In her 40 years as a photographer in the Denver area, Jill Kaplan did not think she would need her social work degree. But when it became harder to make a living as a professional photographer, she joined a growing army of part-time workers across the country who help older people living independently, completing household tasks and providing companionship. Elder concierge, as the industry is known, is a way for the semi- and fully retired to continue to work, and, from a business standpoint, the opportunities look as if they will keep growing.
What’s the best place to live in retirement? New Hampshire boasts low taxes and a vital cultural climate. Mexico has warm weather and a low cost of living. The Provo-Orem metropolitan area of Utah, with about 115,000 residents, promises an outdoorsy lifestyle, proximity to Salt Lake City and plenty of opportunities to take classes at local colleges. All three were the top suggestions in recent retirement location rankings. And there are more studies — actually, many, many more.
Social Security is, for millions of Americans, a vital source of income during retirement. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), the mere fact that Social Security benefits are paid out to more than 41 million retired seniors each month has pushed the rate of senior poverty below 9%. Without Social Security income, the CBPP estimates that the poverty rate for seniors would be north of 40%! However, most working Americans, and even some retirees, don’t have a good idea of what percentage of income Social Security is designed to replace once you retire, and that’s a big problem.
Imagine spending a lifetime acquiring habits that offer the promise of a longer, happier and more fulfilling life. Then imagine that to have that fulfilling life, you suddenly must abandon all those habits. Not easy, is it? But that’s what happens when people go from work to retirement, from saving money to spending it. Too often, the same personality traits that facilitate saving for retirement become impediments when it is time to spend that money. The mental tricks we employ while working become mental mistakes when we move into the next phase of our lives.
Three past presidents have tried in vain to fix America’s woefully underfunded retirement system. Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama tried to push retirement plans through Congress. All of them failed, most recently President Obama’s plan, which was to be called the Retirement Enhancement and Savings Act, died in Congress when President Trump took office. Trump currently has no plan to fix America’s retirement system. Messages to his office from USA Today were not returned. Trump plans to overhaul America’s tax system, but the 401(k) was not changed as part of any recent House Republican bill on taxes.
Much recent discussion has centered on the decline in the household formation of young adults during and following the Great Recession. Many young individuals chose to live at home rather than move out to form their own households, while others moved back in with their parents after previously living independently. Numerous reports and articles have explored the recent household-formation behavior of young adults, as economists, sociologists, and others try to determine why the number of young adults living independently has decreased.
Being knowledgable about money management, budgeting and finance is no guarantee of success in life. But ignorance about such concepts often comes at great cost. When it comes to financial literacy, however, the U.S. gets a failing grade at least by one count. The U.S. ranked 14th in a 2015 global study conducted by Standard & Poor’s Ratings Group and others, with a financial literacy rate of 57%. One solution would be to have colleges require students to take a personal-finance course. Would that help? Two experts weigh in.
Like surprises? Retirement—for better and worse—will change your life more than you anticipate. That’s the consensus of those who should know best: retirees themselves. Recently, as part of a discussion in these pages about changes in later life, we asked readers for help: Tell us what has surprised you in retirement. What did the experts neglect to mention? What would you tell would-be retirees to watch for? The answer, in short: almost everything.