But even without that annual reminder, you can use your birthday as an opportunity to reflect on how you’re handling your finances. What should you do in your 20s? When you hit your 40s, ask if your retirement savings on track. Hit 60? The debate about getting Social Security sooner or later is facing you this decade. Are you 80 years old and still don’t have a will? What is the talk about:
To help guide you in your financial self-examination, I’ve created an interactive guide to money guidelines for every age with the amazing team at The Washington Post. You can find it wapo.st/financial-birthdays:.
Michelle Singletary Money Highlights for Every Age
Over the years, I’ve received hundreds of questions from readers across the country. I’ve rounded up the most common ones in the guide, from credit to wealth building to housing to healthcare.
There’s advice for every decade of your financial life, from 20-somethings to retirees enjoying the fruits of their smart planning.
There’s also the Post Reports podcast, which includes a conversation with my two 20-something daughters. We talked with adults about their struggle. They have some stories. Get ready to laugh and cry as I discuss the money issues that dominate our lives.
Post reports. How to be smart with your money at any age
I wrote this project with you in mind. Every time I read a poll or study that says Americans are financially illiterate, I want to scream. “It’s not their fault.”
Yes, some people are weakened by bad choices. But the decisions you have to make about your money can be overwhelming, and it can be hard to know who to trust to help you make the right decisions.
“I would say the thing that scares me the most about becoming an adult is that there is no set path,” my youngest, Jillian, said on the podcast. “Do I want to stay in this job? Want to move to another state? Do I want to stay in the area? Those are all big questions. And that’s what scares me about being an adult.”
That’s saying a lot considering she has a mother who spent most of her career writing about personal finance and an equally knowledgeable money manager father.
What we’ve done is put together a summary of important financial issues, combined with links to my columns over the years and other articles as resources. But when I put this project together, I knew I couldn’t solve all the problems from the start. So this is where I need your help.
We will add reader questions to improve the project. What is on your mind about your money?
“I didn’t see anything about funerals in your great money milestones column,” emailed Jim Ward of Alexandria, Virginia. “Should I prepay my funeral?”
I will update the project next month and add Ward’s question.
Many people think they have covered their funeral expenses with prepaid funeral and burial contracts, only for their family to discover that there is more to pay after death. This is when they can find information for “pre-arrangement” as they are sometimes called.
“My brother was just buried, his grave was prepaid, but not his funeral,” Ward wrote. “My brother had talked about pre-planning, but after going through his papers, we found nothing.”
What followed was a hunt for a policy they believed worked.
6 Joyful Steps to End-of-Life Planning
“We contacted the funeral home that his church uses and found out that he had not made any arrangements,” Ward said. “The funeral home contacted the church cemetery and we discovered he had purchased a plot.”
Ward ended up paying for the funeral out of pocket.
A friend pointed out another thing missing from the project. section is dedicated to the 90s and beyond.
There are 2.4 million people age 90 and older in the U.S., including 2.3 million people ages 90 to 99 and about 98,000 centenarians, according to Census Bureau one-year age estimates starting in 2021.
In a 2011 publication, the bureau’s demographer said: “Traditionally, the cut-off age for what is considered ‘oldest’ has been 85, but more and more people are living longer and the older population is aging itself. Given its rapid growth, the 90-and-over population deserves closer scrutiny.”
In 2016, there were 81,000 centenarians in the United States. According to census estimates, this number will reach 589 thousand in 2060. By 2050, people aged 90 and older are expected to make up 10 percent of the population, consisting of seniors aged 65 and older.
We have discontinued advice for people over 80. My point was that Americans over 80 would benefit from the same advice given for the previous decade. But they deserve their own section to coincide with the centennial.
As with any undertaking of this depth and breadth, something is inevitable left out. But I will do my best to address your most pressing financial questions. And you may disagree with my advice, but the goal is to facilitate the conversation so you can be intentional about your money. I hope I have done this and that you will be an active participant in helping me identify topics to add to this project.