Best and Worst States to Retire in for 2016

In the past, Florida and Arizona have been at the top of the list when it comes to the best places to retire in the United States. However, in 2016, this has changed. In a surprising turn, Wyoming has beaten out all other states on Bankrate.com’s list of best places to retire.

The strange jump to number one by Wyoming is due to its low cost of living, below-average crime and strong well-being scores in the region. States from the western region make up most of the top five:

  1. Wyoming
  2. South Dakota
  3. Colorado
  4. Utah
  5. Virginia

There are many factors evaluated to analyze how well retirees will do in a state. Some of these are weather and climate, nearby amenities, cost of living, taxes, and more. Since retirees have a fixed income, looking at the cost of living is an important factor.

The five lowest ranked states for retirees are:

  1. New York
  2. West Virginia
  3. Oregon
  4. Arkansas
  5. Louisiana

The reasons for the infamous retirement haven, Florida, getting dropped down to number 28 on the list relates to high crime and lower-than-average healthcare ratings. Arizona, the retirement haven in the west, did okay and ranked in at number nine.

Retiring to the beach always seems like a good idea in theory, but nine out of the worst 12 boarder an ocean or the Gulf of Mexico. Virginia is the only coastal state in the top ten states. Apparently retirees are focusing more on cost of living rather than scenery when looking at potential states for retirement. High cost of living could really take a toll on retirement savings.

Five Threats to Retirement Savings

Saving for retirement does not always go as planned. Retirement savings are subject to threats, both direct and indirect. Some of these threats are just unfortunate circumstances, while others are deliberate actions trying to take advantage of the investor.

  1. Boomerang Children

These are the children of the Boomer Generation that are still being supported by their parents by living at home. According to a study by Hearts & Wallets, only 21 percent of Boomers still supporting their children are fully retired, compared to the 52 percent who are not supporting their children.

To avoid this threat, investors need to teach their children how to properly handle finances and be self-sufficient. This way they are less likely to move back in with their parents due to money issues.

  1. Caring for Parents

As investors’ parents age, they often need help either with personal care or finances. Helping them financially can make it more difficult for the adult child to save for retirement. Also, 25 percent of adult children younger than 65 help parents with chores, personal care, etc. This may lead to less time spent at a paying job, causing them to earn less than they otherwise would earn.

Although difficult to avoid, there are assistance programs and other means for children to help their parents get what they need without sacrificing their time at work.

  1. Spousal Death without Life Insurance

For those who have a mortgage, debt, or children to support, life insurance can be critical. It can also be critical to those in their final years of saving for retirement. The loss of that second income can hit a spouse hard financially, making saving next to impossible.

Spouses should evaluate life insurance options and have a clear plan if something were to happen to one of them.

  1. Medical Crisis

In the US, medical bills are the leading cause of bankruptcy. Those with injuries or a chronic illness might not be able to work, causing investors to dig into savings to pay for medical bills. Long-term care is also very expensive and can derail even the most stable retirement plans.

Health Savings Accounts are one way to battle this issue. With this account, investors can use it to pay qualified medical expenses tax-free at any time.

  1. Scams

There are plenty of people attempting to scam people out of their retirement savings. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority advises people to be cautious around schemes that promise returns of 12 percent or higher. Often these scammers use early retirement seminars to pitch their strategies.

Being aware of potential threats is the first step to avoiding them. Meeting with a financial planner can also help to address concerns investors might have about their retirement savings. To maximize potential retirement savings, contact Mountain West IRA to learn about their self-directed accounts and investment options.

The Balancing Act

Many younger workers have the task of balancing debt reduction with retirement savings. Often the debt they have accrued is related to student loans and credit cards. Many of these workers believe they need to pay off their debt before they begin actively saving for retirement.

However, to be able to save a sufficient amount for their golden years, young workers are going to need to save while also paying off debt. Here are some ideas on how to do that:

  1. Focus on High Interest Debt

Getting out of high interest debt should be a priority. Credit cards are usually the main culprit with interest rates as high as 18 or even 25 percent. Once rid of high interest credit card debt, try to stay out of it. When these debts are out of the way, there will be more funds available to allocate to retirement savings.

