On September 8, 2021, we’ll be on Lunch Conversations with Randy Wooden and Teddy Burriss talking about “Preparing to Exit the World of Work.” Creating a retirement plan is like planning for a vacation. They both involve non-financial and financial aspects of the journey. When planning a vacation, I enter the non-financial aspects “semi-scripted.” I have an intentional plan but am open to unexpected adventures that present themselves. Approach the non-financial part of your retirement plan similarly.

First create a vision, and then develop a financial plan to support it.

Read our blog, Creating a Life Vision, for practical steps as you develop your retirement vision, and keep the following 3 items in mind:

Planning for Retirement Begins at the Start of Your Adult Life

While your plan will evolve over time, it’s best, from the beginning, to have some sense of what you’re working towards. What brings you joy that you’d like to bring into this phase of your life? Do you enjoy traveling, volunteering, spending time with loved ones? Will you work part-time or retire completely? Perhaps you’ll begin a side hustle? From the beginning, develop some sense of these later years, and allow that vision to evolve as you evolve over your lifetime.

Consider Your Complete Health

In his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covey shares the importance of renewing 4 areas of health:

  • Physical—Exercise, nutrition, rest, and stress management
  • Mental—Reading, visualizing, planning, writing
  • Social/Emotional—Service, empathy, synergy, and intrinsic security
  • Spiritual—Value clarification and commitment, study and meditation

Throughout life, ensure you’re taking time for self-renewal in these areas. As you approach retirement, it’s the perfect time to intentionally build healthy practices into your retirement plan.

Retirement Planning is a Team Sport

If you have a life partner, create a shared vision. Keep the lines of communication about hopes and expectations open during the course of your life, and as you approach retirement, make sure you’re on the same page about what this phase will hold. Approaching retirement can be a difficult time for a marriage. According to Dr. Susan Brown, professor of sociology at Bowling Green State University and co-author of The Gray Divorce Revolution, 20 years ago, 1 in 10 divorces involved those over age 50; now it’s 1 in 4.

Make sure, from the beginning, that you have a clear understanding of each other’s needs, wants, and goals, and plan a retirement that meets both of your needs.

Specifically make sure you are on the same page about:

  • Expectations of how the extra time will be spent–Does one partner want to retire early? Does one spouse want to volunteer while the other wants to travel? Will you spend a lot of time together or largely pursue individual interests and hobbies?
  • Desires regarding lifestyle–Will you move during your retirement to be closer to children and grandchildren? Or to a warmer climate? How will your standard of living change?
  • Finances—How will finances be managed during retirement? How will you make spending decisions? Plan for daily expenses and large one-time purchases. Because retirement is often a time for travel and projects, your expenses might increase.

These are all important considerations that allow you to keep a balance for each person’s needs.  Smart Couples Finish Rich by David Bach is a good resource for collaborative, values-based financial planning. Many couples choose counseling to help them navigate these conversations and ensure effective communication.

After developing a sense of your retirement vision, you can work with your financial advisor to create a financial plan that will support that vision into a reality.

Photo credit: Marc Najera on Unsplash