Are Your Adult Children Ruining Your Chance for Retirement Security?
Time for them to act like adults
Ric Edelman: It's Friday, April 14th. We've talked a lot this week about how you're going to live for a long time. That's a good thing because your kids are counting on it. Now, not because they love you, although, okay, I'll assume they do. It's because you're probably giving them money. 45% of parents in the US are providing financial support to their adult children. We're talking about you buying them groceries, paying for their cell phone, paying for their health insurance, their auto insurance. I'm not talking about a couple of trinkets here and there.
On average, parents in the US are giving their adult children $1,400 a month. And the older the parent, the more money they are giving to their children. Parents nearing retirement are giving their kids an average of $2,100 a month. And these same parents are only putting away $643 a month into their own retirement accounts.
All these numbers strike me as incredibly upside down, especially when you consider that nearly half of all retired Americans are afraid that they're going to outlive their savings. Well, is it any wonder you've been giving a lot of your potential retirement savings to your adult children? This imbalance has got to stop. If you aren't sufficiently funding your retirement, but you are helping to support your so-called adult children, I think it's time there was a family conversation, perhaps with a financial advisor in the room who could help mediate and explain the reality.
Extended Tax Deadline: Tomorrow
By the way, today is April 14th, and that means tomorrow is April 15th. Well, duh. What I mean is that because April 15th is a Saturday, you get until Tuesday, April 18th to file your tax return or an extension to file. Wait, wait, wait, wait. Why Tuesday? Well, here's why. You see, the IRS isn't open on the weekends. And when April 15th falls on a weekend, you get until the IRS reopens on Monday. But on Monday, that's April 17th and that's Emancipation Day in Washington, D.C. The government offices are closed. That includes the IRS. And since the IRS is closed on Monday, you get until Tuesday, April 18th, midnight to file your taxes. So you get not only an extra weekend, but you also get an extra weekend, plus an extra day after the weekend to work on your taxes. I don't know if that's good or bad, but at least now you know.
Exclusive interview: Josh Hodges, Chief Customer Officer of the National Council on Aging
This is the final day of Boost Your Budget Week. And this is something a lot of Americans need to be paying an awful lot of attention to. So I'm really happy to bring onto the program Josh Hodges. He's the chief customer officer at the National Council on Aging. Josh, welcome to the program.
Josh Hodges: Thanks, Ric. Pleasure to be here. Thanks for having me.
Ric Edelman: Well, with the name of the National Council on Aging, I'm not sure it's instinctive as to why the NCOA is focused on budgeting. So connect the dots for us.
Josh Hodges: Sure. Well, Boost Your Budget Week is an annual event that we really focus on helping older adults across this country boost their budgets. So many people, as they age into retirement and earn retirement need a little bit of extra help. And so a lot of the programs we offer at the National Council on Aging are focused on connecting people with those benefits. There are $16 billion, that's billion with a B dollars, of benefits left on the table every year. These are benefits that help pay for your rent, your food, your car, your utilities. These are things that can help many older adults live in retirement.
Ric Edelman: So this is obviously a show about wealth and personal finance. And most of my audience, as you know, are more affluent. This show is listened to and watched by lots of financial advisors who tend to cater to wealthy individuals. And so dealing with folks who are struggling with income or budgets isn't something that is, you know, bread and butter for this audience. However, this very same audience has parents and relatives, in-laws in many cases, who are in fact, in need of this kind of help. So let's broaden that horizon a little bit. And do you encounter that scenario where people are often reaching out to you not for themselves, but because they're trying to provide help to a loved one or a relation?
Josh Hodges: Caregivers are one of our top audiences, people who are interacting with their spouses, their parents, their great aunt. It doesn't really matter who so many people are connected to a broader audience of individuals. And we want to make sure that caregivers, folks who are connected to these older adults know about the tools, know about the resources, know about the opportunities and know about the realities of aging. So many people are in their middle class and aging, in poverty because they don't properly address their long-term care costs or their longevity costs. And so those factors alone really means we have to educate everybody on what tools are out there, what benefits are out there, because we want to make sure people are prepared for that stage of their life, whether or not they're in it right now.
Ric Edelman: So I want to peel back on a couple of things. You said, first, $16 billion in unclaimed benefits. Elaborate on that. What are they?
