Jay LeClerc's Blog
While there are plenty of weekend projects to take on that would be more satisfying to complete than “age-proofing” your home taking the time to make these upgrades will make your home more accessible. Both to older family members visiting and even for your future self. These small changes will make a big difference and you might just find them helpful for your life now!
Replace doorknobs with handles. It’s easy to take what, to us, feels like the simplest of actions for granted. The twisting action of a doorknob can be difficult and even painful for arthritic hands. This is a quick project and one that can add a fresh new look to the doors in your home. IF you’re looking to switch things up or modernize your home opt for a different, more modern finish for your hardware. Bronze and satin finishes are very popular choices.
Install a hand held
Railings along stairs, ideally on both sides. When mobility and balance are an issue stairs can become dangerous. If your staircases don’t already have railings installed this is an ideal feature to add. Make note of the dimensions of each of your sets of stairs and research what sort of style would best fit that area of your home. This is a project that adds an element that is seamless to a home and doesn’t stand out. In fact, you may find guests of all ages will appreciate this addition.
Less furniture in each room. Keeping less furniture in a room makes it easier to navigate a room and ideally fit mobility aids like wheelchairs and walkers. It also can bring new life to a room as well as make it feel more open and spacious. Keep only the most necessary elements to a room and take out shelves or bulky furniture designed to hold and/or hide knick-knacks. Make each element in the room really count. You’ll have a much more chic, magazine-
Depending on how many years you’ve been working, retirement can seem like it’s too far in the future to worry about or too close to be able to effectively make any real change.
However, retirement is about more than doing the math and investment planning. Retirement includes making several life decisions, and considering things you may not have thought of before.
In this article, we’re going to talk about planning aspects of your retirement including your home and assets, your savings and investments, and setting and achieving goals for yourself.
Pay yourself first
If it feels like your paycheck is spent before you get a chance to set any aside each week, you’re not alone. However, it’s never too late to start setting aside money for retirement. The “pay yourself first” theory states that you should set aside a certain amount for bills, savings, and retirement plans before you spend a dime of your paycheck each week.
The easiest way to achieve this is to take advantage of an employer-based contribution matching program such as a 401K. However, if you are self-employed you can still open up an individual retirement account (IRA) or a Solo 401K. With an IRA, you determine where you want to invest your money, and can choose safer or riskier investments based on your own preferences.
Draw up your plan, literally
There’s no better way to start planning than to actually sit down with a notebook or your computer and start figuring out what you want to save and how you want to achieve those savings.
You’ll want to determine how much money you can accrue in your savings account, estimate the price of your assets and properties, and look at the projected return on investment for any IRAs or 401Ks you have in place.
As you likely know, these numbers are all projections. There’s no way to know for sure how much your home will be worth, or how well your investments will do by the time you’re ready to retire.
So, one of the most important aspects of making this checklist is to return to it yearly to determine if you should change your investments or alter your retirement goals.
Determine your lifestyle needs
Whether you have dreams of settling down in a quiet town for retirement, touring the country in an RV, or traveling the world, you’ll need to find out how you can make it possible on your retirement plan.
You and your spouse will need to sit down and draw up a plan for your mutual retirement goals. Determine which expenses you can do away with in retirement so that you can fulfill other goals. Having these conversations now will help you more effectively plan for the future. And, remember that the time of your retirement is always closer than you think.
The kids are gone and your home that once always felt full to the brim might begin to feel like too much for just the two of you. Which also means it’s the perfect time to buy just the kind of home you always dreamed of having. And let’s be honest, this isn’t always the home young couples need to raise their growing family.
Open the next chapter of your life by, quite literally, opening a new door.
One of the most important factors to consider when house hunting is whether to stay within your existing community. Many couples are excited to not be tied to one place and have the ability to move to somewhere much warmer or scenic. However, it’s important to consider a few factors that some couples find they wish they had when they first started house hunting for homes across the country.
One of the biggest factors to consider is your family and friends. Moving across country can mean seeing them a lot less. And even though we now have video call technology there’s no replacement for that one on one interaction you get when they’re just a drive around the corner.
Instead of jumping in feet first, consider vacationing in the location(s) you are considering for a week or two at a time. Get to know the surrounding community while you are there. What types of people are in the area and can you see yourself easily becoming one of the group? Visit the restaurants, coffee shops, library and community center to see where people gather and if they are “your” people. If you have a hobby or are looking to take one on look into what sort of activities are in the area. Look for sewing/knitting circles, cooking classes, speaking events, and/or hobby shops in the area.
You might just find that the area is best for visiting time to time and not a place you’d like to grow roots. However, you do find you love the location look into the different travel options and what pricing will look like throughout the year. Especially around the holidays. You don’t want to find out after the fact that you need to drive to a train station two hours away just to get on a train or pay an arm and a leg for a plane ride.
