Invest Retirement

This Week In Your Wallet: Health, Wealth, and When To (Or Not To) Retire

Jean Chatzky  |  April 23, 2019

These days, the question of “What’s in your wallet?” may not be nearly as important as “What’s in your phone?” Last year, consumer spending in apps topped $101 billion, and that figure is only expected to rise. Don’t get me wrong, apps like Uber and Amazon make life easy — but they also make it too easy to separate you from your money.  These days, not only do we not have to head to the mall to buy something, we don’t even have to drag ourselves out of bed to fetch our credit cards — they’re all handily stored in our favorite apps, allowing us to put items in our cart and fly through checkout in a single click. At HerMoney.com this week, we look at how we can successfully distance ourselves from our technology, and reclaim our spending power.

High Deductibles

What kind of health plan do you have? If it’s a high deductible plan, a new study warns that the high cost of care may be the reason why some of us are waiting longer to get important treatments and screenings. In the study, women on high-deductible insurance plans waited 6.6 months longer than to receive their first breast cancer diagnosis, and 8.7 months longer to get their first round of chemo, when compared to women on low-deductible plans. It’s important to know that failing to get treated in a timely manner could have serious health implications — and cost you more overall down the line.  But it’s also important to acknowledge that enrollment in high-deductible health plans is on the rise, according to the CDC. Some people are signing up because their employers have made them the only option. Others are choosing these plans from a menu their employer provides or from the exchanges.  In general, high deductible plans, which come with the opportunity to make a tax-deductible contribution to a health savings account that you can use to pay for medical expenses today or in the future, are better for younger, healthier individuals rather than those with chronic medical conditions or who need frequent access to specialists.  But if this is the road you’re on (by your choosing or not) it’s important to use the health savings account to your advantage. Open it. Fund it automatically with monthly contributions (directly from your paycheck if you’re able, otherwise from your checking account). Turn on the option to invest the money you’re not using for short-term care (a la a retirement account). Any money that you don’t use in the near-term for healthcare can grow tax-free, and when you withdraw it to pay for medical expenses, no additional taxes will be owed. Essentially, that means any money you flow through the account will save you about 25% on healthcare. It’s not a panacea, but it’s a start.

Chasing Passion

If you haven’t found your passion yet — or if you’re sick of everyone telling you to look for it — don’t fret. You may just need a little patience, writes Stephanie Lee in this week’s New York Times. Many of us are actually pretty crappy at something when we first try it out (ahem, yoga, ahem) even if we love it, or think we might grow to love it. The problem?  We expect that our passion will hit us one day like a perfect gift; an epiphany of what we should be doing with the rest of our lives. In the real world, passions have to be developed and honed over time, and there will be countless roadblocks along the way, some of which, we may erroneously assume, are warning us that we’ve strayed off course from our true calling. The real challenge in finding your passion isn’t being in the right place at the right time when it falls out of the sky and hits you on the head. It’s having the perseverance to push through when that nagging voice inside your head says, “I’m just not good at this.” You may be… just not yet.

Is There Such A Thing As Retiring Too Early?

Assuming you have enough money in the bank, is it possible to leave the workforce before the time is right? Don’t get us wrong, we LOVE hearing from those of you who are out there devoted to early retirement, lighting a FIRE for all of us who may be lagging behind (Thanks for your great insight on the HerMoney podcast, Jonathan Mendonsa and Brad Barrett!) but is it possible to pack up our offices too early? Maybe so, writes Richard Johnson in the Wall Street Journal. Turns out, leaving work too early may inspire us to indulge in some unhealthy behaviors, like watching too much television, being too sedentary, and eating, smoking, or drinking too much. We may also become depressed without the camaraderie of our colleagues and the challenges of our job to keep us engaged and fulfilled. One study shows that retirement significantly reduces cognitive function, and another found that retirement shrinks our social networks. Meanwhile, folks working longer can continue to save for retirement, and according to the Urban Institute, an additional year of work can raise your future annual retirement income by an average of 9%. It’s definitely something to think about as you move towards your retirement goal — whatever it may be.

Ghosted — At Work

How often have you applied for a job, only to hear crickets back, even when you follow up multiple times? Turns out you can be “ghosted” at work just as easily as you can be in a romantic relationship, writes Ludmila Leiva for Refinery29. These days the vast majority of job seekers — 75% — say they didn’t hear back from a job they had applied for, according to a survey from CareerBuilder. In other words, it happens to everyone, so don’t take it personally, even if it feels incredibly personal. While there are lots of reasons why this phenomenon exists, it often comes down to the fact that recruiters and HR departments are juggling a lot, and don’t have the time to circle back with everyone. With that said, there are two main takeaways for job seekers: First, don’t get discouraged. Second, continue to follow up with a prospective employer, even if you feel like you’re being overly aggressive. You aren’t — you’re just eager and engaged.

P.S. For a good laugh, check out Alexandra Petri’s book report on ‘The Mueller Report’.  Perhaps I found this so funny because it wasn’t that long ago that I was proofing the essays my own kids were writing.  I highly recommend making sure you’re not eating or drinking anything when reading — it is laugh out loud funny.

Have a great week,

Jean


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