During the holidays, we are reminded of all of the good things in life while being surrounded by family and friends. The closing of a year is a time for reflection and gives us an opportunity to set goals for the year ahead. One goal many people set in retirement is to give back to one’s community through volunteer work. We’ve compiled a list of places for seniors to give back while also enjoying themselves.

Working with kids:

One option is to volunteer with the Senior Corps Foster Grandparent Program. The program connects kids with adults age 55 and older in a mentorship-like style. Another similar program is the Big Brother Big Sisters organization. The BBBS program pairs an adult with a child who is in need of a caring adult in their life. If you want to work with kids but don’t know if you would be available at consistent times during the week, another option would be to volunteer at a children’s hospital. Hospitals rely on volunteers to visit patients, monitor playrooms and tend to families that have kids there. No matter what, working with kids will be rewarding and you will leave a positive impact on their lives.

Hunger Relief:

Hunger affects many families throughout America and the world. Seniors make up a large percentage of volunteers at places like food banks and other food assistance programs. Another organization is Meals on Wheels. This program allows seniors to serve other seniors throughout all 50 states. Many of the recipients of the Meals on Wheels programs are unable to prepare foods themselves, or have meals provided otherwise. Whether you volunteer through your local food bank, Meals on Wheels or by helping out at a community garden, your work will be greatly appreciated.

Disaster Relief:

If you have experience in the medical field, you may offer invaluable resources to people in disaster-stricken areas. Retired nurses, doctors, EMTs and other medical professionals offer their time to organizations like the Medical Reserve Corps, a volunteer disaster relief under the direction of the Office of the Surgeon General. If you aren’t trained in the medical profession, there are still plenty of ways to help. Volunteers all over the country can help out in areas that have been hit by tornados, floods, hurricanes or otherwise. You can contribute your skills in collecting supplies, coordinating donations and performing many other tasks. The Red Cross is heavily reliant on volunteers, especially in areas in need of disaster relief.

There are countless opportunities around the country and the world for seniors to volunteer. Whether you choose to stay local, donate supplies or travel, you will be positively impacting people’s lives for the better. Volunteering is a great way to spend your time in retirement, so find a cause that interests you, get out and give back.

Courtesy of Forbes.com

Courtesy of Forbes.com

You’ve been dreaming of retirement since before you can remember. Traveling to places you’ve always wanted to visit, having free time to do the things you enjoy and finally being able to see your friends and family more often. While all of these things are great, knowing that you can afford to live the retirement lifestyle you’ve always wanted will allow you to fully enjoy it. There are a few costs that arise as you move into retirement and you don’t want to be ready to retire only to find out that you haven’t planned effectively.

 Healthcare 

Fidelity Investments predicts that the average retired couple, aged 65 years old, will spend about $400,000 on health care expenses through age 92. While this statistic is spread out over about 30 years, it’s a significant price to pay if you haven’t planned for it. Another high cost you will likely pay is for long-term care costs. You may get some financial relief from Medicare, but you shouldn’t rely solely on it as the coverage is always changing with healthcare reform and the like. Medicare does not cover long-term care expenses, something to think about as you enter this new stage of retirement.

More Personal Spending

Many companies pay for things like cars, computers and travel for their employees. Once you begin paying for these items out of pocket, expenses add up quickly. There are many ways to save money on the items you want to purchase, too. If you know you want to travel, book your plane tickets or hotel accommodations in advance or when companies offer sales. Airlines often offer holiday sales, so if you have even a rough idea of when and where you’d like to travel, booking tickets in advance could save you money. Also, always remember to ask about senior discounts or reward programs at the stores and restaurants you visit, you never know where you could save a dollar or two!

Taxes

Inflation has always caused taxes to increase or decrease, but there are a few more types of taxes you may be required to pay in retirement. For example, social security tax. Up to 85% of the benefits you receive from Social Security are most taxable. Also, the income taxation level to be taxed on your benefits is fairly low, at $32,000 for a married couple. While this tax isn’t a surprise, ensuring that you have planned for it in retirement is key to maintaining your budget. Another tax that is important not to forget is property tax. If you pay off your home, remember that you are still responsible for paying property taxes associated with the house. There are significant taxes on withdrawals from retirement accounts if you decide to take the money out early. Money is stored tax-free in a traditional IRA or 401(k) account. When you are ready to withdrawal, you have to pay taxes according to your current tax bracket. If you wait until you are 70 and ½ years of age, the taxes vanish, as you are required to make withdrawals at that point. One way to avoid paying hefty taxes is to put your money into a Roth IRA, a type of retirement fund that allows you to withdrawal tax-free.

Understanding the costs associated with retirement will allow you to be put at ease as you prepare for this new stage. Knowing you can afford the expenses will leave you feeling excited to retire and finally do all the things you’ve dreamed of like seeing the world or simply seeing your grandkids more often.