One last thing to consider is planning for your budget both now and in the future. Retirement has a lot of perks but cash flow can get tricky when it comes to big-ticket items. Look for homes that you can pay as much of the total as possible up front. Having small, or no, mortgage payments will ensure you are well within your means. If this is a home you plan to live in for a very long time you’ll want to make sure that all expenses can be covered by one of you if anything should happen to the other’s income source.
Whether you're 25 or 65, one thing's for sure: Home ownership, raising a family, and having enough money to retire comfortably takes a lot of money! Surprisingly, a high percentage of people of all ages have not accumulated a sufficient nest egg for their future needs.
What many homeowners (and aspiring homeowners) don't stop to realize is that there are many opportunities to save money, reduce expenses, and keep more of your hard-earned cash where it belongs: in your pocket, bank account, or retirement plan. While it may seem like your money flies out the window as fast as you can earn it, you may be overlooking some key strategies for holding on to more of it. One of the most powerful tactics for saving and making more money is learning how to negotiate effectively.
Practicing the Art of Negotiation
Virtually "everything is negotiable," especially in real estate transactions. Fortunately, you can rely on a good real estate agent to look out for your interests and get you the best deal. However, it is generally to your advantage to have a basic understanding of negotiating principles and the possibility of winning concessions from the other side.
Perhaps the number one thing to keep in mind when attending an open house or touring a home you're considering buying is to choose your words carefully -- particularly if you're in the presence of the seller's agent or the home seller, themselves (Note: If you're just viewing the house with your buyers' agent, you don't have to worry about weighing your words or being too effusive.) As an example, if you blurt out "This house is absolutely perfect!" or "This is exactly what we're looking for!" then you're putting yourself at a strategic disadvantage when it comes to making an offer on the house. It pays to "play things close to the vest." That expression, of course, originated from the game of poker, in which it's a tactical error to let your opponents see your cards.
There are dozens of situations in life where negotiating skills can help you gain hundreds, if not thousands of additional dollars from a transaction. Examples range from negotiating a raise or a starting salary to buying or selling real estate or automobiles. By developing your negotiating skills and practicing them at every opportunity, you'll find yourself gaining financial and other advantages that wouldn't otherwise be available to you. As the poem "My Wage" by Jessie B. Rittenhouse reminds us, if we bargain with life for pennies, then that's exactly what we'll get in return.
By negotiating the best possible deal in real estate transactions, automobile purchases, home improvement contracts, employment opportunities, credit card interest rates, and dozens of other situations, you can build up a larger retirement nest egg, help your kids pay for college, and achieve a greater measure of financial security.
While many people continue working and staying active well into their senior years, adjustments are eventually necessary. To ease the transition into post retirement, some homeowners are making remodeling or home buying decisions based on expected lifestyle changes.
Simple Adjustments Can Go a Long Way
One of the most basic accommodations you can make to improve accessibility is to replace door knobs, especially outside ones, with straight handles. If arthritis or other conditions make it difficult for you or your spouse to grip a round door knob and turn it to the right, a horizontal lever can be much less of a hassle. Water faucets that have handles instead of round knobs can also provide similar benefits. (If you really want to go for ease of use, there's always the option of installing motion-activated sink faucets!) Elderly parents who visit frequently -- or who may even be joining your household -- will also appreciate accommodations that make daily tasks less difficult.
There are a couple sound reasons to replace old, inefficient toilets with taller units, including the fact that they are easier and more comfortable for older people to use. Some of the newer models are a few inches higher and are noticeably more convenient than standard toilets. An additional benefit worth mentioning is that EPA-certified toilets conserve water and can save you money. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, recent advancements in toilet design now allow consumers to use less water and save money on their water bills -- up to $110 a year for the average family. Although a retired couple may not flush that much money down the drain (in the form of wasted water), an updated toilet can still save money on utility bills and conserve natural resources (The "WaterSense" label certifies that it meets EPA standards).
A few other features to keep in mind for more comfortable senior living may include choosing a wall oven instead of a harder-to-reach floor version, and getting other appliances that don't require bending down. Lots of natural light and a sufficient amount of artificial light are also desirable features for a senior-occupied home. For shower safety, grab bars are another modification that can provide extra support without costing a lot of money.
Whether you're planning on buying a new home or doing updates and renovations on your existing home, there are a lot of ideas to consider. Since aging and climbing stairs don't usually go together, many people set their sights on a one-story ranch house for their retirement years. If you now own a multi-story house and want to stay put, there are a variety of stair lifts, elevators, and other mobility aids that may be worth looking into.