Updated: Dec 6, 2021
Let’s take a moment to summarize what we have covered so far in our previous blogs regarding the “Rock-n-Roll Years” as we look to conclude this topic.
Life during this season of a relationship is at warp speed. Careers, family, business, and more keep time flashing by. Menopause and mid-life crisis throw in their curveball. Couples start to note some changes in themselves, and in each other, as aging becomes more of a reality during the second half of this season in the life of a marriage and the individual.
Some telling signs that you are becoming the “senior” in society are when you begin to reflect and talk more frequently on “the good old days”. On how things use to be better. Or, when you have more history together with your spouse, reminiscing and saying things like “remember when?”. When you realize you are starting to sound like your parents. Maybe starting to look like them. Your taste in style begins to reflect more on comfort than the latest fashion trends. You start to dig the idea of trying some activities that you never would have considered before, like bingo. And you really begin to take note of how old you are when the music of your younger years is now considered “old school”. You bring up a band or a song and only a couple of people, if any, at your job know what or who you are talking about. And on the flip side, your co-workers bring up their favorite artist and you have no clue who they are. Aging bands or recording artists of your past look to do reunion tours now filled with middle-aged people sitting in their reserved, assigned seats instead of the standing room only concerts once enjoyed it seems a lifetime ago. Now it is more about enjoying the comfort, the music, and the past than it is about “experiencing” the rock-n-roll concert of excess.
Rock-n-Roll grandpas! Time is not on our side!
For a couple entering into this phase of life and relationship, the change may be hard to accept. However, perception will play an important part, as we discussed in an earlier blog, on how a couple embraces this change.
I would start by focusing on some of the positives. There are good things about getting older. I have two words: senior discounts! Qualifying for senior discounts from dining, movies to services opens up a whole new frontier. You’ve earned it baby!
You will find that there are services that cater to seniors. For example, Consumer Cellular has one of the best mobile phone service prices for seniors. Other carriers are adding a “senior package” as well. Shop around and see who has the best for you. And check what other essential services will provide you with that senior discount. Time to take advantage of your age and save!
You have reached an age where you can lighten up. Tired of the work pressure? Let someone younger take it. You’ve been there, done that so maybe it is time to “simplify”. It can be rewarding to mentor another generation. And, not having to take your work home with you. At an older age, pressures can lead to high blood pressure, heart issues, and more. Why push your luck. Your health and that of your marriage are not worth sacrificing on any altar. Some reaching this stage in life still try to show that they still “got it”. Why? And, who cares? Just let it go before you hurt something. You don’t have to prove anything to anybody now unless it is to yourself. Those laugh lines and greying hair are signs of wisdom and years of life experience. You’ve reached an age many never get to enjoy. You are a survivor so celebrate it!
You start to realize you are closer to the retirement age than you care to admit. Many aging rock-n-rollers wrestle with losing their youth. Determined to hold on, some take drastic steps. However, those aging into senior status need to learn how to embrace this reality. Those who do will be better positioned in maintaining a sensible and healthy mental attitude. This in turn will be reflected in the home and marriage. Two people who support and encourage each other during this pivotal period in their relationship will find in each other the emotional help and stability necessary as they face this fact of life together.
Naturally, there are some important things that need to be discussed as a couple looks ahead. Those discussions will be based on what type of planning they have been following in the past, if any, to what planning they should have going forward toward retirement and senior life. At this juncture you will have a better grasp on what retirement will look like for the two of you.
As we have seen in just the past few months, planning can be changed overnight by something unexpected. In this case a virus that has upended families and nations around the world. That is why we mentioned in our earlier blogs that a plan needs to be flexible, with a Plan B in mind as well as a rainy-day fund. A road map sets the direction, but detours may exist due to road conditions.
So here you are staring at retirement as it peeks over the horizon. It may be 2 to 10 years away now for at least one of you. That time will go quickly. No matter what condition you find yourselves in. Here are some practical things to do, and to consider:
1. Set up a “My Social Security” account with the Social Security Administration. They keep track of your annual income, show estimates of what you can expect to receive with regard to social security payments, and when you are ready, you will be able to file for Social Security as well as Medicare from this account. You will find doing this will be very helpful, as well as the information they have on their site, which I encourage you to explore. Here is the link to set up your account:
Every couple will have a different financial makeup going into retirement. Some will have one, or multiple pensions to include with social security. Others, it may only be Social Security and supplementing it with working part or full time. It is important to know that should you start collecting Social Security before your full retirement age, you are restricted on how much you can net annually until you reach what they state as your full retirement age. That age keeps going up. It use to be 62 years old. Then it was 65 years old. Then it was 66 years plus so many months based on your birthday. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? You will have to determine for yourself what is best. Take it early or wait. Basically, it comes out the same for total payout, the difference is the amount of time that it is spread out. Take it early, the monthly amount will be less since it is over a longer period. Waiting until later condenses the amount of time and so a higher monthly payout. However, who knows how long we will live. The government looks at average life spans to figure this stuff out. To entice you to wait, the offer of higher payout is presented with 70 years old being the longest you can hold out for the maximum monthly payout amount. The unspoken hope is that many will wait, pushing them closer to a shorter window of life expectancy that they will have to pay Social Security on. Thus, one more way of saving money and keeping Social Security solvent.
