How To Secure a Happy Retirement Life

One of the most asked questions from our new clients is “How much wealth do I need to last my lifetime?” The obvious answer is “depends.” To help you quantify your needed savings for lifetime income, we will provide you three areas of life that must master to live the life you choose.

First, you must become a saver, not continue as a consumer. The highest savings rate in U.S. history was reached during the pandemic. Not surprising as most people did not feel safe shopping at local stores and malls but rather ordered online. Granted the online experience for shopping has improved exponentially, it is still not the experience most shoppers seek when a day is planned for the exchange of goods and currency (that is the phrase I use when my wife and daughters go shopping).

The savings rate for U.S. citizens in 2021 was a whopping 13.7% (www.statista.com)! This level of savings exceeds the 11% experienced in 1960. Is it enough to meet the demands of rising costs of living for most people? Perhaps if this savings trend were to continue for a period of 40 years representing the work life of most people, their post-career years would be sufficiently funded.

To bring another statistic into this discussion, the total savings of U.S. citizen in 2021 exceeded $2.3 trillion. This is a staggering amount of money considering the U.S. Government has distributed $4 trillion dollars during the pandemic. The average balance maintained in the 401(k) plan of a 65 years of age and older person is $216,720 according to www.personalcapital.com.

If you seek a lifetime of income, in the realm of reasonable support, it is important that you become a saver on a consistent basis to allow the compounding of investments to perform over a significant period of time.

Second, you must determine what happiness is for you in life. One of our clients was an older woman whose husband predeceased her while she was in her career. Her position was mostly clerical, and she enjoyed her work. During her career, she had the opportunity to invest in the company’s stock through a plan where the employer matched her contributions to buy the stock. The highest salary she earned during her career was $51,000, which was two years before her retirement from the company. Granted she worked for a good company and was fortunate to begin her career with the company while it was a fledgling start up organization.

At the age of 66 and 4 months, coincidentally her full retirement age for Social Security Benefits, we assisted her in filing for her benefits and prepared her for retirement. When we opened the most recent envelope containing her statement from the employee stock ownership plan, she could not help but grin at my expression. Her stock value was $1.5 million! She also was prudent and saved money through her employee retirement plan. The sum of this account exceeded $700,000. She looked at me and asked, “Is this enough for me to retire and keep my lifestyle?” Of course, we needed to perform our analysis and testing but offered her some probabilities that she would be simply fine in retirement.

The moral of the story is that time, once again, is the greatest impact on lifetime savings. Start early, be consistent with contributions and treat the account as your next income stream by never borrowing from the account for current lifestyle needs. Happiness for her was continuing to live in her home, travel to worldly destinations and help her grandchildren with college expenses. She, by thoughtfully planning, is still doing all the things that make her most happy in life.

Lastly, you must protect your health as you prepare for an active retirement. My father was one of those people that worked hard all his life and genuinely enjoyed his career. He suffered a heart attack in his early 40’s that opened his eyes to better care for himself so his future would be enjoyable. After finally retiring at 72 years of age, he has lived a wonderful life in retirement. He is reasonably healthy, has enjoyed cruises to Alaska and continues to do whatever he chooses to keep a smile on his face. 

His father, my grandfather, died in his early 60’s. I always told dad that he would need to take advantage of the opportunities to maintain his health so that he could break the average mortality for males in our family. He smiled that sheepish grin and said, “I am setting a new bar for the Williams men!” 

Exercise regularly, save consistently and find your happiness in life. By preparing prudently today, your tomorrows will be most enjoyable!

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Retirement Challenges and Successes

Another year of life has arrived. What are you doing to grow as a person? Grow your wealth? Grow your influence? It has been proven by scientists that individuals who live sedentary lifestyles after their career lose the cognitive abilities they once possessed. To help you keep up your psychological and emotional edge in life during these challenging times, practice the activities outlined in this article.

Get up and get going

Get up and get going. The simple act of walking each day and experiencing the wonder of nature will keep your mind inspired and active. There are differences of opinion that you should walk 10,000 steps per day or 5,000 steps per day. I say, walk until you feel sufficiently energized. If your heart rate is up to an acceptable level determined by your personal physician, walking for as little as 20 minutes per day can help you keep your mental faculties acute and ready for challenges in life that will most certainly arise.

