It is understandable if you are concerned about growing your retirement savings so you can retire when you want and not run out of money when you do retire or transition. If you are self employed a significant portion of your assets may be tied up in your business or practice, making the challenges and potential opportunities even greater. Some questions you may have:
Do I have enough money to retire?
How long will my money last?
When can I retire?
How much do I need to save for my retirement?
Do I need a life annuity?
What is my optimum asset and product mix?
What is my "tax efficiency" before and after retirement?
Would a Financial Opportunity Analysis help?
Since I don't know what I don't know what can I do?
In addition to the financial questions, retirement success means different things to different people; research conducted in both Canada and the United States by the Centre for Retirement Success and others indicates the 10 most common factors that contribute to a successful retirement are: 1. Healthy Aging. One of the key factors in your retirement success is your health. After all, you can have all of the love and money in the world, but without your health to enjoy it, your “best laid plans” will be compromised 2. Financial Comfort. It is true that you can’t retire without money, but let’s face it – you can’t live without money either. Many experts who say that you can retire on 60-80% of your last year’s employment income are assuming that you have paid off your house, or that you have no debts, or that you never want to do anything! There is no real rule of thumb on how much money will give you comfort. The only way to figure that out is to realistically assess what kind of life that you want to lead in retirement and then assess the costs associated with that life. 3. Hardy personality. One of the keys to avoiding stress in your retirement years is to have what experts call the “hardy personality”. There are four key elements to a hardy personality: Connectivity to your community and to your world, or the feeling that you are a part of something bigger. Control over your life, or the confidence that you are in charge rather than a victim of life’s challenges. Challenge or the desire to continue to grow and learn no matter how old or secure you are. Commitment or the belief that you can live on purpose and that by planning ahead you can live the life that you desire. 4. Optimistic attitude. Are you a positive or a negative person? Retirement doesn’t turn you into a happy person if you aren’t happy today. Your attitude towards your life and your desire to maintain your hardy personality will directly contribute to your overall stress level in retirement. 5. Positive view of “work”. Viewing work not as a chore but as a fulfilling activity. Like David Shakarian once said “I never worked a day in my life. It's not work when you love what you're doing.” There are parts of work that meet needs that we have; these must be replaced when we leave the workplace. Retirement has been associated with a state of “not working”; however, many wish to continue to work because they enjoy it. Even if you do not stay in the job that you currently are in, you can still find interesting and challenging things to do that may meet your needs in retirement (even if someone else would consider them “work”). 6. Active social relationships. “No man (or woman) is an island”. We need relationships, particularly when we leave the workplace and our work- related relationships begin to disappear. Social relationships generally meet some of these needs. Often, our relationships have been developed in the workplace. When that ends, new relationships should be created that will replace what has been lost. For example, joining a craft club, or learning to play golf may make up for the socialization and stimulation that has been lost in the work. 7. Nurturing family relationships. In general, we need close familiar relationships. Our relationships define us, give us a purpose for living our lives and force us to create life goals. Relationships give us a sense of purpose. They can also act as “external controllers” when we find ourselves in the midst of marital or familial discord. Researchers have found that people in satisfying personal relationships have fewer illnesses and higher levels of good overall health. 8. Meaningful and fulfilling activities. How often do you hear someone who is retired exclaim; “I never seem to have enough time to do the things that I want to do!” When you question them on what it is that they are actually doing, it turns out that they have filled their days with activities that will help pass the time. There is a big difference between fulfilling activities and activities that simply fill in the time. Only you can decide which are which! However, remember that the most fulfilling activities that people have are those that fill certain needs. Do you want the time that you spend to help you learn and be more creative? Do you want to use your time to help mentor someone or contribute to society? 9. Positive view on aging and life transitions. The transition from one stage of life to another can be a difficult one, as many retirees will attest. Have you ever wondered why some retirees make the transition easily while others struggle for years? Part of the answer comes from the way that we process change in our lives. Retirement is really just the next stage of life for many people. It is not the “end”, but rather the beginning of a new life. For that reason, you should remember that you are not retiring FROM something but rather TO something. If you could be any age at all, what age would you want to be? The fact is that we can’t change the age or the life stage that we find ourselves in; therefore it is best to learn to accept where we are in life and then to enjoy each life stage to its fullest. 10. Spirituality. This is often confused with religion. It really refers to your sense of who you are and why you are here. Your view of the world flows directly from the values that you hold and the primary purpose of your life. What is it that gets you up in the morning and makes you want to face the day? A Balanced Life Plan “Okay, but how do I determine what is successful retirement is for me?” A “lifestyle planning process” can help you chart the course of the rest of your life by translating your interests and hobbies into your lifestyle. Resources How Long Will I Live?
Paul is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) licensed by the Financial Planners Standards Council; Financial and Estate Plans are provided under that license.
The information contained in this website is intended to provide general guidelines only. The application and impact of the law can vary widely from case to case based on the specific or unique facts involved. Accordingly, the information in this article is not intended to serve as legal, accounting or tax advice. Users are encouraged to consult with their professional advisers for advice concerning specific matters before making a decision.
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J. Paul Wilson,CFP®, ChFC®
Certified Financial Planner
27 Blue Thistle Road Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3S 1M3