Last Tuesday, the HVS staff had a busy day preparing for an Ask The Expert webinar for financial advisors on the topic of Social Security benefits, so, like the truly thoughtful guy that I am, I offered to pick up lunch for everyone as I drove back to the office from a meeting.
Since I was running late, I decided to take advantage of the drive-through at a popular fast food restaurant.
To put it mildly, I am not exactly an experienced drive-through consumer.
I pull up to this large red and yellow device located next to the menu and wait for someone to take my order.
Two minutes pass…
“Hello! Hello! I begin to speak into what appears to be a red colored intercom gadget that protrudes from its base. This is fast food?
Finally, a young lady responds. Her voice is muffled and almost impossible hear. I think she’s saying something like, “Dry cup.” Dry cup? Is that on special?
“DRIVE UP!” I can finally make out her words. I peek ahead to another device with a speaker attached, look to my left, and come to the dreaded realization that I was having a nice conversation with a garbage receptacle! Wow! What a fancy, schmancy drive-through! Even their trash barrels look high tech! Why they put one adjacent to an actual order-taking doohickey is beyond me. Am I the first person who has ever done this?
She condescendingly beckons me to the actual intercom. I place my order and then drive up another 20 yards to the take-out window.
Boy, this is complicated.
When I get there, she is busy taking another customer’s order. Eventually, I pay my bill and collect my change. Ten minutes later, I park my oolong gray Audi at the office and look to grab the bag from the passenger seat.
It’s not there.
I never picked up the food at the second window!
Can you believe this guy gives his order to a trash can, pays, and forgets his food? I imagine the young cashier, doubled over in laughter, telling her equally amused co-workers.
I can’t do it. I am simply too embarrassed to return to pick up the food. It is just too much for me to handle.
So I drive to another Mc something or other, place my order into an actual speaker, and pick up lunch like a fast-food pro. I never mention a word to my colleagues, but later give my wife Marea the gory details. She laughs harder than the cashier probably did…until I ask her for a favor.
I pull out the receipt. “Will you go get me a refund, or at least an equal bag of Mc-this or Mc- that?”
She continues laughing. “No way!”
“Come on. You can tell the window cashier that your father is beginning to have memory issues and left the food behind.”
“My father, if he were around, would NEVER have done something that ridiculous!” she giggles. “How’s this! I’ll do it, but you have to come with me!”
My embarrassment supersedes my principals. I throw the receipt away.
Embarrassment can be a costly emotion. Being embarrassed to face a 16-year-old kid who may have seen you talking to a garbage pail may cost a few dollars, but being embarrassed to broach a conversation on retirement income issues with your advisor because you think it’s too late, will negatively impact the final 25 to 30 years of your life.
Even if you have been retired for several years, it’s not too late. If you are reluctant, perhaps, unlike asking Marea to represent me at a Mc something or other, consider asking your spouse go to the first meeting. Just make sure to focus on four pivotal areas: Social Security benefits, the impact of working in retirement, Medicare, and long-term care expenses. Good advisors who are staying current will be trained in these matters, and their input can lead to a much more stable retirement.
Let’s review an example that may motivate you to talk to an expert.
Monthly benefit at full retirement age of 66
Cumulative lifetime benefit if Jake and Sally retire at age 62
Sally suspends at 66 and Jake files restricted at age 66
Sally’s last year of survivor benefits if they claim at age 62
Sally’s last year of survivor benefits if Sally suspends at
age 66 and Jake files restricted at age 66
By being aware of available filing strategies, Jake and Sally can add an additional $594,556 to their overall retirement income. Sally will also gain a future survivor benefit of $91,687—75% more than if she filed at age 62. These decisions will not only improve Sally’s quality of life, but also expand her options for assisted living and skilled nursing care facilities.
Take comfort in knowing that if you have not addressed these issues, you are certainly not alone. There is still time to change the quality of your retirement lifestyle—Baby Boomers included.
If I can talk to a garbage bin, you can talk to your financial advisor.
Have a productive week.
This update was written by Ron Mastrogiovanni and Chris Leone.
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