Hope for living, loving and caring with no regrets!

Ep 22 Michele Howe

Episode 63

Rayna Neises, your host, talks with Victoria Lowell.  Victoria is a financial advisor, entrepreneur, podcaster, and motivational speaker. She is also the author of “Empower Your Worth: A Woman’s Guide to Increasing Self-worth and Net-worth.”  Several years ago, she left Wall Street and followed her passion for helping women assert themselves financially.  She shares the following insights:

  • Long-Term Care (LTC) Insurance can help defray some of the costs associated with an illness that spans several years. Most younger people do not think about purchasing LTC Insurance, but it can be extremely expensive at older ages.
  • Not all LTC policies are created equal. Talk with someone who has purchased a policy and ask:
    • What insurance do they have?
    • Who are they using?
    • How does the policy work?
    • Are they happy with it?
  • When you prepare financially, you will have more care options and will be able to go where you want or get the help that you want.
  • Caretaker Penalty Box (i.e., Mommy Penalty Box) happens when anyone leaves the workforce to care for family members and represents the money lost in salary and retirement savings not accumulating towards social security credits, 401K plans, and IRAs. What to do to avoid the Penalty Box:
    • Save!
    • Plan for the gap in earnings
    • Maximize contributions to 401K while working
    • Find a side hustle to do from home
  • Decide who can make financial decisions for you and:
    • Draw up a Financial Power of Attorney
    • Provide instructions for all accounts and provide passwords
  • Have the financial and medical directive conversations with your parents so that their wishes are known to all family members making decisions easier.
  • Children should meet their parent’s financial advisor to develop a relationship allowing for an easier transition when their parent is no longer able to make decisions.

Transcript

*Transcript is an actual recount of the live conversation

Rayna Neises: 

Welcome to A Season of Caring Podcast where there’s hope for living, loving and caring with no regrets. This is Rayna Neises, your host and our special guest Victoria Lowell. Victoria is a financial advisor coach international best-selling author of Empower Your Worth: A Women’s Guide to Increasing Self-worth and Net Worth. And the founder of Empowered Worth a financial education platform that empowers women to become active participants in their own financial future and wellbeing. In late 2018, Victoria left Wall Street and followed her passion to help women and assert themselves fiscally. Her expertise in this field has led to her hosting Empowered Worth Podcast, conferences and webinars, motivational speaking, and being a guest on many TV, radio and podcast shows. We’re so glad to have you here today, Victoria, how are you?

Victoria Lowell: 

I’m good. Thank you so much for having me Rayna. I am so excited to be here. I love the message that you’re putting out there and that you are helping empower people who are care-taking for others.

Rayna Neises: 

Thank you. It is such an important role and it can be such a challenge for people. And I think this topic financially, it really does impact both the person you’re caring for, obviously their illness impacts them, but as you’re in that caregiving role, it impacts you as well. So I’m excited to be able to talk about some of the things that can help less than that impact a little bit. And so one of those that comes to mind right away is that Long-term Care Insurance. Can you tell us a little bit about the benefits of having long-term care insurance? I know it’s changed. What’s available and those types of things. So share with us a little bit about that.

Victoria Lowell: 

