The #1 concern most Americans have when it comes to retirement is paying for health care.
According to a recent survey from Merrill Lynch and Age Wave, those age 65 and over ranked health as their greatest source of worry.
With rising health care costs and longer life expectancies, it’s no wonder covering medical expenses tops most retirees list of retirement worries.
Add to that an unpredictable future for our Social Security system, market corrections, and uncertain taxes, it’s reasonable to feel a bit on edge these days.
However, Americans do retire successfully. Studies tend to show current retirees being less concerned about these issues than those approaching retirement. They have the benefit of experience, I guess.
Although I can’t predict your future, a bit of insight and planning can still go a long way to help ease some of your retirement worries.
So today, I’m going to debunk four of the biggest worries nearly all retirees have on their mind.
Retirement Worry #1: Health Care
You see healthcare top many retirement lists and studies as a major concern because many health issues are age related.
While you can’t control your genetic makeup, you can make good choices when it comes to eating healthy and exercising regularly. In addition, I find simply giving people their options when it comes to healthcare coverage can ease a lot of the uncertainty.
Here are the basics…
Most people become eligible for Medicare when they turn 65. Medicare is made up of several parts.
Medicare Part A is hospital coverage. It’s generally free, with some exceptions.
Medicare Part B is medical insurance, and you pay a premium for coverage.
Medicare Part C, aka Medicare Advantage, is an optional replacement for traditional Medicare. You might pay more for an optional Part C plan.
Medicare Part D is your prescription drug coverage. Pard D costs will vary.
So unless your prior employer has your health insurance covered for life, you’ll most likely go onto Medicare.
Choosing the right plan depends on your health status, family history, and budget. It’s also not a bad idea to consider a Medicare Supplement plan, or a Medigap policy.
A major reason to consider a Medigap policy is if you plan on traveling.
Traditional Medicare doesn’t cover you when you travel outside the U.S. But, most Medigap policies do.
The last thing you should consider is long-term care insurance. The data isn’t pretty. Coverage is expensive and your alternative of no coverage can be worse.
The main things to consider here are whether or not your assets are needed for someone else to maintain a certain standard of living. And, whether or not you’re looking to leave a legacy.
Those are two major questions you need to ask before you consider long-term care insurance.
Retirement Worry #2: Outliving Your Money
The second biggest worry is fear of running out of money. With longer life expectancies and rising costs, the amount of money it takes to maintain a comfortable standard of living in retirement is significant.
Step one is to figure out how much you’ll need saved to retire comfortably. You can do this a number of ways but my suggestion would be to find a few different retirement calculators and run the numbers.
Once you have a few different sets of numbers, choose the worst case scenario and build your savings plan around that number.
The sooner you know how much you should have saved the better. Sometimes it can seem like a pension, Social Security and some modest savings will be enough. But that isn’t always the case.
Inflation and other uncontrollable factors can quickly eat away at your savings. It’s important to keep your spending to a minimum early in retirement, this way you give your money time to grow and you’ll have extra saved should you run into trouble later on.
Retirement Worry #3: Not Enough Cash Flow
This worry might seem similar to the second, but it comes from a different place. A lot retirees worry that their income won’t be enough to cover basic living expenses.
The fate of Social Security is up in the air. It likely won’t disappear but it could be significantly reduced, leaving a lot of retirees struggling to pay their bills.
The fix here is putting in place a solid drawdown strategy. The most common strategy is the 4% rule, where you withdraw 4% of your savings in the first year of retirement, and each year after that you take out the same dollar amount, plus an inflation adjustment.
For example, if you have $1,000,000 in retirement savings, the first year you would withdraw $40,000. Then, over the course of that year, inflation runs 3%. The next year, you’d withdraw $41,200.
There are a number of different drawdown strategies, the point being that having a sufficient cash flow is critical in retirement.
Retirement Worry #4: Debt
The last big worry is paying down debt. This worry probably wouldn’t have topped the list 20 years ago. But today retirees carry a lot more debt.
Bigger mortgages, multiple credit cards — it’s a major issue that retirees face. It’s not that you can’t ever have debt in retirement, but you need to be able to manage it.
If you can, pay off your credit cards before you retire. You don’t want your retirement savings getting eaten up by high-interest payments.
In some cases, you’ll want to go into debt. Maybe you need to replace your vehicle and the interest payments are low enough that it makes sense to take out a car loan.
You might also downsize or buy a second vacation property with a mortgage. So long as you’re not relying on debt to fund your retirement and you have a plan in place to manage the debt you owe, you can overcome this worry.
The bottom line is that it’s natural to feel some anxiety about retirement. With the right plan is place and a grasp on what’s to come, you can mitigate most of your fears fairly easily.
To a richer life,