Elder Finances


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Preparing and maintaining a retirement income.

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  • It is more difficult to recover from financial setbacks as one gets older. There is less time available to invest for retirement, recover money lost in the stock market, or receive “payback” from investments in human capital (e.g., job training or a college degree). Therefore, it is wise to consider ways to cope with traumatic life events, in case something goes awry and to increase one’s financial resilience.What is “financial resilience”? It is the ability to withstand life events, both negative (e.g., loss of a job) and positive (e.g., birth of a grandchild), that impact one’s income and/or assets. Some financially stressful events, such as increased family size, unemployment, widowhood, disability, and health problems, affect people individually. Others, such as layoffs, plant closings, corporate scandals, recessions, stock market downturns, and acts of terrorism, affect large groups of people or society as a whole.Financial resilience is essential because “stuff happens” in life, often unexpectedly.
  • Four common financial challenges that are especially difficult immediately before or during retirement:Unemployment- Older workers faced with “involuntary retirement” (read: unemployment) in later life must take stock of their financial resources, marketable job skills, and emotional readiness for retirement. Often, job retraining is necessary if one’s prior job was in a declining industry sector. In addition to losing income, many workers also lose their health insurance at a time in life when health “issues” often surface. The federal COBRA law provides an opportunity to continue health insurance for up to 18 months, at group rates plus a 2% administrative fee, until an individual policy (or new group coverage) is obtained or a worker is eligible for Medicare. Those who leave a job at age 63 ½ can use COBRA benefits to tide them over until they are eligible for Medicare at age 65. However, only workers covered by employers with 20 or more employees are eligible for COBRA benefits and the cost is expensive, especially for those out of work.
  • Poor or Uncertain Health Prognosis- A life-threatening disease or chronic, debilitating illness prior to or during retirement is a financial wake-up call. Some people choose to accelerate their retirement date to enjoy unstructured time while they can. Others may reduce their work hours because they have to (e.g., fatigue or disability). A revised retirement savings analysis that incorporates the health prognosis is in order. Life expectancy estimates and retirement savings plan contributions may need to be adjusted. A poor or uncertain health prognosis may also prompt the drafting of estate-planning documents that, ideally, should be in place regardless of health status. These include a will, living will, and durable power of attorney.
  • Death of a Spouse- Few events can turn a person’s financial life upside down as the death of a spouse. In addition to shock and/or grief and loss of a spouse’s companionship, there is often less household income than before. There are also many decisions to be made (e.g., investing life insurance and retirement savings plan proceeds), forms to be completed, and suggestions from “helpful” family members and/or financial salespeople. Most experts advise surviving spouses to take their time and not make any major financial decisions immediately. Survivors who receive an insurance settlement or other payment can place the funds in a certificate of deposit (CD) or money market mutual fund until they have time to explore longer-term investment alternatives. Another important step is to identify and secure available resources such as life insurance policy proceeds, employee benefits, and veteran’s benefits.
  • Investment Losses- Prolonged market slumps can significantly erode gains made during previous bull markets. Not surprisingly, many investors, at all ages, discover that their investment risk tolerance isn’t as aggressive as they thought it was. Financial experts generally preach patience and a long-term perspective. After all, even people who are 55 or 60 might have an investment time horizon of 30 more years. Investors who try to “time the market” (i.e., try to catch the highs and lows) often miss the best trading days that inevitably follow days with large losses. For investors who are already retired, limiting withdrawals from investment accounts is often required during market downturns to reduce the risk of outliving one’s assets.
  • There is no way to be fully prepared for any of these traumatic life events that are especially difficult in later life. There are however, some time-tested strategies to increase financial resilience. Financial resiliency is enhanced with monetary resources, such as emergency savings, health insurance, and a good-paying job or retirement benefits.
  • Another resource for financial resiliency is one’s human capital. Economists define human capital as all of the knowledge, skills, experiences, and other personal qualities, including one’s health status, that people have available to “sell” to potential employers.
  • Social capital also increases financial resiliency. This includes a support system of family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and others that can provide financial assistance, not to mention emotional support, during hard times.
