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How to Pay for Senior Care

How to Pay for Senior Care

The cost of senior care is prohibitive for many older Americans. Nursing home care or a stay in an assisted living facility has become necessary for maintaining their medical needs and quality of life. But they’re unable to afford the cost of such expensive facilities. To ensure financial assistance in your senior years, proper planning is essential. There are various resources seniors can use to help defray the expenses of senior care.

Medicare Benefits 

Medicare is usually available for short-term stays in nursing homes and transitional care facilities. Medicare benefits have a time limit; it is designed to provide temporary assistance until you’re able to get back on your feet and back in your own home. However, they can be useful in providing the necessary interim financing, until other options are available.

Medicaid 

For seniors with restricted income and few assets, Medicaid is the ideal option for paying nursing homes, home care or other forms of assisted living. Medicaid is also available for individuals who have income or assets that exceed the limits. This additional income has to be sent to a trust that is dedicated specifically to their personal care. You may want to consult a Medicaid expert in your state to find out more about your eligibility.

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Veterans Programs

If you or your spouse served as a member of the armed forces, there are resources in place that can help provide for the later days of your life. Some veterans benefits, like the Aid & Attendance Housebound benefits, come with a higher asset and income limit than many other programs. Contacting your local Veterans Office is the best way to get started on this journey, as the people there will be able to help you get the information you need. If you are aware that benefits due to you are being denied, be persistent in making calls till you find the answers you seek.

Non-Medicaid Government Assistance 

Many states offer their own non-Medicaid assistance to help seniors pay for their nursing home care. These programs may include managed long-term care waivers, assisted living programs, and many more. Other programs provide in-home assistance to elderly individuals who are hoping to live in their own homes for as long as possible. Still others provide specific care for those with dementia, like Alzheimer’s patients.

Non-Profit Assistance 

There are many non-profit programs that offer assistance in paying for the medical care of individuals who need nursing homes or assisted living care. Non-profit nursing homes usually offer paid care on a sliding scale based on income and asset ratios.

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Private Health Insurance 

Most private health insurance plans don’t automatically include the cost of long-term medical care. With careful forethought and planning, however, you can acquire a rider for your policy that will help cover the cost of nursing homes or assisted living facilities. The key to this type of insurance is to take the policy well before you really need it.

Life Insurance 

When you take out a life insurance policy, you usually intend to use it to help cover those final expenses that you don’t want to burden your loved ones with. Some life insurance policies, however, come with an Accelerated Death Benefits rider that can be used before you die. Choosing a policy that will pay out either: A) a portion of your death benefits or, B) the full amount of the policy, will allow you to use those funds to offset the cost of long-term care.

Annuities 

Annuities are a great source of income during those senior days. Even better, you can sometimes withdraw money tax-free from the annuity to help pay for long-term care. There are several types of annuities, and in general, the holder of the annuity can choose to make a single payment or a series of payments to the insurance company.

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Long-Term Care Insurance 

This very specific type of insurance is designed to pay for long-term care as you get older. This coverage can be purchased as a separate LTCI policy or be added as a rider on your existing life insurance policy. The earlier you add this rider to your insurance policy, the less expensive it will be. But, not all LTCI policies are created equal, so be sure to check out all the fine print to ensure that the plan fits your needs.

Bridge Loans 

Bridge loans are designed to provide one lump sum immediately when you need it. As a long-term care payment option, bridge loans are only efficient if you anticipate a large source of income — for example, the sale of your home, to cover the cost in the near future.

Reverse Mortgage 

A reverse mortgage allows you to draw money out of your house value without having to sell it outright. This is a great way to pay for short-term care in a nursing home or assisted living facility. This method also allows you to continue to draw on that money long-term, giving you a source of income throughout the rest of your life.

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Private Payment 

Private payment for senior living choices like a quality nursing home is the best option for many individuals. It allows you to choose your nursing home based on your needs rather than leaving it to the mercy of programs like Medicare, Medicaid, or any other organization.

