Getting ready for retirement

HANCOCK COUNTY — A recent 2016 Retirement Health Care Cost Data Report has an average 65 year old couple, in good health and ready to retire, needing to be prepared to spend $377,412 in today’s dollars for an estimated 25 years in retirement.

These figures reflect you have contributed to plan A of Social Security during employment years, and you will contribute to Medicare part B through reduction of your monthly Social Security benefits ($121.80 starting amount) in 2016. You also WILL have health insurance for Medicare part D and a supplemental policy for both you and your spouse. These figures also include costs for dental, vision, hearing and other out of pocket expenses. This means you will need to have some $644 each month, to start with, to cover both of you at age 65. At 75 that figure will increase to approximately $1,239 due to inflation in health care costs.

The family income has decreased some 2.2 percent since 2000, with the current medium being $56,516 (current average family income Hancock County) per year. Needless to say, we do have a challenge.

Given the economic conditions stated above, it is no surprise that savings have declined over the past 20 years to a current level of 5.6 percent. Utilizing the $56,516 times the 5.6 percent savings reflect a $3,164 of total savings to cover many needed funds.

Currently the U.S. government spends an equal amount on health care costs as it does on social security payments. Medicare benefit funds are expected to be exhausted by 2026, which will lead to borrowing unless adjustments are made in the near future. The sooner your family can start a dedicated fund for health care, prior to retirement, the better off financially you will be. With advancement in health care the average age of both sexes has increased significantly over the past 50 years and most likely will continue in the future which will lead to more healthcare costs during retirement. Currently unpaid medical bills are the leading cause of personal bankruptcies.

In addition to the above cost there are other auxiliary costs involved such as travel expenses for treatment, housing accommodations for spouse, meals, residence maintenance and others. A good way to reduce healthcare costs is to dedicate yourself to the following:

•If you are overweight, commit to losing that weight now. Losing just 20 pounds will mean a lot with your future health care expenses.

•Exercise as least three times a week with active movement in a workout.

•Have a reason to get up each day to keep your life meaningful.

•Eat healthy food each day with plenty of fruit, vegetables, meat and fish. Ditch the junk food.

•Maintain a healthy mind that stays active. Help someone you know with a task they face.

•Make new friends to share meaningful life experiences with.

•Get the sleep your body and mind needs to function at its top level.

•Trust in the Lord to help you accomplish the above. Stay strong: Retirement is not for sissies.