VP of Business Development at MFS
Welcome to Season 1, Episode 8 of Meet the Expert® with Elliot Kallen!
In this episode, Elliot is bringing on Susan Kay, VP of Business Development at MFS, to discuss the topics caring for aging parents, and becoming a savvier investor.
Susan Kay gives actionable tips and tools for helping your parents age with dignity.
Caring for your aging parents can be one of the non-financial shocks that can impact your ability to save properly for a retirement plan, or to maintain the retirement plan that you’ve built. 40 million Americans care for an aging parent in the U.S. today. It requires planning and forethought, and a willingness to push our parents just a bit harder for a clearer picture of their financial health.
We want to be able to map out these challenges and have some solutions in our back pocket. One of the great challenges is, how do you talk to your parents about these issues?
How do you carefully and respectfully learn more about their financial situation so that you’re not surprised down the road?
How do you start conversations about their expectations, like living arrangements, when they start to decline?
There are several tools you can use to understand how to better navigate the process of caring for aging parents.
The first tool that can guide you through removing communication blocks with the elderly is How to Say It to Seniors by David Solie. Each chapter gives advice on how to navigate tough conversations, different ways of wordsmithing to suit your personality and your temperament, and how to anticipate your parents’ reaction to your questions.
The second tool is the Aging With Dignity Checklist, which is helpful in moderating conversations between you and your parents—or you and your adult children. It opens up the hard conversations between kids and their elderly parents, and helps kids understand what will help their parents feel most valued, cared for, and well-loved.
A third tool is Being Mortal by Atul Gawande. Adult children should ask their parents what defines the quality of their lives; in the final few chapters, Gawande discusses how to understand how parents define their end. He gives an example of when a father says to his son, “If I can’t turn on the TV and watch football and feed myself ice cream, those are the two parameters by which the quality of my life has declined so much that I’m done.”
Finally, adult children must understand the importance of carrying your parents’ healthcare directives in an easily accessible place, like a smartphone. In the event of an emergency, you will need to produce a healthcare directive. Use an app like Evernote to upload your parents’ healthcare directive and list of medications so that you can act protectively and quickly.
Susan Kay gives advice about how to become a savvy participant in the investment community.
The first thing to do is get a Financial Advisor. Don’t rely on your personal financial and investment knowledge, or that of your spouse. Lean on the expertise of a trusted, experienced, and Fiduciary Financial Advisor.
The second thing is to follow these 10 tips for being savvy and building a retirement plan that will last throughout your lifetime, and perhaps, throughout multiple generations:
- Diversify. Diversification protects you against major losses when your chosen investment category performs poorly. Over a 10-, 20-, or 30-year period, a diversified portfolio will have the best performance over any one single category.
- Dollar cost average. The concept works like this: as the market declines, stocks and mutual funds go “on sale.” If you have cash, buy into the opportunity of bottom-dollar investments.
- Don’t pull your money out of a down market. Those who stay in the market will always outperform those that exit and go back in.
- Use a trusted Financial Advisor. Most of us don’t have time to pay attention to what’s going on in the marketplace, economically or geopolitically. Not only do you get great investment advice, you also get great estate planning advice—including advice on healthcare directives, powers of attorney, trusts, wills, legacy plans, and much more.
- Have an estate plan. With a full estate plan in place, your family will be in a better position should something happen to you.
- Have a budget. You need to know what you’re spending and where your money is going. Don’t overspend what you have and what you’re making.
- Don’t support adult kids. When our kids turn 30, they’ve had enough time to learn how to earn money, save money, and spend properly if they’re failing economically. You do not want to implode your own retirement comfortability by taking care of an adult child who’s not working hard enough at figuring it out.
- Understand your aging parents’ needs and desires. This is key to building out a thoughtful retirement plan that accounts for all your dependents.
- Have a backup plan. Maybe you haven’t fully accounted for your aging parents. Maybe you haven’t considered what would happen if one of your kids suddenly becomes disabled. Once a year, sit down with your spouse and have a frank conversation about worst-case scenarios.
- Stay educated. Check out Lightbulb Press, which has 30 to 40 different pamphlets about individual investment topics, such as stocks, bonds, variable annuities, and donor-advised funds. Order 4 to 6 pamphlets per year and aim to educate yourself on those few topics.
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Prosperity Financial Group and Meet the Expert® with Elliot Kallen do not make specific investment recommendations on Meet the Expert® with Elliot Kallen or in any public media. Any specific mentions of funds or investments are strictly for illustrative purposes only and should not be taken as investment advice or acted upon by individual investors. The opinions expressed in this episode are those of the Meet the Expert® with Elliot Kallen guests, and not necessarily of Elliot Kallen or Prosperity Financial Group.