Utah is home to the healthiest seniors in the nation. It is quite common to see seniors living on their own and staying independent for the rest of their lives. Those that require help often do so because of financial strain instead of health or mobility problems. Draining their finances are a bigger fear among seniors than actual death. Most Utahns have more than $300,000 upon retiring. Making that money last for 2-3 decades shouldn’t be a problem — as long as one takes steps to limit or avoid the most common financial drains.
Utah is probably the best state in the US for residential solar power. The sun is out for most of the year, and the state’s elevation exposes it to higher concentrations of sunlight. Solar power systems run more efficiently, allowing them to work optimally regardless of the angle of a house’s roof. Aside from federal tax incentives, Utah has its own solar incentive. Residents can write off $1,200 from their purchase and installation costs — over the 26 percent in federal tax cuts.
Most senior homes can be powered by a 10-kW solar power system. The system will cover all of the energy needs for the day and produce enough excess energy for the grid to cover nighttime use. A 10-kW system can cost around $10,000-$12,000. With a 10-year loan at modest interest rates (3-4 percent), the savings on your monthly electric bills should cover your loan payments. Solar power systems are guaranteed to maintain optimal efficiency (at least 80-90 percent) for the next 25 years, but they often last for 40 years or more. You’ll get $100 a month in savings on electricity and you’ll be insulated from future electricity price hikes.
Once you have your solar power system, go even greener with an electric car. You’ll be charging it for free with your solar panels, and you can save more than $2,000 a year in gas.
Avoid the Sun
Skin cancer and melanoma are big problems in Utah. While elevation might be good for solar panels, the higher concentrations of ultraviolet (UV) radiation put residents at risk. UV concentrations can go up by 8 percent for every 1,000 feet — exposing Salt Lake City and Lehi residents to 32 percent more UV, and Park City residents to a frightening 56 percent higher concentration. Utah doubles the national average when it comes to the rate of skin cancer and melanoma.
If detected late, melanomas can be dangerous, and surgeries can cost from $5,000-$170,000. Sunblock won’t cut it — as even your daily commutes expose you to significant amounts of UV. Avoid UV by applying UV-filtering film to your vehicle and home. Most car shops can apply the film easily, but you might need to call a few window companies if you want to apply the same to your home. Get checked for melanomas at least once a year. Melanoma surgeries have high success rates if detected early, and minor surgery will only cost $1,000-$2,000.
Get Better Medical Coverage
Prolonged stays at the hospital and prescription medicine are the biggest drains to senior savings. Basic medicare won’t cover both as it is primarily geared towards life-threatening emergencies. While it would cover most of the immediate expenses from an accident or heart attack, the following days of confinement come out of your pocket.
Basic medicare also doesn’t cover the cost of prescribed medicine, as well as preventive and corrective procedures. You’ll need to go to private insurance companies if you want additional coverage or Medicare Advantage plans. You can tailor your plan based on your needs and you can opt to pay as little or as much as you want to.
One way to get rid of medical costs altogether is to stay healthy and fit. Weight gain plays a significant role in hospitalizations — more so as one gets older. Obesity is tied to multiple health risks as well as premature death. Obese individuals are more prone to heart disease and strokes — as well as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, kidney problems, liver problems, sleep apnea, and depression. Extra weight also puts more pressure on the body’s bones and musculature, which means more trips to the chiropractor for back pain relief or treatment.
Eat healthily and try to avoid a sedentary lifestyle. 15 minutes of physical activity a day can help maintain or reduce your weight. Walking, gardening, or just regular housework counts as physical activity — but you might want to try group activities to get more motivation.
Growing your 401k won’t matter if your finances get drained by constant expenses and medical bills. Cut costs where you can and avoid the pitfalls of medical costs by doing your best to stay healthy.