  • • Maintain a Low Debt-to-Income Ratio- Monthly consumer debt payments should be 15% or less of monthly take-home pay. Ratios of 20% or above are dangerous. Example: $275 of debt payments divided by $2,500 of net pay equals a consumer debt-to-income ratio of 11% (275 divided by 2,500), which is considered acceptable. Raise the month debt payments to $450, however, and the ratio increases to 18% (450 divided by 2,500), which is just bordering the danger zone.
  • • Maintain an Emergency Fund- Set aside at least three month’s expenses. In severe economic downturns, consider saving even more (e.g., six to eight month’s expenses). Keep this money in liquid cash equivalent assets such as a bank or credit union savings account, money market mutual fund, or short-term certificate of deposit (CD).
  • • Keep Your Skill Set Sharp- If you are currently working, or plan to keep working in later life, never consider your education or job training finished. Continue to develop new marketable skills to increase human capital and remain employable in today’s competitive labor market.
  • • Purchase Adequate Insurance- Protect dependents against the loss of a breadwinner’s income with life insurance and purchase disability insurance to provide continued income following an accident or illness. In addition, try never to go without health insurance through an employer, COBRA, public benefits, or an individual policy.
  • • Practice Good Health Habits (e.g., diet, weight, exercise, sleep, etc.)- Healthy people are less likely than unhealthy people to have “issues” that limit workplace productivity at work and/or result in high-cost illnesses and chronic conditions.
  • • Increase Your Knowledge of Financial Topics- This will help you make smart financial decisions. To learn more about basic investment principles and characteristics of specific securities, visit the eXtensionInvesting For Your Future home study course at http://www.extension.org/pages/Investing_for_Your_Future.Resiliency varies from person to person according to the situation at hand, personality characteristics, and personal resiliency resources. Two people can experience exactly the same situation but handle it very differently. How easily could you handle some type of major life crisis, both financially and emotionally? Take the Personal Resiliency Assessment Quiz at http://njaes.rutgers.edu/money/resiliency/ to assess your capacity to handle financially stressful life events.When you’re finished, check your score and the summary that tells how you’re doing. Then take action on areas of weakness. For example, if you are living “paycheck to paycheck,” increase your emergency reserves and decrease outstanding debt. Financial recovery in later life will be much easier when are financially resilient.
  • There are several types of late savers who are trying to make up for lost time and accumulate an adequate nest egg for retirement. Are you one of them? Below are three common later saver profiles:• Procrastinators with little or no past and current savings. This could be for any number of reasons including high monthly living expenses, overextended credit, poor spending habits, lack of financial discipline, and negative life events, such as unemployment, bouts of illness or disability, and divorce. According to the American Savings Education Council (ASEC), there are five Retirement Personality Profiles: Deniers, Strugglers, Impulsives, Savers, and Planners (see www.asec.org/profiler.htm). Most retirement savings procrastinators probably fit into one of the first three personality profiles.• People who are currently saving for retirement but got a late start and are trying to make up for the years they did not save. They are saving more than they ever did before and are now taking advantage of IRAs and tax-deferred employer retirement savings plans such as 401(k)s or 403(b)s. These are people who are now making a serious effort to save but need help catching up.• People who have been investing all along but lost some of their retirement savings. Perhaps they lacked diversification by not selecting different asset classes (e.g., stocks, bonds, and cash), invested in risky securities, or tried unsuccessfully to practice market timing (i.e., trying to time investments to the highs and lows of the market). They may have also simply experienced market risk, where investment values track normal market fluctuations and the value of assets declines during market downturns.If you’re beating yourself up about market losses or what you haven’t done to prepare for retirement, it’s time to stop. Instead, take action now to create a bright future. Today is the first day of the rest of your financial life. There is a popular saying that says it all: “If it is to be, it is up to me.”It’s not too late to save for retirement. Remember that your investment time horizon is the rest of your life…not your retirement date. This means that, if you are 45 years old today and live to age 90, you have 45 years for your money to grow through the power of compound interest. Long time frames also reduce market volatility.
