Express Your Love this Valentine's Day with Sound Financial Planning

Maximize Social Security Benefits

The best time to claim Social Security is even more critical for married couples. Each year you delay Social Security beyond full retirement age (FRA) your benefit increase by 8%. If the higher earner delays Social Security beyond their (FRA), not only will he/she continue to build credits, for his own Social Security but will also build credits for the survivor.

When one spouse passes away the survivor receives the higher of his or her own benefit or the benefit of the deceased. This is an incredibly important concept when making election decisions, because claiming early not only reduces your own benefit, but also the benefit paid to your survivor. With longer life expectancies than men, this is especially important to women.

Plan for Your Healthcare

While caring for a spouse that has a cold and cough may allow you to shower him with affection with chicken soup and fluffed pillows, a long-term health need will most likely cause you to feel completely overwhelmed. Think of the tension that caring for someone continuously, if you can even do it physically, would be on you, and possibly your children and grandchildren. Imagine having an expense that could wipe out all of your savings, and there was a 70% [i] chance that this could happen to you or your spouse.
Well this is not imaginary it’s the cold hard facts! Traditional health insurance will not pay for long-term care, and in most instances Medicare will not pay for care. Unless you are ultra-wealthy and can afford a healthcare expense of $70,000 plus a year, you need to find a way to plan for a long-term care need well ahead of time. Traditional long-term care insurance plans are typically what we think of when we hear long-term care plan, which is why many people shy away from planning.

The number one complaint I hear is that these plans are expensive and if I have a heart attack in my sleep and never need long-term care, I will have turned over tens of thousands of dollars to an insurance company. There are also many types of hybrid life – long-term care plans, which insure that if you don’t use the long-term care component, it will pay out to a beneficiary when you pass, and some plans allow you a quit provision and will refund your money if you change your mind and no longer want the plan.

Spousal Planning Tips

If you are married you need to plan for retirement as a couple, but also for the surviving spouse. Chances are that you and your spouse will not die at the same time so make sure you plan for the surviving spouse. The loss of a spouse can bring unrelenting heartbreak, but don’t add on to the stress by leaving a spouse with financial worries such as settling an estate, shortness of income, understanding investments, and endless financial concerns.

There is usually one spouse that gravitates to the couple’s money issues and investments, which is okay, but both partners need to be on board with the knowledge of their financial plan. In addition knowing where important documents are kept as well as instructions on how to contact financial advisors and institutions, Social Security, pension plans, insurance companies and attorneys is a must.

When planning for your future make sure to include any loss of income that would occur if your spouse predeceased you from sources such as Social Security, pension, annuity, business entity, or other. Will that loss of income result in you not being able to maintain your lifestyle? Do this exercise for both of you. If there is a shortage, make sure you make adjustments in your financial planning to correct the shortage by purchasing life insurance, gaining knowledge on your pension options if any, reducing expenses, downsizing or working longer.

Valentine's Dates That Won't Break the Bank

Has Valentine's Day grown monotonous for you and your significant other? Things can grow reptetive in long-term relationships but that doesn't mean they have to stay that way. With a little work and creativity it is always possible to find new and exciting experiences for you and your loved one to share with each other. Here are a few outside of the box Valentine's Day ideas that could break the cycle Valentine's Day has fallen into. 

1. Wine and Pottery 
That's right, the title says it all. There are many pottery places that offer Valentine's Day events which could end up being a lot of fun. They usually all operate the same way; you buy an unpainted piece of pottery from their selection and then you sit down and paint your piece while enjoying some wine and snacks (most are BYOB.) It's a nice break from the typical dinner and a movie date that we've all grown so accustomed too. There's still plenty of time to talk and catch up with each other while also being able to do something with your hands. The best part is taking home or gifting your new mug, vase, plate or whatever you decided to make!

2. Cooking In

Don't just have a regular night out, try for a date night in. Look up recipes for appetizers, entrees, drinks, and don't forget about the dessert. Once those drinks are poured it's time to get cooking. Cooking with your significant other can be a great experience and don't forget - you're supposed to have fun with it! Try for something fun that you both will enjoy making AND eating. Why spend all the money to go out when you can have a great time in the comfort of your own home?

3. Recreate Your first V-Day Together

There's nothing like revisiting the past! This can be a great idea for couples that have been together for a long time. Try to remember where you went, what you wore, what you talked about. As you recreate the night you're sure to remember little things that will bring a smile to both of your faces.
Hopefully these are enough ideas to get your brain going. Remember, this is your Valentine's Day and you should tailor it to fit you. Get out there and try something new this Valentine's Day and don't forget the flowers!

No Valentine? No Worries!

Valentine's Day can be a bit of a tough time for those or are single or widowed, but that DOES NOT have to be the case. There are plenty of ways to enjoy yourself this time of year without the help of a significant other. 

1. Take Out Friends and Family

Almost every Valentine's Day idea can be slightly changed to fit those who are just friends or family. Maybe you can go wine tasting with your girlfriends? Maybe you and the guys head out for some drinks and a ball game? Maybe you can take your grandkids out for a nice brunch? The ideas are endless. There are plenty of people who love you that would to do something fun this weekend. 

2. Indulge Yourself

Who's that person who has always been there for you ever since day? They were there for you through every break up, death, and other trying time in your life; and that person is YOU! What do you love to do? Treat yourself to a nice relaxing spa day. Maybe you just want to sit home and watch your favorite movie series. Sometimes you is the only company you need to have a great time. 

3. Fall In Love With Something New

What is that thing that you've always wanted to try? Valentine's Day is just the time to try it out. A cooking class, yoga, kick boxing, you name it. Think lon gand hard and find out that one thing you've been putting off and finally try it out, you may just fall in love!

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