filing for a tax extension are still required to pay 90% of what they believe they’ll owe by the April Tax Day deadline.
3. Failing to file is worse than failing to pay. You don’t want a failure-to-file penalty. It is usually 5% of the unpaid taxes for each month or part of a month your return is late, up to 25% of your bill.
4. Your bank may be kinder than Uncle Sam. You may want to pay your taxes with a credit card if you don’t have the cash on hand. The interest and fees may be less.
5. You may not need an extension. File your completed return and pay what you can. Request a short extension of 60 to 120 days to pay. The IRS provides installment payments.
6. If you are owed a refund, you won’t be penalized for not filing. However, you won’t get your refund until you file your return. So, get your money ASAP!
7. If you’re a chronic procrastinator, the IRS won’t issue your refund. If you don’t do your taxes for three years, even if you’re owed a refund, the IRS will keep your money. Again, Yikes!!
Can’t Finish Your Taxes on Time? – There are Solutions!
Did you know that more than half of current workers have not planned for retirement!
So, we ask the question: Baby Boomers – Are You Retirement Ready?
According to recent surveys, 48% of pre-retirees do not have a financial plan! If you are one of those 48%, you need to get going.
Here is a time line of when and what you should be looking at to get on target for a comfortable retirement.
10 Years Out:
You should take a good guess at what your retirement life is going to be like.
5 Years Out:
You should probably start to get your behavior changes in order to fit your upcoming lifestyle and budget.
1 Year Out:
It’s getting close!
According to Ameriprise Financial for Pre-retirees:
For more excellent information on retirement: Research Studies
Again we ask, Baby Boomers – Are You Retirement Ready?
It comes quicker than you think!
While it’s definitely a good thing to save money and be frugal about your spending habits, there are some things you should spend good money on. Yes, we mean SPLURGE on! These items are important to spend money on because they will last a long time and add to the quality of your life.
A Good Mattress — You need a good mattress because you need a good night’s sleep! Sure you could save a few bucks with the cheaper mattress, but is a stiff neck and a bad back worth it? If you can’t invest in a good mattress, try a memory foam mattress topper. This Sleep Innovations Memory Foam topper is amazing and can make your bed comfortable. If you are ready to buy a new mattress, try a Casper Mattress. It is made completely of memory foam and is designed to support your body in all the right places.
A Set of Quality Kitchen Knives — If you buy a quality set of knives, they’ll last a long time. You probably spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Good knives can make preparing dinner so much easier. Check out this list of Good Housekeepings Kitchen Knife Reviews to find your next set.
A reliable car — If you are considering a new car, do your homework and get a good one. A good place to start is Consumer Reports Car Buying Guide. Whether you are buying new or used, they have the best info on which cars last the longest and how owners like their cars over time. Always check into warranties. I bough a secondhand car that included a bumper to bumper warranty for two years.
A Basic Toolkit — This doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, but it is definitely a necessary thing to have. You never know when you’ll need a screwdriver or hammer. If you purchase a toolkit in a case you will always know where everything is located. Check out this toolkit for less than $40 and has most everything you’ll need for your home.
A Good Pair of Shoes — Gloria Hunniford wrote, “Always buy a good pair of shoes and a good bed as if you aren’t in one you are in the other.” This is true! If we aren’t sleeping, we are usually on our feet, right? We need good support. Your best bet is to get a foot or gait analysis done at a serious running store such as the Colorado Running Company. You can also go online to check out walking or running shoe reviews.
Don’t be Afraid to Spend Good Money on your Basic Needs!
Colorado Springs Over 50
We would love to hear from you on ideas you would like us to investigate and write about.