Well long-term care. Insurance is something that really every financial planner back when I was actively being a financial planner for Wall Street Firm, we would really encourage our clients when they were younger to get long-term care insurance Now for those who don’t know long-term care, insurance will help you somewhat defray, I don’t want to say it’s going to cover all your costs that. It’s going to help you kind of cover some of the expenses that come with the long-term care of a person who has an illness say cancer or Alzheimer’s or something that is more, obviously long-term, you’re going to use it in, usually in the, in the end stage of your life. Some people do use it. A little bit earlier than that. The thing with long-term care insurance is that it’s very, very cheap when you’re young, but when you’re young, you’re not thinking that you need long-term care insurance. And the other thing is that not all policies are created equal. Some policies cover certain things to a certain amount. Others don’t. What I would call the standard, the blue ribbon, great policies are going to give you money for caretakers in the home. They’re going to give you money for like, if you want to put somebody in an assisted living or in a facility, they’re going to cover those. There’s going to be a lot more options. Anything that you’re looking for as you’re looking for things, they give you the ability to move around, have options, but they’re going to charge you for that. Now the one thing I like to tell people when doing this is talk to people who have purchased it before and have used the policy. I always say talk to somebody who’s gone through it because you don’t know. And if you know somebody who maybe is in a situation where they are care-taking for a parent, so, Hey, does your parent have longterm care? Who do they have? Who are they using? How does this policy work? Because that’s when you find out not only that, but you find out how it works when you’re calling in. To get that claim paid because not everyone pays the same. And this is true for all insurances, whether it’s life insurance or health insurance, everybody has a different way of processing stuff. So I would definitely do that. Ask with anything really. I say this also, when you’re looking for financial advisor, legal advice, use the referral system. It’s really, really good. But the best thing about this is that long-term care insurance keeps you a lot of times and having to dip into those retirement savings to cover those expenses. Cause hopefully you’ll get to the illness and have many, many years ahead of you after that. And we don’t want to have those retirement savings completely depleted because you were covering your medical expenses and remember Medicaid or Medicare and whatever. Isn’t going to cover everything all the time. So that’s where the long-term care will come into gap that, but again, my biggest thing with everybody when I talked to them about it is. Ask people that you know, who are going through it, ask them what they’re doing, what they’ve used, who they’ve used, if they’re happy and talk to your family members. My mom purchased long-term care and she sat me down and she said, these are my policies. This is what I’m looking for. How does this look like if I should get sick and we were able to talk about what she would want in the eventuality, it’s never come to pass, but in the eventuality, does she want to come live with me? Does she want to live outside the home? Because she doesn’t like the idea of being in my hustle and bustle world? How does that look and how does she want to be taken care of them? Does she want to stay in her home? If you don’t have those conversations? When you’re healthy, it’s going to be really hard to have them when you’re not. So that would be my main thing. Sit down and kind of look at it like that.

Rayna Neises: 

So many great points in there. I think first of all, Long-term Care Insurance is not just for the old people and it’s not cheap, which is so important to realize as you go in, but it is so worth it. My parents both suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and my mom, it was a 12 year journey. My dad’s was 14 year journey. And believe it or not, even back in 86, when my mom was diagnosed, my dad had purchased long-term care for them. So though they both, neither one went to a facility. They both stayed at home. Their policy paid out. It gave us some support to bring people into the home. Definitely didn’t cover everything like you said, but it made the option, at least a little bit more. An option, I guess, is the best way to put it. We had that support and it did give us an opportunity to receive some funds and not have everything going out the whole time. And I do think the other point that’s really important is many people don’t realize that Medicare and Medicaid are not going to cover everything and long-term care just gives you more choices, as long as the policies that good policy. And so understanding that the resources that are available are going to give you options. And I just think it’s so important for people to realize you are not going to be able to go where you want, get the help that you want even be able to stay at home if that’s what you want, if you haven’t prepared for it. And so long-term care, insurance is definitely one of those things you have to consider to be able to prepare.

Victoria Lowell: 

I completely agree. And it’s something to consider like I said, when you’re younger, when you’re older, it is incredibly expensive to buy long-term care insurance. That’s why it’s something that we do younger. But when you’re younger, you also think, why am I going to be paying this premium every year when I don’t need it? And I won’t need it to maybe I’m 70. But here’s the thing you can’t afford it when you’re 70. A lot of times it’s very, very expensive to get. So it really does take planning and, and having that uncomfortable conversation. I always say that to people we shy away in a financial world from having conversations about estate planning, a lot of times, and long-term care planning, which is part of retirement planning. So we need to have those uncomfortable conversations so that we don’t have to have really uncomfortable conversations further down the line.

