CAN I AFFORD A LIFE PLAN COMMUNITY?
Prior to co-founding myLifeSite, I spent 14 years as a financial advisor. During my last couple of years in that role, I took it upon myself to learn as much as I could about the senior living industry and, in particular, life plan communities (also known as continuing care retirement communities or CCRCs).
It seemed that a growing number of people were interested in the benefits of a life plan community, but there were a variety of factors that made this particular choice more complex in terms of the decision process. The clients I was working within this regard were thrilled to have a reliable, unbiased resource they could turn to for guidance and to understand what questions to ask as they explored their senior living options.
Greater Financial Clarity
Of course, as a financial planner, one of the things many of these clients asked me about was the affordability of moving to a particular community or comparing the affordability of two different communities. Quite often the question was not purely whether they could afford it or not. Many of these clients had ample assets and/or income to afford this lifestyle choice. In fact, some had already been financially qualified by the communities they were considering.
What my clients really wanted was better clarity about the extent to which they could afford it or to better understand the potential financial impact of one choice compared to another — not just today, but over their lifetime, and using various hypothetical assumptions.
However, the more I learned about CCRCs, the more I realized that most financial planning software programs are ill-equipped for this specific and important task. Quite simply, these programs typically are not designed to take into account the many nuances of CCRC contracts. This challenge forced me to finagle the software inputs to try to generate a projection that was as accurate as possible, but it wasn’t ideal, and it took hours of my time.
A Better Way to Calculate the Cost of a CCRC
As the concept of myLifeSite came to fruition as an online source for third-party community profiles, one of the first things we decided to develop as a supplemental feature was a proprietary financial tool specifically designed for prospective residents of CCRCs — one that was capable of generating projections and comparisons more effectively and efficiently. We even had the financial tool tested and approved for accuracy by a firm that provides IT and compliance services for the financial and brokerage industry.
With this new financial calculator tool, I found that I was able to do in about 5 – 10 minutes what was taking almost a half-hour previously, and with more accuracy in terms of the ability to enter CCRC-specific details. Furthermore, we built in the capability to compare two different projections on one graph.
Accessing myLifeSite’s Financial Calculator Tool
Today, this exclusive tool is available for use by virtually anyone in two different ways.
1: Consumer Version
A consumer-level version of the financial tool is available on myLifeSite for less than $30 for 30 days of access. If you plan to use this tool, it will be helpful to have on hand the community’s pricing, as well as other basic information such as your approximate level of savings, investments, and income. Create your myLifeSite profile to get started.
Note: We do not collect or store any account numbers, Social Security numbers, or other confidential information, and we do not sell your information to anyone.
2: CCRC Provider Version
If you do not want to pay for access and/or prefer to avoid having to enter the information yourself, then you may be able to use the tool in consultation with the community(s) you are considering.
Many life plan communities across the country subscribe to a provider-level version of our proprietary calculator. This version is a little more robust than the consumer-level version, and it helps residency counselors at these communities provide better financial clarity for their prospective residents. If you are in discussions with a life plan community, be sure to ask a representative if they have access to myLifeSite. (There are also a number of independent financial advisory firms in the eastern part of the U.S. that have access to myLifeSite.)
Note: If you represent a life plan community and would like additional information about how myLifeSite’s financial tool can help you and your prospects, please contact us here.
Comparing CCRCs, Apples to Apples
If you are considering a move to a CCRC, it’s crucial that you understand exactly how it will impact your finances in the long-term. And if you are comparing multiple communities, you want to be sure you are doing a true comparison of what each will cost so that you can make an informed decision about which one is right for you. This used to be an extremely time-consuming and difficult task.