In a crisis? How disability benefits can support you

More than 155 million U.S. workers are insured for a disability through the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. They receive this insurance coverage through their payroll taxes, or FICA taxes, as a part of the Social Security program.

When those who experience a chronic health condition, injury or sudden medical crisis need support – SSDI is there to help. It’s estimated that fewer than one in three U.S. workers have private disability insurance, which means their primary means of assistance, if they experience a work-disrupting disability, is SSDI.

Health conditions such as heart disease, cancer, arthritis, stroke and Type 2 diabetes are among the chronic illnesses that can interrupt someone’s time on the job. Sudden severe health issues include heart attack, aneurysm, traumatic brain injury or spinal cord injury.

These dire circumstances are when the SSDI program is most vital for former workers. The average SSDI recipient is 54 years old and has worked 22 years before a disability occurs and they apply.

The following are the top reasons men and women apply for disability insurance benefits:

1. Income to support yourself and your family. Men and women apply for disability benefits because if they’re approved, they’ll receive important income to sustain their households while they deal with stabilization of, and possible recovery from, their health issue. For some individuals, a health crisis may require 2, 3 or 4 years of treatment and rehabilitation to reach stability before returning to work. Without the ability to earn income, the SSDI program becomes a vital financial support. In 2019, the average monthly benefit for a disabled worker is $1,234, which is about $14,800 annually. For a disabled worker with a family, it increases to $2,130 per month, or $25,560 per year.

2. Health insurance for your medical needs. Another crucial benefit for people who apply for Social Security disability benefits is healthcare coverage through Medicare. Individuals approved for benefits will become eligible for Medicare 24 months after their cash SSDI benefits begin. For some, the wait to receive approval may last 24 months or longer, as they wait for the Social Security Administration to review their claim through appeals. This means many people are immediately able to access Medicare once the SSA approves benefits. Access to healthcare is especially vital for individuals with disabilities dealing with chronic health conditions and degenerative diseases, since ongoing, expensive treatment often can be required.

3. Protect your retirement benefits. Many individuals can discover an important protection by applying for disability benefits, called the “retirement freeze.” You may be aware that the SSA tracks your reported earning over the course of your working career to calculate your Social Security retirement benefits. This includes the years that you don’t work because of a disability: Those years are counted as $0 in earnings. However, if you apply for SSDI and are approved, this means those years with $0 earnings are not factored into your retirement benefit, with the potential to receive more in retirement as a result.

4. Protect your long-term disability income. For workers who have purchased long-term disability insurance benefits, they also receive an important protection. Most LTD insurance plans are designed to integrate with SSDI, so participating workers benefit from lower LTD premiums. Individuals can also benefit from immediate access to income following a disability with their LTD coverage, and then turn to SSDI as another source of support, including income, Medicare and other program benefits. Applying for SSDI provides a protection that can help ensure LTD benefits also continue for former workers.

5. Support for going back to work again. Another advantage when applying for disability benefits is the ability to receive return-to-work protections. Individuals can access important incentives when approved for SSDI benefits. These protections include a trial work period, 9 months over the course of 60 months (5 years), to try working and earning as much as you can and still receive SSDI benefits. Following this period, you have an extended period of eligibility of 36 months to be able to work, earn money and receive SSDI benefits whenever your earnings fall below a certain level. Many other incentives are available to help those who don’t want to give up on returning to work.




Retirement 101: Planning for your financial future

If you’re like many Americans, retirement planning may not be high on your “to-do” list. When life is busy and you’re shouldering the burden of looking out for yourself and your family, setting up a retirement plan can slide down the priority list – especially if you’re hoping it will somehow be easier in a year, two or more.

But if you look at the root causes of inertia behind retirement planning, it’s clear how the effects from your behavior can be significant.

Below are some insights to help you get on track and better understand the kinds of behaviors that can get in the way of planning for your financial future.

1. It’s overwhelming. Saving for retirement can feel open-ended and ambiguous, in large part because it’s difficult to predict just how much you’ll need. Adding to the stress are many hard-to-anticipate variables, including how long you will live and healthcare needs. The good news is there are on-line calculators that can assist you in determining what your future needs may entail.

