When you live with a chronic illness, you need to confront both the day-to-day and long-term financial implications of that illness. Talking openly about your health can be hard, but sharing your questions and challenges with those who can help you is extremely important, because recommendations can be better tailored to your needs. Every person with a chronic illness has unique issues, but here’s a look at some topics you might need help with.

Money management

A budget is a useful tool for anyone, but it’s especially valuable when you have a chronic illness, because it will serve as a foundation when planning for the future. Both your income and expenses may change if you’re unable to work or your medical costs rise, and you may need to account for unique expenses related to your condition. Clearly seeing your overall financial picture can help you feel more in control.

Keeping good records is also important. For example, you may want to set up a system to help you track medical expenses and insurance claims. You may also want to prepare a list of instructions for others, such as a trusted friend or relative, that includes where to find important household and financial information in an emergency.

Another step you might want to take is simplifying your finances. For example, if you have numerous financial accounts, you could consolidate them to make it easier and quicker for you or a trusted advisor to manage. Setting up automatic bill payments or online banking can also help you keep your budget on track and ensure that you pay all bills on time.

Insurance

Reviewing your insurance coverage is essential. Read your health insurance policy and make sure you understand your copayments, deductibles, and the nuts and bolts of your coverage. In addition, find out if you have any disability coverage, and what terms and conditions apply.

You might assume that you can’t purchase additional life insurance, but this isn’t necessarily the case. It may depend on your condition or the type of life insurance you’re seeking. Some policies will not require a medical exam or will offer guaranteed coverage. If you already have life insurance, find out if your policy includes accelerated (living) benefits. You’ll also want to review beneficiary designations. If you’re married, make sure that your spouse has adequate insurance coverage, too.

Investing

Having a chronic illness can affect your investment strategy. Your income, cash-flow requirements, and tolerance for risk may change, and your investment plan may need to be adjusted to account for both your short-term and long-term needs. You may need to keep more funds in a liquid account now (for example, to help meet day-to-day living expenses or use for home modifications, if necessary), and you’ll want to thoroughly evaluate your long-term needs before making investment decisions. The course of your illness may be unpredictable, so your investment plan should remain flexible and be reviewed periodically.

Estate planning

You might think of estate planning only as something you do to get your affairs in order in the event of death, but estate planning tools can also help you manage your finances right now.

For example, a durable power of attorney can help protect your property in the event you become unable to handle financial matters. A durable power of attorney allows you to authorize someone else to act on your behalf, so he or she can do things like pay everyday expenses, collect benefits, watch over your investments, and file taxes.

A living trust (also known as a revocable or inter vivos trust) is a separate legal entity you create to own property, such as your home or investments. The trust is called a living trust because it’s meant to function while you’re alive. You control the property in the trust and, whenever you wish, can change the trust terms, transfer property in and out of the trust, or end the trust altogether. You name a co-trustee such as a financial institution or a loved one who can manage the assets if you’re unable to do so. There are costs and ongoing expenses associated with the creation and maintenance of trusts.

You may want to have advance medical directives in place to let others know what medical treatment you would want, or that allow someone to make medical decisions for you, in the event you can’t express your wishes yourself. Depending on what’s allowed by your state, these directives may include a living will, a durable power of attorney for health care, and a Do Not Resuscitate order.

Review your plan regularly

As your health changes, your needs will change too. Make sure to regularly review and update your financial plan.

Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2018

One advantage of term life insurance is that it is generally the most cost-effective way to achieve the maximum life insurance protection you can afford. Many people first purchase term life insurance to protect their family’s financial interests after a significant life event, such as getting married or the birth of a child.

You may have done the same for your family when you purchased your policy years ago. And chances are, other than paying the premiums, you probably haven’t given it much thought since then. However, if your term life insurance policy is set to expire in the near future, it’s important to explore your options now before the coverage runs out.

Before you get started, you first need to reevaluate your life insurance needs and determine if anything has changed. Are your children grown and have they graduated from college? Do you have a mortgage? If you have financial obligations that you need to take care of, you may still need term life insurance. If you are nearing retirement and have fewer financial obligations than you did when you were younger, your need for a term life insurance policy may not be as great as it once was.

