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7 Tips for Successful Retirees

While there are plenty of excuses available to explain why you can’t retire when you want to—or maybe not at all—bad luck shouldn’t be one of them. Here are seven actionable tactics to make your retirement more of a reality:

1. Formalize a plan.

Having a documented financial plan is a huge difference maker in one’s retirement success, according to the 2019 Modern Wealth Survey:

“60 percent of Americans who have a written financial plan feel financially stable, while only a third of those without a plan feel that same level of comfort.”

2. Set realistic goals.

Part of financial planning is understanding what is achievable and putting a plan in place to make it happen. If you start with unrealistic expectations, you will undoubtedly fail. Do you know how much money you need to retire, what you can invest on a regular basis towards that goal or what kind of return on investment you can expect over the long-term?

“A much-touted rule of thumb says you'll need 70 to 80 percent of your preretirement income after you finish working. But some financial planners are now suggesting that might not be enough.” —AARP

3. Be flexible.

Plans are plans because they don’t always go accordingly. In other words, life happens. Create a plan that is flexible enough to overcome some unexpected hiccups—like an extended bear market, an unplanned addition to your family, or a short-term disability for instance.

“More than one in four of today’s 20-year-olds can expect to be out of work for at least a year because of a disabling condition before they reach the normal retirement age.” —Social Security Administration

4. Learn to budget.

Everyone knows how important budgeting is in your earning years; however there is another important reason to learn the art of sticking to a budget. Once you are retired, you are most likely not adding any more money to that retirement pot, and you might even be living on a fixed income. If you don’t know how to spend responsibly within a budget by then, you run the risk of overspending and outliving your retirement funds.

“66% percent of Americans believe they’ll outlive their retirement savings.” —2018 Planning & Progress Study

5. Get help.

With access to unlimited information at your fingertips, it is tempting to try and do all of this retirement planning and management on your own. However, most who have tried it quickly realize it’s not that easy. Even if you have the knowledge, finding the time to properly stay on top of it is difficult to say the least. Working with a financial planner to help create, execute and monitor a retirement plan is likely worth every penny, and then some. Not only do they have the expertise but all other things being equal, they have more time to devote to it. Would you rather have a part-time or full-time eye on your retirement money? A 2016 survey by CIRANO found:

“[Financial] advised households accumulated 290% or 3.9 times more assets after 15 years than comparable non-advised households.”

6. Review.

Creating even the most comprehensive, wonderful, unstoppable, bulletproof financial plan will not guarantee you achieve your retirement goals in and of itself. You must also consistently review your plan to make adjustments based on a whole host of factors.  Economic instability, life changes, income increases or decreases, and stock market volatility are examples of events that may require an adjustment to your plan. Reviews are the key to maintaining an executable plan that will still deliver the retirement you were counting on.

“A widely cited study of pension plan managers said that 91.5% of the difference between one portfolio’s performance and another’s are explained by asset allocation.” —The CFA Institute

7. Protect yourself.

Often overlooked as “just another expense”, insurance exists for a reason…to protect you from catastrophic losses. Your retirement plan may be airtight and on track but if the breadwinner in your family passes away unexpectedly for example, your retirement picture may look a whole lot different without a backstop like life insurance.

“1 in 3 families admit a financial disaster would be more than likely, if not absolutely, within a single month should the household’s breadwinner suddenly pass." —2018 Insurance Barometer Study

A happy retirement should be everyone’s goal. While it’s not just about the money, enjoying your later years is hard to achieve without being able to pay your bills. Retirement planning is the key, but these seven tips are only just the start. It’s never too early or too late to develop a comprehensive plan, and with your toes in the sand and an umbrella drink in hand someday, you’ll be happy that you did.

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