Live each day with a plan for purpose

Live each day with a plan for purpose. Too many of us simply rise from bed and allow the “winds of the day” to blow our lives in any direction without our consent. This is not you. Set yourself a routine of rising from bed at the same time each morning and preparing a list of activities for the day that will stimulate your mind and work your body. For example, I do not start my day without clear understanding of what I must complete for the day. This type of planning gives your mind something to work on even when you are doing something else.

Perform one random act of kindness a day

Perform one random act of kindness a day. What does being kind have to do with your mindset? Everything! When we selflessly give to others in need, no matter the size or scope of the deed, your brain floods your body with dopamine. This chemical in the body brings happiness, euphoria, and other positive feelings. By helping others, you will also feel a sense of accomplishment that gives you energy to continue serving and care for yourself in a better manner. Another benefit to performing a random act of kindness is that the recipient can “pay it forward” to others in need and we can build a better community and planet based on mutual respect.

Build your confidence in your future

Build your confidence in your future. Review your financial picture and see if you have allowed parts of your budget to creep into areas that are not being utilized efficiently for your lifestyle. We often start subscriptions for products or services that automatically renew and fail to remember that we did not cancel them. Another area to focus is our savings pattern. For example, you may have saved 5% of your earnings monthly last year but your income has risen this year. If you do not utilize the additional cash flow and it is deposited in a non-interest bearing checking account, you will lose the benefit of earning interest on the funds. 

Read

Lastly, read something stimulating to you each day. A good novel, a biography or anything that challenges your mind to create the background of the story or place yourself in the plot as a character that impacts the potential outcome of the storyline. The mind and body of humans are tremendously powerful devices that require our continual input of challenges, fuel, and rest.

This is a new year! Don’t become so relaxed in life that you fail to live it abundantly on a daily basis. Make 2022 a different outcome for you by facing the challenges of life confidently through strength gained by implementing one or all of the above strategies. You can truly become what you desire in life and build a better community in the process. See you on the walking trail!

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IRA Planning for 2021

The pandemic of the past two years has brought a tremendous amount of pain to many lives but there is a positive aspect in that dark cloud of gloom. One of the best attitudes, when performing tax and financial planning for your family, is to seize opportunities that are given you. In other words, capitalize on the negatives that impact your life and make the proverbial “lemonade from lemons.”

Many businesses are suffering net operating losses during 2021. If you are an owner of the business and the operation is conducted as a sole-proprietorship, partnership or S-Corporation, you may have a valuable tax saving asset in your future. The net operating losses of these entities are claimed on the tax returns of the owners. For example, if you were a fifty percent (50%) partner in a partnership that lost $100,000 in ordinary income for 2021, you would receive the benefit of $50,000 loss to be reported on your personal return. 

With your personal return reporting a loss, or much lower income than you otherwise typically report, your Traditional IRA is holding a great value in it beyond its balance. Consider the conversion of your Traditional IRA, in whole or in part, to a Roth IRA prior to the end of 2021. A taxable event will be triggered when the conversion is performed but your tax computation is based on your taxable income which, when claiming your share of the net operating loss, may be lower than your typical year sheltering the income from the conversion from taxation.

The purpose for converting your Traditional IRA to a Roth IRA is to change the future taxability of the account. You will be taxed on distributions received from the Traditional IRA in the future. The Roth IRA does not mandate required minimum distributions to you at age 72 as a Traditional IRA. Also, you may use the benefits of the Roth IRA to accumulate tax-free income streams from a very young age.

If you believe tax rates are going down in the future, you may wish to contribute to a Traditional IRA to enjoy the current tax savings. However, if you think tax rates will be higher in the future, you may wish to forgo the tax deduction of today and contribute to a Roth IRA.

Both types of IRA may invest in many different types of investments – stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc. The structure and taxation of the two IRA types are the distinguishing benefits each allows for a taxpayer. The IRS continues to close loopholes such as “back door” Roth IRA conversions and other planning opportunities. 