Josh Hodges: So these are things like your SNAP benefits help pay for food. These are things like some of your Medicare benefits. So many people think Medicare is free. I got bad news for you. Medicare costs you money. You're going to pay a monthly pay. You're going to pay for your drugs. But there are programs out there that will help cover those costs, cover your co-pays, cover your drug pay, which you have to apply for those programs. And it's not just people at poverty level. Some of these programs go all the way up to the 300% or 3X the poverty level. So many people who don't know they're going to qualify for these benefits are on a fixed income, and retirement should look into them at the very least.
Ric Edelman: And how do they look into them? Where do they go?
Josh Hodges: So there's a couple ways to do it. The way that we recommend is going to our site, BenefitsCheckup.org. That is a free site. We're a national nonprofit and we're not trying to sell you anything. We're not going to take your information. We're not going to put you on a list. Our goal is to help educate people as to what's out there.
Ric Edelman: And let me mention, we are putting that web address in our show notes today, so you can easily find that link.
Josh Hodges: Excellent. Thank you. So you take a little quiz to give us some information. Talk about what your zip code is, what programs you're interested in. For example, are you a veteran? If you're a veteran, some of these programs would apply differently than if you're not a veteran because there's different requirements. Give us a little bit of information, not your email, not your name, just a little bit of information about your situation or your parents' situation or your friends situation. And we'll give you a sense of what benefits are out there for you in your specific geographical area. Many of these benefits are not national. They're very hyperlocal. Think transportation benefits. I'm in the Washington, DC area. If I went on the site, I would see information about our subway system, or I'd see something about Amtrak that may not apply to those in the Midwest or in the South. But there are benefits out there that are hyperlocal to you. So take it and don't just assume if you take it, that's going to apply to your friend or relative elsewhere. Use their zip code, too, and see what's out there.
Ric Edelman: So it sounds like a fabulous service, and I would encourage everybody to take advantage of it. Like I said, the link is in our show notes today. The other thing you said rather quickly, you referred to the fact that a lot of elders have not anticipated or properly prepared for long-term care costs. Kind of get that. I think everybody's familiar with long-term care and the related expenses. But then you said longevity cost. There's a cost to longevity. Explain that.
Josh Hodges: There absolutely is. The cost of longevity is based on people planning for retirement, planning for a 10- or 15-year retirement and actually having a 25-year retirement. You know, the original system, the Social Security system was set up thinking that the majority of people wouldn't be on Social Security very long. So there wasn't a benefit tied to a long-standing retirement time. But many people are living 20, 30, even 40 years in retirement, especially if you're on the retire early side. So as people are planning for living in retirement, they have to be thinking multi-decade. And so as you live longer, costs go up. And the benefit of our society, the benefit of our world right now is we have wonderful healthcare coverage in many, many places. And so people are living longer, but there are costs to that. And for anybody who's ever priced out a facility to send somebody to live or to live yourself, it can be in the single digit high thousands easily per month, if not higher. And so just think about that as you're planning for your own retirement and planning for the retirement of your family members.
Ric Edelman: Yeah, it's a common theme on this show, as you know, Josh, that we're living longer than ever and living longer than people expected they were going to live. And so the fundamental question we repeatedly ask is, will your money last as long as you do? Because if it doesn't, then you're going to have to turn to family, friends, the government, none of which are ideal alternatives. But it's so yeah, I'm really glad you mentioned the cost of longevity. You mentioned also briefly a checkup. You have a Job Skills Checkup. Talk about why elders ought to be interested in checking up their job skills.
Josh Hodges: There's a bunch of reasons why. There are individuals who are in their 50s and 60s who are ready to get on to the next path. Maybe it's not retirement. The idea of the "40 years plus a gold watch", that's a television show opportunity. There is a much more real life out there that people take varying paths to retirement. And so part of what we've done is talk to older adults from across the country at all economic levels to better understand how they go about looking for jobs and why they go about looking for jobs. Obviously, they're facing ageism, both real ageism focused on “you can't do this because you're a certain age” and then perceived ageism like, “well, I don't think that person's skills are in lock step because of the perception that an older adult may not have that experience or those skills”. Also, a lot of people are reengaging with the workforce. 1 in 10 family caregivers has to drop out of the workforce to care for that family member. This is predominantly focused on women. We call this the oldest daughter problem. In many, many families, the oldest daughter ends up taking care of mom and dad and she often faces decreased income or having to remove herself from the workforce altogether.
