You may have a major opportunity to improve your retirement savings right now. Open enrollment takes place this month at many companies, which is when you can change your medical coverage, as well as enroll in a flexible spending plan. Granted, your health care choices won’t have an immediate impact on your 401(k) balance. But controlling your health care costs—the fastest-rising household expense, next to college tuition—will make it easier to keep saving in your retirement accounts, and perhaps increase your contribution. So check out Money’s advice on choosing the right health care plan, whether you’re signing up for employer coverage or a marketplace policy (Obamacare enrollment starts Nov. 1). And for retirees, if you’re signed up with Medicare, your open enrollment period starts Oct. 15. Check out our advice here and here.
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THIS WEEK’S RETIREMENT NEWS, INSIGHTS AND ADVICE
3 Ways to Get the Most Out of a Longer, Healthier Retirement
Yay! Life expectancy for 65–year-olds has climbed by nearly a year-and-a-half since the early ’90s. Plus, you’re likely to spend those extra years in better health. Contributor Walter Updegrave offers tips for planning your time in retirement, as well as ensuring your income lasts as long as you do. Money
How You Pay for Retirement Investment Advice Is Changing
If you work with a broker or financial adviser who charges commissions, your retirement investment options may soon be overhauled. The new Labor Department fiduciary rule is prompting firms, such as Merrill Lynch, to switch to fee-based IRAs, Robert Powell reports. Fee-based accounts pose fewer conflicts of interest for advisers, who will be required by the new rule to put retirement investors’ interests ahead of their own. USA TODAY
How to Improve Your Retirement Income If You Haven’t Saved
Millions of Americans are heading into retirement with a big savings shortfall. If you’re one of them, don’t give up—start catching up. These smart strategies can help you build up your nest egg. (Hint: Delaying Social Security can help a lot.) NEW YORK TIMES
Where to Find Dividend Payers
When you’re looking for dividend-paying stocks, you may be drawn to blue chips paying the highest yields. That’s a risky approach, given how high these stocks have soared. A safer approach is to focus on mid-cap and overseas equities with steady payouts. Money’s Paul Lim offers advice from experts on how to navigate this tricky market. Money
Stop Balancing Your Checkbook
When it comes to managing finances, many of us cling to old habits—like getting paper statements or balancing checkbooks. Me too. But a bevy of new online options can make tracking your money easier and safer, especially if you’re looking to simplify your life. Reporter Liz Weston provides a handy rundown of these digital tools. AP
A Surprising Suggestion for Retirement Income
Most retirees look to investments such as bonds and CDs for steady income. Reverse mortgages, which let you tap your home equity for income, are often considered a last-resort strategy. No longer, says retirement expert Wade Pfau. New rules make reverse mortgages a smart choice for many middle-class retirees to use as part of their retirement-income strategy. Hear him out. Money
Health Costs May Gobble Up Social Security in Retirement
More than half of married couples, and 75% of singles, rely on Social Security for most of their income in retirement. Given the upward trajectory of health care costs, those expenses are likely to eat up a big portion of benefit checks, a recent study finds. Here’s how to reduce those health expenses. CNBC
Time to Rethink Your Medicare Coverage
Mark your calendar: Open enrollment for Medicare starts Saturday Oct. 15 and runs to Dec. 7. This is the opportunity for enrollees to switch Part D prescription drug coverage and move in or out of Medicare Advantage, the managed care option. So take a look at your coverage and consider this advice for smart shopping. Money
Why Baby Boomers Are Getting into the Gig Economy
When it comes to the so-called sharing economy, much attention has been paid to millennials driving for Uber or running errands on TaskRabbit. But these companies offer opportunities for older adults too, especially those seeking flexible or part-time work. Maybe it’s not for everyone, but as these examples show, a new-economy gig can provide social benefits, as well as income. US NEWS
YOUR RETIREMENT QUESTIONS ANSWERED
I Inherited Stocks. How Can I Reduce the Taxes I Owe?
Q: Will I face a tax bill if I inherit stocks, bonds, or mutual funds?
A: Death and taxes—few things are as certain, though in this case the link isn’t always a simple one. When you inherit stocks, bonds or mutual funds (or cash, for that matter), you won’t owe federal taxes on those assets, as long as the total value of the estate is under $5.45 million; above that, the estate pays the tax bill, not the heirs. But you may have to pay taxes when it comes time to sell. READ MORE
WORDS OF WISDOM
“A spoken word is often of more value than volumes of written advice.”
–Writer Anthony Trollope