To maximize your opportunities for most challenges in life, it is always an innovative idea to allocate your investments between qualified and nonqualified accounts. Qualified accounts such as IRAs and 401(k) plans are generally taxable upon distribution of the assets to the owner. However, nonqualified accounts such as transfer on death accounts and joint accounts pay taxes during the growth of the assets. When you wish to retire, the type of account may play heavily in your financial plan design.

IRAs are tremendous tools for tax planning. Don’t assume that you simply invest in the IRA every April to save taxes. There are so many other uses of IRAs for estate planning, gifting and lifetime income planning that are often overlooked. As retirement planning experts, we have witnessed a tremendous number of people who fail to maximize the benefits of IRAs. 

Proper allocation of your assets is necessary to stage a retirement plan that will serve you well in life. Seek out the assistance of a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM professional to help you plan for the future that you wish to achieve. Remember, when you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Be the exception. Take a pragmatic approach to your lifetime of income and enjoy the best of life on your terms. See you on the walking trail! 

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The Secret To Investment Success

The most negative action to reaching your goals in investing your retirement assets is emotion. Markets, by their very nature, expand and contract in every cycle. Why is it important to state the obvious? When humans invest, two emotions play a part. For example, when the market indexes are setting new records for growth, investors tend to become greedy. As soon as the expansion has cycled down and contraction in the economy is prevalent, fear becomes the emotion of the day.

To control your emotions while investing for your future, it is critical that you understand three factors about the process. First, if you are investing for your retirement, you must acknowledge the process is a long-term perspective. The assets you accumulate in life must sustain for at least thirty to forty years in retirement. With this mindset, you establish a personal investment policy that helps you capture market gains with a minimal amount of risk that you are willing to accept.

By focusing on the term of your income needs in retirement, you can weather the, somewhat volatile, market cycles without excess worry. Let’s face it, everybody worries about something, right? When you initiate your savings plan during your career, the accumulation phase consists of thirty to forty years as well. What this means is that the same approach to investing for your retirement will serve you well in retirement!

The second negative to reaching investment success is continually changing your investments based on returns. There have been many occasions in which an investor has irreparably harmed their success for retirement by simply trading their account excessively. For example, we developed a plan for accumulating a client’s retirement assets. Based on the age of the person, his risk tolerance and projected cash flow needs in retirement, he only had to follow through on the plan. However, he allowed emotion to overtake him when a colleague appeared in his office one day and remarked about the excessively high returns, he was experiencing in his employer’s retirement plan. 

Our client decided the well-planned approach founded in logic was not meeting his needs because the markets would yield a much higher return. This is the emotion of greed taking control of the investment process. Within a year, the market cycle collapsed, and his portfolio had fallen by 50%. Imagine the next meeting we held with him and provided a comparison of his current allocation and results to that of the original allocation for his future. He was devastated and an emotional wreck!

The story does have a silver lining. We worked with him to formulate a plan that would place him back on track but required he work three years longer than he originally planned. Allowing your mind to host greed and fear has consequences. The probability of his lifetime plan for retirement being a success is very good.

Of the three negatives that can cause significant harm to your investment success is a concentration of investments. Diversification of risks within a portfolio helps you weather the market cycles by eliminating, or attempting to reduce, the impact of significant market volatility. In recent years, daily market swings have become the rule not the exception. Early in my career, I recall substantial swings in the S&P 500 Index would only be 10 or 15 points. In our current economic conditions, it is not uncommon to see fluctuations of 30 to 40 points in the index.

To allow yourself the highest probability of success in your investments, it is critical that you avoid emotions serving as guiding force, stick with your plan for saving and consistency will help you achieve your goals and diversify your portfolio to capture opportunities for reasonable returns in the long-term. A few small errors in investing can give rise to very large costs in your future savings. Seek the assistance of a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional to help you establish a long-term plan that will give you confidence and clarity about your future. Until then, I’ll see you on the jogging trail!

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It’s About More Than Numbers

Too often we paint someone with a broad brush as to their contributions to the world solely based on the group in which they are a member. For example, medical doctors may specialize in a field that allows them to focus on a specific area of the human body. These physicians are capable of providing you general advice and medical care but may also provide you greater, more detailed, information pertaining to a particular illness such as kidney ailments or cancer of the brain.

