Build a team

Growing older without a spouse or adult children means you'll need to build support who can help with your finances, make medical decisions and prevent you from becoming isolated as you grow older (extended family, trusted friends, and paid professionals):

  • Find people who will manage your financial and medical affairs, people to stop by, run errands, or drive you to appointments.
  • Find out what they're willing to do, and make known your wishes.
  • Revisit these plans often.
  • If you don't have a friend or family member to carry out your wishes, consider working with a professional fiduciary, such as an accountant, lawyer, or trust company officer.

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Money

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Many singles don't have a strong enough backup plan to cover the costs of a major illness or other problems.

Ensure you have enough cash on hand to cover emergencies. For singles, the aim is between nine and twelve months of living expenses in a savings account. As you near retirement, consider bulking up to at least two years of living expenses.

Group long-term disability policies offered by employers typically replace up to 60% of your income.

To ensure you have enough coverage, aim to bring your total coverage up to 80% o 90% of your take-home pay, including bonuses and commissions.

  • Try to save at least 15% of your paycheck for retirement.
  • If you're able to save more, open a Roth IRA. You'll pay taxes on your contributions now, but your earnings will accumulate tax-free.
  • Even if you haven't saved anything for your retirement, there's still time to build a respectable nest egg.

If you were married for more than a decade and then divorced or your spouse died, you may qualify for Social Security benefits based on his or her work history.

If you're in good health, postponing benefits may be worth it. For each year you wait past full retirement age - up to age 70 - you get a bump of 8% in your benefit.

If you don't have long-term-care insurance, a chronic illness could quickly drain your retirement funds.
Nearly 70% of seniors will eventually need some form of long-term care, and about 20% of them for more than five years.

Buying long-term-care insurance policies early - generally in your late fifties or early sixties - will help keep the policies affordable.

Getting the right documents in place will make it easier when you become unable to manage your affairs.

  • Most childless singles find friends and family to carry out their wishes.
  • A durable power of attorney gives someone you select the authority to manage your finances if you're unable to do so or you want help.
  • You'll need both a living will and health care proxy to explain your wishes in certain medical situations and make sure someone you know, and trust can make other medical decisions for you.
  • A medical information release permits doctors to share information with the people you've selected. Financial advisers and other financial professionals often have similar forms that will allow them to contact your doctor or a trusted friend when needed.
  • You can write a will on your own for about $70 using a do-it-yourself service. You'll also need to choose an executor, who will oversee the distribution of your estate.
  • Some single seniors can stay in their current homes, usually with structural changes. Even if your health is good, you may need someone to help you with household tasks or provide more expensive care as you age.
  • Home sharing is an appealing option for those with friends in a similar situation.
  • Continuing care retirement communities, or life plan communities, offer living arrangements that range from independent living to skilled nursing options. You generally should be 62 years old and healthy enough to live independently.
  • Naturally occurring retirement communities (NORCs) have a population where 40% is 60 or older. Social service agencies, health care providers, and other organizations offer on-site services to residents. People live in their own homes and pay an annual membership fee for services.
  • Cohousing. Members buy their own homes and pay monthly membership fees and use a common area for meals, socializing, and events.

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RELATED IDEAS

Unforeseen illnesses, the financial needs of your dependents, and the uncertainty of Social Security and pension systems are but a few of the factors at play.

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IDEAS

Myth vs. Reality in Retirement Planning
  • I’m not that old:  It’s not about NOW but saving for your old days when you can no longer work full time. 
  • I’ll wait for a lump sum is just an excuse to postpone planning or procrastinate.
  • Assumed Family/External Support: It’s better to be prepared for eventualities and have contingency funds in hand.
  • Financial Requirements Decrease: Medical costs increase with age. Inflation and other factors might also come into play.
  • I will not live that long or I won’t retire: People tend to live longer, but they will suffer from medical ailments.
  • Create a full inventory of expenses in front of you: Categorize them into fixed and variable; urgent and non-urgent; necessities and luxury; avoidable and unavoidable.
  • You can create a hierarchy of needs and decide which one’s to address first. It’s all about prioritizing. 
  • Accept that you have limited resources and unlimited wants. But you have to manage your resources. The sooner you accept this fact, the better you can control your impulses towards avoidable expenditures.

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