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Transportation problems a component of financial planning

Are you ready and serious about enjoying your years to the fullest, knowing you and your family are secure financially? As I've written before, a recent study proposed the following three questions that may predict your future quality of life.

1. Who will change the light bulbs? This sounds simple enough, but if you are 85 or infirm, do you want to climb a ladder to change light bulbs?

2. How will you get an ice cream cone? Do you have adequate transportation to go where you want when you want, or are you forced to rely on friends to take you?

3. Who will you have lunch with? Lunch is more than a meal; it's an occasion to see people on a regular basis. It helps reinforce a healthy and active lifestyle.

Let's look a little closer at question 2, which involves transportation.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, transportation is the second largest expense for individuals 65 and older, and accounts for about 15 percent of their annual expenditures.

Transportation is a key component of daily life that allows us to engage with friends and family, obtain goods and services, and visit our favorite locations.

Many of us take this liberty for granted, and never envision a day that we will be unable to get around without assistance. However, as we age, the ability to drive "well" decreases. This can begin at age 60 or so. We now jump into the car and take off for a ride or to a destination. That's fun, but knowing when it is time to "stop" driving can be difficult for an individual to recognize.

Are you going to be the sibling that takes the keys away and sells Grandma's car? Good luck climbing that emotional mountain.

Transportation creates challenges that one must consider and plan for so people of any age can safely get to the places they want and need to be.

1. Have you thought about how you will get to your favorite destinations?

2. How comfortable are you with driving by yourself? Are you comfortable driving at night?

3. Have you had a conversation with your family about driving?

4. Can you rely on family and friends for transportation if you cannot drive yourself?

Here are a few of the transportation alternatives that may or may not be available everywhere.

1. Public transportation.

2. Volunteer transportation.

3. Taxi service.

4. Paratransit service designed for those who need accommodations for wheelchairs and disabilities.

5. Door-to-door service where the driver may also assist with shopping or medical visits.

If Mom and Dad choose to live at home, there are many transportation problems to work out.

If Mom and Dad choose to move to a retirement facility, many problems go away, but others may appear.

There are many retirement facilities available. Probably the most flexible is the CCRC, Continuing Care Retirement Center. Offering a variety of services within one community, CCRCs have lifetime housing, transportation, social activities and increased levels of care as needs change.

CCRC usually has four aspects of health care. They are independent living, assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing.

Maybe you have not thought about transportation, but it can be a big problem. Add to that a need for lifetime income, maybe a want to travel, and a wish to help the grandchildren get a college education.

Now you're into lifetime financial planning with a financial planner who may be able to tame this emotional rollercoaster of living. The planner looks at the big picture.

Like a good physician, a good planner listens, empathizes, educates, prescribes, and treats the financial plan you jointly draw up.

Did I mention investing yet? No, that comes after your plan is drawn up. The investments are then selected to be suitable for the plan.

Jim Zientara, financial planner with Raymond James Financial Services Inc., can be reached at 941-750-6818 or at www.financialplanningguy.info.

Any opinions are those of Jim Zientara and not necessarily those of Raymond James. This material is being provided for information purposes only, and is not a complete description, nor is it specific investment advice.

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