Older people generally have a better understanding of life insurance than younger people.1 But even if you fully understand the costs and potential benefits of life insurance, you may wonder whether you still need it as you age and your children become self-supporting. Here are some ideas to consider. Protection for Your Spouse Even though your children may not need financial support, your spouse might depend on your income, especially if you are still working and/or have debts such as a mortgage, car payment, or student loan, which could be paid off with a life insurance benefit. Losing one spouse’s Social Security benefit could also make it more difficult for the survivor, even with survivor benefits. Widows and widowers aged 55 and older are more likely to live in poverty than married people in the same age group (see chart).
Retirement has often been viewed as an ending, a time of slowing down and simplifying life after a long working career. This is changing as people live longer and consider other possibilities. In a survey of Americans aged 45 and older, 57% described retirement as a new chapter in life, seeing it as an opportunity to explore new options and pursue their dreams. Many pre-retirees don’t envision a traditional retirement at all, but want to reinvent their careers by entering a new field of work.1
In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court settled a case between a widow and her deceased husband’s former wife regarding who would receive the man’s federal employee insurance benefits. The judges ruled in favor of the first wife, even though the couple had been divorced for more than 10 years when he died, because she was still the designated beneficiary on his policy.1
When the latest bull market for U.S. stocks reached the five-year mark on March 10, 2014, only five bulls had lasted longer. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index posted a gain of 177% for the five-year period.1 The current bull followed on the heels of the Great Recession and the worst stock market decline since the 1929 stock market crash. The most recent bear market began in October 2007; the S&P 500 fell 57% before hitting the bottom on March 9, 2009.2 In typical fashion, investors who sold stocks during the downturn may not have participated fully in some of the subsequent bull market gains. A recent Morningstar study found that emotional trading practices had a negative effect on investment returns over the last decade. For the 10-year period ending December 31, 2013, investor dollars returned an average of 2.5 percentage points per year less than the average mutual fund’s performance, largely because people have a tendency to buy high and sell low.3
As with any purchase, it would be wise to learn more about a stock before investing. Because no one has a crystal ball, the price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio can be a helpful tool. Underlying Value On its surface, the P/E ratio is a simple calculation derived by dividing a stock's current price per share by the company's earnings per share over a 12-month period. You might consider it a measure of underlying value that indicates what investors are willing to pay for one dollar of earnings. For example, a P/E of 17 means an investor would pay $17 for every $1 the company earns. By this standard, a stock with a P/E of 27 could be considered more "expensive" than the stock with a P/E of 17, regardless of the share price.