Care Costs in Retirement – Controlling Your Health

It’s no secret that health care becomes a bigger concern for most of us as we grow older. More ailments are likely to develop, which means more money spent to visit health professionals and buy medication. Even if you remain healthy through your later years, the costs of preventative care and preparing for potential unexpected health situations are rising.

Health-related expenses will likely be one of the biggest components of your retirement budget. You need to be prepared to pay for comprehensive insurance coverage and potential out-of-pocket costs for care. Here are three strategies to help you manage this critical expense in retirement.

Understand how Medicare works

The good news for Americans age 65 and older is that you qualify for Medicare. That makes increased dependence on health care services more affordable. At age 65, most people automatically qualify for Medicare Part A at no cost, which primarily provides coverage for hospital stays and skilled nursing care. Medicare Part B must be purchased (approximately $109 per month in 2017 for most retirees). Part B covers the costs of visiting a physician, but with some deductibles. Many people purchase additional coverage to use for out-of-pocket expenses, such as a Part D prescription drug plan or a Medicare Supplement policy.

With Medicare, timing is important. Signing up when you first qualify for coverage will keep costs at the lowest level. If you maintain insurance through your employer after turning 65, you can delay Medicare enrollment without risking late penalties.

If you retire prior to age 65, you will need to purchase insurance on the open market to cover health-related expenses until you become eligible for Medicare. Individual coverage tends to get more expensive as you grow older, so work the cost into your retirement budget. Some employers offer retiree health insurance as a benefit. Check with your human resources department to see if this option is available to you.

Allocate sufficient funds for health care costs

As you develop your retirement income strategy, make sure you have money set aside for health expenses that will be your responsibility. By one estimate, the average 66-year-old couple will need to tap more than half of their lifetime pre-tax Social Security benefits to pay for health care expenses throughout retirement. Most people will likely have to rely, in part, on their own savings to help offset some medical expenses.

Along with other retirement savings, you may want to establish a health savings account (HSA) during your working years. HSAs are designed to help build tax-advantaged savings to pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses you incur during your working years. However, any leftover funds can be applied to health expenses later in life, including premiums for Medicare and long-term care insurance. Keep in mind that you must be enrolled in a high deductible health plan to open an HSA.

Focus on your own health

One way to potentially keep health care costs under control in retirement is to create or maintain a healthy lifestyle. Small changes you make today, such as eating right or prioritizing sleep, could reduce the likelihood that medical issues will impact you later in life. Being physically active may also benefit your finances in retirement – according to the American Heart Association, it could potentially help you save $500 a year today on health-related expenses.

Having a plan doesn’t guarantee that you will avoid heath issues, but you may find comfort in knowing how you can tackle health care costs in retirement.

Three Reasons To Buy Used From a Ford Dealership

From clear financial incentives to increased reliability and better buying tools, there has never been a better time to consider buying a used car or truck. Not sold? Here are three reasons to buy used for your next vehicle.

Save Yourself Money

It’s no secret that buying a vehicle used instead of new will save you money, but just how much money can you save? Statistics from Kelly Blue Book show that in 2015 Americans spent an average of $33,500 on new vehicles versus just over $20,000 on used. That’s an approximate $13,500 in savings.

With buying new, there is also the depreciation factor. As soon as you drive a new car off the lot, its price drops by several thousand dollars. According to statistics from Consumer Reports, a new car purchased in today’s market will depreciate to just 54 percent of its original price tag after just three years on the road. With used vehicles, such depreciation is a rarity, making trade-ins and sales back to the dealership more economically viable.

Get A Reliable (And Better) Vehicle

Going the used route can free up resources and allow you to buy a better and more reliable vehicle. The rationale is simple: when you save by buying your car used, you can put that extra money towards a better make or model. If you do your homework, the cost should be about even – and in the long run, the investment will likely fall in your favor. By choosing a better-made model, your used vehicle will likely outlive the new, less reliable alternative. Plus, with the lifespan of today’s cars at an all-time high, even vehicles with several years on the road can be a sound investment. According to a 2015 survey by IHS Automotive, the average age of cars on US roads has reached 11.5 years, with estimates projecting a continued increase in lifespan. For used car buyers, this is good news. The used vehicle is no longer a temporary fix, but a reliable alternative to buying new.

Vehicle History Reports and CPO Programs: The Future of Used Car Buying

Today’s certified pre-owned (CPO) programs further guarantee that when you buy used, you get a reliable car in great condition. Since a growing number of new car drivers today choose to lease their cars rather than buy them, dealerships nationwide have substantial inventories of CPO trade-ins to buy. New car leases typically involve 3-year contracts with restrictions based on condition and mileage, which mean when they trade in their vehicles they are still in excellent condition.

