Retirement

RETIREMENT RISKS

I was thinking the other day about risk. Maybe it was the fact that my children are 15 and are learning to drive. Maybe it was my doctor scheduling my annual physical. Whatever. It was on my mind. I began thinking that although it may be hard with 15 year olds, retirement is a particularly precarious time. If you’re like me, you want to retire and enjoy yourself without worrying where the next check is going to come from. Between the financial destruction of the market collapse in 2008 and the human toll of the disaster in Japan, it seems that there are threats all around us. How do you enjoy yourself in retirement when so many things can go wrong?  Here are three of the biggest risks to your retirement:

Health Care

I don’t have to tell you that the health care landscape is changing quickly, but that’s no excuse for ignoring health care planning. Regardless of Washington’s wrangling, there’s a good probability you’ll have a catastrophic illness someday and will need help. It’s easier to think about options when you’re young. Explore long term care options early on.

I like Suze Orman’s advice to start planning when you’re 50. Although I’ve heard all the statistics about problems that occur earlier, you’ve got plenty on your plate before age 50 to worry about long term care. Maybe long term care insurance, a larger cash reserve, or better estate and health care plans with an attorney are appropriate.

Inflation

Notice the price of gas? I was thinking about refinancing my house to fill up my tank last week. At a time when the grocery bill and gasoline costs are skyrocketing, your money can’t be sitting in a savings account earning pennies. If you don’t invest to beat rising prices, your savings will melt without you spending a penny.

Here’s a third-grade story problem: if the price of bread rises five percent and you only earn two, how much buying power have you lost? Don’t go for the calculator. Whatever the number, it’s too much. Get worried about inflation.

Surprise!

In Japan, it was an earthquake, tsunami, nuclear radiation, and aftershocks. For you, it hopefully won’t be that dramatic when a surprise occurs. Maybe there’s an unexpected tax change, a sister-in-law who needs money or the dishwasher that breaks down, forcing you to take money from your hard-earned savings. Keeping cash reserves and insurance policies current can help you spring into action without worrying about your long-term ability to stay retired when unexpected events strike.

Although you can’t predict disasters, you can plan to minimize the damage by planning. If you’re worried about retirement, address the cost of health care, inflation, and the threat of unexpected events early, and you’ll have a much better chance of retiring safely and staying retired.