Is it time to retire? If you’re advancing in age, over the hill, or hearing talks of retirement around your friends and family… you may be getting close!
But how do you go about retiring and doing it right? This is a whole new chapter of life, one you’ve hopefully prepared for all your life, but you’ve never lived it before, so of course there is a lot to learn. Senior discounts, senior benefits, retirement savings, investments, prescription drug costs, Medicare… there’s a lot of new terminology it’s time to get familiar with.
Here are some of the top retirement tips that seniors in the US should know.
1. Know when you become a senior citizen
This might seem obvious but it’s an important first step… you may be older than you feel or younger than you look, but what matters in this case is the number on the piece of paper.
Who defines when you become a senior citizen? Is it when you are eligible to enroll in Medicare at age 65? Or is it earlier, at age 62, when you can start collecting Social Security benefits (though you can start as late as age 70)? Or maybe you define it as the moment you can start taking penalty-free 401(k) distributions, which happens six months after you turn 59. Or at age 50, when you can become an AARP member.
Maybe for you, it’s simply the age at which you can finally move into the 55-and-up residential community you’ve always dreamed of living in. Or is it when you can start cashing in on senior discount days at your favorite stores?
As US News & World Report puts it, “There is no clearly defined age when you become a senior citizen. Some people might consider themselves seniors when they retire from the workplace, sign up for Social Security or begin to spend their retirement savings, but others aren’t ready to call themselves a senior citizen yet.
Here are some milestones that could indicate you’ve become a senior citizen:
* Qualifying for senior benefits.
* Spending retirement savings.
* Stepping away from work.
* Changes in health.
* A change in priorities.
* Rethinking age stereotypes.”
At the end of the day, age is just a number… but sometimes that number can come with a whole new set of perks and benefits, so it’s important to know when you reach “senior citizen” age in the eyes of the stores, agencies, businesses, and organizations you interact with on a regular basis!
2. Find out about senior benefits
There are a lot of benefits that come with reaching the golden period of seniorhood. Did you know there are programs that can help you pay for prescription drugs, medical care, food, or even heat for your home? These benefits are typically meant for low-income seniors, but it’s important to explore what benefits are available to you no matter what your financial status is.
3. Cash in on your senior discount
Once you hit senior citizen status, you may be shocked and amazed by all the money-saving techniques available to you, especially the many senior discounts you can cash in on. Your long-time favorite restaurants, stores, and other places you make purchases may all have senior discounts available.
If you are over a certain age and not taking advantage of senior discounts, you might be throwing your hard-earned money away for no good reason! At many places, all you have to do is ask. There may be unpublished senior discounts available or even special days or hours when seniors can enjoy savings.
As the saying goes, ask and you shall receive!
4. Learn how to keep your prescription drug cost low
Prescription drugs are just a fact of life as a senior, but there are ways to keep your costs low (who doesn’t want more money to spend on their hobbies, activities, grandchildren, and other fun things?).
One senior citizen, Cathy, shared, “I had no idea that I could find my prescription drugs for a more affordable price, much less get them delivered straight to my door. I never want to drive to my local pharmacy again! I have so many better things to be doing with my time now. I have grandchildren. I don’t want to spend my hours picking up pills.”
We’re living in the twenty-first century, and many seniors don’t realize how many conveniences they have at their fingertips now! Gone are the days when you had to make a special trip to your local brick-and-mortar pharmacy or pay whatever price they dictate.
Now, you can order your prescriptions online from a reputable and trusted online Canadian pharmacy, and the medications you need will show up right to your doorstep with only a few clicks.
5. Be ready to retire early
You may have a plan or a certain age in mind for retirement, but life can be full of surprises. You may face early or forced retirement before you think you’re ready.
An article in Forbes states, “It’s a fact of life—many workers are forced to retire before they want to. According to a 2019 Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) survey, nearly half of retirees left the workforce before their target retirement age. COVID-19 has accelerated this trend.” This could occur involuntarily (due to layoffs) or because the workplace has become more of a risk to seniors, who are more vulnerable to diseases like the coronavirus.
