If you are like many Americans who have not yet retired, you may be actively striving to get to a place in life where work becomes optional. With so many people focused on eventual retirement, and a number of tools to help you get there, why does getting to retirement seem to be such a challenge?
Premier’s team finds that there are a number of obligations and expenses that are competing with an investor’s commitment to save and invest. Here are some of the common items we find that prevent investors from saving more, in no particular order:
- Cost of being a homeowner such as property tax, insurance and maintenance.
- High home prices and refinancing with a higher mortgage balance, leading to large mortgage payments for longer time periods
- Credit card debt
- Car payments
- Student loan debt
- Medical bills
- High cost of medical insurance
- 401(k) loans
- Child care costs
- Saving for other needs such as a car purchase, remodel or sending children to college
- Business fluctuations for business owners
- Providing financial support to adult children or other family members
- High cost of living such as eating out, shopping and travel
So with all of these competing commitments, how does one get to retirement? Well, it starts with planning and figuring out what your goals are and how you are going to get there. You need to analyze your situation, determine if you are on track (a high percentage of people are not), and then look at the variables that you may need to adjust in order to increase the probability that you will meet your goals. These may not be easy decisions, but here are some variables that may be adjusted to help you:
- Downsize to a more affordable residence, if needed. Having the mortgage paid off by the time you retire to reduce your monthly income needs.
- Refinance your mortgage for a lower interest rate, if possible.
- Pay off consumer debts more quickly so you can reduce your interest expense and start saving more for retirement.
- Look for lower cost services, such as lower cost insurance and utilities.
- Pay for child care expenses pre-tax through an employer cafeteria plan.
- Borrow for children’s college expenses rather than covering from current income. This could help with current income taxes as well if you are deferring to a retirement account.
- Increase household income, if possible.
- Reduce discretionary expenses.
- Ask your employer to start a company retirement plan if you do not have one, or possibly start a retirement plan if you are self-employed.
- Work longer than planned.
You may notice an underlying theme, which is to increase the difference between income and expenses so that you are able to save more. Then make saving automatic and be wise with your investing. Make sure that your money is invested in a way that does not take unusual risk and does not sit idle in a bank account or money market earning low rates that are less than inflation. It is also important to evaluate your investment management costs, as that can affect your overall results.
If you do the heavy lifting first by making a plan, then your retirement account with deferred tax liability and investment returns can help to do the rest. Understanding your relationship to money, being patient and sticking to your plan are the keys to achieving your retirement goals.
You can learn much more about how to evaluate your situation and how to utilize sound investment and financial strategies to help meet your goals at a complimentary evaluation with one of our retirement plan advisors. We can review your situation and to help you to determine if you are on track with being able to retire at the age you want and with the income you want. This is an area where you don’t want to be surprised, and planning ahead and making adjustments now can make all the difference.
Premier Spotlight – Local Non-Profit – Hospice of Humboldt
Hospice of Humboldt is a local non-profit organization founded in 1978 by a group of local medical professionals. Its mission is to provide heartfelt end of life care and bereavement services to all who need them in Northern Humboldt County. Hospice has often been one of those community services that people tend to not talk about until it becomes apparent that perhaps their services may be needed for a friend or family member. It seems that there is a sense that if Hospice is called we have perhaps ‘given up.’ Hospice services can, at times, provide an improved prognosis as symptoms and medications are better managed. But when that is not possible, Hospice care provides the new hope for a peaceful end of life transition for patients and families.
While talking with the Executive Director of Hospice of Humboldt, Joe Rogers, we have learned that often when Hospice is called in to help, the family is already under significant stress and sometimes in crisis mode. To help alleviate that, they have provided some guidelines for community members and medical professionals to help evaluate when it may be appropriate to call Hospice.
You should call Hospice for an informational visit and evaluation if the person has either of the following:
- received a terminal diagnosis
- been hospitalized twice in the last year due to symptoms of chronic illness
- a continuous decline in overall health status
- progressive loss of function
- decreased ability to ambulate
- decreased ability to perform daily self-care activities
- less interest in interacting with others
- reduced appetite
- weight loss
- increased fatigue
- increased sleeping
- delayed wound healing
- bowel or bladder incontinence
- repeated falls
Also there is no cost or obligation for an informational visit from Hospice. Hospice of Humboldt can arrange family meetings to discuss the options for end of life care of your friend or loved one. Hospice also offers free grief support services which have been very helpful for many community members. You can learn more by visiting www.hospiceofhumboldt.org or calling 707-445-8443.