Wealth advisors are individuals who may specialize in certain areas of financial matters that a particular segment of the population needs. For example, many wealth advisors focus on corporate executives and their unique compensation opportunities. Other advisors may focus more on the intricacies of Social Security Benefits and less about long-term market investments.

To be certain, your life is more complex than simply working with numbers to reach your lifetime goals and dreams. It is vital that you consider the qualitative factors in your life as much, if not more so, than you do the quantitative factors. My case in point is the life of a lady we will call “Jane”. By all outward appearances, Jane had all that was needed to sustain her the remainder of her life and leave a legacy for her children to expand their wealth. A couple of years after her husband’s passing, we asked Jane if we could meet to discuss the important matters in her life. She assumed we were talking about her accounts and showed up with her Financial Organizer we provided when initiating the relationship.

Immediately, we recognized that Jane had not understood what we wished to discuss with her. After explaining the importance of happiness in her life, we asked her a few simple questions to initiate this subject. “What is one thing that happened recently that made you smile and one thing that was difficult?” She looked up at me and began to create a big smile on her face. She exuberantly stated, “I had the best time recently volunteering as a cancer patient attendee!” I asked her, “What of that process made you so happy?” She responded in a way that made me realize she had found a new purpose in life. “When John was dying, I had no one that understood, truly understood, what I was going through at that time in my life. By helping these terminally ill individuals live a more fulfilling life and knowing that someone understands the palette of emotions they are experiencing, helped me heal and find happiness again.”

We continued to discuss this wonderful opportunity for Jane to serve and offered her some qualitative advice. “Why don’t you establish a self-help group or lead others in the process of caring for terminally ill individuals that provides dignity, understanding and compassion?” This new form of serving her fellow man gave Jane the emotional support she needed to truly live again after the loss of her husband.

As wealth advisors that specialize in retirement planning, we place a significant amount of importance on helping clients understand, and navigate, the maze of life after the loss of someone special. We are proud of our technical competence and expertise. More importantly, we are most humbled that our clients know that we are here as a resource for more than numbers.

As humans, we are all different in some way. However, we all need emotional support, in addition to financial advice, to truly live a rewarding life. It is not all about the numbers unless you are talking about the lives you touched in deep, emotional moments that helped them see life in a better way. 

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Important Retirement Considerations for Educators

Educators are challenged every day. Why would you want to make your retirement transition challenging? You have worked for 30 years educating individuals that have changed the world through your guidance. Mrs. Smith, my first-grade teacher, was the first motivational speaker I heard in my life. At six years of age, Mrs. Smith instilled in me, or perhaps I should say endowed in my mind, the mantra and belief that “I could be anything I wanted to be if I worked hard enough”. This wonderful lady may have known, but I certainly did not, that she was bestowing to me a lifetime adventure of learning and dreaming that would reward me in tremendous ways throughout my life.

Teachers are the influencers, supporters, and cheerleaders for their students. What does this information have to do with retirement planning? Everything! At a time in the professional life of a teacher when he or she is making lifetime decisions, inadequacy rears its ugly head. As specialists in retirement planning, we focus on a variety of pension platforms and one of the most comprehensive is the Oklahoma Teachers Retirement System (OTRS). This system is the pension plan that provides support for teachers, administrators and support staff in the field of education in Oklahoma. 

Many people become confused and simply disregard provisions of the pension plan that would help them live a better life. The OTRS requires certain decisions for the participants to retire that are lifetime elections. Once the decision is made, even when life may go strangely awry, you cannot change your initial plan for retirement. How can you mitigate this risk? First, ask questions of the plan administrators, read the plan manual and familiarize yourself with the information and terms of the plan.

Second, seek out an expert to help you coordinate retirement, estate and income tax planning to equip you with the capability to enjoy your retirement years with potentially less worry. The OTRS provides a monthly benefit to qualified participants once the election to retire is filed. However, you may not wish to give total control of your future cashflow to the plan. What will you do if your health were to suddenly worsen immediately after retiring? The plan contains a provision that allows participants with 30 or more years of service to elect a Partial Lump Sum Option (PLSO) which allows the participant to rollover, or transfer tax-free, a sum representing 12-, 24- or 36-months of benefits to an Individual Retirement Account. Why would you wish to do this? You are in control of the distribution of the funds should an unexpected event occur!

