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7 resolutions for retirees in 2012

By DAVE CARPENTER

AP Personal Finance Writer

From financial nuts and bolts to more holistic aims, here's a look at seven worthy resolutions for retirees in 2012:

1. Get disciplined about money matters.

Retirees should set up a formal budget and stick to it. Being thrifty without a plan only goes so far when unexpected expenses arise, especially at an age when health care costs can start to mount.

2. Attack your debt.

Along with putting on pounds, new retirees are prone to running up debt with their newfound freedom. Paying off credit card debt should be a top priority.

After the card debt is zeroed out, use only one card and pay off the balance monthly. If your savings are earning practically nothing, you can put a chunk of it to greater use by paying off a credit card with an interest rate of 15 or 20 percent.

3. Invest in dividend-paying stocks.

The best-paying money market and savings accounts yield just 1 percent, five-year CDs no better than 1.95 percent, according to Bankrate.com. Even the U.S. government's 10-year Treasury note has been hovering around 2 percent.

Meanwhile, the average dividend stock yielded 2.8 percent in 2011, and investors can better that with such blue chips as General Electric Co., 3.8 percent, or Pfizer Inc., 4.7 percent.

4. Get your estate plan in order.

Make sure your estate plan -- a will, living will, durable power of attorney and health-care proxy -- and financial documents are updated. Help finding a financial planner can be found at http://findanadvisor.napfa.org/Home.aspx .

5. Be more generous.

Resolve to be more charitable, giving to worthy causes for others as well as your loved ones. It's rewarding and makes tax and financial sense too.

6. Check into long-term care insurance possibilities.

A typical long-term care policy costs upwards of $4,000 per year for a 65-year-old couple. By 70, for those still able to qualify, that more than doubles. So don't delay on this one.

About 70 percent of people over 65 will require long-term care services at some point. And neither private health insurance nor Medicare pay for the help with personal care people need.

7. Stretch your body and mind.

There's abundant evidence that continued physical activity helps people live longer, feel better, avoid depression and keep their mental skills sharp.

7 resolutions for retirees in 2012 02/14/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 14, 2012 11:36am]
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