How to Retire Now-ish

How to Retire Now-ish

July 29, 2022

A Guide to Retiring in the Next Year Despite High Inflation, Possible Recession, and a Pandemic

If you are like most Americans, you dream about what retirement will be like. Waking up whenever you want after a long night of rest, the only thing on the agenda is whatever you feel like doing.

You have nothing but time to fulfill your lifelong dreams.

Maybe you will start a new hobby today; perhaps you will head over to the driving range and hit a few balls or pick up your grandkids for a play date at the local park.

Whatever you add to the day’s agenda, the important thing is that it is on your terms. There’s no boss asking you to file reports, there are no customers to please or clients to meet for lunch. In a way, you finally feel like you have your life back – and it feels amazing.

Sounds dreamy, doesn’t it?

The problem is, for many people, there’s a mental block between this dream retirement world and the practical steps it is going to take to make this dream a reality.

Today, we will begin with a checklist of questions you need to address to help put you in a place to retire. Then we will walk through each of those questions in more depth to help you feel more comfortable with answering those questions for yourself. 

It is important to note that answering these questions can require quite a bit of skill and expertise. Do not be intimidated by the process. Instead, seek help if you are struggling to answer these questions.

Checklist to prepare for retirement:

  • Decide at what age you will start social security
  • Sign up for Medicare
  • Take inventory of your assets and retirement savings accounts
  • Check your retirement benefits
  • Make a financial plan
  • Speak with a life coach
  • Put an estate plan in place

Decide at what age you will start social security

Knowing when you will start social security is not an easy decision. For some, it might make sense to begin withdrawing from social security the year they become eligible (62 for most people), and for others, it makes sense to wait until they can maximize benefits.

This is a very personal decision and not a one-size-fits-all decision, so consult with your Certified Financial Planner for help on this.

For more on this topic, check out the blog we wrote about it here.

Talk to a Medicare Specialist

Healthcare is a critical part of the retirement planning process. As such, you need to be sure you speak with a reputable insurance agent who is independent and specializes in Medicare specifically -- “Independent” so you can receive advice free of conflicts of interest, and “specializes in Medicare” so you can be sure the advice you are receiving is sound.

If you are looking to retire within the next year, you will want to have someone help you best understand how and when it is the best time to sign up and how it works with your current health insurance plan to be sure there are no gaps in coverage.

Take inventory of your assets and retirement savings accounts

If you want to retire “now-ish,” perhaps the most important thing you can do from a financial perspective is to make a financial plan with a competent professional, but that process starts by taking inventory of what you currently have in the bank.

Check your retirement benefits

Talk to your HR department and see what you are eligible for in terms of retirement benefits. Does your company have a pension plan? Vesting schedule? You may be generally aware of what your company offers, but now is time to get into the weeds and really understand what is available to you. You will want to discuss life insurance and any health insurance benefits or supplement plans as well.

Lastly, think about any previous jobs you had. Be sure you are not leaving behind an old 401(k) somewhere. It might not hurt just to call your previous employers and make sure you don’t have any retirement accounts or benefits yet with them.

Put an estate plan in place

While thinking about death is not something most of us enjoy, it is still a necessary part of the retirement planning process. You don’t deserve to have the assets you worked so hard for end up in probate because you failed to prepare.

None of us are guaranteed our next breath. This is why we encourage all of our clients – young and old – to be sure their estate plan is in place so taxes can be minimized and assets can be transferred in a way that is both efficient and honors their wishes and legacy.

Speak with a life coach

Here’s a curveball you probably didn’t see coming: Talk with a life coach.

Did you know that the secret to a long, happy, fulfilling retirement is not necessarily having a lot of money? The truth is, some retire with millions and are completely miserable, and some retire with virtually nothing but social security and live out a long and enjoyable retirement.

Want to know the difference between the two? If it’s not money – what is it?

It is purpose.

That’s right. The word purpose is the key to unlocking all sorts of potential in your retirement years.

We like to suggest talking with a life coach. It might seem over the top, but if finding your purpose is the key to a successful retirement, then all the money you’ve saved, all your hard work in life, and all the time spent planning will be wasted if you do not have a good plan in place for finding your purpose in retirement.

Our advisors often encourage clients not to retire from something but rather retire to something. In other words, keep the focus on the ways you can derive meaning and live out your retirement years on a mission – whatever that might be. 

That question “what am I going to do all day?” becomes non-existent when you find your life calling in this second act. Here's an article that dives into this topic further.

Meet with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM and build a comprehensive financial plan

Ah yes, a group of financial planners suggesting that you make a financial plan. Did you really think we were going to go this whole blog post without mentioning it??

But seriously, this is by far the most important financial step you can make in your retirement planning.

You simply can’t afford to get this decision wrong. It can cost you tens of thousands, sometimes more, if you do not have a competent professional guiding you through the ins and outs and nuances of retirement planning.

Many people come to us in a place probably similar to you if you are reading this. They want to retire soon, they think they can retire soon, but ultimately, they just need the confidence to do it.

That’s what a financial plan will provide for you.

Think of a financial plan as the ultimate how-to guide for your next 30 years. This guide will help you know what you can afford, what your monthly income will be, how to make it work, and will give you the reassurance that you can do this!

Now that we have gone through the checklist of things one would normally need to do to retire within the next year, we want to touch specifically on the unique issues facing potential new retirees in 2022.

Potential Concerns for Retirees in 2022

Inflation

Inflation is high. We all know that. So what can you do to combat it?

At Summit, this ties in with our investment philosophy which is to keep retirees in portfolios that are still invested heavily in equities. Interest rates are climbing, which means bond prices are falling. That’s not an ideal time to invest in bonds, plus the stock market will always have opportunities to grow as inflation grows. People need products and services, and it is the purchase of products and services that ultimately drive long-term stock market growth despite short-term swings in the market.

We believe investing in stocks in a rick-managed, diversified portfolio that takes into account when you will need the money (thereby not exposing your portfolio to large short-term swings) is one of the best ways to combat high inflation. 

Possible recession

The words recession or Bear Market have been hard to avoid in the news. The stock market has not performed well in 2022, and talks of an incoming recession have been heating up for months now.

Is a recession unavoidable, and what does that mean for retirees?

Our job is not to predict the economy but rather to coach our clients on how to control the things they can control so economic performance is not the driving factor in their everyday decisions.

The same goes for you.

We don’t think it is time to panic and liquidate your accounts. Trying to time the market has never worked well. But perhaps a more conservative investment strategy is necessary to weather the storm and wait for the threat of a Bear Market to pass. The good news? It always has passed, it typically doesn’t last more than a year, and the stock market has always come out stronger on the other side. Having a professional guide you through this is imperative, but we will make it through. 

How’s that as a counter to all of the doom and gloom talk we hear about on TV?

Pandemic

The effects of COVID-19 will be felt for decades, perhaps longer. We are just now starting to see how this pandemic has affected our great nation economically, emotionally, relationally, and financially.

As you prepare to enter retirement, we want to be sure your health and safety are your priority. Speak with your primary doctor and be sure you are taking whatever precautions are necessary to protect yourself and your loved ones.

There you have it, the checklist of items to retire now-ish. We can help set up your custom-tailored, comprehensive retirement plan. We’d be happy to do so. We offer a free financial checkup which is a 30-minute call to assess where you are at, answer your retirement planning questions and offer our advice -- totally complimentary. Schedule that meeting here.