Aging with Grace: The Power of New Year's Resolutions
New Year’s resolutions are a great way to supercharge the new year. Here are some great resolution ideas that we can use to improve your financial, physical, and social wellbeing for aging with grace.
Every stage of life comes with different goals and priorities so we can age with dignity. While younger people are chasing their dreams of new careers or accomplishing major milestones (like finishing college or buying a first home), life’s priorities look a little different for us as we age. Instead, the priority shifts to preparing for retirement, working toward a better quality of life and just simply making the best of that stage of life.
Even if you are still in the process of financial planning for life in retirement, leveraging New Year’s resolutions is a great way to accomplish these goals. It’s important to understand that there is no such thing as a perfect New Year’s resolution. Each person needs to decide what is most important for them. Here are some great New Year’s resolution ideas across a number of categories to get you started.
Financial security in our later years is most likely the top thing on the minds of most older adults. Unfortunately, too many people are unprepared for retirement. According to one study, about "50% of women and 47% of men between the ages of 55 and 66 have no retirement savings." If this applies to you, the new year might be a good time to start focusing your efforts on building up your nest egg.
Even if you have been saving and investing for years, you might want to consider meeting with a financial advisor to adjust your portfolio risk, evaluate your upcoming social security withdrawals, investigate ways to reduce your cost of living in retirement, or discover the options for leveraging your financial assets and wealth to meet your life’s needs.
One of the greatest challenges that come with aging is dealing with health issues. Recovering from an injury or illness can take several months. This can weigh heavily on your mental, physical, and financial wellbeing. A recent study by Fidelity found that elderly couples who are planning to retire now or in the near future can expect to spend over "$300,000 on medical expenses in retirement".
Creating New Year's resolutions around transitioning to a healthier lifestyle can reduce the risk or delay the onset of major diseases such as stroke and heart disease. Simple changes such as eating more vegetables, exercising more, quitting smoking or drinking, and keeping regularly scheduled doctor’s appointments are a great option when selecting resolutions.
It’s also important to be prepared financially for medical expenses. One great option is to increase your contributions to a Health Savings Account (HSA). The money placed into an HSA has many advantages including being tax-free. Unfortunately, there are limits placed on the amount that can be contributed to an HSA each year, but individuals over the age of 55 are eligible to make catch-up contributions.
Approximately "70 percent of people over the age of 65 will need some form of long-term care" during their lifetime. Since long-term care isn’t covered under Medicare, purchasing supplemental long-term care insurance can help offset the cost.
Setting Home Maintenance Resolutions
For many people, owning a home in retirement is a huge financial advantage since it is often one of our largest financial assets. Also owning your home comes with significant expenses: you will still need to spend money on property taxes, utilities, repairs, and upkeep. Setting home maintenance New Year’s resolutions are a great way to stay ahead of the cost of home ownership that can impact your retirement finances.
Putting off maintenance on your home can lead to increased living costs and repairs in the future. In the new year, it would be advantageous to proactively address issues (like an old roof), upgrade to more energy efficient appliances, fix potential safety issues, or make accessibility updates. Even if your home is in perfect condition, you can still set goals to declutter your home. You might even find some valuable items such as tools, furniture, or collectibles that can help fund your retirement savings.
If you are looking to fund repairs or remodeling projects, talk to us. We may be able to help you find better ways to tap into your home equity
Keep Learning New Things
Learning new things as we age can provide a wide range of benefits. Some studies have shown that various "mental activities can help build new connections in the brain" slowing down the effects of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Care for both conditions can come with a steep price tag. The cost of medical care and assisted living care can easily "exceed $25,000 a year". Reducing the onset of these diseases can provide a better quality of life and shield your finances.
For this reason, everyone should have New Year’s resolutions that help keep their brains active. These resolutions could include reading a certain number of books, picking up a new hobby, or learning a new language.
See the World
Most retirees have some goal to travel more in their later years (70 percent). These travel goals can be visiting national parks across the country to jet setting to exotic locations across the globe. One survey found that the "average retiree spends over $11,000 each year on travel". If you have travel goals, you might consider a New Year’s resolution to strategize ways to fund your adventures. Not having a plan in place could force you to put off or miss out on your opportunity to travel later in life.
Enhancing your social life has been proven to increase your sense of belonging, increase happiness, alleviate feelings of loneliness, and reduce stress. It can even prolong your life. A study by Harvard University found that a high-quality social life is one of the most effective predictors of longevity. Another study published by the Journals of Gerontology in 2020, found that women who are socially active have a 41% higher chance of living to the age of 85.
As people get older, it's important to continue developing relationships and staying connected with others. In the new year, you may want to create resolutions that help you engage those around you such as spending more time with your grandchildren or making new friends.
Creating goals to provide value to the community around you can be especially rewarding. Older people tend to have more free time to dedicate toward activities such as volunteering and charity events. If you have the financial means, you may consider donating money to the charities you are passionate about. In addition to giving back and building social relationships, retirees can use donations to capture some tax deductions and savings.
Creating Successful New Year’s Resolutions
No matter what resolutions you choose to accomplish this year, finding ways to age with grace and dignity is important. Part of your resolutions might involve making financial changes or accessing the money you need to fund your retirement lifestyle. If so, you should look no further than the largest asset you own – your home. Since owning a home is often our largest asset, too many people make the mistake of thinking you must sell your home to access the equity.
At Graceful Financial, we believe that everyone deserves to access the home equity they have worked hard to build without having to move from the home they love. Our team of experts is here to help you tap into your home wealth the right way when you need it. Contact us today to join our waiting list.