It’s a brand, spankin’ new year, and that means it’s time to refocus on goals like being a better person, eating healthier, and yes, being wiser with our money, too. With the economy continuing to struggle, many seniors are finding it difficult to survive… let alone thrive, but this doesn’t necessarily have to be the way it is across the board. We took a look at a few financial planning tips from experts for 2018 to see what’s changed, what’s being recommended, and how you can make the most of your money this year. Here’s what we discovered.
• The cost of living is estimated to rise this year, but you may benefit if you’re a Social Security recipient. Expect a 2 percent cost-of-living adjustment (yes, that’s a raise) bringing the average payment to $1,404.
• Still contributing to your 401(k)? You may be able to contribute a higher-than-normal amount this year as contributions are rising to $500 from a previously lower rate. Factor this into your finances, if possible, and enjoy the additional savings.
• Getting close to retirement age? Bad news: the full retirement age is increasing to 67. You may find yourself waiting another year before you can fully celebrate your newfound freedom. There is one exception: if you were born before 1954, these rules don’t apply to you!
• If you’re a beneficiary collecting through a late spouse’s plan, your monthly check will likely rise this year. Social Security is increasing the maximum benefit by nearly $100 for a total of $2,788 thanks to a higher taxable earning cap and the increase in cost of living.
• Bad news from Medicare: the cost of living may be increasing, but so is the cost of Medicare. Expect an approximate 2 percent increase if you pay less than the standard for Medicare Part B. Payments remain dependent on income, but baselines will increase.
• Overall, 2018 will be a year of ups and downs. Use that time to reassess your finances and discover new ways to save. Most importantly, if you haven’t been contributing to a savings account, start putting money away every month. That savings will help you ride out the next 12 months with less stress or holes in your budget.
• The financial world is changing, but you don’t have to learn everything at once. It’s easier to join sites like the Financial Health Network, where they interpret the changes for you and offer advice on how to proceed. In other words, you don’t have to try to unravel the mystery of things like cryptocurrency when sites like this do it for you.
Do you think most Americans are prepared for retirement?