  1. Be Smart with Loans

Often, loans are just a necessary evil in life. This is especially true when making large purchases, such as buying a new car. Try to find the best deal possible, with smaller payments. Sometimes this means buying a used car or a less expensive option. The larger the down payment, the smaller the monthly payments. With smaller payments, more money can be put toward retirement.

  1. Set Realistic Goals

Instead of having an illusion of spending very little in retirement, plan for spending more. The average annual spending for those age 65 and older is $40,938. Workers need to realize they will probably spend more and account for that in their savings.

This is especially true of spending money on healthcare. Many retirees do not account for medical needs when saving. One way to be cognizant of upcoming healthcare costs is to start a health savings account. These accounts help retirees cover the medical costs rather than dipping into their retirement savings.

Often, younger workers are only encouraged to take advantage of a 401(k) match plan through their company. While this is a great tool, opening a separate account in addition to a work-sponsored one can bump up their savings potential. Visit Mountain West IRA’s website to learn about their retirement plans and investment options.

Preparing for Winter Storms

Winter storms have been sweeping across the nation lately, leaving many without power. It is important to be prepared for snow, ice and possible loss of power during winter storms, and to be aware of the possible severity expected.

When reporting about potential weather storms, they are described as one of four categories: winter storm outlook, winter storm advisory, winter storm watch, and winter storm warning. Here are the differences:

Winter Storm Outlook– Winter storm conditions are possible in the next 2 to 5 days

Winter Weather Advisory– Conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences and could be hazardous.

Winter Storm Watch– Winter storm conditions are possible within the next 36 to 48 hours.

Winter Storm Warning– Life-Threatening, severe winter conditions will begin within 24 hours and people should take immediate precautions.

It is important to be prepared for these types of storms. Here are a few pointers on preparing:

There is always a chance during winter storms that the power will go out, leaving many without light, heat, or a way to keep food from spoiling. When preparing, homeowners should have a supply kit ready just in case they need it. This kit should contain items such as food, water, light sources, cash, alternative heating methods and more. For those who have babies or pets, they should stock up on all the supplies needed for them too.

Non-perishable, ready-to-eat food is good to have on hand, because without power, perishable food will not keep and cooking might not be an option. The CDC recommends having at least a week worth of food, bottled water, and safety supplies ready before a storm hits.

When trying to keep warm in a power outage, many homeowners turn to generators. These can be a life-saver but homeowners should remember generators should not be used indoors, in a garage, or near the air intake of the home due to the risk of carbon monoxide.

Being prepared can make waiting out a winter storm much easier. Make sure the home is ready by having Diamond Heating and Cooling inspect the heating equipment to ensure everything is working properly.

Leaky Furnaces and Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide poisoning in a home can be caused by many appliances, such as stoves, fireplaces and even furnaces. When the furnace has a leak it is more likely to emit carbon monoxide into the home, making the occupants ill.

Carbon monoxide poisoning displays the following symptoms:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Upset stomach
  • Vomiting
  • Chest pain
  • Confusion

Some people can rationalize these symptoms as a different illness like the flu or a persistent cold. If these symptoms are persistent, occupants should make sure their home is not causing their sickness. If left for long carbon monoxide poisoning could be fatal.

To prevent the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning appliances in the house should be checked routinely for leaks. Diamond Heating and Cooling checks for gas leaks during their furnace maintenance. By having the furnace serviced twice a year it can prevent and catch leaks before they become a serious problem.

Homeowners should also install carbon monoxide detectors in the house. These can alert the homeowners to a leak before it becomes serious. Make sure to change the batteries twice yearly to keep them working correctly.

Homeowners worried about possible furnace leaks or in need of furnace maintenance should contact Diamond Heating and Cooling. Ask them about their maintenance plans and memberships to help homeowners save money.