  • On the other hand, compound interest is not retroactive. In other words, it is impossible to earn interest on money that was never saved years before. That’s the bad news. The good news is that there are over a dozen different ways for late savers to make up for lost time. All of these methods basically fall into one of two basic strategies:• Take action before retirement to increase retirement savings• Take action after retirement to decrease the amount of savings required
  • Strategies to increase retirement savings include: saving more money (e.g., higher payroll deductions for retirement savings plans), reducing expenses to “find” money to invest, accelerating household debt repayment, “moonlighting” for additional income and retirement plans (e.g., SEPs and Keoghs) for the self-employed, investing aggressively (i.e., more stock in your portfolio) before and during retirement, automating investment deposits, maximizing tax-deferral opportunities (e.g., IRAs), and preserving lump sum distributions by rolling them over into another tax-deferred savings plan.
  • Strategies to reduce the amount of money needed for retirement include: trading down to a smaller home, moving to a less expensive location, delaying retirement, working after retirement, tapping home equity via a reverse mortgage or sale-leaseback arrangement, and making tax efficient retirement asset withdrawals (i.e., tapping tax-free investments and taxable accounts first).
  • Like many decisions in life, catch-up retirement planning requires trade-offs. For example, spending less now in order to save more in a tax-deferred plan or delaying retirement and working longer in order to earn additional retirement benefits and/or save more money. The popular phrase “there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch” is an appropriate description of the planning process for late savers because all retirement catch-up strategies have disadvantages as well as benefits.
  • Various retirement catch-up strategies can also be combined for greater impact. Three examples are: investing more in a 401(k) and moving to a less expensive location in retirement; moonlighting for additional income and delaying retirement; and investing more aggressively and “downsizing” to a smaller home without changing geographic location.
  • In the aftermath of the 2007-2009 financial crisis and bear market, several financial industry firms ran computerized simulations of various retirement recovery strategies. Their consensus was that two of the most effective catch-up strategies are working two to three years longer than planned (or working at least part time after you retire) and postponing the collection of Social Security benefits until full retirement age (e.g., age 66 for workers born between 1943 and 1954).By working longer, there is more time for investment account balances to grow and for workers to make additional retirement savings plan contributions. Additionally, Social Security and pension benefits may increase with extra years of service. Even more importantly, by working longer, employed investors can postpone retirement asset withdrawals because they’re still earning a paycheck. Combine all these effects with a healthy dose of compound interest and it is possible to accumulate a sizable nest egg and/or recover from bear market losses without having to increase annual savings deposits or take on more investment risk.
  • The bottom line is that it’s never too late to implement a retirement catch up strategy. Catch-up savers have many options. A helpful resource for late savers is the Guidebook to Help Late Savers Prepare for Retirement developed by the National Endowment for Financial Education. Over a dozen catch-up strategies are explained in this publication, along with tax law savings incentives and available resources. The publication also includes personalized worksheets to help readers develop a personal retirement catch-up strategy. To obtain a copy of the Guidebook to Help Late Savers Prepare for Retirement, go to the National Endowment for Financial Education’s Smart About Money Web site at www.smartaboutmoney.org and type the words “Late Savers Guidebook” in the search box. A link for this 50-page PDF file document will appear and the publication can then be downloaded to a computer and/or printed out.
  • As baby boomers (i.e. people born between 1946 and 1964) continue to reach retirement age, increasing attention is being paid in the financial services industry to the concept of creating a “retirement paycheck.” What exactly is a “retirement paycheck?” It is income received on a regular basis after someone stops working. A “retirement paycheck” makes it easy to pay monthly bills, which provides financial security and peace of mind. It also continues a money management system that many people are used to before retiring where they received income in regular payments.Another benefit of a “retirement paycheck” is that it can be structured to provide a “safe” withdrawal rate to reduce the risk of outliving your assets. Given increased life expectancies in recent years, this is a big concern. Second to out-of-pocket medical expenses, outliving savings is retirees’ biggest worry about retirement security according to a 2008 survey by the Charles Schwab Corporation.
  • Researchers have found that an inflation-adjusted withdrawal rate of 4% of a retiree’s portfolio balance will generally last for 30 years when the portfolio consists of 50% stocks and 50% bonds. For example, with $500,000 of savings, you would withdraw $20,000 ($500,000 x .04) during your first year of retirement and $20,600 ($20,000 + $20,000 x .03) and $21,218 ($20,600 + $20,600 x .03) in years 2 and 3, assuming a 3% annual inflation rate increase. Recently, researchers have been advising investors to skip the annual inflation increase during severe market downturns such as 2008-2009.
