Tag Archives: retirement

National Financial Wellness Month

National Financial Wellness Month

It’s National Financial Wellness Month, and we have tips about taking care of your finances, especially as they relate to health insurance.

Using Your FSA

If your health insurance features a flexible spending account (FSA), you could save on all kinds of health services and products.

Your FSA and the New Year

 

Health savings accounts (HSAs) are becoming more common, and if your plan has one, it could help you with your medical expenses and offset high deductibles. 

Saving with an HSA

 

You might not realize how much money you’re losing going to the emergency room when you should be going to urgent care. Know where to go and save.

Skipping the ER

 

You know you pay a premium for your health insurance, but do you understand all of your out-of-pocket costs, like deductibles, copays, and coinsurance? Make sense of what you pay.

Paying Out-of-Pocket Costs

 

Do you know what happens after you get care? Make sense of the claims process, how your doctor gets paid, and what you’ll owe.

Paying Healthcare Costs

 

Making financial plans for your future can help you be ready for retirement, Medicare, and medical emergencies. Be prepared.

Making Financial Plans

 

Financial wellness can impact other parts of your health too. These tips can help you track your spending, set goals, and more.

A Happy Ending from Your Decisions

Vantage Point: Life Is Not Like The Brady Bunch

Growing up watching The Brady Bunch, I loved how when there was a problem, like Jan getting a bad perm, Greg having his first fender bender, or Marcia getting braces, it was always resolved in a happy ending by the end of the episode.

I didn’t think to question how Mr. and Mrs. Brady could afford to raise 6 kids and pay for a maid and the mortgage on a tri-level house. I know now, from raising my own kids, that braces are really expensive, and so is adding teenagers to your car insurance. Real-life decisions don’t always end as positively as a Brandy Bunch episode.

In my work, I counsel people who made a choice that costs them later. For example, if you don’t pick up prescription drug coverage when you first become Medicare eligible and then realize you need to add it later, you’ll get charged a late enrollment penalty. Many times in these cases, members have sadly told me that they didn’t know or that no one had told them. They’ve truly taught me the importance of staying informed.

Recently, I had the chance to meet with Callie Klein from COUNTRY Financial, and we found that we share a mutual desire to learn about each other’s professional services.

We know Medicare can be confusing, so we do our best to help people make sense of their options. Retirement planning can also be confusing, but Callie helped me to understand how choices like life insurance and long-term care can affect your financial future. Callie pointed out that people are living longer, and some people can spend just as many years in retirement as they did on their career. That’s what makes it so important to plan ahead, so your resources match your longevity.

As we enter a new year, I am reminded how fast time goes and how important it is to give some thought to your future now. Set some long-term goals rather than just short-term resolutions.

If you haven’t already and need help, I encourage you to seek out a professional like Callie. She showed a genuine concern for her clients and a desire to guide them toward the decisions that will help them attain their future retirement goals. Professionals like her can help you at least become educated and stay informed.

Most importantly, though, I wish you happiness in 2016, and I hope that, like an episode of The Brady Bunch, your biggest problems are resolved quickly and with a happy ending.

Shannon Sims is a Medicare community liaison for Health Alliance, serving Chelan, Douglas, Grant and Okanogan counties in Washington. She has four sons and two grandsons. During her time off, she performs as part of a rodeo drill team on her horse, Skeeter.

Planning for a Happy Retirement

Long View: How Much Money Do You Need for Retirement?

Benjamin Franklin’s saying, “a penny saved is a penny earned,” is still true today, especially when thinking about retirement. I think about the possibilities once in a while, but it seems too far in the future to worry about it right now.

I know in my grandparents’ day, retirement didn’t require much planning. Most folks didn’t live long enough for it to be a problem. These days with modern medicine, longevity is a much more attainable goal. It’s the actions we take to prepare for it that have the most impact on our quality of life.

The United States Census Bureau says people age 90 and older make up 4.7 percent of the population 65 and older. That’s expected to be as high as 10 percent by 2050.

I used an online retirement calculator to find out how much I should have saved at this point in my career. The results indicated I was well under my goal. The predictions were based on a life expectancy of 92 years, a daunting prospect at this stage of the game.

I have been meaning to increase the amount I put aside for retirement, but it seems I just don’t get around to it. Benjamin would advise me to “never leave that till tomorrow which you can do today.” Having looked into the future, I will definitely take some action. Even a slight increase now will make a difference in the long run.

“Obviously the earlier you start to save for retirement the better,” says Bob Ballsrud, executive vice president of Busey Wealth Management. “Our younger clients often invest in more growth assets because they have the time to recover from any temporary downturn. More mature clients often are encouraged to lower their risk because they will need to access the funds sooner. Either way, it’s the consistency of action and the appropriate planning that help you meet your goals.”

I know there are a number of factors to consider before retirement. It seems advance planning is the best course, or as Ben tells us, “Employ thy time well if thou meanest to gain leisure.”

Plan Ahead with Health Insurance

Part of planning for your future is making sure you can cover medical and hospital costs when you need to. Learn more about Medicare, wellness, and health insurance in general at HealthAlliance.org.

Using Your Brainpower

Boost Your Brainpower

Challenging yourself mentally raises your brainpower and function, which is shown to reduce the risk of mental decline and dementia in old age. What can you do to keep your brain in amazing shape?

Never Stop Learning

Learning new things in school or classes, at work, and in your spare time all help you challenge your mind, no matter what your age.

As we get older, we get comfortable doing the things we’ve always done. But your brain will benefit from tackling something new. Learning keeps life stimulating, especially during retirement.

Community colleges and park districts offer a variety of courses that allow you to interact with others while challenging your mind. You can try a new sport, learn a new language, take up painting, or learn a skill you’ve always been interested in picking up.

Activities that use your hands, like woodworking, sign language, or knitting, are also great because focusing on your hand-eye coordination works multiple parts of your brain.

Not only will it help you stay sharp, you’ll also feel accomplished. Never stop challenging yourself to learn new things!

Memorize

Learn a new word a day, take up local theater where you learn a small part, learn your favorite poem by heart, or learn all the words to your latest favorite song. Writing things down as you go can also help. This careful listening and learning can help you sharpen your thinking.

Get Involved

Volunteering with a local organization offers you the chance to interact with others, which also stimulates your brain. You can meet new people who are both working and being helped in the community.

Help your church, local library, animal shelter, or even a branch of a larger organization like the Alzheimer’s Association to meet people, work events, and even get active with 5ks.

Eat Antioxidants

Foods like blueberries and dark chocolate are full of antioxidants, which help fight age-related diseases. They can also help delay or prevent cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s, and lower cholesterol and blood pressure.

And they’re delicious! Win-win!

Get Moving

Dancing with a partner or in a group may be one of the best physical activities you can do that is also good for your mind. When you dance the salsa, a waltz, or even the electric slide, your brain whirls to keep up with the steps, all while you interact with others around you. Dancing is also shown to help slow the progress of dementia.

Try Something New

Break out of your routine and see something new, like an art show. Taking pictures for social media, writing about it, and making scrapbooks to show your family and friends are all great ways to train your brain to remember the details about your new experience too.

There are many brain games on the market you can try to stay sharp. Lumosity is one online tool you can try, for a fee. You can also try more traditional methods, like chess, sudoku, or puzzles. While they’re not proven to fight dementia, they can help you maintain critical thinking skills.