You might be getting older, but you’re not done learning about money yet.
It might seem as though baby boomers can begin sunsetting their financial literacy journey as they look to retirement. Because the financial world is continually in flux, however, nationally certified financial instructor (NFEC) Chris Longworth of The Financial Education Group said financial literacy is a lifelong journey that should never end.
Ever-changing rules require boomers to remain educated in order to stay ahead of the curve. These rules even present opportunities for boomers to pass their financial wisdom to the next generation. Here’s why boomers aren’t done learning about money.
Claiming Social Security Benefits Is an Important Decision
According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), the earliest possible Social Security retirement age is age 62. Patsy Darbe, financial advisor at COUNTRY Life Insurance Company, said the decision about when to claim Social Security benefits can be very important.
The longer someone waits to take benefits, the higher their monthly payment will be. However, Darbe said there can be tradeoffs for boomers to consider.
Some individuals, depending on their anticipated life span and how well they’ve financially prepared for retirement, might delay taking Social Security benefits. Others might want to claim them earlier.
Darbe recommends working with a financial advisor to explore the best time to make this decision.
Good, Active Money Management Matters in Retirement
As boomers transition from their savings years of employment to their spending years of retirement, a significant number of investment strategies or guard rails that served them well during their accumulation years may start to work against them, said Doug Dahmer, CFP, CEO and founder of Retirement Navigator.
What helps smooth the financial ride into retirement is good, active money management.
“Baby boomers must embrace the reality that annual cash flow requirements during retirement will pass through peaks and valleys,” Dahmer said, “so they will want to preserve the funds in their most tax-efficient accounts to deal with years where peak spending is anticipated.”
Opportunity To Educate Younger Generations
Tim Melia, CFP and financial planner at Embolden Financial Planning, said boomers should start talking to younger generations.
There’s a twofold opportunity available to boomers, Melia said. The first is from the perspective of educating loved ones on their intentions and end-of-life expectations. Doing so helps leave a legacy of comfort and reduced stress for younger generations in a time that is often stressful for families.
Boomers who do not have a history of talking about money also might use this time to start opening up about it.
“If baby boomers can exemplify good communication about money and their experiences,” Melia said, “it will provide an opportunity for future generations to benefit from not repeating mistakes or gaining from the successful experiences of the boomer generation.”
Ask Yourself: Did the Money I Earned Make Me Happier?
Most boomers work hard for decades to ensure they may have a secure and comfortable retirement and be in good financial health.
Dr. Chris Courtney is a cognitive neuroscientist and senior vice president of science, risk and analytics for Happy Money. Courtney said now is a good time for boomers to ask whether all of the money they’ve earned actually made them happier.
Courtney said research shows as people get older, they recognize life doesn’t last forever. It’s worth prioritizing positive experiences and making time for the people who matter.
“Now is a great time to invest in experiences,” Courtney said. “If there’s somewhere you’ve dreamed of going — or a far-flung friend or family member you’ve been meaning to visit — make a plan to do it sooner rather than later and plan your budget around it.”
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