  • So how does someone create a “retirement paycheck”? There are a number of available products or strategies that can be used to arrange regular income deposits at regular time intervals. Following are eight common “retirement paycheck” income distribution methods:• Automatic Withdrawal Plans- Available through mutual funds, this account feature allows investors to designate a dollar amount and a date (e.g., $500 on the 15th of the month) to receive regular income withdrawals, generally by direct deposit into a bank account. The withdrawals are automated and occur systematically regardless of market conditions. Payments are made by the investment company until the account balance is depleted.• Income Replacement (Managed Payout) Mutual Funds- These are a new type of actively managed mutual fund, with a choice of maturity dates (e.g., 2048) that investors select to match their projected life expectancy. The further away the maturity date, the less money investors will receive (as a percentage of the account balance) because their account has to last longer. Managed payout funds pay a monthly income that is adjusted annually for inflation and economic conditions and monthly payments continue until assets are exhausted. They contain a diverse portfolio of securities and are similar in operation to target date mutual funds except that the time deadline is based on investors’ life expectancy instead of their anticipated year of retirement.
  • • Bond or Certificate of Deposit (CD) “Ladder”- An investment “ladder” can be visualized as an actual ladder with a series of rungs (steps). It is a staggered portfolio of bonds or certificates of deposit (CDs) with different maturities (e.g., 6, 12, 24, 36, 48, and 60 months). As each bond or CD matures, the proceeds are reinvested at the longest time interval to maintain the ladder. With a fixed-income investment ladder, investors can “hedge their bets.” Instead of placing all their investment principal in one bond or CD with one maturity date, the money is spread around. If interest rates rise, they’ll be more frequent opportunities for investments to mature and to reinvest the proceeds at higher market interest rates. If interest rates decline, investors will still have some longer-term investments in the ladder that are paying higher interest than what is currently available.
  • • Regular Withdrawals from Cash Assets- Many financial advisors recommend setting aside enough money in cash assets (e.g., money market funds, CDs, and bank or credit union savings accounts) to provide 3 to 5 year’s worth of income that is not provided by Social Security or other sources (e.g., post-retirement jobs and pensions). The purpose of this money is to “ride out” recessions and bear markets so that investments like stocks and growth mutual funds don’t have to be sold at a loss to provide money for daily living expenses. The remainder of a retiree’s assets would be placed in stocks, bonds, or mutual funds. For example, if a couple plans a $40,000 annual income in retirement and expects to receive $25,000 from Social Security and employment, their income “gap” is $15,000 and 3 to 5 year’s worth of cash assets is $45,000 to $75,000. Income can be withdrawn monthly or quarterly, as needed. The cash balance should be replenished regularly, starting with income from bonds and dividends and capital gains from stock when market conditions are favorable.
  • • Post-Retirement Income- Several research studies have found that many people want to continue working past the traditional retirement age of 65, either because they have to (i.e., economic need) or because work provides a sense of satisfaction and daily structure. Income earned in later life (e.g., from a job or home-based business) can also be an important part of one’s “retirement paycheck.” In addition to providing money for daily living expenses, continued employment provides an opportunity to keep depositing money into retirement savings plans (e.g., 401(k)s), earn a higher Social Security and/or pension benefit, and postpone withdrawals from retirement assets. Earning $40,000 a year is the equivalent of withdrawing 4% from a $1 million portfolio.
  • • Annuities- An annuity is a contract with an insurance company where an investor deposits a sum of money in one lump sum or over time and the insurance company makes regular payments for the investor’s life (or a joint life expectancy with a spouse) or for a fixed time period. Annuity payments are generally based on factors such as age and gender. Investors should shop around for annuities with low expenses that are sold by insurance companies with high ratings for financial stability.
  • • Reverse Mortgages- A reverse mortgage gives older adults the ability to remain in their homes while receiving cash based on their home equity. The homeowner must be 62 years of age or older and the home must be their principal residence. Any existing mortgage must be paid off, (this is typically done from the money received from the reverse mortgage). There is no minimum credit or income requirement to qualify for a reverse mortgage and borrowers can use the money for whatever purpose they choose. Money can be received from the loan as a lump sum, in cash installments, as a line of credit, or any combination of these options. The amount received is based primarily on a borrower’s age, the value of the home, and prevailing interest rates.
