Categorized | Finance, Reverse Mortgage

It’s never too late to improve your financial future

By Bonnie Adams, Managing Editor

If you are in your 50s or 60s, you most likely are at that stage of your life where college bills and mortgage payments, while perhaps not quite a thing of the past, are well on their way to being just that. You probably are not yet ready to retire, but for many it is closer than ever.

Although people are living longer, however, the expenses of life are not declining. And, according to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), over 23 million older adults are economically insecure, either living at/below poverty or one financial crisis away.

But even if you have not made retirement savings a priority, there are still things you can do, according to the not-for-profit Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) to buffer up your finances.

The first step, the group recommends, is to use an online calculator, such as FINRA’s Retirement Calculator, to figure how much you should be saving, based on factors like your current age, income and retirement age goal.

Then consider the following tips:

Contribute more to tax-advantaged retirement plans, such as an individual retirement accounts (IRA) and workplace plans like a 401(k). If you’re 50 or older, you are eligible to contribute beyond the maximum annual contribution limit.

The IRS rules for annual “catch-up” contributions allow you to contribute an extra $1,000 to IRAs, for a total of $6,500 in 2017, and an extra $6,000 to 401(k)s, for a total of $24,000 in 2017.

Consider retiring at a later age. For many, the standard of retiring at age 62 is antiquated. Many want to consider working as long as they have the passion, drive and good health to do so. Or perhaps you don’t want to work fulltime but rather are interesting in job sharing or part-time work. It’s important to remember that the longer you delay receiving Social Security benefits after your full retirement age, the bigger payment you’ll receive once you do retire. That increase is two-thirds of 1 percent for each month that you delay receiving the benefits, or 8 percent annually, until you reach age 70.

Tap into your home’s equity. There are several ways to do this, including taking out a home equity loan, a home equity line of credit (HELOC), or a reverse mortgage.

A home equity loan, often referred to as a second mortgage, gives you a lump sum of money with a fixed repayment schedule. A HELOC allows you to get money when you need extra cash and only pay interest on the amount that you borrow.

A reverse mortgage is a type of home loan that allows seniors to convert the equity in their home to cash to meet a wide range of financial needs. With a reverse mortgage, the lender pays you. The homeowner makes no payments, and all interest is added to the loan. A reverse mortgage must be repaid when you move or sell the property or the last borrower does, or by your heirs upon your death.

Before you agree to a reverse mortgage, you will be required to get counseling from a government-approved organization like NCOA.

For unbiased information on reverse mortgages read “Use Your Home to Stay at Home,” the official booklet approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The National Council on Aging also has a tremendous amount of resources on its website (www.ncoa.org) designed to help you navigate the sometimes confusing world of finance. There you find such helpful thing such as “You Gave, Now Save: A Guide to Benefits for Seniors”; Economic Security Initiative Toolkit; and Savvy Saving Seniors® Financial Education Tools.

With so much rapidly changing with tax laws, it may be wise to consider talking with a qualified financial planner who can help you through quagmire of issues related to Social Security, stock options, selling your home, medical expenses, and much more. But be sure to vet your advisor carefully – FINRA has an option where you can check the background of an investment professional. They also have a special securities toll-free helpline (844-574-3577) for seniors to get assistance on issues related to their brokerage accounts and investments.

With some thoughtful, wise planning, you can be assured that your financial health will be strong and secure.

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