Rayna Neises: 

And it is uncomfortable. We don’t want to think about getting older. We definitely don’t want to think about passing away, but the last years of your life can be some of the most expensive years of your life. And so it’s so important to get those things in place that will help you be able to, again, just have choices and options and get the kind of care that you really want it to get. And not have to make choices because. You didn’t plan for it. It was funny my husband and I were married 11 years ago and because of my family history, I said before I marry you, we’re getting long-term care insurance on me. So I’ve had it for a really long time because, you know, I am just two years away from the age in which my mom was diagnosed with the disease. And so I wanted to be sure to protect our future. And I knew that the sooner, the better, so we’ve had for a long time and, you know, hopefully we don’t have to use it, but it’s there for, in case we do. And it, it makes me have some reassurance that all the hard work of the Farmer is going to be something that can continue with generationally versus being something that would be impacted by an illness or, just having to be taken care of as I get older. So, well, I think that’s very helpful information. And again, listeners, that referral basis is so important because we just need to be able to get paid the way we think we’re going to, I know that was one of the things that was really surprising is with my dad’s progression when we finally called the long-term care insurance, they ask us some questions. How long has he not been driving? How long has you not been doing this or that and the other? And they actually back paid us. And we were so surprised because we didn’t realize that he would have technically qualified to be drawing on his policy earlier, but they back paid us for over a year. It was very shocking, so amazing.

Victoria Lowell: 

that, that, that, that is actually really surprising. And that’s wonderful. Cause I’ve never actually heard of policies is doing that. So that’s, that’s amazing. And I love what you said there about how you went ahead and got this before you get married. I always tell somebody. When you were thinking of doing this, this commitment, this estate planning or this, this long-term care insurance or the retirement money, think about the person that stays behind your partner a lot of times. And this is actually statistically, there you look at the numbers women, a lot of times outlive their male counterparts, but what happens is that all that retirement money, if you don’t have the long-term care, if you haven’t planned out for the, the worst case scenario, kind of gets depleted. So then yeah, the person passes away. But now what funds is that other person, usually the woman, going to have to live on. And we do see horrible statistical women end up, elderly women are in poverty because they’ve used the vast bulk of their retirement savings. And the family at times has to scramble, well what are you going do with mom now? Because that wasn’t planned for, and there was plenty of money in the retirement plan, but no one thought of the scenario of having a debilitating illness that was going to eat up those funds.

Rayna Neises: 

And that’s so true because it does last longer that downward progression of health can just really sap all of those resources. And again, we think that the government’s going to help with those things with Medicare and those types of things, but where you have to spend your funds before they kick in is amazingly low. And so when you’re looking at a couple, it definitely can have a big impact on the one that survives. And like you said, at that point, you’ve already lost your life partner and that’s grief and all those things to deal with. But then to have all the other financial burdens of trying to figure it out can be really difficult. So. Listeners, definitely check out long-term care insurance, both for your family and for your parents to be able to help you have tools, knowledge will just give you some opportunities to make some choices now. And so we really encourage you to look at that. So, Victoria, let’s talk a little bit about caretaker penalty box. Tell me a little bit about that.

Victoria Lowell: 

I call it the Caretaker Penalty Box. You will also see it out there if you Google it as the Mommy Penalty Box. I think at times, people only think that this happens to mothers, mothers who leave the workforce to stay home with their children when they’re really small and the penalty being the money that they’re not making and the retirement savings that they’re not accumulating. Here’s the thing. It happens to anybody who stays home to caretake for somebody. It’s not just a thing that’s happening to young women who are having children. It’s also happening primarily to women, because women are the caretakers in our society, to women who jump out of the workforce possibly after having jumped back in after having been a mommy another jumping out again, because they’re stopping to take care of their elderly parents. And what does this do? Like the same thing it does for moms. It prevents you from accumulating those social security credits that you need. It prevents you from accumulating money in your 401k, or putting money away in your IRA. If you’re not earning income, you can put money in an IRA. So how do you make up for this? I always say to people, the first thing and foremost is maximize the time that you are working. When you were working, save the max that you can save if you, because you are the woman You know what I know for me, culturally being Hispanic, I’m going to stop to take care of my mom. That’s just what I saw my mom do. It’s probably what I’m going to do at some point in my life. And if I have to stop well, how does that look in terms of my financial plan? I have sit down with whoever is advising me as I’m creating that financial plan and have a realistic conversation. I’m only going to have X number of years in the workforce because I’m going to possibly stop at this age to help mom out. How does that look? How do I need to say? You have to plan for that and, and you can do it. You can be more aggressive in how you are investing those 401k dollars. You can also just save more and account for that in your budget and say, you know what, I need to save instead of saving, maybe the 3% which they’re matching and another 3%, I’m going to say eight. Because I know that I’m going to have this gap in my pay and that’s really the main thing you can do. The other thing I always tell people is find a side hustle. Especially for women, I think it’s really important to have something that’s bringing income that you may be able to do from home while you’re caretaking. That doesn’t take up a lot of time and that you can get a little bit of money in and then save that money, save that money for your retirement as well. So that’s one of my main things, because as you leave the workforce, you’re also going to leave the opportunity of growing in your chosen field. You’re not networking, you’re not. Being mentored, all these things are happening. So how do you keep your mental acumen and juices flowing in terms of your career? Maybe go off on your own and become a consultant, create some sort of a side hustle that will keep you active and keep you kind of in the know.