Third, the timing of your notification filed with the plan of your planned retirement date is critical for the receipt of your first retirement benefit payment. For example, if you wish to receive continuity in your family’s income, and you plan to retire on July 1, 2021, you must file your Pre-Retirement Information Verification (Form 3) on or before April 1, 2021. This date is non-negotiable. To help you understand the strict interpretation of this required date, if April 1, 2021, was a weekend or holiday, you would not be extended any grace period to meet this deadline. Additional subsequent dates must be met to experience a smooth transition to retirement.

Each person’s retirement is unique. Do not rely on others’ comments or experiences to make important decisions for your future. A horror story from the past comes to mind. One of the educators I know came to me after filing his initial documents with OTRS. After we discussed it for a few minutes, he realized he had made a horrible mistake on his paperwork. Certain elections were not heeded, and life was not going to be as he had planned. However, we were able to resolve the issues for him in time to meet his statutory deadlines. His first retirement trip was exciting, and his cash flow was on time.

To enjoy your future years, and experience uninterrupted cashflow, the OTRS filing process requires attention and proper timing. Seek out a Certified Financial Planner™ or other retirement planning expert to help you through this tedious process. You should be planning your next trip to celebrate retirement, not worrying about your lifetime income source. Go ahead, book your trip and do not forget the sunscreen!

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The One Secret to Retiring Successfully

We are asked many questions about the strategies to retirement and enjoyment of life. This article will reveal the secret success criteria that many of our clients have implemented over the past 20 years to change their lives. Let’s think about the word “retirement” for a moment. Too often the word has negative connotations to individuals who are ill prepared for the next phase of life. Others see the word as an opportunity to begin a new hobby, career or volunteer service life. What is your understanding of the word “retirement”?

Most of our challenges in life give us opportunities to exercise our philosophy toward the pending decision. There are many inclinations to a decision and the result you choose may have life-altering consequences. Wouldn’t you want to tip the scales of success in your favor on this type of decision? Of course! If you were to find a method of decision-making that supported greater probabilities of success, you would use that method for all decisions.

Sadly, immediate wisdom is not bestowed on us humans. No, we learn by the old-fashioned method of trial and error. However, if you were to seek out someone to assist in your resolution process that had experience and specialized training in the area of retirement planning, you could attribute that person’s wisdom as your own.

The one secret to retiring successfully is to change your philosophy of life. I know this sounds like an indomitable task, but it does not have to be. For example, there are, at least, two options for every decision in life – positive and negative. You could think like some people that hate to pay income taxes. However, when I frame it in the context of what their income had brought them in terms of life, family, charity and other aspects of their choosing, they quickly see the difference in philosophy I hold toward paying taxes. Am I saying you should throw a party because you pay a significant amount of taxes to the government? Sure, if you want. Hey, this is America! Do what you wish with you own time, talent and treasure.

Your philosophy toward investing for your future requires that you look through the lenses of potential and desire. Do not retire to simply quit working. This philosophy will produce poor long-term results. Instead think of the contributions you could make to your community, church or other civic groups that require your expertise to continue supporting constituents. 

We use the term “reFIREment” to describe the next phase of your life. To us this is a new beginning with excitement and vigor. By changing your philosophy toward retirement, you will find yourself changing your investment philosophy. Think about the joys and/or challenges you wish to, or may, experience after your career. If you desire to travel, relocate to another state, start another career – all have funding needs that must be addressed during your work life. By defining your ultimate purpose in life, through a sound philosophy, you will be empowered to fund your retirement in a manner that allows you to accomplish a more rewarding life. Your outlook for the future will be much brighter and more positive when you have a plan that focuses on something other than “not working”.

Seek out help if you are unclear on how to define your future in monetary or philosophical terms that give you the greatest opportunity for success. A retirement specialist can serve many roles for your family. The best resources you will receive from a Certified Financial Planner™ professional are independent, tailored planning and honest feedback on the best approaches to reach your goals. You have far more to contribute to the world. Do not stop giving just because your work life has converted to your beach life. See you on the golf course!

