Q: Is it better to take Social Security and IRA payouts as soon as I retire or wait?
This is a huge question. Seventy-four percent of all people taking Social Security leave money on the table because they do not understand their options. Did you know that a widow’s or widower’s benefit is entirely a function of the initial Social Security choice and certain choices can enhance your benefit?
By visiting www.socialsecurity- .gov/estimator, you will see the estimator only covers a few of the more than 200 possible outcomes based on the choices you make. There can be a difference of as much as $200,000 in benefits paid over a lifetime depending upon your choices. It pays to education yourself!
There are books that can help you evaluate your best answer and your financial professional should have software that helps you make the best decisions. Ultimately YOU are responsible for your own best outcome, so learn as much as you possibly can before you decide.
Q: I went in for my annual checkup and the doctor said I am at borderline hypertension. She said I would have to take blood pressure medication if I cannot lower it. How do I lower my blood pressure using natural methods?
When I looked at the side effects possible with medication and the position of being a slave to the medication, it scared me into action.
I am not offering medical advice here but lifestyle advice. Some medicines may not be optional for continuing good health but in my opinion if a problem can be fixed using self-discipline I would be foolish not to try.
Research tells us that to lower our blood pressure we must lower stress, cut out the salt and lose weight. This is easy to say but hard to do.
It became a personal challenge and I was able to do it, but it took 18 months. I sold a stressful business, stepped away from a stressful relationship, acquired two small dogs that I walk twice a day, began eating lean and green meals and dismissed 35 pounds, and cut out the salt 100 percent. Last week, my reading was 120/81 instead of 145/95.
The bottom line is when you set your mind to getting your blood pressure to a normal range, you will learn and do everything necessary to accomplish the task. It really is your own mindset.
— SharonAnn Hamilton is author of The Retirement Concierge, a baby boomer’s playbook for navigating the future. Questions are welcome via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or www.TheRetirementConcierge.com.