So how do you reengage after 10 years of taking care of mom and dad? How do you evolve? So we created Job Skills Checkup in the way we create all of our tools, which is to be a sage, to be somebody to walk beside you. It's not a job board. It's not a resume writer for you. But we really walk you through your To-Do's, your list of things that you should be doing or could be doing based on what you would like to do. So you come to us and say, "I haven't done a resume in 10 years, and I've been out of the workforce. What do I do?" Well, we're going to give you a list of tools of To-Do's, of actions that you can take. And then you come back to our site to update the tool and keep it fresh. Again, the goal wasn't to recreate what's already out there. It was to really provide a checklist, a shopping list, so to speak, of all the things you can do as an individual to move yourself along in this workforce space.
Ric Edelman: And the link to you getting access to the Job Skills Checkup is also in the show notes today, so you can easily access it there. And it raises the bigger issue. You kind of touched on it a little bit, that there's a difference in attitude, perception, as you referred to it, between younger workers and older workers. We've got an ageism problem in the workforce, don't we?
Josh Hodges: We absolutely do. And again, it is both structural ageism, as in we're not going to hire, but there's perceived ageism. There's, 'we don't want this person. We don't think this person belongs culturally. You know, how will he relate? How will she relate to folks who are 20, 30 years younger than him? Does he or she have the skill set that is necessary, i.e., the technical experience, technical background?' These are perceptions that happen before interviews occur, before people come on to the job, so older adults aren't even given the opportunity. There's another big perception of overqualified people who have been in a manager role for 25 or 30 years and is now looking for the next part of his or her life to not be in a manager role. For those of us who've supervised people, we know it can be a taxing part of our day. So some of us would prefer the opportunity to just give back and work with colleagues. And so those perceptions before conversations occur. Or we actually have a job interview, often rule out older adults. And then of course, there's the perception of somebody who has been out of the workforce for a bit of time. Instead of engaging with that individual to better understand their individual circumstances, we often see people don't even get those interviews. And so that's what Job Skills Checkup is designed to help navigate. And also this is educating the employers themselves. There are many, many ways older adults provide value to your organizations, much beyond just the day-to-day work they do. It can be through mentorship, it could be through experience, and we're better through diversity. So the diversity of experience, the diversity of background is a better thing for employers. It's been proven over and over.
Ric Edelman: So while there is clearly a perception problem, there's an ageism problem, there's bias in the workplace. The fact is, though, there are some legitimate differences between older workers and younger workers. Right?
Josh Hodges: I mean, it becomes a very personal conversation, right? I mean, the older workforce is no more homogeneous than the younger workforce is. People bring in their own skills, their own background, their own realities. I can hire a bunch of 25-year-olds and I'm going to get a bunch of very different individuals. And so I very much encourage employers to remember you're looking at an individual, not a population group. Older workers want to contribute. They want to be part of a team. Many people reengage with the workforce because retirement doesn't sit well with them. You know, the idea of 40 hours a week and then going to, you know, just retirement isn't always that dream of go visit the island and sit down, sit on the beach. It's very different for everybody. So I very much encourage folks to remember these are individuals, not a population when they're talking about older adults and really the population at large.
Ric Edelman: So in addition to the Job Skills Checkup, other resources that the National Council on Aging provides?
Josh Hodges: Yeah, I think Benefits Checkup, which we talked about earlier, focused on low-income benefits. The other really interesting one is Budget Checkup. And you can see the theme of our checkups, right? The budget checkup is about helping people, especially people who are newer to the budgeting themselves, actually engage with that process. How do you how do you plan for savings? How do you go through this? This is especially prevalent for folks who may be divorced or widowed in late life who may have had a joint account. But there's a lot of opportunity for growth as you hit those kind of key life stages. And so we have very similarly a tool to help people budget and plan for how they are going to navigate their money reality in retirement.
Ric Edelman: We're talking with Josh Hodges, who is the chief customer officer of the National Council on Aging. And I'm really curious, Josh, as to your title. It would not have occurred to me. I mean, I'm familiar with the National Council of Aging. You've been around forever, and the work that you do is very important in this area. It wouldn't have occurred to me that the National Council on Aging would refer to people it helps as customers. So talk about the title that you have, the work you do personally for the NCOA and the attitude of the organization and the role that it has in serving the population.
