Is Retirement a Dirty Word? 

Retirement in the mountains of Colorado sounds like a dream come true for many. Yet for others, the thought of retirement can be a fraught subject, bringing anxiety and confusion. In my practice, I’ve worked with many clients who share their conflicting emotions. And I’ve learned: Retirement can be a dirty word. 

Retirement can accompany a feeling of loss. For those who love their work and the engagement and connections it provides, the thought of retirement creates a lot of angst. Business owners may long delay their retirement because of concerns about their legacy and the future success of their enterprise. Others are worried about the longevity of their investment portfolio. 

Planning for retirement in the 21st century is a whole new world for the current generation of the soon-to-be-retired. The old formulas don’t apply anymore because people now live well into their 80’s and 90’s. What will you do with all this time? How will you afford it? 

Whatever you want to call it, retirement means something different to everyone. Yet a common thread is achieving both a state of emotional acceptance of your new lifestyle and financial independence. 

7 Hacks for Emotional Preparation 

Preparing for retirement involves both financial and emotional considerations. As an independent financial planner, I’ve learned a few hacks to ease the emotional ups-and-downs of retirement: 

1) Start thinking and talking about retirement earlier in your career. Engage with a financial planner and talk with your spouse so you have time to plan.

2) Is it possible to take a “faux-retirement”? Can you combine your PTO for a practice retirement? Try staying at home and working on the things you love. This period will also help you understand your post-retirement spending patterns. 

3) Can you take a sabbatical? What about unpaid leave? Taking off a chunk of time can provide insights into your post-retirement life. 

4) Tend to your relationships with family and friends, your most important assets as you move into your next chapter. 

5) Start your succession planning. Do you own a business you’ll want to sell or pass on? Do you need to mentor the up-and-comers in your profession? Knowing you are leaving your professional life in good hands can ease the anxiety of stopping work. 

6) Rest assured that you can go back to work. Many people do for psychological or financial reasons. 

7) Plan for Your Encore. Volunteering? Hobbies? Fun-work? New business? Confidence that you have an encore within you can free up mental energy to fully engage in this next chapter of your life. 

Renew Your Focus on Financial Planning in 7 Steps 

With the demise of company pension plans, most people are on their own for planning their retirement. Not everyone wants to DIY. Because planning can be daunting, starting with a comprehensive view of your financial picture can help put you on the right path. 

While not the full spectrum, here are 7 key considerations I’ve developed for financial planning for retirement: 

1) Start with a sustainable spending and savings strategy. In retirement, spending decreases for some, and increases for others. 

2) Explore ways to efficiently convert your nest egg into a lifetime of cash flow. As an independent financial planner, I’ll help you look at a variety of vehicles and methods, as well as apply stress tests to your different investment accounts. 

3) Determine where you will live and the financial role of your home equity. 

4) Network: Learn strategies from other retirees, mentors, coaches, and counselors. 

5) Manage your tax bracket prior to retirement. This is especially important before age 72 when you must take distributions from your IRA. 

6) Consider postponing full retirement. It offers a number of hidden benefits: 

· Waiting until age 70 to claim social security can add up to 8% per year to your benefit. 

· Delaying Social Security can have a positive effect on portfolio longevity. 

· Many clients are surprised, for example, at what an effect just $2,000/month of earned income can have on a plan. 

· Explore strategic Roth conversions. 

7) Work with a financial planner. As an independent financial planner, I will customize your retirement plan to you and your unique situation. 

Mind your State of Mind 

Retirement, semi-retirement, life-shift: whatever you want to call it, the most important contributors to successfully planning for and experiencing retirement are a positive outlook and optimism. Putting the physical, emotional and financial elements together in one package enhances your success. 

To learn more, please contact Steve Smith, JD, CFP, RightPath Investments & Financial Planning, Inc. at 970-668-5525 and visit 

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