Financial Journeys

Five questions to help couples get on the same retirement page

It’s common for couples to have very different ideas about what retirement would be like – and the cost of providing those different lifestyles may vary significantly. For example, a career-oriented husband may be thinking he’d like to continue working in some capacity, while his wife could be counting the days until the two of them can spend more time together. If these two don’t share their ideas about the future, their visions could easily conflict. Reconciling your perceptions, wants and needs for retirement – and how you’ll pay for them – is essential to enjoying this new stage of your life. To help set the stage, schedule periodic “pre-retirement dates” in which you share, dream and plan together. The conversation may seem awkward at first, so try to answer some of the following questions: These days, retirement age can range anywhere from 55 to 85 (and up). For some, continuing to work may be a financial imperative, while others just want to stay active and mentally sharp. On the beach or on a golf course? Near your children or near a major airport? Should you move to a community with peers your own age or to a college town filled with cultural events? Many couples assume they’ll continue living right where they are, but never consider other options. Choosing to retire elsewhere can have financial advantages, such as downsizing from the family home or moving to a less expensive locale. Talk about what activities you want to engage in when you retire, as that might help pinpoint where to live. You retire, but your best friends stay on... read more

Older, but not wiser to fraud

Nine common scams older Americans fall for As people age, they may experience insecurities with the unfamiliar or simply become overwhelmed, and that may make them anxious. It also makes them more susceptible to the kind of people who make a living preying on the elderly – especially widows and widowers, who no longer have a partner with whom to discuss challenges and opportunities and who may be particularly inclined to trust strangers who offer help or friendship. In order to protect those we love as well as ourselves, it’s important to be aware of the most common scams to which older Americans fall victim. You get an unsolicited phone call or email that says you’ve won a large prize. All you need to do is send money to pay for shipping, taxes or some ancillary fee. Your grandchild calls to confess her troubles. Or so you think. It’s not at all uncommon for someone posing as your grandchild to call and, preying on your compassion, claim to be in a crisis situation and need money urgently. She may also beg you not to call her parents (which could give the scam away). You donate to one charity and end up being on every charity list. That’s because they sell your name, phone number and email to other nonprofit and commercial organizations. These could include companies with similar names to charities you support – but they exist solely to scam donations. Someone calls pretending to be from a major company, such as Microsoft, and says he can see that your computer has a virus. He offers to help you... read more

Red flags of memory loss

Pre-emptive moves to help maintain your independence Who hasn’t left the TV remote control by the front door before? After all, teenage boys leave it in the refrigerator all the time. But how do you know the difference between everyday absentmindedness and progressive memory loss? It’s a good idea to know the red flags so you and your family can take measures to mitigate negative consequences. First of all, when forgetfulness happens more often – like several times a day – that should get your attention. If you forget how to do something you’ve done for years – like cook lasagna, write a check or drive home from the grocery store – that’s another red flag. The more you recognize these behaviors for what they are – and take pre-emptive moves to counter them – the better you’ll be able to maintain your independence. Here are a few suggestions: Leave yourself notes. Post a sample completed check above your desk. Leave directions to your home in your car. Always have a friend, neighbor or family member’s phone number with you when you leave the house. Whatever things you tend to forget, leave yourself a prominent reminder note, in case it happens again. Learn new activities to keep your mind sharp. Play games like Sudoku and crossword puzzles, read or learn a new language. There are also various online “brain training” games that could help. Engage with others. It’s important for you to have daily social interaction with others to help ward off depression and isolation. This also helps your family from worrying about you – knowing others are aware... read more