Purchasing a new policy

If you are in relatively good health and your current term life insurance policy is about to run out, you might consider purchasing a new term policy altogether. When applying for a new term life insurance policy, you will generally need to pass a medical exam. In addition, since you are older now, your premiums may be higher than they were under your old policy. However, you may not need as large a policy as you did when you first purchased term life insurance years ago. It may pay to shop around and compare because premiums can vary among insurers.

Renewing your existing policy

When the coverage period for your term life insurance ends, you may have the option to renew the policy, depending on the specific policy and limitations. Though you won’t be required to take a medical exam if you renew your policy, the rate will generally increase each time it is renewed for an additional term because your age has increased (as has the insurance company’s risk of paying a death benefit). These increased premium costs can sometimes make renewing a term life insurance policy an expensive way to cover your life insurance needs.

Converting your policy to permanent life insurance

If you have a convertible term life insurance policy, you may be able to convert it to a permanent life insurance policy, such as whole or universal life insurance. Permanent insurance continues throughout your life as long as you pay the premiums. As with term insurance, permanent insurance pays a death benefit to your beneficiary at your death, but it also contains a cash value account funded by your premium dollars. When you convert your policy, you won’t need to prove your insurability by taking a medical exam. However, there is usually a conversion deadline, which is the date by which you must convert, typically before your term life insurance is set to expire.

The cost and availability of life insurance depend on factors such as age, health, and the type and amount of insurance purchased. As with most financial decisions, there are expenses associated with the purchase of life insurance. Policies commonly have mortality and expense charges. In addition, if a policy is surrendered prematurely, there may be surrender charges and income tax implications. Any guarantees are contingent on the claims-paying ability and financial strength of the issuing company.

The rules governing 1035 exchanges are complex and you may incur surrender charges from your “old” life insurance policy. In addition, you may be subject to new sales and surrender charges for the new policy.

Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2018

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) is the policymaking branch of the Federal Reserve. One of its primary responsibilities is setting the federal funds target rate. The FOMC meets eight time per year, after which it announces any changes to the target rate. The Federal Reserve (the Fed), through the FOMC, uses the federal funds rate as a means to influence economic growth.

If interest rates are low, the presumption is that consumers can borrow more and, consequently, spend more. For instance, lower interest rates on car loans, home mortgages, and credit cards make them more accessible to consumers. Lower interest rates often weaken the value of the dollar compared to other currencies. A weaker dollar means some foreign goods are costlier, so consumers will tend to buy American-made goods. An increased demand for goods and services often increases employment and wages. All of which should stimulate the economy. This is essentially the course the FOMC took following the 2008 financial crisis in an attempt to spur the economy.

However, if money is too plentiful, demand for goods may exceed supply, which can lead to increasing prices. As prices increase (inflation), demand for goods decreases, slowing overall economic growth. When the economy recedes, the need for labor decreases, unemployment grows, and wage growth slows. To counteract rising inflation, the Fed raises the target rate. When interest rates on loans and mortgages move higher, money becomes more costly to borrow. Since loans are harder to get and more expensive, consumers and businesses are less likely to borrow, which slows economic growth and reels in inflation.

The Fed monitors many economic reports that track inflationary trends and economic growth. The Fed’s preferred measure of inflation is the Price Index for Personal Consumption Expenditures produced by the Department of Commerce. To forecast economic growth, the Fed looks at changes in gross domestic product and the unemployment rate, along with several other economic indicators, such as durable goods orders, housing sales, and business fixed investment.

Source: Federal Reserve, 2018

Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2018

The federal funds rate is the interest rate at which banks lend funds to each other from their deposits at the Federal Reserve (the Fed), usually overnight, in order to meet federally mandated reserve requirements. Basically, if a bank is unable to meet its reserve requirements at the end of the day, it borrows money from a bank with extra reserves. The federal funds rate is what banks charge each other for overnight loans. This rate is referred to as the federal funds effective rate and is negotiated between borrowing and lending banks.

The Federal Open Market Committee sets a target for the federal funds rate. The Fed does not directly control consumer savings or credit rates directly; it can’t require that banks use the federal funds rate for loans. Instead, the Fed lowers the federal funds rate by buying government-backed securities (usually U.S. Treasuries) from banks, which adds to the banks’ reserves. Having excess reserves, banks will lower their lending rates for overnight loans in order to make some interest on the excess reserves. To raise rates, the Fed sells securities to banks, decreasing the banks’ reserves. If enough banks need to borrow to meet overnight reserve requirements, banks with extra reserves will raise their lending rates.

