Hedge fund honcho Paul Tudor Jones is warning Americans of the “big fiscal problem” ahead.
Appearing on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” last month, the founder and CIO of Tudor Investments said “there are obvious remedies” for the nation’s $33 trillion debt crisis — but not everyone’s going to like them.
According to Tudor Jones, many politicians in the U.S. typically only look at one side of the equation — how to cut spending. He believes lawmakers are unwilling to look at the other remedy for the nation’s “big fiscal problem” — to “unequivocally raise taxes.”
The country’s tax-to-GDP ratio at the end of 2022 was 18.7%, according to the latest report from CEIC Data — which is significantly lower than the European Union (26.8%) and the United Kingdom (27%).
“There’s plenty of room for us to raise taxes,” said Tudor Jones during the interview.
But the needed support for any such notion is typically hard to find in Congress. And that may be especially true given that the House is currently in limbo as lawmakers try to install a new Speaker and continue to clash over the current budget — only narrowly avoiding a government shutdown at the start of October.
If Tudor Jones is onto something — and program cuts and tax hikes are lurking on the horizon — here are some ways to secure your finances and minimize the financial impact of any policy changes.
Figure out your Social Security benefits
“We’re going to have to sacrifice,” said Tudor Jones told CNBC. “We’re going to have to cut spending. We’re going to have to deal with entitlements. We’re going to have to change Social Security. We’re going to have to limit Medicare and Medicaid.”
As 2023 draws to a close, almost 67 million Americans will have received a monthly Social Security benefit, totaling about $1.4 trillion in benefits paid during the year, according to the Social Security Administration (SSA).
Nearly 90% of Americans aged 65 or older were receiving a Social Security benefit as of June 30, according to SSA data, with the federal payments representing about 30% of their income.
But as Tudor Jones and some (mostly Republican) politicians have pointed out, it is a very expensive program to maintain, especially with the life expectancy of 65-year-olds currently sitting over 20 years. Furthermore, those costs could increase as the number of Americans in that age bracket is projected to grow from about 58 million in 2022 to about 75 million by 2035.
With that in mind, it can be confusing to find the optimal time to start claiming Social Security. The earliest Amercians can start claiming benefits is 62, but if you delay claiming, you will receive higher monthly payments, with the maximum benefits available to those who claim starting at age 70 or older.
Your full retirement age (FRA) is the age when you become eligible to receive your full Social Security retirement benefit; it’s based on your date of birth. For example, if your date of birth falls between 1943 and 1954, your FRA is age 66. From 1955 to 1960, the FRA increases gradually in monthly increments.
While some Americans may not think they’ll live long enough to make the most of the benefits they’ve earned, some also worry that Social Security will run out of money — as suggested by Tudor Jones.
Just remember, as things currently stand, waiting to claim Social Security will get you a bigger monthly payout, which will come in handy if you are one the estimated 15% of Americans who rely solely on that benefit for at least 90% of their income during retirement.
Read more: Millions of Americans are in massive debt in the face of rising rates. Here’s how to get your head above water ASAP
Be careful with health care expenses
Four federal health insurance programs — Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace health insurance subsidies — account for 24% of the federal budget in 2023, or $1.5 trillion, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Half of that huge total, or $828 billion, is going to Medicare, which provides health coverage to around 66 million people who are aged 65 and older or have disabilities. Again, there have been repeated calls by certain politicians to cut funding for Medicare, but President Biden has countered with legislation that extends and strengthens the program.
As politicians debate over the cost of health care, there are things you can do to protect your financial security.
An emergency fund can help retirees weather financial storms, like extended hospital stays or illnesses where insurance or Medicare doesn’t cover the full cost.
Finally, if you’re insured under a high-deductible plan, consider opening a health savings account (HSA) to help you cover out-of-pocket medical, dental and vision costs. With an HSA, you must deposit pre-tax money from your paycheck, which you can then withdraw tax free for eligible expenses.
Invest your money wisely
Last but not least, with federal funding for social programs under scrutiny, it is critically important to save and invest your money wisely during your working life so that your finances are retirement ready.
Tax-advantaged investment accounts like a 401(k) or an individual retirement account (IRA) are great tools to help you get ahead. A 401(k), for example, allows you to steer a portion of your pay into an account where you can invest and grow your money — and get a tax break. If you’re still working, make sure you take advantage of any contribution matching available from your employer, which is about as close as it gets to free money.
You don’t have to be an investing mastermind to build a solid nest egg for retirement. You can start small by investing your spare change, or you can put your money to work over time through any number of investing apps or crowdfunding platforms.
Remember that diversifying your investment portfolio (and ultimately, your retirement income) with traditional stocks and bonds or alternative assets like real estate will also help you to set yourself up for success in retirement — regardless of any future entitlement reforms or cuts to social programs.
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This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without warranty of any kind.