Answer: As we get older, each phase of life tends to last longer. Based on life expectancy projections and depending on your health and family history, you could be looking at another 30 or more years in which to enjoy life.
That’s why it’s important to prepare now for what could be the longest phase of your life. Just like a wedding or a cherished vacation, thoughtful and meticulous preparation may reduce stress. This is the time to channel your skills toward long-term financial independence.
If you’re in a relationship and your husband or partner believes everything is in order, insist on being involved and participate in meetings with your financial advisor. Learn about retirement income sources and Social Security payouts and how to access funds from accounts like your IRAs and 401(k) funds. Ask questions. Think of possible scenarios your life could take and stress test them against the established plan. If you see holes in the plan, make sure they are addressed.
Second, take a look at your lifestyle to see if you should make changes. You might be spending money now that you’ll need when you’re 90. Continue to work if you want to or need to. If you decide to stop working, take the time to enjoy the encore of your life: Travel, start a business or spend more time with your family. Do the things that make you happy. Just be aware of the pace of your withdrawals so you’ll have enough planned income for the next 20 to 30 years.
Your advisor can help you determine how much you should be spending now. Ask him or her to calculate your projected income in retirement based on all of your income resources, and determine an appropriate withdrawal rate for now and in the future to help ensure your money lasts as long as you do.
Also, put some thought into the home you live in now. For example, does it need a new roof? If you’re thinking it will in a few years, consider replacing it while you or your husband or partner are still working – because that’s not an expense you want to incur once you’re on a fixed income. Ask yourself if you’d like to buy a second home for retirement. Consider your answer in light of the possibility that your husband or partner may die before you. Could you maintain two homes by yourself, or is this too much? Would you have the resources to help you keep up, or would you be interested in downsizing to a smaller home – perhaps closer to your children and grandchildren? If you do want to buy a vacation home or downsize, think about applying for a new mortgage while you’re still working because a salary could help you qualify for more favorable loan terms. If you foresee a possibility of ending up completely on your own, you may want to check out nearby senior communities that offer a more social environment. That way you’ll have the support of friends your own age as you get older. And finally, think about where you’d want to live –and with whom – if you’re physically or mentally incapacitated or simply need more assistance.
Many of the issues you have to consider in your 60s and beyond can be unsettling – and you probably don’t want to think about life after your husband or partner passes away. But the more you plan now, the more enriched your life can be in later years. If you cherish your independence now, making contingency plans for the future is the best way to help you maintain self-reliance as you get older. Stay focused and invest accordingly.
This information is general in nature, it is not a complete statement of all information necessary for making an investment decision, and is not a recommendation or solicitation to buy or sell any particular investment. Investing involves risk and the possible loss of principal invested. There is no guarantee any particular investment strategy will be successful. Opinions expressed herein are those of the author and subject to change at any time.
“Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP(R), CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER(tm) and federally registered CFP (with flame design) in the U.S.”
Darcie Guerin, CFP®, is Associate Vice President, Investments & Branch Manager of Raymond James & Associates, Inc. Member New York Stock Exchange/SIPC 606 Bald Eagle Dr. Suite 401, Marco Island, FL 34145. She may be reached at 239-389-1041, email firstname.lastname@example.org. www.raymondjames.com/Darcie