Maybe sooner than you had imagined!
Better than you had considered.
Happier because you have a plan for the major "gotcha's" in retirement.
Yiipee! You're about to start a new business! ;-)
Have you ever done that before? If you have, that experience will help you - the same sort of planning is involved. If not, you'll have a little steeper hill to climb and I will have a little more to teach you.
By the way, at some point, your new business will need to make an income without you working! :-(
Housing: Will you upsize, downsize, rent, own, live with your kids, move out of the country, move near grandkids or move to a Caribbean island or just stay where you're are and let every day be a Saturday? Have you and your spouse really talked about this? Less debt is a theme among retirees that consider themselves "Happy". Fewer obligations, less debt, more income options and more tending to your passions equal happier retirements.
Healthcare: Half of this confusion is answered with Medicare once you’re 65. The other half will be whether you decide to get a Medicare Advantage policy or a Medicare Supplement policy. Do NOT get either unless you are talking to a salesperson that is licensed/certified to sell you either and can explain the difference between them. You will get many calls each year by well-trained salespeople that could care less about what's best for you! Be SMART!
Core Monthly Expenses: Get a really good handle on your lifestyle costs. Not just food, clothing and shelter, but some idea about travel cost, expenses to visit grandkids, insurance, charitable donations, etc., etc.. Pay special attention to any pent-up travel desires you may want to experience in retirement. European or other foreign vacations, cruises to Alaska or around the Caribbean, nation park camping, weekends around your state are all on the table now. Budget for them! Take some time for yourself and take some additional travel time with the grandkids. Grandkids, theme parks, water parks and ocean cruises are made for each other!
Social Security Maximization Strategy: Preferably, start this a few years before you're 62. If you are a couple there are over 500 options for you both to take your Social Security that can make a big difference later on, especially if you have a long life. The simple truths of Social Security are:
CLAIM EARLY die early = Win! CLAIM EARLY, die late = Lose! CLAIM LATE, die early = Lose! CLAIM LATE, die late = Win!
Income Sources in Retirement: More is better! No new information here - spread the risk. Non-volatile fixed incomes like Social Security, Pensions, Annuities. A little less dependable would be rents, royalties and other physical Investments. Most volatile would be investments in the market from which you will be taking retirement income. What you can't possibly do is see how all of these blend together so you can tell when and how much to take from each one. I can help you with that - it's called a Retirement Test Drive.
Active, Meaningful Lifestyle: Per the many books that have been written on the Happiest Retirees - they all retired “to something” not “from something”. If you don't have a plan on what you're going to do with your time once you retire, then do not retire! Find a hobby, volunteer, plan outings with the grandkids, work part-time. Do something you LIKE and enjoy doing. Don't be an aimless Sad Sack that is a pest or a burden to your friends and family. See maintaining your health below. Now, maybe go a little deeper. Who are you, why are you here? How might you be a better person or help humanity? Best not to put these questions off too much longer.
Maintaining Your Health: The seniors have two big problems. We can not out exercise our mouth and gravity is beginning to take its toll on our bodies. Plan for some frequent exercise, preferably outside, and make it as routine as possible. Research, research, research! You and Google now have time to figure out and understand what ails you. If you feel you're not smart enough to do that and choose to depend on your doctor to tell you what to do, then, good luck. If you have some extra weight, NOW is the time to take care of that! It's not easy! You will need a kitchen, pantry and refrigerator lifestyle change. You can no longer eat crap and get away with it! Or, you can eat crap, degenerate into some chronic disease or disability, and die depressed. You will be the darling of Nursing Homes & Big Pharma. Your choice.
Where Did All This STUFF Come From?: Most of us have accumulated a whole lot of stuff! Start addressing that in earnest when you retire. My mom was a hoarder. It took the family six weekends plus a 30 cubic yard, 22ft long dumpster in the driveway to get her house ready to sell! Try your best to stop accumulating. Then start selling stuff you don't use, clean out closets, the back of garages, storage sheds, barns, attics, etc.. Get the value out of your “stuff” now. Your kids will just throw it away if they have to deal with it once you're gone. Other than family and grandkids this is a good time of life to start becoming detached from “things”.
Loss of a Spouse: Giant deal-breaker - everything changes, big-time! Between Barbara and I, we say whoever passes first WINS! The remaining spouse has to put a meaningful life back together without that significant other. All the while having to deal with legal, financial, estate planning, family and personal health issues. When I take couples on a Retirement Test Drive, I have many questions you will want answers to. See Legal & Estate along with Long Term Care.
Long-term Care (LTC) & Assisted Living Expense: The older you get, the bigger deal this is! This can be a financial deal breaker that most folks don't pay enough attention to in their retirement planning. If not for you do it for your SPOUSE! There is a saying that "70% of men die married and 70% of women die single". Let's assume a common scenario. The husband has a time of end-of-life illness and needs Home Care or Nursing care and then passes. The wife was the in-house caretaker as long as possible. The LTC policy will help with her additional expenses. More importantly, now after the husband's passing the wife no longer has an in-house caretaker. She will have to pay for most of her help. Even after children or siblings do what they can. Make no mistake about it - LTC is often most valuable to the surviving spouse. Insurance companies know this, that's why couples policies are so much cheaper than 2 individual policies.
An LTC policy can shelter a large portion of your estate from end-of-life expenses. If you have enough assets to protect, then you probably have enough to get some long-term care. You don't know what you don't know about all the options available today. It is no longer a use-it-or-lose-it proposition. Many times folks can pay for long-term care and if they don't use it, their heirs receive more than the premium that was paid. Be sure and read the fine print - all LTC policies are NOT created equal.
Estate and Legacy Planning: At the very least, do not die without a Will! At best, create a Revocable Living Trust and get your major assets moved into it. Your spouse and children will bless you when you're gone because of the lack of legal and financial hassles they have to go through. Don't forget the bare minimum legal documents every senior should have: Legal and/or FInancial Power of Attorney, Living Will (Advanced Healthcare/Medical Directive) and Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare and HIPAA release. Due to accident, stroke or heart attack, you could be comatose in the hospital any day in the future. You do this to help friends and family help you. Do you have a burning desire to leave assets to children, grandchildren, churches or charities? Get serious on that planning also and figure out what your best options are.
Retirement Savings, IRA, 401k, 403b, etc: The more you’ve got, the more options you have. The number one most important thing you will need to do is UNDERSTAND the risk you take with any investment and what your tolerance for that risk is. Normally your life savings will be in CDs, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs) or notes of some type. For heaven's sakes, make sure you understand what you're invested in! If you get a 20-page statement from your advisor or brokerage firm and you have no clue why you're invested in what, then you have some work to do. If it turns out “they are wrong,” during the next crisis who's will pay the price? You have worked a lifetime, paid your bills, saved a lot of money and gotten to retirement! So, I guarantee you, you have enough financial savvy to understand how your retirement accounts work. Don't let “Wallstreet speak” intimidate you! It's not rocket science. You can pull the same levers as the wizard behind the curtain. You can do it yourself or use an advisor. If you use an advisor, make sure they are a fiduciary, not a broker and understand who signs their paycheck. Google “fiduciary broker-dealer conflict of interest”. It may all be very confusing, just like Wall Street wants it to be. Take your time - for your sake, you need to get a handle on this.
Then, after all of this, you’ve still got to figure out how much to take from which accounts and when. Your “Draw Down Strategy”. If you have enough money that there's a question, then a Retirement Test Drive can give you a comprehensive overview and a written plan for the future. Again I can help here.
Do you have questions? I can help you evaluate all your retirement planning options to help determine what's in your best interest.
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