Do Your Homework
Making a lifestyle change is an investment—both financial and emotional. As with any investment, it’s important to do your homework. The following tasks, when completed prior to the research process, will allow you to quickly sort out the options, focus on issues most important to you and maximize your efforts.
What’s most important to you?
Your answers to these questions—the soul-searching part of the process—form the foundation for your decision making, so it’s important not to overlook or avoid this part of the effort. The exploration often leads to rich conversations that are a gift to the entire family. You may be surprised by what you discover!
- How many times do I want to move?
- Is home maintenance becoming a hassle, causing worry or stress?
- Am I still comfortable with my neighborhood?
Now write your responses to the above questions in your order of priority. This will clarify your main motivating factors for making a lifestyle change.
Health: Current State and Projected Future
Take a realistic look at your current health. Consider any minor issues, genetic health patterns or projected changes. Think about things you may take for granted today, such as climbing stairs, easy access to a bedroom and bathroom, shoveling snow, driving at night. Reflect on the potential impact of any changes to these abilities in the next ten years.
Money: What do you have to work with?
When it comes to the topic of finances, the simple golden rule is “Know Before You Go.” Before you start looking at specific options, it only makes sense to know how much money with which you have to work.
The financial information covered below is a critical tool for the marketing professionals with whom you’ll be speaking. Having it handy will speed up the process of determining which options are the best financial fit for your personal situation.
The information you’ll need will fall into two categories: Assets and Income. With Assets, the number you’re looking for is your total Net Worth, also referred to as Total Combined Capital Assets. This is the total combined value of all the assets you own, such as:
- Savings Accounts
- Checking Accounts
- Stocks & Bonds
- Real Estate (including the value of your current home)
It’s not important that each of these areas be specifically broken out. The people with whom you’ll be dealing are looking for one bottom-line number. If a portfolio already exists, simply know the value of the portfolio.
When calculating Income, focus on available income. Your calculations need to include all income regardless of whether you use it now or are letting interest and dividends roll into the principal. Add all sources of income together:
- Social Security
- Interest and Dividends earned from assets
This is your Total Available Monthly Income. If you chose to access this money each month, you could do so without spending down your asset base.
Do this homework now!
When you visit various communities or other options, be sure you can articulate the following:
- The real motivation for my making a lifestyle change is…
- When it comes to my health, my greatest concern is…
- My total combined capital assets equal…
- My available monthly income with which to work is…
- If you have Long Term Care Insurance, have the information available as part of your financial profile.
Explore! Experience! Enjoy!
Have fun with the research process. Some people spend years slowly gathering information, meeting with people, looking at options, attending events or seminars while the answers gradually reveal themselves. If you find yourself saying, “I just don’t know what I’m going to do,” be open to learning, expose yourself to the options, talk to people, experience various communities and lifestyles.
Be honest with yourself and others. If a community is way out of reach financially, or not a geographical possibility, cross it off the list and focus on options that are possible. Even if you are not ready to make a decision or a move now, it is still appropriate and expected by communities that you’ll visit, learn and enjoy the hospitality they may offer. So explore, experience and take pleasure in the research journey!
Request a free copy of “Your Formula for Successful, A Practical Guide for Making Your Senior Housing Decision,” written by industry expert Randalyn Kaye, to help you in the research process.