Learn about the New Retirement Standard.
CHAPTER 1: INTO A NEW WORLD
If you are like many people contemplating retirement, you have been accustomed to the world of work for decades, perhaps half a century. Your alarm goes off, and you shower and head out the door to be somewhere by a certain time to perform certain functions and meet certain standards.
And then it ends. You ﬂip the retirement switch, and the next day you don’t go back to your workplace. You have anticipated this day, perhaps longed for it, but it might not be quite what you expected. You could even feel a sense of loss. Often it takes months to adjust to the change of pace. Your body is still living by the alarm and the demands of the workaday world.
This lack of structure can feel alien. Some just can’t let go, for a variety of reasons. One client who had been excited about retiring stayed on the job an additional two years out of a sense of dedication to his employer, who told him he just couldn’t ﬁnd a good replacement. He gradually transitioned from full-time to part-time and then cut the ties. Sometimes people delay retirement out of a fear of the unknown. And some just have not gathered suﬃcient resources. They continue working, or go back to work, out of necessity.
Many people tell us, though, that once they have adjusted, and once they feel the conﬁdence that they will be all right, they don’t know how they ever found time to hold down a job. Well-adjusted retirees begin to ﬁll their days with things they actually want to do instead of fulﬁlling some job description. There are many ways to make the transition. You create your retirement. It shouldn’t be merely something you accept passively. You can make your retirement what you want it to be. Younger people sometimes envision that retirement will be a time of sitting on the beach with a Corona and lime. What many people ﬁnd is that a sedentary lifestyle is not for them, at least not every day. They want to get out of bed and head out to face the world with a purpose. They actually feel a strong motivation to get back to the workplace. Sometimes it’s because they rediscover their spouses for the ﬁrst time in decades and need to balance the together time with additional activities outside of the house. Maybe they just feel the need to keep contributing. Some launch a new business or start a new career.
In short, retirement is a time of choices. Ideally, you can do what you want to do. If you get up in the morning and go to work, it’s not because you have to make money to pay the bills. It’s because you want to do something productive, creative, or innovative.
A NEW BATCH OF CONCERNS
Certainly your concerns are far different from the earlier chapters of your life. Back in those accumulation days, your focus may have been on ﬁnding a home to build a family. Your thoughts turned to acquiring a mortgage, but you may still have had student loans to pay off — and you were considering paying even more to further your education.
As you looked ahead, you started thinking in terms not just of months or years but of decades. Where would you be in twenty years? Would you be married with a family to support? You were becoming increasingly aware of the need to save for the long term, but life held so many distractions. You faced a lot of competing desires and worries. As the years passed, thoughts of retirement came to mind more frequently.
Now, as you prepare for that big step, you ﬁnd that your worries are far different from what preoccupied that younger version of you. Instead of paying for your own schooling, or your children’s, perhaps you have grandchildren whom you want to help. As you have gotten older, it’s likely that you are starting to deal with health concerns. In almost every meeting with prospective new clients, we hear some heartfelt expression that reﬂects a deepening awareness of mortality. How would a spouse survive alone? How will they pay for mounting medical costs if their health fails? What if either or both spouses eventually need long-term care? And when the end does come, is there any way to stop Uncle Sam from laying claim to 40 or 50 percent of their life’s work?
It’s natural to think more about the value of time when you are older. It’s in shorter supply. Younger people can ride the roller coaster of the markets with the knowledge that they won’t need their investment money for decades. They can experience the plunges, knowing that before the ride is over they soar high again. Older people tend to fear, with good reason, that once they take that plunge, they might not make it back up. It’s just too steep a climb, and they don’t have time. They tend to become more conservative with their investments.
For years, your perspective was: “How much can I save, and will it be enough?” As you approach retirement, your perspective becomes: “How much can I spend now and still have enough money for my whole retirement?” Retirees want to ﬁnally enjoy the resources that they sacriﬁced to attain. They want to know, as closely as possible, the rate at which they can spend without overdoing it.
We have worked with many people just like you, and we have seen a wide array of retirement scenarios. We do not get sidetracked on the concerns of those thirty- or forty-year-olds in the accumulation phase of their lives. We focus solely, day in and day out, on the concerns of those who are entering retirement or who already are there. That is why we are so knowledgeable, for example, about Social Security matters. We watch for changes in tax law that might affect our clients. We stay abreast of changing rules and regulations.
As the ranks of retirees swell, you can be sure that you are far from alone in the types of issues that you are facing. You will have your own particular set of circumstances, but themes of retirement planning tend to be similar. The key to a prosperous retirement is to recognize those themes and apply them to your unique needs and goals.
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