2. We can’t see our “future selves.” Researchers have found that people struggle to identify with their future selves, according to a study published in the Journal of Marketing Research. It’s not just young people who have difficulty imagining how long they’ll live in retirement – older Americans also often underestimate how long their retirement nest egg will have to last. Increased life expectancy means we may live 20 or 30 years – or even longer – in retirement. The good news is that companies like Prudential Retirement now offer interactive games like an Aging App to help people better understand how the decisions they make today could influence their futures.

3. We procrastinate planning for retirement. Research shows that for many people, procrastination plays a big role in hindering retirement planning. On average, we spend two hours a day procrastinating. In our busy lives, it’s often easier to daydream about our future than it is to spend time planning for it. The good news is that if you haven’t begun saving for retirement, it’s never too late to begin. Try taking a small step forward and consider setting aside 1 percent of your paycheck for a retirement account. Or, if you already have a retirement account but you’re saving very little, increase your contribution by 1 percent.

4. Budgetary pressures. Families have other future needs to plan for, such as their kids’ college education or saving for a down payment for a home. Add in the immediate need to cover day-to-day expenses, and it always feels like it’s “the wrong time” to save for retirement. The good news is that there is a great deal of information available online to help with retirement planning. Take time to educate yourself and become familiar with the various tools that are available.

The push to make retirement planning easier

“It turns out that many financial companies and employers are acknowledging the psychological barriers that can get in the way of retirement planning,” says Harry Dalessio, head of full service solutions at Prudential Retirement. “Today, many employers have products and solutions to assist with student loan debt and that help employees set aside money for emergencies. Financial counselors are now available in many companies to discuss approaches to help get employees on the right path,” Dalessio said.

In addition, important innovations, such as automatic enrollment, where new employees are automatically enrolled in their company’s retirement plan, have led in many cases to plan participation exceeding 90 percent. Also, simplified products such as target date funds are making it easier for investors to benefit from savings products that are appropriate for each worker’s age and goals. Finally, innovations, such as the ability to use mobile devices and gamification tools, make it even easier to stay engaged.

“Even with these innovations, there is still ample opportunity to think bigger, and make retirement planning more accessible to employees,” says Dalessio.

The bottom line is that it’s easy to underestimate the importance of retirement planning. The good news is that with more tools and innovation, people may be better able to achieve the financial future they hope for as they grow older.




5 tips to prevent the spread of an infectious superbug

In the winter, we tend to be in closer quarters indoors and constantly around friends and family. It is important to be conscious of infectious diseases, such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which are spreading rapidly among public places like gyms and schools. MRSA prevention should continue at home, especially for groups at higher risk, like student athletes.

Taking simple measures at home and on-the-go can help you to protect and safeguard your health, environment and family from dangerous bacteria and viruses, including MRSA, this season. Jeanine Thomas, MRSA survivor and founder of MRSA Survivors Network; former NFL player Brandon Noble, who has been personally affected by MRSA; and Saskia v. Popescu, hospital epidemiologist and infection preventionist all share the following tips to preventing the spread of the superbug:

1. Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water for at least 15 seconds – the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice – or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. “Winter is a prime season for stomach bugs and diarrheal illness, so it’s important to stay vigilant with hand hygiene,” said Popescu. Be extra cautious in public settings like gyms, locker rooms, households and schools, where these viruses are increasingly spreading.

2. Keep to yourself and do not share personal items, such as towels or razors, which contact bare skin. MRSA is easily spread by skin-to-skin contact or touching contaminated items or surfaces. It is also resistant to many antibiotics, making it difficult to treat.

3. Act fast and take care of cuts and open wounds by covering them up with a clean, dry bandage until healed. Seek a medical professional if the wound worsens or doesn’t heal quickly. “When I contracted MRSA, it changed my life. I had no idea such a disease existed and would pose as a threat to my career, health and overall well-being,” said Noble.

4. Use a barrier, such as a towel or clothing, between skin and shared equipment at the gym. MRSA prevention should continue at home, especially for groups at higher risk like student athletes, as MRSA bacteria can remain on surfaces after someone touches them, making it possible for someone else to pick them up.

5. Regularly clean countertops and other surfaces in your home. “Keeping your germs at bay in the kitchen is easy,” said Thomas. “Just mix 1/2 cup bleach with one gallon of water, wipe surfaces and leave solution on for 5 minutes and then rinse.” The CDC recommends disinfecting surfaces which are likely to contact skin with an EPA-registered disinfectant, like Clorox Regular Bleach with Cloromax.