Rayna Neises: 

I think that’s great advice because as we find ourselves in that season of caring, I’m always talking to our listeners about finding balance and it can’t be only about the caregiving, but it also has to be about your joy and your health. And part of that comes from being able to do what you’re passionate about. For me, I made a transition from teaching to life coaching. It was something I could do, both the classes with flexibility as well as take that job on the road with me. So I was able to at my dad’s house, coach people while he was asleep in the evenings and be able to do that from the farm. So having that flexibility to continue to both grow my skillset and expand into a new field that I love has been such a blessing. Definitely don’t allow yourself to get bogged down with just where you are right now, but look at the possibilities and the options and find something that you can love too. And so being able to do that before you find yourself in your season of caring can definitely make a big impact. So I love that. It’s such a great suggestion. Let’s talk a little bit about, what we need to know from a financial aspect. If we find that we’re ill or we need to go ahead and take some time to care for someone.

Victoria Lowell: 

And like I said, this is, comes down to having the uncomfortable conversation. You have to also, you know, one thing that we sit down and we do with people, and it’s probably one of the hardest things financial advisors ever do is when we say. Do you have a will?, do you have medical directives? Do you have all that? And you would think, well, why is my financial planner talking to me about medical directives? Just as important as medical directors are financial directives and no one gets that. Who can make decisions for you from a financial aspect if you are incapacitated. And I think this actually with COVID became a really hot topic and it’s something that I found myself talking to a lot of people about. Because what happens if you’re putting on a ventilator, who can pay your rent, who can pay your mortgage, who can pay all these types of expenses that you have? Because while you might not be able to do it yourself, your landlord still wants to get paid. The tax man still wants to get his income taxes from you. You know, your light bill still has to get paid. All your credit cards still have to get paid. They don’t care that you are incapacitated and cannot do this for yourself. So how is that going to look? And what I suggest to everybody is sit down and I actually say this from everybody from the age of 18 on quite frankly. Sit down with your family and decide who is the person that you trust to make financial decisions for you, and then talk to a lawyer. I know you can do these on legal zooms and stuff like that. And if that’s what you feel comfortable doing and do that at least have that. But I always suggest talk to a lawyer and draw up what I call a Financial Power of Attorney. Now, I’m not talking about giving a blanket power of attorney that will make it a lot easier, but if you don’t feel comfortable doing that, then draw up a Financial Power of Attorney. So that one person, possibly two, if one is not available, you need a second can go ahead and present this at your bank and be able to sign checks on your behalf. Do all that stuff. The other thing I also recommend to everybody. Since we do everything virtually nowadays is give whoever that person, that confident, that person you trust to handle your affairs, give them your passwords. That’s the thing. We don’t always write checks anymore. So people are kind of frazzled. Like I don’t have their passwords. How do I get into the bill pay? How do I do this? And you don’t want to have to go through the whole situation and litigation of getting all this done in the court. So you can show up at the bank to be able to pay it. And now two months have passed. And you haven’t paid and there’s that person’s credit score. And there’s that person, you know, being called up and, having claim letters come to the house. You don’t want it. That’s added stress that you don’t need, and it’s very easily taken care of by that, by having a financial person. And that’s on both sides. If you are the caretaker, you want to make sure that you can caretake for the person. And that includes covering their finances. You don’t need the extra stress and drama of how am I going to figure this out. It’s also really important and families in their multiple children. Who is going to be the person responsible. I have seen, and I have been unfortunately present in many, many, many, a nasty family situation because one child is taking all this on and the other children are resentful. If you, before you are ill. Can sit down with all of your children and say, this is what I have chosen and hash this out before you are going to make the lives of those that stay behind much easier. I tell everybody when I’ve done estate planning and stuff like that, and I’ve asked people, let’s do retirement planning and they think about what their legacy is going to be. Usually it’s family. It’s family. And no