Seniors, particularly those at the moment of retirement, need more “just-in-time” support for financial decision making to help promote effective action, such as understanding tradeoffs; risks and costs involved in the specific decision; finding a trusted source of information and advice; and avoiding fraud and scams, a new report from the Senate Aging Committee has asserted.
Support at the time of decision making would be particularly helpful at determining when to claim Social Security, enroll in Medicare, or downsize a home, the study said.
The need for aid is particularly acute for people at the cusp of leaving the workforce because many pre-retirees do not plan ahead for common retirement decisions, the Aging Committee report noted, pointing out 24 percent of pre-retirees do not know their planning time horizon or have a planning horizon that is limited to less than five years.
Broadly, a significant share of adults in the United States, including older adults and people with disabilities, have low levels of financial literacy, according to the Committee.
The report was unveiled at an Aging Committee hearing where Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Senior Vice President Of Investor Education Gerri Walsh said financial literacy has declined over time.
“In 2009, 42 percent of American adults demonstrated high levels of financial literacy, as measured by a widely used, five-question financial literacy quiz. That figure dropped to 34 percent in 2018,” she noted.
The FINRA expert said the problem of low financial literacy is exacerbated by widespread overconfidence with 71 percent of Americans believing they have a high level of financial knowledge.
A lack of knowledge on how to handle personal finances can be a danger to health as well as wealth, Walsh pointed out as older adults who exhibit low levels of financial literacy have an increased risk of Alzheimer’s Disease and cognitive decline.
A woman at age 65 can expect to spend approximately $47,000 more in retirement for health care Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER) President And Founder Cindy Hounsell told the hearing.
Increased life expectancy is making increasing financial literacy more imperative, Hounsell emphasized.
“One out of two women in their mid-50’s today will live until age 90…,The future for under resourced women is especially alarming” she said.
Asserting boosting financial literacy can increase standards of living, Hounsell said when provided with basic, practical financial education that emphasizes that financial goals are achievable, workers can become better consumers and improve their finances.
Covid-19 has made financial planning increasingly critical for women compared to men, the WISER president said with millions losing and leaving jobs, accumulating debt, and worsening their previous financial situations.