The federal funds rate serves as a benchmark for many short-term rates, such as savings accounts, money market accounts, and short-term bonds. Banks also base the prime rate on the federal funds rate. Banks often use the prime rate as the basis for interest rates on deposits, bank loans, credit cards, and mortgages.

The FDIC insures CDs and bank savings accounts, which generally provide a fixed rate of return, up to $250,000 per depositor, per insured institution. The principal value of bonds may fluctuate with market conditions. Bonds redeemed prior to maturity may be worth more or less than their original cost. Investments seeking to achieve higher yields also involve a higher degree of risk. U.S. Treasury securities are backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest.

Source: Federal Reserve, 2018

Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2018

Each year, the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) conducts its Retirement Confidence Survey to assess both worker and retiree confidence in financial aspects of retirement. In 2018, as in years past, retirees expressed a higher level of confidence than today’s workers (perhaps because “retirement” is less of an abstract concept to those actually living it). However, worker confidence seems to be on the rise, while retiree confidence is on the decline. A deeper dive into the research reveals lessons and tips that can help you build your own retirement planning confidence.

Create a foundation of predictable sources of income

Workers surveyed expect to rely less on traditional sources of guaranteed income — a defined benefit pension plan and Social Security — than today’s retirees. More than 40% of retirees say that a traditional pension plan provides them with a major source of income, and 66% say that Social Security is a primary source. Yet just one-third of today’s workers expect either a pension or Social Security to play a big role.

Understand how Social Security works. Although nearly half of today’s workers say they have considered how their Social Security claiming age could affect their benefit amount, the median age at which they plan to claim benefits is 65. Moreover, less than a quarter of respondents say they determined their future claiming age with benefit maximization in mind. Why does this matter? It’s because the vast majority of today’s workers won’t be able to collect their full Social Security retirement benefit until sometime between age 66 and 67, depending on their year of birth. Claiming earlier than that results in a permanently reduced benefit amount. To help ensure you make the most of your Social Security benefits, take the time to understand the ramifications of different claiming ages and strategies before making any final decisions.

Consider creating your own “pension” income. Eight in 10 workers in the EBRI survey hope to use their defined contribution plan assets [e.g., 401(k) or 403(b)] to purchase a product that will provide a guaranteed stream of income during retirement. Depending on individual circumstances, this could be a wise move. To help provide yourself with a steady stream of income, you might consider annuitizing a portion of your retirement plan assets or purchasing an immediate annuity, a contract that promises to pay you a steady stream of income for a fixed period of time or for life in exchange for a lump-sum payment.1

When combined with your Social Security benefits, the payments received from an immediate annuity can help ensure that your everyday “fixed” expenses are covered. Any additional assets can then be earmarked for future growth potential and “extras,” such as travel and entertainment.

Pay attention to your health — and health-care costs

Health. The EBRI survey revealed a correlation between health and retirement planning confidence. For example, 60% of today’s workers who are confident in their retirement prospects also report being in good or excellent health, while only a little more than a quarter of those who are not confident report similar levels of health. Moreover, 46% of retirees who say they are confident also say they are in good health, compared with just 14% of those who are not confident.

The lesson here is pretty straightforward: Healthy habits may pay off in healthy levels of confidence. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, exercise, get enough sleep, and take steps to minimize stress. And don’t skip important preventive checkups and lab tests. Keep in mind that even the most diligent savings strategies can be thrown off track by unexpected medical costs.

Health-care costs. The percentage of retirees who are at least somewhat confident that they will have enough money to cover medical expenses in retirement has dropped from 77% in 2017 to 70% in 2018. And four out of 10 retirees say that health-care expenses are at least somewhat higher than they expected. However, retirees who have estimated their health-care costs (39% of respondents) are more likely to say their expenses are about what they expected them to be. On the other hand, just 19% of workers have calculated how much they will need to cover their health expenses in retirement.

If you have not yet thought about how much of your retirement income may be consumed by health-care costs, now may be the time to start doing so. Having at least a general idea of what your medical expenses might be will help you more accurately project your overall retirement savings goal.

Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2018