2. Expense alert! Medicare is not free. Medicare will cost you $144.50 a month (the cost for Part B). It was $138.50 just a few years ago. It will be more in the near future. I recommend you look into Medicare Advantage plans. These are approved plans by Medicare that handle Medicare but with additional coverages Medicare doesn’t bother to cover. Some Advantage plans do not add anything above the $144.50 monthly cost, while other plans have a monthly additional premium added on top of the Medicare cost. Do your research. Weigh the pros and cons and make your decision accordingly. Be sure to consult your spouse and have their approval. And, be prepared to work this cost into your retirement budget, whatever it may be when your time comes. You file for Medicare when you turn 65 years old.
3. Based on some of this information, keep your options open. When it comes time to retire and you are moving to a fixed income, depending on what that looks like, you may want to explore where your funds will stretch the furthest. It may be that moving to a different town or to a different state will be of benefit when considering living expenses. Some areas are more retirement friendly than others. Investigate and see what you come up with as possibilities while you set a 5 to 10-year window on when you plan on finally make the retirement move.
3. Buy a rambler as your last home purchase. This gives you several important things. One, is the option to age in place and stay right where you are with no stairs. If you take this route, you can reduce your monthly mortgage payment to make it more retirement friendly by refinancing the remaining balance when you finally take the retirement plunge. This is a move worth looking into.
A rambler is a good investment that will increase in value and sell easier than multi-level homes should you choose to “take the money and run”. Your home can be a nice chunk of your retirement nest egg. What you may not have right now in savings due to whatever reason, you could have when you sell your home. So, put some sweat equity into your place to increase its value. Keep updating as you can to make home improvements. Especially when it comes to curb appeal. You will be glad you did.
You also have the option to take the funds from the sale of your home, downsize and buy something smaller such as a condo. If you can buy outright from the proceeds, then you will have no monthly mortgage. You would only need to budget for taxes, utilities, and upkeep which you do now if you are already in a home. Some have used the funds from the sale of a home to buy an RV to live and travel, a manufactured home, or a mobile home. Just know you will have options.
However, if you are done with the lawn care, the maintenance of homeownership as you enter retirement, or aging senior status as it approaches, take the money, put it in the bank, go find a rental that fits the budget and go from there.
Naturally, we do not know the future. You may find yourselves having to house one of the kids for a while. Health issues can alter plans temporarily or permanently. A natural disaster can complicate things. So many variables. It is difficult to plan for every possible scenario. The best we can do is chose a path, do the best to keep on track, and to make that retirement plan a reality. Adjusting along the way for the changing winds. Consider yourself a captain of an old sailing ship. There are plenty of variables and obstacles to contend with while sailing the ocean. Winds may blow you off a bit, or storms slow you down. Whatever comes, adjustments are required to get back on course until you arrive at your charted destination.
You may have to free yourselves of some cargo. Get rid of it and look to travel light if need be. You may have to ration some things like cutting back on some non-essentials in order to get there. Start looking at where you can “trim the fat” as it were.
Yea, you keep putting it off, figuring you will get around to it eventually. After all, being in one’s ’20s, ’30s, or ’40s seemed kind of young to fuss with this. Now your 50’s have arrived, possibly your ’60’s. To be honest, I actually didn’t take the time to do a will until I was 64 years old. Not the best example to follow I reckon. However, the important thing is to establish a will while you can no matter how old you are. There are free forms online you can download or at the local office supply store you can buy, software programs you can use, and websites that offer a service. A simple will is better than no will and it actually can be done in a weekend if you just set the time aside. Sit with your spouse, talk through your wishes discuss some “what if” scenarios such as what to do if the other passes away or if both of you do at the same time. Whatever you do, just don’t leave it up to the State. And, don’t leave your spouse with the headache of having to figure things out after you are gone.
At this point, you should start to feel a little better as you both look ahead into the future world of retirement. Now you can talk about what you would like to do once you both have arrived. Travel? Start or buy a business? Work part or full-time? Joining some activities? Keep things simple and chill?
A new chapter is yet to be written! Have fun with it! TOGETHER!
Until next time, we wish you LOVE, JOY & PEACE!
Brad & Yvonne Adams