Barry and Adam wrote and published the book “Guided Retirement Income Planning” in November 2020 to create higher levels of financial literacy and to show a comprehensive and logical process for executing income planning in retirement. Since we believe that this subject matter is so important and relevant, we are going to roll out one chapter each month. While our approach and philosophy will remain consistent in every economic cycle, customization for each household will vary.
We want to emphasize that some of you are not close to retirement and it is never too early to plan. You may also have loved ones, friends, or colleagues that are in need of help. We would be pleased to send them a complimentary copy of our book. We simply hope to help as many people as possible. As we present these chapters, please circle back to us with any questions or concerns that you have about the content and how it relates to you.
Please enjoy Chapter 1 below!
Adam L Schwartz, Partner, CFP®, NSSA®
Barry E Moschel, Partner, RICP®, CLU®, ChFC®, CPA
Tom Manno, Partner, CFP®, CPFA™
Chapter 1: THE IMPORTANCE OF RETIREMENT LITERACY
“If you dream it, you can do it.” (Walt Disney)
Let us first start with the meaning of financial literacy. According to Investopedia it is “the education and understanding of various financial areas including topics related to managing personal finance, money and investing…the lack of financial literacy may lead to making poor financial choices that can have negative consequences on the financial well-being of an individual.”
Now let us review how financial literacy applies to retirement income planning. It is important to understand non-financial and financial matters to be aware of your financial circumstances, have a plan to retire, and understand how to retire. It is a wonderful thing “to dream“ about retirement, think about retirement, laugh and get excited about retirement! However it is also critical to plan for these dreams to come true.
Retirement could last for many decades and it may not always be a smooth ride. There will most likely be some bumps in the road. Change is constant and can be challenging. Over a 20-40 year time period, there will be many conditions to consider, including the following:
- Market volatility
- Interest rates
- Legal and estate issues
- Health and illness
- Changes in regulations
- Tax laws
- The global and macro-economic environment
- Personal, family, and social situations
In other words, life happens. The world continues to change for better or worse. Additionally, general demographic spending trends will impact different life phases. For most people, housing represents the biggest expense throughout retirement. Clothing, travel, transportation, and other lifestyle expenses are higher in the earlier part of retirement but decrease in later retirement. Healthcare expenses can increase dramatically in late retirement even with Medicare and adequate supplemental health insurance coverage. Of course, spending patterns will vary from person to person depending on health, interests, and values.
So back to non-financial and financial matters… Non-financial matters set the tone by allowing you to define the goals, aspirations, and legacy desires for your retirement. While financial matters are the tools and resources that, actually, fund it over a lifetime.
You start with non-financial matters first. They are the non-monetary, intangible, psychological, and lifestyle decisions forming the foundation for your retirement (see chapter 6). It is easy for people to feel confused, burdened, or fearful of many things, including what they will do, where they will live, and whether they can afford to retire. Negativity and fear can lead to inaction, paralysis, and irrational thinking. For example, people may delay the joys of retirement because they do not know how to start planning for it. In contrast, others might decide to retire too soon even though they have not built enough wealth nor validated with a budget that they can support their lifestyle over the long-term.
It is our hope that education and heightened awareness of major retirement issues will motivate you to plan now and continually throughout retirement. If you have a family with children, the motive during the working years is to save for retirement, raise children, pay for schooling, and settle down in a nice home with a comfortable lifestyle. Another way of saying this is “live life to the fullest” during the working years by taking care of major expenses and saving for retirement. The focus is entirely different in retirement. Saving for retirement is no longer a priority. The children are grown up and have probably moved out. Decisions need to be made about future home arrangements and locations. The mindset changes from accumulation to having sufficient income streams from multiple sources to last a lifetime, a timetable that no one can predict with any degree of certainty. The time and energy spent at work is replaced with other activities or interests to provide happiness, continued social connections, and a sense of purpose.
Following non-financial matters, people will focus on financial matters. They are the monetary aspects of retirement income planning such as spending patterns, sources of income and investment management. Some of the biggest challenges that retirees face are longevity – outliving assets and running out of money; inflation – the price of goods and services rising more than anticipated; and significant market declines. Over the long-term, there may be unexpected household or healthcare expenses or events that, if not accounted for, may cause an economic shock to your budget. The rest of this book primarily focuses on financial matters.
Financial literacy is valuable to develop a retirement income plan. This book will focus on building blocks, or steps, ideas, and strategies to help design and implement a customized plan for you. You do not need to be an expert in financial and non-financial matters but it helps to understand the most important factors to achieve your goals. Being curious with your advisors will certainly help, as well, to form the foundation for your retirement income plan.
Words of Wisdom about Life from Sophia Loren
- There is a Fountain of Youth. It is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.
- You have to enjoy life. Always be surrounded by people that you like, people who can have a nice conversation. There are so many positive things to think about.