Austin Colby, CFP®, MBA
Retirement planning means different things to different people. We all have different ideas of what life should look like after closing the chapter of our careers. However, even with countless unique perspectives, there is one statement that has applied to every person I have ever worked with:
“At some point, I do not want to have to work or have to save money.”
This is the essence of retirement planning, and a good retirement plan enables you to know that you are on track to reach that goal at some point in the future.
When building a plan for when you are no longer working, there are many financial questions that need to be addressed:
- How much money do I need to live comfortably each month?
- When should I start my Social Security benefits?
- What is the best way to minimize taxes on portfolio withdrawals?
Naturally, in my 20 years of serving client families, I have seen some people more financially prepared for retirement than others. While nuance and analytics play a large part in optimizing the financial aspect of successful retirement planning, at the end of the day it comes down to math that is very factual in nature—either you are or you are not tracking to have a peaceful, long-term, and stress-free retirement.
Financial considerations like the ones above make up the concrete path to reaching financial independence, but there are also subjective questions that have a large impact on retirement success:
- What will I do after “relaxing” for 3, 6, or 12 months?
- What will I do to stay sharp and active?
- What does day one look like after I leave my career?
This piece of the retirement planning puzzle is not nearly as concrete or quantifiable. I have seen several families retire on excellent financial footing, but ultimately return to work due to having no plan for what post-work life would look like.
I often tell clients that after spending decades being a successful, productive professional, it is difficult to go from creating, growing, and accumulating to suddenly shutting down with nothing to fill your productivity bucket each week.
Because of the experience we have had helping so many families transition successfully from their working years into retirement, we encourage our clients to “practice” retirement in their minds in the months and years leading up their final working days.
We love helping people build rock-solid financial retirement plans, never forcing them to wonder, “Do I have enough money to last the rest of my life?” Instead, they can focus on enjoying the fruits of their labor and living out their ideal retirement.