  • • Monthly Income Payments- Regular income payments, such as rent collected from rental real estate or monthly mortgage payments (e.g., if a retiree provides a mortgage for others upon the sale of a house) are another way to create a retirement paycheck. Some people also rent out land, garages, or part of their primary residence as a source of additional income in retirement.
  • There are many ways to create a “retirement paycheck.” It’s fair to say that retirement in the 21st century will be quite different than that of previous generations. First, the “three-legged stool” analogy of a pension, Social Security, and personal savings as sources of retirement income is being replaced by a “four-legged chair” that also incorporates earnings from employment. In addition, the increasing cost of health care and long-term care will continue to be a major concern as life expectancies increase and retirements increasingly last 20 to 40 years. New financial products and strategies will continue to be developed to help people manage cash withdrawals for daily living expenses during later life.
  • Elder Finances

    1. 1. FINANCIAL ISSUES IN LATER LIFE Bill Taylor University of Wyoming Extension Community Development Area Educator April 2014
    2. 2. REFERENCES  Barbara O’Neill, Ph.D. CFP, Rutgers Cooperative Extension; eXtensionPersonal FinancesEstate Planning at http://www.extension.org/personal_finance  Financial Recovery in Later Life  Catch-Up Retirement Planning Strategies for Late Savers  Creating a Retirement “Paycheck”  How to Make Minimum Withdrawals from Retirement Savings Plans  Making the Most of IRAs and Other Tax-Deferred Retirement Savings 2
    4. 4.  FINANCIAL RESILIENCE is the ability to withstand economic life events, both negative and positive  Loss of job  Birth of grandchild  Essential because nothing is static 4
    5. 5. FINANCIAL CHALLENGES  Unemployment  Job retraining often necessary  Health insurance often lost COBRA provides for continuance of coverage for 18 months Expensive – 102% of full premium Only w/ employers w/ 20+ employees 5
    6. 6. FINANCIAL CHALLENGES (cont.)  Poor/uncertain health Requires revised retirement saving analysis Adjust life expectancy & retirement savings plan contributions 6
    7. 7. FINANCIAL CHALLENGES (cont.)  Death of spouse Possible less income Requires many decisions & adjustments Delay major decisions  Place funds in CD or money mkt mutual fund until there is time to explore long-term alternatives 7
    8. 8. FINANCIAL CHALLENGES (cont.)  Investment losses Maintain patience & longterm perspective Even at 55, you may have another 30 years of investing Limit withdrawals during mkt downturns Avoid risk of outliving assets 8
    9. 9. INCREASING FINANCIAL RESILIENCE  Monetary resources Emergency Health savings insurance Good-paying job/retirement benefits 9
    10. 10. INCREASING FINANCIAL RESILIENCE (cont.)  Human capital Knowledge Skills Experiences Health 10
    11. 11. INCREASING FINANCIAL RESILIENCE (cont.)  Social capital Support support system/emotional Family Friends Co-workers Neighbors Others 11
    12. 12. STRATEGIES 1. Maintain a low debt-toincome ratio Consumer debt limited to 15% of monthly take-home Above 20% - in danger zone i.e. $275 debt payments divided by $2500 net pay = 11% ratio 12
    13. 13. STRATEGIES (cont.) 2. Maintain an emergency fund At least 3 months expenses Liquid cash – savings, money market mutual fund, shortterm CD 13
    14. 14. STRATEGIES (cont.) Keep skill set sharp 3.  Never consider education or training finished  Keep developing marketable skills 14
    15. 15. STRATEGIES (cont.) 4. Purchase adequate insurance Life & disability insurance Try to always have health insurance through employer, COBRA, public benefits or individual policy 15
    16. 16. STRATEGIES (cont.) 5. Practice good health habits Diet, weight, exercise, sleep, etc. 16
    17. 17. STRATEGIES (cont.) 6. Increase knowledge of financial topics Learn basic investment principles, characteristics of specific securities eXtension Investing For Your Future at www.extension.org/pages/In vesting 17
