"Keeping It Real" as You Plan for Retirement
Gaze into your financial future and what do you see? For individuals planning for retirement, the picture is often a foggy one, clouded by "what ifs" and other uncertainties.
How can you plan for all of the exciting possibilities of your post-work years—while also factoring in unexpected events that could swing your retirement dreams off course? You hope for the best but plan for the worst. But doing so can be a tricky balancing act—a lesson many aging Americans are discovering when it may already be too late.
A wake-up call for retirement planning?
A 2014 survey conducted by Harris Interactive (and sponsored by Nationwide Insurance) of 903 American adults, age 50 and older, provides a cautionary tale about the potential pitfalls of over-optimism when it comes to retirement planning:
- 23% who began claiming Social Security early say they wish they could change the age they started
- 27% of current retirees say their Social Security benefits are less than they expected
- 32% said that health problems were keeping them from living the retirement they expected
- 26% say health care expenses keep them from living the retirement they expected
That's a lot of disappointed retirees. Was it just bad planning—or bad luck—that led to these regrets in retirement? Perhaps a little bit of both.
But there is also a brighter side ...
Respondents who reported working with a financial advisor were far less likely to have missed the mark in setting future expectations and planning for retirement:
- One third of retirees without a financial advisor say health care costs keep them from living the retirement they expected (compared to just 13 percent of retirees with a financial advisor).
- Retirees not working with a financial advisor are more than twice as likely than those who do to say their Social Security payment was less or much less than expected (33 percent vs. 12 percent).
- Retirees working with a financial advisor are more likely (82 percent) than those not working with a financial advisor (62 percent) to say they are able to do the things they want in retirement.
Why does working with a financial advisor make a difference?
A qualified and experienced financial advisor can help you "keep it real" by guiding the retirement planning process through an honest exploration of all the "what ifs" and contingencies that could positively or negatively impact your financial future. Here are a few examples of how working with an advisor can help enhance your retirement readiness:
1) We bring an objective perspective to the table. Retirement planning is an emotional journey that for many is packed with perspective-clouding hopes and fears. In addition to being a pragmatic sounding board for discussing your dreams and concerns, your financial advisor can help focus the conversation on the issues that are most important for your future success.
2) We are well-versed in the complexities of retirement. We've led many clients through the labyrinth of retirement decision making—Social Security benefits, tax considerations, and health care being just a few of the branches of the maze. We strive to stay on top of the regulations and follow the legislation so you don't have to. We have software tools that can calculate different scenarios and contingencies. And, through the course of our careers, we've seen a lot of retirement scenarios and their different outcomes and can share what we've learned through the experience of helping others
3) We follow a methodical planning process. Retirement planning is not something to be done haphazardly—there is too much at stake. We have a clear and methodical process for gathering your data, analyzing your unique situation, and helping you evaluate your options.
4) We ask the hard questions. While we certainly encourage clients to explore their retirement aspirations, we're also not afraid to ask the more challenging questions, like: Is that realistic? What if XX happens? and Have you considered XX? They are not always the most fun or comfortable questions to answer—but your retirement plan will be the more sound for it.
The bottom line
Retirement planning is important, but it's not something you have to—or should—do alone. Working with an experienced financial advisor can help you anticipate both the best AND the worst retirement scenarios—and create a pragmatic, reality-based plan that can help you navigate both.
Securities offered through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Raymond James Financial Services Advisors, Inc. Estes Wealth Strategies is not a registered broker/dealer and is independent of Raymond James Financial Services.
Any opinions in this newsletter are those of Estes Wealth Strategies and John Estes and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James. Expressions of opinion are as of this date and are subject to change without notice.
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