Whether you are buying a CPO model or a car from the regular used car dealership, the prevalence of vehicle history reports through online services makes it easier than ever to find a reliable used vehicle. Enter the automobile’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and gather valuable information about its history and registration. A dealership will be happy to assist you with this process. With today’s tools, you will be able to find a high-quality used vehicle faster than ever.

Boost Your Business Website Traffic SEO Hacks

We all want websites that are search-engine friendly. But sometimes when you are busy it’s easy to publish a new blog post and be off to the next thing on your to do list.

Over time, this can really hurt your SEO efforts. That’s why I’ve put together this short hit list of things you can do to boost your WordPress SEO.

Schedule these tasks in your calendar to make your blog traffic soar!

1) Post New Stuff Regularly

Google has a bias towards fresh content. Part of Google’s algorithm looks at how new the content is and gives preference to more recent results. So publishing original content on a regular basis is important.

Also size matters when it comes to content. Generally longer content ranks higher than shorter content. So strive to make your post at least 500 words.

2) Create a Keywords List

If SEO is a priority, then you’ll want to develop a keyword list. This is basically a list of keywords and phrases that describes your products and services. These keywords should include words from search terms that are more likely to be used to find your offerings online.

Google has some incredible tools to make keyword research easy including Google Search, Google Suggest, Google Instant and Google Wonder Wheel.

Hint: if you want a really targeted keyword list, hire an SEO expert!

3) Install an SEO Plugin

This will allow you to set keyword-rich custom titles and Meta descriptions for your posts for search engines.

A couple of popular SEO plug-ins to consider are All in One SEO Pack and WordPress SEO by Yoast.

Again, this is something your web designer or an SEO professional can easily install for you.

4) Hand Submit to Search Engines

What good is a site if no one can find it? That’s why getting listed in Google and the other popular search engines and directories is one of the most effective ways of getting free targeted traffic to your website.

You have probably seen lots of automated submission services where you pay a small fee for them to submit your site to hundreds of search engines. These services not only won’t help – they can actually hurt you.

Almost all of these free directories never send an actual visitor to your website and getting links from them can hurt your ability to rank in the real search engines like Google and Bing.

The best practice is to manually submit your site to search engines yourself. WordPress makes this easy once you set up an account in Google, Bing and Yandex Webmaster Tools.

If unsure, just ask your webmaster or SEO Specialist to set up these accounts.

5) Add Tags to your Posts

WordPress, straight out of the box, comes ready to embrace search engines. The tags features is one of those SEO friendly features you should take advantage of.

Be sure to add relevant keyword-rich tags to every post you publish.

6) Leave Comments on Other Blogs

Start linking more to other people’s posts on their blogs and encourage them to link back to you.

One search engine factor that Google considers is backlinking. A website that has more backlinks is considered more of an authority site and gets higher rankings.

7) Block Spam Comments

When people leave comments on your blog, it counts as content to Google. So if you have a website about DIY crafts and someone leaves 5 comments about “cheap enhancement pills’ that ruins your keyword relevancy and hurts your rankings.

So blocking spam comments from posting to your blog will improve your SEO – as well as make your real blog readers happy.

8) Internal Linking

One easy way to get more traffic is to add internal links to your blog posts.

For example if you have an article on Overcoming Your Resistance to Blog Writing, then at the bottom of that article you can post links to “Other Related Articles You May Enjoy”: 4 Content Marketing Trends for Business Owners in 2017 and other related articles. WordPress SEO by Yoast does this automatically for you as you can see at the bottom of this post.

9) Use Image Alt Tags

For each image you use in your post, ensure you add the Alt tag to help them rank better in image searches. This is another excellent place to put relevant keywords.

Google has an image search function that works in pretty much the exact same way as the webpage search with keywords and relevance. So adding Alt tags helps Google find and include your images when someone does an image search.

10) Tweak Blog Post Titles

If you quickly wrote titles to your blog posts before, take time to review them first before publishing.

Your blog post titles are vitally important to your SEO rankings so compare the keywords used to your keyword list and make your blog titles more keyword rich.

11) Add Social Media Sharing Buttons

When Google sees a blog article is getting a lot of posts and shares on social media, it boosts the ranking of that blog post.

So making it easy for readers to share your posts helps others Tweet and share your great content!

12) Update Your Theme

Not all WordPress themes are SEO Friendly and the free WordPress themes may be hurting your search engine rankings because of this.

Having a premium WordPress theme ensures your content will be indexed by the search engines, since the developers have taken special time to optimize every aspect in terms of both security and SEO.

It’s smart to make sure your theme programming isn’t bloated with inefficient code that slows down page load times. We find this a lot with purchased themes and that’s why we only provide custom designed and built WordPress themes for our clients.