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Eliminating the Top Three Fears of Pre-Retirees

Retiring is a big step in life for most people. Along with this new lifestyle comes the fear of the unknown. You do not have to be subject to these fears if you simply follow the process outlined in this article.

Let’s identify three fears causing the greatest concern for pre-retirees. First, most people have enjoyed a career where they receive consistent paychecks and benefits. At retirement, there is a sudden realization that the ever-flowing money and benefits immediately stop! You don’t have to feel this way if proper planning has been performed. For example, if you have saved properly in your employer retirement plan, a series of consistent payments can be established to provide you a lifestyle you desire. Proper assumptions must be considered when establishing this stream of cashflow to confidently assuage the underlying fear of “running out of money”.

Why would you work so hard all of your life to simply exist in retirement? I am pretty certain that no one listed “barely survive” as a retirement goal! Start saving for retirement early and you will reap the benefits of living a life you desire.

The second fear of pre-retirees is the unknown cash needs of other family members while the retiree is enjoying life. When planning and analyzing the needs of the potential retiree, it is critical that you consider the needs of other family members you have supported during your career. What I am referring to is the “sandwich” generation. Some individuals are not only caring for their retirement needs but the needs of their parents and/or children (hence the name, “sandwich” generation). Challenges to the traditional family structure have been monumental in the past two decades. In years prior, the retiree had only their existing household to care for during the period after employment. Now, the retiree may be called upon to assist in college funding, caring for an elderly parent, etc. The world is a different place today and these considerations should be given some thought during the planning process. 

To alleviate this fear, consider allocating a certain amount of funds to be invested in a manner that provides for these needs. Are there assets of your parents that may have considerable value but no cash flow capabilities? If so, perhaps selling the property would provide sufficient support for your parents’ futures. If not, this special fund would give you confidence that your retirement is secure while also meeting your obligations you desire to undertake for your family members.

The third and final fear of pre-retirees is the rising cost of medical care and its negative impact on their retirement assets. This is a tough one for most people. Proper medical care is necessary to allow you to enjoy the highest quality of life in retirement. However, with medical care rising approximately 6% per year for pharmaceutical and physician visits, a significant ailment could wreck your well-planned future. Consider utilizing Medicare Programs to your advantage. For example, it is critical that you consider a supplemental plan to your Medicare Parts A and B coverages. The remaining 20% of inpatient costs would be a material burden on your assets and cashflow if you were required to pay it out-of-pocket. There are many types of supplemental plans that cover various levels of support. Analyze them and consult an expert for guidance to select the proper plan for your needs.

If you are concerned about the rising cost of prescription drugs, and are enrolled in Medicare, consider the Medicare Part D Program. You may find sufficient coverage for your needs for a small premium each month. One caveat to this plan is that you will be penalized for enrolling in a period after you are initially qualified at age 65. For example, after your 65th birthday, you are eligible to enroll in Medicare Part D. 

However, your health is great and you don’t expect a costly amount of prescriptions. Then the unimaginable happens – at age 68 you experience a significant health event that requires expensive medication each month. You quickly enroll in Medicare Part D at the next enrollment period and realize that your monthly premium seems higher than you remembered at age 65. The difference in rates is the late enrollment penalty calculated at 1% of the national base beneficiary premium assessed each month from your originally qualified enrollment date to the month you enrolled in the program. In our example above, 36 months had lapsed from the date of the originally qualified enrollment date for the individual which means the monthly premium penalty would be 36%. As a result, your monthly premium for Medicare Part D coverage would be 36% higher than the national premium. As you can see, this penalty can become material rather quickly.

There are many factors to consider prior to retiring. We have a saying we use with our clients, “You retire for the first time only once. Don’t make a lifetime mistake when you do so.” Retirement planning is a process that should be addressed in advance and, to provide the greatest probability for success, consult a professional that specializes in retirement planning. Life is meant to be lived, not feared.

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Three T’s of Successful Retirement Planning

Making a major life decision is not to be approached in a haphazard manner. Many people underestimate the impact of retirement on their lives and have “buyer’s remorse” once the process is complete. How can you experience a more positive and proactive outcome to retiring? Simply follow the “3 T’s” outlined below and you will gain tremendous confidence and control over your new phase of life.