MRSA is one common superbug that can be potentially deadly. Caused by a type of staph bacteria often found on the skin and in the nose, MRSA is easily spread by skin-to-skin contact or touching contaminated items or surfaces. It is also resistant to many antibiotics, making it difficult to treat. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that there are 72,444 infections and 9,194 MRSA-related deaths each year in the U.S alone.

“In 2000, I had ankle surgery and ended up infected with the antibiotic-resistant bacteria MRSA. The infection spread to my bone marrow and bloodstream and required many surgeries and rehabilitation,” said Thomas. “Since then I have been dedicated to advocating for patients and families to help inform them and bring awareness of the disease and prevention measures to the general public.”

“I wish I had known the simple ways to prevent the spread of this disease, like I do now, as that could have made all the difference,” said Noble. As germs and illnesses spread quickly, especially in close-proximity areas, taking proactive steps to prevent common viruses and bacteria from spreading in the home, at schools and in locker rooms is more important than ever.




Survey showed Americans concerned over Texas ACA ruling

A new survey conducted by The Mighty showed a number of Americans with disabilities and pre-existing conditions fear health insurance companies would discriminate them. About 84 percent of those surveyed feel this is possible after a federal judge in Texas ruled the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to be unconstitutional last month.

The survey was conducted early January and was done by The Mighty, a social media platform for patients and families diagnosed with a disease or health disorder. The Mighty founder, Mike Porath, says his organization conducted the instant poll to get insight on how members feel about last month’s court ruling.

“This survey gives us a real-time view of what people facing diseases, disabilities and chronic conditions fear about losing their healthcare,” said Porath. “This is an in-depth look at what the Affordable Care Act means to people who rely on their health insurance to survive, regardless of party affiliation.

The ruling, done by U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor, could potentially threaten healthcare coverage for millions of Americans and is poised to set up a legal showdown over President Obama’s signature policy initiative. When issuing the decision O’Connor declared key portions of the legislation to be inconsistent with the Constitution, ruling that the healthcare law couldn’t stand on its own since Congress repealed the individual mandate last December, which imposed a tax penalty on consumers who went underinsured.

The Mighty leveraged its platform to survey more than 2,700 random users thoughts on the ACA, health insurance and which part they believe cares for their needs. In terms of results, the survey found that 94 percent of respondents didn’t feel they’d be able to afford treatment for their condition of that of their loved ones on their own. Additionally, 87 percent of those surveyed do have a disability or preexisting condition.

Ninety-three percent of respondents said they don’t trust the government when it comes to protecting their health insurance. About 75 percent said they preferred Democrats over Republicans when it came to protecting insurance, and when asked if the recent ruling made people more or less likely to vote for Trump next year, 54 percent said “yes,” 30 percent said “neither,” 10 percent said “no,” and six percent don’t vote.

 




The top 10 health and nutrition trends to look for in 2019

Health and nutrition trends come and go, and 2019 is guaranteed to bring about some interesting changes to keep an eye on. Natural Grocers surveyed more than 70 of the company’s nutrition experts and identified the top 10 trends in health and nutrition in 2019.