No one really wants to think about the need for long-term care, either for themselves or for a loved one. Unfortunately, as life expectancy increases, the need for long-term care goes up along with it. Planning wisely for future medical needs is a critical part of ensuring that both you and your loved one are well cared for, when that time eventually arrives.

Featured photo credit: huffingtonpost.com via i.huffpost.com

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Last Updated on September 2, 2020

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

Personal finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. That’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

In this article, we will explore ways to set financial goals and actually meet them with ease.

4 Steps to Setting Financial Goals

Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task, if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps to get you started.

1. Be Clear About the Objectives

Any goal without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream, and this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore, if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it’s for. It could be anything, including your child’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car, etc.

Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives that you foresee in the future and put a value to each.

2. Keep Goals Realistic

It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a Pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going beyond what you can realistically achieve will definitely hurt your chances of making meaningful progress.

It’s important that you keep your goals realistic, as it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

3. Account for Inflation

Ronald Reagan once said: “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman.” This quote sums up what inflation could do your financial goals.

Therefore, account for inflation[1] whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far into the future.

For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years from now, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is a mere 3%. Always account for this to avoid falling short of your goals.

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4. Short Term Vs Long Term

Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach to achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It’s important to bifurcate goals into short-term and long-term.

As a rule of thumb, any financial goal that is due in next 3 years should be termed as a short-term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long-term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short-term vs long-term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

By now, you should be ready with your list of financial goals. Now, it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

How to Achieve Your Financial Goals

Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a two-step process:

  • Ensuring healthy savings
  • Making smart investments

You will need to save enough and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals.

Ensuring Healthy Savings

Self-realization is the best form of realization, and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

1. Track Expenses

The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your spending. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you will be surprised by how small expenses add up to a sizable amount.

Also categorize those expenses into different buckets so that you know which bucket is eating most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pumping up your savings rate.

If you’re not sure where to start when tracking expenses, this article may be able to help.

2. Pay Yourself First

Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classic mistake when setting financial goals. We pay ourselves last!

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Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world, i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and manage all the expenses from the rest.

The best way to actually implement this is to put the savings on automatic mode, i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (mutual funds, retirement accounts, etc) every month.

Taking the automatic route will help release some control and compel us to manage what’s left, increasing the savings rate.

3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick With It

Learning to create a budget is the best way to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be organized

Nowadays, several money management apps can help you do this automatically.

At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely, but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options, and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

4. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that, in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

Make savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counterintuitive to many, there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

  • Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Weekends are more expensive.
  • If you are a travel buff, try to travel during off-season. You’ll spend significantly less.
  • If you go shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

The key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice, which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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5. Talk About It

Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission.

Therefore, in order to stay the course, surround yourself with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

6. Maintain a Journal

For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

If you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energized to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot easier for you to track your progress.

Making Smart Investments

Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However, savings, when invested wisely, can do wonders.

1. Consult a Financial Advisor

Investment doesn’t come naturally to most of us, so it’s wise to consult a financial advisor.

Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings, and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

2. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about the common ones, like a savings account, Roth IRA, and others.

Just like “no one is born a criminal,” no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference[2].

As a general rule, for all your short-term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature, for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds, etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less compared to equity instruments.

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3. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

Einstein once remarked about compounding:

“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.”

Use compound interest when setting financial goals

    Make friends with this wonder kid. The sooner you become friends with it, the quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

    Start saving early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

    4. Measure, Measure, Measure

    All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments and taking stock of how our investments are doing.

    If we don’t measure progress at the right times, we are shooting in the dark. We won’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not, whether the financial advisor is doing a decent job, or whether we are moving closer to our target.

    Measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

    The Bottom Line

    Managing your extra money to achieve your short and long-term financial goals

    and live a debt-free life is doable for anyone who is willing to put in the time and effort. Use the tips above to get you started on your path to setting financial goals.

    More Tips on Financial Goals

    Featured photo credit: Micheile Henderson via unsplash.com

    Reference

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