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Retirement. We all read that word and have unique imagery of what that means. In trying to benchmark it with a definition from an authoritative source, we consulted Webster’s International, unabridged dictionary, which refers to retirement as “withdrawing into seclusion” and “withdrawing from society.” There is more such wording and none of the uses of the word listed there describes a blissful state such as we all desire. Before you dismiss this as a silly exercise, consider the range of people that you know who have been retired for a time. Some are enjoying it, but many have had significant problems adjusting and finally just made peace with the retired state and that is not at all blissful. Compounding the emotional issue can be financial considerations. So, in stating our retirement vision as a concrete goal, we can begin to plan for its achievement.

So, how do we go about researching, evaluating, planning and carrying out a successful retirement? The end result is uniquely different for each of us, but the process can, and should be, uniform and lead to good results. I can hear some of you telling yourself that this should all be spontaneous to make it fun. Well, when have you heard of a spontaneous and unplanned company finding success? How about a spontaneous and unplanned military campaign? We must use a process that leads us inexorably to a good conclusion. Begin with the lifestyle and emotional components of retirement planning and then factor in the financial, all of this taken in steps that lead one to the other and then to the best conclusion for you. This work can encompass an entire pre-retirement course, so we’ll only list the steps here in bullet point fashion.

Describe your ideal retirement in great detail.
This includes family considerations, lifestyle choices and time usage. Generalize statements like “play lots of golf” are not helpful and lead nowhere. So, spend all the time necessary to map out your retirement life. Take all the time that you need for this exercise, and it will be fun to draw that blueprint. Include family in your deliberations. This seems obvious but is often skipped. You wouldn’t want to buy a lake house so the kids and grandchildren could come every weekend when they have no desire for that.

Consider your current employment.
Do you love what you do? Then why stop unless it is company policy or family considerations require that you cut back or stop. See how you might accommodate all requirements and still do what you love, however it needs to be modified. Don’t continue working solely for the money unless you must, but money is good along with enjoying your life’s work. If your personality and time usage plan indicate the need to become invoked in other endeavors, then factor that in. Caring for grandchildren, hobbies, travel, charity work and other activities can enrich your retirement years, but not if it came about in an unplanned manner. In years past, we would have our pre-retirement seminar attendees fill out a month’s schedule and bring it to the next class. Then, we told them to fill it out for the remaining 11 months of the year and then for the next 20 years of retirement life expectancy. You get the idea. Lack of planning can lead to poor time usage, health problems and even premature death because of a lack of purpose in life.

Once you have a clear picture of your lifestyle, organize your finances accordingly.
But this isn’t a do-it-yourself exercise. You may forget about the effects of inflation, misjudge your income needs (we see that regularly) and not account for the inevitable unplanned or irregular expenditures. Your automobiles will last how long? This is where your financial advisor here at Fragasso and our codified client experience will provide needed support and guidance.

Go ahead and execute your plan with confidence.
You have planned it as best as possible in advance. Now work with your financial advisor to stress test it annually to stay on track. When the unexpected occurs, your advisor can jump right in and think it through with you. By doing this correctly, you will have plenty of time for your granddaughter’s dance recital and your regular foursome.

Let’s get together on this and make life all that it can be.

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