 

 

You hear it over and over, “Plan for retirement!” and everyone assumes it means saving and getting your financial situation in order. But what about other aspects that you need to prepare for as you age? I’m talking about your health. As an adult reaching retirement, your mind should not only be on finances to upkeep your lifestyle but also maintaining positive health to upkeep your lifestyle. Yes putting stress on saving can be a good thing, but if you don’t take enough time to take care of yourself. Then your savings, no matter how large, may not be enough to outweigh medical expenses, which would only result in a double negative. It’s never too late to start looking out for your wellbeing. Here are a few steps you can take to ensure you are maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Try A Healthier Diet:

Now don’t worry, I am not telling you dessert is not an option, or that you need to only eat green vegetables. I am just reminding you to be conscious of your dietary choices. As you age, your body is no longer able to make up for missing nutrients, or rid itself of bad content in the way in may have in your past. You need to ensure you are fueling your body with what will keep you feeling good allowing you to remain doing the things you love in retirement. If you think of it this way it is easier to make a healthier choice when given the option. Also remember, your cells are consistently replacing themselves with new ones from the nutrients and energy source you are taking in. This literally means you are what you eat!

Participate In Exercise:

Yes, I can already hear you groaning, but hear me out! Exercising doesn’t have to be boring or excruciating. In fact, some of the best exercises come from low impact activity that can be done with a friend! Yoga, water aerobics, and walks through the park are all great examples of ways you can stay active.

Incorporating daily activity into your routine can help release endorphins into your body effecting your mood in a positive way. The satisfaction of taking care of your body will keep you moving more. This can lead to increase mobility and strength of muscles and joints. Set a schedule with goals, encourage someone to do it with you, get moving, and know that you are increasing your wellbeing with every movement.

Befriend Your Doctor: 

It’s no secret that as people age, there is an increased number of health complications that can occur. Talking with your doctor about your concerns and thoughts may help you get on the same page at where you are in your health. Being close to a physical expert can give you confidence in knowing that if any issues arise in your health, you have someone you trust to consult. Not being afraid to consult someone may mean the difference catching something early enough or not. Have regular checkups and exams and don’t ignore anything that seems out of the ordinary for your health level.  Your doctor will also be proud to hear that you are taking care of your body by making healthier eating choices and staying active on a regular basis!

You don’t want to spend your entire life saving for retirement just to make a financial mistake once you’re in it. There are a few common errors seniors tend to make during retirement that could be avoided if you know what to watch out for.

Giving Too Much
While you may want to help your children finance their first home or pay for your grandchildren’s college tuition, you might not be able to fully afford to do so if you haven’t budgeted for it. As MSN Money says, “You can take loans out for college, but you can’t take out a loan to pay for your retirement.” Being able to afford gifts for friends and family every once in a while can be worked into your budget, but always remember to put your own financial needs first. Also, if there is a charity you would like to give to, make sure you do adequate research before donating. Always know exactly where your money is going, especially when living on a budget.

Liquidating Assets Early
Liquidating assets that you no longer use can be a good option to get money quickly, but it should only be done as a last resort. Talking to family members is a good first step before making any big financial decisions, especially in retirement.

Limiting Insurance Coverage
You may not need certain types of insurance coverage now, but your needs could change in the future. Instead of completely cutting back on your coverage, see if you can simply alter your plan. Some companies offer loyalty discounts for customers who have maintained coverage for a certain length of time. Also, you may ask about consolidation discounts before limiting the coverage you currently receive.

Falling for Scams
Unfortunately, seniors remain a target for financial scams. Make sure you are staying up to date on common tactics used by scammers and beware of offers that seem too good to be true. There are a number of resources you can use to find if a deal or company is reputable or not. If unsure, consult your family and friends. Many scammers use telemarketing to target victims. To avoid this, you can register your phone number with the “Do Not Call Registry.”

Not Planning for Long Term Costs
While no one can be certain exactly how much money they will need to maintain their lifestyle into retirement, it is important to know all of the costs that may arise. Long term care insurance, health care and other costs can amount to more than you had originally planned for. Having even a rough idea of how much these things will cost you and planning for them is an important step. Not doing so is a mistake you don’t want to make.

Relying Solely on Social Security
According to the Social Security Administration, the average benefit for a retired worker is about $1,230, while the median cost of an apartment at an assisted living community is $3,300. If possible, try not to be exclusively reliant on social security as your income in retirement. The future of social security remains a bit unclear, but you can see that the age to receive payments continues to increase. Being able to supplement your savings in other ways and holding off on receiving social security payments until later will help overall.

Investing Too Conservatively
Many people, especially seniors, remain wary of financial markets ever since the economic crisis in the past decade. There are many investments seniors can make in order to supplement their income that are relatively low risk. It is important to continue to actively be involved in your investments and not let your family or financial advisor completely take control.

While some of us have been preparing for our big retirement plans for years, some of us are still a little behind on where we would like to be. This doesn’t mean we should give up our dreams of living the way we want to after retirement. Getting a reverse mortgage on your home can give you the finances to have the things you’ve been waiting for.

