Investment Help

If you are seeking investment help, look at the video here on my services. If you are seeking a different approach to managing your assets, you have landed at the right spot. I am a fee-only advisor registered in the State of Maryland, charge less than half the going rate for investment management, and seek to teach individuals how to manage their own assets using low-cost indexed exchange traded funds. Please call or email me if interested in further details. My website is at If you are new to investing, take a look at the "DIY Investor Newbie" posts here by typing "newbie" in the search box above to the left. These take you through the basics of what you need to know in getting started on doing your own investing.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Managing Retirement Savings - A Couples Study (Con't.)

Yesterday I looked at the first 5 questions suggested by Fidelity for couples thinking about retirement.  Here are the final 5 questions.  The study is the result of a poll showing that less than half of potential retirees discuss this major life change with their partners.  The list is useful for closing this communications gap.  Continuing yesteday's approach, I put my comments in bold.

6. Have we created a retirement plan?  This, of course, is the roadmap to seeing if you can achieve your lifestyle as specified in question 3.  This brings together all of the other questions and lists contingencies - what if you can't work until 65, etc.?

7, Have we factored in future health care costs?  Health care, of course, can upset the whole apple cart.  Having a stroke, suffering from dementia, and just generally requiring long-term care can change the whole financial plan.  In addition, health care costs can be a major issue for those retiring early.

8. Do we know where all your assets and important documents are?  One of the first steps many financial planners take is to seek ways to consolidate finances and get the number of accounts and statements under control.  Having 14 accounts at 5 different brokers makes the whole process unwieldy. 

9. Have we named beneficiaries?  Assets pass first by beneficiary designation, then by wills, trusts, etc.  Typically the spouse is the beneficiary.  Problems sometimes arise with contingency beneficiaries.   For those who have been married before, have had children recently, etc., beneficiary designations may not be as intended.  Easy to check and fix.

10. Do we understand how your Social Security and Medicare benefits will work?  On Medicare, sad to say, many people believe that all their health care expenses will be taken care of by Medicare once they turn 65.  Not true.  Be prepared to learn how Medicare works before age 65.  On Social Security, many take Social Security as soon as they can, at age 62 without considering the need, taxes, and likely life expectancy.  Take some time and learn about the options.  It can make a huge difference in the later years.


  1. These are not easy questions for the average couple to answer, especially if they are going through major life changes.

  2. Advisers frequently suggest that retirees factor in health care costs. What is a reasonable factor? A percentage? An absolute dollar amount?

  3. re: Grouch Agreed. Still the earlier they are considered the better. Also, I see so many couples where one has no clue on financial plans for retirement.
    re: Anonymous The dollar amount I see for a 65 year old couple retiring today is $300,000. This does not include long-term care.

  4. Thank you. It's refreshing to see an estimate, sobering though the figure is.

    If the couple lives 15 years, that's about $20,000 each year on health care for the two of them, over $800 per month for each of them. Add in long term care and Medicare supplementary, and they are easily over $1,000 per month per person. Realistic?

  5. re Anonymous Actually a great percentage of the amount comes in the last couple of years. The ability to keep people alive with very expensive equipment and procedures drives up the cost.
    Another factor is that healthier people, contrary to intuition, have higher than average costs. If you exercise and watch your diet and live to be 103 you're going to need knee replacements, a new hip so you can keep jogging etc.
    If you eat Krispy Kreme donuts each morning, smoke a couple of packs of unfiltered cigarettes a day and never exercise don't worry about health care costs.