Financial Journeys Newsletter

FALL 2014

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:

No. 1 When do you want to retire?

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.

No. 2 Where do you want to live?

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.

No. 3 Who do you want to spend time with?

You retire, but your best friends stay on the job. Suddenly, you have little in common anymore. Consider whether spending more time with your spouse is something you both want or if you’ll want to broaden your social group.

No. 4 What activities motivate you?

Discuss what you and your spouse will enjoy doing together, and what you’ll do apart. Have you talked about splitting up the household chores? If one spouse chooses to work longer, the other may need to take on more housework than before. Also, consider how much time you’ll spend with children and grandchildren. Spouses may have very different ideas about this – as may your adult children.

No. 5 How do you plan to pay for retirement?

Naturally, you can dream up a “pie-in-the-sky” retirement if you don’t have to pay for it. You should calculate the sum total of income that your retirement sources will yield. If it’s not enough to meet your plans, or if any of the sources can’t be counted on for a reliable level of income, ask your financial advisor about ways you might reposition assets to meet your long-term goals. Couples may also be out of sync in their attitudes toward risk – which should also be addressed when you meet with your advisor.

Remember, both spouses should be involved in money management at this stage, even if only one has held this responsibility throughout your marriage. Not knowing what may happen in the future, it’s important that both of you understand your finances and what should happen if your spouse passes away before you do.

The information contained herein has been obtained from sources considered reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete.

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.

1. Lottery scam

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.

2. Grandchild needs money scam

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).

3. Charity scam

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.

4. Computer scams

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 get rid of it by asking you to log into a website that lets him control your computer – then steal your ID information.

5. Time-share scam

If you own a time-share you may get a call from someone who says she is authorized to sell it for you, for a fee. After you pay, you never hear from her again.

6. Homeowner scams

When a man comes to your door and offers to clean your gutters or trim your trees, it may sound like a good idea. Until he asks for prepayment and never completes the job. Hire only people you know well or who are referred to you by trusted sources.

7. Medical scam

You get an unsolicited call about a discounted price for some kind of medical equipment (i.e., heart monitor, wheelchair or bathtub bench). He asks for a deposit and your personal information or Medicaid number to send the equipment, which never arrives.

8. Foreclosure scam

You’re approached by a “professional” who claims your home is under threat of foreclosure and offers to pay off your mortgage or taxes if you sign over the deed to the property. With your deed, he can then refinance the mortgage for the full value of your home and take the money. Keep in mind, even if you sign over a deed to someone, you are still liable for your mortgage obligations.

9. Caregiver scam

A caregiver who gains access to your accounts may conduct identity fraud, theft or overcharge you.

It’s important to recognize that these scams are common and widespread. But you’re not alone in trying to decide what to do. Rely on trusted family and friends to work through financial decisions, as well as your financial advisor. He or she can discuss any challenges or opportunities you may encounter and provide sound advice.

The information contained herein has been obtained from sources considered reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete.

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 of how you’re doing.
  • Be realistic about what you can do and get help. Adult children may be prone to take extreme actions when all you really need is a little help. For example, if you find you’re getting lost while driving, honked at by other drivers or having near-accident close calls, look into a driver-on-call service to take you grocery shopping or to a doctor’s appointment.
  • Consult with trusted professionals and loved ones. Often dementia causes people to buy things they don’t need, give away significant sums of money to salespeople or make repeated donations to organizations. Work with your financial advisor to set a spending limit that you will not exceed without running it by her or him first. Along the same lines, let your advisors and doctors know which people to contact, especially whomever holds powers of attorney for you, if they notice changes in your behavior or memory that you may not be aware of. They also should know who is legally authorized to be involved in your affairs if need be.
  • Get your finances and estate in order. Set up your retirement income, long-term care and estate plans early on, while you’re of sound mind and body, and don’t make any changes or big money decisions without consulting your family and advisor(s) first.

Signs of memory loss can be frightening, but knowledge can be both powerful and comforting. Discuss any worrisome incidents with your doctor and find out more about how you can stay focused and learn ways to cope.

The information contained herein has been obtained from sources considered reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete.

Asset allocation and diversification do not ensure a profit or protect against a loss.

There is no assurance any of the trends mentioned will continue in the future.