Here are the top 5 reasons we found to consider a Reverse Mortgage

1. Traveling
It’s no secret that traveling the world can come at a hefty price. Without proper preparation for retirement, ideas of seeing the Eiffel Tower up close or visiting the Queen of England seem a little out of reach. Getting a Reverse Mortgage on your home could help you pay for those extra travel expenses and allow you to satisfy your adventurous side.

2. Second Home
If having a vacation home to escape to has ever been in your sights, follow the trend of many others by taking out a reverse mortgage on your current home to finance the second one of your dreams.

3. Starting a Business
Staying active and involved in the community is an important part of retirement. If you are finding you have too much spare time on your hands, consider starting your own business and a reverse mortgage can be a great way to obtain the financial stability required to get up and running. Plus, once successful, your business will just be another form of additional income to add to your retirement fund.

4. Luxury Cars or Boats
Some of us are more interested in enjoying high quality and high price tag items we weren’t able to afford in the past. Ride in style, enjoy afternoon fishing, or take a trip on the lake with friends, in a new car or boat.

5. Retire Early
Focused on getting done with work, and just enjoying life with the people around you? Opting for a reverse mortgage to eliminate your monthly payment and get a jump-start on savings can allow you to retire early and live the rest of your life out work free.

Over the past few years, assisted living centers have seen a trend with retirees. They are creating their own retirement communities, and you can see this type of community in the popular 1985 show, Golden Girls. Golden Girls featured 4 older women living in one house together in Miami, Florida, where they created a financial and social support circle.

goldengirls

The Golden Girls TV show actually inspired Bonnie Moore to create the Golden Girls Network. The network is, “a group of single mature women and men who love the idea of shared living with others and who are looking for an economical lifestyle by forming senior communities together. The organization, Golden Girls Network, is a nationwide electronic database that provides an opportunity for these adults to connect with compatible housemates.”

Bonnie Moore is not the only pioneer in this effort to create shared living during retirement. Many retirees are moving away from assisted living to avoid expensive fees associated with it, and moving towards something cheaper and more social.

If you think you might be interested in shared retirement communities, check out Golden Girls Network or similar programs to find your perfect community.

What are your thoughts? Do you prefer retirement communities or assisted living?

While we’ve talked about the basics of a reverse mortgage, it’s always smart to look at the facts and figures.

Reverse Mortgage Information sourced some interesting facts for us:

1) “According to National Council on Aging (NCOA) more than 13 million seniors could have extra funds if their money was not tied up in their home equity.”

Our response: A reverse mortgage allows seniors to access the equity in their home and convert it into cash. Reverse Mortgages help supplement retirement income, pay for medical bills, or more.

2) “In 2010, the Department of Housing and Urban Development enacted a new reverse mortgage information program that made millions more senior homeowners eligible for a reverse mortgage.”

Our response: This program made it possible for seniors to live a happier life after retirement. Just last year in 2014, a total of 49,194 seniors received a reverse mortgage.

Other fast facts:

In 2014, California issued the most reverse mortgages, totaling 7,912. Coming in second and third for providing the most reverse mortgages were Texas (3,733) and Florida (3,728).

Whether you need the money or not, a part-time job during retirement can be a great option. Many retirees miss the satisfaction of working every day and look into part-time work.

When thinking about retirement planning, here are a few part-time positions for retirees to consider:

Tour Guide: Do you have excellent verbal communication skills and humor? This job is for you! Consider applying to be a tour guide if your city is booming with tourist attractions such as museums, trolley rides, or cruises.

Freelance Writer: Freelance work allows you to make money while working at your own pace. This is a job worth looking into if you were a former journalist or were an expert in your field.

Retail or Sales: A part-time job in retail or sales may sound appealing, especially if you miss daily interaction or have a competitive drive. Since many stores hire seasonal employees around the holidays, you won’t have to commit to a full year. You might even get an employee discount.

Crafter: If your friends and family constantly compliment your woodworking or other hand-crafted items, consider selling your finished products. Online sites such as Etsy and eBay make it easier than ever for crafters to share and sell their work.

Tax Preparer: This is the perfect job for former CPAs or anyone who is financially savvy. Most of the workload occurs between January and April, leaving plenty of time for vacation getaways, investing in other hobbies, or spending time with family.

Thinking of applying for a reverse mortgage, but don’t know if you are eligible? Below is a list of borrower and residential requirements:

Borrower:

  • Must be 62 years or older
  • You, the homeowner, must occupy your permanent residency for at least 6 months and 1 day out of the year
  • Stay current with property tax and homeowner’s insurance
  • Only have 1 FHA loan and be free of any delinquent, federal debt

Residential Requirements:

  • Single family or 2-4 unit homes
  • HUD approved condominiums
  • Townhomes
  • Most manufactured homes built after 1976

If you are attempting to use a reverse mortgage on a vacation home, non-HUD approved condos, or rental properties, you will not be approved.

In summary, the homeowner will continue to receive monthly payments as long as he/she lives in the house for 6 months and 1 day out of the year, moves, or passes away.