  1. Mitochondrial optimization will keep healthy fats in focus. Microbiome has been a buzzword for the past few years, but this year, it is mitochondria. Mitochondria convert oxygen and food into the energy, and when your mitochondria are dysfunctional, but you can become vulnerable to degenerative diseases like heart disease, diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases. In 2019, expect to hear more about mitochondrial health and look to see brands embracing more high-fat focused and ketogenic products to support optimal mitochondrial function.
  2. Collagen and bone broth are easier than ever.  Collagen has gained mainstream interest over the past year. In 2019, as more collagen and bone broth products enter the market, so will convenient opportunities for consumers to take collagen on a daily basis. Companies are looking for unique and simple ways for consumers to try out bone broth, including bone broth protein bars, pre-made soups and even bone-broth infused coffee.
  3. Say goodbye to sugar. Consumers are continuing to stay aware of how much sugar is added to almost everything they eat. This year, nutritionists are urging consumers to learn how to break up with sugar, claiming once you become a savvy monitor of added sugar, it will become easier to avoid it.
  4. A mushroom boom.  Mushrooms hold the power to support the immune system, blood sugar balance, brain health, liver health, respiratory health, hormone balance and can even boost energy levels. In response to the growing mountain of research promoting the health benefits of mushrooms, the supplement, grocery and even body-care industries are introducing more ways to introduce mushrooms to consumers. We’ll continue to see the category grow, with more mushroom teas, tonics, broths and coffees making an appearance in 2019.
  5. Nootropics + neuroplasticity Neuroplasticity is the now proven principle that we can change the structure and function of our brains throughout our lives and that our thoughts, emotions and behavior are the primary means of doing that. The discovery of neuroplasticity has led to the explosion of natural nootropics. Nootropics are substances that can be taken to improve mental performance in healthy people, and they are most often used to boost memory, focus, creativity, intelligence and motivation. Nootropics may also reduce age-related declines in brain function. Look for more brain-boosting formulas on the supplement shelves in the coming year
  6. Promoting the body’s ability to heal itself. We will see companies meet the demands of consumers who want to swap their use of over-the-counter (OTC) meds and prescription drugs for natural remedies that support the body in healing. Instead of opening the medicine cabinet, people will use a combination of lifestyle choices, herbal remedies and vitamin supplementation to support the body in times of discomfort. Immune support remedies like mushrooms, elderberry, manuka honey throat sprays and natural zinc lozenges will dominate.
  7. Green beauty boom. Consumers are becoming more aware about the slew of chemicals that come from body care products, including ubiquitous endocrine disruptors, and are looking for products with ingredient lists that don’t require a chemistry degree to understand. In 2019, expect companies to offer a wide variety of clean body care products with simple, natural ingredients that work.
  8. Ingredient lists over nutrition facts.  In 2019, expect to see nutrition labels demoted and instead, consumers will read and make food choices based on ingredient labels. Rather than glorifying macronutrient logs and adhering to extremely strict dietary guidelines, 2019 will foster a friendlier relationship with food that focuses on simple, clean ingredients in products made with whole, real foods.
  9. Lutein reigns supreme over blue light. Blue light—from our smart phones, tablets, computers, TVs and even light bulbs—has become ever-present, and a growing body of research is showing that all of this blue-light exposure can damage the retina of the eye and can lead to age-related macular degeneration1 Enter lutein. Lutein preferentially accumulates in the macula, the part of the retina responsible for central vision, where it filters damaging blue light and increases macular pigment density. In 2019, lutein will solidify its role as protector of the eyes and the brain.
  10. Love your liver. In 2018, research showed millennials were getting fatty liver disease faster than any other age group. According to the National Institutes of Health, up to 40 percent of U.S. adults have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. In 2019, it’s expected that consumers will clean up their diets, and there will be an increase in sales of herbal supplements that support liver health, like milk thistle and berberine, as well as MCT oil.

 




Attention employers: The top 5 regulatory changes to know in 2019

With a week into the New Year, Paychex, a provider of management solutions for payroll, benefits, human resources and more, announced the top regulatory issues of 2019 that employers should be aware of.

The list includes the most current and impactful laws and regulations that could affect employers as 2019 continues. “This new year brings with it a new class of legislators and a set of issues – both new and old – that these legislators will focus on at the federal, state, and local levels,” said Martin Mucci, president and CEO of Paychex.

“It can be challenging for business owners and HR managers to keep up with the constantly evolving legislative and regulatory landscape. Our annual summary of the year’s most important developments is designed to give an overview of the items expected to be most impactful in 2019.”

Here are the first of Paychex’s top regulatory changes to know in 2019. For the full list, visit the Paychex site.

  1. Sexual harassment awareness and prevention. The #MeToo movement resulted in an increase in workplace sexual harassment prevention enforcement and legislation across the country in 2018, and is expected to continue in 2019. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reported significantly increased activity around sexual discrimination during the past fiscal year, launching 50 percent more sexual harassment lawsuits than the previous year.
  2. Paid leave. More than 40 state and local jurisdictions have implemented paid leave laws and several more are scheduled to implement leave policies in early 2019. Although paid sick leave laws are more prevalent, paid family leave laws are generally more onerous for employers.
  3. Federal support for retirement savings. In August 2018, President Trump issued an executive order directing the Departments of Labor and Treasury to propose regulations that ease the burdens small businesses face in offering retirement savings plans. Some key legislation that was not passed before the end of the year despite bipartisan support, includes the Retirement Enhancement and Savings Act (RESA), the Family Savings Act, the Retirement, Savings and Other Tax Relief Act of 2018, and the Taxpayer First Act of 2018
  4. Faster payments and the gig economy. Faster payments, including immediate payments for gig workers, will continue to dominate the payments landscape in 2019. As business owners make decisions on how and when their company will participate in the faster payments arena, fraud prevention should be top of mind to ensure payments are safe and secure in a 24/7/365 environment.
  5. Privacy and security There’s news of breach attempts as well as successful breaches almost daily. With cyberattacks being so pervasive, it is important to understand that security and privacy is everyone’s responsibility.



