Q&A with a Reader
Really appreciate the newsletter and am looking forward to sharing with some of my clients.
I do have a question.
My wife and I are mid 50’s. We would love to hang up the cleats right now but we have this huge barrier here in American called “health Insurance”. It will be a few years before we can access medicare. We have no debt and 7 figures put away however have not found a solution for the health care situation. It would probably cost us 24k a year and that would not allow us to just live on investments.
We have new grandchildren so moving to another country is out of the question …. No way the wife would agree with that. Have you heard of any solutions for people in the US?
Thank you and cheers!!
Thanks for taking the time to write and for your kind comments on our newsletter. We appreciate it.
Your situation regarding early retirement and access to health care is a common one for everyone. No matter where one lives, it seems the issue of access to “health care” can be a stumbling block. Add to that the addition of grandchildren, and in some cases, forward movement towards early retirement can die on the vine.
However, let me say a few words about this, and possibly ask you a question or two, since there is no silver bullet that will satisfy everyone.
Do your children/grandchildren live close to you (same city or state, within convenient driving distance now). How stable are the careers of the parents? (meaning will there be a possible transfer, move, promotion to a new location in the mix?) Are your grandchildren in a good school district now (and is the intention for the family to stay pretty much where they live indefinitely)?
Life is full of change, some of it we plan for, some of it is thrust upon us without our consent or through an opportunity we cannot resist.
Retirement is a huge change as well. Will you be staying in the home you are living in now? Or do you plan to downsize?
The reasons I am asking these questions, is, that “right at this moment” Grandparents, parents and grandchildren are in a certain (convenient?) location… but that might not stay the same. Will that change in 3 years? 7 years? What’s the likelihood of that situation changing? With our mobile society, the chances are pretty good.
I cannot tell you how many grandparents we know who have moved to the location of the grandchildren (or didn’t move to the location of their choice due to the grandchildren) … and then the parents of those children were transferred, got a promotion (or a divorce) or simply moved to a better area for work, better schools, better cost of living, and so on, thus throwing a wrench into the Grandparents’ plans for being close to the grandchildren growing up.
Sometimes the grandparents moved again to be close to the children, only to have the parents get another promotion or opportunity and take the kids with them.
We even know of some personal friends of ours whose children moved to Texas (after living in Oklahoma close to the Grandparents) and brought the children with them. Then our friends put money into their “forever home” and build a “Granny unit” in Texas, moved there, furnished it, bought a car, and so on… only to have the Son-in-law get offered a promotion to another state. They ended up selling all their stuff again and their forever home, which has been very stressful on the whole family.
My point is… the future is not written in stone.
For instance, if you plan to downsize in retirement, that downsizing can save you considerable amounts of money annually on housing costs. That extra savings can be placed towards visiting the grandchildren or purchasing travel tickets for them to visit you.
You might consider snowbirding and traveling in your retirement – or you might choose to go to a state where costs of living (and health care) are cheaper, also utilizing these savings for family visits.
You might choose to utilize medical tourism or purchase a concierge plan with a doctor (who – for an annual fixed price – offers you so many doctor visits, so many x-rays, etc.) which then also keeps your health costs down.
You might want start your own Health Savings Account where you place $10,000 (or more) each into an account yearly that you don’t touch except for health costs. In 5 years you would have $100,000 saved for medical expenses. In 10 years, you’d have $200,000 (and so on.) That’s a lot of medical care out of country for Medical Tourism.
Basically, you’d only need to get to the age where you could receive Medicare and go from there.
Even Canadians who have moved overseas or who snowbird have to return to their home country after 6 months in order to keep their health care plans active. Or they could let their country’s health care plan go, and purchase something locally in their new country..
Again, my point is… there are options. Nothing is frozen or unmovable. Chances are, things are going to change in a few years regardless.
When did you think of retiring? 1 year? 5 years? – If it’s 5 years, this gives you plenty of time to activate your personal HSA, the children will be older, and you could continue to research your options.
What do you plan to do with your time away from your normal work/job/career? – If you plan to keep your same home, don’t like to travel or don’t like the idea of snowbirding, you might want to golf, play tennis and bridge, work in the garage on a hobby (building sailboats, wordworking, doing sculptures, etc.) or volunteer in your community.
What kind of retirement are you thinking about?
These, actually, are the questions you need to think about and discuss together. Because the style of retirement will dictate many things financially, including going to see the kids if the parents take a promotion out of state or country. (Our good friend’s daughters both moved. One took the husband and kids and moved to Colorado, the other moved with her husband to Asia. Both of them did this for work opportunities.)
Below are some articles on this whole topic which might give you some insight, or which might move the sides of the box you have placed the description of your retirement into.
Everyone is different, there is no “one right answer.” I would suggest dreaming a bit about what retirement means to the both of you. It’s “easy” to say “We can’t do “X” because of 1) the grandkids 2) costs of health care 3) I don’t know what I’d do with my time 4) I can’t imagine leaving my beloved home 5) we have pets 6) I don’t want to make new friends 7) something else.
We can always find a block if we want to. It’s scary to move out of a comfortable routine, no doubt. And maybe you don’t want to move out of a comfortable routine. That’s ok too!
I hope these questions and different perspectives help you to shake things up and be able to move some mental furniture around.
You absolutely can find a workable, satisfying solution for yourselves, and still retire early, if that is what you want to do.
Wishing you both all the best.
Thanks again for writing.
Articles are below.