What does retirement look like to you?

Perhaps in our grandparents generation retirement look like quitting your job, having a retirement party, then proceeding to a new phase of watching TV, yardwork, traveling to visit friends, and generally being helpful to the extended family. In the generation of clients that I’m working with now, there are as many individual approaches as I have clients. I’ll share a few of their stories to spur your own imagination about your vision for retiring.

Many of my clients and friends use the word “retire,” when what they really mean is transitioning into a new phase. For example, a friend of mine (let’s call him Stanley) in his early 50’s wants to quit his long commute tech job and begin doing technology consulting predominantly from home. Stanley’s financial plan includes making sure that the resources already in place allow him to do consulting without worrying whether it will be very lucrative, since success is not assured. Having a plan B in place is especially important because he could be retired for perhaps 40 years.

A doctor client in her mid-50s has been saving assertively throughout her working life. Her goal was to be able to retire young. She was able to “retire” from the hospital where she worked knowing she had enough retirement income in place to support her lifetime spending plan. Now she works about four days each month as a visiting doctor to other hospitals who need coverage when their doctors take vacation or go on leave. As she is still quite young by traditional retirement standards, this gives her freedom over her schedule and a chance to stay involved in medicine.

Some of my clients are simply frustrated with the “do more with less” attitudes of their employers who have been struggling since the great recession. Several have quit their jobs, then spend 6 to 9 months on their household backlog list (I call it the honey-do list), and then take part-time jobs in completely different industries. They do this as a way to supplement their retirement income and expel some previous sources of frustration.

Many business owners no longer have the retirement mentality of “sell the business and walk away”. Their slowdown plan involves making sure that there are the right set of competent employees to mind the helm while they vacation, travel, or take time away to help family members. Some plan their slowdown according to the seasons so they can enjoy the warm weather of Florida in January.

Employees leaving their W-2 income jobs, often choose the new world of starting their own business. Sometimes, they do this out of supplemental income necessity, but frequently because it gives them more freedom. They get to set their own schedule, pursue marketable ideas that interest them, and enjoy some of the tax benefits that go with being self-employed.

Whether your retirement dream is quit your job, slow down gradually, begin pursuit of long seeded interests, or just take more vacations, you’ll probably want an individualized plan. Talking with a financial planning professional can help structure lifelong layers of income. Pensions, Social Security income, investment income, and even continued earnings from some type of work can be blended together for what could be decades of retirement. According to the Society of actuaries, a 65-year-old man has a 41% chance of living to age 85 and a 20% chance of living to age 90. A 65-year-old woman has a 53% chance of living to age 85 and a 32% chance of living to age 90. That’s a long time for yardwork, TV, and golf.

Merra Lee Moffitt, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professional (CFP®), is a Senior Partner at Good Life Financial Group, Wyomissing. She loves helping business owners grow their financial independence via their businesses. She helps her clients keep work/family balance while they pursue lifetime financial success.  It’s part of her financial planning process. A recognized source on Pennsylvania business issues call, click or contact Merra Lee at 610-628-2055, Merra Lee.net and merralee.moffitt@lpl.com.

Leave a Comment