How to stay on track with your weight loss goals this New Year

It’s no surprise that losing weight is the top three of most New Year resolutions year over year. But, it tends to be easier said than done. Life can easily get in the way, and come February 1st, some are left feeling defeated.

But, your New Years goal can carry you through 2019 and help you make life-long changes with regard to your weight and overall health — just as long as you keep things in perspective, take it slow, and set realistic and measurable goals for yourself. In addition, making fitness and healthy foods something to enjoy rather than a must-do is the key to keeping weight off. Mental clarity, improvements to your skin and sleeping habits, and a boost in confidence are all things to enjoy with living a consistently healthy and active lifestyle.

Ready to make the change and have 2019 be your healthiest year yet? Below are some top tips for accomplishing your New Years weight loss goals.

  1. Set measurable, attainable goals. Goal setting is key and will help you clarify what you want to accomplish and within what time frame. Creating a goal — along with detailed action steps — will make your weight loss journey feel attainable versus unreachable.
  2. Track your progress.Documenting personal information and your individual process can help you stay on track toward your goals. Results are important to keep you motivated. Finding a health-related app — like MyFitnessPal — is a great way to track not only your food but also your exercise. Additionally, the app lets you set caloric goals and nutritional goals for each day.
  3. Find an easy-to-follow, flexible program that works for you.A weight loss program that is simple, safe and effective will be more manageable for the long term and will help you achieve your weight loss goals. Additionally don’t be afraid to try something new. Exercise should be something you enjoy, and finding an activity that your excited about will help you maintain an active habit further down the road.
  4. Be mindful of your eating habits.Understanding the motivation behind your food choices can help you make more conscious decisions. Try and choose real, fresh food whenever possible, which will make your weight loss manageable for the long term. Have a craving for a certain snack? Take to Google and see if there’s a healthier alternative made from all natural products. Meal subscription services — like HungryRoot — are another fantastic option to try, even for a week or two. HungryRoot offers comfort food — like cheese, chocolate cookies, casseroles, Pad Tai and more — all certified vegan and gluten free.
  5. Sleep well and avoid stress.Sleep deprivation and stress can increase your hunger and cravings leading to higher calorie intake. Additionally, solid sleep will allow you to better recover from intense exercise. Limit T.V. and cell phone use an hour before bedtime to fully enable your body to wind down. Another habit to try that could aid in sleep? Meditation.
  6. Eat plenty of protein.Protein has powerful effects on appetite such as increasing the feeling of fullness, reducing hunger and can help you eat fewer calories. Protein should be included in every meal and is available no matter what your dietary decisions are.
  7. Control your environments.Stocking your kitchen with healthy options, choosing the right restaurants, and bringing your own healthy snacks will help you avoid temptations. Are you a sucker for Oreos or a pint of ice cream? Cut down your grocery list by eliminating those items, or try to find healthier alternatives.



Feeling strain from the holidays? Try some magnesium

Getting an adequate dose of magnesium could help relieve some stress this holiday season, according to Atlanta physician Dr. Bindiya Gandhi. And according to Gandhi, almost 68 percent of Americans don’t get enough magnesium — a stat that tends to increase during the holidays.

Diets rich in magnesium, along with supplements and Epsom salt baths, can both relieve stress and promote muscle recovery. Stress also depletes magnesium levels, which makes an increased effort to intake more especially critical this time of year.

Studies show taking magnesium at night not only helps alleviate anxiety, but helps you get a better night’s rest,” said Gandhi. “Magnesium has a relaxing effect and helps convert tryptophan to serotonin, which is why it helps with anxiety.”

Gandhi added that people can boost their magnesium levels by soaking in Epsom salt, which is actually magnesium sulfate, or taking magnesium supplements orally.

She also suggests bolstering your diet with foods rich in magnesium, including nuts, seeds, chocolate, tofu, beans, avocados, bananas, figs and green leafy vegetables like kale and spinach.