As much as you can, try to be prepared for the unexpected. This has become especially important now in the age of the pandemic, which has proven that unprecedented situations may always be waiting just around the corner.
Set yourself up to be able to retire a few years before your ideal retirement age, so that if anything happens or life doesn’t go as planned, you can be ready before you think you need to be.
6. Get rid of debt
It’s important to get rid of all your debt while you’re still in the workforce. Keep in mind that you may not have as much time as you think you have to pay off your debt (if early retirement is forced upon you), so tackling it aggressively now will have you thanking yourself later.
Get rid of all the credit card balances, car payments, mortgages and even outstanding student loans that you can while you are still in “earning” mode and employed at a job. You want to be able to kick back and enjoy your retirement, not live on a shoestring budget or worry and fret about how you will be able to pay off your debt now that your earning years are over.
Tackle your debt as early as possible to eliminate unnecessary stress and worry later.
7. Have a plan for health insurance in your retirement years—and enroll on time!
Did you know that Americans can face penalties for failing to enroll in Medicare on time? Don’t let this be you! Starting at age 65, Americans are eligible to enroll in Medicare, so take advantage of this program and get signed up on time.
Think of it as part of your 65th birthday party plans. As you put together a guest list and order a cake to celebrate, add “enroll in Medicare” to the list so you can be sure that the coverage is in place and has time to kick in as you approach the all-important age of 65.
8. … and set aside health care savings, too
Of course, Medicare isn’t everything. You also need to have savings set aside for additional costs and healthcare expenses, from copays to medical issues that may not be covered. You’ll likely pay out of pocket for these items that are not covered by your premium, so make sure you have enough saved up to be able to cover what you need.
In addition, you should be aware that if you are faced with early retirement, you’ll need some sort of health insurance coverage to fill in the gap before you turn 65 and Medicare kicks in. You may have to take out your own individual policy or your employer may have options.
Do your research and have a plan.
9. Reassess your risk tolerance
It may not be something you want to think about, but the fact is that your years on Earth are coming to a close (not anytime soon, hopefully, but you should know it’s on the horizon!).
The reason this is important to think about—aside from things like getting your faith, relationships and social life, and legacy in order—is because now that you’re getting older, you may want to think about your investments differently.
At a young age, you can invest with pretty high risk tolerance, because you have plenty of years ahead of you to recover your funds or rebuild your wealth along with the market’s ups, downs, swings, and course corrections.
But as you get older, you want to start to become more risk-averse. You don’t have as much time as you once did to allow your accounts to recover after a recession and you may no longer be in your earning years, so your savings now are all you have to live on. You have less room for error now and less wiggle room to recover, especially if a global crisis like a pandemic comes around.
Thus, you should chat with a financial advisor and restructure your accounts to reflect your advancing stage in life. You should also set up plans for what will become of your money, assets, and possessions upon sickness or death.
You want to enjoy your golden years with no worries or concerns, so why not get these things squared away ahead of time?
10. Make plans to enjoy it!
Put together a bucket list. Dream big and lay plans. Now is the time you worked for decades to reach and you’ve finally made it. Enjoy yourself—you’ve earned it!
Remember that retirement doesn’t mean your life is over. In fact, in many ways, it’s just begun. Did you know that according to a statistic shared on SeniorLifestyle.com, Americans are living, on average, more than two decades after the traditional retirement age of 65? “A report by the Miami Herald found the average 65-year-old American man will live to be nearly 86 years old, while the average 65-year-old American woman will live to nearly 88 years old.”
That means you have a whole lot of life left to live!
Don’t shy away from making a list of all the things you’ve ever dreamed of doing, whether that’s learning to sail or volunteering for charity or traveling the world… or all of the above. Lay out all your hopes and dreams and make plans to accomplish them.
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