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Retiring Well: A 3-Step Guide

March 29, 2022

We’re running in many directions because of our busy lives. Pause a moment and ask yourself, how often do I find time to dream about and plan my retirement?

Your answer is probably not that often – and you’re not alone. And, yet, many of us are anxious as retirement nears or as we experience those early days of retirement.

This is where the idea of Retiring Well comes in. As Julie Andrews sang in The Sound of Music, “Let’s start at the very beginning.” What is Retiring Well all about?

Retiring Well is both planning for and living your fullest life in retirement. What follows is a 3-Step Guide to Retiring Well developed by BDF based on 36 years working in the wealth management industry with thousands of BDF clients.

1. Meaning

The traditional view of retirement is outdated. According to the MIT AgeLab, most of us will live one-third of our adult lives in retirement. That’s right; we’re living longer, starting second careers, and exploring new opportunities.

When we asked clients what, if anything, they’d do differently, many said, “I would’ve planned earlier.” We’ve heard that a quick pivot to retirement can feel jarring, like hitting the brakes at 60 mph. The good news is that it’s never too soon or too late. So, start now!

Spend time to affirm what matters most to you. Ask yourself, what gets you up in the morning, and what keeps you up at night? Your answers are as different and unique as you are and help shed light on your hopes and dreams as well as your realities and responsibilities. Many clients realized only in retirement that they had underestimated the importance of feeling connected to family and caring for their parents.

Reassess your professional identity. Recognize that your professional identity may be a defining part of your DNA. Ask yourself, what aspects of my identity do I want to keep, and what parts of work can I do without?  Engaging in part-time or volunteer work in retirement may be the answer.

Find a retirement mentor. Look for someone you look up to who has been there, done that from navigating the “administrivia” of Medicare and bills to deciding to relocate to warmer climes or age in place.

Be mindful of health. We often see that sudden health issues can throw a monkey wrench into retirement planning. You’ve heard it before: “health is wealth” and “motion is the lotion.”

2. Money

Put simply, dream it and have the underpinning of a financial plan to make it work:

  • Understand how much money you’ll need to continue your lifestyle.
  • Invest your portfolio to account for longevity and the need for growth.
  • Develop a withdrawal strategy. Know where the money is coming from once the paycheck stops.
  • Determine when to take Social Security benefits and when to tap your 401(k) or IRA.
  • Be mindful of taxes. For most, the tax sweet spot to tax plan and exponentially save taxes is from retirement until age 72.
  • Protect your hard-earned wealth with proper health insurance coverage and an umbrella policy.
  • Finalize an estate plan that reflects your wealth and legacy goals.

3. Make Adjustments Along the Way

Think about the course corrections you’ve made throughout your life that got you this far. It doesn’t stop now.

Trust in yourself and, as Socrates said, “Know yourself”. Keep making adjustments. And please, also remember to be kind to yourself. Set goals and know that stringing together small victories has a powerful compounding effect rather than focusing on overwhelming goals.

Your transition to a full life in retirement is waiting! To keep it moving, reach out to your BDF Team. We welcome a meaningful discussion and can provide additional activities and resources to inspire you, such as our ClearPath: Your Roadmap to a Full Life in Retirement.