Among many financial problems, America is in the midst of a retirement crisis not seen since the fall of modern day Greece, which we suppose wasn’t all that long ago. Studies show that half of all Americans today retire with $25,000 or less in their retirement accounts. While that’s scary enough, it’s not as scary as the retirement of generations to follow Baby Boomers whom many financial advisors advise to not plan on Social Security for supplemental income in their on golden pond years.
Because of this retirement crisis, there’s a plethora of retirement planning advice from a plethora of financial talking heads available online, in books and from financial services firms. Therefore, the two of us rubbed our heads together like Dan Akroyd and Jane Curtin to think of unique retirement considerations most Americans fail to consider.
1. Family Needs in Retirement
When we say there are lots of financial problems Americans faces today, this unfortunately isn’t a joke. Teens can’t find summer jobs and that, as studies suggest, will affect their lifetime maximum earning potential. Post-college millennials have postponed major life events such starting a family, buying a home and starting and funding a retirement account.
Generation Y is the first generation to be confused why their every accomplishment doesn’t garner a trophy. They don’t earn nearly as much as they expected or need to make ends meet.
What retirement savings Generation X had was hit hard by the financial crisis and their participation in McMansion Monopoly. Never ones to practice moderation, they needed the best house, the best kids in the most after school activities to be driven to and from in the best cars when they weren’t on the best vacations. All this was at the expense of their best retirement interest.
Because we understand familial love also goes against Mom and Dad’s best interest at times, we know many in or nearing retirement will spend some of their retirement savings taking care of their children and grandchildren. This is not a plea for you to take care of your adult children. This is a plea to take care of yourself if you even think there’s a chance you may possibly help take care of your adult children financially.
If you think you may fall prone to such financial responsibility, plan accordingly.
1. Open a specialized trust account for family members. Include in the trust documents parameters to be met for your children or grandchildren to receive money from this trust, such as long-term unemployment or other financial emergencies. This eliminates the risk of them requesting loans at their whim.
2. Open a 529 Plan for each of your grandchildren. All of the benefits of doing so can be found here, but mainly this type of accounts provides financial support for education.
3. Open a UTMA/UGMA account for each of your grandchildren. All of the benefits of doing so can be found here. Remember, though, once your grandchild(ren) reach(es) the age of majority in their state of residence, the money in such an account is 100% theirs.
4. Open a gift account from which you make payments to family members at your whim. This is simply a savings or investing account in which your store money you may want to give to family members. Remember to stay under annual gifting limits to avoid taxes.
Ultimately, what such a plan allows you to do is plan for the inevitable if you’re the parent or grandparent who is likely to sacrifice for your heir’s futures.
2. Housing in Retirement
I recently attended a webinar that discussed the need to plan for housing in retirement. As mentioned in the presentation, most financial advisors’ financial plans address bucket list items and the “golden years” of retirement. Many of these plans fail to adequately plan for the need to modify housing as retirees become immobile or have increased needs.
A John’s Hopkins University School of Nursing and Legg Mason found that while “the vast majority of people over 65 live at home and 97 percent live in traditional communities until age 75 to 84, when the move to community housing or long-term care kicks upward.”
With the increased number of seniors in the U.S., housing accommodations have become as unique and numerous as cars options. Discussing long-term care and housing needs and incorporating such needs in financial plans not only budgets money for these line items, but saves loved ones from having to make such sensitive decisions for their parents.
3. Medical Travel in Retirement
Everyone these days knows to incorporate healthcare into their retirement planning, but what most people don’t plan on is traveling abroad to cover healthcare needs, especially major medical care.
Why would anyone do such a thing? Traveling outside the U.S. for minor and major medical care is becoming increasingly popular. Often, the healthcare can be just as good if not better without the constraints of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. The costs of medical procedures abroad is often cheaper in countries without the high number of attorneys frothing at the mouth to sue medical professionals and without overly bureaucratic and profit myopic insurance companies.
In 2007, the cost for a hip replacement in the U.S. was about $100,000. A hip replace in Belgium, including a round trip flight and all medicine cost $13,600. A patient could’ve spent another $5,000 to vacation in Belgium and nearby countries after their operation and still not even pay 19 percent of the cost to have a hip replacement in the U.S.
As of November 2013, traveling abroad for surgery was a $40 billion industry expected to grow 15 to 20 percent annually. In a recent study, 29 percent of seniors and 51 percent of millennials said they would travel abroad for medical needs.
As this is the case, it benefits all future retirees to plan for such expenses accordingly. Most financial advisors factor major medical expenses into their retirement planning and the net expense with this strategy should drop. However, other financial categories, such as travel, hotels and dining will increase and aren’t cover by insurance. For an accurate financial picture, these adjustments must be factored into the equation.
Retirement and the needs for retirement will continue to evolve. Along with it, retirement planning must evolve. What worked even ten years ago won’t necessarily work today. Laws continue to change, demand continues to change and medical needs and medical care continues to change.
When planning your for retirement and managing your money in retirement, think creatively and strategically. Think of and adjust for any and every scenario that may affect your retirement finances. We hope this post gives you three unique considerations.
What other non-traditional retirement planning considerations do you think must be addressed?