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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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Published on May 7, 2019

How to Invest for Retirement (The Smart and Stress-Free Way)

How to Invest for Retirement (The Smart and Stress-Free Way)

When it comes to stocks, I bet you feel like you have no idea what you’re doing.

Everyone who’s not a financial expert has been there. I’ve been there. But, time is passing and you need to be crystal clear with how you’re investing for your retirement.

Otherwise, it’s back to work until you can afford not to. So, how can you invest for retirement when you’re not a financial expert?

You take the time to learn the fundamentals well. If you do, you can grow your wealth and retire happy. The best part is that you don’t need to be a financial expert to make smart investment decisions.

Here’s how to invest for retirement the smart and stress-free way:

1. Know Clearly Why You Invest

Odds are you already know why should invest for retirement.

But, maybe you know the wrong reasons. It’s time you get clear on why you’d like to retire. Here are some questions to help you get started:

  • Will you spend more time with your family?
  • What does retirement mean to you?
  • Are you looking to launch that business you’ve been holding off for years?

Everyone wants to retire but not for the same reasons. Once you’re clear for why retirement is important for you, you’ll focus on making it happen.

Investing in the stock market allows you to take advantage of compound interest.[1] All this means is that your money earns money on top of its interest. A reason why investment in the stock market is one of the best ways to plan for retirement.

2. Figure out When to Invest

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”– Chinese Proverb

It’s true if you’d had started investing when you were 10 years old, you’d have a lot more money than you do today.

The reality is that most people don’t start investing until it’s too late. So, if you’re currently waiting for the perfect time to start an investment, it would be today. Open your calendar and block out 2 to 3 hours to choose how you’ll invest for retirement.

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A quick way to get a snapshot of where you stand is to use Personal Capital. Input all your personal information and spend some time setting your retirement goals. Once completed, you’ll know where you stand with your retirement.

Having a savings account for retirement isn’t planning for retirement. Why? Your money loses value when you factor in US inflation.[2]

3. Evaluate Your Risk Tolerance to Create the Perfect Portfolio

Investing your money well depends on your emotions.

Why?

Because when the market drops most people panic and withdraw their money. On average, the US stock market yields an annual 6% to 7% ROI (return on your investment.) But, this won’t happen if you’re worried about short-term loses.

Before you invest your next dollar, know your risk tolerance.[3] Your risk tolerance determines the number of risky and safe investments you’d have.

Regardless of your investing style, you need to view investing for retirement as a long term game. Know that some years you’ll lose money but recoup this in the long-term.

Avoid watching market-related new. Also, create a double authentication to log in your investment account. This way you’re less likely to withdraw your money.

4. Open a Reliable Retirement Account

Depending on your circumstance, you may need to open a new brokerage account. This is the account is where you’ll invest your money.

If you’re currently working for a company, odds are that they offer a 410K investing account. If so, here’s where you’ll invest most of your money. The only problem with this is that you’re limited to the stock options that are available.

You do have the option to open a separate IRA (individual retirement account.) Here are some of the best brokers:

  1. Vanguard
  2. TD Ameritrade
  3. Charles Schwab

5. Challenge Yourself to Invest Consistently

Committing to invest for retirement is hard, but continuing to do so is harder.

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Once you’ve started investment for your retirement, you run at risk from stopping. Often you’ll want to contribute less, so you’d have more money in your pocket.

That’s why it’s important that you create a budget that allows you to invest each month. If you’re working for a company, you can set a percentage for the amount you’d like to contribute each month. Most people by default contribute 1% but aim to contribute 10% to 15%.

Be the judge for how much you can afford to contribute after covering important expenses. To stay motivated, use Personal Capital to view your net worth.

A benefit to contributing money to your retirement account is not taxed. For example, if you earn $100 and invest 10%, you’d contribute $10, then get taxed on the remaining $90. As of 2019, the most you’re able to contribute towards your 401K is 19K but this can change.