Establish a Team

The first “T” is to establish a team. Many aspects of life allow you only one opportunity to get things right and this is one of them. Financial, estate, cash flow and tax considerations must be addressed in the process of planning to retire. Often clients come to our office for a meeting about their retirement and certain elections chosen by the individual are irrevocable. Elections in the format in which you will receive your retirement benefits, Medicare and Social Security Benefits and other critical lifestyle choices may have lifelong ramifications. You should consider assembling a team consisting of, at a minimum, a CPA, a Certified Financial Planner™ practitioner, an estate planning attorney and your spouse or significant other. Why do you wish to include your spouse/significant other? Do you know how your relationship may be changed by each of you spending the majority of your day together? It is critical that you listen and coordinate your plans for retirement with your team.

Timing

The second “T” is timing. When is the best time to retire? How can you maximize retirement income by electing benefits offered by your employer, SSA Benefits and other support income during your retirement years? The key to properly timing your approach to launch into this next phase of life is to understand the qualitative issues and work to resolve them to your benefit with similar gusto as you do your quantitative needs. Emphasis is generally given the monetary issues of retirement only to realize your plan failed to consider the importance of emotional issues about the changing lifestyle you may find yourself. Work with your wealth advisor to determine if you have addressed all facets of retirement and the timing is in your best interest.

Transition

The third and final “T” is for transition. Successful individuals that transition smoothly to and enjoy retirement are those that understand their time is more valuable than their wealth. Purpose is required of each of us to live a fulfilling life. Why would you wish to devote most of your early life to work and career only to be miserable after your leave employment? That, to me, is not success. However, the person who understands that she has talents, time and treasure to devote to others may find a more rewarding experience in the retirement phase. Consider your plans to travel, join civic groups, devote your time to education in other fields of interest, etc. You must understand that with today’s medical advancements, you may spend as many years in retirement as you did in your career. With that in your mind, wouldn’t you feel more confident knowing that you addressed the Three T’s of Retirement Planning?

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Should I Change My Investment Approach In Retirement?

While accumulating assets for retirement, many people utilize an employer retirement plan that allows consistent contributions while investing in a growth model. Their approach is to maximize the matching contribution from their employer and, perhaps, assume more risk than they would otherwise assume because of continued contributions. Let’s review the process of investing during retirement and the differences one will encounter throughout the distribution phase of the portfolio.

The most prevalent concern of any retiree is running out of money. To confront this fear, most retirees make the most critical mistakes with their investments. First, to seek safety in the portfolio, the retiree will change from a balanced portfolio of equities and bonds to a bond-dominant portfolio. Thinking the cash balance approach secures their cash during the contraction of the markets, the larger peril to the portfolio is the lack of participation in the expansion phase of the market cycle. In layman’s terms, the rate of return on most bonds will not be sufficient to maintain the retiree’s purchasing power during retirement. Rising costs of living expenses such as medical care, housing, food and other basic needs will preclude the portfolio from providing excess cash flow to the retiree unless the total portfolio is significant.

To resolve the concern of running out of money, we work with our clients to develop a sound investment approach that addresses inflationary pressure, periodic cash distribution requirements and market risk. One of the most effective tools to combat risk is to diversify. At the time of retirement, many of our clients will participate in an economics lesson. Albeit a short lesson, we simply ask, “how would you feel to be out of money and healthy?” This question is one that causes their face to wrinkle and the eyebrows to furrow. Typically, the answer given us is “I would not feel comfortable at all!” 

Obviously, we knew their answer but the exercise is one that makes them confront what risk truly is in their lives. So many people believe risk to be simply the loss of principal in their account. However, the greatest risk is outliving your means of support to where your longevity is not rewarded with peace and tranquility but rather anxiety. Our independent research has proven that most retirees sleep better at night knowing they will not be subjected to the need for family or state support. Independence is the reward for investing properly.

Seek out the advice of an independent financial advisor that specializes in retirement planning. You deserve a specialist for this phase of life just like your cardiovascular surgeon if you have health issues with your heart. If you have questions regarding your financial future, why not gain assurance that you are making the right decisions for your family? A visit with a Certified Financial Planner™ practitioner may give you the confidence you need to live your life in a manner you desire instead of simply existing. 

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