New PSA Campaign With Ad Council Empowers Americans to Get on Track for Retirement


This week, we unveiled our new Saving for Retirement ad campaign to empower Americans to take control of their financial futures. In fact, two in five households headed by Americans ages 55-64 have no assets saved for retirement, according to the National Institute on Retirement Security.

We understand that retirement planning can sometimes leave people overwhelmed, confused or even paralyzed. But what most people don’t realize is that they already have the financial know-how to tackle this challenge.

That is why we teamed up with the Ad Council to launch a PSA campaign that will remind consumers they have what it takes to save for retirement. The PSAs celebrate financial milestones and successes Americans have already mastered—from home ownership and vacation planning, to financing a child’s education—and urge them to apply that same financial know-how to get on track with their retirement savings.

To inspire people to take action, the PSAs direct people to AceYourRetirement.org which helps break down the retirement savings process into easy, actionable steps. After answering a few questions about their savings and goals, each person will receive a personalized Action Plan that highlights three practical next steps they can take to get on track for their retirement. The process takes roughly three minutes. The recommendations cover a wide range of topics, such as how to get the most out of a workplace retirement plan, how to turn a hobby into a source of income during retirement or how to have a conversation with family members about getting on the same financial page.

In addition to the ads and online resources, AARP Vice President of Financial Security Jean Setzfand participated in several TV interviews to discuss the retirement crisis confronting Generation X and how the campaign can help people get on the right track for retirement.

To get the simple  steps to get started on saving for your retirement, visit AceYourRetirement.org.



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Financial Health for All Ages

Financial Health for All Ages



When I tell people I work for AARP, one of the first things they do is talk to me about their retirement plans, and often in terms of when they retire. More and more, however, I’m hearing about the kinds of plans they have if they retire.

In many respects, working longer is something to be celebrated. We’re just beginning to understand the benefits of a multigenerational workforce, not to mention the increased personal fulfillment and even health benefits people can experience. For a growing share of older adults, however, work is not a matter of choice. They continue working because they can’t afford to retire.

And that means when it comes to day-to-day finances, there’s far more on the minds of many Americans than building that retirement nest egg. Saving enough for the next car repair, unexpected medical bill or other financial setback is hard enough. Last year the Pew Charitable Trusts found that 41 percent of households did not have enough savings to cope with a $2,000 unplanned or emergency expense. And AARP’s own analysis finds that covering a $2,000 emergency is a challenge even for people nearing retirement; more than a third of working households 50-64 years old have less than $2,000 in checking or savings accounts. An unanticipated financial hit can send individuals spiraling into greater financial crisis, even throwing off their long-term retirement savings plans.

That’s why AARP is now advancing solutions to help people build savings — not only for years down the road, but for today, next week and several months out. There’s a lot of work to do in this area, and, to really make a difference, all sectors must be tapped. Realizing a vision of lifelong financial security for more Americans will require AARP, our partners and policy makers to think differently about how to make saving possible, easier and worthwhile for people of all ages.

We are calling on our friends in the retirement industry to partner with us and with the asset-building movement, which works to promote saving and wealth building for low- and middle-income people. We can learn a lot from one another as we work together to forge a holistic approach that is meaningful to people in their daily lives. We are already reaching out to the private sector, including employers, to explore solutions that link short-term and long-term savings. We see great opportunity to identify innovative solutions, such as a 401(k) with a built-in short-term savings component, retirement accounts for independent workers, and new mechanisms to encourage lifelong savings. Finally, we are striving toward a public policy agenda that meets people where they are financially to help them achieve their goals.

I’ve devoted my career to solving challenges related to our aging population, which has given me a unique vantage point to observe how American’s ideas of work and personal finance have evolved. The way we work and save is changing. AARP is committed to staying in touch with evolving needs — and finding solutions that help people of all ages thrive.

 

Debra Whitman is AARP’s chief public policy officer and leads policy development, analysis and research, as well as global thought leadership that supports and advances the interests of individuals age 50-plus and their families. Follow Deb on Twitter: @policydeb



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Get a Power of Attorney (But Make Sure It’s Not a License to Steal)

Get a Power of Attorney (But Make Sure It’s Not a License to Steal)


Many of us understand that saving for retirement and for the long term is one of the most important actions you can take to ensure a secure future. So is protecting that savings.