“Stress can be seen in many forms, including irritability, feeling overwhelmed, symptoms of sadness, teary eyes, heart palpation, headaches, stomach upset and more. It’s different for different people,” said Gandhi.

Besides magnesium, Gandhi said meditation and breathing techniques to help cope with stress. “We can’t always change our stress in life,” Gandhi says, “but we can learn to change how we react to it.”

Increasing your body’s magnesium levels can also help jumpstart your New Year’s fitness resolutions. Gandhi says people starting new workout routines, especially high-endurance workouts, could recover faster with Epsom salt baths and other forms of magnesium.




Millennials more mindful than their parents during the holiday season

Millennials have a more defined vision of kindness and thoughtfulness during the holiday season compared to other generations, according to new research conducted by Lovepop, a maker of handcrafted 3D paper cards.

According to a national study that questioned more than 850 people, all generations tend to agree on the “true meaning” of the holiday season, with 93 percent saying they consider “kindness” the most important aspect.

However, millennials tend to go above and beyond when it comes to demonstrating thoughtfulness during this time of year and creating new memories. According to the study, 60 percent of millennials think their definition of thoughtfulness is different than older generations, and 91 percent are more likely than any other generation to say they are “more thoughtful than their parents.”

Additionally, 80 percent of millennials say thoughtfulness means making an effort to spend time with friends and family, while 66 percent say its about creating shared experiences and another 70 percent saying its about making an effort to acknowledge the everyday efforts of those around them.

Across the study, millennials were the only generation to statistically agree they are nicer than their parents. In fact, 60 percent are more likely to put in an effort to show they care than boomers. In addition, more than half – or 54 percent – of millennial parents say they make more of an effort to teach their children kindness than their parents did for them.

The research also proves just how above and beyond millennials are going this holiday season. About 68 percent of them will travel to be with loved ones, and they will spend 44 percent more on travel than any other generation.

In addition, 25 percent of millennials plan to cover travel expenses for loved ones to be with them, while 85 percent are adopting what they deem a “difficult schedule” in order to be with loved ones.




Americans agree: Financial planning isn’t fun but it is necessary

A new study conducted by Northwestern Mutual recently found that a vast majority of adults in the U.S. described financial planning as “not my favorite thing in the world, but [I] know it needs to get done like a medical checkup.”

The survey, called the 2018 Planning & Progress Study, is an annual research project commissioned by Northwestern Mutual and explores Americans’ attitudes toward money, financial decision-making, and broader issues impacting their long-term financial security.

When asked about their about their views on finance, only one in five of those surveyed – or 18 percent – said they are “excited and inspired, love to do it” when it comes to planning out their finances.

In addition, about 40 percent of respondents expressed a slew of negative emotions with regard to planning, including sentiments such as being “worried, nervous about confronting the financial details of my life,” they would “prefer not to deal with it until I absolutely have no choice” and they feel “frustrated, annoyed with my financial situation.”

There is one sentiment a majority of Americans agree on according to the survey – 70 percent of respondents said their financial planning needs improvement.

“People’s instincts are in the right place,” says Emily Holbrook, director of planning at Northwestern Mutual.

“There are pretty sizable numbers who say they either love to plan or do it because they know it’s good for them. Also, the fact that most Americans think their planning needs to be better is evidence that there’s a will to improve. We’re seeing high numbers of Americans who default to a position of avoidance or frustration and our message to them is to push through and get started–that’s often the hardest part.”

When asked what types of financial planner people are, nearly half of respondents said they consider themselves either “disciplined” or “highly disciplined” but the single most common answer was “informal.”

“A good financial plan should be flexible and adapt to your life, not the other way around,” says Holbrook. “It shouldn’t be approached as an overly rigid or static exercise. It should grow and change shape with every twist and turn that life presents. And it’s important to remember the aim of a plan is to allow you to live the life you want to live, not simply to demand sacrifice or delay your hopes and dreams.”

One in three Americans said they have not spoken to anyone about financial planning, according to the survey. And yet, a lack of planning is ranked among the top five obstacles to achieving financial security in retirement.

“Even if the intention is there, it can be hard to take action,” says Holbrook. “But we go back to what people told us in the study — they see planning like they see medical checkups. It’s not something to neglect. Even if you’ve never planned before, it’s not too late to get back on track. By doing so, people can take more control of their lives, make informed decisions, and begin to feel more financially fit.”