It is not news that many boomers are not financially prepared for retirement. Those who are healthy are lucky because they can continue to work, even though they may not want to, in order to have a dependable income and save money for a later decent retirement lifestyle. Those who are really thinking ahead and accepting reality will invest in long term care insurance. They don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because they are feeling fine now they will always be feeling fine, and thus, won’t need long term care insurance. That’s a foolish gamble. Cancer and dementia can be sudden, vicious, costly invaders.
While working in the pharmacy I met many people on the verge of retirement, eager to start their new life. Again and again I heard a similar refrain: “We know we will have to live on less but that’s okay because we won’t need as much anymore.” The “we won’t need as much” mantra seems to be a universal chant of many new retirees. Their romanticized vision of their new lifestyle often doesn’t take into consideration inflation, unexpected medical bills not covered by insurance and other unforeseen expenses that eat into a fixed income and savings very quickly.
In California, many cash poor retirees try to improve their financial situation by gambling at casinos and playing the lottery — “respectable scams” that benefit very few if any retirees. Then there are the retirement gurus who promise outrageous returns on investments. The TV show “American Greed” is an eye-opener, especially the heartbreaking segments about retirees who went “all in” and ended up “all out” of money because they forgot the admonition, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” and they fell for the pitch of smooth scoundrels, located not on another continent, but right here at home.
Once you get to your 70s and 80s with insufficient resources and no family to help, at some point you are going to need help and it’s frightening when you realize that you won’t have the money to get the support you need or want. If you reach that desperate point, you may be “ripe for the picking” by scammers who understand the mindset and financial situation of many seniors.
This month Lura Zerick reveals in her article that she lost money to scammers who promised money that would have come in handy to help out with assisted living expenses. Lura does not need assistance now but she’s thinking ahead and in doing so, responded to what seemed to be a sure thing. Fortunately, Lura quickly realized she made a mistake and was out “only” $550 before she said “no more”. And indeed, the scammers hounded her for more — much more.
Again, if not yet retired, plan to stay productive. If you have a job now that provides health care benefits, keep it as long as possible. Not only will it be a financial benefit, but you will stay youthful longer if you keep your mind and body challenged.
If you are close to retirement, understand that the “we won’t need as much anymore” mindset can be a fatal trap. Indeed, you may not need as much once you retire, but don’t bet on it.
Stay in control of your life as long as you can. If possible, wait as long as you can to retire, and when you do close the door on your work life, have a plan in place that will provide income in addition to Social Security. An “iffy” financial situation in retirement is an invitation to irrational too good to be true financial temptations as well as premature mental and physical decline. Be smart and stay smart about your future.
Copyright © Barbara Morris 2017