Posted by Betsy Graziano on 3/20/2017

By the year 2030, the last members of the "Baby Boomer" generation will be turning 65 -- a milestone traditionally associated with retirement, senior citizen discounts, and living life at a slower pace. The Institute on Aging is predicting that one out of every five Americans (20%) will be 65 or older by then.

While many people continue working and staying active well into their senior years, adjustments are eventually necessary. To ease the transition into post retirement, some homeowners are making remodeling or home buying decisions based on expected lifestyle changes.

Simple Adjustments Can Go a Long Way

One of the most basic accommodations you can make to improve accessibility is to replace door knobs, especially outside ones, with straight handles. If arthritis or other conditions make it difficult for you or your spouse to grip a round door knob and turn it to the right, a horizontal lever can be much less of a hassle. Water faucets that have handles instead of round knobs can also provide similar benefits. (If you really want to go for ease of use, there's always the option of installing motion-activated sink faucets!) Elderly parents who visit frequently -- or who may even be joining your household -- will also appreciate accommodations that make daily tasks less difficult.

There are a couple sound reasons to replace old, inefficient toilets with taller units, including the fact that they are easier and more comfortable for older people to use. Some of the newer models are a few inches higher and are noticeably more convenient than standard toilets. An additional benefit worth mentioning is that EPA-certified toilets conserve water and can save you money. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, recent advancements in toilet design now allow consumers to use less water and save money on their water bills -- up to $110 a year for the average family. Although a retired couple may not flush that much money down the drain (in the form of wasted water), an updated toilet can still save money on utility bills and conserve natural resources (The "WaterSense" label certifies that it meets EPA standards).

A few other features to keep in mind for more comfortable senior living may include choosing a wall oven instead of a harder-to-reach floor version, and getting other appliances that don't require bending down. Lots of natural light and a sufficient amount of artificial light are also desirable features for a senior-occupied home. For shower safety, grab bars are another modification that can provide extra support without costing a lot of money.

Whether you're planning on buying a new home or doing updates and renovations on your existing home, there are a lot of ideas to consider. Since aging and climbing stairs don't usually go together, many people set their sights on a one-story ranch house for their retirement years. If you now own a multi-story house and want to stay put, there are a variety of stair lifts, elevators, and other mobility aids that may be worth looking into.

Posted by Betsy Graziano on 7/25/2016

A retirement plan is more than an idea or a casual conversation with your significant other. It's a detailed description of how you are preparing for your life after retirement and what you want that life to look like. Furthermore, that plan will need to be updated when unforeseeable life events occur. Here are some tips that anyone can use when preparing for retirement.

Make your retirement checklist

Everyone's retirement plan will be unique. But one thing all good plans have in common are that they are tangible. Make a checklist of things you need to accomplish before, during, and after retirement. Depending on your situation, this may include:
  • investment goals
  • savings goals
  • pension and 401k details
  • healthcare cost changes
  • social security benefits

Determine how much you'll need

Lifestyle aside, retirement is expensive. And with inflation and cost-of-living increases it will likely only get more expensive. No one can predict, with 100% accuracy, what will happen in the future when it comes to stocks and investments. But when calculating your monthly expensive after retirement you should remember to adjust for increases in these costs. Put your post-retirement expenses in a spreadsheet (estimate high). Next to them put your savings and post-retirement income. This will allow you to balance your monthly spending post-retirement.

Consider your housing situation

If the home you currently live in is the home you want to stay in forever, you might want to consider potential problems that may arise. As we age, things like steep stairs, lawns to maintain, and other issues may become a factor. Others elect to move into condominium-style housing. Many people don't want to move too far from family, whereas others seek out better weather conditions. Whatever you choose, do your research in advance to learn just how much moving will cost (or save) you.

Don't touch your retirement savings

Emergencies may arise when we need to put the present before our longterm plans. But it's important not to fall into temptation of spending retirement savings on luxuries. Remember that financial troubles at retirement age are emergencies in and of themselves. Also keep in mind that there are often withdrawal penalties for taking funds from a retirement account.

Start your plan now and update it often

It's never too early or too late to start saving for retirement. Whether you're in your 20s or your 60s, there are always benefits that can come from good retirement planning. If you're young, all the more reason to begin planning early. Since rates of return on investments are anything but predictable, investing earlier is more likely to pay off in the long run. Another important thing to remember is to update your plan regularly. Once per year, around tax season, reflect on the retirement checklist and spreadsheet that you made. Are you making progress toward your goals? Is your income trending upwards or downwards? You may find that if you keep retirement on the forefront of your thoughts that you make more informed spending and saving decisions.  

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