One in five older adults fall victim to some form of financial exploitation. Sometimes the loss is minor, but sometimes it can be disastrous. In a single case, the average victim loses $120,000, which is roughly the average amount of a 50-year-old’s entire retirement savings.

AARP understands the importance of preventing financial exploitation. Our groundbreaking BankSafe program works with the financial services industry to develop new ways to fight financial exploitation.

Yet the greatest power lies with you — the consumer. You are in the best position to ensure your savings are secure. In a previous blog we covered one important area to consider — alternatives to joint bank accounts. Another key action step is to carefully plan for your future, especially with a power of attorney.

A power of attorney is a legal document in which you give a person, called an agent, the authority to act on your behalf. A power of attorney allows you to plan for situations in which you may not have the ability to manage your finances. With the right power of attorney (emphasis on right — more on that later), a person you trust can protect your savings. And by carefully thinking through your choice, you can avoid inadvertently giving someone else a license to steal when you are unable to manage your finances.

A power of attorney gives someone the authority to perform tasks ranging from paying your bills and buying groceries to selling your home. Giving someone the authority to act on one’s behalf becomes crucial in the event that, say, a person becomes incapacitated or begins to show the first signs of dementia. The only good time to put the proper protections in place, therefore, is before any such life event occurs.

 

How to find your agent — or agents

Filling the position of power of attorney agent should be done with great care. Here are some tips to help you meet your power of attorney needs:

Get two agents. Many people know the importance of a power of attorney, but they don’t know this key detail. Why two agents? First, having two people involved spreads the responsibilities, lightening the financial caregiving burden that can weigh so heavily on one individual. Second, it serves a checks-and-balances function, just as two accountants would manage the account of a single business. The end result: better decision making and increased security of your funds.

In choosing your two agents, make sure they can get along with each other and have similar principles when it comes to money. For instance, perhaps don’t choose the kid who’s prone to overdrafting on a bank account, or the one who’s always borrowing money and never paying you back.

Choose agents you trust. This is the most important aspect of finding the right agents. Quite simply, not choosing someone you completely trust puts your money at risk. Naming an untrustworthy agent amounts to awarding a license to steal. In your assessment of prospective agents, you need to ask yourself some direct questions and give some honest answers. Ask, for instance, why do I trust them?  Would I trust them with my money not just years in the future, but right now? Will they always keep my best interest in mind in every decision, large and small?

Communicate with the people you select — and others. Once you’ve chosen your two agents, set out expectations in an open discussion with them. Make sure they have a copy of the power of attorney document. Finally, let everyone close to you know who has these responsibilities so there’s no confusion in the event you cannot speak for yourself.

Limit the power of the financial power of attorney. The beauty of the power of attorney is that you can design it to meet your precise needs. If you only need the agents to pay bills, then give them that authority alone. Likewise, give them enough power to act on your behalf in the areas you want them to be able to address. Given the flexibility of the power of attorney, you will want to steer clear of prewritten power of attorney forms. These can lead to your authorizing a role you hadn’t intended.  Using an elder law or estate planning attorney ensures that the duties of the agent are outlined in the power of attorney. Examples of such duties: The agent can only act in the best interest of the principal, will not commingle funds, and will keep records of all transactions.

Let’s beat exploitation by working together

Through such initiatives as BankSafe, we’re working hard to fight financial exploitation. But the best way to fight exploitation is for each of us individually to take sound steps to secure our future savings. A carefully developed plan that includes two trusted power of attorney agents is key among those steps.

 

Debra Whitman is AARP’s chief public policy officer and leads policy development, analysis and research, as well as global thought leadership that supports and advances the interests of individuals age 50-plus and their families. Follow Deb on Twitter: @policydeb

As the director of AARP’s BankSafe Initiative, Jilenne Gunther works on solutions to curb financial exploitation and to engage the financial industry to better protect more of the 50-plus from financial exploitation. Follow Jilenne on Twitter: @Banksafe_



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