After a lifetime of hard work, careful budgeting, and sound financial planning, you’re gearing up for a comfortable retirement. But as you grow older, you can become more susceptible to scammers who want to con you out of your hard-earned retirement fund. In fact, just last year fraud victims age 65 and older lost an average of $30,000. Even worse, one in ten victims lost more than $100,000.
Even if you trust your decision making skills now, mental acuity and financial planning abilities often decline as we age. But if you take these steps now, you can protect your money from con artists in the future.
Simplify your investments. Right now, you might hold several IRA, 401(k) or other investment accounts. But once you reach retirement, you might find it easier to manage a single account. You might also wish to replace stocks and bonds with a mutual fund or exchange-traded fund, as these vehicles usually need less attention.
Simplify your bills. It could be difficult to keep up with multiple credit accounts as you get older. Apply for one or two credit cards with low interest rates or good cash-back rewards, and ditch the multiple store accounts.
Name a backup. Appoint someone with the power to make financial decisions in your stead, so that your money is protected in the event of serious illness or dementia. It’s usually a good idea to choose a younger person, such as a highly responsible adult child, rather than your spouse who is theoretically aging at the same rate as you.
Set up alerts. Your financial institution can send email alerts to you and your backup person any time large transactions are conducted. Tell your doctor about your backup helper, so that he or she can notify this person if you develop symptoms of Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Establish a plan. Write down an investment policy statement, spelling out your goals, allocation directions, risk tolerance and other objectives. Share this plan with your backup person so that they understand your approach to finances, and can help you stay on track as you age.
Consult with your financial advisor. The best way to protect yourself from scams is to choose an investment path early in your retirement years, and stick to it. If you’re tempted to take advantage of a new, promising investment opportunity, discuss it with your financial advisor first. He or she can help you spot signs of a con artist and keep your money protected.