one wants to leave behind a situation where family is arguing with themselves and broken over the fact that people had to make decisions. And this also goes to the fact I’ve seen situations in which that one caretaker kind of at the end of everything feels kind of used. And it’s funny because you see them fight with their siblings because they go, why was I the one that had to do everything? Why did I do this? And you’re like, well, why didn’t you have this conversation? It’s tragic. It really is tragic. They’re sitting there and you’re like, why wasn’t this discussed? And they go, my parent never want to have the conversation. I am resentful because money was spent a lot of times it’s now I’m broke and my siblings aren’t and it’s because I had to take on this responsibility and now there’s an estate and I want the estate just for me, because I had to take on their responsibility, but in splitting the estate between two or three people, and I took the financial burden, all this is very simply resolved if we have the uncomfortable conversation. So that’s what I would suggest to everybody had that conversation. It sucks. Have a glass of wine, maybe with your siblings, with your parent and say, Hey mom, dad, what would happen if this were to happen? How do you want this handled? And that goes on to my next thing. I can just talk about this from a personal experience, Medical Directors. I had a grandmother that passed away. She, my grandparents were of the generation that you didn’t talk about that. I think they believe that if you didn’t talk about it, it wouldn’t happen to them. But it happened to them and it happened to my grandfather. My grandfather had cancer for many, many years. My mom was the primary caretaker being the only female in the Latin family. She knew that was going to be her role. She took it on, it was fine. When my grandmother came along, she had a sudden stroke and the sudden basically life-ending stroke caused a horrible situation in my family because we didn’t know what she would want. We didn’t know she wanted to be put in a facility. We didn’t know. She wanted life setting measures. She didn’t have a DNR. She didn’t have any, the horrible fights that happened in those weeks. Yeah. Quite frankly, affected my family for years to come. And how easy would this have been? If my grandmother had just had the conversation with my mom. And I’m sure that if my mom had sat down and told her, how do you want it? She would have had the conversation, but she was avoiding it, but she would have listened to my mom because mom had come to the parent at that point in her life. So she would have done that. How much more piece would the family have if we just did that? And we had that conversation about those directives and what do you really want? It’s I know it hasn’t been easy for my parents to have the conversation, but they’ve had it because of their experiences.

Rayna Neises: 

Listener such great advice. We have to have those conversations. We talk about that all the time that this is uncomfortable, but it is happening. And I think it’s important too, to realize that no matter your age, It could happen to you as well. So, having the conversation with your parents, but also turning around and having the conversation with your kids or your spouse, and make sure that you are on the same page and your ducks are in a row so that you can really make sure that everybody knows. I think coming from the parent’s mouth is the best way to do it, where you can have all the siblings together and they can hear mom or dad say, this is what I want. Because. It’s so much easier just to know it came from them.

Victoria Lowell: 

And, and I have to say, I mean, everybody, we all, there’s that incredible imagery. I think that we all have from TV of the will being read. And there’s that mystery person that comes in that doesn’t have to happen. Everybody estate planning is a family function. It is not just the two people who are creating the estate, sit down and have those conversations. Also because of the ramifications that may come, you may leave money. I’ve seen people who have left money to grandchildren. And then the child turns 18 and mom and dad are notified, Hey, there’s an account with X amount of money. That’s going to your 18 year old child. And there’s massive freakouts, massive freak outs from all sides from of course from the child. Who’s really excited. Hey, I got left this is my grandma and grandpa. And mom and dad were like, Oh my God, that that could be used for college. And they want to go buy a hot rod. So you need to have those conversations now because you don’t want to leave that situation for your child. And the same thing, like you said, when children leave to college, how did the conversation, because children have accidents in college, unfortunately, and they can be incapacitated. They can be, knocked unconscious and you’re going to call a medical facility. I’m gonna tell you, I can’t talk to you that’s an adult, which nobody thinks that they actually are adults. You’re still paying for them, but they’re adults. So have that conversation. Yeah.

