Here’s a truth. It’s simple. After Fifty, opportunities for “do-overs” are few and far between. A friend colored my hair for me. Kind of a friend. And, thank heavens I know someone who can strip out this awful color. Ahhhh, thanks for do-overs! But other situations, sometimes with far reaching implications, just can’t be “fixed.”
Did you know – only 35% of us have pensions, and our savings are paltry (really?!!) – so, we don’t have wiggle room for money mistakes. Some lifestyle mistakes, like choosing the wrong lipstick or tie, well, you’ll get over it. Other lifestyle mistakes though may be far more life-damaging.
So, here are some action steps that just may help preserve your nest egg, refresh your life-style and safeguard your sanity.
1. Nest Egg – Financial Planner. Stop believing that (a) you don’t need one, and, (b) you’re not wealthy and only the wealthy use financial planners. Of course you need one. Even brain surgeons don’t “operate” on themselves. Ask around (friends, family, co-workers, neighbors) AND check out the website of the National Association of Certified Financial Planners. A word of caution. Make certain the professional you go to is in fact a CFP (certified financial planner). The CFP you select will most likely put you through your paces because they’ve got to understand your financial situation thoroughly. So, be prepared to roll-up your sleeves.
2. Nest Egg – Social Security. Yes, you may be approaching 62 and thinking, “Hooray – I can start collecting!” – but, is doing so really in your best long-term interest? If you collect at 62 you will forevermore have a reduced benefit – by a whopping 25%. Think of all the hundreds, thousands, you will miss out on – if only you had waited till your 66th birthday. And those who decide to wait till age 70 will see their benefits increased by a huge 32% over and above what they would have gotten at 66. If you need to collect early, so be it. But think hard about all you’ll be leaving behind on the table.
3. Nest Egg – Being Too Conservative.We’re not talking politics here. When you hit 65, your life expectancy will be about another 20 years. And if you make it to 85, you will have another 5-10 years of expenses ahead of you. No, you don’t want to lose money, but unless you are outpacing inflation with your investments, then you will outlive those investments. Look at the long-term horizon – the next 20-30 years. You may want to divvy up your money into different asset pools and invest at least one of them more aggressively. Talk it over with the CFP you’ve hired.
4. Life-Style – Consider Down-Sizing. Remember the days of Little League and Scouting and 6th grade homework assignments? For most of us, those days have passed. If you don’t really need the 4-bedroom home, then why are you hanging on to it? Memories? Oh, absolutely. We cherish them and rightfully so. But it’s time to make new memories. Clear out those closets, empty that basement and attic. And, as you down-size your possessions, think about how much it really costs to maintain your current lifestyle. Are there other ways you’d rather spend your money than on utilities, services, property taxes, repairs, replacements, insurance, etc., etc., etc. As you free yourself from your “things” you may find a whole new wonderful world open up to you.
5. Life-Style – Do It Now. If you’re blessed with good health, count that as one of your greatest blessings. Many of us have learned that life’s circumstances can change – and dramatically so – with the drop of a hat. So, if you’ve always wanted to go on a safari, DO IT NOW. If you’ve always wanted to be your own boss and/or start a business, DO IT NOW. If you’ve always wanted …. (fill in the blanks), DO IT NOW. Yes, it may take time to get “it” done, but that time is going to pass anyway – so you might just as well get it started and DO IT NOW. Life is short. Take advantage of the time we have – right now.
6. Life-Style – Healthful Living. Eat right (you know what I mean). Exercise (it’s a magic potent for all that ails you). If you drink, do so in moderation. If you smoke – quit. I just turned in a car with 276,000+ miles – and it ran like a dream. I took good care of it. And while there are no guarantees in life, I’m hoping my body goes the equivalent “mileage.”
7. Sanity – Your Children. If you were blessed with children, your relationship with them has changed. Here are a couple hard, fast rules to help keep your sanity now in regards to your kids. (1) They don’t owe you a thing. They really don’t. Trying to guilt them into “doing” for you will not produce the result you think it will. They have their own lives and responsibilities now – so don’t become a “burden.” (2) They’re watching you – all the time. Whether or not you knew it, you were a role model for them in their youth. And you continue to be a role model in your After Fifty years. Be a good one.
8. Sanity – Your Friends. Nurture them. They, along with your children and other family members, are your support system. And consider adding to your “portfolio” of friends. Join a club, volunteer, strike up a conversation. Socialization is ALWAYS important – maybe even more so, now. Going it alone is a recipe of disaster.
Let’s make these years our best years ever!