Public safety officials can readily identify a city's most dangerous intersections.
In retirement, the most dangerous intersection can be where the winding road of wealth crosses the unpredictable boulevard of health. NBC Today show financial editor Jean Chatzky says retirees have to be prepared to navigate both.
"There's no question it can be challenging," Chatzky said. "The must frustrating part is that you need both good health and stable finances. It's inadequate if you have one without the other. It just doesn't work any more.
"If you're healthy, but you have financial problems, it's hard to stay healthy. If you have stable financial health, but your physical health takes a turn for the worse, it can take your finances for a really rough ride."
Chatzky, one of several high profile speakers on the slate for the Women's Conference of Florida, scheduled for Thursday and Friday in Tampa, addresses the challenge in her latest book, Age Proof: Living Longer Without Running Out of Money or Breaking A Hip.
She's teamed with Dr. Michael Roizen, the Cleveland Clinic's chief wellness officer, to explain that health and wealth are actually parallel roads. The two cite eight strategies that can simultaneously address both aspects.
"We talk a lot about automation," Chatzky said. "As human beings, we know what we're supposed to do. We're supposed to eat less and exercise more. We're supposed to spend less and save more, but basic human biology makes that difficult. So we talk about automating as a really good strategy to dive into.
"We talk about substituting better habits for bad habits."
One potential bad habit, Chatzky noted, is accessing Social Security benefits at age 62, when the benefit is 25 to 30 percent less than if you wait until the age of 70. Chatzky said two-thirds of all Americans tap into their Social Security funds at 62, but she said waiting makes more sense.
Some people I know moving toward that age say they don't know if they'll live until their 70.
Again, there's that intersection of health and wealth.
"I understand that and that's how a lot of people feel," Chatzky said. "But if you live until 80, you will break even. If you don't have a real genetic or health-related reason to think you're going to die sooner, than at least looking into waiting makes sense."
Two other topics looming for those in retirement age: reverse mortgages and long term care insurance. Chatzky said reverse mortgages are better than they used to be, but cautioned that they can still be quite expensive, and difficult to escape.
"I'm happy people are still required to go through counseling to make sure it's right for them," Chatzky said.
She offered that reverse mortgages may best be used as a back pocket cushion in the form of a line of credit, perhaps helping folks avoid selling from their stock portfolio if faced with an immediate need for cash.
As for long-term care insurance, Chatzky said retirees may engage in paying the premiums only to later discover that they can't afford the high prices. For those with a net worth between $1 million and $4 million, she said, they can fund their own care.
However, the policy can be a wise investment if they want to leave a legacy for their kids.
A previous New York Times best seller and a popular speaker, Chatzky is just one of several notable personalities arriving for the two-day Women's Conference at the Marriott Waterside. Shark Tank star Lori Grenier, television producer Samantha Harris and Levo chief financial officer Tiffany Dufu are also speaking.
Chatzky will definitely deliver lessons from her latest endeavor, keeping in mind it's never too late to start planning for retirement. However, as host of HerMoney, a podcast for women, she'll have a lot more to offer.
There's always a lot of lives at the crossroads of good finances.
That's all I'm saying.
>>IF YOU GO
Women's Conference of Florida
The conference, set for next Thursday and Friday expects to draw more than 1,000 women to Tampa's Marriott Waterside and will feature a variety of speakers, including Shark Tank star Lori Grenier and Today show financial editor Jean Chatzky. For registration information, visit womensconferenceofflorida.com