Dodge These 5 Retirement Hazards

Dodge These 5 Retirement Hazards
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Are you prepared to pay for your golden years? Here are five things to plan for.

1. Debt. If you’re in debt, you’ll need more income. If you don’t have any debt, you can get by on less income. A smaller income requirement reduces the need for a larger investment portfolio. Don’t let your kids’ college loans or your own loan balances put your retirement plans on hold. Pay for your lifestyle early and enter retirement with a smaller income requirement (or extra discretionary income for fun).

2. Health care. Cost planning for health care is critical as your health status and the future of health care policy are unknown. If you’re not a service retiree and you plan to retire prior to age 65, you have to plan for health care issues without Medicare. Estimates place health care costs from $200,000 to $300,000 over the course of retirement.

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3. Long term care. Living longer due to better medical science creates a double-sided sword — yes, we’ll live longer, but we won’t be able to care for ourselves. Full-time long term care costs can range from $40,000 to $100,000 a year. The average long term care requirement runs about three years unless you’re talking about a cognitive disorder.

4. Enough assets. Too few assets at retirement mean you’ll have to work longer or lower your standard of living. Otherwise, you’ll risk running out of money before you die. If you run out of money late in your retirement, working likely will not be an option; you’ll be too old or too sick. Make sure you enter retirement with more than enough assets, get proper money management for retirement income needs, and develop a retirement budget to monitor and manage cash flows.

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5. Ignoring external effects on your plan. Always reassess your financial situation as markets, economies, portfolios, or family circumstances change. I’ve met people who developed their retirement game plan and didn’t change course when external factors impacted their plan. Instead, they pressed on with the original plan to their own detriment. Change is constant, so always be ready to flex when need be — or suffer the consequences.

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About the Author

Lt. Col. Shane Ostrom, USAF (Ret), CFP®
Lt. Col. Shane Ostrom, USAF (Ret), CFP®

Ostrom is MOAA's former Program Director, Financial & Benefits Education/Counseling