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Investor’s column: Your health is your wealth. Here are several tips to help improve both

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My primary physician says my health is good, which leads me to wonder: How is the health of my wealth?

And yours, for that matter?

Since the point of life is to get older, you might need to tighten the health of your wealth.

Let’s get started.

Health care

This may be the one item that could ruin your wealth. Try to live a healthy life style, even if you don’t like it. Bad health could lead to bad wealth. A knee replacement might cost $100,000 or more.

The annual cost of health care continues to rise as you age. Visit longtermcare.gov and you might be shocked to learn how much health care can cost.

Jim Zientara.jpg
Jim Zientara is a financial planner with Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., in Lakewood Ranch.

Life insurance

This should be reviewed at least once a year. Life insurance creates an immediate estate. You might have had great earning potential, but now you are gone.

Figure your annual expenses and multiply by how many years you might live to get an estimate of how much life insurance you may need today.

Homeowners coverage

This is vital. What if your home burns down, gets hit by a hurricane or someone slips and falls on your property? It may be your biggest asset, but lots of nasty things can happen.

Some years ago, a no name storm parked itself over my house for days. Fortunately, I had pictures and video to show the insurance company what my house looked like before the flood damage. Do you have pictures and video?

Auto insurance

Yes, it is expensive. With many drivers not being insured or underinsured, you are at risk of someone else causing an accident and you getting hurt financially.

My insurance agent suggested an umbrella policy. It adds additional coverage to the auto, home and other items.

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Credit rating

This is vitally important. Life without credit is difficult and may hurt your health.

Check with the various credit agencies at least annually to make sure your records are correct. Work toward the highest rating you can earn.

Debt payments

These can easily get out of hand. It’s nice to have stuff, but the bills come at the end of the month. Check each credit card and loan. Refinance when possible.

Try not to take on the debt payments of your kids. They bought stuff and they should pay for it. Try not to be an ATM machine. Bad wealth may lead to bad health.

Savings and expenses

These are keys to your financial health. Put away money for a rainy day and the expenses that might pop up. Have more income than expenses.

You may save in a vacation account, but also save for maintenance or unexpected expenses. Your retirement may be right around the corner.

Stagnant income

This hurts as you age. The cost of everything continues to rise. Hopefully, you are not so conservative as to leave tons of money in fixed income assets, such as a checking account, savings account, CD’s, etc.

You probably need a portion in a stock-market type of portfolio. Sure, you might be wacked once in a while, but blue-chip stocks with growing dividends can provide extra income for future needs.

If you are laid off from your job, then you may be eligible for unemployment insurance, but you must abide by the rules. Some people misunderstand their legal responsibilities when they receive these benefits, which can lead to a commission of fraud.

Biggest pain

We all know what that is: dying.

It’s bad enough to die, but don’t burden your executor and heirs by leaving a messy estate for them to clean up. Plan while you can.

My attorney recommends a will, living revocable trust, health care instructions and a power of attorney at the minimum. Somebody has to write your obituary and plan your funeral. Do it yourself — now.

Your financial planner or other trusted consultant should be talking to you about these and other things on a regular schedule. If the planner has not, start the conversation or get a new planner.

Become satisfied and live your best life because this is your only life.

Jim Zientara is a financial planner with Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC. His website is thefinancialplanningguy.info and he can be reached at 941-750-6818. His office is at 11009 Gatewood Drive, Suite 101, in Lakewood Ranch.

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