6. Consider Where to Invest Your Money

The most common way to invest your money is in stocks, but it’s not the only way. Here are other ways to invest:

Robo Advisors

Robo-advisors[4] are fancy algorithms that’ll choose the best investments for you. Sites like Wealthfront make it easy for first-time investors to invest their money. You’d input information about yourself and set your risk tolerance.

Then, set your monthly contribution amount and your robo-advisor would do the rest. Robo-advisors charge a fee to manage your money, but less than regular advisors.

Bonds

Think of bonds as “IOUs” to whomever you buy them from.

Essentially, you’re lending money and charging interest. Like stocks, not all bonds are equal. Some will be riskier than others depending on their rating.

Here are the different types of bond categories:[5]

  1. Treasury bonds
  2. Government bonds
  3. Corporate bonds
  4. Foreign bonds
  5. Mortgage-backed bonds
  6. Municipal bonds

Mutual Funds

Picture a group of people dumping all their money in a jar that’s managed by a professional. This is how mutual funds work. The fund manager manages the money looking to earn capital gains (interest.)

One of the best types of mutual funds is index funds. Since these funds don’t try to beat the market and instead follow it, they need less research. Because of this they often charge the lowest fees and yield the best long-term results.

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Real Estate

Yes, buying a home is an investment when done correctly.

Imagine buying a home and using it as a rental property. After repairing it, you receive a monthly surplus check of $100 to $200.

This may not sound like a lot, but repeat this process enough times and you’d earn a large amount of passive income. That’s why real estate is one of the best investments to not only retire but become wealthy.

But, it requires a lot of money to start and you should expect losing money along the way as you learn the process.

Savings Accounts

Your money can still grow in a savings account. Nowadays most online banks offer a 2% annual return. Although the average inflation is higher your money will be available when you need it.

7. Master Disincline to Dodge Short Success

Investing for retirement is a long-term strategy. That’s why you need to master delayed gratification. All this means is delaying short-term pleasure for something bigger in the future. Research shows that those who have delayed gratification are more successful.[6]

So how can you master delayed gratification?

By building your discipline.

Think back to what retirement means to you. A clear purpose will help you avoid withdrawing your money during a market downturn. It’ll help you contribute more towards retirement when you’d want to waste it instead.

Your journey towards retirement will be long, so reward yourself along the way. Choose a reward that’s relevant and meaningful, so that you reinforce positive behavior. For example, after contributing more towards retirement, treat yourself to dinner.

8. Aggressively Invest on This One Investment

I’ve mentioned several types of investments but haven’t covered the most important one.

It sounds cliche but here’s why you’re your best investment towards retirement. The more you know, the more money you’ll be able to make. The more good habits you adopt, the more secure your retirement will be.

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More importantly, investing in yourself is an investment that no one can take away. There’s no market downturn nor tragic circumstance that’ll wipe your knowledge and experience.

But, how can you invest yourself?

Reading books, blogs, and anything that’ll help you learn new topics daily. Listen to podcasts and audiobooks on your commute to/from work.

Save money to buy courses and hire coaches. I used to believe hiring coaches was a waste of money when I could learn the subject alone.

But, coaches see your blind spots and hold you accountable. Hiring the right coach will help you achieve your goals faster than you would’ve alone.

Retire Happy with Excess Money

The key to a secure financial future doesn’t only belong to financial experts.

It’s possible for you and I. What if you were able to retire earlier than most people and weren’t a financial planner? What if you were able to focus on what you enjoy doing the most while your money was working hard for you?

I know this sounds impossible now, but the truth is you’re capable of taking charge of your retirement. I’m not a financial expert but I’ve learned how to invest my money by reading books and learning from others.

Investing your money is scary. So start small and invest a small amount of your money with a robo-advisor. Feel your money drop and rise for a month or two. Then, invest more and keep this up until you’re aggressively saving for retirement.

One day, you’ll wake up with a net worth you’re proud of – confident about your retirement. You now know a few strategies you can use to invest in your retirement. Will you take action to retire happy?

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Featured photo credit: Matthew Bennett via unsplash.com

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