Josh Hodges: Yeah, appreciate the question. So NCOA, the National Council on Aging has been around for 75 years. We've been at the table when the Medicare and Medicaid acts were passed. We've been very involved in policy shifts of the years, but we've actually had a switch over the past maybe 15 years focusing not on older adults as beneficiaries of our services, but older adults as customers of our services. And so hence the title, meaning that we really need to start not with what we think older adults need, what we think caregivers need, but start with the sauce. Start with the consumers themselves, the older adults, and really ask them and talk to them. So these tools we've been talking about job skills checkup. This wasn't my idea alone. This was through many conversations we've had engaging with older adults, where they are, where they live. We work very highly with the senior center network. There are 10,000 senior centers in this country that serve over a million older adults every day. So we work a lot with employers and ask a lot about how their perceptions of older adults are, to get to better understand it. So really, the paradigm shift of a national nonprofit from thinking of individuals as beneficiaries to think of them as customers is, I think, a key pivot point for our organization so that we better understand the population that we say we serve. We better say what they actually need and what they actually want. So we create solutions, products and services that align to that. We don't charge them for it. And that's the difference.
Ric Edelman: And I think it really says a lot not only about the organization, but about the message you're conveying to everybody else. The fact that an organization, 75 years old, that grew up in the era of FDR, quite frankly, is reinventing itself and acknowledging it can't do what it's been doing merely because it's been doing it that way and recognizing the need to stay with the times to alter its approach in order to not only stay relevant, but to stay helpful to the people that it's trying to serve - I think it really speaks volumes for the leadership and the foresight thinking of the folks at the National Council on Aging. So kudos to you. And I think that is a really good lesson for everybody else. Don't sit back, rest on your laurels. Don't just take the attitude, what got me here will get me there because that isn't going to necessarily be the case. So my hat's off to you for all of that. We've been talking with Josh Hodges, the chief customer officer at the National Council on Aging, and they have a wide variety of resources, as we've just described, the Job Skills Checkup, the Benefits Checkup, the Budget Checkup, all of that available via links in the show notes today. And I really encourage you to take advantage of it, as here we celebrate the last day of Boost Your Budget Week. Josh, thank you so much for joining us on the show today.
Josh Hodges: Thank you, sir. A pleasure to be here.
Wabi-Sabi: The Joy of Letting Go
Jean Edelman: This week I just want to share something I absolutely love. I want to share Wabi-sabi. No, not wasabi, the condiment we eat with our sushi. Wabi-sabi is a Japanese philosophy that acknowledges three simple beliefs. Nothing lasts. Nothing's finished. And nothing is perfect. Thank you, sign me up!
This wonderful, generous lens on life could help us see everything in a kinder, more accepting way, less judgmental of ourselves and others. Understanding that we are imperfect, impermanent and incomplete can give us great perspective. Can we live in a state of appreciation instead of this perfection? Can we see and accept ourselves just as we are? Can we accept that we are a wonderful work in progress?
These are big questions, but let's dive a little deeper. Nothing lasts. Remembering that we have a finite number of days on this earth. Maybe that could help us live with more tolerance, kindness, gratitude. Maybe this could help give us perspective of living a more impactful life. Maybe this could help us have focus of making positive changes in the world. We wouldn't waste time on unimportant issues or drama. Accepting our impermanence could help us be more present in our daily interactions. The concept of nothing is finished. Understanding and being more accepting of change, perhaps see ourselves as a painting that we will never see the last brush stroke. The artwork is not meant to be complete. We are never a finished work of art.
It is to improve and continue to learn and be curious. That is the journey of a good, happy life. The concept of nothing is perfect. Thank you! I can stop being so hard on myself. I'm never going to be perfectly perfect. And you know what? It's okay. Each day is a practice session. Failure is our greatest teacher. We learn from our mistakes. We can pick ourselves up and we can try again. Wabi-sabi is a wonderful generous lens on life that can help us focus on what is real and what is in front of us. Nothing lasts, nothing is finished and nothing is perfect. Wabi-sabi. So what's my word of the week? It's going to be WABI-SABI.
The W is for Wise. We all have great intuition and wisdom. We need to trust that that will lead us through a happy day.
The A is for Awesome because we are all awesome.
And the B is for Brave because it takes courage to move out of our comfort zone, to look for change and to make ourselves better.
The I is for Impact; making the world a better place.
And the S is for Smile. When we smile, others smile and it is contagious.
The A is for Authentic. This is time to be real. This is all there is.
And the B is for Beautiful. Because each of us brings beauty to this wonderful, wonderful world.
The last I is for Imagine; to illuminate. Imagine it and illuminate the world with our actions.
Wabi-sabi: A wonderful concept to ponder something to give us perspective that can bring us joy and happiness. Have a wonderful, wonderful week.