Seven steps to preserving your independence

How we age depends on so much more than genetics. The good news is that, even though it isn’t always easy, we do have control over most of the factors shaping our golden years. Last year, Northwestern University released a study of “super agers”, people over 80-years old who have maintained excellent cognitive function. The study noted a clear link between brain health and positive relationships. Want to maintain your independence? Call a friend to chat! In addition to cultivating and maintaining social connections, we’ve identified six other key factors that influence how we age and you have some control over them all. You just have to lean in. Physical strength. You don’t have to go to the gym every day, but you do need to remain active. Take a walk, ride a bike, go for a swim, play a little pickle ball, practice yoga. Taking fitness and just plain activity seriously enough to maintain a basic amount of body strength is also very important for fall prevention. Most doctors recommend 30 minutes a day. Home modifications. As physical needs change, people need to adapt their environment to accommodate those changes. Install handrails, clear the floor of any throw rugs, move furniture to ensure a clear path through it. Arrange your cabinets to make things you use every day readily accessible. Add floor mats and guard rails to your tub, check the lighting in your bedroom to make sure you can see at night. You don’t necessarily have to cook your own meals, but you do have to make sure you are consuming nutritious food. Home delivery services make that very easy. Pay attention to what you put in your mouth and make sure you keep healthy snacks in stock. Stock up on freezer containers so you can split one large meal into several smaller and freeze them for later use. Of course, having a driver’s license makes transportation much… | Read More »

Age is just a number, especially in retirement planning

One of the most important numbers most people consider when they plan their retirement is also the one that gets them in trouble: their age. The right way to consider age in financial planning is to use it to plan an effective retirement horizon – how many years will you need to fund and how likely are you to need to pay for some form of long term care. The wrong way to consider age is to use it to defend an otherwise random decision to stop working. It is extremely dangerous to base your retirement on the feeling that you are entitled to it. “Listen, I’ve worked hard for 35 years and I’m already five years older than my dad was when he retired,” goes the common though flawed rationale. “I’m done. I’m out. “ Asked what they intend to do when their money runs out (as it probably will), they respond, “I’ll figure that out when it happens.” Well, that won’t work. You can’t take out a loan to fund your retirement, and, as your money runs out you find yourself less and less in control of the life choices you took for granted. To establish the financial freedom you need to enjoy your retirement, you need to be proactive. Here are seven steps you need to take before you decide to retire (and none of them involves your age): Establish a budget. This tedious task yields a key number to consider when planning your retirement – how much money you will need each month. Of course your retirement budget will look a little different than your working budget – for one thing you’ll be withdrawing, not contributing, to a retirement plan. But the best place to start planning is by figuring out your outflow now. Develop disciplined spending habits. Don’t spend money you don’t have. Plan for large expenditures and try to keep debt under control. If… | Read More »