Rayna Neises: 

Such good wisdom for you. Thank you, Victoria. How much? I think the financial issues that we as caregivers run into, they really are so important. And again, they often fall on the bottom of the to-do list because there are so many things that appear urgent right in front of our face, but they are urgent and they are so important. They have such an amazing impact on our ability to care, our ability to care for ourselves and our loved ones. And just making sure that you take the time. And have those tough conversations.

Victoria Lowell: 

Yes. And if there’s one more tip that I can give your audience at some point in your financial planning, when you meet with a financial advisor, at some point, you need to start bringing in a child to come with you. And in fact, a lot of financial advisors like that, because then there’s no surprises. And in the event that you should start having symptoms of Alzheimer’s or dementia, it’s really hard for a financial advisor of the pickup, the phone and say, Hey, I need to have a conversation with you about mom. If we’ve never met you. And it happens a lot, it happens a lot in the industry. It’s the most uncomfortable thing, and we don’t want to have to flag the account. As a person in distress, because that ties up money in a way that if we could just have a conversation with a child, that’s going to manage it. It makes our lives a lot easier on both sides.

Rayna Neises: 

That’s such a good point. My dad did an amazing job of bringing us in, I think partially because we experienced it with my mom. And so he knew that eventually it was going to reach a point where he would need us to be a part of those decisions, but introducing us to that financial advisor, and then as dad wasn’t even able to be a part of those conversations, our financial advisor just really cared about my dad and helped us problem solve and really have the funds that we needed in order to take care of him the way that dad wanted him to. So that’s such a great point too. I hadn’t really thought about how well he transitioned us with that. Long distance when you’re up for a visit to make that visit with the financial advisor as well. Just start that relationship so that they know you have the best interest of your parents. And they can reach out and express any concerns they have as well. Victoria, I think this has been a very helpful conversation. Thanks again for joining us today. We really appreciate it.

Victoria Lowell: 

Thank you for having me. It’s been a real pleasure to come here and be able to talk about this because I think this is something that we all need to have conversations about regularly. Do want like a tune-up with your family every so often say hey, we need to revisit these issues.

Rayna Neises: 

Great. And don’t forget listeners, you can find Victoria’s book, Empower Your Worth: A Woman’s Guide to Increasing Self-worth and Net-worth. And also all of her great resources are available at her website at www/empoweredworth.com. And just a reminder, A Season of Caring Podcast is created for the encouragement of family caregivers. If you have medical, financial, or legal questions, please consult your local professionals and take heart in your season of caring.

*Transcript is an actual recount of the live conversation

Victoria Lowell

Victoria Lowell

Financial Advocate, Coach & Author

Victoria Lowell is a financial advocate, coach, international bestselling author of “Empower your Worth: A Woman’s Guide to Increasing Self-Worth and Net Worth.” and the founder of Empowered Worth, a financial-education platform that empowers women to become active participants in their own financial future and well-being.

In late 2018 she left Wall Street and followed her passion to help women assert themselves fiscally. Her expertise in this field has led to her hosting this podcast, conferences and webinars, motivational speaking, and being a guest on many tv, radio, and podcast shows.

EmpoweredWorth.com

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Meet Your Host

Rayna Neises, ACC

Your Host

Author of No Regrets: Hope for Your Caregiving Season, ICF Certified Coach, Podcast Host & Speaker, offering encouragement, support, and resources to those who are in a Season of Caring for Aging Parents.

Her passion is for those caring and their parents, that they might be seen, not forgotten & cared for, not neglected

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4 Things you need to know as you begin your season of caring

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