    19. 19. THREE PROFILES 1. 2. 3. Procrastinators – didn’t bother or had to put off building retirement fund Saving, but got late start – trying to make up time Been saving, but lost ground due to markets or emergency 19
    20. 20. MAKE-UP PRACTICES  Can be divided into 2 basic strategies: Take action before retirement to increase savings Take action after retirement to decrease amount of savings required 20
    21. 21. BEFORE RETIREMENT:         Saving more money Reducing expenses & saving the difference Accelerating debt repayment “Moonlight” for extra income Investing aggressively Automating investment deposits Maximizing tax-deferral opportunities Preserving lump-sum distributions by rolling into another tax-deferred savings plan 21
    22. 22. AFTER RETIREMENT:  Trading down to smaller home  Moving to less expensive location  Delaying retirement  Working  Reverse mortgage or saleleaseback on home  Tax efficient asset withdrawals 22
    23. 23. TRADE-OFFS  Catching up requires trade- offs i.e. spending less now to have more later 23
    24. 24. COMBINING STRATEGIES  Examples: Investing more in 401(k) & moving to less expensive location “Moonlighting” while delaying retirement Investing more aggressively & downsizing to smaller home 24
    25. 25. MOST EFFECTIVE CATCH-UP TECHNIQUES  Working 2-3 years longer  Postponing collection of Social Security until full retirement age 25
    26. 26. ADDITIONAL HELP Guidebook to Help Late Savers Prepare for Retirement by National Endowment for Financial Education at www.smartaboutmoney.org (type Late Savers Guidebook in search box) 26
    27. 27. RETIREMENT “PAYCHECK” 27
    28. 28. A Retirement Paycheck is income received on a regular basis after retirement.  Easier to pay monthly bills  Provides more financial security & peace of mind  Continues monthly money management system used before retirement  “Safe” withdrawal rate from retirement funds 28
    29. 29. “SAFE” WITHDRAWAL  Withdrawal amount adjusted to reduce risk of outliving assets  Inflation-adjusted withdrawal of 4% of 50% stock- 50% bond portfolio balance will generally last 30 years 29
    30. 30. “RETIREMENT PAYCHECK” STRATEGIES  Automatic Withdrawal Plans – available w/ mutual funds, until balance is depleted  Income Replacement Mutual Funds – actively managed funds w/ choice of maturity dates pay monthly income until balance is depleted 30
    31. 31. “RETIREMENT PAYCHECK” STRATEGIES (cont.)  Bond or CD Ladder – staggered portfolio w/ different maturities; as each matures, proceeds are reinvested at longest interval 31
    32. 32. “RETIREMENT PAYCHECK” STRATEGIES (cont.)  Regular Withdrawals from Cash Assets – set aside 3-5 year’s income in cash assets (money mkt funds, CDs, savings accounts) to ride out recessions  Remainder of assets in stocks, bonds, mutual funds  Cash assets replenished regularly from stocks, bonds, or mutual funds 32
    33. 33. “RETIREMENT PAYCHECK” STRATEGIES (cont.)  Post-Retirement Age Income – continuing employment past retirement age  Provides money for daily living  Allows for continued deposits into retirement funds  Earns higher Social Security  Postpones withdrawal of retirement assets 33
    34. 34. “RETIREMENT PAYCHECK” STRATEGIES (cont.)  Annuities Investor pays into contract w/ life insurance company and company make regular payments for investor’s life Shop for low expense fees w/ high financial stability rating 34
    35. 35. “RETIREMENT PAYCHECK” STRATEGIES (cont.)  Reverse Mortgage – can remain in home while receiving cash  Based on equity  Must be 62 or older  Must be primary residence  No minimum credit or income requirement  Can be received as lump sum, cash payments, or line of credit 35
    36. 36. “RETIREMENT PAYCHECK” STRATEGIES (cont.)  Monthly Income Payments i.e. rent or mortgage payments Could rent out land, garage or buildings, part of residence 36
    37. 37. FOUR-LEGGED CHAIR  “Three-legged stool” of pension, Social Security, personal savings is commonly being converted to “four-legged chair” by adding later employment. 37
    38. 38. 38