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3 Expensive Things You're Probably Not Planning For

By Maurie Backman - Mar 4, 2020 at 8:08AM

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Don't fall victim to financial shocks; prepare in advance.

Saving money is a must because life has a way of throwing financial surprises our way. But while you may know to set money aside for things like home or car repairs, there are certain expenses or events that could still catch you off-guard. Here are a few to keep on your radar.

1. The loss of your job

Many Americans are worried about an upcoming recession, and the recent Coronavirus sell-off that turned the stock market on its head hasn't helped quash those fears. Even if you're a seasoned employee with a solid reputation, you never know when economic turmoil could result in the loss of your job.

The solution? Have a fully loaded emergency fund at the ready. Specifically, sock away enough money in savings to cover three to six months of essential bills. That way, you'll have a cash source to tap if your job is taken away and you spend a few months looking for work.

Man at laptop with serious expression resting chin on fist


2. Retirement

Most people know to plan and save for retirement, but many don't realize just how expensive it can be. You might think you can get away with spending half the amount you currently spend on living expenses once your career comes to an end, but actually, seniors are generally advised that they'll need 70% to 80% of their former income once they stop working.

Think about the things you spend money on today. Other than the costs associated with commuting or holding down a job, you'll still need to pay for pretty much all of them. And even if you manage to pay off your mortgage prior to retirement, you'll still need to grapple with property repairs and maintenance, which can become more expensive as your home ages, and property taxes, which have a tendency to climb over time.

The solution? Pad your IRA or 401(k). If you boost your retirement savings while you're working, you'll have more money to live on later in life. Generally speaking, it's a good idea to set aside 15% to 20% of your earnings for your senior years, but if you're in your 40s or 50s without much of a nest egg, you may need to save at an even higher level to catch up.

3. Long-term care

Many people don't plan on needing long-term care, but the reality is that 70% of 65-year-olds wind up requiring it in some shape or form. And unfortunately, the costs associated with long-term care can be downright catastrophic. Here's what they look like today, on average, based on 2019 data from Genworth:

  • $48,612 a year for assisted living.
  • $52,624 a year for a home health aide.
  • $90,155 a year for a shared nursing home room.
  • $102,200 a year for a private nursing home room.

Furthermore, Medicare won't cover long-term care, so it's an expense that seniors generally have to bear themselves.

The solution? Secure long-term care insurance during your 50s or early 60s. That way, you'll have a policy in place to help pick up some of your costs. And also, talk to family members about the role they might play as future caregivers so you have an idea of what to expect.

It's hard to predict what expenses you'll face at various stages of life, but keeping these three on your radar will help you prepare for a few major ones. And that's a good way to buy yourself some much-needed peace of mind.

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