For many, approaching later life and entering retirement are synonymous with rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation. It’s an opportunity to live life to the fullest now that you are no longer committed to a 9-to-5 job, or raising a family. It’s a second chance to try new things, experiment, and find true joy in your day-to-day life.
But for just as many, later life can be overwhelming. Upended routines, changing social circles, and looming uncertainties can cause many retirees to feel anxious and lost in this new chapter of their journey. This is especially true for those who may experience divorce or widowhood at an older age in conjunction with navigating retirement.
At Infiniti Wealth Management, we are dedicated to helping our clients, specifically women in transition, navigate later life with grace. In this article, we’ll explore what we like to call “The L’s of Later Life.” These are the top four factors that can make or break your retirement experience, and they are the major components of our retirement planning services. Read on to learn more about how you can prepare for later life and make the most of your journey to retirement
The first major component of retirement planning is liquidity. This is a measure of how easily you can meet your everyday expenses without having to sell major assets at inopportune times. This can come in the form of a steady stream of retirement income, a solid emergency fund, or adjusting your portfolio drawdown rate as economic circumstances change. As retirement approaches, understanding liquidity becomes much more essential because your income becomes more fixed.
There are two parts to assessing your liquidity. First, you’ll need to understand your resources, and second, you’ll need to assess any extraordinary expenses in retirement like loans or mortgages.
Most clients have several sources of retirement income, including Social Security payments, employer-sponsored retirement accounts, annuities, and distributions from personal investment portfolios. Some clients even continue to bring in a paycheck by working after they’ve officially retired.
Regardless of whether you work or fully retire, it’s crucial to evaluate all sources of income and likely expenses to create a pro forma income and expense statement. Understanding roughly what you expect to bring in versus how much it will take to live the lifestyle you prefer is the first step in building a unique retirement plan. You’ll be able to determine how much, if any, you will need to withdraw from portfolio assets to meet your expenses.
It’s not uncommon for clients to bring debt into retirement, but this can have two major drawbacks:
- It reduces the amount of cash flow you have for housing, travel, hobbies, and other non-essential purchases.
- It can potentially drain your retirement savings quicker, which means you may run out of money or have to adjust your lifestyle down the road.
If you carry debt, take a close look at what you owe and figure out how much cash flow you’ll need in retirement to cover these expenses. Some people prefer to pay off any high-interest consumer debt before they retire. Others will take it one step further by paying down their mortgage and auto loans as well.
One factor that can greatly affect your liquidity is the lifestyle choices you make in retirement. As retirement approaches, it’s important to think through the lifestyle you envision for yourself. If you know you want to travel, play golf, or join recreational groups, you need to factor in what that looks like and how much it will cost.
Even seemingly simple dreams, like spending time with your grandkids, will still require you to think through your expectations and expenses. To some people, “spending time with grandkids” means babysitting a few times a week. To others, it means footing the bill for all-expenses-paid trips to various destinations of their choosing. Whatever it is you want to do with your time, map out the details so you have a clear picture of how much you’ll need in order to make it a reality.
Housing is another important part of retirement as it is generally the largest ongoing expense for retirees. Even if your home is paid off, you may want to consider downsizing to a smaller place that requires less maintenance and has cheaper utility costs, or relocating to an area that has an overall lower cost of living.
Next, we have longevity. Not only does this impact the overall length of your retirement and how much you need to save, but it can also impact the cost of health insurance as well as long-term care considerations.
If you’re planning to retire before age 65, you need to find a healthcare policy prior to Medicare enrollment eligibility. You can consider joining your spouse’s health plan, if he or she is still working. Or you can obtain coverage through the healthcare marketplace. You become eligible for Medicare starting at age 65, but even then, you may want additional coverage to pay for prescription drugs, dental care, eye exams, and other expenses.
Retirees sometimes fail to fully plan for expenses during the later stages of retirement, and medical care often tops the list. It’s estimated that retirees will spend about $315,000 in medical expenses over the course of retirement. Don’t let this be a planning oversight that prevents you from retiring with confidence!
This is an area where women are particularly vulnerable. Not only are women usually the caretakers for aging spouses, parents, and other family members, but they also tend to live longer than men. According to the Social Security Administration, the average life expectancy for males who are 66 today is 84, and for females, 87. This may not seem like a huge difference, but with medical advances and new technology, the number of people living past 100 could increase by 6 times!
Based on these numbers, your retirement could easily last 30 years instead of 20. Understanding your unique family history and health profile are important factors when building a retirement plan to meet your needs.
We all want to leave something meaningful behind after we’re gone, but what does that look like for you? Contributing to charity? Leaving an inheritance? Or using what you have now to spend meaningful time with your loved ones?
As difficult as it may be, it’s important to think about your legacy as you plan for retirement. Not only will this inform the amount you must save, but it will also affect your estate plan and should be factored in accordingly.
If you plan to leave tangible assets like real estate, be sure the assets are structured properly to avoid probate. If you’d rather give away money while you’re still around to see the impact, you can gift up to $17,000 per person to any number of people each year without incurring gift taxes. Similarly, if you have substantial financial assets that near the estate tax exclusion of $12.92 million per person, you should consider trusts and other estate-planning techniques to help reduce your tax liability and accomplish your legacy goals according to your wishes.
Are You Ready to Build a Lasting Retirement Plan for Later Life?
Creating your ideal later life retirement plan is not a one-time event—it should be modified and updated as your goals and needs evolve. At Infiniti Wealth Management, we are here to guide you on your journey toward a meaningful retirement. Call our office at 845-278-8638 or send us a message to set up a complimentary consultation.
Michael Durante is a founder, Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®), and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™ (CDFA®) at Infiniti Wealth Management, an independent, fee-only financial advisory firm. With over 25 years of experience, Mike specializes in serving women who are going through a life transition, whether that’s a divorce or the death of a spouse, as well as pre-retiree and retiree couples. He is passionate about helping his clients develop a personalized financial plan based on their values and goals so they enter retirement with confidence and peace of mind. Mike has both a bachelor’s degree in business administration and an MBA from Pace University. When he’s not working, Mike loves spending time outdoors hiking, biking, walking, golfing, campfires, the beach and doing yard work, as well as spending time with family and friends. Mike also enjoys to read, travel, and check out local restaurants and events. To learn more about Mike, connect with him on LinkedIn.
February 10, 2023 - Michael Durante, CFP®, CDFA®