You can’t avoid disasters, but you can prepare for them. For retirements, the top two threats are the cost of long-term care and bear markets.
Kiplinger’s recent article “Disaster-Proof Your Retirement Plan” says that many people who prepared still lost their homes and, in some instances, family. Others who did nothing were fortunate to escape peril. Because misfortune can work haphazardly, people can become complacent.
Many pre-retirees understand the importance of planning, but it’s just not a priority for them “just yet.” Now they’re healthy, making money on their investments and enjoying a steady paycheck. They know they’ll have to buckle down and get on it, but not right now.
However, like any type of disaster preparation, the sooner you solve your vulnerabilities, the more security you’ll have. Here’s a closer look at some of the issues and some solutions.
Many people have long lives, but don’t enjoy them due to health issues. If you’re 65, there’s better than a 50-50 chance you’ll need long-term care at some point in the future, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. An illness could wipe out your assets quickly. It could leave your surviving spouse with little to live on when you pass away.
It is essential to plan ahead. This is because an extended health care crisis can cost as much as $10,000 per month, even for home care. Medicare doesn’t cover long-term care costs. Without a financial plan to deal with this, retires may be forced to spend down their assets.
There are several financial strategies that can be applied to address long-term care. Traditional long-term care insurance is a good choice, if you’re in your 40s or 50s and still healthy. For those in their 60s, or those who don’t want to pay ongoing premiums, you might buy a single premium annuity or life insurance policy with a long-term care rider. Another option is an income-based annuity, which is typically much easier to qualify for, health-wise.
If your retirement income plan relies heavily on your investments, poor market performance early in retirement can have a disastrous impact on how long your money will last. A simple strategy for this problem is the "bucket” approach. Calculate your required annual expenses and, if possible, move four years’ worth into safer investments like money-market funds, very short-term bonds or an annuity. When we see the next market correction, you’ll be able to weather the storm and use these safe assets to cover your living expenses.
When it comes to retirement, knowing that there are real threats is a start. However, taking action to prepare for these possibilities now, will help you in years to come.
Reference: Kiplinger (January 29, 2018) “Disaster-Proof Your Retirement Plan”