​Community Chest Update; Speaker Examines Retirement


by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
Members and guests at the Dec. 6 Sewanee Civic Association dinner meeting heard an update on the Community Chest’s progress toward its goal followed by an engaging presentation about retirement planning. Financial advisor Mike Forster summed up retirement quality of life predictors with three clever questions about everyday entities: light bulbs, ice cream and lunch.
The Sewanee Community Chest has raised $46,000 towards its $110,000 goal, said SCA Vice President Brandon Barry. A Giving Tuesday campaign surpassed its $1,000 match.
The benchmark is for the Community Chest to raise 80 percent of the total before the end of the year. To contribute, mail a check to P.O. Box 99, Sewanee, TN 37375 or donate online by visiting www.sewaneecivic.org.
A person-size thermometer at the Sewanee Post Office tracks the progress of the campaign and highlights grant recipients. Community Chest supported programs that provide food, books, child care, promote animal welfare and make possible a host of other initiatives that enhance the quality of life in Sewanee and the surrounding vicinity.
Forster’s talk on retirement planning focused on quality of life predictors determined by respondents’ answers to three simple questions developed by the MIT Age Lab.
Underlying the question “Who will change my light bulbs?” is the wish “to stay where you’re most independent,” Forster said. “Nine out of ten people want to age in place, but little things like changing light bulbs become challenging.” An adult child helping aging parents is less likely than in the past since in most young families today both husband and wife work outside the home and have children of their own to care for.
Answering the question, “How will I get an ice cream cone?” addresses transportation needs. Transportation costs are the second largest budgetary expense, at 15 percent, second only to household expenses, with health care costs third. In addition to cost, safety also enters into the equation. “We’re living longer and getting behind the wheel may present a risk to yourself or others,” Forester noted.
“Who will I have lunch with?” is a question about how a person will go about remaining socially engaged. “Having a healthy social network adds to quality of life,” Forster said. “It gets harder to make friends as we get older, particularly for men who are less adept at regenerating social networks after retirement.”
Looking to the financial side of things, Forster suggested a retired person not spend over 4-5 percent of their net worth annually, although acknowledging, “At age 95, you can spend more.” He cautioned purchasing power could be cut in half by inflation over a 20-40 year retirement period.
Long-term care in a facility for the aged averages $65,000 annually in Tennessee at the present, Forster said. “The average stay is 2.7 years.” Long-term care health insurance can help offset the expense. Forster advised purchasing a policy at age 50. “Beyond the age of 65-70 the premium cost is so high, you’re better off to be self-insured.”
Forster offered several suggestions for outfitting a home to facilitate aging in place—walk-in showers and tubs, lower drawers and cabinets, a ranch style house.
A former Sewanee resident, Forster moved here with his family as a teen and graduated from the University with a B.S. in economics. Employed by Raymond James in Nashville, Forster visits Sewanee every Wednesday. Prospective clients can arrange to meet with him when he’s in town by contacting (615) 764-4156.
Forster stressed how much to allocate to investments and risk level when planning for retirement was particular to an individual’s circumstances. “Clients expect more from financial advisors today. It’s not just about investments.”

The SCA meets next Feb. 7. Dues, $10 annually, can be paid at or by mailing a check to P.O. Box 222, Sewanee, TN 37375. Membership includes a year’s subscription to Sewanee Classifieds, an email based service.